As the popular song goes, the Riverhead town board is torn between whether or not to pave possible artistic paradise and put up parking lot.
The future of the Second Street Firehouse in Riverhead was on the table at a town board work session on Thursday.
Theafter a swap with the fire district.
And now, the board is weighing options on what to do on the roughly 1.1 acre parcel, which served as fire department headquarters until 2008.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said as the town grows, so will the need for parking. "We're starting to have a parking problem downtown," he said.
If the town decided to tear down the building, the parcel would yield about 150 parking stalls, Walter said.
Another option, said Ray Pickersgill of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, would be to use the firehouse to house artists, much like what is currently done at Artspace in Patchogue, providing affordable housing for artists. The board agreed that to investigate whether grant funding might be available to pursue that possibility.
But unlike Patchogue, which has approximately 2100 parking spaces, in Riverhead, "you'd be pressed to find 600," Walter said; in addition, Riverhead does not have the approximately $200,000 Patchogue contributed to finance the project, and grant funding would be needed.
Councilman Jim Wooten said the Suffolk County Historical Society has expressed interest in the building as a museum annex. The Southold Indian Museum has also said it would like to move its location, he added.
One compromise, Councilman John Dunleavy said, might be just demolishing the additions to the building, to allow for additional parking, but keeping the original structure, which dates back to 1935.
Other options for the parcel include outright purchase by a private entity, a brewery, a gym, or an indoor farmers market, said Community Development Director Chris Kempner.
Walter said he did not want to make any decisions until a parking study was commenced to determine how the town should move forward to manage parking as the town continues to gain vibrancy and economic health.
The supervisor also mentioned a New York State Department of State Brownfield Opportunity Area grant; the town has a request for proposals out now to retain a consultant to help with developing a corridor plan for Main Street, running from the Tanger Mall to Hubbard Avenue; the firehouse will probably be included in the BOA.
Further discussions will ensue, Walter said. "This is a tough decision."
Added Councilman George Gabrielsen, in the future, "We will need parking. We don't want to have an 'oops' moment here."