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Town officials explore downtown on foot to find areas to improve

Town officials hit Downtown Riverhead on foot Tuesday to take a closer look at lingering problems that members of a new downtown revitalization committee can begin to address.

Officials found many “visual issues,” such as metal stubs sticking out of sidewalks where signs had been removed, that can be easily fixed, Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said at Thursday’s Town Board work session. An abundance of signs is another problem that can be quickly addressed, she said.

The walkthrough also included Councilwoman Catherine Kent, as well as town engineers, building inspectors, code enforcement, attorneys, planning officials, representatives of the Riverhead Business Improvement District and Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, Ms. Jens-Smith said.

The police chief said he’d prefer downtown have clear garbage bins as opposed to the mostly wrought iron ones that line the sidewalks, Ms. Jens-Smith said.

Near some construction sites, gates or fencing had fallen down, the supervisor said she observed.

Ms. Jens-Smith said fixing many of these issues can begin by identifying the person in charge, such as at a construction site, and requesting an issue be addressed.

Notes from the walkthrough will be compiled and shared, she said.

A view of downtown Riverhead Thursday. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

“I think that’s important,” Councilman Jim Wooten said, noting that he drives through downtown multiple times each day. “By walking, you see so much more than driving. I appreciate you taking those notes because that’s the only way you’re really going to address things. That’s what everyone who comes to our town sees that we might not.”

The issues recorded will also help identity grant opportunities for improvement as they become available, the supervisor said.

Councman Tim Hubbard suggested walkthroughs be conducted in other places in town, such as Jamesport and Wading River.

The Town Board is currently seeking members for the downtown revitalization committee. The goal is to create a long-term plan to attract new businesses and find solutions for vacant buildings. The 12-member committee will include residents and business owners.

Top photo caption: Officials identified metal stubs sticking out of the sidewalk as one problem in downtown that can be quickly addressed. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)

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