Who should Riverhead honor ? Street-naming contest runs through Oct. 1

The town of Riverhead is holding a contest to ceremonially rename the section of West Second Street where the new Town Hall will be located — and several frontrunners are beginning to emerge from the pack. 

Sister Margaret Smyth, the beloved nun who for three decades championed and supported Riverhead’s immigrant communities before her death at 83 last year, is in the lead, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in an interview this week. 

The second most popular nominee is former town justice Allen Smith, who died in 2020 at the age of 77, after serving the Riverhead community for more than 45 years — including a five-year stint as town supervisor from 1975 to 1980.

The third most popular entry is a bid to maintain the current name: West Second Street.

Other contenders include Town Hall Plaza, Taj Mahal Street, Riverwave Street, Peconic Street, Community Way, Stronger Together Avenue, Love Thy Neighbors Boulevard, Stone Street, High Street, Anthem Street, Street of American Dreams and Boulevard of Broken Dreams. 

“I took that one as an insult at first,” Ms. Aguiar said with a laugh, “but then someone told me there was a song called ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams.’ ” Several songs have been recorded with that name over the years, most recently by Green Day in 2004.

Other names that have been suggested include veteran Town Hall employee Verna Campbell, who died last year; former town supervisor Joseph Janoski; longtime locals Harry and Louise Wilkinson; former town councilman Jim Wooten; and Zonia Dinora Rivera Mendoza, who died in the fall of 2021 in a fire that killed five at a home on East Second Street. 

The street section in question is West Second Street between Roanoke and Griffing Avenues. Ms. Aguiar said that the idea for the contest came from Town Attorney Erik Howard, who was on vacation and did not immediately respond to an interview request. 

Entries can be emailed to [email protected] until Oct. 1. The winner will be announced on Oct. 17, the supervisor said. 

For nearly three decades, Sister Margaret was known as a champion for migrant workers and the immigrant population on the North Fork. In 1996, as a member of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, she founded the North Fork Spanish Apostolate, an organization that, among other things, provides religious services, advocacy and support to the local Latino community, and farm workers in particular. She was even known for appearing in town Justice Court to help workers recoup unpaid wages.

The organization focuses on the needs of migrant workers, immigrants and Hispanic residents. Its website lists 11 types of available support, including language, citizenship and cultural education, health care education, parenting skills workshops and legal support in civil matters.

Ms. Aguiar said that Town Hall’s current location on West Main Street is slated to become a town court justice center, and officials are considering naming the center after Mr. Smith. 

She said that, given that consideration, she was personally supporting the bid to rename the street Sister Margaret Smyth Street. 

“I miss her,” the supervisor said. “You can put me down that that’s the one I would favor.”