Riverhead Celebrates New Town Hall Opening

Riverhead Town Hall
Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar cuts the ribbon with help from Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation Chairperson Emilie Roy Corey, while Councilmen Kenneth Rothwell, left, and Tim Hubbard, center, look on.
Bruce Mermelstein

After many years in cramped quarters, Riverhead Town’s government officially has a new, spacious home.

“October 4, 2023, will forever be embedded in Riverhead’s history. Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Riverhead residents, businesses and employees of the great Town of Riverhead,”  Supervisor Yvette Aguiar told the large crowd that gathered in the shadow of the four-level glass and brick building on 2nd Street for the ribbon-cutting.

“Any published author will convey: Some chapters are more difficult to write than others. Today’s chapter, the new Town Hall chapter, is the result of many rough drafts, many revisions and tireless final edits by countless individuals spanning over two decades,” Aguiar continued.

In January, the town completed the $20 million acquisition of the 4.2-acre property encompassing 4-6 West 2nd Street and 214 Griffing Avenue in downtown Riverhead.

The building provides 42,000 square feet of space for offices, including the town clerk, code enforcement, tax receiver, fire marshal, building department and the town historian, among others. There’s a state-of-the-art boardroom on the first floor, an executive conference room on the third level and even a café on the lower level. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the interior with natural light and provide prime views of the downtown and the supervisor admits, her corner office may just have the best one.

Riverhead Town Hall
The celebration was held at the entrance to the new Town Hall and included a ribbon-cutting ceremony.Taylor K. Vecsey

The new Town Hall is the former home of Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) Foundation’s Robert Entenmann Campus, but the purchase also means the town becomes a landlord. The property includes the building occupied by M&T Bank, as well as another commercial brick building and a single-family residence.

“I never thought I would own a bank but we do,” Aguiar said, which was met with a roar from the crowd.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar speaks at the podium.Bruce Mermelstein

Two hundred parking spaces also came with the property, “and that is very, very costly,” she added.

“This location and its proximity to our downtown is a synergy to a perfect revitalization effort. Located 500 walking steps from our downtown Main Street, Town Hall is now the perfect complement to the downtown revitalization efforts currently underway.

“Through collaborations with public and private partnerships along with the assistance of the county executive and the generous award of $10 million from the Governor last year, we are now in the midst of a major transformation to activate our riverfront, our train station,” Aguiar said. “It is no longer promises, no longer talk, it’s happening.”

Riverhead Town Hall
Supervisor Yvette Aguiar in her office with Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and others who joined her to celebrate the day.Taylor K. Vecsey

She continued, “Those who work at the Town Hall will now enjoy access to the soon-to-be-built Town Square off of Main Street, which will include an amphitheater, a kayaking launch from the riverfront and a children’s park. It will host cultural events, all a stone’s throw from restaurants.”

Community Action Developer Dawn Thomas and her team’s work was highlighted. “Together with the town board, we have moved Riverhead forward.”

The move also commences the conversion of the old Town Hall at 210 Howell Avenue into the justice court, adjacent to the police headquarters, which will in turn be able to expand into the old justice court facility. The town board will be dedicating the prior town hall to the future site of the Justice Allen M. Smith Justice Court in a ceremony on October 24 at 1 p.m., the supervisor announced.

“Riverhead is on the move,” said Ed Romaine, the Brookhaven Town supervisor, who presented a commendation to the town board. He formerly served as a Suffolk County legislator whose office was within sight of this building. “I always thought as I drove by, ‘What a great building this is.’ Now it’s Riverhead’s.”

“You got a wonderful space so it’s better for the employees because they are going to have a great space to work in. It’s much better for the public because I think public access should be improved by having this wonderful building, and of course you can enjoy the bank full of cash that you got it,” Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski said in offering his congratulations.

One of the new office spacesTaylor K. Vecsey

Aguiar thanked the building and grounds staff and the town attorney’s office for their assistance in the move, and four individuals who she said worked tirelessly to see the project through; Council Robert Kern, Teresa Baldinucci the town’s Purchasing Agent, Henry “Chip” Kreymborg, the town’s Network and Systems Administrator and Natalie Privet, the administrative assistant to the supervisor.

She also highlighted the work of Joseph Petrocelli, whose company, J. Petrocelli Contracting of Ronkonkoma, oversaw the construction of the building 18 years ago and came back to retrofit it to make it work for the various town offices.

“We had fun,” he said of stepping back into the building for the seven-week project that had been projected to take nine weeks. The building was in excellent condition. “We moved some walls around, changed some lighting,” he said after the ceremony.

The builder behind some of the area’s biggest projects, such as the Long Island Aquarium, the Hyatt Place and Preston House and Hotel, Petrocelli said he enjoys reclaiming items and helped save the taxpayers significant money that way. He pointed out that even the sign at the building’s peak was taken off the old building.

“Everybody is happy, which is the best,” he said.

Riverhead Town Hall
The unveiling of the new street sign for the new Riverhead Town Hall.Bruce Mermelstein

The building was commissioned by the Suffolk County Bank board and leadership for its primary bank office more than 18 years ago. Several years later the bank, when the bank was acquired, the hospital, Northwell and the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation, purchased the building for administrative offices. In 2018, PBMC  named the downtown campus for the late Robert Entenmann, of the bakery business fame, after his children, Jackie and Robert, honored his legacy with a gift of $5 million to Peconic Bay Medical Center’s New Era Campaign benefitting cardiac care for the region.

“With the way things work, we then acquired, never thinking we could, the Mercy high school property,” Andy Mitchell, the Peconic Bay Medical Center CEO and president, recalled of the $14 million purchase of the 24.8-acre property from the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 2020.

“So in many ways this building because superfluous because we have so much land to develop at the hospital that is immediately adjacent to the hospital. And the question became, ‘Who should we partner with to sell this building?'”

“We are so thrilled to pass the baton today,” Mitchell added. “May the Town of Riverhead benefit from this wonderful facility and all that goes on around it.”

Saint Isidor Roman Catholic Church’s Deacon Michael A. Bonocore, who is also the chaplain for the Riverhead Police and Fire Departments, gave an invocation while blessing the building. He asked for protection for all who work there and all who enter.

“May this building be filled with joy and peace. May it be a place of safety and protection for all who work within its walls. We pray that all who work for the Town of Riverhead will be a source of inspiration, creativity and growth, where dreams are realized and goals are achieved.”

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The supervisor’s corner officeTaylor K. Vecsey
Food was available after the ceremonyTaylor K. Vecsey
Riverhead Town Hall
The new meeting roomBruce Mermelstein
Another office spaceTaylor K. Vecsey