Government

Supervisor Ed Romaine breaks ground where the two homes are being built for returning veterans. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Local officials joined Mark Baisch, president of Landmark Properties in Rocky Point, and Joe Cognitore, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6249, to celebrate the groundbreaking of two homes Baisch is building for returning veterans and their families.

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) and Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) attended the groundbreaking event, which took place on Aug. 20 in front of the property on Tyler Avenue in Sound Beach.

“We as a nation — we as a country, as a state, as a county, as a town owe them our thanks,” Romaine said.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Commander Joe Cognitore, Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico pose for a photo before tying a ribbon around the oak tree that will rest between two homes being built and given to returning veterans. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post Commander Joe Cognitore, Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico pose for a photo before tying a ribbon around the oak tree that will rest between two homes being built and given to returning veterans. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Bonner also commended Baisch for his efforts.

“Kudos to Mark for having the creative brain to come up with an idea and push the envelope, as you will, to create an opportunity to build houses for veterans,” Bonner said.

Baisch purchased the property two years ago and wanted to give back to the veterans by building two homes. These are Baisch’s ninth and tenth homes for returning veterans. The first home he built was also in Sound Beach, and was given to a veteran who earned a Purple Heart for his services.

“This is not something for the faint of heart,” Baisch said during the press conference.

Cognitore joined Baisch to help him execute his idea. As Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he took on the responsibility of selecting candidates for the two $249,000 homes.

In order for the veterans to qualify for the homes, they must be first-time homebuyers making less than $200,000 to $300,000 annually. The amount of time a vet served in either the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the size of the vet’s family and whether they received awards for their service are determining factors in deciding which applicants will receive the homes.

It is still unknown which veterans and their families will receive the homes.

“If you all go away with one thing, I want you to go and find me two veterans for these houses,” Baisch said. “That’s the most important thing.”

The town board discusses a resolution added to a meeting agenda. Photo by Phil Corso

A Smithtown councilman is proposing to raise the minimum wage for town employees, but the discussion has been tabled for future consideration.

Town Councilman Bob Creighton (R) initially proposed to have a minimum wage resolution be added to the agenda to last Tuesday afternoon’s town board meeting, which would effectively set the minimum wage at $9 per hour as of April 1, 2016.

The motion was met with skepticism, and Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R) moved to table the proposal for a future date, which the board unanimously approved.

Over the last several months Smithtown resolutions for municipal hires showed workers being hired at rates anywhere from as low as $8 and as high as $16 per hour. The town, however, is not legally bound to abide by a minimum wage.

Creighton could not be reached for comment. The discussion will be revisited at a later town board session.

by -
0 882
Mayor Dee Parrish signs a document at Thursday evening’s Poquott Village board meeting at Poquott Village Hall. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

In the early morning, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, a surprise extreme weather event literally took the North Shore by storm, leaving floods, fallen trees, and power outages in its wake, and causing Village of Poquott officials to declare a State of Emergency.

Nine days later, on Aug. 13, it was clear that effects were still very much being felt in the Three Village area, with uprooted trees and debris lining the roadways up to Poquott Village Hall. There, at 7 p.m., citizens of the village gathered to voice their reactions to board members’ handling of the storm, and to express requests for how the remaining damages should be handled.

A major complaint many meeting attendants shared involved communication between board members and the public. Residents at the meeting voiced concerns of a lag in response time from Poquott Mayor Dee Parrish and her administration, which one trustee took issue with.

“The only way we found out the road had re-opened was to drive down there and look, make a U-turn, and go back.” Trustee Harry Berry said in defense of the accusation. “We heard nothing. First off, there was no power— a lot of people didn’t get their power back until Saturday. There was no Internet, and cellphone coverage was terrible.”

Still, residents argued the village officials could have done more to communicate with the greater Poquott community after the storm.

Indeed, the storm did bring with it increased safety concerns. Village resident Carol Pesek emphasized the importance of future communication in terms of relaying how to avoid some of the unique dangers brought about by the storm. She specifically noted the necessity of avoiding trees touching downed telephone wires.

Parrish said she would note these considerations for the future, and then brought the public commentary section of the meeting to an early close. After this, the board approved resolutions authorizing Parrish to draft and submit a FEMA application requesting financial support to cover storm damages, directing Clerk Joseph Newfield to schedule, and notice accordingly, public bids for cleaning of village drains per the list from the Commission of Environmental and also directing the clerk to schedule, and notice accordingly, public bids for tree clean up and removal in the village from the storm.

A resolution approving a village carting company to conduct an additional pick-up of residential landscaping debris, not to exceed $5,000, was tabled, on the condition that enough debris may be cleared by individual residents to render the additional expense unnecessary.

The Poquott Civic Association and Village of Poquott also held a fundraiser on the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 15, at the park on the corner of Washington Street and Chestnut Avenue. Tommy Sullivan, of Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge, performed a free, old-time rock n’ roll concert, and attendees donated money and participated in a raffle to raise funds for storm repairs.

With community participation and cooperation between elected officials and constituents, the Three Village area will recover from this storm quickly and, perhaps more importantly, gain the tools and experience necessary to prepare for future incidents of extreme weather.

Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Huntington Town Board is considering partnering with Suffolk County to buy the development rights of a Greenlawn Christmas tree farm.

The board held a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss a plan to buy a conservation easement and the development rights of the Tilden Lane Farm on Wyckoff Street in Greenlawn. The Tilden family has operated the farm for generations, and the property has been recognized as a National Bicentennial Farm for its more than 200 years of continuous farm use.

The town would use money from its Environmental Open Space and Park Fund and would split the cost with Suffolk County, according to a Town Board resolution.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said the legislator supports the move: “Few and far between are there opportunities in this district to have open space preservation, so he is in support of this.”

Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), who sponsored the measure, said he brought it forward because it was a “win-win” in that it offers the possibility to preserve the land, but also allows the Christmas tree operation to continue. Cuthbertson said he’s frequented the farm on occasions.

“It costs us less to outright purchase and allows something that’s a very compatible use to continue,” he said.

Asked how much the development rights would cost, Cuthbertson said the town is at the “beginning stages” of that process.

At this week’s public hearing, members of the Tilden family urged the board to move forward with the acquisition of the development rights, which would preserve the property as farmland forever. Six years ago, the town and county made an offer to buy the rights, and an appraisal of the property was done, but the farm’s owner at the time turned the offer down, according to town spokesman A.J. Carter.

The opportunity came up again when the current heirs became interested in selling the land.

“We’re trying to keep our Christmas tree operation going,” Bruce Tilden said. “We’re thankful the town is supporting this endeavor and we’re looking forward to keep it going.”

Neighbor Jane Irving also urged the board to move forward with the purchase, noting that the Tilden family “has always been good neighbors.”

“Isn’t it wonderful that the Town of Huntington has a working tree farm within the town borders?”

Spencer’s spokesperson said the development rights purchase would be reviewed by the county’s farmland committee on Sept. 15.

A deli on the Platt’s Tavern site would be demolished under Dominick Mavellia’s zone change application to construct a medical office building. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Huntington Town Board postponed a decision on whether to rezone a historic Huntington village property that once hosted George Washington for dinner in 1790.

The deadline for the decision was Sept. 7, but the board voted to extend that until Dec. 6.

The project area is the site of the former Platt’s Tavern, one of the first buildings in the area. According to town documents, Washington dined at the establishment on April 23, 1790, during a tour of Long Island.

Developer Dominick Mavellia wants to change the zoning of a parcel on the corner of Route 25A and Park Avenue from R-15 Residence District to C-1 Office Residence District to make way for a 10,000-square-foot medical office building at the site. Of that space, GoHealth Urgent Care would occupy 3,000 square feet, and 7,000 square feet would be regular medical office space for North Shore-LIJ Health System.

Part of the plan would also include situating a life-sized statue of George Washington beside his horse on the property.

At a public hearing on June 9, residents said they wanted a more historic look incorporated into the application — particularly with the proposed design of the structure. Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said the extra time on the decision is in part to afford the developer and the community more time to work on the application.

“The owner of the property continues to work with residents and historical groups to tweak the property to reflect their concerns and comments, so this gives him extra time to do more tweaking,” town spokesman A.J. Carter said in an interview this week.

File photo

The Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps is running out of credit, and is calling on the Smithtown Town Board to help them change the way they sustain cash.

Director Rich O’Brien and chief Tom Lowenberg of the Commack VAC spoke before the Town Board at a work session on Tuesday morning with hopes of swaying the town to help them seek new ways to collect revenue and, hopefully, save taxpayer dollars for both Smithtown and Huntington residents who utilize the service.

O’Brien pitched a plan that would essentially bill private insurance companies for patient care, which he said would ultimately reduce the amount of money both towns would need to allocate to the group on an annual basis.

When a resident receives care through the Commack VAC, O’Brien said the group would then submit a patient care report to the hospital, which would gather insurance information on the patient, and then the VAC would bill the insurance company for reimbursement of costs, which could be as high as $1,000 on any given call. If a resident does not have insurance, he said the group would establish a plan in which they could pay for the services they received.

O’Brien said his group’s call volume has been steadily increasing to nearly 3,600 calls each year, but revenues have not matched the growth to accommodate activities.

“This is simply the most practical way to save taxpayer money,” O’Brien said. “Commack is growing, and if you look at the Commack division between Smithtown and Huntington, our calls are coming in around 60 percent Smithtown and 40 percent Huntington.”

The director said the group had been advised to borrow money to keep it afloat, but rising debt costs have left the VAC at what O’Brien and Lowenberg called a plateau.

“We started borrowing, but our operating budget has suffered,” Lowenberg said.

In order to reduce taxpayer dollars, O’Brien said Commack should follow suit of other volunteer ambulance corps across Long Island to seek financial reimbursements from residents’ insurance companies, and use the money to help expand the services and also leave the group less reliant on town money.

Lowenberg said insurance company reimbursements were an untapped resource utilized typically at private ambulance companies, but not as much by volunteer groups.

He also said new revenues would help the VAC fund a fifth ambulance vehicle and potentially expand into a new space near Commack Road and New Highway.

The 2015 adopted budget for Smithtown allocated $1,001,435 for the entire Commack Ambulance District.

Smithtown Comptroller Donald Musgnug said he has been working with the VAC to comb through the numbers and assess the best plan of action. He said insurance company money could potentially be what might eventually allow Commack’s VAC to stand on its own without the town’s taxpayer money to sustain it.

“It does seem to be a legal form of service they could do,” he said. “Clearly, there is a need for good volunteer ambulance corps service. Looking long-range, it stabilizes taxes to the district and would result in a decrease. It definitely should be pursued.”

The Commack group would still need Huntington Town to sign onto the plan in order to make it practical, Musgnug said, and town officials there have been vetting the proposal for future consideration.

by -
0 1078
Harry S. Truman was president during a critical time in the United States. Photo in the public domain

By Rich Acritelli

He came from humble beginnings to make one of the most critical but grave decisions in United States history.

Born on May 8, 1884, to a poor Missouri farming family, Harry S. Truman’s roots were far removed from those of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While he was a capable student, his poor eyesight prevented an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He never attended college, and was expected to help with the family business. But to get away from the boredom of agriculture, he enlisted in the National Guard and, though he would have been exempted from Selective Service, re-enlisted at age 33, when President Woodrow Wilson declared war in April 1917.

At once, Truman’s superiors and peers voted that he become an officer, and the future president was proud to take on the role. His soldiers saw him as an organized and bright leader who took care of his men. After training in Oklahoma, Truman and his artillery battery traveled to New York City, where the Missouri soldiers were some of the first Americans to be transported on the USS George Washington, a confiscated German passenger ship that was used to transport a portion of the 2.5 million Americans who fought on the Western Front. While in New York, Truman was not overly impressed with Manhattan and, in fact, liked Paris better when he visited that city after the World War I armistice.

Once in France, Truman learned how to fire the French 75-mm field gun, the best artillery weapon produced during the conflict. He was promoted to captain and the head of an artillery battery, and proved to be an honest man, speaking objectively to superior officers about the needs of his men. Near the front, Truman trained with Gen. John J. Pershing and led his battery in the 1918 Muesse-Argonne offensive. He was one of the 600,000 soldiers used to punch a hole into the tired lines of the German military. It is possible Truman’s guns fired some of the final shots before the Central Powers surrendered on Nov. 11, 1918.

The interwar years were spotted with success and failure for Truman. Once the war concluded, Truman desperately wanted to marry his Missouri sweetheart, Bess Wallace, and for a brief time he was a partner in a thriving clothing store with a veteran from his unit. While he had good sense, the business closed and Truman refused to file for bankruptcy protection. Some 20 years later, right before he became president, he finally paid off those debts.

Did you know?

President Truman was a talented piano player. According to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, as a child he woke up at 5 a.m. to practice for two hours, and music was one of his passions throughout his lifetime.

Truman got his political start as a county judge, with help from Kansas City Democratic political boss Thomas J. Pendergast. While he probably favored Pendergast on municipal building projects in return, he was seen as a clean politician and later won a spot in the U.S. Senate. Truman was a key advocate of Roosevelt’s New Deal as well as measures to supply American allies with military necessities early during World War II. He used a common-sense approach to leadership, stemming from his time as a farmer, a captain in the Army and a businessman, and it was an approach small-town Americans understood.

As Roosevelt ran for his fourth and final term, he picked an originally reluctant Truman as his vice president. But shortly after the victory, Roosevelt’s health declined. After four months in office, Truman was commander-in-chief. Americans, saddened over the trusted Roosevelt’s death and in the midst of war, knew little about the make-up of Truman. During World War I, he was a junior officer under future Gens. George C. Marshall, George S. Patton and Douglas R. MacArthur, but he was now their boss. And the stakes were higher — the Manhattan Project gave the U.S. the atomic bomb. Truman had a tough call to make.

It was 70 years ago this month that Truman authorized the military to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a strategy to end the war, save American lives and demonstrate the nation’s immense power to the Soviets. About his controversial decision, the plainspoken Truman said he could not have looked into the eyes of American mothers who lost a son in combat knowing that he could have defeated the Japanese earlier but chose not to.

The presidency was a difficult chore to handle, but Truman never wavered from his responsibilities. Though he faced criticism during the postwar recession and the earliest moments of the Cold War, he was the underdog figure with a bullish sense of honesty that helped win World War II and set a precedent for American dealings with the Soviet Union for decades to come.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College. He was a staff sergeant in the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach.

Woodbury Road residents have called the thoroughfare unsafe in recent years. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Plans to calm traffic and reduce car crashes on Woodbury Road accelerated on Tuesday.

The Huntington Town Board voted to pay traffic consultants an additional $16,635 to design some of the recommendations they made in a traffic- calming study of the road released earlier this year.

In the study, GEB HiRise, of Uniondale, recommended things like larger and more reflective signs; thicker lane markings; rumble strips in the double yellow lines in the center of the road; reduced speed limits in some areas from 30 to 25 miles per hour; and narrower lanes in some areas.

Residents in the area have been calling for traffic-calming changes, citing a number of crashes along the road.

Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland (D), who has spearheaded the issue, said after the town board meeting on Tuesday that this measure takes traffic calming on Woodbury Road “to the next level.”

The engineering firm will be charged with mapping out where things like rumble strips will go, where to narrow the road and exploring the road-skidding aspect of the issue.

“This is the next step,” Berland said.

Residents vet plan for Eaton’s Neck deer

Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

Dozens of residents weighed in at a public hearing on Tuesday on a Huntington Town Board plan that would allow seasonal longbow hunting of deer on Eaton’s Neck.

The proposal would amend the town code to allow longbow hunting during hunting season on private properties on Eaton’s Neck and in unincorporated areas of Asharoken to anyone who has a hunting license issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Nearly 30 people took to the podium at town hall to voice their concerns on the plan.

Those who supported the proposal, which would only apply to private properties, said they wanted the measure in place to regulate what’s become an overpopulation of deer in the neighborhood. The great numbers of deer have given rise to public health, safety and quality of life issues, supporters said.

Opponents called the plan an “inhumane” solution and suggested the town explores other deer management routes and raised questions about whether the hunting method would even be effective in curbing the population.

Among the residents who spoke against longbow hunting included some who have been impacted by tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme disease, an infectious bacterial disease that if left untreated can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system; and babesiosis, a disease caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells.

Dr. Gary Stone, Huntington Hospital’s chairman of pathology and director of the laboratory, said in an interview on Wednesday that the hospital has treated about 10 to 15 cases of babesiosis in total this year. Those cases are of individuals from the Huntington Town area, he said. The hospital announced in a statement “more are expected,” and said the disease is “prevalent in our area but sometimes goes unnoticed.”

“This has happened before but it doesn’t happen to do this degree this summer,” Stone said. “This summer is definitely worse than the last few summers.”

He said in research he’s carried out on cases at other area hospitals, it seems as though medical centers on the North Shore are experiencing greater numbers of cases of babesiosis.

“I’m thinking there’s a higher percent of ticks here on the North Shore actually have the disease than on the South Shore,” he said.

Doug Whitcomb told Town Board members that the population has exploded to the point where “everybody encounters deer on a daily basis.” He and others pleaded with board members to consider the elevated health risks associated with a large deer population and to allow longbow hunting.

“I am here to represent that the residents of Eaton’s Neck deserve the same opportunity to quality of life as all of the other residents of Huntington have, and deer are causing us unimaginable problems,” Whitcomb said.

Animal advocates, however, took aim at longbow hunting.

“Animals feel pain and experience a full range of emotions — happiness, contentment, fear and dread,” Jeannie Gedeon said. “They are intelligent. …  If you vote to allow deer hunting in the Town of Huntington we might as well go home and shoot our pet dogs and cats with an arrow and go watch them die.”

The uptick in the deer population has led to a rise in car accidents, residents said. They also claim the animals eat their plants.

Residents of the Eaton Harbors Corporation have been working on the issue. The group posted on its website a January meeting with DEC deer biologist Josh Stiller, who provided an overview of the deer population growth issue.

“The problem is going farther and farther west it seems like every year,” he told residents then. … “Deer can multiply really quickly under ideal situations and in a lot of these suburban areas you have an ideal situation for deer.”

In prior interviews, Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and Councilman Gene Cook (I) spoke about wanting to see a more humane approach to managing the deer population. In separate interviews after the public hearing, they said they hadn’t decided whether they’d support the measure or not.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) echoed similar sentiments. Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) told reporters that he felt something needed to be done and that he’d look into the issue further.

“It is getting out of hand. We have to do something. Are we happy about this alternative with bows and deer running and they’re shot? No. There’s no immediate quick fix,” the supervisor said.

by -
0 624

Port Jefferson’s upcoming paving project is fit for a president

There are some patches of rough road in the presidential section of Port Jefferson Village. Photo by Elana Glowatz

A contractor is hitting the pavement to smooth out some Port Jefferson roads.

The village board of trustees last week approved paving projects on the presidential streets, off of Old Post Road, and at the Riviera condos in the Harbor Hills section, between Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai harbors. In total, the projects will cost just shy of $360,000, with about two-thirds of that figure financing the roads named after former U.S. presidents — Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt avenues and Wilson Drive — as well as the adjacent Rustic Road. The other third will cover Lookout Ridge Drive, Sawtooth Cove, Rockledge Path and Laurel Crescent.

Medford-based Suffolk Asphalt Corp. will handle both those neighborhood projects. More than half of the cost to Suffolk Asphalt will come out of surplus money left over from the 2014-15 village budget, village officials said.

Of all the roads in the village that needed work, Mayor Margot Garant said during the Aug. 3 board meeting, “The presidential section was in the most need of repair, so they were approved first,” followed by the Riviera section.

As for smaller side streets that need to be repaved, officials said the village’s Department of Public Works will handle them in-house, rather than hiring a contractor. Trustee Larry LaPointe gave the examples of Grant and Bleeker streets, off East Broadway, which he said are in bad shape.


Path takes Highlands road

Port Jefferson’s village board of trustees approved a contractor last week to install about 0.2 miles of sidewalk along Highlands Boulevard, between the entrance to the Highlands condominiums and Oakland Avenue.

The sidewalk has been planned for a while. During a resident push for the village-owned grassy area on Highlands Boulevard, along which the sidewalk would run, to be declared as open space or parkland, the village also tossed around the idea of putting in a walkway there.

“They don’t even have a sidewalk,” Mayor Margot Garant said about the condos residents at a previous board meeting. “They have to walk in the road to get from the Highlands … to the upper Port area.”

Nesconset-based Jadeco Construction Corp. will put in the sidewalk at a cost of $65,100 and the village will pay Welsbach Electric Corp., of Flushing, $17,000 to install lighting along the route.

Although sidewalk plans are coming together now, the village approved the parkland designation for the 6-acre parcel in March, limiting its future use or development. Officials have discussed keeping the park passive, but possibly putting in benches and walking paths.

Social

9,388FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,155FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe