The Riverhead Business Improvement District is an organization with a singular purpose: making Riverhead a special place to be, one that thrives in the present and is growing toward the future. “The Riverhead BID is funded by all of the businesses and property owners on Main Street,” says BID president Ray Pickersgill. “The point of them is to bring more businesses and business into downtown.”
DansHamptons: How do you go about accomplishing that?
Ray Pickersgill: We have a lot of ways of going about it. We do clean-ups on Main Street, we clean the sidewalks, we plant flowers on Main Street to make it more attractive. But the main thing we do is events that draw crowds to Riverhead and connect people to business. We do different concerts that take place throughout the summer, and also capital improvement projects. We did a Mardi Gras this year and even did an antique appraiser show where we had antique appraisers appraise peoples’ antiques—that was a big event for us this year. We also do the cardboard boat races, which is a lot of fun. Currently we are planning an ice skating rink to bring more people to Riverhead.
DH: Sounds like a lot.
RP: It is, but we are always, constantly doing. We also support not-for-profits on Main Street such as the Science Center and the East End Arts Council. We are always looking for new things. We help entrepreneurs to try and connect them with landlords to help them make deals. We solicit grants for public projects. Skull boat racing has become very popular in Riverhead and we’re working on a plan to bring a world class regatta to Riverhead.
DH: What are some of your favorite things to do in Riverhead?
RP: Riverhead has some really unbelievable restaurants, and I think that a lot of people don’t know that. The Science Center and the aquarium are great for kids, and the new Hyatt hotel is absolutely magnificent. The Vail Leavitt Music Hall is a historic venue—it is built exactly like the Ford Theater in Washington. They have some absolutely wonderful shows there. There is also a new brewery called the Long Ireland brewery that is really cool. That just opened here and is really neat if you are into beer and want to see all the different types of beer and how it’s made. It’s almost set up like a winery, with a tasting room and everything. Soon, and it’s a very good possibility, we might have a 14 screen movie theater.
DH: You really love Riverhead, don’t you.
RP: I do, I really do love it here. It’s just such a great town to live in and visit. Oh and I love the Suffolk County Culinary Institute. It’s right on Main Street and teaches baking and cooking, and after 1:30 p.m. they offer up half-priced deals on all of their baked goods—which is a great thing.
DH: That is great! It sounds like bit by bit, the BID really is making Riverhead a better place.
RP: We’re doing one building at a time and it’s working. Our young people need Riverhead to be a lively work and play area, and I really think that is where Riverhead is heading.
For more information about the Riverhead Business Improvement District, visit them at riverheadbid.com.