Saturday, August 18, 2018
The Riverhead train station spruce-up continued Saturday with more than three dozen volunteers spreading mulch and planting perennials in garden beds along the platform on Railroad Avenue.
Home Depot donated the plants and several pallets of mulch and marble chips for the landscape plan, which was designed by master gardener volunteers from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. Community members and teams of volunteers from Home Depot, Town Hall, Riverhead Townscape, Sheet Metal Workers Local 28 and Laborers Union 66 descended on the train station at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The site had been prepared by workers from the LIRR, Riverhead Buildings and Grounds Division, Riverhead Highway Department and Home Depot volunteers, who over the past couple of weeks ripped out overgrown shrubbery and trees, picked up trash, tilled the soil and spread topsoil. The LIRR has replaced the plexiglass on the platform waiting area, installed security cameras, and started work on the station house, repointing the bricks and erecting barricades to block access to the north side of the unoccupied building. A sprinkler system on the property, which had been shut down, will be reactivated, LIRR government and community affairs liaison Vanessa Pino Lockel said.
Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith has been working with the railroad to improve security and the appearance of the Riverhead station, which also serves as a stop for several Suffolk County Transit bus lines. She said she is in discussion with the county to have a couple of bus shelters placed on the western side of the station house building.
"The supervisor asked the railroad to come and do a site visit with her so she could point out some things that needed to be improved," Lockel said. "We talked about overall maintenance and some capital projects."
Lockel said LIRR president Phillip Eng is "very interested in making sure that each of the station houses are tended to and taken care of." The railroad plans to issue an RFP for a vendor to occupy the building, Lockel said.
The station clean up and beautification project was the supervisor's brainchild, she said.
Anthony Guerrero, Sheet Metal Workers Local 28 political coordinator said the union wants to "see our members involved in the community." He said members come from other communities to pitch in and help, as they did today. Many, like Guerrero, of New Hyde Park, brought family members along, too.
Joe Montalbano of Wading River, organized volunteers from his union, Laborers Local 66. "I care about my town," Montalbano said.
"I am overwhelmed by the turnout," Jens-Smith said. "This place looks fantastic. It looks like a new train station." She said she hopes the facelift and improved security will help people, especially visitors to the area, feel more comfortable about using the train.
Council members James Wooten and Catherine Kent were also on hand to help, as was the supervisor's mother, Judy Jens, and her office staff: chief of staff John Marafino, deputy chief of staff Meagan Zegarelli and legislative assistant Patrick Derenze.
"This looks really great," said Jesus Hernandez of Peconic, who stopped at Mae's Market for something to eat. "It's a big improvement," he said.