Riverhead is close to completing a $20 million property purchase for a new Town Hall location that would give both town hall and the town’s justice court much-needed operational space.
Riverhead is expected to transition into a new town hall within a year after town officials recently announced the town is in contract with Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation to acquire the 4.2-acre Robert Entenmann Campus property on West Second Street downtown.
The town expects to close by the second week of January on the property deal, according to Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar. The property has one 36,000-square-foot three-story building and two two-story buildings, which Aguiar said are in “exceptional condition,” and will also have 200 parking spaces that are expected to help create more parking options downtown. The main building will have a meeting room for town meetings and expanded space for multiple town departments.
“This has been in the makings for 20 years,” Aguiar told Newsday on Monday, adding, “These are long-term planning initiatives not only to address present needs, but also for future needs.”
Amy Loeb, executive director of Peconic Bay Medical Center, said in a statement that the hospital was “thrilled” to assist the town and offer the property for sale.
“In turn, this new venture will enable us to expand our medical infrastructure and services to the community,” Loeb said.
The move will allow Riverhead’s justice court to be relocated from the building on Howell Avenue it now shares with the town police department to the current town hall on Howell and the police to expand their offices at their current location next to town hall.
Riverhead Town Justice Lori Hulse told Newsday on Monday that it was a “very exciting prospect” to have the justice court move from their current location.
For several years, Hulse and late Town Justice Allen Smith, who died in July 2020, asked the town to consider other options to give the justice court space. The court building on Howell Avenue, which averages between 100 and 140 court cases in the morning, according to Hulse, lacks proper space for holding prisoners, a jury room, and other vital court functions.
“It’s been a long time coming, and we’re very excited about being able to move into a facility with more space, more security and just the safety alone is reason enough to be thrilled about the move,” Hulse said.
The town has not yet released estimates for how much it will cost to renovate the buildings involved in the town hall move.