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Riverhead awards firm $675,000 to map out town's future

Riverhead has hired a firm to help design

Riverhead has hired a firm to help design a town master plan.  Credit: Randee Daddona

Riverhead officials expect that updating the town’s master plan — which they recently agreed to pay $675,000 to an engineering consulting firm to do — will provide a road map toward planning the town’s future in the next 15 to 20 years.

A committee the town assigned to evaluate bids recommended AKRF Engineering, which was one of two bidders. The Riverhead Town Board voted 4-1 at its Oct. 2 meeting to award the $675,000 bid to the Manhattan-based firm. Councilwoman Jodi Giglio voted against the resolution, citing concerns over costs associated with the bid.

The goal of updating the plan would be to “lay out a roadmap as to how the town will grow and prosper in 20 years,” said Jeff Murphree, Riverhead’s building and planning administrator. 

The revitalization of Riverhead’s downtown area, reusing empty storefronts along Route 58, preservation of open space and agricultural lands, and creating regional employment opportunities within the town are among the main goals of the update, according to the Oct. 3 resolution the board passed.

“Right now, the town’s population is around 35,000, and when we take a look at the potential buildout in the next 10 to 20 years, you’re not going to see more significant growth, so this is a major step in the planning process as to how the rest of the town is going to evolve,” Murphree said.

A Riverhead comprehensive master plan, which was originally created in 2003, is necessary, town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith.

With several big-box stores along Route 58 abandoned in recent years with the advent of online shopping, Jens-Smith said repurposing those stores was a priority in the planned updates.

John Marafino, chief of staff at Riverhead Town Hall and a member of the committee that selected the firm, said there would be planned community meetings in each of Riverhead’s hamlets over the next 18 months to get residents’ feedback on what they want to see in the master plan updates.

“[The updates] are not going to fix everything, but it’s going to give us a map for a pretty strong future for the town, with community input, which is important,” Marafino said.

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