Authors Posts by Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan
264 POSTS 0 COMMENTS

Local legislators and members of the Three Village Community Trust unveil sign for the newly acquired portion of Patriots Hollow State Forest in Setauket. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Thanks to the efforts of elected officials and a decision by a legacy family on the North Shore, Setauket has gained additional preserved land in the hopes of being able to protect local waterways, among other environmental benefits.

April 21, a day before Earth Day, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and local elected officials held a press conference to announce the state’s acquisition of 17 acres of woodlands stretching from the corner of North Country Road and Watson Street in Setauket. The property expands the already 28.3-acre Patriots Hollow State Forest, which runs adjacent to Route 25A and is located across from Setauket’s Stop & Shop.

DEC’s regional director on Long Island, Carrie Meek Gallagher, who grew up in Setauket, started the press conference by welcoming everyone who gathered in the woodlands. She also thanked  Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket); Peter Scully, deputy county executive for administration and former DEC regional director;  Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket);  Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station); and Robert de Zafra and Cynthia Barnes from the Three Village Community Trust for their efforts in securing the land.

Gallagher said the preservation of the land, which was once utilized for potato farming, plays a part in safeguarding the Long Island Sound watershed, and supports forest health while providing a habitat for wildlife.

Many in attendance recognized Englebright for his determination in acquiring the property in the Old Setauket Historic District. The land is where the Fitzsimmons family established their farm in 1939, and through the decades, they began acquiring more land parcels. Once farming ceased, the parcel remained open land where red cedar, gray birch, poplar, black locust and Norway maple trees now stand. Descendants still live in the family home today, and Englebright commended them for choosing preservation over selling the land to developers.

“These beautiful woods that disappear in an eternity behind us could have been more suburbia, could’ve easily been converted into something other than preservation,” he said. “The consequences of that — more traffic, poor air quality, and even worse, a compromised water chemistry in our nearby shores and harbor.”

He said creeks in the area drain into Conscience Bay, which is part of Setauket Harbor, and the bodies of water form the most western part of the Port Jefferson Harbor complex. He also added that the land was the missing link to the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail.

“We are connected to history, to water chemistry, to wildlife diversity and our sense of place,” Englebright said. “This is an important acquisition.”

Scully, who has worked on land preservation projects with Englebright in the past, including the original acquisition of property for Patriots Hollow from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Center diocese in 2010, thanked Englebright for his leadership.

“I know that your interest in this property was a motivating factor in the state of New York’s decision to move forward,” Scully said.

Hahn echoed the importance of acquiring the property as well as praise for Englebright. 

“Steve, really our community’s thanks is to you,” Hahn said. “Your dedication, your commitment, your persistence on this piece of property, I know how long this has been in your vision.”

Cartright said Brookhaven Town has been committed to preserving open spaces, and she appreciated the cooperation from all levels of government on the issue.

“We are grateful to be in partnership with the state as well as the county as it relates to the preservation of open spaces,” she said.

She also alluded to key initiatives when it comes to preservation in the future.

“We ask you keep your eyes and ears open as it relates to that,” she said. “But this is an amazing announcement on such an appropriate day as we approach Earth Day.”

Before the unveiling of the new park sign which stands on the new acquisition, Robert Reuter, president of the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation, thanked the elected officials in attendance calling them a “rogue gallery of people who really make a difference” and expressed gratitude to the Fitzsimmons family, who were unable to attend.

“Nothing reinforces the integrity of a historic district like open space,” Reuter said. “In so many cases, I sort of have this joke about preventing the future — we’re protecting the past, we’re preventing the future. In this case, it’s really quite apt, except the future is our environmental health, and this is a huge triumph.”

Michael Calvin and coach Thomas Cooper spar before the big fight. Photo from Michael Calvin

For amateur boxers, making it to the finals of the Daily News Golden Gloves tournament is a huge achievement. Recently fighters from Port Jefferson Station’s Royals Boxing Gym had their chance for glory in the ring, and one of them brought home the gold.

Two days before the fights the energy was high and the excitement was palpable at the gym as co-owner Michael Calvin of Setauket was balancing work and training to compete in the welterweight finals of the tournament at Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom April 21. Golden Gloves finalist and Stony Brook resident Michael Misa was also at the gym that night. He was sparring in preparation for his light heavyweight match that was held at the Aviator Sports and Event Center in Brooklyn April 22. 

Calvin proudly wears his Golden Gloves shirt and necklace. Photo from Michael Calvin

Calvin, 26, a Ward Melville graduate, made it to the semifinals in 2013 but had to bow out due to an injury. He was looking forward to fighting in the finals this year.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” Calvin said. “I guess it will sink in more when the experience is over. Right now, I am so immersed in the circumstances.”

Misa, 26, was also excited and said he was preparing to face his competitor Matt Klingerman with his trainer Adam Willett.

“It’s always a challenge, the finals,” Misa said. “I know my opponent. He has really good cardio. He always comes forward. We’re just working on using range and everything we worked on in the gym.”

Misa, who just started boxing last year, said this would actually be his third fight in the tournament, as opposed to his fourth like others in the Golden Gloves, because his opponent didn’t show up for the semifinal fight.

“It was kind of bittersweet,” he said. “You know it’s nice to get into the finals but I really wanted to earn my way into the finals. We worked really hard on it.”

Calvin said the two were training at least 20 hours a week in the lead-up to the tournament. Hard work is nothing new to them.

Besides running Royals Boxing Gym with his partner, Calvin is a personal trainer at Remedy Gym in Setauket and works with Giant Step Services, which educates and assists adults with developmental disabilities.

Calvin said he has been involved with boxing since he discovered it at the age of 16 when he saw children competing outside of the Boys & Girls Club of Suffolk County. He said working with boxers seven days a week in addition to training keeps him in top form. He said whether practicing, training others or leading demonstrations, he’s always going over his technique.

“My biggest weapon is this constant reinforcement of my fundamentals — it has gotten me exponentially better,” he said.

Misa, who grew up in Mount Sinai and is a liberal arts student at Suffolk County Community College, said years ago he became involved in jiujitsu and mixed martial arts at a competitive level. It was after a four-year stint in the Navy that he first tried his hand at boxing, even though he always followed it as a kid. He said he believes his training in the martial arts helps him when it comes to boxing. Misa also played hockey growing up but he said he prefers competing on his own like he does in boxing.   

“It’s an individual sport so it’s more on you,” Misa said. “Obviously you have your coaches and teammates that are pushing you in the gym, but at the end of the day, it’s only you and the other guy in the ring. That’s why I love it so much.”

Besides physical dedication, the sport takes a strong mental attitude.

“It takes a lot of mental preparation,” Calvin said. “I stay pretty calm. I never really get nervous. I’m not nervous until the walk to the ring, and that walk to the ring is the most heart-wrenching thing. It’s terrifying. Everything in you is telling you to turn around and walk away because you know there’s a 100 percent chance you’re going to get hit, but all your training and everything and your ego tells you to keep trucking
forward.”

As for punches, Calvin said when he’s fighting, he doesn’t register them coming.

“When you’re in the ring everything happens so fast,” he said. “It’s all reactive. You don’t have time to process anything in the ring at all. You have to react … all a result of training.”

Before the match, Thomas Cooper, co-owner of Royals who also trains Calvin, was optimistic about the fight and said that the boxer is a “special talent in the sport” and felt he was the top fighter in the competition.

“He has speed and power and that’s an excellent combination to have in boxing,” Cooper said. “He has fast feet, fast hands. He always listens to what you have to tell him. He’s always trying to do things better.”

“I stay pretty calm. I never really get nervous. I’m not nervous until the walk to the ring, and that walk to the ring is the most heart-wrenching thing. It’s terrifying.”

— Michael Calvin

Willett coaches both fighters and had great faith in them before they met their opponents in the ring. He met Misa a couple of years ago in the world of mixed martial arts. 

“He transitioned very well because he has an open mind,” the coach said. “I always tell everyone I gave him a map, and he followed it to the ‘t.’ So, it’s why he’s at where he is now. It’s kind of unheard of for someone who was in mixed martial arts to go into open class, because open class is semi-pro.”

On the night of April 21 Calvin was unanimously declared the 152-pound open title champion in the welterweight division. The next day Misa lost his match in the 178-pound open title bout. Calvin said making it to the finals, for a new boxer like Misa, is a great achievement in itself.

Cooper was extremely proud of Calvin after the fight, and said the boxer dominated his opponent, Michael Hughes, a 2012 Golden Gloves champion, with his in-and-out movements and speed and power in the three, three-minute rounds.

“He did all the things we’ve been working on, and it really seemed in that final fight that a lot of things came together,” Cooper said. “He put it all together. He was in and out, he was moving. It was fantastic.”

He was excited to see his business partner and teammate win after years of hard work.

“When he got those golden gloves around his neck, I was extremely happy for him because it changes his life,” the coach said.

A couple of days after the fight, Calvin was still shocked as he prepared for the national tournament, which will be held in Lafayette, Louisiana’s Cajundome the first week of May.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet because I’m so focused on nationals,” the boxer said. “But the feeling of having those gloves around my neck was really spectacular … and getting my hands raised in front of all those people.”

It was a rainy afternoon April 22, but that didn’t stop local residents along with Stony Brook University students and faculty members from participating in a March for Science rally at the school. Similar marches took place across the country as Americans joined together to show their support for federal funding for science, as well as to remind President Donald Trump (R) and his appointees how important science is, especially when it comes to researching climate change issues.

Pamela Block, of Setauket, and professor of disabilities studies at Stony Brook University, organized the march with Jenn Solomon, a bilingual speech language pathologist. During a phone interview, Block said approximately 500 people participated, and the marchers ranged in age from young children to senior citizens. Block said the organizations Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the Audubon Society, the United University Professions and others had representatives on hand.

Block said she and Solomon were talking to a group of local activists including Shoshanna Hershkowitz of Suffolk Progressives and Cindy Morris of Time2Care Long Island, when they decided to organize the April 22 march.

“This is my first time really doing this kind of activist organizing,” Block said. “It feels pretty good.”

The Setauket resident said because she lives in the area and works at the university, the event was a personal one for her. Her mission was to focus on the important part the university plays in the community, as well as in the world of science.

“It was awesome to see the strong turnout, and to be surrounded by thoughtful people who care deeply about the environment and understand the importance of science for our survival and our humanity.”

— Jenn Solomon

“It was a circle of support for Stony Brook in gratitude for the work that it does in the areas of science — medical science, engineering science, environmental science, physics,” she said. “It does some really important work, and I wanted to acknowledge that.”

Solomon credited Block with leading the effort, but like Block, she was excited to be part of the event.

“It was awesome to see the strong turnout, and to be surrounded by thoughtful people who care deeply about the environment and understand the importance of science for our survival and our humanity,” Solomon said.

Morris, who lives in Stony Brook, said a coalition of community groups joined forces a few months ago to reach out in progressive ways to U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) regarding various issues, and the groups have been planning local events to raise awareness about other current issues.

“This march in particular, we felt at the national level we were seeing the March for Science, but we needed to make sure there was accessibility so local people could also participate without going all the way into New York City or all the way to Washington D.C.,” Morris said.

She said it felt great to take part in the rally, and noted the attendees were different from those who normally come out to protest at similar rallies.

“There were enormous numbers of families who were there to talk about clean water and clean air,” she said. “It was a community that really had the opportunity to speak knowledgeably about this issue, and from that perspective, it was empowering to be among people who really understand the importance and really take it to heart.”

Block said rally participants contributed in many ways, even if they were unable to walk the three-mile route along the Circle Road bike path at the university. Many set up stations to cheer marchers on or were available to drive if anyone fell behind in the marching due to physical demands or having children with them.

“As Stony Brook faculty and a Three Village resident, I am proud of how our community is standing up for science.”

— Shoshanna Hershkowitz

Hershkowitz was just one of the participants who attended the march with her family, which includes her four children.

“As Stony Brook faculty and a Three Village resident, I am proud of how our community is standing up for science,” Hershkowitz said. “Given that our area is a major research hub between Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Lab, we’re in a unique position to speak to this issue. I attended with my children and with another family, because I think it’s important that my kids see activism modeled, and that they know it is part of our duty as citizens to speak truth to power. While bringing kids to events like these isn’t easy, it’s an important lesson that I want to impress upon my kids as a parent.”

Genna Tudda, who has advanced degrees in the sciences and is a 2012 graduate of SBU, said the march hit home for her. While she originally was planning to attend the New York City march, she said, as a Long Island native, it was important for her to show “that people out in the suburbs care just as much about these issues as people in larger cities.”

“Scientific research and environmental issues seem to have been put on the back burner in this new administration,” Tudda said. “Seeing this many people show up to a local event was extremely empowering. I feel hopeful that with these numbers it may be possible to persuade our politicians in the right direction.”

James Riordan posing by a display of the Lunar Excursion Module used in Apollo 13. Photo from Jessica Frisina

By Rita J. Egan

When James Riordan, 82, died in 2016 after battling lung cancer, many would think his greatest contribution to the world was his involvement with the Apollo 13 space mission. But to his relatives, it was his sense of family and kindness that touched others most.

Inheriting his sense of generosity, the former Stony Brook resident’s family participated in the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb April 1 for the second straight time, raising $1,512 for the cause in his memory. This year’s event included 600 participants climbing the 55 flights of stairs at One Penn Plaza, a New York City skyscraper, the equivalent of 1,210 steps.

Granddaughter Jessica Frisina, of Rocky Point, organized Team Apollo in honor of her fond memories of the aerospace engineer with the Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Jessica Frisina, on right, with her aunt Kathy Bern, stepfather Bob Riordan and stepbrother Matt, who started Team Apollo to raise funds for the American Lung Association in the memory of her grandfather James Riordan. Photo from the American Lung Association

“He was completely humble,” she said. “He was so willing to help anybody and everybody. He just wanted to lend a helping hand to anyone that was willing to take it — just a generous and kind person. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

Riordan, who lived in Stony Brook with his wife Ruth since 1964, was an integral member of the Apollo 13 mission. Due to his work helping to direct the team on the construction of the Lunar Excursion Module and its safe return, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Richard Nixon in 1970 along with his fellow members of the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team.

His son Bob Riordan, Frisina’s stepfather, said while growing up he and his siblings didn’t realize just how important their father’s job was. It wasn’t until they were going through their father’s books, or hearing from friends who worked at Grumman, that they realized just how much he had accomplished.

He said they were amazed that their father was in the control room during the Apollo 13 mission and treasure the book “Race to the Moon,” where James Riordan is pictured in a control room with astronaut Neil Armstrong.

“We can’t believe we had a father who did this for a living,” Bob Riordan said.

The son said he isn’t surprised his father didn’t talk much about his work though, because of his modesty.

“He never cared about keeping up with the Joneses,” he said. “All he ever cared about was his family.”

James Riordan suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the early stages of emphysema, and about a year before his passing, he was diagnosed with stage 0 lung cancer. His son said his father smoked for decades, starting as a teenager.

Frisina said she got the idea to start the Fight for Air Climb team after her grandfather’s death, and Riordan said he wasn’t surprised.

“He was so willing to help anybody and everybody. He just wanted to lend a helping hand to anyone that was willing to take it — just a generous and kind person.”

—Jessica Frisina

“I was so proud of her for doing that, but that’s the kind of person Jessica is,” he said.

Frisina said while the Riordans are her stepfamily, she considers them family all the same. Riordan said his father and stepdaughter hit it off as soon as they met when she was 7 years old.

“They took a liking to each other the first day they met,” Riordan said. “I always felt kind of emotional when those two were together. He was the type of man that any children who came into his life just took to him — that’s just the type of guy he was.”

While joining the Fight for Air Climb was a last-minute decision in 2016, with only a few relatives being able to come out and cheer them on, this year she said almost a dozen family members came out to show support for her, Riordan, her stepbrother Matt Riordan and her aunt Kathy Bern, who traveled from North Carolina.

Frisina said she looks forward to participating in the event again next year and knows participation from the family will only continue to grow.

Her uncle Jim Riordan was on hand this year to show support. He said Frisina always had a great appreciation for his father.

“She is by every definition a grandchild in this family,” he said.

Bob Riordan said he was in better shape for this year’s event after finding out how difficult the climb was last year.

“The first time I did it, I thought I was going to join my father,” Riordan joked.

Frisina said climbing the 55 flights of stairs is supposed to simulate how it feels to have a lung ailment, and once you pass flight 10, it becomes more and more difficult to breathe.

“It initially feels amazing to complete something like that,” Frisina said. “But in reality, it makes you think as you’re doing it. [My grandfather] had to deal with this every day — feeling like this and overcoming walking and not being able to breathe. It makes you put yourself in somebody else’s shoes who’s dealing with it.”

The McCarrick's family, local politicians and store clerks bid farewell to the longstanding family business. Photo by Rita J. Egan

For 71 years, McCarrick’s Dairy has been a staple for Rocky Point residents. So it was no surprise when owners Hugh McCarrick, Kevin McCarrick and Bridget Idtensohn announced through a social media post they were closing the store and selling the family business, the news spread rapidly, and was met by many with nostalgia and sadness.

On the morning of Friday, April 7, the last day before the sibling owners retired, friends and longtime patrons filled the store to remember old times, while flipping through photo albums.

Neil Maguire urges McCarrick’s Dairy to remain open. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Among those customers was Neil Maguire, who was having a bit of fun dressed in a cow costume while holding a double-sided sign that read: “McCarrick’s don’t close. Cows in protest. Cows in udder confusion” and “Cows in protest. Cows in disbelief. Don’t close.”

Maguire, who grew up in Port Jefferson, said he remembered when the McCarrick family would deliver milk to homes, and coming to the store with his family when the now-owners’ father Tom ran the small grocery.

“Mr. McCarrick would give us lollipops or a fruit juice to drink while my parents were running around shopping,” Maguire said.

He said it was McCarrick’s Dairy that inspired him to go into the milk delivery business, and he could always count on the family for advice.

Janice Bambara was disappointed that it would be her last day walking to the store for her morning coffee, preferring McCarrick’s over large chains like Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks.

“It was a very friendly and pleasant place to shop for so many years here,” she said. “They’ll all be missed.”

Kathy DiPierro, a cousin of the McCarricks, looked at the photo albums reminiscing about her grandparents homestead which once stood where McCarrick Medical Park is today. Her husband Nick, a former Grumman employee, remembered when he worked in the stores on Saturdays for a short period in 1969. He said the senior McCarrick was always generous and patient with him.

“I remember the first day he left me all by myself in that store,” DiPierro said. “He said, ‘It’s OK, this is how you work a cash register.’ I never worked a cash register. Boy, was I nervous.”

Tom McCarrick Jr. and Tom McCarrick Sr. look over an order in 1964. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The goodbyes culminated when Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) and town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) stopped by to present the family with a proclamation and declare April 7 McCarrick’s Dairy Day in the Town of Brookhaven.

While presenting the McCarricks with the proclamation, Bonner, who lives in the area and has known the family for nearly 30 years, had to hold back the tears. Like many who filled the store, while she was sad to see the store close, she was happy for the owners.

“It’s so great that they are leaving on their own terms to enjoy their retirement, not because they were forced out by a big box store or another chain store or supermarket,” Bonner said.

The owners said nearly 500 community members have worked in the store over the decades, and nearly half-a-dozen employees met their spouses there.

The McCarricks have been an integral part of the community.

The family has been part of the Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade since 1950, after Tom McCarrick and other local businessmen founded the Friends of St. Patrick not-for-profit organization that fundraises for the historic event. Kevin McCarrick, Tom’s son, also served two terms on the Brookhaven Town Board from 2004 to 2007.

Hugh, Kevin’s brother, said his grandparents emigrated from Ireland to Rocky Point in 1911. The couple had a few cows and grew vegetables on their homestead. It was in 1946 when his parents, Tom and Phyllis, decided to start a milk delivery business.

“It’s so great that they are leaving on their own terms to enjoy their retirement.”

— Jane Bonner

The land parcel, where the current McCarrick’s Dairy store was opened in 1984, holds many memories for the family. The house on the west side of the parking lot is where Tom and Phyllis raised nine children; the dry cleaners that sits toward the front was once an office and the original store that opened in 1960; and the thrift store toward the back of the parking lot was once a four-bay garage where the milk trucks were housed.

Hugh McCarrick said all of the children worked in the store at one point or another, and through the years every one of his children, nieces and nephews worked in the store.

“We grew up in the business working side by side with my dad and mom,” he said.

“We met in 1970, and he put me right to work,” his wife Miriam joked.

His older brothers delivered milk to homes, and later he and Kevin delivered to schools and local shops like bakeries. When they were in their early 20s, the two became more involved in the business.

But as times changed, the business changed.

“In the ’70s supermarkets started coming out, and families were having two cars,” Hugh McCarrick said. “So now the wife who stayed home, she had her newfound freedom, so she would go out and buy her own milk and stuff.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, on left, and Councilwoman Jane Bonner, on right, present McCarrick’s Dairy owners and siblings Bridget Idtensohn, Hugh McCarrick and Kevin McCarrick with a proclamation upon the family store’s closing. Photo by Rita J. Egan

One of Hugh’s earlier memories was when milk bottles would come back and still have milk left in them. They couldn’t be returned to the processing plant like that, so the children would clean them out. He said if there was sour milk in there, and you pushed down on the lid, it would shoot out.

“To this day I can’t eat cottage cheese,” he joked.

Despite the sour milk, the years working with his family have been positive ones. His brother agreed.

“We were very fortunate in that all of our family worked in this business from my older brothers right down to my younger sister, Bridget,” Kevin McCarrick said. “It was nice to have a family business that everyone participated in.”

Their sister, who started working at the store 35 years ago, said the outpouring of good wishes touched her.

“You go to work and you don’t think much about it,” she said. “To have everyone come here like this … this is such a wonderful, wonderful community.”

During the last week, she said she heard a number of heartwarming stories about her father.

“Your father delivered milk, eggs and butter to my house every day, and never charged us until my father got back on his feet,” she said one man told her. “I’m an adult now, and I realize how important that was.”

Local patrons visit McCarrick’s Dairy one last time, April 7, on the day the family business closed its doors for the final time. Photo by Rita J. Egan

According to the McCarricks, the business will be leased to another food store and completely renovated. While they may be retiring from the store business, the owners will still manage the property.

As the store closed at 6 p.m. on its final day, former employees were invited to join the McCarricks for dinner. Family from near and far also gathered to bid farewell.

Hugh McCarrick’s daughter Kimmie Wheeler flew up from South Carolina the night before to be part of the store closing. She said she knew she needed to send off the store with her family. 

“This is my whole life,” she said. “I started working here when I was a teenager and worked here with my cousins and my whole family. It was such a great way to be part of the family and the community.”

Her sister Kendra Beavis said the younger family members’ careers have taken different directions than their parents, becoming teachers, graphic designers, getting involved in law enforcement and various other things, but said she couldn’t picture anyone else taking the place of her father and the rest of the family.

“Even if someone were to take this over … they did such an amazing job,” she said. “I don’t know if anyone could ever fill their shoes.”

Christopher Forella, standing, third from left, and Dhaval Shah, standing, third from right, with fellow members of Pi Lambda Phi at the Open Door Exchange. Photo from the Open Door Exchange

One fraternity at Stony Brook University has opened the door to a new volunteer adventure that benefits families in need.

When Christopher Forella, a member of the fraternity Pi Lambda Phi at Stony Brook University, was searching the school’s Handshake database for volunteer opportunities, he came across the Open Door Exchange furniture bank. The fraternity’s vice president of programming and risk management said he knew it would be the perfect place for his fraternity brothers to volunteer at this spring semester.

Pi Lambda Phi members from Stony Brook help with the Open Door Exchange. Photo from Open Door Exchange

“I really liked their mission — getting furniture and donating it to people who need it, helping people in need who really can’t afford it,” Forella said in a phone interview.

The Open Door Exchange is an outreach program that allows the underprivileged to shop for furniture free of charge at their Port Jefferson Station warehouse. Kate Jones Calone, a Presbyterian minister affiliated with the Setauket Presbyterian Church, manages the organization. When she heard the fraternity brothers were willing to volunteer at the warehouse, she said she was thrilled.

“It’s especially exciting for us to be able to connect with the university,” Calone said. “The Open Door Exchange really is a community-based project, and the university is such an important part of our community. To be able to work together with students on something that benefits the whole community is a really nice gift for us.”

For Sanjay Jonnavithula, a senior at SBU and a member of the fraternity since it was founded in 2014, the experience of helping those in need to acquire furniture for free has been a rewarding one.

“Furniture is often overlooked as a vital ingredient for a stable household, so it makes me feel incredible that our fraternity is able to aid this great organization in the work that they do,” Jonnavithula said.

The senior said the experience is one that will stay with him even after graduating from SBU, and he believes it has made a positive impact on his fraternity brothers as well.

“I’m sure I speak for all graduating seniors in Pi Lambda Phi when I say that the amount of different community service projects we’ve been a part of, especially Open Door Exchange, has tremendously influenced our lives,” he said. “We are all diverging on our separate paths next year, but we will continue to aid our local communities and get involved with the local charitable organizations in whatever way we possibly can.”

Dhaval Shah, junior at the university and fraternity president, said this type of volunteer work is different from the beach cleanups and assisting at a Head Start preschool like the group has done in the past.

“Something like Open Door Exchange, we see results right away,” Shah said. “We see people coming in and taking the furniture, and the impact on their lives.”

“Furniture is often overlooked as a vital ingredient for a stable household, so it makes me feel incredible that our fraternity is able to aid this great organization in the work that they do.”

— Sanjay Jonnavithula

Forella said the fraternity has 46 members, and when it comes to volunteering every other week at the warehouse for three to four hours, they usually will have about a dozen members working together depending on their schedules. Most of the students help to unload furniture from trucks, but some go out with the loading trucks to pick up donations.

“It’s really making good use of my time to be out helping people who can definitely use the help,” Forella said.

Calone said the other volunteers with Open Door Exchange have enjoyed working with the college students, and they have brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the project.

“They’ve extended our capacity to do what we do in a really meaningful way,” the minister said. “It has a real big impact on what we’re able to do.

Calone is even more appreciative of the time the fraternity brothers have given the organization because she understands how valuable free time is to college students.

“They’re taking time out of their weekend, and it’s precious time for students,” she said. “And giving back to the community, that’s something just really nice for all of us to see what the university brings and how it benefits all of us. These students — the way they are giving back — is just really nice for the community as a whole.”

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Sills Gully Beach, Shoreham:

Sills Gully Beach in Shoreham is a prime example of erosion due to storm events, according to Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). “When you harden the shoreline by constructing hundreds of linear feet of vertical retaining walls or bulkheads, you create a condition where the energy stored in the waves caused by tidal surge and storm events hits up against the hardening structure and reflects back to the Sound,” Bonner said. “These reflected waves cause scour at the base of the bulkhead and a loss of sand from the beach. To minimize this impact, both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the town require armor stone, big rocks, in front of any bulkhead to dissipate the reflected wave surge, reducing the impact that bulkheads have on the beaches.” According to the councilwoman, bulkheads that were constructed in the past “increased the rate of erosion but also separated the beach from its natural sand source.” The practice led to either a narrow or non-existing beach during high tide. With recent changes of bulkheads being moved landward or reducing their elevations, plus the installation of armor stones, erosive impacts have been reduced, and “the beaches tend to be wider and more resilient to storm events.”

 

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Port Jefferson Village:

Port Jefferson was originally known as Drowned Meadow because the area that now comprises most of the commercial district was a marsh that flooded every high tide, according to the book “Images of America: Port Jefferson,” written by Port Jefferson library staffers Robert Maggio and Earlene O’Hare. They wrote, “That flooding, and the steep hills and deep ravines that surrounded the marsh, made farming difficult, and the village grew slowly. In fact, by 1800, there were only a handful of houses.”

 

Photo by Maria Hoffman

Setauket Harbor:

In the last decade, Shore Road along Setauket Harbor has flooded approximately a half a dozen times a year, which is more than in the past due to astronomical tides. “All coastal communities will be increasingly impacted by rising sea level, and sea level rise goes hand in hand with climate change,” George Hoffman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force said. “One way to identify the areas that will be impacted is to look at the areas that are now impacted by storms and astronomical tides. All the low-level shore areas in the Three Village community are the most vulnerable. And, they tend to be the areas that we like to go down to, along the shore, such as beaches and docks and harbor areas. It is projected that in the next hundred years as sea level continues to rise that we will see portions of Route 25A flooding during storm events that we haven’t seen before.”

 

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Nissequogue River, Smithtown:

According to Jan Porinchak, educator and naturalist, the Nissequogue River watershed would be threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change. The river consists of two main branches that start near the southern boundaries of the town in Hauppauge, and then the water flows into the Sound. “Rising sea levels will drown out the native marsh grasses which dissipate wave action and anchor the sediments comprising the shoreline,” Porinchak said. “With the marsh grasses such as Spartina removed, areas further inland would be threatened with shoreline loss from erosion.” Erosion can also have a negative impact on marine species. “With rising sea levels compromising marsh land vegetation, salt water can reach the roots of non-salt-tolerant woody plants further inland, which kills those plant species,” he said. “This creates a domino effect, resulting in yet more erosion when the roots of those plants are eliminated. Increased sediment from these eroded areas will wash into the Nissequogue and similar ecosystems. This sediment can negatively impact shellfish and other marine species, and fuel algae blooms to the widespread detriment of the marine food web.”

 

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Long Beach, Smithtown:

Visitors to Smithtown’s Long Beach, a narrow land spit, will find an artificial berm to keep stormwater out during the winter. Many of the private roads slightly east of the town beach experience flooding when it’s high tide. Larry Swanson, interim dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, said the cause of the problem is the disruption of sediment due to a combination of rising sea levels and homeowners building sea walls to protect their property. “Long Beach is a spit that needs sediment supplied from the erosion of the bluffs of Nissequogue,” he said. “There are places where the supply is somewhat diminished to maintain sufficient elevation, perhaps where currents are stronger than elsewhere water can overflow.”

 

Photo by Rita J. Egan

Asharoken, Huntington:

The incorporated village of Asharoken in the Town of Huntington provides the only essential land access way contacting the Eaton’s Neck peninsula to Northport, with its Asharoken Avenue. Due to hurricanes and nor’easters, the Long Island Sound side of the peninsula has experienced moderate to severe beach erosion. In 2015 the Asharoken village board took into consideration a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-backed proposal to replenish the community’s eroding beaches. The plan consisted of creating a berm and dune system with groins on the northwestern end of the project area. The area includes properties on the Long Island Sound side of Asharoken Avenue. However, in January Asharoken officials voted to bring an end to the restoration project after many residents rejected part of the plan that included creating public access points at certain private properties, which would leave residents liable for any injuries or mishaps that happened when the public was on the shoreline of the property.

by -
0 919
Route 25A in Setauket looking east from Woods Corner Road. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Following public forums, the future of the Route 25A corridor in the Three Village area is coming into focus.

More than a year ago, the Brookhaven Town Department of Planning, Environment and Land Management was authorized to create a land use study and plan regarding the state highway from the Smithtown town line heading east to the Poquott Village line. This was after town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D–Port Jefferson Station) co-sponsored land use resolutions at the Jan. 14 and Feb. 4, 2016, town board meetings.

the inconsistent architecture of buildings located at Woods Corner. Photo by Rita J. Egan

After the go-ahead from the town, the Citizens Advisory Committee was formed with co-chairs George Hoffman, vice president of the Three Village Civic Association, and Jane Taylor, assistant head of The Stony Brook School. The committee organized a number of community meetings to give business owners, store tenants and residents in Stony Brook, Setauket and East Setauket the opportunity to discuss their concerns and hopes for land use along the state road.

The meetings, led by consulting firm BFJ Planning, culminated with a wrap-up session at The Stony Brook School earlier this month, and the result will be a document that will guide business and landowners when it comes to building and renovating in the future.

Hoffman said he found the process over the past year rewarding.

“We really made a lot of progress pulling together all the groups that make up our community, and I think we have a clearer vision of what we like about it, and what we’d like to enhance as we go forward,” Hoffman said.

At the March 4 meeting, residents were given a summary of the community’s visions for the hamlets based on previous visioning meetings. Frank Fish, Noah Levine and Graham Cavanagh of BFJ Planning informed those in attendance both unique and shared elements along the Route 25A corridor as well as recommended goals and objectives for the future.

Romaine, Cartright and state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) were among elected officials who attended the visioning meetings. Englebright said he was impressed at how constructive the meetings were, and how Cartright and Romaine made themselves accessible during the process.

The assemblyman said he wasn’t surprised by the concerns and desires raised. Many residents said they did not want to see the road widened, but instead would like it to include more green space. Another hope of many residents is to make the road safer by adding a continuous sidewalk and creating lanes for bicyclists.

“The historic architectural style and character of the Three Village area is something that is a constant reminder of why a lot of us live here.”

— Steve Englebright

“I look forward to doing everything possible to add a sidewalk — the walkability aspect of this and [a lane] for bicycles,” Englebright said.

Both Hoffman and Englebright said Woods Corner at the southeast corner of Route 25A and Nicolls Road was another concern brought up by many at the meetings. Hoffman said people would like to see the buildings located on the corner updated with some sort of consistent architecture “because it’s the gateway to the Setaukets.”

The architectural consistency in all the hamlets was an additional topic raised at the meetings.

“The historic architectural style and character of the Three Village area is something that is a constant reminder of why a lot of us live here,” Englebright said. “We love the architecture. … People indicated how much they value it, and that for any reconstruction or new construction, that should be a benchmark of expectation to be compatible with who we are architecturally.”

According to BFJ Planning’s March 4 visioning report, the flow of traffic where 25A variously intersects Stony Brook Road, Nicolls Road and Main Street were also discussed at hamlet meetings. Roundabouts were suggested for both Stony Brook Road and Main Street, and the New York State Department of Transportation is considering a traffic light at the soft right turn onto Nicolls or removal of the soft right altogether. 

While other transportation issues and wants were discussed, including creating pullover areas for buses and supporting a trolley bus service for Stony Brook students and residents, recreation areas were another concern. The talks included improved civic space for gatherings, picnics and similar recreational activities as well as maintenance of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation-administered Patriots Hollow State Forest.

Hoffman said some of the proposed guidelines have already been a help to Parviz Farahzad, who is constructing Stony Brook Square located across from Stony Brook train station. Development of the shopping center was approved at the March 6 town planning board meeting. Farahzad has agreed to add more trees to the final site plan, will require tenants use signage that consists of wood-base signs with gooseneck lighting among other concessions.  The developer also hopes to install a low nitrogen septic system if he receives a waiver from the county for the new system. According to Hoffman, such systems help to protect the water in local harbors.

Hoffman said BFJ Planning is compiling a final document and, in a few weeks, the CAC will present a report to the town board. The ultimate goal is for the town to take into consideration the suggestions and incorporate them into future land use changes in the area through zoning changes.

Colleagues pay tribute to Peter Paul

Paul, second from right, in 2002 with colleagues David Fossan, Linwood Lee, Robert McGrath and Gene Sprouse; and Paul in a family photo. Photo from Gene Sprouse

For nearly 50 years, Setauket’s Peter Paul was a prominent member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University. With his death March 11 at the age of 84, the physicist left behind a legacy that will be remembered for years to come, especially by his former colleagues.

A native of Dresden, Germany, Paul received a Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg, and immigrated to the United States when he accepted a postdoctoral position at Stanford University. 

Linwood Lee, emeritus professor, recalled when he recruited Paul in the late 1960s. A former co-worker of Lee’s worked with Paul at Stanford University and told him how impressive the physicist was. Lee knew he had to hire him during a time when he called coming to Stony Brook University “an adventure” because the school was in its infancy.

Peter Paul. Photo from Stony Brook University

Lee said Paul was marvelous, and he’s grateful he recruited the professor.

“We established a laboratory here, and from the moment he got here, he was the driving force to make us all do better,” Lee said.

Paul was a professor at the university from 1967 to 2015 and later a distinguished service professor in the department and served as chairman twice during his tenure. One of Paul’s greatest achievements was building a first-class nuclear physics group along with his colleagues at Stony Brook.

In 1973, when the physicist spearheaded a small group to develop, design and construct Stony Brook’s superconducting linear for heavy ions, an improvement of the university’s existing Van de Graaff accelerator, it became the first such machine at a university lab.

Gene Sprouse, now a distinguished John S. Toll professor at SBU, was a graduate student at Stanford University when he met Paul. He later came to Stony Brook and worked on the accelerator project with him.

“That machine was really unique. It was a very powerful accelerator at a university,” Sprouse said.

Paul Grannis, another of Paul’s colleagues at SBU, said Paul was very proud of the accelerator project.

“It enabled research that had previously not been possible to be done, and it was quite a unique facility in the country,” Grannis said. “I know Peter was very proud of that and considered it one of his major achievements.”

Paul became a member of the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee in 1980, and as chair, led the development of the 1998 Nuclear Science Long Range Plan, which in turn led to the construction of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Paul was appointed deputy director for science and technology in 1998 at BNL, and when John Marburger was appointed as President George W. Bush’s scientific advisor in 2001, Paul stepped in as interim director at the laboratory until 2003. Under Paul’s direction, BNL made many advances, including starting the construction of Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, and conceptualizing the electron-ion collider as a successor to RHIC.

Peter Paul with Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley, M.D. Photo from Stony Brook University

Paul returned to SBU after serving as interim director at BNL, and his ongoing success was never a surprise to those who knew him.

“Peter was very energetic and driven,” Sprouse said. “He was always pushing for excellence.”

Sprouse described Paul as a visionary who helped to create the Stony Brook University people know today, especially the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“Throughout his career he helped to build the nuclear physics groups at Stony Brook, he helped to build the department, and then he helped to build things at Brookhaven,” Sprouse said. “He always kept an eye out for putting in place instruments and institutes that could strengthen Stony Brook in particular and Brookhaven, too.”

Grannis echoed Sprouse’s praise of Paul.

“He was very motivated to do the best that he could in all of his scientific endeavors and to insist that all those who worked with him do so,” Grannis said.

Chang Kee Jung, a SUNY distinguished professor, said when Paul returned to Stony Brook after his time at BNL, he looked for a research program to be involved in. He said he was surprised when Paul knocked on his office door one day and told him he was interested in the projects he was working on at the time.

Jung said he was hesitant at first due to Paul’s extensive experience. However, Paul assured him he would never do anything to interfere. Jung said Paul was always curious to learn more in his field, and didn’t have an ego despite all of his successes. The professor said Paul was the perfect person to have on his team, and he became an advisor to Jung. The two worked together until Paul became the university’s associate vice president for Brookhaven affairs — a position he held until his retirement in 2015.

He also remembers Paul fondly on a personal level and said he was grateful for the opportunity to visit the professor at home a couple of weeks before his death.

“Among all the people I met at Stony Brook, he was the strongest supporter of me, personally,” Jung said. “For whatever reason he liked me and the projects I was doing.”

Lee added that like many professors, Paul was always proud of his students. Many left SBU for prestigious careers, including Michael Thoennessen, chair, APS division of nuclear physics at Michigan University. Thoennessen wrote in an email Paul was his Ph.D. adviser when he attended SBU in the late 1980s.

Peter Paul. Photo from Bryant Funeral Home

“In Germany the Ph.D. adviser is called the ‘Doktor Vater’ (Ph.D. Father) and that is exactly what Peter was to his students,” Thoennessen wrote. “In addition to being a brilliant scientist and a great administrator, Peter was an amazing mentor. I would not be where I am right now without Peter’s advice and guidance.”

Grannis added that despite a demanding career, Paul led a well-rounded life.

“He had a very broad range of interests not only in science but in music, in travel, in reading,” Grannis said. “He was very well-informed on many things.”

Paul was an ardent opera-goer and hiker, and Jung remembers the professor being in his 70s and still traveling upstate to go skiing. His career provided him the opportunity to travel extensively, too. Among his trips were vacations to his homeland of Germany.

In his lifetime, Paul received numerous awards including the American Physical Society Fellow, Institute of Physics Fellow, Sloane Research Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award and the Order of Merit First Class from the German government. Paul is also an inductee in the Long Island Technology Hall of Fame. However, his greatest honor may be the legacy he leaves behind at Stony Brook University.

“Peter was one of the people that made us a better university,” Lee said. “He was active in associating us with Brookhaven, and he was always a booster of the university, and we always boosted Peter. It was hard to keep him because he was recognized as a top scientist. He turned down some very good offers to stay here.”

Sprouse said Paul inspired many to come to SBU and helped them, with his encouragement and leadership, to develop their careers.

“I just think that he was somebody that was really dedicated to the university and wanted to build it,” he said. “For those of us who were at Stony Brook, 40, 50 years ago, Stony Brook was kind of a dream, and Peter really made it a reality.”

by -
0 516

By Rita J. Egan

Dog Ear Publishing recently released John P. Cardone’s fourth book, “Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature.” In his new book, the Ronkonkoma resident shares the wealth of knowledge he has gained from his kayak and nature photography adventures, more than 30 years of experience in health care education and his bout with cancer.

“Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature” is a valuable resource for those who are looking to improve their health and well-being. The writer and photographer has written an easy-to-read, comprehensive guide where readers can learn about the health benefits of nature, the importance of calming one’s mind, how to foster the spirit of nature in children and more.

In addition to the author sharing his experiences and research, Cardone also includes photographs he has taken in various locations including Long Island sites such as Heckscher State Park, Cedar Beach, Carmans River and Little Neck Run, which are perfect examples of nature’s calming elements. Recently, Cardone took time to answer a few questions about himself and his latest venture.

Author John Cardone

 

Tell me a bit about yourself.

For starters, I’m a lover of the outdoors, so I spend a good chunk of time kayaking the waters around Long Island, hiking and biking the paths around our parks and taking photographs of nature. For over 30 years, I have been an educator writing and producing health education videos working mostly for hospitals. I have always liked teaching and helping people learn more about good health. Over the last 10 years or so, I have been a teacher in a different way — teaching people about the health benefits of spending time in nature.

How did you get involved with writing?

My interest in writing started when I studied literature in college. I found I love to read — I still do. But professionally, I was writing videos and some print pieces on health topics. Then one day, while commuting home on the Long Island Rail Road, I closed the covers of a mystery book and it hit me … could I write a book? I accepted my own challenge and started to write on paper every day on the train home from work. Some years later, I self-published that story — “Without Consent.” The book got great reviews and is still sold on Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s websites.

You are also a noted photographer. Where has your work been exhibited?

I have been very fortunate to have my photos on exhibit around Long Island. And, I like to point out that most of the photographs have been taken while kayaking Long Island waters — a challenge, of course. They have been exhibited at art shows with the Northport Arts Coalition, the Good Ground Artists out of Hampton Bays, the Islip Arts Council, the Art League of Long Island, Levittown Library, Sachem Library and Connetquot Library among others.

How did you become interested in how nature plays a part in a person’s well-being?

My very first introduction to how nature can help people took place years ago when I was working on creating teaching videos with stress reduction and relaxation experts for a couple of hospital clients. These experts were teaching people how to use the images of nature and the outdoors to relax them during stressful times.

Then, there was my own firsthand experience while I was fighting my own battle with cancer. During the later stages of chemotherapy, when I was too weak to paddle my kayak or bike, my wife and I would take slow, gentle walks at Bayard Cutting Arboretum. In my “Waterviews: A Collection of Photographs, Thoughts & Experiecnes” book, I wrote about this in a section in Chapter 4 called, “Can a River Be a Friend.” During those walks I always felt better, and frequently forgot that I was ill, forgot that I was a cancer patient.

The cover of John Cardone’s latest book

How has nature helped in improving your life in other ways?

I think nature has helped me with a positive, happy outlook on life. We’re all here on earth only a relatively short time. We can choose how we want to live — I choose to see the beauty and wonder of nature and let it inspire me. Sometimes, when I paddle my kayak deep into Yaphank Creek, a tributary off the Carmans River, I’m in an area untouched by man. What I see could very well be what Native Americans might have seen over 200 years ago. Those quiet moments, with a gentle wind blowing, and an occasional quack or chirp, recharges my batteries and prepares me for the next challenge.

How would you describe your book to someone who hasn’t read it?

I think the book’s subtitle is a good start: “A practical exploration of how nature can influence our health and well-being.” But then I would go on to explain that in our high-tech, hurry up world, spending time in nature can do wonders to help us calm our minds. I present many ideas and facts on how nature can improve our health. There are over 75 color photographs of nature, places to visit and ways nature can help us. There are also details about happiness and how spending time in nature can make a difference. I would tell anyone who has children in their lives that the book points out the importance of fostering the spirit of nature in children … to help them be connected and in learning ways to protect the earth.

You featured many spots on Long Island in your book. What are a few of your favorite places to visit on the island?

If I am walking or hiking, then the Bayard Cutting and Planting Fields arboretums come to mind, along with Avalon Park & Preserve in Stony Brook. If I am bicycling, then you’ll find me in the woods within Heckscher State Park in East Islip and the paths through Massapequa Park Preserve. If I am kayaking, then the lower portion of the Carmans River within the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and the waters near Orient Harbor and the Orient Beach State Park.

Tell me about the PowerPoint presentation you created to promote the book?

I created the presentation to teach people about the importance of being out in nature. It is based on the research I conducted over the last three years. Of course, the presentation is only a small part of what the book covers. I focus on a few of the major points; these include a section on what nature we are referring to and how much time we have to be in it, how nature can calm our minds. I address a few of the real health benefits; things like less sadness and depression, the ability to cope with stress and improved function of the aging brain. On the physical health side, things like lower blood pressure, better cardio-respiratory function and a boost to the immune system.

What are your plans for the near future?

For me, my work is just starting. The book is only one step on the path to help people fully understand how to connect (or re-connect) with nature and how doing that can benefit their health. So, over the next months I have booked a number of presentations on the topic, as well as a number of book signings and photo exhibits. The places, dates and times are listed on the events page of my website, www.WaterviewsBook.com.

I’m also expanding my photography classes. I teach at the Art League of Long Island and at the Islip Arts Council. I now offer an introduction and an advanced class on Waterscape & Wildlife Photography. Plus, there is a Photo Printing Workshop to help folks interested in printing high-quality prints. The classes are an important part of my work for they help people appreciate nature, as well as get them outside to study it and to capture the images they see.

“Waterviews: The Healing Power of Nature” is available on Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s websites.

Social

9,203FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,119FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe