Vandals delay opening of Weeping Willow Park

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO |  The opening for Weeping Willow Park on West Main Street has been delayed by vandals.

Vandals driving vehicles on sod at the former Weeping Willow motel site have delayed the opening of the new park Riverhead Town built at the West Main Street location.

Drew Dillingham, assistant town engineer, said vehicles have been leaving Route 25 and driving on the sod to vandalize it.

“We are going to be installing guard rails along both sides of the driveway and along the Route 25 right of way, so that people can’t leave the road and then drive on the sod,” he said.

The vandalism started a couple months ago, he said.

“They’ve done it at least twice that we know of, and it’s caused some pretty bad ruts that we fixed,” he said.

The town is waiting for the buildings and grounds department to install the guard rails, which shouldn’t take more than two days, Mr. Dillingham said.

Unfortunately, “they are super, super busy,” he said.

Once the guard rail is installed, the new park should be ready to open.

The park will feature two picnic tables and an area to launch kayaks and canoes, along with a driveway made of recycled concrete aggregate.

The Weeping Willow Motel had sat on the roughly half-acre site for 58 years until the town demolished it in 2011, after purchasing the property in 2009 for $1.25 million with the goal of turning it into a riverfront park and boat-launch area.

The demolition was delayed because the dilapidated motel had asbestos which needed to be removed first, officials said.

Riverhead Town purchased the motel site using money from the Community Preservation Fund, which comes from a voter-approved two-percent real estate transfer tax.

The town also received a $500,000 state Environmental Protection Fund grant for the project in 2007.

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Weeping Willow Motel, Riverhead Town
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Workers removed asbestos from the Weeping Willow motel in March.