Times of Smithtown

In response to the March 15 terrorist attacks in New Zealand mosques, the Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate organized outreach events. Members of the Huntington Jewish Center presented baskets and gifts last week as a gesture of solidarity to members of Masjid Noor mosque and Huntington Muslim Youth Outreach. The groups celebrated Purim together, a Jewish holiday filled with feasting and rejoicing, that commemorates the saving of Jewish people from persecution during the ancient Persian empire.

Huntington resident Wajma Halimi-Modaser expressed gratitude for the gesture in a Facebook post. 

“Appreciation and humbleness do not begin to describe how members of Masjid Noor felt by the kind and selfless sentiments displayed by members of the Huntington Jewish Center,” he said. “They took the opportunity to use this event to come visit and share their traditions. At the same time, show their sympathy. It is so wonderful to have support, love and respect for each other, especially during times of tragedy.”

The Masjid Noor Mosque also held March 22 an interfaith prayer service one week after the New Zealand massacres. Representatives from local school districts attended the service including Harborfields Central School District, Elwood Union Free School District and South Huntington Union Free School District.  

“We gathered regardless of our faith, color, race, social background or age to send one specific message,” Laraki Zakia said in a Facebook post. “We were sending a message of love, forgiveness and hope, as well as vigilance and alertness, ready to look after one another and having each other’s back as one strong and loving community.”

The group also held and interfaith vigil March 22 with local clergy and Sen. Gaughran at the Masjid Noor mosque in Huntington. 

By Bill Landon

Smithtown West’s girls lacrosse had the upper hand in the first half March 21 as Huntington was unable to overcome a deficit in the final 25 minutes of play. The Bulls notched their first league victory of the early season downing the Blue Devils 10-4 on the road. 

Senior Regan Kielmeyer led the way in scoring for Smithtown West with a pair of goals and five assists with teammates and fellow seniors Lauren Coletti and Taylor Mennella netting three goals each.

On the Blue Devils’ side, junior Abby Malchin, senior Maire Brown, senior Paige Lennon and sophomore Charlotte Maggio each scored a goal apiece for Huntington.

The Huntington girls lacrosse team is took the ield again at home against Farmingdale March 25, and will soon take be taking the long road to Riverhead March 29. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

A customer paying 5 cents to purchase a plastic bag from IGA Fort Salonga. File Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

A small fee on plastic bags in Suffolk County has made a very big impact on usage, according to an environmental advocacy group.

Beginning in January 2018, a 5-cent tax on plastic bags from retail stores took effect across Suffolk County with a stated goal to reduce bag waste and encourage shoppers to use reusable bags. County officials alongside environmental advocacy groups and educators announced the new law has worked as intended at a press conference March 21. 

According to the one-year effectiveness report, Suffolk County is using approximately 1.1 billion less plastic bags compared to previous years. Other key highlights include 41 percent less plastic bag litter on beaches and plastic and paper bag use at stores has been reduced by over 80 percent. 

Data showing number of plastic bags collected on suffolk County beach cleanups. Image from Citizens Campaign for the Environment

“We have made a difference, right here in Suffolk County,” Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said. 

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment who presented the report’s findings, said the bill has made a real difference. 

 “This legislation has changed public behavior — that was the goal,” she said.  

The report showed more members of the public bring their own reusable bags when shopping, while some forgo bags entirely. Overall much less plastic bags were
being used. 

Esposito also mentioned that the data collected in the report is being cited across the nation as other municipalities try to promote similar plastic bag bans and fees. 

“It was a little rocky in January of last year, not everyone was a happy camper, but it takes time to adjust, [the public] did it and we move on,” she said. 

Rebecca Grella, a Brentwood High School science teacher said Suffolk County is a model for the future when it comes to making changes for the environment. She also pointed to student scientists who played a large role in the survey and data collection for the effectiveness report.  

“We had six school districts on Long Island that had students go out to different locations from 2017 to 2018,” Grella said. “Without the support and the work of these young scientists out in the field we would not have the data that we have today.” 

The science teacher said it shows that environmental changes take time but also stressed the involvement of our youth. 

“Engaging our youth in these pursuits is critical,” she said.  

Data explaining rate of carryout bag usage in Suffolk County. Image from Citizens Campaign for the Environment

This turn of events could be a good sign for Long Island, whose municipalities are already struggling due to changes in the recycling industry. Though the Town of Brookhaven Green Stream Recycling facility has stopped operation since its contractor walked out on its contract with the town, when it was operating town officials said plastic bags were dangerous if they went through the facility, due to the way they could snag and constrain sorting mechanisms.

John Turner, a conservation policy advocate at Setauket Environmental Association said the legislation has had benefits on local recycling facilities as well, citing that at town municipal recycling facility machinery would be routinely clogged up by plastic bags.    

Operation would need to be shut down every couple of hours to remove all the bags, costing the town $184,000 each instance to do the work and remove the bags. 

The report comes on the heels of the county’s continuation to reduce single-use plastics. In February, legislators announced policy incentives aimed at restricting the sales of several plastics, some harmful to health and to the environment. In July 2018, a project called Strawless Suffolk started and looked for 100 seaside restaurants in Bellport, Greenport, Huntington, Northport, Patchogue and Port Jefferson Village to take a pledge to stop using plastic straws by Sept. 3, 2018. 

Lauren Tirado and David DiMarzo in a scene from 'South Pacific'

By Heidi Sutton

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts continues its 17th season with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical “South Pacific.” Based on James Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Tales of the South Pacific,” which highlighted his Navy experience fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific during World War II, the show debuted on Broadway in 1949 and is still captivating audiences today, in part because of its familiar score and cautionary theme of bigotry.

Samm Carroll, center, and cast sing ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair’

Directed by Ronald Green III, the story centers on two romances — that of Nellie Forbush (Samm Carroll), an American nurse from Arkansas and self-described “hick from the sticks” who falls head over heels in love with French plantation owner Emile De Becque (Jon Rivera)  — and Marine lieutenant Joe Cable (David DiMarzo) from Philadelphia and his young Tonkinese girlfriend, Liat (Lauren Tirado). Both relationships eventually suffer as racial and cultural prejudices rear their ugly heads.

Forbush struggles to accept her new man’s mixed-race children with his first wife, while Cable weighs the social consequences should he marry his Asian sweetheart. In Cable’s solo, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” he tries to explain where these prejudices come from. “…You’ve got to be taught, before it’s too late, before you are six, or seven, or eight, to hate all the people, your relatives hate…”

Supporting characters, including petty officer Luther Billis (Anthony Panarello) and Liat’s mother, Bloody Mary (Ava Anise Adams) help to tie the stories together nicely.

The songs are the heart of the show, and you’ll still be humming them at work days after, especially “Bali Ha’i,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”

Jon Rivera performs ‘This Nearly Was Mine’ in ‘South Pacific’

Rivera is perfectly cast as the handsome Frenchman, Emile, and his beautiful singing voice can be most compared to Andrea Bocelli. At last Saturday’s opening performance, Rivera captured many hearts with his rendition of “This Nearly Was Mine.”

Carroll is equally outstanding, full of energy and every bit the “cockeyed optimist.” Her smile is infectious and she quickly becomes an audience favorite.

The period costumes by Green, an eight-piece band led by conductor Melissa Coyle, and the wonderful choreography by Milan McGouldrick add to the production’s polish to produce one enchanted evening.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” through April 28. Tickets are $38 adults, $34 seniors, $25 students. For more information or to order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Artistic computer rendering of the proposed walkway and viewing area for Avalon Park & Preserve Shore Farm. Photo from Town of Smithtown Planning Board

By Donna Deedy

Avalon Park & Preserve is expanding its recreational trails to extend from its existing location on Harbor Road over to a 28-acre farm along Stony Brook Harbor. When completed, the public will have access to a boardwalk that overlooks a marine sanctuary on the Long Island Sound.

The new site, which is currently private and not yet open to the public, is located directly east of Harmony Vineyards in Head of the Harbor.

The Smithtown Town Board voted March 5 to approve the project, known as Shore Farm. Additional state and town approvals are needed before Head of the Harbor can issue its permit. No time frame has been reported for the project’s completion.

The park currently encompasses 76-acres and is comprised of five distinct natural habitats populated entirely with native fauna. People are excited about the expansion.

“Avalon is an excellent steward of their lands,” said Joyann Cirigliano, president of the Four Harbors Audubon Society. The area, she said, is officially designated Important Bird Area for migratory birds. “The park provides a full range of bird habitats: field, forest, edge, shore and fresh ponds.”

Cirigliano said that the park is particularly good at keeping out invasive species, which allows scrub brush to thrive. The scrub, she said, is an important habitat for the warbler and other edge birds, a population in decline.

Avalon Park & Preserve was created in 1997 by the Paul Simons Foundation to celebrate the life of Paul Simons. Paul is the son of Renaissance Technology founder James Simons. He and his wife Marilyn and family planned the park to honor Paul’s love of nature after his life was prematurely interrupted at age 34, when he was killed by a car in a biking accident near his home in the Three Village area. When complete Avalon Park & Preserve will encompass roughly 104 acres.

The park, though it is privately owned, is open to the public from dawn to dusk 365 days a year. In addition to its trails, the park offers yoga classes and stargazing programs at an on-site observatory, when conditions permit. The Audubon society hosts bird walks in the park. Information can be found on Avalon’s website.

“We have been involved with Avalon Park from the beginning and are most excited about the expansion and the joy and happiness it brings to so many people,” said Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization in nearby Stony Brook.

Joe Cognitore, commander of VFW Post 6249, dedicates much of his time to helping veterans and his local community. File photo

County and state officials plan on embarking on a statewide campaign to advocate for the restoration of funds for a veterans peer support program some have called vital. 

At a press conference March 15 Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) alongside state Sen. John Brooks (D-Massapequa) urged the state Legislature to restore funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Project, after the proposed executive budget of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) included no funding for the project.  

“It is our profound duty to serve our veterans both at home and abroad,” Bellone said. “Often times when our veterans return home they carry scars with them. The Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Project has a proven track record of assisting our veterans regain their lives and I urge Albany to reverse course immediately and fund this vital program.”

The project, which is overseen by Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency and Suffolk County United Veterans, aims to serve veterans, active duty members, reserve and National Guard troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other adjustment conditions. One of the program goals is to provide peer-to-peer support and counseling to veterans who are facing challenges transitioning back to civilian life, along with offering a safe, supportive space for veterans to interact with one another. 

Brooks, chairman of the state’s Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, spoke on the challenges many veterans face when they come home and the good the program does. 

“These are heroes helping heroes,” the state senator said. “This is a program that enables veterans with knowledge and understanding of issues like PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression and substance abuse to meet with and counsel veterans who are suffering from one, or several, of these afflictions as a result of their service to our country.”

The senator stressed the urgent need for this program and others like it. 

The program is named after Pfc. Joseph Dwyer, a Mount Sinai resident and U.S. Army combat medic who had served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning home and struggling with PTSD, Dwyer succumbed to his condition in 2008. Last year, 23 counties across the state received $3.735 million in project funding.   

Joe Cognitore, commander of VFW Post 6249 in Rocky Point, knows the program works and echoed Senator Brooks’ sentiments that programs like the Dwyer project are necessary and vital for veterans. 

“It’s veterans to veterans,” he said. “Mental health is an important issue.”

Cognitore said on a grassroot level the program works, and he was disappointed about the proposed funding cuts. 

“This is not a Democrat or Republican issue — it’s a bipartisan one,” he said. “We are all in the foxhole.”       

As chair for the VFW Department of New York Legislative Committee and a member of the VFW National Legislative Committee, Cognitore was in Albany lobbying earlier this month with other veterans groups urging lawmakers to restore full funds for the program. This year Suffolk County only received a $185,000 share of the money in the state budget.  

Previously, when the project had its full funds there were plans on expanding the program further into New York state, in addition to the already 23 participating counties. Similarly, two years ago, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) introduced legislation to expand the Dwyer program to the national level.  

Cognitore mentioned if he had another chance to speak with Cuomo and other lawmakers he would tell them not to slash the budget of a program without due diligence and background research. 

“It’d be one thing if this program wasn’t working but that’s not the case here — it works,” he said. “Put yourself in our boots, come visit us and see how the program runs.” 

Cognitore hopes lawmakers in Albany reverse course and restore funds to the program. He said they are fortunate to have county and state officials on their side who are committed to helping veterans. 

Bellone plans on traveling to the Hudson Valley and Western New York over the course of the next few weeks to build a coalition of state and local officials on the issue of restoring funding. 

Beginning in 2012, more than 10,000 veterans have participated in the Joseph P. Dwyer program countywide. Suffolk County is home to the largest veterans population in New York state.

Juvenile clams maturing in Brookhaven’s hatchery. File photo by Alex Petroski

Long Island has become synonymous with shellfish farming, though in recent years it has become increasingly difficult for farmers to sell and market their products. 

With that in mind, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) launched a pilot program March 11 designed to remove the red tape to assist local oyster farmers by allowing vendors to expand their current retail opportunities. 

“Shellfish farming has been an important part of Long Island’s heritage for decades, and plays an important role in cleaning our waterways and promoting economic activity,” Bellone said. 

He will be introducing legislation to implement an annual temporary event permit for vendors of shellfish grown or harvested in Long Island waters. The permit will not include fees for the first two years. 

“The introduction of this legislation will go a long way in removing barriers that have made it difficult for our farmers to sell and market their locally sourced products,” the county executive said. 

Under current regulations, shellfish farmers must apply for a vendors temporary food service permit with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services before they can market and sell their products. The permits cost $95 and are valid only for a single event at a fixed location, with a 14-day limit. A permit’s time restriction makes it hard for shellfish farmers to participate in weekly and monthly events such as farmers markets and fairs. As a result, it limits a shellfish farmer’s ability to do business. 

“The introduction of this legislation will go a long way in removing barriers that have made it difficult for our farmers to sell and market their locally sourced products.”

— Steve Bellone

“The county’s aquaculture industry is vital not only to our Island’s history but to our economy as well,” said county Legislator Bill Lindsay (D-Bohemia), chairman of the Suffolk County Legislature Economic Development Committee. “This industry generates millions of dollars in revenue, supports our local restaurants and provides our residents with world-class locally grown products.”

In addition to improving the shellfish industry, the county will continue efforts to improve water quality and restore marine ecosystems.  

Past efforts include the 2010 aquaculture lease program. That program secured marine access for shellfish cultivation in Peconic Bay and Gardiners Bay to accommodate growth, while considering the needs of existing shellfish agriculture businesses. 

According to the county’s Department of Economic Development and Planning, the program’s total economic output from 2012 to 2017 was estimated at $13 million.

“Long Island’s farmers and aquaculture producers are grateful for this economic incentive proposal put forth by County Executive Bellone to help us market and sell our products direct to consumers,” said Rob Carpenter, administrative director of Long Island Farm Bureau. “It will keep jobs, increase sales tax revenue and continue all the associated environmental benefits the industry does for Long Island residents and our waters.”  

According to the Long Island Oyster Growers Association, local oysters filter approximately 900 million gallons of water every single day. Oysters improve waterways by eating algae, filtering out particulates and excess nutrients as well as creating habitats for other organisms.

By Heidi Sutton

From “The Snow Queen” to “The Princess and the Pea,” Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales have touched the hearts of millions. A bronze statue in Copenhagen, Denmark, pays homage to his most popular story, “The Little Mermaid.” A major tourist attraction since its unveiling in 1913, it depicts a mermaid sitting on a rock looking longingly toward land.

Now Andersen’s beloved tale, or should I say tail, heads to the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts in the form of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” a colorful musical production based on the animated film.

The timing is perfect. Along with running during spring break, the Disney film is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and a live-action remake is currently in development.

In a magical underwater kingdom, the beautiful young mermaid princess, Ariel, longs to leave her ocean home — and her fins — behind and live in the world above, much to her father King Triton’s dismay.

In exchange for her voice, Ariel bargains with the sea witch, Ursula, to become human and have the chance to win the love of Prince Eric, who she recently saved from a terrible storm. With her friends, Scuttle, Sebastien and Flounder, Ariel must fulfill her bargain with Ursula, but things do not always go as planned.

With music by Alan Menken, book by Doug Wright and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, the musical is an enchanting look at the sacrifices we all make for love and acceptance.

Christine Boehm directs a cast of young actors ages 11 to 18 through an absolutely divine production. From the shimmering costumes to the seaworthy set accented with huge pieces of coral, to the fantastic lighting and special effects, every scene is perfectly executed.

The big ensemble numbers, “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl,” showcase the incredible choreography by Courtney Braun.

Courtney Sullivan is lovely in the title role, effectively portraying a girl who is torn between obeying her father and following her dreams. And just wait until you hear her sing! Sullivan’s rendition of “Part of Your World” during last Saturday’s performance was mesmerizing.

Speaking of singing, the very handsome Hunter Pszybylski brings a whole new dimension to Prince Eric with his amazing solos, “Her Voice” and “One Step Closer,” and captures the hearts of the audience from the get go.

Supporting characters are also given the opportunity to shine. Raquel Sciacca is just adorable as Flounder, a role she shares with Gabby Blum, and Ari Spiegel is terrific as the crabby crustacean Sebastian who is tasked with keeping an eye on Ariel. Hailey Elberg as Scuttle the Seagull also deserves accolades for her number “Human Stuff” — squawk!

However, it is Erika Hinson as the meanie Ursula who steals the show. Her rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” during last Saturday’s show brought the house down.

Take it from someone who has reviewed a lot of plays — make SPAC’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” a part of your world. Running time is 90 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. Booster seats are available. Stay after to meet Princess Ariel and Prince Eric in the lobby for photographs.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” through April 28 with special spring break performances from April 22 to 26 at 1 p.m.

Up next, catch one of only seven performances of “Les Miserables” Teen Edition from May 18 to June 2 and a summer production of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” from July 13 to Aug. 28. All seats are $18. For more information or to order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Photos by Courtney Braun

*This article has been revised to correct the name of the actress who played the role of Flounder during the March 16 performance. We regret the error.

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Former Hauppauge resident Lori Loughlin was indicted for alleged bribery in a celebrity college cheating scandal. Photo from When Calls the Heart Facebook page

By Donna Deedy

People everywhere are talking about the celebrity college admission cheating scandal, since more than 50 people were indicted last week on felony charges. Television actress Lori Loughlin — voted mostly likely to succeed in Hauppauge High School class of ’82 — was among those arrested. The situation has turned tragic for her family and the other people involved. But, as people in education often say in the face of crisis, “Let’s make this a valuable teaching moment.”

Dennis O’Hara, superintendent for Hauppauge School District, agreed to respond to a few questions about the situation. Here’s his advice to the community:

What lessons can be learned about self-worth?

The greatest lesson here is that one’s self-worth is an inside job, meaning it comes from within. If one feels less than another, or inadequate, being handed something or gaining an advantage through cheating, is when feelings of inadequacy only increase. Low self-worth is erased only through hard work and perseverance. In life, we deserve what we earn — nothing more, nothing less.

I’d like to add that integrity is priceless. Once it is given up it cannot easily be regained. In this case, the integrity of these parents, and possibly more importantly, of their children is severely compromised — in a very public way. I hope they, and current high school students, realize it was not worth it.

What messages do you want high school seniors and families in the community at-large to take away from this situation?

I would like our students to understand there is a sense of pride and real peace in rejoicing in accomplishments that are earned. Life is about a sense of purpose, about finding a calling and striving to be the best one can be in that purpose.

It’s less important to measure oneself against others than it is to strive for one’s own dreams. I have four sons, and I often remind them life will be filled with challenges, but there is no glory in the accomplishment if it was without difficulty. In essence, having something handed to you does not build self-worth.

I often say it is not about where one is at the moment that matters, but where one is headed that counts. Each day be better than the day before and everything else will take care of itself.

Regarding college admissions, parents should not look for the best window sticker. Instead, they should help their children find the college or university that is the best fit. I can tell you from personal experience this approach relieves a great deal of stress for the parents and the child. In Hauppauge, we embrace this philosophy and are proud of the effort our students are putting forth.

One last thought regarding parenting and college admissions is that I would much prefer to be judged by the kind of men my sons have become than by the college they attended.

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The Ebo Hill mansion is returning to its former glory after a devastating fire burned it to its studs last year. Photo from Facebook

Last year a pizzeria owner never would have imagined that his love for an old mansion would take him from hope, to devastation, and back to hope.

It was March 26 last year when Ebo Hill, a nearly 175-year-old three-story mansion on Edgewood Avenue in Smithtown, burned to its studs. Owner Richard Albano bought the house just a few weeks before with the hopes of restoring it to its former glory. Hundreds of firefighters from Smithtown Fire Department as well as surrounding areas were on the scene to fight the fire.

A fire started inside a second-floor wall next to the fireplace in Ebo Hill March 26. Photo by Laura Johanson

A year later, Albano said, at times, he’ll be driving at night down Edgewood and feels he can still see the flames.

“In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday, and sometimes it feels like it was decades ago,” he said.

Fire inspectors found that the fire started inside a second-floor wall next to the fireplace, which had been in use earlier that day. Albano said floor beams were about a foot into the chimney for support and over the years the mortar decayed, which allowed the heat to get to the beams and start the fire.

The homeowner, formerly of Deer Park and owner of Richie’s Pizza in both Deer Park and Commack, was looking for a new house when he stumbled upon Ebo Hill, a home that included 17 bedrooms, two kitchens, a ballroom and numerous bathrooms. The house, which hadn’t been occupied since 2001, belonged to descendants of Smithtown founder Richard Smythe for generations and was once the starting point for the town’s fox hunts.

While he could have sold the property after the fire, Albano said he didn’t give up hope in living in his dream home. With the house’s 1908 floor plans in hand — found by his fiancé at the Smithtown Library — he decided he would replicate the mansion.

Albano said he is grateful for the mild winter, which created favorable conditions for construction. The outside of the home should be completed in the next month, and he’s hoping the landscaping and driveway will be done in the middle or end of May. The HVAC system is already done, and the electricity and plumbing will be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Albano said the home was once moved back on the property, and he rebuilt it 125 feet forward from the original location, which has given him 200 feet of backyard and more than 200 feet of front yard, which has also made the house more centrally located on the property.

Smithtown Historical Society historian Brad Harris said when he first heard of the fire last year he thought history was lost.

“I figured that was the end of it,” Harris said.

The remains of Ebo Hill mansion after the March 26 fire. Photo by Rita J. Egan

However, after meeting with Albano he realized the homeowner had a deep appreciation for its history, and the historian thinks he’s doing a good job in replicating the mansion.

Albano said during his journey with Ebo Hill, besides meeting with Harris, people who have lived in the neighborhood for decades and others who lived in the home have shared their stories with him. With an appreciation of the property’s history, Albano salvaged anything he could from the rubble left behind after the fire. He said steel beams that were still standing after the fire will be incorporated into items such as a table. Flooring from a room he called the ballroom will be used for a closet floor. Also, he had a needlepoint of a Christian hymnal verse and the original weather vane in a storage unit.

“I just want to use as much as possible out of the home,” he said.

Albano said he has been overwhelmed with the support he’s received from the community. As soon as news of the fire broke, social media began buzzing and many who belong to the Facebook page he created to document the renovation of the mansion encouraged him to replicate the structure.

“I’m just amazed at how supportive a community can be,” he said, adding Town of Smithtown officials from Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) to the building department, inspectors and engineering department also have been a big help to him.

“Everybody wants to see the home rebuilt, and I will replicate it the best I can,” he said.

Michal Frankowski, an IT worker who is currently starting a construction company, has worked with Albano on the house since last year. He said when he first saw the remains of the mansion he was surprised that the homeowner was planning to restore it.

“He really loves that place, the whole lot,” Frankowski said. “That old mansion, he just really wants to show the people a replica of it, and I admire him for it.”

He said Albano hasn’t seemed stressed at all, even though he’s sure he is, but he keeps things under control. Frankowski, who recently moved to Kings Park from Bushwick, said he wasn’t too familiar with the history of the mansion but is looking forward to learning more about it in the future.

“That place is magical,” Frankowski said. “Just walking around it. I don’t know there’s something in there. Something in it that has really good energy. I’m really looking forward to it being done.”

While reconstructing the house was a financial undertaking that Albano wasn’t prepared for, the homeowner said he’s a passionate person who isn’t afraid to take on a big project.

“I fell in love with the home,” he said. “It’s tough to rationalize what you should do when you’re in love with something like I am with this home.”

Albano said he is looking forward to sharing his love for the mansion with residents after construction and before he moves in by opening the house to the public for one day. For updates of the Ebo Hill mansion construction, visit The Mansion at Ebo Hill Facebook page.

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