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Court House restaurant demolition on hold, for now

Court House restaurant

The dilapidated former Court House restaurant on Griffing Avenue won’t be demolished just yet.

The Riverhead Town Board on Wednesday agreed to a “settlement” with property owner Lyle Pike, which would give Mr. Pike a month to decide if he can restore the nearly 125-year-old building or knock it down.

A section of town code states that if a property owner doesn’t make its building safe in a certain amount of time, then the town can either secure it for them or  demolish it. In both instances, the town would charge the property owner for those services.

[Related: Clock ticking for owners of former Court House Restaurant]

At Wednesday’s hearing, both chief fire marshal Craig Zitek and town engineer Ken Testa said the building is insecure and dangerous.

“There is a clear and present danger of a total collapse of the structure,” Mr. Testa said.

He added: “It is my recommendation that this structure be demolished as soon as possible”

Mr. Zitek said the building “is in danger of imminent collapse.”

They also showed the Town Board photos they took during an inspection of the property in June, which showed water damage throughout the building, a ceiling that had fallen into a stairwell, a hole in the roof and evidence that squatters had been living there, and that copper had been stolen from the building. It also has no heat or utilities of any kind.

Lyle Pike at Wednesday's meeting.
Lyle Pike at Wednesday’s meeting.

Mr. Pike said the town secured the building four years ago and he hasn’t been in the building since that time because the town has refused to return his key.

Initially, Supervisor Sean Walter said he would give Mr. Pike 30 days to come up with a fully engineered plan for the property. Following a break in the meeting, the supervisor met with Mr. Pike in the hallway and came up with what Mr. Walter called a “settlement.”

The town would give Mr. Pike 30 days to get an engineering analysis of the building and determine whether he can restore it or whether it should be knocked down.

If he decides he can restore it, Mr. Pike would then be given another 30 days to submit a fully engineered plan to restore the building.

Mr. Pike agreed, as did the rest of the Town Board.

The deadline for the engineering analysis is Dec. 7 and the full plans to restore the building, if that path is chosen, would be due on Jan. 7, Mr. Walter said.

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