April 19, 2006
I'm really concerned about downtown Riverhead. I came here over a year ago and was quite distressed with the stores that were closing. Here's a picturesque downtown just going to pot. They lasted up until the Blues Festival and then they closed. I watched Sears close its doors — in every area I've been in, Sears has been an anchor. And they draw and enhance the retail trade in the surrounding areas.
Riverhead to me is a countrified Greenwich Village in a sense, lending itself to arts, culture, and food. I see the town gearing towards it, and wonder what's going to happen to the moderate-income people, are they going to be priced out of the housing and rental market? My customers are from mid-low to middle income, although we're served by all economic groups, from those who provide us with stock and those that purchase.
I guess I am saying that I'm somewhat fearful that there will be no place for the Salvation Army store — but I certainly hope that doesn't happen. I know we are right next door to Atlantis Marine World Aquarium and they're looking now to develop and expand, and they may be searching for more parking.
But you should know that the Salvation Army encompasses a bigger scope than just a thrift store. All the thrift shops are geared towards the Adult Rehab Centers programs, which help the people who are discouraged, the homeless, and the handicapped.
The funds from this Salvation Army and others supplement an 80-man rehab facility located in Hempstead and those facilities also located in the five boroughs. Riverhead caters to the recovering population with a number of treatment centers here, along with a number of sober houses. The recovering usually pass through our doors one way or another, whether as an employee or supplying them with the clothes to enter back into the work force. The SA caters to the needs of the neighborhood both economically and socially. And their mission is to help individuals with their life and their faith.
We feel we're doing an excellent job here and if anything should happen to this store it will not only affect the employees, but the men in the rehab facilities. We own it but the possibility of the town purchasing our building concerns me. I know that in the last six months there have been offers to buy the building, and I do know the offer wasn't entertained.
I hear and read though other means about the renaissance of the new Riverhead. And I'm very hopeful small business and quaint businesses that make up Main Street of Riverhead won't be sacrificed for the desires of increasing the towns tax base or large real estate interest.
I love this town; it reminds me of where I come from in Queens in the 1940s, when there were still some selected areas being farmed. Personally the whole air it represents relaxes me from the hubub of the city. Out here people wave at you and care about you — and it shows.
Riverhead is a tremendous mix and melting pot. I've watched people working side-by-side overcome language barriers and those with diversified backgrounds accomplish common goals. And I'm proud to be a Riverhead resident and I look forward to being here and contributing to this town for many years.
If you live or work in the Riverhead area and you want to give us a piece of your mind about something, let The Independent Traveler Watchman know by contacting Rick at 324-2500 or e-mail email@example.com and we'll pass it along to R. B Stuart.