Downtown Riverhead’s strengths?
Survey says: Special events, like the cardboard boat race or the County Fair, came in first with 22 responses. Theaters (18 votes) and restaurants (17 votes) came in second and third place.
And its greatest weakness?
Safety and/or the perception of safety, came in first, with 18 responses, followed by traffic (13 responses), zoning regulations and a perceived lack of parking, and vacancies, all with 12 responses.
Those were the responses of participants in a November meeting on the so-called “pattern book” for downtown Riverhead, where participants were asked to name what they feel are downtown Riverhead’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities.
The pattern book seeks to provide a visual companion to the downtown Riverhead zoning overlay district, according to Barry Long of Urban Design Associates, who is overseeing the study.
“The way this process works, we’re surveying the community to develop the pattern book. However, at the end of the day, the Town Board has the vote,” Mr. Long told Town Board members Thursday. “We’re not voting on things, we’re doing preference surveys, and we want to be crystal clear about that. But we want to provide you with as much information from the community and stakeholders as we can.”
In addition to the November meeting, participants were also asked to do an online survey about downtown Riverhead, and those results, which were not final Thursday, had some different responses, according to Mr. Long.
In the online survey results — to which more than 1,100 people responded and which ended Friday — the Peconic River waterfront was voted downtown’s biggest strength and vacancies was the top weakness.
Those results were not final yet.
On Thursday, the 60-to-80 people who attended a second meeting on the pattern book gave additional input, this time being asked to put green dots on statements about downtown they agreed with and red dots on ones they didn’t.
Downtown’s greatest opportunities, according to the November results, were riverfront development; a town square or park; small local business growth, and increased multi-family units.
The top threat, according to November results, were flooding, followed by lack of police presence; downsizing of current zoning; inadequate parking; affordable housing that doesn’t support retail.
The preliminary results from the online survey asked what types of uses are missing from downtown Riverhead, and the top answer, garnering 55% of the responses, was retail. That was followed by entertainment, parking and parks and open spaces.
Another 55% felt downtown Riverhead had too few parking spaces.
Mr. Long said he expects the plan to be completed within two months. There will be another survey, and possible another public meeting, he said.