NYS Supreme Court building in Riverhead nears re-opening

Downtown Riverhead, New York State Supreme Court
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The main Supreme Court building on Griffing Avenue has been covered in scaffolding since September 2011.

Restoration work at the Griffing Avenue courthouse in Riverhead is about to enter its seventh year.

But Suffolk County officials are predicting 2013 will be the last year the historic building in the heart of the county seat’s civil court complex sits as just a construction site.

Gil Anderson, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, which is overseeing the project, said the work is expected to wrap up next summer.

Officials conceded, however, that trying to predict when that job will be finished has been a difficult task.

In August 2011, DPW chief deputy commissioner Jim Peterman told the News-Review that the work, which began in 2007, was expected to be done by the end of this year. In 2008, officials predicted it would be completed by 2010 at the latest.

“Any building, when you open it up, you start finding things you didn’t expect,” Mr. Anderson explained. “A building of that age and that construction is fraught with issues. We continually found different things and different hurdles we had to get over during this job, and that’s why it’s taking so long.”

But Mr. Anderson believes the finish line is within sight.

“Right now, we have all the funding we need and we’re rocking and rolling and this should be it. The third floor is already being used as courts.”

The main state Supreme Court building was built in 1929, according to town historian Georgette Case.

An earlier court building that was constructed on Griffing Avenue in 1855 had later burned down, she said.

The main courthouse building that currently has scaffolding on it was used as an office for the court clerk and for courtrooms, while the court annex, just south of that, was also used for courtrooms, officials said.

Once everything is finished, those uses will continue, although the county plans to move Family Court, which is now housed in rented space on East Main Street, into the Griffing Avenue complex as well.

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