New Town Supervisor outlines key priorities in inaugural address

At his swearing-in ceremony Monday, new Town Supervisor Tim Hubbard made clear his plans for tackling the pressing issues confronting Riverhead, including the state of EPCAL, the Downtown revitalization plan and improving relationships with civic groups.

“Town Board meetings will be conducted in a civil manner,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Both elected officials and the public are expected to be courteous, patient and polite. I understand things can get heated, but we can all take a breather and conduct business in an adult manner. No more circus atmosphere at board meetings.”

Mr. Hubbard was elected supervisor in November after spending eight years on the Town Board as a council member. He is the 64th supervisor in Riverhead’s history.

In his speech, he highlighted a number of projects he plans to complete in 2024, and several more he hopes to initiate. 

“I look forward to the development of the Riverhead Town Square, and the transit-oriented district, both of which will help complete the revitalization of Downtown Riverhead,” he said. 

The status of the Enterprise Park at Calverton also will also be a major project in 2024. 

“The cancellation of the sale of EPCAL to Triple Five/CAT [in 2023] will present us with fresh opportunities to develop that land from a new perspective,” he said adding that he has already met with local civic groups to discuss the issue. 

“This property needs to be put back on the tax rolls,” he said.

Mr. Hubbard said he plans to work with local schools, including Riverhead Charter School and the Riverhead Central School District. 

“I have already met with the charter school regarding the expansion of their Sound Avenue facility into a high school campus,” he said. “I will be fostering a relationship with the Riverhead Central School District. That has been missing for years.”

Mr. Hubbard, who served on the Riverhead Board of Education prior to being elected to the Town Board, added that “there are many shared services that can benefit the school and the town.”

Mr. Hubbard said he has already met with the acting district superintendent, Cheryl Pedisich, and the current school board president, Colin Palmer, “regarding the resurgence of the school resource officer program,” which stations police officers in area schools.

The supervisor also vowed to continue supporting the police department. 

“I will keep hiring police officers to keep up with our growing town’s safety needs,” said Mr. Hubbard, himself a former town police officer and detective.

The Town will open a downtown police substation and will unveil “a new plan of enforcement for quality of life issues that have plagued the area,” Mr. Hubbard said.

The supervisor also supports plans to retrofit the old Town Hall into a new court complex and reinstate quarterly roundtable meetings with area civic groups. “It’s important for me to have frequent contact with the civics,” Mr. Hubbard said, adding that he also plans to spend more time reviewing pending resolutions and better explaining them to board members and the public. 

“I will encourage department heads to place more items for open discussion on the work session agenda,” he said. 

Also sworn in Monday were newly elected council members Denise Merrifield and Joann Waski, while former council member Jim Wooten was sworn in as Town Clerk, replacing incumbent Diane Wilhelm, who is retiring after 15 years in that position. Town Justice Lori Hulse, Assessors Dana Brown and Meredith Lipinsky and Tax Receiver Laurie Zaneski also took their oaths of office.