Town of Smithtown

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Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) with the support of the Republican Caucus has requested a Certificate of Necessity (CN) from County Executive Steve Bellone (D) to reauthorize the red-light camera program in Suffolk County through a mandated referendum. 

“Let the public decide if this program is saving lives or costing the taxpayers their hard earned dollars,” said Trotta.

His fellow Republicans echoed this sentiment.

According to Trotta, a $250,000 study, prepared by L. K. McLean Associates, did not provide the data that the Suffolk County Legislature was seeking to thoroughly determine if the red-light camera program should be extended for another five years. In addition, the report noted that accidents increased 60 percent at red-light camera locations, yet the consultants argued that the program should continue. 

Republican legislators Tom Climi (R-Bay Shore), Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset), Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), Steven Flotteron (R-Bay Shore) and Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic Beach) support Trotta’s resolution to have a mandated referendum on the November ballot.

“This bill is a yes or no to sign the contract for renewal of the red-light cameras,” said Kennedy. “We have been told that we can work on issues once the contract is signed. We all know that all issues are defined upon contract signature, just look at the roughly 15 million we had to pay out when our County Executive decided to breach the signed contract at Ronkonkoma Rail Road Station for solar panels.”

The GOP Caucus leader Tom Climi has said that his seven-member caucus will vote unanimously to end the program. 

“The results speak for themselves: more than a thousand additional crashes at red-light camera intersections involving thousands of drivers, all put at risk of injury or worse, all subjected to vehicle repair costs and increased insurance rates, with no reduction in fatalities at these intersections,” Climi said. “Rather than taking photos and video at these intersections, pretending to make them safer, we should engineer these intersections to actually BE safer.” 

Trotta had encouraged the public to speak at the Sept. 4 meeting of the full Legislature  and to speak in support of his referendum. The meeting, which was held at the Williams Rogers Building, Legislative Auditorium, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge, began at 9:30 a.m. and by 3:30 p.m. the issue had not yet come up for debate and residents were still waiting to speak for their allotted three minutes during the public portion. 

Trotta has encouraged anyone with questions to call him at 631-854-3900.

Democrat leaders were unavailable for comment before going to press. Bellone’s office did not respond to questions about the program.

The results of the Sept. 4 meeting were unavailable before press time.  By early evening, county legislators ultimately voted along party lines in a 11-7 vote to extend for five more years the red-light camera program. 

Public Works Committee to vote on extending the program Aug. 29

Suffolk County's Public Works Committee will vote Aug. 29 to decide the future of red-light camera program. TBR News Media file photo

The future of red-light cameras in Suffolk County remains up in the air. 

Legislators took issue with a report on the county’s red-light camera program in a meeting Aug. 26. It left some with more questions than answers regarding the divisive program as they prepare for a vote that could extend the program’s lifespan this Thursday, Aug. 29.

The countywide report carried out by Brookhaven-based L.K. McLean Associates found that the number of total crashes at 100 intersections with red-light cameras increased by nearly 60 percent from 2015 through 2017, compared to the time period (2007-09) before the cameras were installed beginning in 2010. The study found that at red-light intersections the number of crashes exceeded projections by 42 percent in total. 

Also, it found that a total of 17 fatal crashes occurred at red-light intersections for the duration of the report. Crashes that resulted in injuries decreased by nearly 11 percent, while the number of rear-end crashes increased by 46 percent. 

Officials from the consulting firm presented the report, which cost the county $250,000, to the county Legislature’s Public Works Committee Aug. 26 and disclosed they estimated the red-light program had generated more than $5 million in savings by reducing serious accidents. 

Despite those findings, legislators on the committee took issue with the results and said it left them with more questions than answers. 

One criticism levied was the way the consultants collected their data and how they determined if an accident was linked to an intersection with a red-light camera.

Raymond DiBiase, president and chief executive of L.K. McLean Associates, said they based their parameters from the New York State Department of Transportation. 

“The DOT in their crash data analysis and summaries identify an intersection crash as one that occurs within 10 meters or 33 feet from the center of the intersection,” he said. 

The consultants for the report expanded the crash area to within 200 feet of the center of the intersection, but some legislators questioned that decision and argued it could have captured crashes that fall in line with the definition of an intersection crash.

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she was deeply disappointed in the report’s findings and criticized the firm with not looking at the link between distracted driving and crashes at red-light intersections. 

“What has not been mentioned at all during your report is distracted driving,” she said. “I have a traffic safety issue in my district; I have two of the most dangerous roads on Long Island —[routes] 25 and 25A.”

DiBiase responded by saying it is difficult to prove what exactly caused a crash from the data. Their goal was to make the study objective as possible and said distracted driving falls in a gray area as it is difficult to prove due to factors like lack of witnesses or evidence. 

“Distracted driving is why a lot of these accidents are happening,” Anker said. “We are here to try and understand how to make this program better. We know it’s saving lives, but we also know it’s also creating problems.”

The red-light program has generated more than $20 million in revenue annually for the county.

Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), who has long been a severe critic of red-light cameras, said the program is a money grab and a tax on the taxpayers. He also criticized the consultants for only mentioning that fatal accidents at red-light camera intersections were lower than projected, and not also including data on fatal crashes that occurred at intersections without red-light cameras. 

“You can take these reports and throw them in the garbage can, it’s a joke — literally embarrassing,” Trotta said. “Everything here is jaded to make this program look good, it is a $32 million sham on the people of this county.”

Despite the lukewarm response to its report, the firm recommended continuing the red-light program, pointing to a decrease in crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities as well as a reduction in left-turn crashes.

The Public Works Committee is expected to vote Thursday, Aug. 29, on whether it will extend the countywide red-light camera program for another five years. If it were to pass it will go to the Legislature for a vote that could take place as soon as next Wednesday, Sept. 4.

 

Bryan Frank, new principal at Accompsett Elementary School

Smithtown Central School District has named Bryan Frank as principal of Accompsett Elementary School, effective July 22. He replaces Jeanne Kull-Minarik, who retired at the end of the school year. 

Frank previously served as Smithtown Central School District’s director of social studies since 2017. Prior to that, he worked at Connetquot Central School District and Port Washington School District as director of business and social studies and social studies chairperson, respectively. 

Frank holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Long Island University Post as well as a master’s degree from LIU Post in secondary education. He also holds a master’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in school administration from Stony Brook University and is currently a doctoral candidate in educational leadership from St. John’s University. 

“My focus as the Accompsett principal is to ensure that we continue to have a rich nurturing environment with programs that develop the whole child,” Frank said. “I look forward to working diligently and collaboratively with the community, faculty and staff of Accompsett to make sure everyone who enters the school is excited to be here.” 

 

Photo from Smithtown Central School District

Smithtown Town Hall. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

The Town of Smithtown has been the victim of several after-hours thefts at town hall in the clerk’s office, tax receiver’s office and at the senior center located on Middle Country Road. 

Money and/or personal belongings were stolen after all offices were locked, Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said. 

Suffolk County Police Department officials said they are investigating two incidents: an envelope with cash and checks reported stolen on July 9 from the Smithtown Senior Center and checks stolen from Town Hall that were reported missing on July 23.

Six blank checks and 200 electronically deposited checks were reportedly stolen. The town considers the items non-negotiable. 

“The way we process tax payments ensures residents are not penalized for something they have no control over,” said press officer Nicole Garguilo.

A police official said they don’t release the value of stolen property, and the town spokesperson could not elaborate on other details because the investigation is ongoing. 

No arrests have been made for what is considered after-hour robberies. The town has taken action against potential alleged culprits.

“Upon reports to the board, we notified public safety immediately to take statements and involve the Suffolk County Police Department,”  Wehrheim stated. “We retrieved all keys from the cleaning service and notified the owner of the immediate termination of the contract.”

The town had used OneService Commercial Building Maintenance, located in Bohemia. The company’s website states it’s a trusted, local, family-owned and operated business.  No details on the name of owners are listed on the website or on New York State’s business registry. The registry states that the business was founded in 2014 and based in North Babylon. The company did not respond to messages left on its answering machine. Messages sent to its published email address were returned stating that the email address does not exist. 

The town has hired a new cleaning team.

“We are currently looking at our security measures and reviewing policies to ensure this never happens again,” Wehrheim stated.  

Detectives have instructed the town to keep its updated security measures confidential.

Deepwells Mansion on Route 25A in St. James held an outdoor music tribute to Woodstock Aug. 17 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic concert. An estimated 1,100 tickets were sold, earning roughly $10,000 for the Deepwells Farm Historical Society. Funds will be used to restore the mansion and to support other community events throughout the year, according to David Dircks, concert promoter and board member. 

The tribute show included six acts. Katie Pearlman opened the show performing Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Lisa Polizzi performed the music of Janis Joplin. The Kerry Kearney Band played the songs of Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane. Reckoning produced the sounds of the Grateful Dead. Dear Prudence rocked the stage with the music of The Who, Santana, Ten Years After, Mountain and the Beatles. Randy Jackson of Zebra performed Woodstock tributes as well as some of Zebra’s hits. 

Deepwells has hosted monthly music concerts for the last 14 years but has scaled back its music events. The next music event is an outdoor concert, which will feature the music of the ’70s, is planned for next summer on the mansion’s front lawn. 

Mark Kimes

Suffolk County police have arrested a Hauppauge High School teacher for allegedly sexually abusing a teenage boy at the teacher’s home in Moriches. 

An 18-year-old male reported to detectives that when he was a 16-year-old student at Hauppauge High School, located at 500 Lincoln Blvd., he was sexually abused by his chorus teacher, Mark Kimes, at the teacher’s home. Following an investigation, 7th Squad detectives determined Kimes had inappropriate contact with the teen while serving as his teacher. 

Kimes original lawyer, James Symancyk, was unable to comment, since he was no longer representing Kimes.  The district attorney’s office was unable to provide updated information on Kimes defense attorney.

Kimes, 53, of Long Tree Lane, Moriches, was arrested at his home at approximately 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 13 and charged him with criminal sex act first degree and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He was held overnight at the 7th Precinct.

Kimes was arraigned Aug. 14 at 1st District Court in Central Islip and was held on $55,000 cash bail or $105,000 bond. The judge ordered a stay away order of protection for the victim. Kimes was due back in court Aug. 19.

He is still employed by the Hauppauge school district, but has been reassigned and is prohibited from being on school-district grounds and from interacting with students. Parents were notified, via a letter from Superintendent of Schools Dennis O’Hara, of news regarding the alleged actions of a school employee just prior to the story breaking. 

“When we learned a faculty member had been arrested by the Suffolk County Police Department, we immediately reassigned him to remain at home and directed him not to appear on district property,” O’Hara said in an email. “Although school is not currently in session, we did not want the individual to be on school grounds while athletes or other students may be present for summer activities.”

O’Hara said that the district will closely monitor this matter and continue to cooperate with the police in their i

Children enjoy the grand opening of Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park in Elwood. Photo by Kyle Barr

With weekend heat expected to reach the high 90’s plus humidity that could make it feel like well over 100 degrees, towns across the North Shore are offering ways for residents to help beat the heat.

Brookhaven

Brookhaven town is offering extended hours for pools and beaches for the weekend of July 20 through 21.

The Centereach and Holtsville town pools will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Meanwhile all beaches including:

  • Cedar Beach – Harbor Beach Road, Mount Sinai
  • Corey Beach – Corey Avenue,, Blue Point
  • Shirley Beach – Grandview Avenue., Shirley (spray park)
  • Shoreham Beach – North Country Road, Shoreham
  • West Meadow Beach – 100 Trustees Road, Stony Brook (spray park)
  • Webby’s Beach – Laura Lee Drive, Center Moriches

Will be open until 7 p.m. both days.

More information can be found at: https://www.brookhavenny.gov/216/Parks-Recreation

Smithtown

On Friday,  July 19,  the Smithtown Senior Center will operate as a cooling station until 5 p.m. The Public Safety with support staff from the Smithtown Senior Citizens Department and Senior Transportation to operate the Senior Citizens Center as a cooling center, for seniors without air conditioning over the weekend. 

All residents are advised to take extra precautions for themselves, elderly family members, children and pets for the duration of the heat watch. 

“It’s  going to be dangerously hot over the weekend,” Supervisor Ed Wehrheim said in a release. “ We want to ensure the health and quality of life for our elderly residents… It is with this in mind, that our Public Safety Department has made special arrangements to make sure our seniors have a cool place to enjoy the weekend.” 

Seniors can make arrangements ahead of time by contacting the Senior Citizens Department today or tomorrow at (631) 360-7616. After 5 p.m. Friday, arrangements to use the senior center should be made so by calling Public Safety at 631-360-7553. If a senior citizen does not have transportation, the public safety department said it will make travel arrangements at the time of the call. Residents are asked to check on elderly neighbors and pass along this information ahead of the weekend. 

Huntington

The Town of Huntington is offering extended hours at its Elwood spray park and Dix Hills pool.

Extended hours at the Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park at Elwood Park on Cuba Hill Road are as follows, with weather-permitting: 

  • Friday, July 19: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours due to camp programming at the park)
  • Saturday, July 20: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 21: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The park will be waiving the Recreation Photo ID Card requirement for Town residents only for the weekend heat wave, though residents must show another form photo ID proving residence to enter the spray pad.

Otherwise, the Dix Hills Park Pool, located at 575 Vanderbilt Parkway, are now:

  • Friday, July 19: 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours due to scheduled swimming lessons at the pool)
  • Saturday, July 20: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 21: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Non-residents accompanied by a town resident may use the pool by paying the daily Non-ID Card holder fee.

 Pool Admission Fees with Recreation Photo ID Card, are children (under 13) – $5; teens (13 – 17) – $6; adults (18 and older) – $7; sr. citizen / disabled – $4.50.

Pool Admission Fee (without Recreation Photo ID Card): $15 per person.

Pool Membership: Family Membership – $250/season; Individual Membership – $100/season; Sr. Citizen/Disabled – $50/season.

Otherwise, all Town Beaches will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours) during the weekend heatwave. These include:

  • Asharoken Beach, Eaton’s Neck Road, Northport
  • Centerport Beach, Little Neck Road, Centerport
  • Crab Meadow Beach, Waterside Avenue, Northport
  • Crescent Beach, Crescent Beach Drive, Huntington Bay
  • Fleets Cove Beach, Fleets Cove Road, Centerport
  • Gold Star Battalion Beach, West Shore Road, Huntington
  • Hobart Beach, Eaton’s Neck Road, Eaton’s Neck
  • Quentin Sammis/West Neck Beach, West Neck Road, Lloyd Harbor
  • Geissler’s Beach, (fishing only), Makamah Road, Northport

Michael McDermott

A popular Kings Park middle school gym teacher Michael McDermott died tragically on Sunday, July 14, at age 37. He was jogging on the shoulder of the southbound lane of Lake Avenue in St. James, north of Oak Street, when he was struck and killed by a southbound car at 12:21 p.m. 

The driver, Keith Clancy, age 32 of Mattituck, fled the scene in a Nissan sedan and was located and arrested about 30 minutes later, according to police reports, near exit 69 on the Long Island Expressway heading east with a smashed windshield. He was charge with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. 

End of the 2019 season Kings Park JV Baseball game

McDermott served as physical education teacher and coach for 14 years at the William T. Rogers Middle School, where he touched many lives with his enthusiasm, kindness and wonderful sense of humor.

“He was a dedicated JV baseball and middle school boys soccer coach, who inspired those around him,” said Superintendent Timothy Eagen in a prepared statement on behalf of the Kings Park school district. “Our hearts are broken after the tremendous loss of this truly dedicated educator, professional, husband and father. Our thoughts are with the McDermott family at this time.”

Students gathered in the dugout at the school’s baseball field on Monday afternoon for an impromptu tribute that grew that evening into a candlelight vigil, where students, teachers, counselors and the community joined in to mourn the loss. 

John Mueller, age 15, a ninth-grade pitcher for 2019 Kings Park JV baseball team said he will always remember Coach McDermott and wants to be like him.

“Coach made me the person I am today,” John said. “He knows right from wrong, and what is good. He was a great coach, gym teacher and person.”

Community members Camille Cardoza and Barbara Mueller, mother of John admired the coach’s positive attitude and the values he instilled such as family first, school second, then baseball. 

Students inscribe tribute to Coach McDermott in dugout.

Memorial services were held Wednesday July 17 at the Branch Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was due to be held Thursday, July 18, at 10 a.m. at Sts. Philip & James R.C. in St. James. 

McDermott is survived by wife Lorraine, and three children Leila, Ryan and Sienna.

 

Photos from Branch Funeral Home, Barbara Mueller, Camille Cardoza and Patrick Moser

Blossom needs a home. Photo from Town of Smithtown

By Leah Chiappino

Blossom, who earned her name through a collar that she wore featuring a bright flower that stood against her silky white coat, is a playful 5-year-old pitbull mix. She arrived at Smithtown Animal Shelter on June 5, after a tumultuous journey. She was found whimpering in a park at wee hours in the morning by an off-duty police officer, essentially left for dead. She had likely been there for hours. 

Despite this, shelter workers say her sweet demeanor comes through immediately. She is very quick to warm up to people and incredibly affectionate. She would do best in a home with children older than 12 due to her size. As her history is unknown, it would be best to place her in a home without dogs or cats, as her behavior around them has not been observed. However, this is not to say her adopter could not adopt another dog, if the proper introductions were put in place. 

She is spayed, up to date on vaccines and ready to be adopted as soon as possible.

Blossom is one of 10 dogs in need of a home at Smithtown Animal Shelter, 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information or to arrange a visit call 631-360-7575.

Schedules match play championship

Smithtown Landing golf course gets a makeover. Photo from the Town of Smithtown

On July 8, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) and his fellow elected leaders joined with PGA master professional and golf Hall of Famer Michael Hebron and tournament organizer David Capo at the Smithtown Landing Country Club. Wehrheim announced registration was officially open for the first-ever Sarazen Par Three Match Play Championship, aka “The Squire”. The announcement came one week after major renovations and repairs to the golf club were completed.

Left to right: PGA Hall of Famer Michael Hebron, Director of Parks Joe Arico, Director of Recreation Tom McCaffery, Superintendent of Highways Robert Murphy, golf championship organizer David Capo, Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo, Director of Traffic Safety Mitch Crowley, Receiver of Taxes Deanna Varrichio, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy, Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, Councilwoman Lynne Nowick, Town Clerk Vincent Puleo and Councilman Tom Lohmann. Photo from Town of Smithtown

“Over the last year-and-a-half we set out to invest in smart improvements to the Smithtown community that would result in a return on investment for the taxpayer. The renovations just completed here at Landing speak to this point,” Wehrheim said. “I am very pleased to present the community with this exciting match play event, which will undoubtedly bring attention to the historic roots here at Landing and generate a weekend of new foot traffic for surrounding businesses.”

Recent renovations to the Smithtown Landing Country Club include repaved golf cart paths, entryway, roads, curbs and pavement, new starter shack, newly renovated halfway house, sidewalk areas, benches and fencing. An entryway island was redesigned and landscaped with plantings, signage and renovated crosswalks featuring all new traffic calming signs and lighting. Additionally,  ID cards have been instituted for the pool and golf course, which has already generated $6,000 in new revenue in two weeks. Building renovations are set to begin in the fall. The Smithtown Departments of Parks, Building and Grounds; Recreation; Traffic Safety and Highway were responsible for the completion of the work. 

“It’s been an honor for me to be here for many years and see the influence the town’s golf course has had on the community. To be a part of this team has been an opportunity for me to share what we can do with the community,” PGA Hall of Famer Michael Hebron said. “Children’s camps, children going off to play golf in college, children developing social and business skills through golf … to be a small part of the big picture here has been a real honor.”

This event is meant to honor the life of golf legend Gene Sarazen, known as “The Squire,” who helped to design the Par Three Course at the Smithtown Landing Country Club. Many golfers who have played on the course have said it is one of the most difficult par three courses they have played. 

“We embarked on a five-year project in the Town of Smithtown, and part of that is understanding the history … it’s a fascinating place,” said golf championship organizer David Capo. “After finding an old map, learning that the course weaves along the historic Culper Spy Ring … I came down to talk with Michael Hebron and his knowledge about the history of Smithtown Landing helped to inspire this event.”

The opening ceremony will take place on July 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the two-day championship running July 27 and July 28. Golfers at all skill levels (ages 16 and older) are invited to register for the 64 available spots in this 100 percent handicap par three match play championship, held on the Sarazen par three course. 

The opening ceremony will feature presentations by Wehrheim, Hebron and members of the Sarazen Family. Practice rounds are available by contacting the pro shop at 631-979-6534. 

Registration is $29 per golfer to enter the tournament. Tickets to attend the opening ceremony party are $25. Registration closes on July 20.