Tags Posts tagged with "Assemblyman Steve Englebright"

Assemblyman Steve Englebright

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Outlined in yellow above is land recently acquired by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Photo from DEC

A local family is doing their part to preserve open spaces.

At a press conference held Nov. 20, it was announced 6.8 acres of private land belonging to Harvey Besunder in the Conscience Bay Watershed area was sold to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition provides a buffer area to filter out contaminants, protects wildlife habitat and increases the region’s resilience to coastal storms. This will provide greater protection to the bay and Long Island Sound, according to DEC Region 1 Director Carrie Meek Gallagher.

The boulder plaque honoring the Besunder family who sold the property to New York State Department of Conservation. Photo from DEC

“These types of acquisitions are a priority for the agency right now where we already have an existing landholding, and we’re adding on to existing holdings that protect watersheds, protect habitat and buffer coastal resiliency,” Gallagher said before the Nov. 20 press conference, where a boulder plaque honoring the family was unveiled.

The property is an addition to the existing 52-acre Conscience Bay-Little Bay State Tidal Wetland, which was purchased from multiple property owners by the DEC in the late 1970s. It doubles the size of the marsh and upland portion of the state property.

Besunder and his wife, Arline, purchased the property located at the intersection of Dyke and North roads in Setauket in 1991 from a family member, according to the husband. He said originally the hope was to build a new house for the family. However, after purchasing, Arline was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while going to law school, and with so much going on, plans for building never came to fruition. From the beginning, the Besunders’ children, Alison and Eric, recognized the environmental value of the land.

“When I took the kids to see it — they were obviously much younger — and both of them said the same thing, ‘You shouldn’t build on this. It’s too beautiful. Just let it be the way it was,’” Harvey Besunder said. “That’s the way it turned out, and we’re all thrilled that it’s going to be preserved.”

Arline Besunder died eight years ago, and her husband and children decided to sell the property to the state and preserve the land to honor her. Harvey Besunder said the family was thrilled the state was interested, and the process began two years ago when he met with a DEC representative and told her he would rather sell it to the state than to a developer.

Alison Besunder, who now lives in Brooklyn Heights, said she has memories of walking around the property and remembered it being a beautiful and relaxing place to be, epitomizing the area for her.

“It’s very meaningful for me personally that my family could give back to have that land preserved, given it’s so rich in history and environmental-wise as it’s part of the wetlands — a big part of the property is wetlands,” she said.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) praised all involved.

“The goal of protecting the chemistry and ecological integrity of the Setauket Harbor is greatly advanced by this land purchase at the core of this complex estuary,” Englebright said. “Governor Cuomo [D} deserves our appreciation for enabling the DEC to make such wise use of Environmental Protection Fund resources that were placed into the state budget. Additional congratulations and thanks go to the Besunder family and the Stewardship Initiative of the Long Island Sound Study.”

The acquisition of the Besunder property extends the waterfront along Conscience Bay where there is a walking path, freshwater wetlands, red cedar forest, osprey nest and nearly pristine mudflats and shellfish beds, according to Gallagher.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D). Photo by Kyle Barr

Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is there for his constituents. While he is a champion for the environment in New York state, he always keeps a foot in his district and has his mind on local issues.

When proposed plans by the federal government to drill in coastal waters threatened our local waterways, Englebright wasted no time in organizing hearings in Hauppauge that gave local residents, scientists and environmentalists the opportunity to present their concerns about drilling to legislators.

The fact that the assemblyman’s Republican opponent Christian Kalinowski declined to take part in the debate at our office and doesn’t even have a campaign website speaks volumes to us. The most important steps a budding politician can take is showing up and discussing the issues.

Englebright shows up and he has no problem discussing the issues, even reaching across party lines. “Parties are not the goal,” he said at our office. “Parties are the tool. The goal is always serve the people.”

The assemblyman told us his mission is to leave things better than how he found them, and we think he is accomplishing that goal in New York State’s 4th Assembly District. Elected 13 times as assemblyman and a Suffolk County legislator before that, he has proven time and time again he cares about the 4th District — but also just cares in general — and we support him for re-election.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D). Photo by Kyle Barr

In the race to represent New York State’s 4th Assembly District, incumbent Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is up against Republican newcomer Christian Kalinowski, a 25-year-old who works as a trainer at an animal shelter and lives in Port Jefferson. Traditionally both candidates sit down for a debate at the TBR News Media office in Setauket, and while both were invited, Kalinowski declined to attend or answer questions about the race via phone or email.

“The way that the environment has been treated by this administration in Washington has been savage.”

— Steve Englebright

The assemblyman, as he does whenever he runs, cited the environment as a key issue for his candidacy.

“The way that the environment has been treated by this administration in Washington has been savage,” he said.

Earlier in the year Englebright, who is the chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, held hearings in Hauppauge regarding the possibility of offshore oil and gas drilling along the Atlantic coast after the U.S. Department of the Interior proposed plans for expansion of natural gas and oil drilling along coastal waters.

He said he was disappointed legislation passed in the Assembly and supported by the governor to stop drilling off the Atlantic coast did not get passed in the state Senate.

The assemblyman is proud of the $2.5 billion he advocated for in last year’s state budget slated for water protection. He has also advocated for having waterways defined as infrastructure which can lead to increased protections of watersheds and reservoirs.

Safety is also on the assemblyman’s mind. When it comes to gun regulation, Englebright is a proponent of the microstamping of firing pins. A microscope is needed to see the
microstamp, but when it hits a shell casing while ejecting, it prints a number onto the shell, theoretically leaving a trace for investigators when necessary.

“We have the ability with lasers where we can cut little numbers into the firing pin, and then the firing pin — without changing the mechanism, without doing anything to take away gun rights — there is at least forensic evidence that if the gun is used in another crime, you can join the two crimes together through the forensic evidence,” Englebright said.

“I’m generally cautious about bringing hardware like that into public spaces of any kind.”

— Steve Englebright

He said some challengers say the cost for microstamping would be felt by the consumer in that it would cost several hundred dollars more for a handgun, which he said he believes is holding up the legislation, though he disputed the cost would be prohibitive.

The assemblyman said he doesn’t agree with teachers having guns on school campuses, but he would consider retired police officers working as guards if needed. He said it would be better to have more efficient lockdowns and safer designed entrances before bringing guns into schools.

“I’m generally cautious about bringing hardware like that into public spaces of any kind,” Englebright said.

The incumbent also reiterated his support to advance electrification of the Long Island Rail Road between Huntington and Port Jefferson, an idea he has supported for years and is now gaining momentum, as state funds have been put toward studying the possibility. The study will examine the possible benefits and ramifications of electrification for communities along the line. He said state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) succeeded in appropriating state funds toward the plan.

“I think it’s a game changer, and I think we’re at the moment when it can happen,”
Englebright said.

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Stop & Shop is planning to paint the East Setauket store gray and change the bottle redemption center from the front to the back. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

A supermarket chain’s requests of the Town of Brookhaven Planning Board are creating concerns in East Setauket from a historical and environmental perspective.

“We’re really concerned that this kind of dark color is going to contrast with the historic district, and it won’t be in conformity with a lot of the architecture of the other buildings.”

— George Hoffman

Peggy Kelly, of Kelly’s Expediting Corp., representing Stop & Shop, attended the Oct. 15 planning board meeting asking for a facade color change to three Stop & Shop stores in Brookhaven — Medford, Farmingville and East Setauket — and switching the location of the East Setauket bottle redemption area from the front of the store to the back.

The color change would mean the facade of the Route 25A store in East Setauket would go from sandstone to gray. Kelly said the facade will change at eight Brookhaven stores, and it has already been altered in 21 locations in Suffolk County.

“Currently Stop & Shop is going through a refreshing,” Kelly said. “What they’re trying to do is develop an image which to the customer — the consumer — is going to [be] more fresh, green and a more healthy look.”

George Hoffman, first vice president of the Three Village Civic Association, was on hand for the planning board meeting and said the civic was opposed to the new color scheme that would be painted over the current beige sandstone for the majority of the building. He said the gray the representatives from the civic group were shown seemed to be a dark slate and not a light shade and would stand out. The applicant is also applying to paint the rest of the shopping center gray.

“We’re really concerned that this kind of dark color is going to contrast with the historic district, and it won’t be in conformity with a lot of the architecture of the other buildings,” Hoffman said.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) submitted a letter to the planning board stating that the proposed color change would be contrary to the historic character of the community.

“A dark gray facade would stand out in our retail area and draw attention in a manner that would work against architectural cohesion and continuity,” Englebright wrote.

Hoffman said the civic also had an issue with the changing of the bottle redemption center location since it will be harder to get to.

“A dark gray facade would stand out in our retail area and draw attention in a manner that would work against architectural cohesion and continuity.”

— Steve Englebright

“There’s a small little alleyway — well driveway — that leads to the back,” Hoffman said. “You have to pass by the truck loading zone and the trash compactor and now they’re going to put it in the back parking lot. At a time when we should be encouraging recycling you don’t want to make it harder for people to bring back their bottles.”

Englebright in his letter said the current bottle return location in the front of the store is in an ideal spot as it’s convenient and accessible to customers walking from the parking lot. He wrote that he believes changing the location to the rear of the store would lead to a reduction in recycling since Stop & Shop is the only supermarket in the Setauket/East Setauket area.

Kelly said the bottle redemption center being moved to the back would give customers a larger space and prevent congestion in front of the store. She said if the board didn’t agree to the change, the location could remain in the front.

Kelly added East Setauket was the only location with a question about the color change. All other Brookhaven civic associations or council members who have reached out to their communities have approved the new color scheme.

The board tabled the decision until the next planning board meeting Nov. 5 and asked that Stop & Shop representatives meet with the Three Village Civic Association.

Both the chain and civic are open to the suggestion, and Hoffman said they will meet before the end of the month.

“We are aware of civic concerns regarding a possible color change and bottle deposit relocation at our Setauket store,” said Steve Kienzle, senior vice president of market operations and sales for Stop & Shop. “We are reviewing all options so that we can bring the situation to a resolution.”

The Setauket Harbor Task Force hosted Setauket Harbor Day Sept. 29 at the Brookhaven town dock and beach located on Shore Road in East Setauket. The mission of the Setauket Harbor Task Force is to work toward clean water and healthy harbors.

At the free event, attendees had the opportunity to explore the harbor with kayak lessons, take round-the-harbor boat trips, participate in hands-on harborside activities, take maritime history tours and more.

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Terence Netter with a painting of lavender from his French Perspectives series. File photo

By Rita J. Egan

The Three Village community is mourning the loss of a champion of the arts. Terence Netter, known by many as Terry, died June 27 at his home in Setauket. He was 89.

The professional artist, professor and once Jesuit priest was born Donald Terence Netter in New Rochelle April 12, 1929. He left the Jesuit order in 1968 and married Therese Franzese the same year. The couple moved to Setauket in 1979, and in later years divided their time between their homes on Long Island and in France.

Terence Netter with his painting ‘Sunrise at Low Tide’ File photo

Netter was the founding director of the Stony Brook University Fine Arts Center, now named the Staller Center, a position he began in 1979 and held for 18 years. In 1984, The Village Times named him Man of the Year in the Arts for his achievements at the center, which included bringing high-quality art, music, theater and well-known musicians to the community. He also helped to create the Friends of the Arts Center.

“Our programming is intelligent and aims for a standard of excellence,” Netter said in a 1984 interview. “We’re not Lincoln Center, but we are in the big leagues of higher education.”

According to his wife, Netter received an honorary degree from Stony Brook University in 2013 which was in addition to multiple degrees he had already earned. Netter had a bachelor’s in English and master’s in philosophy from Fordham University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art from George Washington University.

Alan Inkles, current director of the Staller Center, said Netter gave him a job as theater manager at the arts center in 1983.

“I learned a lot from him,” Inkles said. “He was a great mentor and a great guy to work for, very supportive of everybody.”

Gene Sprouse, an SBU distinguished professor emeritus, met Netter at the university 40 years ago when he served on the board of the Friends of the Arts Center. He credited him with mentoring artists, musicians and art managers, and fostering the acquisition by SBU of the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton; Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner were both renowned artists.

“Terry Netter has left an indelible mark on the arts community in the Three Villages,” Sprouse said. “As founding director of the Fine Arts Center at Stony Brook, he was instrumental in growing and strengthening the arts in the area.”

Netter was also on the board of trustees at Gallery North in Setauket and was a past president of the gallery. His artwork has been showcased there several times through the years. In 2017 at its annual gala, the gallery named him a “community treasure.”

Gallery North director Judith Levy said Netter was a tremendous asset. “He’s one of the most intellectual people that I’ve ever met,” Levy said. “He was a great mentor, a serious person with kind of a twinkle in his eye and always a good joke or good story to tell.”

Levy said an exhibit of Netter’s work is slated for October at the gallery. She said although his artwork has many facets, while living in France the artist developed a love of the horizon line, and created many renditions of the vista.

Outside of the Three Village area, Netter’s work was exhibited at the Woodward Gallery in New York City, where he has been represented for many years, and galleries and museums in San Francisco, France and more, according to his wife.

Among his many career achievements, he was the director of the Paul Mellon Arts Center at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, and contributed to the study abroad program for the University of Southern Mississippi at Pontlevoy, France, in the later years of his career.

“Wherever he went he gravitated to any place that was serious about art,” Therese Netter said. “Once he made connections, people just loved him.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said he would remember Netter as an internationally accomplished artist who lived modestly amongst his fellow Setauket residents. The assemblyman met the artist more than 30 years ago, and for a few years Netter rented studio space in a building that Englebright’s family owns. “He lifted us all with his art and with his very strong sense of place and with his spirit,” Englebright said.

In a June 10, 2017, interview for TBR News Media’s Arts & Lifestyles section, Netter was asked what he wanted art lovers to feel or see when they viewed his paintings.

“I want the viewer’s mind and eye to take a walk beyond the here and now,” Netter said. “I hope that they experience that there is more beyond the horizon — the possibility of existence beyond the reach of our senses, even though we can’t see it. Most of all, I wish that they sense the deep peace that I am trying to evoke in my paintings.”

Netter is survived by his wife Therese, son Dylan and his beloved dog, Pip. A private Mass was held at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan.

By Heidi Sutton

The 1,000-seat theater at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center was filled to capacity last Sunday night as the community came out in droves to celebrate the first screening of TBR News Media’s feature-length film, “One Life to Give.” And what a celebration it was.

“I have to say this exceeds our highest expectations. We are so thrilled,” said TBR News Media publisher Leah Dunaief, scanning the packed house as she welcomed the audience to “what has been a year’s adventure.”

“I am privileged to be the publisher of six hometown papers, a website, a Facebook page and, now, executive producer of a movie,” she beamed.

TBR News Media publisher Leah Dunaief addresses the audience.

Dunaief set the stage for what would be a wonderful evening. “I’m inviting you now to leave behind politics and current affairs and come with me back in time more than two centuries to the earliest days of the beginning of our country — the start of the American Revolution.”

“We live in the cradle of history and I hope that when you leave tonight you will feel an immense pride in coming from this area,” she continued. “The people who lived here some 240 years ago were people just like us. They were looking to have a good life, they were looking to raise their children.” Instead, according to Dunaief, they found themselves occupied by the British under King George III for the longest period of time.

Filmed entirely on location on the North Shore in 16 days, the film tells the story of schoolteacher turned spy Nathan Hale and how his capture and ultimate death by hanging in 1776 at the age of 21 led to the development of an elaborate spy ring in Setauket — the Culper spies — in an effort to help Gen. George Washington win the Revolutionary War.

Scenes were shot on location at Benner’s Farm in East Setauket, the William Miller House in Miller Place, the Sherwood-Jayne Farm, Thompson House and Caroline Church of Brookhaven  in Setauket and East Beach in Port Jefferson with many local actors and extras, period costumes by Nan Guzzetta, props from “TURN” and a wonderful score by Mark Orton.

The film screening was preceded by a short behind-the-scenes documentary and was followed by a Q&A with Dunaief, producer and writer Michael Tessler and director and writer Benji Dunaief along with several key actors in the film — Dave Morrissey Jr. (Benjamin Tallmadge), Hans Paul Hendrickson (Nathan Hale), Jonathan Rabeno (John Chester) and David Gianopoulos (Gen. George Washington).

“It says quite a bit about our community that we could pack the Staller Center for a story that took place over two hundred years ago,” said Tessler, who grew up in Port Jefferson. “I hope everyone leaves the theater today thinking about these heroes — these ordinary residents of our community who went on to do some extraordinary things and made it so that we all have the luxury to sit here today and enjoy this show and the many freedoms that come with being an American.”

Director Benji Dunaief thanked the cast, crew and entire community for all their support. “In the beginning of this project I did not think we would be able to do a feature film, let alone a period piece. They say it takes a village, but I guess it actually takes three.”

From left, Jonathan Rabeno, David Gianopoulos, Hans Paul Hendrickson and Dave Morrissey Jr. field questions from the audience at the Q&A.

“Our cast … threw themselves 100 percent into trying to embody these characters, they learned as much as they could and were open to everything that was thrown at them — I’m blown away by this cast. They are just incredible,” he added.

“The positivity that was brought to the set every day made you really want to be in that environment,” said Rabeno, who said he was humbled to be there, and he was quick to thank all of the reenactors who helped the actors with their roles.

One of the more famous actors on the stage, Gianopoulos (“Air Force One”) was so impressed with the way the production was handled and often stopped by on his day off just to observe the camera shots. “I really enjoyed just watching and being an observer,” he said, adding “It was just such an honor [to be a part of the film] and to come back to Stony Brook and Setauket where I used to run around as a little kid and then to bring this story to life is just amazing.”

According to the director, the film has been making the rounds and was recently nominated for three awards at Emerson College’s prestigious Film Festival, the EVVY Awards, including Best Editing, Best Writing and Best Single Camera Direction and won for the last category. 

Reached after the screening, Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said the film was the essence of a sense of place. “I thought it was spectacular. I thought that it was one of the highlights of all of the years that I have lived in this community.”

He continued, “It all came together with local people and local places talking about our local history that changed the world and the fact that it was on the Staller Stage here at a public university that was made possible by the heroics of the people who were in the film both as actors today and the people that they portrayed.”

For those who missed last Sunday’s screening, the film will be shown again at the Long Island International Film Expo in Bellmore on July 18 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Filming for a sequel, tentatively titled “Traitor,” the story of John André who was a British Army officer hanged as a spy by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, will begin in two weeks.

Special thanks to Gold Coast Bank, Holiday Inn Express, Island Federal Savings Bank and Stony Brook University for making the evening’s screening possible.

Photos by Heidi Sutton and Rita J. Egan

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Hundreds lined the streets of East Setauket to catch the annual Memorial Day parade sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars East Setauket Post 3054 May 28.

After an opening ceremony at the Old Village Green, participants marched along Main Street and Route 25A. Members that took part in the walk included those from local VFW posts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scout Troops and the Setauket, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson fire departments. Ward Melville High School and R.C. Murphy Junior High School bands played, and elected officials including U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) joined in the holiday celebration.

At the conclusion of the parade a wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Setauket Veterans Memorial Park on Route 25A.

 

 

 

 

Setauket beekeeper Maria Hoffman and members of the Long Island Beekeepers Club recently met with state assemblymen Steve Englebright and Mike Fitzpatrick to discuss ways to save declining honeybee colonies. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr

On an April afternoon, Maria Hoffman, beekeeper and chief of staff to state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), strolled unfazed through a swarm of darting honeybees. She never had any fear of them, not even as a child.

The thing that does bother her — that has her and other local beekeepers living in anxiety — is the threat of colony loss.

“We are doing everything, everything to ensure our colonies success, and quite honestly we are losing that battle.”

— Moira Alexander

“I had nine hives going into the winter, I came out with three,” Hoffman, of Setauket, said. “It’s hard because you feel responsible for it. It’s my job to take care of them. But I know other beekeepers had similar losses.”

Colony loss has gotten worse over the last year. Long Island Beekeepers Club, an organization that boasts more than 300 members based mostly in Suffolk County, did an informal survey of 60 of their members with 243 hives between them. They estimated an approximate 50 percent colony loss from April 2017 to April 2018. This is compared to last year which estimated colony loss at approximately 30 percent.

“All of us are working extremely hard to keep our colonies alive on our own dime,” Smithtown beekeeper Moira Alexander said. “We are doing everything, everything to ensure our colonies success, and quite honestly we are losing that battle. We can feed them when there is a time of dearth. We can work on their health issues, we can provide water sources, but the one thing we cannot do is control weather and climate.”

Beekeepers from the club met with Englebright and state Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) April 6 to discuss the many problems that are affecting bees and beekeepers. The club said there were several items the state could help with to curb this hive loss, including the need for more state bee inspectors, protecting and expanding areas of pollen-producing plants and limiting harmful pesticides.

Club members said that there has been a loss of forage of native pollinating plants being destroyed or replaced with nonflowering or non-pollinating plants.

A honeybee feeds on a flower. Flowering and pollinating plants are integral for bees to survive. Photo by Maria Hoffman

“Right now, in most of my yards, I’m down to five colonies in a yard from 10,” said Donal Peterson, vice president of the Long Island Beekeepers Club. “A pound of honey takes about 2 million flower visits. If you are going to put them out in a place, you want them to be able to feed themselves, and then make you a bit of money. With this loss, they can’t do that.”

Beekeepers say flower resources are diminishing, and the number of lawns, or “green deserts,” as beekeeper Grace Mehl calls them, has only expanded.

According to a 2015 study conducted by NASA and several Colorado and Montana state universities, lawns take up over 63,000 square miles of land in the United States. It is the largest single crop in the country.

“That gives you a perspective of how we are affecting our environment,” Mehl said.

The group proposed planting flowers and other pollen producing plants along major highways, and also putting the emphasis on pollen producing trees like linden trees in metropolitan areas.

Beekeepers also complained about the many pesticides and fungicides that affect both bees and other native pollinators, including neonicotinoids, an agricultural insecticide that structurally resembles nicotine.

“Neonicotinoids — which mimics nicotine — I remember when I was a kid my mother used to spread tobacco dust on the plants to keep the bugs off, because nicotine is known to be toxic to insects,” said Huntington beekeeper Rich Blohm. “It’s a systemic pesticide, it has to be put on the plant and the insect has to walk on the plant.”

“I remember when I was a kid my mother used to spread tobacco dust on the plants to keep the bugs off, because nicotine is known to be toxic to insects.”

— Rich Blohm

Club members said that New York State’s bee inspection services are severely limited on Long Island, which means top club members often take the role of inspecting people’s hives for disease, virus or mismanagement onto themselves.

“We are proactive as a club about hive health and inspection and handle all that through our club because of deep cuts to the state’s apiary inspection program,” Alexander said. “So, if there is a health issue with bees here, we immediately inform our membership and set up an inspection.”

Both Fitzpatrick and Englebright were open to the idea of crafting law to protect the bees during the meeting. Fitzpatrick said that beekeepers should spread the word to influence both local politicians and citizens.

“Your customers become a lobby force as well, they’ll need your support,” he said.

Englebright, chair of the assembly’s environmental conservation committee, said he would work across party lines to allocate more money for bee inspections.

“I would like to mention to create a category in law, on state and local land, for pollinator sanctuaries,” the assemblyman said. “I think we should start on Long Island. I think we should do it here first.”

Lee Koppelman, right is presented with a replica of the sign that will mark a nature preserve dedicated in his honor, by Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine. Photo by Alex Petroski

A public servant with more than four decades of planning experience now has a nature preserve with his name on it to honor his life’s work.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) hosted a ceremony at Jefferson’s Ferry Life Plan Community in South Setauket April 13 to dedicate a 46-acre parcel of woodlands in Stony Brook in honor of Lee Koppelman, who served as the first Suffolk County planner, a position he held for 28 years. He also served as regional planner for Suffolk and Nassau counties for 41 years.

“When you come to talk about preserving land; when you come to talk about planning communities; when you come to talk about vision; when you come to talk about master planners and you put that with Suffolk County, only one name comes up,” Romaine said of Koppelman. “When I look at the picture of the woods that will be named for Dr. Koppelman I can think of no better tribute to this man … Suffolk is in a large part what it is today because of this man’s vision, our master planner.”

Romaine lauded Koppelman for his dedication to preserving nature, including shoreline, wooded areas, wetlands and more. State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who served on the Suffolk County Legislature along with Romaine in the 1980s when Koppelman was also working for the county, repeatedly used the word “bold” in thanking Koppelman for his dedication.

“Suffolk is in a large part what it is today because of [Lee Koppelman’s] vision, our master planner.”

— Ed Romaine

“We had a master planner with a vision for this county that was daring and bold and unprecedented for any county in the United States,” Englebright said. “To set aside parkland — not like little pieces of confetti, but as whole sections of ecosystems and landscape segments — bold ideas. Not only was Dr. Koppleman the master planner, he was a master administrator. He hired extraordinary planners, talented people to serve with him.”

According to a press release from the town, Koppelman is regarded as the father of sustainability on Long Island, calling him the first of the “power players” to conceptualize the idea of preserving space in the interest of health and future generations. The Lee Koppelman Preserve is a heavily wooded parcel with a variety of deciduous tree and shrub species, or foliage that sheds its leaves annually. The town has owned the Stony Brook property just east of Nicolls Road and south of Stony Brook University, for about 45 years, using it as passive open space.

Cartright said she was honored to be a part of the dedication to such a prominent figure who had an impact on her district.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much time to work with Dr. Koppleman as it relates to land use and planning, but it is clear to me he has left an indelible mark here within our community,” she said.

Koppelman joked that he wished the ceremony didn’t sound so much like a eulogy, though he said he was honored to be recognized by people he had considered friends for so long.

“Having that from them is a particular pleasure,” he said.

His wife Connie Koppelman was also in attendance and joked she had heard her husband honored so many times it was getting old, but called it very pleasing to hear once again how much his work was appreciated by those around him.

Koppelman currently heads the Center for Regional Policy Studies at Stony Brook University.

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