The key to Riverhead’s future is continuing the progress on developing the town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton, revitalizing its downtown business district, improving town finances and maintaining its credit rating, Supervisor Sean Walter said in his annual State of the Town address Wednesday night.
Walter focused on improvements over the past two years, including new restaurants, old ones that have refurbished their interiors, a new bakery coming to Main Street and the crowds attending antique shows and the annual cardboard boat race on the Peconic River.
He also touted what he said was the spiritual heart of the business district — the 800-seat art deco Suffolk Theater, which closed in 1987 and now is being renovated.
“The theater is a touchstone — the first-date place where people met and eventually married, a place where couples courted, where kids spent their innocent years ... and came of age among the popcorn and Raisinets,” Walter said.
Walter suggested that plans to fast-track development at Calverton would make Riverhead a development model for the state, and added: “We can throw down the gauntlet and compete with Southern California and Silicon Valley, Research Triangle, Princeton ....”
He shared credit with his town board — all of whom, like Walter, ran on the Republican line — and said they would continue to work to preserve farmland, search for grants for capital projects and seek development that “respects our rural way of life.”
“The state of our town is strong,” Walter concluded, “and the greatness that lies within our special people will allow us to meet any challenges before us and keep us on the march toward a new and exciting future.”