Riverhead's West Main Street was literally buzzing with excitement Tuesday as Town Supervisor Sean Walter reopened the long-shuttered public restroom with an official "first flush" and others gathered to test the electric hand dryers.
"It all works," Walter said.
The comfort station, on West Main Street across from Griffing Avenue and adjacent to the River and Roots Community Garden, will be open daily throughout the summer starting next year and for special events.
Walter said he hopes to find a local business owner to take responsibility for opening and closing the station in the summer, and members of the community garden will also get a key.
"I'm sure someone will want to do it," he said. "It’s a great thing to have here for the community."
The work on the station was done by the town's Building Department and used about $35,000 of a $66,000 Suffolk County downtown revitalization grant.
Walter said part of the remaining funding from the grant will go toward building a brick walkway around the station that will lead to a bridge crossing into Grangebel Park.
The station was first built in 1970 by the Lions Club of Riverhead. It closed when the bathroom attendant -- a woman some at Tuesday's ceremony remembered as "Ms. Nettie" -- retired and the bathroom was vandalized. It was also used for a time as an equipment closet for the town's parking meter attendants, when it had them, Walter said.
"It's been closed since, best guess, 1990," he said.
Suffolk County Legis. Edward Romaine (R-Center Moriches), who secured the grant for the town, said it was the perfect time to open this resource to the public.
"With Riverhead rising and Riverhead really working to take advantage of all its resources, what better use of the money than to reopen this comfort station," he said, adding that this was just one more step toward a brighter future for Riverhead.
"This town is coming back," he said. "This is just one piece of a mosaic for this community."
Suffolk County Legis. Edward Romaine, left, Guy Cawley, of the Town of Riverhead Building Department, and Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter open the comfort station in Riverhead. (Oct. 25, 2011)