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Riverhead, Suffolk officials may buy land to expand public access to Peconic River

The lot at 305 West Main St. in

The lot at 305 West Main St. in Riverhead could be purchased in partnership with Suffolk County and used to help create a "green belt" of properties to allow public waterfront access to the Peconic River. Credit: Randee Daddona

Riverhead officials appear to agree on partnering with Suffolk County to acquire about half an acre of land downtown to create a "green belt" of properties to allow public waterfront access to the Peconic River.

Suffolk County Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) asked the Riverhead Town Board at its Feb. 7 work session to put up a resolution for the board's Feb. 20 regular meeting that would support working with the county to buy 0.45 acres of property on West Main Street bordering the river. No price has been determined.

“Anytime you can preserve property on the river, then we should be doing that," Krupski said. "It not only protects the river, but it gives the public waterfront access.” He added that the county’s previous acquisition of adjacent land west of the property would help expand that access for residents.

Officials said the resolution will be on the agenda for the board's Feb. 20 meeting at Town Hall.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said after the meeting that the land could be used to create a "green belt" of properties in Riverhead where open space and parks for residents would be available.

Though the town has no written plan for creating such a green space, Jens-Smith said previous studies had recommended Riverhead consider initiating one.

“Acquiring this property would help move that forward,” she said. “We’re always looking to have greater access to the river.”

If the town agrees to partner with the county to buy the land — which is owned by resident Tom Mielnicki — the town would be responsible for costs related to developing and maintaining the property, Krupski said.

Buying that property, Krupski added, could also tie into the county’s potential acquisition of 16 acres of nearby property on West Main Street, which was formerly a duck farm. Some board members in December were hesitant about moving forward with obtaining that property, citing concerns over the cost of maintaining it.

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