About 40 people attended the first meeting of the newly formed Heart of Riverhead Civic Association at the Riverhead Free Library Saturday.
The group — co-founded by Cindy Clifford, Juan Micieli-Martinez and Steven Kramer — started because of the lack of a civic association in downtown Riverhead, an area they defined as from the Peconic River north to Route 58 and Mill Road east to Route 105.
Other hamlets in Riverhead Town, such as Calverton, Wading River and Jamesport, have had civic associations for many years.
The new civic is a non-profit organization but would not be tax-deductible, according to Mr. Micieli-Martinez, who ran as a candidate for Town Board last year.
Annual membership dues will be $25 for residents, $50 for businesses and $25 for friends living outside the district.
The civic association will “create a greater sense of community,” said Ms. Clifford, who is acting as the chairperson for the group.
“We’re starting the civic association because this is our home,” she said. “Because we are interested in being a bigger part of Riverhead‘s future as it continues to grow.”
“We need eyes and ears throughout the community to identify new challenges,” Mr. Kramer said.
One decision the new group faces is when to hold its meetings.
Eric Raynor of Howell Avenue said he was previously involved with the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association and suggested the Riverhead civic take some ideas from that group.
He said FRNCA would often bring officials from town, state or other municipalities to speak with the group, such as the police chief, or code enforcement.
“Getting someone in front of you and getting questions to them and getting answers is really important,” Mr. Raynor said.
Mr. Micieli-Martinez said afterward that having speakers was a good idea and one they hadn’t considered.
A number of speakers at the meeting of Riverhead residents cited litter and garbage as something that needs improvement.
“I believe anywhere there’s a sidewalk there should be a garbage can,” said Pamela Hogrefe of Riverside Drive.
She said there was a civic association on Riverside Drive for about five years while residents opposed a large subdivision proposal.
“Once it was all done, it pretty much disbanded,” she said.
Residents praised the formation of the civic association, “I like the idea to have a group where we can keep each other informed of things that are going on that we don’t always know about,” said Sarah Christ.
Adele Wallach said: “My priority is just that we have a voice in what happens and a dialogue with the Town Board.”
Camille Ida said she had never participated in a civic association before.
“I love the concept of being more involved in the community,” she said.