Letter: The lights are bright enough in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Suffolk Theater hosted an invitation-only event to thank the people who helped out with the renovation.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Suffolk Theater’s marquee.

To the editor:

If the new LED sign on the Suffolk Theater downtown isn’t enough to distract your strolling or driving, get ready for another on Route 25 at the new All Star bowling alley. Apparently the owners have applied for a variance to get an electronic sign installed in front by the road.

LEDs are great things in the context of Times Square or Shanghai, but Riverhead businesses have done just fine without them for 250 years. Of course, good taste in sign design has never been a hallmark of Riverhead, so why the fuss, you might ask? Signage on route 58 has contributed greatly to that “up west” feel that our supervisor is striving for as a model. It seems Riverhead doesn’t have enough of its own character or that American sense of place. Some feel America requires a Home Depot, Starbucks and CVS on every corner of every town. Riverhead is unique and we need to celebrate that. When I look at old photographs of downtown, I see the Riverhead Bank, Griffing’s Hardware, Star Confectionery and Tyte & Luce Repair Shop. All are businesses that make this place what it is.

The bowling alley is a new addition and a remarkable place in that it entertains and is a gathering point for both local families and visitors. The owners should be commended for creating something that uses salvaged materials, bowling and new video technologies together to make a place that reflects both our rural sensibility and our passion for media consumption (hard to avoid in the age of YouTube). I think it’s carried it off pretty well. The staff is welcoming and friendly. Kudos to them. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite (for instance, my 14-year-old says the music is way too loud) but that’s OK.

It succeeds more than most without being a Chuck-E-Cheese-type eyesore. So don’t blow it All-Star. Keep up the good mojo, and do the right thing: Put a little more money into your identity and give us a sign out front that makes us feel good about Riverhead, not something that makes us run the other way. It could even be something small — your building is massive and that kind of contrast can gain attention.

Remember, the sign in front of the Modern Snack Bar is an officially sanctioned town landmark.

The Suffolk Theater’s sign could have been too, but they mucked that up digitally.

Cliff Baldwin, Aquebogue

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