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Improvements to downtown parking lots to cost less than originally expected

Planned improvements to downtown parking lots will end up costing less than anticipated, Riverhead officials announced Thursday.

The Town Board had been considering borrowing $821,049 in order to make improvements to six parking lots in the town’s Public Parking District. That included creating 57 additional parking spaces in the First Street lot located behind the old Woolworth building.

“After [town engineer Drew Dillingham] spoke with one of the companies that bid on this, he realized they were trying to do something differently than what we wanted and a lot more expensive,” Councilman Tim Hubbard, the board liaison to the parking district, told his colleagues at a work session.

After moving on to the next bidder, the cost is now projected to be $725,000, Mr. Hubbard said. “That’s going to make a big difference in the payback,” he said of the 10-year bond.

Aside from the First Street lot, Mr. Dillingham’s list of improvements include repairs to the entrance of the Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home lot, which he described as a “serious trip hazard,” repairs to the west side of the parking lot behind Griffing Hardware, repairs to the lot between Roanoke and Griffing Avenues as well as the riverfront parking lot.

Money will also be allocated to improve lighting on Third Street, he said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Town Board is expected to set a public hearing on the bond authorization for Dec. 1 and setting the project up for a spring groundbreaking.

Mr. Hubbard said the riverfront lot will likely be completed last due to the timing of the Town Square project in the area. 

“We don’t want to repave and do an area and then find out it’s going to be ripped up,” he said. “So we’ll put that one on the back burner for right now but the rest we can definitely get started on.”

Grant funds are also expected to knock the cost down. At Thursday’s work session, Community Development Agency director Dawn Thomas said she’s received a contract from Suffolk County in order to finalize $74,925 in grant funding to be used in the projects.