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Giglio pitches town-owned parking lot as spot for new justice court

03/02/2018 2:00 PM |

The Riverhead Town Board will consider putting out a request for information on an idea to build a new justice court on a town-owned parking lot.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio produced the request to hear from master developers on the possibility of redeveloping the parking lot next to the railroad station, across Court Street from the Suffolk County Supreme Court.

A concept to retain the approximately 230 parking spaces at that location would be to bring in a developer to build a complex on the 2-acre parcel featuring the court and retail on the first floor. Parking would be on the second, third and fourth floors, Ms. Giglio said. The current zoning would allow developers to build another two stories, where they could put their own uses, perhaps offices or apartments, Ms. Giglio said.

A developer could get a long-term lease for the parcel, and the town would lease back only the court space, she said.

Town Justices Allen Smith and Lori Hulse urged the Town Board last November to move the courts to the empty Armory building on Route 58. The current justice court is too small and unsafe, and lacks parking and jury deliberation rooms, the justices said in November. A 2012 study of the facility said the current court and police headquarters were “grossly inadequate in terms of space, security and parking.”

Board members agreed Thursday that the justice court needs to be addressed.

Ms. Giglio said this is also part of her mission to clean up the Polish Town area and expand downtown Riverhead to bring more uses near the Supreme Court.

The lot is an urban renewal area and is currently zone DC-3. Ms. Giglio said she thinks DC-1 zoning might be more appropriate as it would allow a developer to build more than five stories.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said he is not in favor of separating the justice court and police headquarters. Ms. Giglio said on  the two-acre location, it’s possible both could fit.

“I think putting out an RFI is not going to hurt anything and we might get some good ideas from developers,” Ms. Giglio said.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the Town Board will review the request for information Ms. Giglio provided.

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Photo caption: The site in question for a possible Justice Court is a town-owned parking lot surround by Railroad Avenue, Cedar Avenue, Court Street and Osborn Avenue. (Credit: Google Maps)