Times of Huntington-Northport

A new sign bears witness to the toll Sept. 11, 2001 continues to exact from South Huntington and the surrounding communities.

Town of Huntington officials unveiled a sign dedicating Iceland Drive as “NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way” in honor of a South Huntington resident who died of a 9/11-related illness. About 100 family members, friends and his former colleagues gathered for the Sept. 14 ceremony on what would have been his 56th birthday.

“Officer Natale dearly loved his family, friends, colleagues and community as the number of people gathered here to celebrate his life today shows the impact he made on all of us,” Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “The sign we are unveiling today is a reminder of his legacy.”

“The sign we are unveiling today is a reminder of [Mark Natale’s] legacy.”

— Chad Lupinacci

Natale was a South Huntington native who graduated from Walt Whitman High School before joining the New York City Police Department in 1985. He was stationed with the 94th Precinct in Greenpoint when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 attacks. Natale guided dust-covered people fleeing lower Manhattan over the bridges into Brooklyn and onto ferries to New Jersey. In the days following the attacks, he stood guard at the gates surrounding ground zero.

Natale died May 4 of brain cancer at his South Huntington home, which was brought about by his exposure to the scene.

“We have not as a nation or region spent enough time honoring and remembering those people in the aftermath of 9/11 who went into harm’s way and paid the same exact supreme sacrifice with their lives as those who perished that day,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said. “Today, we proudly recognize Officer Mark Natale as a hero.”

This was the second ceremony Huntington town officials have hosted in as many months, dedicating a street in honor of first responders who have died of 9/11 related illnesses.

“The fact of the matter is that more uniformed and un-uniformed personnel who took part in the search, rescue and recovery operations that perish will surpass the number of people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2011,” Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park) said. “We can never, ever repay people like Mark Natale for what they did that day, or in the weeks and months afterward.”

“When you pass by NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way, take a moment to look up at the sign and smile.”

— Mayra Natale

Donnelly said the health care issues faced by 9/11 responders is of “epidemic proportions” and estimated one individual per week is dying as a result of their service following the attacks.

“[Mark Natale’s] battle and bravery he demonstrated after 9/11 also serves as a beacon of hope for those who continue to fight 9/11-related illnesses,” Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said. “By naming this street and showing his acts of bravery, he provides who to those who are still out there fighting.”

Natale’s wife, Mayra, thanked all those who attended the ceremony alongside the couple’s three children Dominick, Catherine and Lauren for honoring her husband’s memory along with one special request.

“We all lost a piece of our hearts when we lost Mark,” she said. “He will live on eternally in our good deeds and the love we share with one another. When you pass by NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way, take a moment to look up at the sign and smile.”

Police say the man allegedly issued the threat after he lost a video game to the 11-year-old

Suffolk County Police arrested a Huntington man earlier today for allegedly threatening to shoot a child following his loss to the boy during a video game.

Michael Aliperti. Photo from SCPD

The 4th Precinct Crime Section officers initiated an investigation after an 11-year-old Kings Park boy reported receiving threatening text messages and online voice messages via Xbox from a man he recently beat during a game of Fortnite. In the messages, which were sent at approximately 9 p.m. Sept.  17, the man allegedly threatened to shoot the child, possibly at his school, R.J.O. Intermediate School, according to police.

Police said they arrested Michael Aliperti, 45, at his home at approximately 1:40 a.m. and charged him with second-degree aggravated harassment and acting in a manner to injure a child.

Timothy Eagen, superintendent of Kings Park schools, said the district was notified by Suffolk County police of the incident prior to the start of classes Tuesday morning, but were told “no specific threat had been made towards the school.”

“I know we are all thankful that SCPD acted as swiftly as they did, and the adult was taken into custody promptly,” Eagen said in a Sept. 18 letter to school district residents. “This is certainly evidence of a commitment to school safety.”

The superintendent encouraged Kings Park parents to use this incident to speak with their children about the dangers of online gaming and how children should not be playing video games with people they don’t know.

Aliperti was scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 18 at 1st District Court in Central Islip. The outcome of his arraignment was not available as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Eagen’s full letter to Kings Park school district parents can be read online here. 

This post was updated to include quotes from Eagen’s letter Sept. 18.

Nearly 6,500 runner took to the streets of Northport Village Sept. 15 to participate in the Great Cow Harbor 10K Run and 2K Fun Run. The 41st anniversary of the race drew one of the largest number of participants ever, according to race organizers.

Hartford resident Donnie Cabral,  28, became the first to successfully defend his title as the race’s champion and top male finisher with a time of 29 minutes, 29.54 seconds. Cabral’s average pace per mile was 4:45.

Elaina Tabb, a 26-year-old from Watertown, Massachusetts, won first place in the women’s division with an overall time of 33:37.08, or a pace of 5:25 per mile.

Both Cabral and Tabb were presented with a $3,500 check from event sponsor People’s United Bank.

File photo

Suffolk County Police 2nd  Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian in Huntington Station early Sept. 17.

Juan Rosa Aparicio was crossing Depot Road, near East 11th Street, at approximately 5:35 a.m. when he was struck by a southbound 2008 Honda. Aparicio, 69, of Huntington Station, was pronounced dead at the scene by a member of the Huntington Community First Aid Squad.

The driver of the Honda, Rigoberto Flores, 44, of Huntington Station, was not injured.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Anyone with information on this crash is asked to call the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

Northport Tigers varsity boys volleyball defeated Smithtown West Bulls, 3-0, Sept. 13 in Smithtown.

Northport boys volleyball has started its 2018 season on a positive note with two consecutive wins. They will continue on the road to play Ward Melville Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

The West Bulls are still looking for their first win of the 2018 season as they are scheduled to host Lindenhurst Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.

 

Northport Middle School's newly refurbished K-74 classroom. Photo from Northport-East Northport school district

Students can safely take a deep breath while attending classes in the newly reopened K-Wing of Northport Middle School.

Northport-East Northport school district has reopened the K-Wing of Northport Middle School for student and staff use after environmental testing for volatile organic compounds conducted by consultants J.C. Broderick & Associates Aug. 27 determined it was safe for use. The study and its conclusions were reviewed by officials in New York State’s Department of Health.

“[T]he levels of volatile organic compounds detected at the time of the sampling are well below any levels that have been associated with adverse health effects.”

— Michael Hughes

“Based on the air concentrations and information presented in the report, the levels of volatile organic compounds detected at the time of the sampling are well below any levels that have been associated with adverse health effects,” wrote Michael Hughes, a section chief in the state’s Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment, in a Sept. 4 email. “The NYSDOH therefore concurs with the conclusion in the report that staff and students occupy the K-Wing in the school.”

On Aug. 27, J.C. Broderick & Associates staff conducted volatile organic compound, or VOC, sampling in K-Wing classrooms to determine if extensive summer renovations had resolved indoor air quality concerns. The district had closed off the area for the 2017-18 school year after an earth science teacher reported smelling gasoline fumes and an investigation found the source to be a petroleum-based warehouse beneath the K-wing.

The testing was performed using 26 cannisters, according to J.C. Broderick & Associates — two in each of the classrooms, the hallway and underground warehouse to test for any hazardous airborne chemicals. The samples were then sent to York Analytical Laboratories to be analyzed and compared against five sets of guidelines.

“In the report, there were a couple of VOCs that were detected,” Superintendent Robert Banzer said at the Sept. 6 board of education meeting.

The first chemical, methyl methacrylate, was measured at 1.4 to 5.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air in four classrooms, both hallway samples and the warehouse. These levels exceed New York State Department of Health’s 95th percentile concentration of 1.1 micrograms per cubic meter based on the average found in roughly 100 Albany residential homes . The environmental experts used safety data sheets, which list any potentially chemicals found in various products used, to determine it was coming off floor wax applied to the new flooring surfaces in the K-wing.

“The sampling performed did not identify any hazardous concentrations of VOC parameters in any of the sampled locations when compared with the above referenced health-based values.”

— J.C. Broderick & Associates report

The second chemical, Styrene, was measured at 20 to 27 micrograms per cubic meter of air in the warehouse only, above the 2.3 micrograms per cubic meter of air set as the 95th percentile by the state Department of Health. The data sheets showed it was notably found in the shrink-wrap used to wrap pallet products stored in area.

Once these two chemicals were found to be above the 95th percentage, J.C. Broderick & Associates report compared its findings to four health-based guidelines, the most stringent being the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Reference Dose Concentration. The EPA’s guidelines provide an estimate of the maximum level of a VOC that can be continuously inhaled for a lifetime before adverse effects are seen and contains built in safety factors to protect sensitive groups, such as young children or the elderly.

“The sampling performed did not identify any hazardous concentrations of VOC parameters in any of the sampled locations when compared with the above referenced health-based values,” reads J.C. Broderick & Associates’ Aug. 31 report.

The methyl methacrylate found at 1.4 to 5.1 micrograms is well below the 700 micrograms per cubic meter guideline set by the EPA, as was styrene’s 27 micrograms under the 1,000-microgram limit.

Any concerned parent or staff member can find the full results of the air sampling reports and related correspondence on the district’s website at northport.k12.ny.us/district/bg_northport_ms_information.

Comsewogue Warriors varsity football blew out the Harborfields Tornadoes, 42-0, at their first home game of the 2018 season Sept. 8.  The Warriors will travel to play West Babylon Sept. 14 under the lights at 7 p.m.  Harborfields football will host Islip Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. 

 

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Laurel Hill Road at Elwood Road in Northport. Photo from Google Maps

Northport parents are calling on school and town officials to examine what traffic improvements can be made to Laurel Hill Road after a teen was struck by a car outside Northport High School last Tuesday.

Miles Lerner, a 14-year-old preparing to begin his freshman year, was struck by a 2005 Honda sedan while crossing Laurel Hill Road Sept. 4 on his way to cross-country practice. While Northport-East Northport school district residents called the accident “upsetting” and “disturbing,” they weren’t surprised.

“If my complaints over the past few years had been heeded, it probably would have prevented this accident,” Jeantet Fields, a Laurel Hill Road homeowner said during a board of education meeting Sept. 6.

“If my complaints over the past few years had been heeded, it probably would have prevented this accident.”

— Jeantet Fields

Fields said he provided Suffolk County police officers with a video recording of the Sept. 4 accident captured by his home surveillance cameras that shows Lerner being struck and launched into the air “like a rag doll.”

“It was very disturbing” he said. “It’s one of those things you cannot unsee.”

The four-year Northport resident has admitted to being a bit of a squeaky wheel on the issue of traffic safety along Laurel Hill and Elwood roads. Fields said it’s a multifaceted issue resulting from insufficient parking, drivers not obeying the 20-mph school zone speed limit and traffic frequently backing up at the high school during drop-off and dismissal. He said buses and cars back up at the traffic light on Elwood Road, waiting to make the left onto Laurel Hill Road, and then again while trying to make left turns into the high school’s parking lots. Some drivers resort to using the shoulder of the road to pass on the right.

“I’ve gotten the middle finger salute for trying to pull out of my driveway,” Fields said.

Northport resident Michael Hawkins, whose son is also a member of the cross-country team, said traffic was worse than normal the morning of Sept. 4 as the district was hosting a superintendent’s conference day at the high school.

“I believe the district is partially to blame for the security guards who were standing at the entryway to every parking lot, asking every person who went into the parking lot for ID,” he said. “What happened is it backed up traffic for blocks and blocks and blocks around the high school.”

Hawkins asked Northport’s board of education and school officials to consider this a “teachable moment” and ensure steps are taken to increase parking spots and resolve traffic concerns.

Fields said he believes a more active approach to revamping traffic flow on the roads surrounding Northport High School is needed. The father said he observed a truck passing over the double yellow line, to the left of a stopped school bus, while at the end of his driveway to picking up his 6-year-old daughter. Upon reviewing the security footage, Fields compiled a video documenting about 25 drivers utilizing the westbound shoulder of Laurel Hill Road to illegally drive past stopped buses and cars in a roughly 30-minute time frame Sept. 6.
The Northport homeowner said he has shared the video with Suffolk County Police Department’s 2nd Precinct Community Oriented Police Enforcement and offered to share it with Town of Huntington and school official in the hope of encouraging action.


There was a speed radar sign posted at the end of Fields’ driveway Sept. 6 to make passing motorists aware of their speed. He said he believes an unmarked patrol car was keeping watch near the end of his driveway the following morning.

“People were slowing down for the first time,” he said. “It was a short-term behavioral change, and there’s a need for long-term change.”

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) had received several phone calls from concerned Northport-East Northport residents by Sept. 7, according to town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo.

“I’ve spoken with Superintendent [Robert] Banzer and their safety team has reached out to Steve McGloin [town Director of Transportation and Public Safety] to see if there are any improvements on Laurel Hill Road to be made,” Lupinacci said in a statement. “Superintendent Banzer is reaching out to the county in regard to Elwood Road.”

Fields said he plans to start an online petition to ask town and county officials to conduct a traffic study of the intersection on how it can be improved.

“My goal right now — honestly and a bit selfishly — is to change the behavior of motorists on this street before my daughter has to cross the street to go to high school,” he said. “I have seven years. If I could, I’d do it in less.”

Huntington residents stood silently in the cold rain Sept. 9 to honor the 43 people from the Town of Huntington who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As each victim’s name was read aloud by a Huntington town official, a bell was rung by a Bill Ober, chairman of the town’s Veterans Advisory Board, and a single rose was laid at the base of the 9/11 memorial in Heckscher Park. The names were read by Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) and councilmembers Mark Cuthbertson (D), Gene Cook (R) and Joan Cergol (D).

“It’s hard to believe that there’s an entire generation of young people who do not [what?] what it was like to live and experience with memories of that day,” Lupinacci said. “It is the memory of your loved ones that we hold this ceremony each year and every year, so that we can remember your loss, which remains our loss, and educate those too young to have lived through that day.”

Seven of the 43 names read were first responders, including members of the Fire Department of the City of New York  and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

“As always on this sad day of remembrance, we ask the question what we can productively do in the face of such extreme hatred and evil,” said Rabbi Yaakov Raskin, of Chabad of Huntington Village, who gave the benediction for the ceremony. “Much in the answer lies in the education of our children.”

Ayla Lerner with her brother, Miles. Photo from Fundrazr

The sister of a Northport High School student-athlete who was hit by a car Tuesday morning has launched an online fundraiser to help her brother on his road to recovery. In less than four days, it has already raised nearly $85,000.

“The response has been tremendous,” said Ayla Lerner, a junior at Northport High School. “Our local community has been absolutely amazing in showing their support.”

Lerner’s 14-year-old brother, Miles, was on his way to cross-country practice Sept. 4 when he was struck by a 2005 Honda sedan traveling eastbound on Laurel Hill Road at 8:06 a.m., according to police. He was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries.

“Our local community has been absolutely amazing in showing their support.”

— Ayla Lerner

Lerner launched a FundRazr site titled “Please Help Miles Lerner’s Road to Recovery” to reach out and ask for the Northport-East Northport community’s support for her brother and her family in the aftermath of the accident.

“The media has reported that the driver who hit him is uninsured, which adds an element of financial strain,” she wrote on the website.

Miles was preparing to start his freshman year of high school Sept. 6. He was excited to be a member of Northport’s cross-country running team and Freshman Choir, according to Lerner.

“To give you a sense of his energy level, Miles participated in a three-week bike tour this past summer and biked 55 to 75 miles a day while carrying his belongings on the back of a bike,” she wrote.

After launching the website, she reached out to members of her brother’s cross-country team hoping given their connection to him, they would spread awareness of the cause and help her family. Word of her brother’s accident and her fundraising efforts has spread quickly and further than Lerner said she ever expected.

“I know all parents mock social media, but in this age, the Internet has allowed us to receive support from so many communities — we’ve received support from as far as Indonesia — they are treating us like family,” she said.

In addition to the donations, Lerner said her parents have been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and well wishes they have been receiving. She said community members have brought her family food, offered to pack her lunch, and even reached out to offer her transportation to events like an upcoming ACT exam.

“I know that he doesn’t know it right now, isolated in his hospital room, but he is really being backed up by all the people he knows and loves.”

— Ayla Lerner

“We are incredibly gratified by the response,” she said.

Continued donations are most appreciated as the family anticipates medical bills for their son’s continued hospital care, according to Lerner. For those anxiously awaiting updates on Miles’ medical condition, the family will be hosting a table at the Northport Cow Harbor Day race Sept. 15 to share information with the community and sell navy bracelets bearing the slogan “Miles4Miles.”

“I know that he doesn’t know it right now, isolated in his hospital room, but he is really being backed up by all the people he knows and loves,” Lerner said.

Northport’s cross-country team will be participating in the Great Cow Harbor 10K race this year to show its support for Miles, according to Lerner, running the miles that he cannot.

His sister said the traumatic accident has changed her view on being an older sibling.

“Everyone has siblings, and sure, sometimes we annoy each other, but when you see your brother lying on a hospital bed in front of you, your perspective changes,” Lerner said. “I want to do everything I can to help him. I miss him.”

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