April 12, 2006
"The idea of this new development coming with big money, big plans, and absolutely no sense at all who downtown Riverhead is is scary. It appears to me that the fabric and character that makes Riverhead so charming and inviting to the artists, will be pushed out or ignored by the people who want to level us and build a waterfront Disney World.
"They have talked about developing in phases — that they have the money and they can do it immediately, and if they do what 'they' want, there will be nothing left of Main Street, Riverhead.
"The buildings that we know will be gone, including probably the East End Arts Council, possibly the churches and the people. The development Riverhead can certainly use, but can't we do it ourselves? So we won't be steamrolled by an alien vision of us? For example: how about extending the bulkhead at the riverfront to include a little more green space rather than that parking lot? And why not work out a more frequent train schedule to Riverhead? If there's better train service to Riverhead, people will be stopping here and commuting to and from here more.
"The restaurants will survive better, as well as the shops, and so far they're actually doing okay — not great, they could do better. And rather then viewing Riverhead as needing to be 'developed' — it needs to grow, and it has been.
"The reason I moved to Riverhead was at the time they were talking about developing an Arts District on Main St. At the time most of the storefronts were empty as were the spaces above the ground floor, because it was zoned for business and not residential. The zoning had changed 10 years ago so that artists could live and work in spaces above the stores. Even though they zoned Riverhead as an arts district the artists never got to move into the buildings.
"In hopes that the arts district would develop, individual businesses began opening up; the Eastenders Coffee House, Blue Door Gallery, Sage Boutique, along with additional restaurants and downtown Main St. started growing all on its own. All of the hopes and dreams of artists and the EEAC is right on Main St. where they have fabulous community events, quality artists in their membership, good programming, and the Community School for the Arts. So Riverhead is actually an arts community, even though the artists were never allowed to move in above the stores.
"My experience has been that the building owners will simply not talk business to the artists . . . and it doesn't matter because we don't need them.
"If it's allowed to continue as it has been with Atlantis Marine World and independent business owners, the arts, the performances at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, and if we add transportation to that mix, it will become more appealing and the convenience will make it expand and grow even more — which is a good thing."
If you live or work in the Riverhead area and want to give us a piece of your mind about something, let The Independent Traveler Watchman know; call R.B. Stuart at