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Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association seeks downtown home

The Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association has been responsible for brining some of the most popular events to downtown Riverhead over the years, including Alive on 25, the Cardboard Boat Race and the Halloween parade and coffin race.

But one thing the BIDMA doesn’t have downtown is a home. 

The BID is technically the Town Board and the BIDMA runs the day-to-day operations of the BID. The BIDMA budget must be approved by the Town Board.

BIDMA executive director Kristy Verity, the BID’s only administrative employee, told the Town Board Thursday that she’s been working remotely from home since being appointed in 2018. She said she also sometimes works out of the offices of local businesses within the BID.

“It’s great for me because I was able to spend a lot of time with different businesses,” she said, adding that she also spends time in the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce office on East Main Street. 

Many of the people who come to the Chamber office are actually looking for the BID, she said.

“There’s definitely a need for us to have an office downtown,” she said. “We’ve been working really hard over the past two years to rebrand the BID and reposition it as DowntownRiverhead.org,” which is their website.

“How many people even know what a ‘business improvement district is?” she asked. 

The BIDMA listed potential office sites as 112 E. Main St., which is between the Suffolk Theater and a law office, and the vacant space next to Craft’d at 127 E. Main St., a building the Town Board recently purchased as part of its Town Square project.

“I think 127 East Main would be awesome,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said. “It has a lobby and a small conference area.”

He said both the BID and the Chamber could share office space, and he feels both should have their offices on the ground floor.  

The BIDMA is proposing that space be leased to the town at no cost. 

“I definitely think it’s great for you to have a presence in the downtown area right on Main Street,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. She also backs the idea of having the Chamber and BID in the same office space. 

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said the town will have offices in the Town Square. 

The 112 East Main space would need a restroom to be installed, officials said. 

The other item Ms. Verity discussed with board members is for the Town to return $24,260 that was taken from its budget as part of cuts the town made in wake of the pandemic.

The BIDMA’s budget totals $121,300, Ms. Verity said. 

The BID’s funding comes from a special tax imposed on property’s within the BID district. 

“We depend on those tax funds and 20% is a big chunk,” Ms. Verity said. “Now that we are going into normalcy again, and bringing back the programs we have, and also initiating new programs downtown, we are looking to have those funds put back into the budget to regenerate those funds back into downtown.” 

Among the new programs they are proposing is a “Riverhead Ale Trail” featuring local craft breweries and distilleries, a program to decorate some of the alleyways downtown and a “Kidzone” in the next three Alive on 25 events, starting July 29, which would feature kid-friendly entertainment, such as an outdoor movie in Grangebel Park.

Town Finance Administrator Bill Rothaar said the 20% was cut from the BIDMA budget but it’s in the BID district, rather than the general funding.

“This way it’s easier to take the money and transfer it to whatever they want to spend it on,” he said. “Once the board agrees what they want to do with it, let me known and I will prepare a resolution.”

The BIDMA has yet to formally submit its budget requests for projects funded by the money from the 20% cut, officials said.