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09/11/18 8:33pm
09/11/2018 8:33 PM

Seventeen years have passed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, but Riverhead has not forgotten.

Dozens gathered Tuesday evening for the neighborhood’s annual candlelight walk and remembrance at the 9/11 Memorial Park, located on Sound Avenue and Park Road, also known as Lt. Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive. READ

09/12/14 10:18am
09/12/2014 10:18 AM
Patrick O'Neill plays the bagpipe during Thursday night's memorial at Reeves Park. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Patrick O’Neill plays the bagpipe during Thursday night’s memorial at Reeves Park. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Reeves Park community turned out in force Thursday to pay respects to those who gave their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, when attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a jet airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania took almost 3,000 lives, including two from Reeves Park.  (more…)

06/04/14 4:00pm
06/04/2014 4:00 PM
The land on the west side of Park Road will likely be preserved as farmland by Suffolk County. (Credit: Google Maps)

The land on the west side of Park Road and north of Sound Avenue will likely be preserved as farmland by Suffolk County. (Credit: Google Maps)

It looks like they won’t be paving one parcel on Sound Avenue and putting up a parking lot.

While one 14.7-acre parcel had one been slated for a shopping center, the Suffolk County Legislature voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of its farmland development rights, disallowing any future commercial development on site.

The development rights purchase totals $1,238,160, or $84,000 per acre. The deal still awaits County Executive Steve Bellone’s signature, but the resolution to authorize the approval was introduced in the legislature at the request of Mr. Bellone.

The land is owned by Boom Development, headed by Ed Broidy of Southampton, and is located at the northwest corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue in the Reeves Park community. Mr. Broidy has already accepted the offer, according to the county resolution authorizing the deal.

In 2013, the county had planned to purchase the property as open space, with the goal being to make it a park and fitness trail. The proposal would have required Riverhead Town to pay for the cost of creating the park, which officials said at the time would cost about $76,000, and to maintain the park in the future.

As the Town Board was considering the resolution to approve the town’s part in the open space arrangement, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilman George Gabrielsen objected, saying the town doesn’t have the money to build the park, and instead arguing that the county should preserve the land as farmland. The two penned an opinion piece with the News-Review arguing the same.

With Supervisor Sean Walter abstaining on the issue because he once represented Mr. Broidy as an attorney, the open space plan lacked the three votes necessary to be gain approval, and the Town Board’s other two members eventually threw their support behind the farmland preservation plan.

Under the farmland preservation scenario, the county would purchase the development rights from the land, which is actively farmed, and it could continue to be farmed, but could not be developed.

The county has never publicly revealed what the purchase price would have been as open space.

Ms. Giglio brought up the fact that the county legislature was voting on the farmland preservation resolution during Tuesday’s Riverhead Town Board meeting.

“Hopefully, this land will remain a farm for another couple hundred years and it won’t be a park, so we won’t have to worry about maintaining it or spending any money,” she said.

She and Mr. Gabrielsen have argued that this land has been farmed for more than 200 years.

Mr. Broidy had proposed a commercial shopping center on the property in 2003, around the same time that EMB Enterprises, headed by Kenney Barra, proposed a commercial development on the northeast corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road.

The Town Board at the time rezoned both properties, as well as property on the south side of Sound Avenue, in response to opposition from Reeves Park residents toward the commercial applications. That resulted in lawsuits being filed by all property owners.

While Mr. Barra and the property owner on the south side of Sound Avenue, R & K Precision Autoworks, prevailed in their lawsuits against the town’s rezoning, Mr. Broidy had been working on a settlement of his lawsuit.

The land owned by Mr. Barra eventually was purchased by the county as well two years ago, and is now a September 11, 2001 Memorial Park.

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11/28/13 7:00am
11/28/2013 7:00 AM
The Kelly Family at the 2011 Memorial Golf tournament held at Cherry Creek Links in Riverhead: (from left) Mom and Dad (seated) Sue and Emmet Kelly and children (standing)  Jim (left), Bob (center) and Suzanne.

The Kelly Family at the 2011 Memorial Golf tournament held at Cherry Creek Links in Riverhead: (from left) Mom and Dad (seated) Sue and Emmet Kelly and children (standing) Jim (left), Bob (center) and Suzanne.

It took years. And for Emmet and Sue Kelly, seeing a Sept. 11, 2001 memorial park built near their home wasn’t just about their son Thomas, a NYC firefighter who was killed responding to the terror attacks.

It was also about preserving the Reeves Park neighborhood their son loved so much.

Tom Kelly, Sept. 11, WTC, FDNY

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Emmet and Sue Kelly (center) and family at the Sept. 11 vigil in 2012.

The park — built on what’s now county-owned land on the spot of a once-planned shopping center — was finally completed and unveiled this past Sept. 11.

Within nine weeks, both Emmet and Sue Kelly died.

“That was huge that they got to see the memorial park,” said Bob Kelly, who helped lead efforts, along with civic, town and county leaders, to preserve the property as parkland. “It meant a lot to them. They both had said the same thing, ‘At least we got to see it completed.”

Thomas Kelly, who died trying to rescue people from the World Trade Center, had a home in Reeves Park, where his parents owned a second home.

At the vigil this Sept. 11, both Bob, a retired city firefighter, and Jim, a retired New York City police officer, pushed their parents in wheelchairs down to the park at Sound Avenue and Park Road —  which has also been named in honor of Thomas Kelly — for what has become an annual memorial service. (The vigil was being held at the spot even before the land was purchased by Suffolk County last year.)

Emmet Kelly died on Oct. 15 at the age of 82, following a lengthy illness, and Sue, whose full name was Marie Suzanne Kelly, died on Nov. 18 at the age of 79. They both had been ill for much of the year.

Emmet was a career FDNY member, having been in the department for 36 years, Bob Kelly said. Sue Kelly was a dietician at Peck Memorial Hospital in Brooklyn and later was a manager at an A&S department store in Queens.

“She died of a broken heart,” Bob Kelly said of his mom, who, like his dad, died in their Reeves Park home.

The shopping center was first proposed for the four-acre land in 2003. The development ran into widespread community opposition from Reeves Park residents, but the courts had sided with the developer in a lawsuit challenging a town rezoning of the property.

Then in 2010, former county Legislature Ed Romaine put in a bill to have the county buy the property for a memorial park. The property owner, EMB Enterprises, led by Kenney Barrey, eventually agreed to the sale and the county Legislature approved the purchase in Nov. 2012.

Bob Kelly said his parents seeing the park probably eased their remaining days on earth.

“Now, they are all together,” he said of his brother and his parents. “They are not in pain. They are all happy.”

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09/11/13 8:57pm
09/11/2013 8:57 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | The procession walks along Park Road in Reeves Park toward the new 9/11 Memorial at the corner of Park and Sound Avenue Wednesday night.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The procession walks along Park Road in Reeves Park toward the new 9/11 Memorial at the corner of Park and Sound Avenue Wednesday night.

Hundreds marched down Park Road in Reeves Park Wednesday night, joined by uniformed members of the Riverhead Fire Department, the Wading River Boy Scouts troop and other groups, to pay their respects to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The procession ended at the northeast corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road, at the new 9/11 Memorial Park dedicated to the first responders who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, as well as all those who’ve been killed in the line of duty in Riverhead Town.

While residents of Reeves Park have held the memorial walk annually, led by the surviving relatives of fallen FDNY firefighter Thomas Kelly,  this year marked the first for the newly completed memorial.

The park was built on land that had been slated for development in 2003. Reeves Park residents had fought for years to convince town and county officials to acquire the property and preserve it as a memorial park, with the final acquisition only happening in late 2012.

Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association in Reeves Park, served as the master of ceremonies for the event.

He later marveled at the work done by Riverhead Town employees in getting the new park ready for the 9/11 march.

“There’s love in what they did here,” he told a reporter. “Once they got up here and started working and people stopped by and patted them on the back, or gave them the thumbs up as they drove by, they just put their hearts into it.”

“I don’t recall ever seeing this tree before,” said Chris Kelly, a retired New York Police officer, as he admired the work that was done in clearing the site, moving the already placed large rock with a Sept. 11 Memorial on it, and installing benches, a flag pole and landscaping.

Chris Kelly is a cousin of Thomas Kelly, who died in the World Trade Center.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Mr. Kelly said of the park and the ceremony, at which he read a poem he had written about his cousin.

Chris Kelly spent time himself at Ground Zero and was working on Sept. 11, 2001, as was Thomas Kelly’s brothers Jim, also a retired city police officer, and Bob, who was a city firefighter at the time and is now retired.

Monday evening, Jim and Bob pushed the wheelchairs of their elderly parents, Emmett and Sue, to the ceremony. The procession started on Marine Street in Reeves Park and progressed south along Park Road/Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive to the park.

“It was great to see the whole community come out,” Bob Kelly said after the event. “I think they get it. It’s still hard for me to believe this is physically here. It’s part of the whole town now.

“It’s going to be here for everybody, for generations to come.”

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