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Rec/senior department merger to start in September, save $1M


A plan to merge the Riverhead Town recreation and senior citizens’ departments will save a little more than $1 million over five years and increase the number of programs offered in those departments, said parks and recreation superintendent Ray Coyne.

The Town Board has informally agreed to begin the first phase of the proposed reorganization, which involves marketing and communicating with the public about the change.

“The new structure will combine numerous departmental resources, including supplies, bus transportation, recreation programs for seniors, an intergenerational program and additional locations for town residents to register and participate in programs,” said Mr. Coyne, quoting from a 40-page study the two departments conducted on the merger.

Rather than resorting to layoffs, the reorganization will reduce personnel by not filling positions after employees retire.

Among the changes envisioned by the merger are allowing the town to open its senior center seven days a week and adding a new senior library and lounge, as well as a new exercise room and fitness center in the town senior center, said Mr. Coyne.

“This is really the wave of the future as far as senior centers because they are being under-utilized,” said senior programs director Judy Doll.

The merger was first proposed last September, and according to Mr. Coyne, will begin in earnest this upcoming September, after the recreation department’s busy summer season.

Caption: Zumba Gold certified instructor Irena Gentile of Baiting Hollow leads a class at the town’s Senior Center Monday morning. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)