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Town justice wants bond resolution to refurbish town armory

Riverhead Justice Court officials are asking the town board to refurbish an abandoned armory as a new police and court facility.

At the Riverhead Town Board’s Nov. 21 meeting, Town Justice Allen Smith asked the board to adopt a bond resolution before the end of the year that would allow the refurbishing of the Riverhead National Guard Armory on Route 58 so it can be used for police and court purposes.

Smith said the conditions at the current Riverhead court and police building on Howell Avenue “have gotten progressively worse.”

“Jurors have no parking, no jury deliberation room and are required to share the prisoner holding area,” Smith said, adding that security at the current building “is questionable.”

The armory was closed in 2011 after several National Guard companies and Army and Marine Reserves centers in Nassau and Suffolk counties were merged into one building in Farmingdale.

In November 2011, New York State transferred the armory to the town, specifically under the condition the premises be used by the town’s police department and Justice Court, as well as for public safety and recreational programs developed by the police department.

The estimated cost to design police and court facilities in the armory was $13 million, according to a town-commissioned 2014 architectural and engineering study from EGA Architects P.C. and Hauppauge-based Cashin Associates, P.C. Talks on the facility cooled down afterward.

Smith asked the town to pass a bond resolution with updated construction estimates “as soon as possible,” with the build-out of the project being subject to approval by future town boards.

“You are reminded of what occurred when a prior town board underestimated the cost of cleaning up the town dump-slash-landfill,” Smith said, referring to a failed $52-million landfill reclamation project dating back to the 2000s that left the town with project-related debts to this day.

“Future town boards may elect not to bond the authorized amount in whole or in part,” Smith said.

The only comment from the board at the meeting was from Town Councilman John Dunleavy, who spoke in favor of allowing the armory to be refurbished.

“They definitely need it,” Dunleavy said.

Town Supervisor Sean Walter did not immediately respond to request for comment Friday.

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