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Boulders proposed to protect former Pizza Hut building in Riverhead

The Riverhead Pizza Hut, following a Sept. 17 accident in which a car crashed into it. File photo by Tim Gannon

STAT Health, the tenant moving into the former Pizza Hut building at the Route 58 traffic circle, hopes to avoid the fate of its predecessor, which was hit by cars on two separate occasions in a 14-month period.

But some Riverhead planning officials feel the proposed solution — boulders — might be a little extreme.

“We know that building has been struck by a car a couple of times and their plan is to put six large rocks there,” Planning Board member Ed Densieski said during discussion of the proposal at last Thursday’s meeting

“I think it would be better to get a hold of Suffolk County and have the county put a guard rail in there,” Mr. Densieski said. “I don’t think big rocks are a mitigating factor in car accidents.”

Both Route 58 and Roanoke Avenue are county roads.

In September 2016 and May 2015, cars jumped the traffic circle curb and crashed into the Pizza Hut building.

The latest incident involved a 92-year-old driver from the Bronx and occurred around 2 a.m.

“He navigated the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Throgs Neck Bridge and the Long Island Expressway but not the traffic circle in Riverhead,” Planning Board chairman Stan Carey said.

“We were trying to do something that’s a little more natural in style than a guardrail,” said Richard Searles, an architect representing STAT Health. “If the town and county want a guardrail, we can do a guardrail. We have no problem with it. We don’t want the building hit anymore than you do.”

Town planning aide Greg Bergman said there was no mention of methods to protect the building in the county’s most recent correspondence.

STAT Health is converting the building into a walk-in medical clinic. Pizza Hut requested release from its rental obligation, which was granted, after more than 20 years on the property .

“We’re not talking little rocks,” Mr. Searles said. “We’re talking some substantial rocks, and if placed properly, a car can’t actually pass between them.”

He said they could partially bury the rocks in the ground so it will look natural.

“I agree with you that it would make it look a lot better, but now we’re using boulders to stop motor vehicles,” Mr. Densieski said.

“They work,” Mr. Searles replied.

“I’m sure,” Mr. Densieski said. “But now the driver is going to get killed.”

Planners reached no conclusion on the issue and plan to discuss it further.

Mr. Searles said STAT Health hopes to be open at the new location by July 1.

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File photo: A vehicle crashed into the Riverhead Pizza Hut Sept. 17, 2016. (Credit: Tim Gannon)