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Riverhead may follow other Suffolk towns' lead and auction off abandoned vehicles

Police impound yard in Westhampton in December 2016.

Police impound yard in Westhampton in December 2016. Credit: James Carbone

Riverhead officials are considering a proposal that would eventually auction off abandoned, unlicensed vehicles left on the side of town roads that are taking up too much space at the town’s crowded garage.

Highway Department officials want to get rid of vehicles after they have been impounded 60 days. The town's municipal garage can hold up to 70 cars but is nearing capacity, officials said.

Town Highway Superintendent George Woodson said the program would mirror a similar initiative in Babylon and Islip towns.

Woodson said he had recently seen about eight vehicles abandoned without license plates within 20 minutes of driving around Riverhead roads. He said the auction program would help the town clean up blight near roadways and potentially yield several thousand dollars in sales.

“It’s a safety issue having uninspected and unlicensed cars lying around,” Woodson said. “It would get derelict cars off the road and it cleans up the town.”

Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said she would be open to testing the program out to see how effective it is.

“When you drive around, you do see a fair amount of cars on the streets that don’t have license plates on them, so I certainly think [the program] would help alleviate some of those issues,” Jens-Smith said. “I’m not opposed to at least trialing it to see if it’s helpful.”

However, Deputy Supervisor Tim Hubbard said at an Aug. 9 town board work session that he was not convinced there are enough abandoned vehicles to warrant an auction program.

“Honestly, it’s rare that we get a car that you even want to sit in” Hubbard said. “The stuff we pick up is put there for a reason because even the owner doesn’t want it.”

The town board is awaiting a report from the Police Department on the number of abandoned cars retreived from or reported near town roads before deciding whether to proceed.


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