Riverhead Town goes ‘natural’ with Apple Honda donation

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead senior center aide Daryl Sulzer lets Etta Pietocha, 90, in try the town’s natural gas vehicle after just filling up at National Grid property Friday morning.

Riverhead’s got gas.

Not the type of gas that clears a room. Natural gas, which is being used to power a Honda Civic donated to Riverhead Town by Apple Honda.

The Route 58 dealership donated the white sedan as part of a joint promotion of “clean energy alternatives,” town officials said.

Using natural gas, which is cheaper and burns cleaner than gasoline, the 2012 Civic will be used to help transport older Riverheaders to and from doctor appointments through the town’s senior citizen’s program.

“I want to thank Apple Honda and [dealership owner] Irwin Garsten for their generosity in making this money saving, forward-thinking donation,” Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy said in a statement. “I personally test drove this vehicle just the other day and I can say firsthand this car will be a fuel efficient, economical, clean, durable addition to our fleet and will bring much needed services to our seniors.”

The News-Review caught up with the new car Friday, when Riverhead senior center aide Daryl Sulzer and 90-year-old Etta Pietocha were taking it for a spin. (The Ford Model T was still in production the year Ms. Pietocha was born.)

Ms. Pietocha doesn’t drive and relies on the senior center staff to take her to medical appointments, she said.

“Neighbors helping neighbors is what small towns are all about…” Mr. Dunleavy said.

The town gets to keep the car for one year or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first.

“In these trying economic times, this vehicle puts our goal of balancing the town budget that much more in reach,” said Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter.

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