New Landmarks Preservation Commission
Purpose: Compile detailed historical information regarding the town through research and interviews. Provide information to local media, organizations, institutions and residents on historic aspects of the town and its citizens.
Riverhead's first residents were Native Americans who arrived here about 10,000 years ago. They were hunters from Asia. They settled in Riverhead because of its location in a well-watered flood plain. The site provided many food resources - fish, elk and others.
Riverhead was originally a part of Southold Town until March, 1792. One of the reasons for the separation was the inconvenience in attending Town meetings. Southold at that time included Shelter Island and all the land of the north shore of Long Island from Oysterponds (Orient Point) to Wading River.
The Town of Riverhead was formed from a large portion of what was known as the "Aquebogue Division" of Southold. From 1661 to 1792, all the land between Mattituck and Wading River (which would now include Laurel, Jamesport, Northville, Aquebogue, Roanoke, Riverhead, Calverton, and Baiting Hollow) was described as "Aquebogue".
At the time of separation, the two largest villages in the Town were at Wading River and Lower or Old Aquebogue, which is now Jamesport.
The first 10 years or so, after the organization of the Town, saw as its Supervisors: Daniel Wells (1792-93), Dr. David Conkling (1793-94), and Josiah Reeve (1794-1803).
As government grew in Riverhead, the Town became responsible for many aspects of life within its borders. The Water District was established in 1914; zoning discussions began at a Town Board meeting in September, 1928, although zoning didn't become a reality until June, 1959; seven acres on Youngs Avenue was purchased for a Town Dump in 1929 for $800.
During World War II, the Town enacted a 9:30 pm curfew for children under 16.
The Town began to provide recreation also. In 1923, it accepted a gift from Cora Reeves Barnes for 14 acres on Long Island Sound - this gift is known as Reeve's Park.
Historic firsts: Syrena Stackpole, in 1931, was the first woman elected to Town Board; Charles Crump was the first African-American elected Town Official - Board of Assessors.
Growth of the town population created a need for more ordinances and local laws covering such matters as marinas, housing, junkyards, jail terms, burning and building construction, carnivals, developments, advertising, agriculture districts, taverns, site plans and swimming pools.
Different departments regulate and enforce our ordinances and laws. The Building Department, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Architectural Review Board, Environmental Quality Review Board, Community Development Agency, Police and Recreation Departments.
Elected officials of the Town of Riverhead include Supervisor, Councilpersons, Town Clerk, Justices, Receiver of Taxes, Assessors and Superintendent of Highways.
Since 1975, the Town Board has included 4 councilpersons and the Supervisor with 2 Town Justices serving separately.
Justice Court takes care of criminal and civil cases, traffic violations, small claims court cases and jury trials.
Today, the annual general Town meeting has been replaced with bi-monthly meetings which are held on the first and third Tuesday evenings.
Town officials are voted upon, in the odd-numbered years, on election day instead of at the once-a-year Town meeting.