The Riverhead Town Board voted to order the demolition of the former Court House restaurant on Griffing Avenue Thursday, following a lengthy public hearing in which property owner Lyle Pike argued that the building is still structurally sound.
That was in contrast to reports from town engineer Ken Testa and chief fire marshal Craig Zitek, who both argued that the structure, which has been closed for about 17 years, was in danger of “imminent collapse” due to water intrusion. The cost of the demolition will be put on Mr. Pike’s tax bill.
The town will treat the demolition as an emergency situation, which means it will not have to do a lengthy bidding procedure to find a contractor to knock the building, according to Mr. Testa. Instead, it will seek three estimates from contractors, which should take about two weeks, he said. The town will still need to check for asbestos before it can demolish the 125-year-old structure, Mr. Testa said.
In November, the town gave Mr. Pike 30 days to produce an engineering report that said the building was safe. He never did so.
• The Board also held similar public hearings Thursday on allegedly unsafe structures on 168 Creek Road in Wading River and 120 Overlook Drive in Aquebogue. The Wading River site has open doors and windows and has been inhabited by squatters and animals, neighbors said. The owner of the Aquebogue house said his plans to demolish the house, which was damaged in Hurricane Sandy.
To read a recap of News-Review reporter Tim Gannon’s live blog of the meeting, click below.