Authors Posts by Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan
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State legislators recently voted on legislation to reform voting in New York.

Assembly members had voting on their minds.

Both houses passed a package of bills Jan. 14 which are currently awaiting the signatures of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Legislators said the goal of the bills is to reform the state’s current electoral process to make voting easier and to reduce the influence of special interest in elections, according to a press release from the office of state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket).

“Our vote to eliminate barriers will make voting more accessible to all state residents.”

— Steve Englebright

“It’s a good day for democracy in New York,” Englebright said in the release. “Our vote to eliminate barriers will make voting more accessible to all state residents.”

One piece of legislation will establish a nine-day early voting period starting in the 2019 general election. The period will include two weekends to allow voters to cast their votes in person, also before any primary or special election. This is what 35 other states and Washington, D.C., already do.

“New York is no longer behind the rest of the country,” said state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport).

Gaughran said many residents have told him that there have been times they have been unable to vote due to being stuck in the city with work or with inclement weather delaying trains. He added early voting would benefit all parties and races.

State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a statement if the bills become law there will not only be more time to cast votes but more clarity on primary day as well as more transparency.

“In today’s society, with so many people working long hours, combined with active lifestyles, the system needs to change to make it easier for individuals to participate in elections,” LaValle said in a release.

Another bill will change absentee voting no earlier than November 2021. Currently, a voter can cast an absentee ballot if they know they will be unable to do so Election Day due to physical illness or disability. An amendment to the New York State Constitution would allow for “no excuse” absentee voting.

“In today’s society, with so many people working long hours, combined with active lifestyles, the system needs to change to make it easier for individuals to participate in elections.”

— Ken LaValle

State legislators also passed bills to combine the state primary with the federal non-presidential primary. If Cuomo signs it into law, these primaries will take place in June. Gaughran said the move would save taxpayer dollars, and it ensures the NYS election laws comply with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which helps in the efficiency of military members serving overseas and citizens who live abroad voting in U.S. elections. Gaughran said he thinks combining primaries will help those who are currently overseas vote as easily for local offices as well as federal.

Another piece of legislation will allow voter registration to be allowed up to Election Day instead of 10 days or before. New York State voters will need to vote on the act as a constitutional amendment. Another bill would automatically transfer a voter’s registration when they move within New York state instead of residents needing to update when they move from one county to another.

The state legislators approved a bill that will require voter registration forms to include a space for preregistering for those 16 and 17 years of age. LaValle said, as a former teacher and principal, the bill was a meaningful one for him for young people to stay involved in the political process.

“It is my hope that when the measures become law, more people will take advantage of the opportunity to vote, allow more of voices to be heard, and thereby strengthen our government in the process,” LaValle said.

Both houses passed legislation to restrict the LLC loophole, which allows LLCs to make campaign contributions as individuals, and enables one person or corporation that owns multiple LLCs to funnel donations to a single candidate or committee. If Cuomo signs the bill, LLC campaign contributions will be limited to a $5,000 aggregate — the same limit that exists for corporations — and would require the disclosure of all owners of the LLC, whether direct or indirect.

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Stony Brook residents Don Estes and Dan Kerr will lead a morning interdenominational prayer service at All Souls Episcopal Church in Stony Brook beginning Jan. 30. Photo from Dan Kerr

Through prayer, a Stony Brook church is connecting further with the surrounding community.

The doors of All Souls Episcopal Church on Main Street are always open for all to pray or to enjoy activities such as its Saturdays at Six concerts, Second Saturdays poetry readings and Shamanic Drumming events. Beginning Jan. 30, the church will offer a weekly interdenominational morning prayer service led by Stony Brook residents Dan Kerr and Don Estes.

“If you start your day with a reading from Scripture, and a little reflection on Scripture, whether its Old Testament or New Testament, it gives you a framework that helps you realize that there’s a bigger picture.”

— Dan Kerr

Kerr, a church volunteer at All Souls, said he starts every day with structured prayer time and believes the new service is a natural progression to what the church has been doing. The congregation connects with approximately 500 people from the community through its events, he said, and many have asked for something such as the new morning service.

“The vision of this is that we have a relationship with all these 500 people, but we’ve never invited those 500 people to come and pray with us,” Kerr said.

He said the prayers and readings they will use at the interdenominational service are ones that all Christians will recognize and all religions can appreciate. Kerr said both he and Estes believe “any day that begins with prayer is likely to be a good day.”

“If you start your day with a reading from Scripture, and a little reflection on Scripture, whether its Old Testament or New Testament, it gives you a framework that helps you realize that there’s a bigger picture,” Kerr said.

Estes, a Methodist who attends Stony Brook Community Church at 216 Christian Ave. and former commodore of Stony Brook Yacht Club, said he was looking for a morning prayer service for a while, so when Kerr brought up the idea, he said he would be happy to help. Estes said starting the day with prayer every day had helped him through difficult times, especially when his wife Judy was battling Alzheimer’s disease before her passing last year.

A retired TWA pilot, Estes said he’s also been inspired by his travels around the world that allowed him to witness others’ prayer practices and his wife’s spirituality. He thinks a prayer group such as the All Souls one helps people figure out how they should be and what the day should be like for them.

“A prayer in the morning gets you started in the right direction for the day,” Estes said.

“It’s been a big help to me to meet the challenges of the day,” he said.

“In the morning, our minds tend to be the most clear and free from problems.”

— Tom Manuel

Tom Manuel, president and founder of The Jazz Loft, was pleased to hear the service would be offered.

“The secret of a close relationship with our God is to prioritize our first time each morning in prayer,” Manuel said. “In the morning, our minds tend to be the most clear and free from problems. Setting our course and focus on God is a great way to commit the day ahead to him.”

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said she commended Kerr and Estes for joining the community together with prayer.

“This early morning service reminds me of my grandmother who attended Mass every morning,” Cartright said. “Her devotion to starting every day with prayer has had a great positive impact on my faith. Prayer has always been such an important part of my personal and family life. It helps to keep me grounded, and it helps to keep me connected to God. Our faith communities are stronger when we can come together and pray together. Faith is one of the important ties that bind us together.”

The interdenominational morning prayer service will be held every Wednesday beginning Jan. 30 at 7 a.m. The service will run approximately 30 minutes, according to Kerr, and people of all faiths and traditions are welcome to attend. For more information, call 631-655-7798. All Souls Episcopal Church is located at 61 Main St., Stony Brook.

Mary Speers says goodbye to a congregant of Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo from Facebook

As the congregants of Setauket Presbyterian Church look to the future, one pastor has her mind on retirement.

The Rev. Mary Speers, 65, who pastored at the church for nearly six years, said her last sermon in Setauket Nov. 30. Temporarily taking over the role as interim pastor is Kate Jones Calone who is known for her work with the Open Door Exchange, an outreach program of the church created to collect furniture to distribute to those in need.

After members of Setauket Presbyterian conducted its most recent mission study and put together a five-year plan, Speers started asking herself if she wanted to work another five years, considering she was thinking of retiring in May when she turns 66.

The Rev. Mary Speers, left holding dog, at a past Christmas Eve Manger Service at Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo from Mary Speers

The reverend said she was already researching houses in Baltimore. Speers said she wished to move there due to a lot of social justice work needing to be done in the city, along with her love for small-city life. The pastor said if she bought a home before she retired, she could rent it out.

When she decided it would be best for Setauket Presbyterian church members to find someone who would be there for the long haul, she called the Presbytery office in Maryland to see if there were any churches looking for an interim pastor. She said soon after her request, she received a call that congregants of a church in the city were looking for someone. Around the same time, her real estate agent found a home for her.

She said the church members of Setauket Presbyterian understood her need to move as soon as possible and for the small Maryland church’s need for a pastor after theirs left in July 2018.

“They said, ‘You know what, why don’t you let them have a pastor for Advent,’” she said. “‘We’ll be fine.’ That was really sweet of them.”

Speers said she’ll miss pastoring at Setauket Presbyterian Church, where she described the congregants as “putting feet on faith.”

“The congregation is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “They are so involved in the running of the place.”

The pastor said after working and living in Setauket since February of 2013, in addition to the church members, she will miss her time in the Three Village area where she kayaked and picked beach plums at West Meadow Beach, with which she made jam.

Debra Dwyer, an elder with the church, said she switched churches three years ago and credits Speers with her becoming a member of Setauket Presbyterian. She described the pastor as strong and passionate.

Dwyer said she and one of her daughters Emily visited the church on one Youth Mission Sunday during which young church members reported about their recent mission trip to Washington, D.C., to work with the homeless. Based on that visit, Dwyer and her daughter came back one day when Speers was preaching.

“She preached on social issues,” the church elder said. “She applied the bible and scripture in a way that I was so impressed. What she was able to do was get a message out that was truly Christian and that was truly socially just in a way that was not controversial so that everyone could hear it.”

While Dwyer will miss Speers, she said she admires Jones Calone for her peace and justice missions and looks forward to her pastoring.

“For us, this is just a family member getting promoted,” she said.

Speers said she knows Jones Calone will do great in her role as interim pastor because she knows the church’s dynamics.

“She has a great head on her shoulder,” she said. “She’s very pastoral, but she also has excellent boundaries.”

The members of Setauket Presyterian Church welcomed interim pastor Kate Jones Calone with a cake. Photo by Sandy Bond

Jones Calone, 44, who is a wife and mother of three children ranging in age from 7 to 13, has been involved in the church since 2011 when she started as an assistant pastor. She was in the role for nearly five years, and during that time, launched and became the director of Open Door Exchange.

“I’m incredibly so grateful and excited to be serving Setauket Presbyterian Church in this point in the life of the congregation,” she said.

During this transitional time, she said she is excited to help the congregants, whom she described as loving and dedicated, with their plans, which include figuring out how to help people connect with their faith in new ways. She said the church will continue its mission to learn how they can be good stewards of the funds they receive.

In addition to running the Open Door Exchange, every Wednesday the church members volunteer at Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen in Port Jefferson, which serves hot, homemade meals with volunteers from several area churches.

Jones Calone, who officially became interim pastor Jan. 9, said Speers will be missed, and she always appreciated her support when Open Door Exchange was initiated.

“Mary brought a real creativity in her leadership in a lot of different ways, including worship, and I always appreciated that,” Jones Calone said. “I also think about how I really appreciated when we came to her and said, ‘We have this idea for starting this new outreach program.’ She never hesitated and said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s figure out a way to make this happen, what kind of support do you need.’”

The former home of Brookhaven Cat Hospital is being renovated after an Oct. 7 fire destroyed the interior. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Three months after a fire engulfed one of the buildings that makes up the Setauket Commons former tenants are embarking on new paths.

Business were forced to close after a fire ripped through 60 Route 25A in Setauket, the night of Oct. 7. The fire took more than two hours to control, according to Setauket Fire Department, leaving smoke and water damage in its wake.

Veterinarian Dr. Anthony Nanton, owner of Brookhaven Cat Hospital, has been working at Paumanok Veterinary Hospital in Patchogue since the end of November. The Stony Brook resident said when he arrived on the scene Oct. 7 smoke was pouring out of the building. It’s still difficult for him to talk about that night.

“It was quite traumatic,” he said.

Nanton said three resident cats died in the fire from what appeared to be smoke inhalation. The animal hospital was the felines’ home since 2003 when it was located in Coram.

“They were like my children,” the veterinarian said.

While Nanton will now work out of Patchogue, Anne McLaughlin, president of Hayes Physical Therapy, said she and her staff will remain in Setauket. The business has operated out of the Setauket Commons since 2004 and McLaughlin bought the company in 2009.

Since the fire, McLaughlin has made house calls when she can and referred patients to her colleagues in the surrounding area.

McLaughlin said she signed a new lease Jan. 11, and Hayes Physical Therapy will be moving to the same shopping center as Mario’s Italian Restaurant — Heritage Corners East — in the storefront of the former music store. She is hoping to reopen within the next couple of weeks.

“There was no question that I was going to stay in the Three Village area,” she said. “It was just a matter of finding a suitable location.”

The employees of Advanced Research Media, which had an office in the building for 2 1/2 years, are now working remotely from their homes, according to the company’s vice president Elyse Blechman. The owners of Healing Massage could not be reached by this publication’s press time.

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The Carriage Shed pictured post stabilization. Photo from Caroline Church of Brookhaven

The Carriage Shed at the Caroline Church of Brookhaven continues to receive a makeover.

The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation announced Jan. 11 it had recently awarded the church a matching grant of $10,950. The grant is to cover the cost of replacing the cedar roof on the shed, and according to Barbara Russell, a junior warden at the church and Town of Brookhaven historian, work has already started on the roof as Jan. 15.

The grant marks the second time in the last two years the church has received funds from the foundation. The first matching grant of $23,700 was awarded in 2017 and was used to help stabilize the shed, which was built in 1887. The shed’s internal framework needed replacing as the supporting locust poles were sinking into the ground, according to Russell.

The historian said the congregation was grateful to the foundation for its help.

“Our shared commitment to telling the story of our rich heritage of our communities is exemplified in our ongoing collaboration,” Russell said. “We look forward to the full restoration of the shed in time for our [upcoming] anniversary celebration.”

Father Richard Visconti, rector of Caroline Church, above, watches the Carriage Shed roof being installed. Photo from Caroline Church of Brookhaven

Kathryn Curran, executive director of the Gardiner foundation, called the shed “an icon to the community.” When a nonprofit like the Caroline Church applies for a matching grant from the foundation, she said, they must have the full funding match in place. She added two-part projects like the shed are not unusual.

“There are times when an organization needs to break the project into doable funded portions,” she said. “When a RDLGF grant is awarded, an applicant must complete that first contracted grant and have their final report accepted by the foundation before another application will be reviewed. The Caroline Church applied for two separate grants in two years to complete this project.”

Located on the east side of Bates Road on the church’s property, the Carriage Shed is one of four contributing structures to the church being on the National Register of Historic Places. The shed was initially intended for members to park their carriages while attending services and in later years was used for parishioners to park their cars.

The Caroline Church celebrates its 296th anniversary later this month. Russell said the congregation will commemorate the milestone at their 9:30 a.m. service Jan. 27, and an event to celebrate the restored shed will be held at a later date.

Delegation members, above, with The Ward Melville Heritage Organization President Gloria Rocchio, front center, in front of the historic Stony Brook Post Office. Photo from WMHO

Mobile payment platforms have connected the Stony Brook Village Center to China.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, which operates the shopping center, recently hosted a government delegation from Anhui Province, China. The group consisted of government officials and higher education professionals who were in the United States to visit New York and Michigan State University. Their mission was to learn best practices in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Delegation leader Guang Hu, left, completing an Alipay transaction with Jeff Norwood, owner of Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions

Last year, the Stony Brook Village Center became the first community on Long Island to adopt Alipay and WeChat Pay, which is estimated to have one billion users worldwide. The QR code point of sale terminal systems account for 90 percent of the Chinese mobile payment market, according to the WMHO. The platforms enable Stony Brook village merchants to serve travelers from China better by allowing consumers to purchase goods and services in yuan before then being settled in U.S. currency for merchants.

Gloria Rocchio, president of the WMHO, met with the delegates in her office and then took them on a tour of the village where they were able to shop and experience the mobile payment platforms firsthand. She said it was a whirlwind trip, but the visitors had the chance to shop in many stores including Chocolate Works, Madison’s Niche and Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions.

“We were happy to host this delegation because they were sincerely impressed with our concern for Chinese customers who are accustomed to using Alipay and WeChat Pay,” Rocchio said.

Jeff Norwood, owner of Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions, said when the delegates came to his store, one of them wanted to buy a pair of binoculars, but he decided to pay cash instead of Alipay. When he approached the store’s register, Norwood said he realized his point of sales system was offline, and he couldn’t open the register drawer to give the customer change. Another person came over and paid using Alipay, and Norwood said it took two seconds to complete the transaction. It was then that the delegate decided to use Alipay, too.

“I gave him back the fifty, and I said, ‘Look at that, you see, Alipay is easier than cash,’” Norwood said. “It was like the perfect commercial for it.”

The business owner said he’s only had the opportunity to use Alipay once before and said it’s easier to use than the store’s credit card machine. All he has to do is put in the amount, and then the customer has an app on the phone that comes up with a bar code. The sales associate scans the bar code and the store’s machine prints out a receipt.

Twelve government agencies, including the School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, along with the Science, Technology and Intellectual Property Bureau, were represented.

Guang Hu, delegation leader and director of the Division of International Exchange and Cooperation, Anhui Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, thanked the WMHO for hosting the visit in a statement.

“It is very impressive to know that Alipay and WeChat Pay has been implemented by the shops of the village,” Hu said. “Those two are widely used in China, and it shows the technology and innovation offered here. I believe there is great potential to work with [the] Ward Melville Heritage Organization on all levels of collaboration between Anhui and Stony Brook.”

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By Bill Landon

Ward Melville’s varsity wrestling team members had their hands full when top-seeded Patchogue-Medford came to town outscoring the Patriots, 55-21, in a League I contest Jan. 9.

Atop the leaderboard for the Patriots was Max Scott, below, with a 9-2 decision over Pat-Med’s Jack Caravella at 126 pounds. James Araneo pinned his opponent at 4 minutes, 22 seconds at 170 pounds. Sam Berger won a 10-7 decision over Pat-Med’s Evan Albrecht at 285 pounds. Christian Lievano, right, made short work of Steven Isselbacher with a pin at 1:43 at 99 pounds, and Tom Fitzsimons defeated Sean Beatty 8-4 at 113 pounds. Pictured above, Chris Prussen in control at 138 pounds.

The Patriots are currently 1-5 in league. The team is back out on the mat at the Highlander Tourney at Herricks High School in New Hyde Park Jan 19. First bout is 10:30 a.m.

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Construction can resume on the site of the future Stony Brook Square shopping center. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Construction can resume at a future shopping center.

At the Dec. 17 Town of Brookhaven Planning Board general meeting, the board members handed down a split decision for Stony Brook Square, a shopping center under construction across from the Stony Brook train station on Route 25A. In the summer, Little Rock Construction and its president Parviz Farahzad received a stop-work order after significant field changes were discovered by the town. The changes made to the approved construction plans included widening of a driveway, two buildings’ locations shifting a few feet and the addition of 19 parking stalls at the rear of the property.

Farahzad’s attorney, Hauppauge-based Tim Shea, said at the Nov. 5 planning board meeting that even though numerous professionals and town officials had previously reviewed the site plans, once construction got underway the new engineer and general contractor realized changes needed to be made.

“It went under construction, and it turned out it wasn’t going to work and raised traffic and safety issues.” Shea said.

In addition to three planning board meetings in the last few months, representatives from Little Rock Construction met with the Three Village Civic Association in October to discuss the field changes. In 2017, the developer had met with the civic association and residents during Route 25A visioning meetings and discussed community members concerns regarding the shopping center on the state roadway.

‘It went under construction, and it turned out it wasn’t going to work and raised traffic and safety issues,’

— Tim Shea

At the Dec. 17 meeting, the board members approved some modifications, including the location of the most western structure, known as building 1, toward the front of the shopping center being shifted a few feet from the original plan, widening of the curb cut onto Route 25A and driveway access from 24 to 30 feet.

The board denied the revised building location of a second building, which was constructed a few feet back from its original planned location, and construction of 19 previously land-banked parking spaces. The denial means the developer must construct the structure, identified as building 5, at the location originally approved by the board, which will bring it in line with building 1. The recommendation states the land-banking of the 19 parking spaces, which will be adjacent to the northern property boundary, require a minimum of a double row of evergreen plantings 7 feet high and 5 feet in diameter.

In the last few months, members of the civic association have been vocal in their opposition to field changes at the construction site.

“It’s fortunate that the town planning board understood the importance of the original site plan — a plan that was mutually agreed upon by the town, the community and the developer,” said Herb Mones, land-use committee chairperson for the civic association. “The Planning Board decision mandates the adherence to most aspects of this original plan and is an important reminder to developers to follow the rules.”

Civic association vice president George Hoffman echoed Mones’ sentiments.

“We are pleased that the town’s planning board stuck to its guns and rejected Mr. Farahzad’s request to modify his site plan after he was found to have made significant changes that were not in conformance to the site plan that was a product of discussions with the civic association.”

Farahzad declined to comment on the planning board’s decisions.

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library has already collected more than 60 gowns for its upcoming Project Prom Dress event. By Lisa DeVerna

Three Village residents are teaming up with the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library to help students have the prom of a lifetime.

One of the dresses that will be available on the day of the prom gown shopping event. Photo by Lisa DeVerna

On March 9, the library will debut a one-day shopping event called Project Prom Dress where teenagers can walk away with a free gown. Irene Berman, a retired Minnesauke Elementary School teacher, said she was watching a television show featuring a segment about teenagers purchasing prom gowns for a small fee at a library in Parsippany, New Jersey. The dresses were collected by the library’s friends group to help students in need.

“It was so uplifting,” Berman said. “I was actually crying watching it.”

The retired teacher thought it was a good idea to bring to her own area, and she and Kathryn Hunter, who currently teaches fifth grade at Minnesauke, presented the proposal for a prom boutique where students can get dresses for free to a library board trustee.

Library Director Ted Gutmann said the board thought it was a good idea and then formed a team that includes Nanette Feder, teen services librarian; Lisa DeVerna, public relations and community engagement; and Jen Mullen, librarian and public relations.

Berman said the boutique will be opened to residents and nonresidents and is ideal for those on a tight budget or those who want to go green by wearing a recycled dress instead of buying a new one that will most likely only be worn once. Feder added the boutique is also a good opportunity for younger students who are being invited to the senior prom for them to save money on a gown.

The teen services librarian said the library started collecting dresses Jan. 1, and they already have more than 60.

“I’m looking forward to having the students coming in and seeing what the community donated,” Feder said.

“I’m looking forward to having the students coming in and seeing what the community donated.”

— Nanette Feder

Berman said she and Hunter recently visited stores in Stony Brook Village Center to see if any businesses could donate racks to hold the dresses. Ann Taylor Loft, Madison Niche and Chico’s managers offered racks. Once Chico’s manager heard they were trying to help 60 students, she said she will look into the store donating necklaces for each of the promgoers.

In addition to local stores and residents donating dresses, Feder said the night before the prom boutique event, teens will help sort through the dresses and accessories, earning community service credits for their time.

Gutmann said based on the number of dresses received and the response of residents so far, he is optimistic about the prom event and is grateful to Berman and Hunter for reaching out to the library.

“It shows that our community is active in these kinds of things and wants to help out,” Gutmann said.

Residents and nonresidents can drop off prom gowns and accessories at the library through Feb. 14, and donation racks are located in the library lobby. Dresses must be cleaned and in excellent condition with no stains or tears, and the garments must be brought in on a hanger. Purses, shoes, jewelry and other prom accessories will also be accepted.

The library will hold the shopping event Project Prom Dress in the Vincent O’Leary Community Room March 9. Students can schedule an appointment for the Prom Dress Boutique where they can check out the donated prom gowns, try them on and take one home free of charge. Each shopper is limited to one guest to assist them.

Registration begins Feb. 4 for Three Village residents and Feb. 19 for nonresidents, if spots are still available. Snow date is March 23. To reserve a time slot, call 631-941-4080, ext. 127. The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is located at 120 Main St., Setauket.

Setauket Fire District is prepared for a soft opening of the Route 25A firehouse in mid-February. A soon-to-be landscaped corner features a glacial erratic rock that was unearthed on the fire department’s property. Photo by Karina Gerry

Residents driving along Route 25A in Setauket are discovering firehouse construction has unearthed something huge.

In the last few weeks, a large rock has been the focal point of a soon-to-be landscaped corner on the northwest portion of the Setauket Fire Department’s Route 25A property. David Sterne, district manager of the Setauket Fire District, said the rock was visible on the property in the past, and there is a more massive rock that workers couldn’t dig out. Sterne said no one has measured the unearthed rock yet.

“It was always a fixture near the rear entrance of the firehouse, but it wasn’t until this project that we were able to fully dig it up and realize how big it was.”

— David Sterne

“To me, the most interesting part is that for years and years only about the top quarter of the rock was what was visible out of the ground,” he said. “It was always a fixture near the rear entrance of the firehouse, but it wasn’t until this project that we were able to fully dig it up and realize how big it was.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who has a master’s degree in geology, said the rock is called glacial erratic, which is a piece of bedrock that has been transported from a site other than where it has been discovered. Glacial erratics found in the area such as Patriots Rock on Main Street in Setauket most likely originated in the Long Island Sound. He said the firehouse rock’s structure suggests that it is a metamorphosis sediment, and it can be anywhere between 500 million and a billion years old.

“It’s quite possible that this was originally a sedimentary rock with layers that has been buried very deeply in the earth, possibly in the base of an ancient mountain chain now eroded away,” he said, adding the lines suggest that when it was at the base of the mountain chain it was most likely subjected to great weight that pushed it down to the mantle of the earth, which caused mineral deformation and reformation of the rock.

“To have it associated with our fire department, with its strength and resilience, and it being one of our oldest institutions in the community and position of strength and endurance, I think the symbolism is very positive, very strong,” he said.

Sterne said the firehouse plans to add benches near the rock for residents to enjoy the garden or to sit and view parades.

When it comes to the construction of the new firehouse, the fire district manager said many residents have commented that the house seems larger than what they anticipated, but he added the building design hasn’t changed since a $14.9 million bond was approved in April 2014.

Along Route 25A, the actual footprint is only 6 feet wider than the original firehouse. Sterne said it may appear larger due to the truck room on the east side now having two stories in both the front and back. In the original building, there was only one story closer to the street and a second story toward the back. This new two-story structure includes offices, meeting and training rooms, and Sterne said the meeting room will be available for community use.

A new apparatus bay on Old Town Road was completed in February 2018, and the structure is connected to the original firehouse on Route 25A. Trucks now exit and enter on the Old Town Road side instead of Route 25A. After work on the bay was completed, construction began on the 25A side. Sterne said the facade of the western portion of the Main Street building, the original 1935 structure, is the same.

While the hopes were that the firehouse would open in November of 2018, Sterne said it now should be ready for a soft opening by mid-February and, when the warmer weather arrives, the fire department plans to host a ribbon-cutting and community ceremony.

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