Village Times Herald

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The King Kullen supermarket on Route 25A will close its doors next month. Photo by Phil Corso

A North Shore grocery chain is shuttering one of its locations next month just as summer breaks into full bloom.

Joseph Brown, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer for King Kullen Grocery Co., Inc., said the East Setauket location on Route 25A will close its doors for good on June 11, answering to rumors that have been swirling through the Three Village area over the last several weeks. The chain’s workforce, however, will be taken care of, Brown said.

“We do not anticipate a layoff of employees, as they will be offered relocation to other stores, including our nearby supermarkets in St. James and Selden,” Brown said.

The East Setauket King Kullen opened back in 2005 in the same shopping center as two other grocery chains — Wild by Nature and Super Stop and Shop. The former grocery chain also operates under the King Kullen brand, which Brown said was not going anywhere.

“It has been a privilege to serve the Three Village community and we remain committed to the area through our East Setauket Wild by Nature,” he said.

Andrew Polan, president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said his group was sad to see the supermarket chain go after several years of service to the community. He said it was likely that oversaturation in the area could have made it difficult for King Kullen to prosper as it stood alongside two other major chains.

“Anytime something closes down, it’s a cause of concern for us. King Kullen is a longtime Long Island company and we’re sorry to see this happening,” he said. “I’m sure the increase in competition in the area has made it difficult for businesses to survive.”

King Kullen operates several other locations in communities near the North Shore area including Mt. Sinai, Lake Ronkonkoma, Middle Island, Commack, Northport, Huntington and Huntington Station among others.

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North Shore-based Founder’s Day Committee opens fourth-graders up to Setauket’s original settlement

Students with guide Donna Smith at the Amos Smith house (circa 1740). Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

The goals of the Founder’s Day Committee are to introduce the Vance Locke murals on the early history of the Town of Brookhaven to all the 4th grade students in the Three Village school district, and to introduce the students to Brookhaven’s Original Settlement in Setauket.

The Town of Brookhaven was founded in Setauket on April 14, 1655. In 2006, following the successful 350th Town of Brookhaven anniversary celebration in 2005, a group of local residents, Setauket PTA members and the Setauket School principal met and decided to invite fourth grade students from all Three Village Schools to spend a day at the Setauket School to see the recently restored murals and learn about their history.

The murals, in the Setauket School auditorium, were painted in 1951 by artist Vance Locke.

From 2006 through 2013, fourth- grade students from Three Village schools came to the Setauket School auditorium, learned about the murals and the history they portray, and viewed artifacts connected with the murals and their various themes.

Students were also treated to monologues by Setauket School sixth-grade students, dressed in period costumes, about the murals and the people in them.

In 2014, a change was made to provide students with a more direct and hands-on experience. Three Village fourth-graders were introduced to the murals and their history and then taken on a walking tour of the Setauket Original Settlement area. In 2015, the walking tour was improved, providing each class with a guide and adding visual details to the tour.

Evaluations by teachers have led to various improvements in the student experience. To date, teachers have been enthusiastic about the tour and the changes and improvements made over the years.

The mural talk and tour, on April 29 and 30, guided 20 fourth grade classes around the Town of Brookhaven Original Settlement area. The days were perfect, weather-wise, and the sight of more than 400 students learning about the history of the area brought it to life.

The Founder’s Day Committee, Barbara Russell, Brookhaven Town Historian; Donna Smith, Three Village historical Society director of education; Katherine Downs Reuter, Three Village Community Trust; and Beverly Tyler, who works as Three Village Historical Society historian.

Republican Party establishes new Hispanic alliance

Latinos congregate at Xavier Palacios’ law office in Huntington Station last year to watch President Barack Obama announcing executive orders on immigration. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Republicans are vying for the votes of Suffolk’s Latinos.

The county GOP committee announced in a press release last week that for the first time in its history, it would create a Hispanic alliance tasked with registering Latino voters and recruiting potential candidates to run for office.

“For far too long, the political left has taken the Hispanic community for granted and recent polls indicate a growing frustration with the [Democratic] Party’s lack of family values and understanding of small business,” GOP chairman John Jay LaValle said in the statement.

Republicans are seeking to tap into a growing Latino electorate in Suffolk County, the statement said.

According to Nick LaLota, the Republican commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Latinos comprise about 7.8 percent of Suffolk County’s 907,000 total registered voters this year. That’s up from 5.82 percent in 2006, he said.

When drawing up the figures, BOE officials analyzed the last names of voters to determine which individuals have “Hispanic-oriented” names, LaLota said. And while it’s not an “exact science,” it gives officials an idea of the growth of the population.

Two Hispanic Republicans — Brookhaven’s Jose Nunez and Victoria Serpa of Islip — will co-chair the Suffolk County Republican Hispanic Alliance, LaValle said. When reached this week, Nunez said there was a great opportunity for the Republicans to attract Hispanic voters, who traditionally lean Democratic.

“We believe that they have the same core values — family, business,” he said. “They’re very conservative. There’s a lot of religion.”

But as far as Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer is concerned, the Republicans are late to the party. He noted the Democrats have backed several Hispanic individuals who were elected.

“It’s about time,” Schaffer said. “We welcome them to finally recognizing that the Hispanic population is an important part of our county.”

Nunez said the GOP’s new alliance would also serve an educational purpose — engaging Latino voters in a political dialogue and perhaps dispelling fears of the political process that some may have learned in their native countries.

It’s “smart” for Republicans to be reaching out to Hispanic voters, according to Xavier Palacios, a Huntington resident, school board member and co-founder of the Friends of Huntington Station Latin Quarter — a group established to revitalize Huntington Station through business development, mentorship, vocational training and other programs. The No. 1 issue on the minds of Hispanics, Palacios said, is immigration reform, and Republicans need to address the issue head-on if they’re going to attract Latino voters.

“I think it can no longer be the hot potato,” he said. “A solution to real immigration reform needs to be had.”

Not everyone thinks that Latinos care most about the immigration issue. Nunez said there are many Latinos out there who feel people should arrive and settle in the country through legal channels. He also said immigration was a federal issue, not a local one.

Other issues on the local level are of importance to Latinos too. Palacios said Republicans and Democrats would be smart to focus on economic issues, as many Latinos are staggered in professions or can’t afford college. Immigrants come here to fulfill the American Dream, something that appears to be becoming more challenging.

“Folks nowadays, in my view, are losing that dream,” he said.

Burglar caught
A 33-year-old woman from Hauppauge was arrested in Smithtown on May 5 and charged with third-degree burglary. Police said that on April 23 at 10 a.m. she entered a vacant home on Davis Street in Hauppauge by smashing a window and damaged the interior of the structure. She was arrested at 9:35 a.m. at the 4th Precinct.

Facepalm
Police said a 29-year-old man was arrested at his home on Apple Lane in Commack on May 9 at about 6:30 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man took six containers of Olay face cream, put them in a bag and exited the store without paying.

Cat food thief caught
A 55-year-old woman from Commack was arrested in the same town on May 7 at about 3:20 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the woman took cat food, a pillow, paper goods and soup from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road without paying. She was arrested at the location.

Cash nabber caught
Police said a 43-year-old man from Yaphank was arrested in Smithtown on May 7 and charged with two counts of grand larceny, one in the third and the other in the fourth degree. Police said the man on two separate occasions earlier this year took cash from a cash register drop box from a store on West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown and removed it without permission.

An elaborate steal    
An unknown person entered a vacant building, broke down a sheetrock wall and entered neighboring Markar Jewelers on E. Main Street in Smithtown and stole assorted jewelry in a display case on May 8 at about 3:18 a.m.

In your face
Police said two men were involved in an altercation at Accompsett Middle School on Meadow Road in Smithtown on May 5 at about 4:25 p.m. Someone threw dirt into the complainant’s face.

Tires, rims stolen
Eight sets of tires and rims were taken from Smithhaven Dodge on Middle Country Road in Nesconset and a passenger side door window was also damaged sometime between 9 p.m. on May 7 and 7:45 a.m. on May 8.

Jeep stolen
Someone took a customer’s 2012 Jeep from the parking lot of Smithaven Chrysler on Middle County Road in Nesconset sometime between 7:45  and 11:45 a.m. on May 8.

Indian Head harassment
Police received a report of harassment from Key Food on Indian Head Road in Kings Park on May 7 at about 6:15 p.m. A male complainant said a man grabbed him by the shirt and left a red mark.

Figurines lifted
Someone stole figurines from the St. James General Store on Moriches Road around noon on May 8.

Window damaged, rims lifted
Police said someone smashed the window of Smithtown Nissan on Middle Country Road in St. James and stole rims and tires and damaged a window of a 2015 Nissan 370z sometime between 10 p.m. on May 5 and 6:45 a.m. on May 6.

Damaged window
An unknown person smashed the back window of a 2001 Volkwagon Suburban on Middle Country Road in St. James sometime between 9:30 a.m. on May 5 and 8 a.m. on May 6.

Speedy arrest
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Stony Brook and charged him with first-degree operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana. Police said the man was driving a 2011 Subaru southbound on North Country Road and Beacon Hill Drive in Stony Brook and was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit. He was arrested on May 7 at 2:45 a.m.

Can’t get enough
Two men — one a 21-year-old from Centereach, another a 22-year-old from Coram — were arrested on May 10 at about 6:42 a.m. in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with trespass. Police said the two men were attempting to open doors of parked vehicles at a location on Pond Path in Setauket. Both were ordered to leave and later returned to the property. The Centereach man was also charged with criminal mischief — police said he punched a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado at that location.

Shopping flee
A Shirley woman was arrested on May 10 at the Walmart on Route 347 in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with petit larceny. Police said she took assorted clothing and household items, put them in a shopping cart and bags, and walked past the register without paying. She was arrested at the location at about 6 p.m. that day.

Pocketbook pocketed
Someone entered an unlocked front door of a residence on Galleon Lane in Setauket-East Setauket and took a pocketbook containing credit cards, cash and a cell phone sometime between 3:30  and 7 p.m. on May 8.

Money mystery
A Robinhood Lane resident from Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of first-degree identity theft on May 7. Police said someone took cash from the individual’s Bank of America online account and transferred it to different accounts. The transaction occurred at 5:30 p.m. on May 6, police said.

Those darn kids
A Brandywine Drive resident in Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of second-degree harassment on May 5 at 7 p.m. Police said an adult neighbor verbally harassed an 11-year-old.

A lot at stake
Two Willis Avenue neighbors in Port Jefferson Station got into a verbal argument on May 6 after one removed stakes in the ground that marked a proposed fence line.

Do not enter
A 21-year-old Port Jefferson man was arrested in Port Jefferson Station on May 9 after he entered a building and remained in it unlawfully. He was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Hateful
A resident of Richmond Hill Road in Sound Beach reported on May 8 that an unknown person had spray-painted a swastika in the street by their home.

Bang bang
An unknown person shot somebody with a BB gun on May 5 in Rocky Point at around 2:45 p.m. According to police, the perpetrator was traveling north on Shell Drive when they fired the gun. The person who was shot was OK.

We are the Champlins
Several people were involved in a fight at a home on Champlin Street in Centereach on May 10. Police said a man went to the hospital after sustaining a head laceration that required medical attention.

Out of gas
A 35-year-old homeless man was charged with third-degree robbery after he stole money from a Middle Country Road gas station on May 8.

Shattered glass
An unknown person smashed a window with a rock at a Shamrock Lane home in Centereach on May 8 at around 8 p.m.

Failing to stop
A 39-year-old Port Jefferson man is facing numerous charges, including leaving the scene of an accident, after he crashed his 2004 Hyundai into a 2015 Jeep on May 8, causing damage. Police said the man fled the scene, which occurred by Skips Road and Route 112 in Coram.

Lost numbers
An unknown person stole a cell phone from a 2009 Chevy Malibu on Wood Road in Centereach on May 8. The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m.

Zoom
A 1994 Ford was stolen from a Centereach mechanic on May 6. According to police, the vehicle had been repaired, but when the owner went to pick it up, it wasn’t there.

Play ball
An unknown female stole both a baseball cap and a decal from Bob’s Stores in Selden on May 8, shortly before 6 p.m.

Legislator Kara Hahn, center, pitches the pieces of legislation that would employ GPS technology to keep offenders away from domestic violence victims in Suffolk County. Photo from Kara Hahn

The county’s proactive push to empower victims of domestic violence reached another milestone on Tuesday when the Legislature unanimously approved a pilot program that would slap ankle bracelets on offenders under an order of protection.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) ignited the domestic violence discussion last month when the county approved her legislation providing law enforcement and victims with danger assessment tools that identify high-risk offenders. Her efforts turned another corner with Tuesday’s approval of legislation that she called a multi-faceted approach to making Suffolk’s domestic violence policy stronger than it’s ever been.

The latest pieces of legislation make Global Positioning System technology available to electronically monitor those in the family and criminal court systems who are subject to a “stay away” order of protection — which is more restrictive than a “refrain from” order — and pose a continuing threat to the safety of a victim or their children, Hahn said.

“This has been something I’ve wanted to work on since getting here,” said Hahn, whose personal experience as a victim of domestic violence brings the issue to the top of her list of priorities. “One of the things that was important to me was dealing with orders of protection. I had an order of protection and it’s very frightening — and I’ve heard over and over again over the years — that it’s just a piece of paper with no ability to truly protect the victim. That’s what I’m trying to fix.”

Both bills were virtually replicas of one another, but were specific to criminal and family courts respectively.

The county’s district attorney would acquire the GPS units and the offenders would have to cover the cost of monitoring, she said.

Tom Spota, the Suffolk County district attorney, threw his support behind Hahn’s initiative.

“I have every confidence this pilot program will be successful in effectively protecting victims of domestic violence,” he said in a statement.

In 2013 alone, the state division of criminal justice reported that there were more than 1,500 violations of orders of protection in the county. That statistic, coupled with the fact that domestic violence accounted for 21 percent of all violent victimizations nationwide from 2003 to 2012, was what spurred Hahn to bulk up her agenda, she said.

“In my experience as a federal prosecutor, GPS devices serve as a real deterrent,” said Tim Sini, assistant deputy Suffolk County executive. “In the moment of passion, an offender often thinks twice before reoffending when he knows he is being monitored by law enforcement.”

The pilot program would provide the county with 30 new GPS devices to be used when judges assign offenders to an order of protection. The technology could be used in one of two ways — either tracking offenders so they stay away from victims’ homes or jobs, or acting as proximity detectors and letting victims know if an offender is near them. The latter form of tracking would be optional for victims.

“Having been someone who had an order of protection and was afraid that the offender would come, it gives you peace of mind as a victim knowing you could be alerted,” Hahn said. “If a victim doesn’t like it, they don’t have to [wear] it.”

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Holly Regan bounces the ball in for a Patriots goal. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After a slow start, the Ward Melville girls’ lacrosse team kicked it into high gear to top Sachem North, 14-6, on the Patriots’ home turf Tuesday in their final game of the regular season.

After a senior day celebration for the 13 girls graduating on the roster, Ward Melville went to work.

Kayla Purdy fires at the cage for Ward Melville. Photo by Bill Landon
Kayla Purdy fires at the cage for Ward Melville. Photo by Bill Landon

Senior attack Samantha Nemirov dished one off to fellow classmate Alex Vignona, an attack and co-captain, who drove the ball home. Five minutes later, Ward Melville senior midfielder and co-captain Kayla Purdy found the back of the cage unassisted, to help her team pull out in front, 2-0.

Sachem North fired two straight shots to tie the game, but Ward Melville senior attack Katlyn Scarpinella, on a penalty play from the circle, faked a shot and flicked the ball over to Nemirov, who dumped it into the corner to help her team pull out in front, 3-2, to end the scoring in the first half.

“We came out strong early in the game. but they had a lot of good looks at the cage and they really ran our defense well,” Ward Melville head coach Kerri Kilkenny said. “We came out on fire in the second half, we sparked it on transition, we were more aggressive on the draw controls and we pushed forward.”

Ward Melville senior Catherine Smith, an attack and co-captain, got the ball rolling two minutes into the second half with a shot between the pipes, and Vignona and Nemirov connected on another play, this time, with Vignona assisting, as the team edged ahead 5-2. Nemirov returned the favor and dished one off to sophomore midfielder Kerry McKeever, whose shot found its mark with 19:30 left to play.

Ward Melville sophomore attack Kaitlin Thornton hit Nemirov, who was cutting across the front of the net, and whipped it in for her hat trick goal, and junior attack Holly Regan scored unassisted to give her team a commanding 8-2 lead.

“I think we started off a little slow early in the game,” Nemirov said, “But then we were able to put the pieces together and finish strong.”

Alex Vignona shoot for Ward Melville. Photo by Bill Landon
Alex Vignona shoot for Ward Melville. Photo by Bill Landon

With 13 minutes left Sachem North notched two unanswered goals, but Ward Melville’s Thornton and Nemirov scored next to bring the score to 10-4.

“We stepped it up in the second half,” Thornton said. “We won the draw and we pushed the ball to the cage.”

Sachem North’s defense picked off a pass near the crease and with three quick passes, the team advanced the ball the length of the field and found the net to trail by five.

Plagued by penalties, Ward Melville’s opponent was down two players, and Kilkenny said she was impressed with her team’s poise against Sachem North’s aggressive style of play.

“The girls held their composure through all of their yellow cards and aggressive play, and I was pleased with their discipline,” she said.

Another yellow card left Ward Melville up three players, and the Patriots looked to cash in on the opportunity.

Regan scored on a penalty shot, Nemirov tacked on another, and Purdy also scored off a penalty shot to bring the score to 13-5 with 1:32 left in the game.

“In the second half we just went to goal more — we were smarter with our passes,” Regan said. “We were making smart looks in the middle and our shooting percentage went up.”

Sachem North wouldn’t go quietly and stretched the net once more before Vignona tacked on the final goal of the game in the closing seconds, to put it away, 14-6.

“We were very excited at the start of the game because it was senior day,” Vignona said. “In the second half we picked it up, we were hitting our passes and we hit the back of the net, so it was just awesome for our senior day to win this one.”

With the win, the Patriots improve to 10-4 in Division I. As the No. 6 seed, the Patriots will play No. 11 Half Hollow Hills West on Saturday, May 16, in the first round of the playoffs. The opening draw is scheduled for noon.

East Northport lawmaker says responsibility of new role to include rebuilding public trust

John Flanagan and former state education commissioner John King at a Common Core forum. File photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

Suffolk County’s own state Sen. John Flanagan has been elected to serve as temporary president and state Senate majority leader after former head Dean G. Skelos resigned from the post on Monday.

The Republican-led chamber appointed Flanagan (R-East Northport) as its new leader amid the arrest of Sen. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) last week on federal corruption charges. The change in leadership comes after several Senate members pressured Skelos, a Long Islander who touts a more than 30-year tenure, to resign from his position.

Flanagan has been appointed the temporary position of president and State Senate majority leader for the remainder of the 2015-16 term, according to a video from his swearing-in.

“I am proud and humbled to have been chosen as temporary president and majority leader of the New York State Senate,” Flanagan said in a statement. “I thank my colleagues for the confidence they have placed in me. With this job comes a responsibility to lead and to listen, and to rebuild the public’s trust.”

Flanagan, 54, has held the position of senator since 2002. Prior to joining the Senate, he was a member of the New York State Assembly for 15 years.

State Sen. John A. DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), who was vying for the majority position, spoke to Flanagan’s appointment on Monday and said there were no hard feelings.

“I know he is not only a great senator, he’s a great man and I’m proud to move his nomination,” DeFrancisco said.

Flanagan’s colleague, State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) also lauded the move.

“It gives me great joy, great pride to second the nomination of John Flanagan as our temporary president,” LaValle said. “John Flanagan has great intellect, great energy and he has a wonderful, wonderful demeanor that brings people together.”

Many of Flanagan’s colleagues spoke highly of the new majority leader prior to his swearing-in ceremony that took place in Albany following the 32 ayes he received out of 63 senators present.

“The Senate made the right decision by voting Sen. John Flanagan as the newest majority leader,” Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Melville) said in a statement. “Flanagan has a track record for getting things done in the Senate and working with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.”

After his swearing in, Flanagan thanked Skelos for his decades of service and accomplishing the enactment of Megan’s Law, a law that publicizes the whereabouts of sex offenders.

“I have now had the good fortune of being in the Legislature for 29 years and I am proud to be in public service,” Flanagan said in a video from his swearing-in ceremony. “I spent 16 years in the Assembly in the minority, I’m now in my 13th year in the Senate, two of which [were] in the minority and I learned a lot being in both venues.”

Stony Brook students field questions at their final project presentation. Photo by Phil Corso

Nick Fusco is still in college, but he already has a vision for the Three Village community’s de facto Main Street known as Route 25A. He and his classmates brought that vision to his neighbors Monday night to show what a little dreaming can do for the North Shore’s future.

“Our community could look like this,” Fusco said in front of a projected rendering of a reinvented Route 25A complete with greenhouse spaces, apartment housing, environmentally friendly landscaping and more. “We’ve come up with ways to improve safety, aesthetics and, most importantly, functionality.”

Fusco and about a dozen other Stony Brook University students presented at the Setauket Neighborhood House on Monday evening as part of a final project for Professor Marc Fasanella’s ecological art, architecture and design class under the college’s sustainability studies program. The conversation, “Keeping a sense of place in the Three Villages,” involved four students presenting PowerPoint slides showing off their reimaged Setauket and Stony Brook communities, utilizing existing infrastructure to help employ ecologically-friendly additions and make Three Village a community that retains young people.

A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso
A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso

“We looked at this as a tremendous opportunity for our students and for the community moving forward,” Fasanella said. “Are we dreaming? Of course we’re dreaming.”

The class built off the work of last year’s students, who brainstormed ways to bridge the gap created by the railroad tracks that separate the university from the greater Three Village community. Their proposals were met with great praise from residents, civic leaders and officials in attendance Monday. The ideas were bold, including anything from pulling buildings closer to the 25A curbside to make way for a greater “Main Street” feel to constructing a “green” multi-tiered parking garage near the train station for both retail space and commuter parking.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, applauded the students for daring the community to take a different look at the future of Three Village. His group helped to sponsor the event alongside the Three Village Community Trust.

In an interview, Nuzzo said the Route 25A corridor, especially near the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road station, has a long and troubled history and could use a facelift to enhance safety for pedestrians, motorists and anyone living in the area.

Nuzzo, who also studied environmental design, policy and planning at Stony Brook University, was also once a student in Fasanella’s ecological urbanism course and underwent a similar exercise in which he dreamt up projects to connect the campus to the nearby community.

“We need to have this discussion over what we want for our de facto Main Street. If we don’t decide, the developers are going to decide for us,” he said. “What do we want as a community? It starts with stuff like this.”

And the students’ visions did not fall on deaf ears, either. Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) sat attentively throughout four students’ presentations and ended the meeting with encouraging words.

She said she was working alongside Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) to enact a comprehensive Route 25A study, which should be discussed in a community forum on June 30 in East Setauket.

“It’s our responsibility to engage and continue the visioning process,” she said, on behalf of civic leaders and lawmakers in the community. “We want to work on our ‘Main Street’ and put the community’s visions into planning.”

Rabbi Chaim Grossbaum speaks at a ceremony last week. Photo by Barbara Donlon

The North Shore Jewish community is one step closer to getting its forever home as the groundbreaking ceremony for its new center took root in Stony Brook on Thursday evening.

Rabbi Chaim and his wife Rivkie Grossbaum addressed the eager crowd at the ceremony at R.C. Murphy Junior High School to mark the new Chabad Merrin Center at Stony Brook, named after Edward and Vivian Merrin, who donated $1 million to the center.

“Our wandering has come to an end,” Chaim Grossbaum said at the ceremony last week. “The Merrin Chabad Jewish Center is the answer.”

Since acquiring its first space at the Lake Grove Jewish Center in 1990, Chabad Stony Brook has spent much of its last 25 years wondering where it would offer its services. The growing Jewish community was hard to fit in the current center and it often relied on rental space to get the job done, Grossbaum said.

Members of Chabad at Stony Brook join with community leaders to ceremoniously break ground. Photo from Motti Grossbaum
Members of Chabad at Stony Brook join with community leaders to ceremoniously break ground. Photo from Motti Grossbaum

The current space can fit roughly 80 people, far less than the 400 families Chabad Stony Brook serves. The new center, now in phase two of the $5.5 million four-phase project, will be able to accommodate far more families once it is completed, he said.

The new center will have a banquet room, a gym, Mikvah and spa, a library, a pool, a santuary and more. The building is expected to open in the summer of 2016, the group said.

“It will pretty much be multi-use in many fashions for the several programs we service the community with,” Grossbaum said in a phone interview.

The center will offer Hebrew school, pre-school, summer camp and other school programs. According to layout plans, there will be five pre-school rooms and two regular classrooms.

The new center will be right in the heart of the Three Village community it serves, Grossbaum said. The center will also have a hospitality suite for the Jewish community taking care of sick loved ones at Stony Brook University Hospital, the group said.

The rabbi said he is hoping the center attracts new families to help Chabad Stony Brook grow exponentially.

“We want to give them reasons to want to go,” Grossbaum said. “It’s hard to create atmosphere in a rental space.”

The rabbi highlighted many of the difficulties the group experienced while going from place to place over the last 25 years. He said the center would help expand on everything they currently offer to enhance services.

Sheila Skolnick, an attendee at Chabad Stony Brook, said the center’s kind and welcoming atmosphere would draw many people into the new center. Skolnick along with many others said she is eagerly waiting for the new center to be built.

“The Merrin Center will be our place and we’ll know where to go,” Skolnick said. “It’s really a place for Jews to congregate from all over.”

Construction of the new center is expected to begin shortly. Kevin Harney of Stalco Construction is leading the project and John Tsunis of Gold Coast Bank is financing it.

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Rohan Murphy, a wrestler who lost his legs at birth, shares his story to encourage kids at R.C. Murphy Jr. High School. Photo from Three Village Central School District

The words and story of Rohan Murphy captivated R.C. Murphy Jr. High School students and staff as the inspirational speaker visited the building in early April and encouraged all to live a life with “no excuses.”

Murphy, who lost his legs at birth, shared his story of overcoming life’s obstacles and physical challenges in order to achieve his personal standards for success.

He told the students how he pushed himself to achieve both academically and athletically, as he went on become a Division I college wrestler at Penn State University.

The event was held in conjunction with the annual town hall meeting, which serves to bring the entire school together to focus on a topic of particular importance.

At the end of his speech, Murphy joined the students’ lunch periods to speak in small groups in order to continue the conversation.

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