Newfound $470K will help turn Armory building into police HQ

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The state Armory building on Route 58.

Riverhead Town just found about $470,000 it didn’t know it had, and officials are planning to use some of that money to design a new police and justice court complex at the old Armory on Route 58.

The town got the deed for the abandoned Armory property from the state on Monday, although it has not been recorded yet, Supervisor Sean Walter said Thursday.

When the National Guard moved out of that building, the town asked for  it and was given it at no charge through state legislation.

The $470,000 is money from old Trust and Agency Accounts that were discovered during an audit last year. Some of the accounts are more than 20 or 30 years old and town officials weren’t certain at the time of the audit whether it was money the town could use, or whether the town owed that money to other people.

The Town Board in February hired accountant William McCann to go through all the old accounts and determine where the funds came from and whether the town can use them. He was paid about $5,500, said the town’s financial administrator, Bill Rothaar.

The report determined that $470,000 of the money could be used by the town, of which $409,000 could be used in the town’s general fund, while the rest could only be used by specific funds, Mr. Rothaar explained at a Town Board work session Thursday in Town Hall.

As an example, there was $93,000 that was paid by developers for bid documents but which they forfeited by not returning the documents or by writing on them, Mr. Rothaar said. The bid deposits were $50 apiece, and go back more than 20 years in some cases.

“Holy Moly!” Councilman John Dunleavy said of the numbers.

“We should have been draining that account every year,” Mr. Walter said.

There’s also another $493,000 in Foundation Permit account money that the town still is unsure if it can use, Mr. Rothaar said. Town staff will continue looking into that fund to come up with an answer, he said.

“That’s a priority,” Mr. Walter said.

Other board members agreed with Mr. Walter’s proposal to use the money for design of the new police and court complex at the Armory.

“As long as the design is not for $409,000,” Councilman Jim Wooten said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s $200,000,” Mr. Walter said.

“We have to get this started,” Mr. Dunleavy said of the police and court complex.

Officials have said for years that the current police and court complex, next to Town Hall, is too small.

Mr. Walter is hoping to move police and courts to the new building, which will have to renovated, and then move other departments such as accounting, back to Howell Avenue.

The town now has several departments in space it owns on Pulaski Street.

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