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Audio walking trail proposed for downtown Riverhead’s historic landmarks

Riverhead’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is hoping to have an “audio walking trail” throughout downtown Riverhead in which signs would be posted in front of historic buildings, along with a scannable QR code that could be used to gain further information about each building.

The project has a cost estimate of $63,000 and officials say Community Development Director Dawn Thomas is seeking grant money to cover the cost.

“This is something the Landmarks Commission has been talking about for a long time,” said Richard Wines, the chair of the commission.

“Basically, the idea is to have signage posted around downtown historic sites and each one he would have a QR code on it. “

A QR Code is a cell phone application which can be scanned in order to access additional audio or visual information. It works similar to a bar code in a supermarket.

“You would walk up to the sign and click on the QR code, and you’d get a little narrative and photo graphs about that historic site,” he said.

The signs, he said, would be “relatively modest” and would be located in front of the buildings.

The commission is initially planning on having such signs at  35 sites, which people could visit all at once or in smaller parts. The 35 sites would be south of the railroad, and the commission is hoping to eventually have about 25 more sites north of the railroad, according to Mr. Wines.

“We have such a great history here and so many buildings that are interesting to look at.”

Frank Beyrodt

The same information on the signs and the QR readers also would be on the town’s web site, Mr. Wines said.

In the past, the Landmarks Commission had done a walking tour brochure of downtown Riverhead, Mr. Wines said, but that involved restocking the brochures.

“There’s nothing you’d need to maintain with this, it’s very straightforward,” he said of the new plan.

The research work is being done by volunteers, and Mr. Wines said he has a number of ideas on who could narrate the presentations. He suggested school children, Town Board members and amateur actors as possibilities.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Councilman Frank Beyrodt said. “We have such a great history here and so many buildings that are interesting to look at.”

Mr. Beyrodt said they have a similar tour at the Alamo in San Antonio, TX.

“I love everything about it,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. Having been involved in community theater, she said she likes the idea of having amateur actions as narrators.

“If Dawn can get the funding for it, I would certainly be in favor,” Ms. Kent said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she thinks people are learning more about how to use QR readers, which are now used for things like restaurant menus.

New downtown signage

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said the walking tour falls into place with another town initiative in which the town is installing “wayfinding signs” throughout Riverhead “to help guide pedestrians in our business and our riverfront district.”

The town began installing the first sign Thursday at the western end of the Peconic River parking lot.

The custom-made signs were funded with grants from the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Program and a federal Community Development Block Grant. The Business Improvement District also contributed towards the project, Ms. Aguiar said.

“The purpose of the signs is to provide improved and enhanced information delivery, while creating an aesthetically pleasing ‘brand’ for visitors to associate with Riverhead,” the supervisor said in a press release. “The signs will be located throughout the business, downtown and riverfront areas.”