A piece of Riverhead's downtown area — which has fallen into disrepair — is expected to be mapped out for future improvements, officials said.
A $25,000 grant from the NYS Regional Economic Development Council to Riverhead Town will pay for a study on more transit-oriented development near the Riverhead LIRR station.
The train station on Osborne Avenue and Railroad Street has become dilapidated over time, and residents have complained for years about crime in the surrounding area, officials said.
Riverhead Community Development director Dawn Thomas said the town wants to understand the feasibility and costs associated with developing the train station area.
“The improvement and enhancement of our public transportation opportunities is important because we want people to live downtown and perhaps use public transportation for different things. But the [train station] area there is very depressed economically. It’s blighted in a lot of ways,” Thomas said.
Redeveloping the area with a focus on creating more parking, retail and housing “could inject some life into the area,” she said.
Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said blight and crime have hurt the area around the train station.
"It's our main area for not only our railroad transportation, but it's our bus hub, so there's a need to improve that area so our community can feel safe and comfortable being able to access that," Jens-Smith said.
“It’s key to the revitalization of our downtown area,” said Town Councilwoman Catherine Kent, the Riverhead Town Board’s liaison to Riverhead's Downtown Revitalization Committee. Kent said the area is a possible location for taller buildings, something that the committee says is not desirable along Main Street.
Once the state signs the contract releasing the funding to Riverhead, the town will hire design professionals to produce a study, Thomas said. Completing the study normally can take up to one year.