Community

Boats cover Northport Harbor during last year’s event.Photo from Bob Slingo

Centerport Yacht Club will be hosting the second annual Let’s Take a Veteran Sailing event on Saturday, July 30. The event was created by SailAhead, a nonprofit organization that works to support and heal wounded veterans.

Sailboats will come from near and far to join the fleet of 45 boats. With the support of American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244, 140 registered veterans, mostly from Long Island, will attend this event. The purposes of the event is to spread post-traumatic stress disorder awareness throughout the community, as well as spread awareness of the SailAhead program so that more wounded veterans can be helped.

The sailing event will last four hours and the flotilla will sail on the Long Island Sound.

Kids signed up for Summer Youth Connection, a free summer camp hosted by Huntington along with other groups and nonprofits. Photo by A.J. Carter

Huntington Town is kicking off its second year of the Summer Youth Connection, a variety of free educational and recreational activities for kids in the community.

Started last year by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D), the camp runs five evenings a week through Aug. 19

More than 200 teenagers participated last year, and this summer Edwards said she is hoping to reach at least 300 kids enrolled. This camp is presented in conjunction with Suffolk County and a multitude of corporate, not-for-profit partners and volunteers.

“Summer Youth Connection is a remarkable cooperative effort encompassing government, not-for-profit groups, companies and community volunteers to help keep our youth engaged in positive activities during what could be a long, hot summer,” Edwards said at the opening ceremony last week. “I thank all of the participating groups and individuals, with a special thank you to the South Huntington school district for hosting us.”

The summer camp offers programs spanning from basketball and golf to creative writing, photography and robotics.

“Summer Youth Connection is a remarkable cooperative effort encompassing government, not-for-profit groups, companies and community volunteers”
— Tracey Edwards

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) encouraged the kids to try an activity that is new to them.

“You are going to have so much fun,” she said to the kids at the event. “My suggestion is to take a class of something you have never done before, so that way you can learn something new, and it will be a great and exciting experience for you.”

The camp runs from 5 to 9 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. Fridays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. are reserved for special needs youth sport activities.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said he saw countless happy faces at last year’s program.

“Not every kid wants to go to camp,” he said. “They want to be in their neighborhoods. They want to be here and enjoy what we have to offer. I was here last summer. Everybody had a happy smile. Everybody was involved. Everybody was trying new things. We look forward to another great summer this year.”

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said at the event that the unity and the excitement shown in the kids participating in the camp is a crucial part of a successful community.

“You are our most precious resource,” he said. “We are invested in you. This has been an extremely tough week in this country, when we look at the violence and hate and the things that try to divide us. But this room is an example of what is great about this country.”

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Former Port Jeff Village Historian Robert Sisler leaves behind a lasting impact. File Photo

By Wenhao Ma

Port Jefferson Village mourned the death of its first historian and a proud, devoted community member earlier this month. Robert Sisler died July 2 at the age of 88.

Sisler was a Spanish teacher at Port Jefferson High School from 1953 to 1984 and headed the school’s Foreign Language and Reading departments. He served as a member and eventually became the chairman of the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals. He was also the chairman of the Harbor Committee, a village trustee and the deputy mayor in addition to being the first historian of the village.

“[Sisler] was a constant lover of the village…his love turned into action.” —Nomi Solo

“He was an integral and driving force for exploring, recording and documenting our local history,” Mayor Margot Garant said in an email. “His writings and lifelong work of preserving Port Jefferson will ensure that our children for generations to come will learn about our ship-building heritage, our car-building years and our influence and impact in the American Revolution.”

As a historian, Sisler wrote several books on the early years of Port Jefferson. Topics included shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing, moral ethics, the development of radio and television at RCA Radio Central in Rocky Point and other historical articles for TBR News Media.

Jack Smith, historian from the Cumsewogue Historical Society, shared an anecdote about one of his experiences with Sisler. He said he read an article on an automobile factory in Port Jefferson about eight years ago. He then contacted the author, who was Sisler, hoping to invite him to the society’s annual Heritage Day, which is meant to celebrate the history of the community, to give a group of fourth-graders a lecture. Sisler agreed.

“He was always willing to share,” Smith said. He recalled on that day Sisler didn’t just come talk to the kids about the factory, but brought his own old car. “It’s a very generous thing,” he said.

The historical society once received a unit brick from Sisler as donation, according to Smith. The unit brick is different from normal bricks because it’s shaped like the letter “U.”

“We always had a nice relationship,” Smith said. “He’s a very nice man … he knew so many different things about Port Jefferson.”

Sisler’s most recent contribution to Port Jefferson was the restoration of the two centuries-old Roe houses, named for the family of the first settlers in downtown Port Jefferson, according to the village’s historical society. The original owner, businessman Phillip Roe, used his resources to help George Washington pass information in the Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War.

The reason for Sisler to restore historical sites, according to Nomi Solo, who said she had known Sisler since the 1970s, was because it’s better for people to experience the history themselves than to look at the remaining pieces in a museum.

“He was a constant lover of the village,” Solo said. She added that Sisler was instrumental in the construction of the Village Center.

“His love turned into action,” she said. “He was a very, very, very caring individual. It’s a loss for the community.”

Pete Costa on far left, with last summer’s Rocky Point’s Athletes for All group. Photo from Jean Costa

One Rocky Point couple intends to give kids with disabilities a memorable summer.

It all started with Jenny Andersson’s daughter, 13-year-old Sarah Fabricatore, who has Down syndrome.

Andersson went up to her daughter’s reading teacher, Pete Costa, at the Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School in Rocky Point, to talk to him about the lack of athletic programs for students with disabilities — and Costa took it to heart.

As a result, the varsity girls’ soccer coach and his wife Jean take time out of their summers to host Rocky Point Athletes for All, a free, once-a-week, one-hour session of fun-filled sporting events.

Frankie Anzaldi III races to drain water from a sponge into a bucket during a water-themed intermission event. Photo from Frank Anzaldi Jr.
Frankie Anzaldi III races to drain water from a sponge into a bucket during a water-themed intermission event. Photo from Frank Anzaldi Jr.

Costa brought on 10 volunteer athletes from the varsity teams at Rocky Point, and modifies different sport activities for the athletes to partake in.

“We divide the turf in half and have the kids do activities, and halfway through the hour we do a water event and then switch,” he said. “We did a bean bag toss and volleyball, now we’ll do golf and bowling; we just go down there, organize the kids and we play.”

Although the program was created just two years ago, at the end of last summer, parents asked the Costas if they would be hosting it again, so they did. This season, 22 kids signed up.

“I get a lot of positive feedback from the parents and the kids continue to come back every week,” Costa said. “There’s no stress, no winning or losing, just out there playing and having fun. This is an opportunity for them to be on the turf and experience being out there. It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Those like Sarah have benefited from the program in more ways than one.

“It’s so amazing because she has difficulty in social situations,” Andersson said of her daughter. “Sometimes she shuts down and won’t participate, but Mr. Costa is an amazing person and got older kids involved. That collaboration — she feels safe with them. She won’t even participate in school in gym. [But this is] a positive atmosphere. Mr. Costa is a really special guy who creates such a special and fun environment for the kids.”

For others like Frank Anzaldi Jr., whose son Frankie Anzaldi III has been with the program since its inception, and is also a part of the TOPS soccer program, the Costa family has made a world of a difference in their lives.

“As a parent you just want to see your kids happy and to see them out there running around and having fun, it’s really great,” he said. “A lot of these kids face challenges every day and they struggle, but they’re all nonjudgmental and it’s so much fun. Frankie looks forward to it every week.”

An athlete leaps into a sandpit during one of last year's Athletes for All events. Photo from Jean Costa
An athlete leaps into a sandpit during one of last year’s Athletes for All events. Photo from Jean Costa

Anzaldi Jr. said he enjoys seeing how the children with disabilities put the volunteers’ lives in perspective, while the older kids help those with disabilities communicate.

“It’s nice to see them all interact,” he said.

For Andersson, she’s just happy that the district heard the voices of parents like her at board of education meetings, and found a way to help.

“He heard us telling our administrators we would like something for our kids to do,” she said of Costa. “As they get older it’s harder to get involved. They’re making a huge difference for these kids. You don’t get to see potential without opportunity, and the Costa family are truly amazing people because they showed that potential by giving the kids opportunity.”

Even son Peter Costa gets involved. The 20-year-old starts off each week with a round of Simon Says, which is a favorite part of the hour’s activities for some of the athletes.

After Wednesday’s session, which runs from 5:30-6:30 p.m., there are still three more weeks left for locals to come down. Residents can sign up through the community education flyer on the Rocky Point website, and find out more about the program on Costa’s eBoard.

“It pulled her out of her funk,” Andersson said of how Athletes for All has affected her daughter. “They are so respectful of who each child is, and don’t try to change the kids. We’re just super grateful. I love watching Sarah play, have a great time, truly enjoy it and feel respected as a person. The Costas created such a special and fun environment, and are making a huge difference in these children’s lives.”

25 water outlets in buildings throughout Three Village Central School District were found to have lead levels above the EPA guidelines last week. Stock photo

After 25 water outlets in buildings throughout Three Village Central School District were found to have lead levels above the EPA guidelines, school board President William Connors Jr. and Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said the district acted quickly to resolve the problem.

“As the health and safety of our students, staff and community is paramount, the district proactively initiated a thorough testing of all potable school water sources for possible elevated levels of lead,” Pedisich said in a statement on Tuesday. “Upon receipt of the results the district immediately took action and disconnected all faucets found to have lead above and near the EPA recommended levels. In addition, the district is in the process of completing the installation of filtered water bottle filling stations district-wide and will continue to conduct periodic testing of water sources in the future.”

J.C. Broderick & Associates Inc., an environmental consulting and testing agency, performed the testing on sampled water from sinks and water fountains districtwide. The testing included a two-step process: an initial water draw (immediately when the water flow begins) and a flush test (after allowing the water to flow through the system for the EPA-recommended 30 seconds). The tests were conducted in late May, with preliminary results received in late June, according to an email received from district spokesperson Marissa Gallo.

The majority of the questionable water sources were located in the elementary schools: eight at Arrowhead, one at Minnesauke, three at W.S. Mount, five at Nassakeag, and three at Setauket School. The others were in areas not accessible by students: three at Murphy Junior High, one at North Country Administration Building, and one at the building on Nicolls Road.

The district has now disconnected all water fountains throughout the schools and is installing filtered water bottle filling stations at each of the elementary schools. Filtered water bottle filling stations are already in use at the high school and both junior highs.

A group of kids decked out in Pokémon attire as they search for Pokémon in town. Photo from Benjamin Harris

By Rebecca Anzel 

The latest trend sweeping the nation is a throwback from the 1990s with a modern-technology twist: a augmented reality Pokémon game played on smartphones, and residents of Huntington are not immune. Hundreds of kids, teenagers and adults alike took to the streets this week to interact in this new game.

This latest offering from Pokémon evolved the franchise beyond the original cards, television show and video games. Pokémon GO allows players to create an avatar, called a trainer, and walk around their neighborhoods catching various Pokémon. Players can battle one another and get free in-game items from locations chosen by the game.

“Seeing all these people in my town is so new and great, especially when we can all bond over the same thing,”
— Gerard Anthony

The game is getting people of all ages out of their houses and into their neighborhoods. The only way to catch Pokémon is to walk around searching for them, and players have been posting on social media about how far they have traveled around their neighborhood.

One 22-year-old Greenlawn resident said she saw more than 50 kids hunting for Pokémon at parks in Northport and Huntington in one afternoon.

Megan McLafferty introduced the game to two kids she babysits because she thought, “it would be a fun activity to do outside with the kids — and they loved it.”

She said the kids really enjoyed searching different spots for Pokémon.

“I like that it gets you outside, it gets you moving, and it gets you to interact with other people,” she said in an interview. “It seemed like a lot of people were in big groups together [searching for Pokémon].”

Gerard Anthony, an 18-year-old Northport resident agreed that Pokémon GO is a great game to play in groups.

“Seeing all these people in my town is so new and great, especially when we can all bond over the same thing,” Anthony said in an interview. “I am able to go into Northport by myself and meet a new group of people each day.”

The only way to catch Pokémon is to walk around searching for them, and similarly, the only way to get a refill of free in-game item, like pokéballs is to go to Pokéstops.

One of those stops is the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in East Setauket. Director Ted Gutmann said once he discovered this, he had to try it. “I caught a few in my office,” he said. “So they’re here!”

The library is busy this time of year because of its summer reading program, but Gutmann said being a Pokéstop is attracting more visitors than usual.

A man captures a Pokemon. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
A man captures a Pokemon. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“The hope is, once they get in here, they’ll stop and read a book or attend one of our programs,” he said.

Gutman added that the library had tried its hand at augmented reality a while ago, implementing the technology in its newsletter. It abandoned the effort because it was not getting enough use at the time, but now that Pokémon GO is increasing the popularity of augmented reality, he said the library may revisit the project.

“There are lots of opportunities to use the technology beyond the game,” he said.

Port Jefferson’s Main Street is also a huge attraction for players. With a multitude of Pokéstops and gyms, the promise of Port Jefferson tempted Chris Aguilar, 23, to travel from Riverhead two days in a row.

Aguilar said there were so many people in the streets on the first night he was in the area, July 13, that mobs of trainers were crossing the streets. They did not begin to clear out until about 2:30 a.m.

“This game is bringing people together in an unprecedented way,” he said. “It’s like an age gap doesn’t exist between players,” who can speak to each other on almost an equal level about the game and trade tips.

Other local hotspots to catch Pokémon include Heritage Park  in Mount Sinai and Sylvan Ave. Park in Miller Place.

Just two days after the game’s release, players were spending an average of 43 minutes and 23 seconds per day playing Pokémon GO, a higher rate than popular apps including Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp.

According to SimilarWeb, an information technology company that tracks web analytics, Pokémon GO has so many daily active users that it is projected to soon have more users than Twitter.

But some people are concerned about the safety risks associated with Pokémon GO.

Pedestrians are now wandering around towns, with their eyes faced down at their smartphones. Law enforcement agencies, institutions of higher education and public transportation systems have spoken of the dangers of walking around consumed by a smartphone.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) held a press conference Tuesday to remind residents to exercise caution while playing.

“The safety and well-being of our residents, especially children, is our highest priority,” he said in a statement.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini echoed his sentiments at the event.

“There have also been accounts of people using the application while driving,” Sini said. “We are encouraging not just parents, but all users, to practice caution to avoid injury to self and others.”

Stony Brook University also contributed to the conversation, reminding students to watch where they are walking while playing.

Mark Szkolnicki, a student of the university, said that he is always careful.

“I grew up in a bad area, so the whole mugging-for-phones thing has been something that I’ve been cautious of forever,” he said. “But I worry for the youth because it’s a cool concept and it could really grow, but those kinds of obstacles really put a downer on the whole gaming community.”

Stony Brook Office for Marine Sciences Secretary Christina Fink agreed. She said it is important to keep in mind that if players are going hunting for Pokémon at night, they should go with at least one other person.

Reporting contributed by Victoria Espinoza.

Author R.J. Torbert, left, talks about his new book with John Valeri of The Hartford Book Examiner. Photo by Wenhao Ma

By Wenhao Ma

The story of a Port Jefferson murderer — albeit a fictional one — was discussed at length by a novelist and his fans in the village on Saturday.

Author R.J. Torbert brought his new book “No Mercy,” which was released in June, to a question-and-answer session with more than a dozen readers at Port Jefferson Free Library on July 16. “No Mercy” continues the story of fictitious Detectives Paul Powers and Bud Johnson of Port Jefferson, who dealt with the mysterious murderer Ghost Face, in Torbert’s first novel, “The Face of Fear,” which was released in 2013.

“He turned [the Ghost Face mask] into a home town classic.” —Joseph Borozny

“When [readers] look at the cover, they think it’s a horror story,” Torbert said in an interview after the event, referring to the Ghost Face mask on the cover. “[But] this is a relationship story, a love story,” he said.

Torbert is the licensing director of Fun Wold, a Halloween costume company. His company created the Ghost Face as part of the Fantastic Faces series back in 1991.

Torbert noted that there are many differences between his books and “Scream,” the movie that made the mask famous back in the 1990s. He said that he did not design the iconic mask, but he did come up with the name Ghost Face and has been protecting its name and trademarks for years, and even fought to keep the character wearing the mask in the movies from doing anything bad enough to give too dark of a stigma.

Author R.J. Torbert poses with a fan of his newly released novel. Photo by Wenhao Ma
Author R.J. Torbert poses with a fan of his newly released novel. Photo by Wenhao Ma

“[In the first novel], the person who wore the mask was not necessarily a bad person,” Torbert said.

He said that he had always wanted to write a book, but what turned his idea into action was a novel he read on a plane. He was so disappointed with the story that he started writing on that book. What he wrote eventually became “The Face of Fear.”

“He turned [the Ghost Face mask] into a home town classic,” Joseph Borozny, a Port Jefferson resident and a fan of Torbert’s books, said, adding that Torbert used the Ghost Face character to create something that’s real, not just fictional.

Borozny brought his family to the event, including his 14-­year­-old son, Joey, who received a Ghost Face mask from Torbert as a gift. “If you like horror movies,” Joey said, “this is the guy you’ll love to meet. And he’s a real nice guy.”

After the question-and answer-portion, Torbet signed copies of the book and posed for photos with fans.

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Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Joseph Wolkin

When they opened up their eyes, they saw the signs.

Port Jefferson Village residents were furious when a New York State agency added three highway-sized road signs on Route 25A, a state road, essentially in the middle of the night earlier in July. The signs were part of the I Love NY campaign from the Empire State Development office.

“They’re outrageously huge,” Mayor Margot Garant said. “They’re metal, they’re huge and they plopped them on the middle of our sidewalks without any notice.”

Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski
Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski

Garant, who was caught off guard by the road signs, immediately contacted the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). After she had several meetings and phone calls with state officials, the community also spoke up. After an overwhelming volume of pleas heard by state officials, the signs were removed Saturday and, according to Garant, will be replaced with significantly smaller ones in the coming weeks.

According to the mayor, community members emailed the governor’s office and requested the signs be taken down. Additionally, a Twitter campaign was created in order to showcase the town’s fury over the signs. The three styles of large, blue signs featured the slogans “Welcome to New York,” “Explore New York History,” and “Experience New York Attractions,” with prompts to visit www.iloveny.com, a site geared toward tourists visiting the state.

“Apparently, the explanation I got was it was a [New York State] project that was on a deadline and I would probably think they wanted the deadline to be around the Fourth of July since it was right before it,” Garant said. “Because it was a heavy push with little explanation, as a result all of the communities [involved] went nuts. We had no input and weren’t given any notice. We just woke up one morning and there were these massive signs.”

Chyresse Wells, a spokeswoman for the Empire State Development office acknowledged their plan to replace the signs following the backlash.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with local leaders which addresses their concerns but continues to promote the world-renowned I Love NY campaign,” she said in an emailed statement. “New York State tourism has generated a record-breaking economic impact of $102 billion across the state, supporting over 894,000 jobs and generating $8 billion in state and local taxes in 2015.”

State road signs in Port Jeff Village being taken down after community outrage. Photo by Drew Biondo
State road signs in Port Jeff Village being taken down after community outrage. Photo by Drew Biondo

Village Trustee Bruce Miller received input on the issue from parents of parochial school students at Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church regarding the poor and deteriorating quality of signs on lower Myrtle Avenue.

While Miller said road markings have been criticized, he did not know there would be several large signs placed on Route 25A. He added that little has been done to address the problem of deterioration of existing signs, an issue he said he has presented to the board of trustees in the past.

Bruce D’Abramo, another village trustee, tweeted his satisfaction to the removal of the signs in response to the news that Montauk was having its signs downsized as well.

“Port Jefferson Village rejoiced as our NY State signs came down as well,” D’Abramo said. Montauk, East Hampton and Port Jefferson were three of several Suffolk County communities saddled with the giant signs with alleged little notice.

Reporting contributed by Alex Petroski.

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The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. File photo by Elyse Sutton

By Rita J. Egan

A North Shore library is working hand-in-hand with its veterans to help them gain access to their necessary benefits.

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket invites veterans across the community to attend an outreach program hosted by the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the library, which is scheduled for Thursday, July 14. Nancy McCaffrey, adult programs librarian at Emma Clark, said she sees many veterans visiting the library on a regular basis wearing their various armed forces hats and shirts. With the library’s help, she said she hoped those veterans could discover the various benefits available to them at the library’s outreach event.

“We assist veterans with enrollment, in getting health care through the VA system, we update their information, and sit with them one-on-one to discuss their personal benefits.”
—Wendy Robertson

She said the goal of the program — the first of its kind held at Emma Clark Library — would help to disseminate information to the veterans as well as help update their statuses.

“There are a lot of good programs out there for them that they may not be aware of,” McCaffrey said.

Every year, Wendy Robertson, community relations coordinator with the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, reaches out to as many locations as possible on Long Island. She said the venues include American Legion halls, fire departments and public libraries on the island. The coordinator said the organization averages around 70 to 80 outreach programs a year in Suffolk and Nassau counties.

Robertson said libraries are a great location for such a program because while some veterans may not belong to a local post of The American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, many tend to frequent libraries.

The coordinator said it’s important for veterans to regularly update their information with the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as educate themselves about new programs available to them. She said many have received information a long time ago, and a lot of it has changed.

“The outreach program is to offer information, and update veterans on what their benefits are, and what their entitlements are with the VA,” she said. “What we do is assist the veterans with enrollment, in getting health care through the VA system, we update their information, and we also sit with them one-on-one at the events to discuss their personal benefits.”

Robertson said that veterans’ needs change as they grow older, and the VA can assist them with things such as hearing aids or health attendants. The program will also allow veterans to learn about new health care options as well as find out about six locations on Long Island now offering VA care.

The coordinator said attendance to the events varies depending on the time of year and location. She said anywhere from a few hundred to a handful of veterans can attend.

“A lot of the veterans feel that they are taking away from somebody else, and that’s really the opposite, so that’s what our mission is to give them what they are entitled to,” Robertson said.

The Veterans Outreach Program will be held on Thursday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there’s no need to register. However, veterans are asked to bring a copy of their DD214 or separation papers. The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is located at 120 Main St. in Setauket. For more information, call 631-941-4080, ext. 107, or visit emmaclark.org or northport.va.gov.

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Peter Gustafson, the longest-serving member of the Stony Brook Fire Department (64 years), enjoys the rededication of Stony Brook Village with Fire Commissioner and guest speaker Walter Hazlitt, who attended the original dedication on July 3, 1941. Photo by Donna Newman

On July 10, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Stony Brook Village Center with a day of festivities, music, antique cars, and special remembrances.

A gathering on the village green brought together the trustees of the WMHO, community members, and representatives of government from the state, the county, and the town.

Curious passersby also stopped to listen as each of the speakers gave his or her own perspective on the little New England village that Ward Melville first dedicated in the summer of 1941.

The longest serving member of the Stony Brook Fire Department, Peter Gustafson, sits in the department’s antique truck dating from 1939. Photo by Donna Newman
The longest serving member of the Stony Brook Fire Department, Peter Gustafson, sits in the department’s antique truck dating from 1939. Photo by Donna Newman

The first to address the assemblage was Walter Hazlitt, a longtime resident of Stony Brook who was present at the first dedication ceremony. He was a teenager then and remembers all the hoopla and watching the parade.

The WMHO has film from that dedication. It is on view as part of a special summer exhibit, “It takes a team to build a village,” at the Educational & Cultural Center.

“The project that was started by Ward Melville was the [impetus] that made Stony Brook what it is today,” said Hazlitt. “The story [of this new center] was in several New York newspapers,” he added, remembering the tourists who began to come here. He opined that Melville started something grand, and Governor Nelson Rockefeller continued Stony Brook’s growth by establishing — with Melville’s help — a state university that is “unparalleled.”

At right, (back row) Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn, trustee Jim Murdocco, trustee Mary Van Tuyl, WMHO Chairman Richard Rugen, trustee Charles Napoli, NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright, NYS Senator John Flanagan and trustee Charles Pieroth; (front row) WMHO President Gloria Rocchio, trustee Kathleen Mich, and trustee Laura Huang Ernst. Photo by Donna Newman
At right, (back row) Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn, trustee Jim Murdocco, trustee Mary Van Tuyl, WMHO Chairman Richard Rugen, trustee Charles Napoli, NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright, NYS Senator John Flanagan and trustee Charles Pieroth; (front row) WMHO President Gloria Rocchio, trustee Kathleen Mich, and trustee Laura Huang Ernst. Photo by Donna Newman

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) spoke of her idyllic childhood in Stony Brook.

“Small things have changed; so much has stayed the same,” she said. “It is the same extraordinarily beautiful view. You turn around and you look out over Hercules, you look around at the green space we have in our community — where we come together at special moments — this is the most magical, special place.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) also gave his take on the village.

“Historically — and I love the fact that we have these antique vehicles here — this is the first mall in America,” he said. “That’s quite remarkable. Ward Melville and his designer Richard Haviland Smythe envisioned a coming of age of the automobile, and they designed accordingly. This is the first shopping mall designed for the automobile specifically, and for that reason, if for no other, this is a part of our national heritage.”

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) and Supervisor Edward Romaine (R) represented Brookhaven Town. Cartright spoke of reading that the Melville family came across the site by accident.

“Being a woman of God,” she said, “I don’t believe in accidents … I truly believe they were divinely guided here.”

Romaine spoke of Ward Melville’s boldness, calling him “a visionary.”

“He convinced store owners that this wasn’t going to drive them out of business, that this was the way to go,” he said. “And the results endure to this day, 75 years after [the village] was dedicated. Its lesson is what good planning — what having a decent vision for the future of a community — is all about.”

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