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Beach

By Anthony Petriello

A decomposing beaked whale, not
typically seen near shore, found in Miller Place July 19 caused a stir on social media. Photo from Andrea Costanzo

Pictures of a carcass of a mysterious creature that washed up on the beach in Miller Place discovered by a resident July 19 have been circulating around the local community on Facebook. The photos were provided to TBR News Media by Facebook user Andrea Costanzo, who said they were taken by her father. According to the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the creature has been identified as a beaked whale, a type of whale typically found in the deep ocean, although the exact species of beaked whale is yet to be determined. When found, the whale was in advanced stages of decomposition, making it difficult to determine what exactly it was, conjuring thoughts of the Loch Ness monster or other mythical creatures on social media.   

The SPCA speculated that the whale had gotten sick and swam into the Long Island Sound seeking shelter. The whale was taken off the beach and transported to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in Hampton Bays. According to AMCS Executive Director and Chief Scientist Rob DiGiovanni, very little has been determined as to why the whale became sick or how exactly it ended up on the Miller Place beach due to the advanced stage of decomposition of the animal, making it difficult to ascertain many facts. It was determined through necropsy, however, that the whale did not die due to the ingestion of marine debris such as plastic or metal.

Beaked whales dive for an hour, sometimes two, and surface for just a few minutes to take a series of rapid breaths before diving again, according to New Scientist, an online science and technology magazine. They routinely reach 3,200 feet beneath the surface, while some have been measured as far as 10,000 feet down.

TriCrosse creators Bill Kidd and Andy Matthews demonstrate how their game works at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Back in the 1980s, Setauket natives Bill Kidd and Andy Matthews would often spend their summer days fishing and clamming on the Long Island Sound.

But when they returned to shore, the best friends were the only ones playing TriCrosse — a then-brand new toss-and-catch game in which two players with scoop rackets throw a ball back and forth trying to score into goal nets set up in front of their opponent.

That’s because Kidd and Matthews made it up in their backyards.

A man plays TriCrosse during Town of Brookhaven Tournament Aug. 12. Photo by Kevin Redding

“We started off tossing and catching a ball with some lacrosse-like rackets, and then got some fishing and crab nets from the shed to stick in the ground so we could be a little competitive with each other,” said Kidd, 48, laughing. “We thought, ‘This is kind of fun, it’s neat to aim this thing and try to get a goal.’ It kind of grew from there.”

On Aug. 12, more than 30 years after its creation, TriCrosse was played by kids, teens, moms, dads, uncles, aunts and grandparents along Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai during the first Town of Brookhaven-sponsored Fight Breast Cancer TriCrosse Tournament.

The fun-filled event, made up of 28 registered locals and dozens of spectators, pit players against each other in a double-elimination style and marked the game’s first public tournament since it was officially rolled out into several small stores and made available online in April.

Even though most of the tournament participants had never played TriCrosse before, it didn’t take long for them to get into it.

“It’s borderline addicting,” said Kevin McElhone, 25, of Huntington. “As soon as you get the racket in your hand, you can stand out here and do this for hours.”

So far, the portable game — which contains two goals with three different sized nets on each, two bases for indoor and outdoor play, two plastic rackets, two balls and a large carry bag — is on shelves at Amity Harbor Sports in Amityville as well as toy stores in Lake Placid and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“It’s very fun, it’s great exercise, just a great outdoor game,” said Richard Kryjak, 13, of East Setauket. “It’s definitely perfect to play on the beach.”

A girls tosses her TriCrosse ball during a Town of Brookhaven Tournament Aug. 12. Photo by Kevin Redding

The TriCrosse team, which consists of Kidd, Matthews and Bill Strobel of Setauket, said they plan to meet with multiple retailers in the fall, as well as many physical education and camp conferences later this year to discuss expanding the game’s reach.

“I think I’m going to be a TriCrosse person in retirement,” said John Gentilcore, the former principal at Mount Sinai Elementary School. “It’s important I have a good self-esteem
because I’m probably going to be beaten by a 10-year-old. That’s OK, though.”

Matthews, the director of math, science and technology in the Mount Sinai School District, said the school recently bought four TriCrosse sets to bring into the gym curriculum.

“We want to be the ultimate outdoor game for people at beaches, in parking lots, tailgating, gymnasiums,” Matthews said.

Kidd said he likes to also think it can work in a variety of settings.

“The best part about it is it’s like old school baseball and mitts with the family, but in an environment where it can be very competitive or as leisurely as just hanging out in the backyard and having some fun,” Kidd said.

Although it has been a popular game in Kidd and Matthews’ close circles for years, TriCrosse was tucked away as jobs and families took priority.

That was until recently, when backyard games like Spikeball and KanJam made a splash on the market, encouraging the team to turn TriCrosse into a family-friendly product.

TriCrosse team of Bill Kidd, Andy Matthews and Bill Strobel take their game TriCrosse to Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

“The three things we’ve always heard from people is ‘What is that?’ ‘Where can I get it?’ and ‘You should be on Shark Tank’,” Strobel said. “It’s such a great family activity, which people really enjoy. Our big thing is also getting kids off the couch, getting them off of their phones and getting them out playing. I know there’s a bunch of backyard games out there, but there’s nothing like this, which is cool.”

After it was released in April, Strobel brought TriCrosse and videos of game play to Brookhaven’s superintendent of recreation Kurt Leuffen in an effort to bring it to residents in a friendly, competitive setting.

Fifty percent of the proceeds that were raised during the event, $200 total, will be donated to the Stony Brook Foundation, which supports research, prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

“We’re not trying to make any money at this tournament,” Matthews said. “We just want to show people what it is and try to get the word out.”

Not much of the game has changed since Kidd and Matthews developed it, they said. The rule is that each player stands behind the goals, which are about 50 feet apart, while throwing and receiving a foam ball with plastic rackets to try and score into any of the three nets for varying points. The first player to reach seven points in 10 minutes wins.

Fittingly, one of the last matches of the  night was between the game’s two creators. Kidd and Matthews struck the ball back and forth with glee as if they were teenagers in the backyard again.

Councilwoman Susan Berland stands with the free sunscreen dispenser now at Crab Meadow Beach in Northport. File photo from A.J. Carter

By Victoria Espinoza

One Huntington Town official is determined to have residents covered when it comes to their skin.

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) received support from her Huntington Town Board colleagues to expand her pilot program and provide sunscreen protection for Huntington residents at 14 new locations in addition to Crab Meadow Beach.

Last summer Berland launched a free sunscreen dispenser program at Crab Meadow Beach after working in conjunction with IMPACT Melanoma, formerly known as the Melanoma Foundation of New England, an organization that provides education, prevention and support for the most serious form of skin cancer.

“The [Crab Meadow Beach dispenser] was a success,” Berland said in a phone interview. “It got a lot of use last year and this year. So I wanted to expand it to 14 other locations.”

For about $1,600, the town will purchase from IMPACT Melanoma 14 additional BrightGuard sunscreen dispensers along with a supply of BrightGuard Eco Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 for each designated location.

The new dispensers will be installed at Asharoken Beach, Centerport Beach, Crescent Beach, Fleets Cove Beach, Gold Star Battalion Beach, Hobart Beach, Quentin Sammis/West Neck Beach, Greenlawn Memorial Park, Heckscher Park, Ostego Park, Veterans Park, Crab Meadow Golf Course, Dix Hills Golf Course and Dix Hills Pool. The sunscreen is environmentally safe, made in America and Para-AminoBenzoic Acid (PABA) free, according to Berland’s office. The councilwoman said she chose locations based on need and their supervision.

“For example the town pool is where all town camp programs are held,” she said. “I’m willing to bet there are some kids who are not using sunscreen or will forget it and this can help.”

Berland said the reaction to the first dispenser and a melanoma prevention and awareness event she hosted earlier this summer have indicated both been a success.

“I get swarmed at the dermatologists office about how great the first dispenser is,” she said. “People can forget to pack their sunscreen or some people have never even used sunscreen before. It’s just not on their radar. So people are now trying it, it’s a great preventative for the residents.”

According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology regular sunscreen use can reduce the incidence of melanoma by 50 to 73 percent.

According the 2014 report “Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer,” skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and most cases are preventable. Melanoma is responsible for the most deaths of all skin cancers, killing almost 9,000 people each year. It is also one of the most common types of cancer among U.S. adolescents and young adults.

Berland is a skin cancer survivor herself and said this issue is very personal to her.

“People need to take care of themselves early in life,” she said. “This has opened up people’s eyes to the entire issue.”

The resolution will be presented to the board at the next town board meeting. Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in a phone interview he believes the program’s relatively low cost is an added benefit to the positives it will do for residents.

“It’s a very minimal price,” he said. “It’s not something to put my thumb down on.”

For more information about this program, call Berland’s office at 631-351-3173.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner, town highway superintendent Dan Losquadro and Miller Place Park Homeowners Association Vice President Marc Mazza inspect the newly fortified Gully Landing Beach.Photo from Brookhaven Town

By Desirée Keegan

The North Shore is growing stronger.

After another shoreline stabilization project, this time, at Gully Landing Road, Miller Place can now weather the storm.

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy’s high winds, heavy rains and tidal surge severely damaged Gully Landing’s beach. The site suffered severe damages, including 3,000 cubic yards of soil erosion, 2,000 square feet of vegetation loss, structural damage to the existing wooden walkway, as well as irreparable damage to 1,548 cubic feet of gabion retaining wall, according to Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R). This site not only contains a drainage outfall system that handles storm water from the upland residential roadways, but also provides waterfront access to the local community and emergency responders.

In order to stabilize the bluff and ensure the drainage facility’s permanent reconstruction, Brookhaven Town replaced the ineffective gabion baskets, which are boxes or cylinders filled with rocks or concrete used for erosion control, with 7,325 square feet of epoxy-coated, steel sheet dividing wall for slope stability. Behind the steel sheet bulkhead, 2,364 cubic yards of heavy armor stone retaining wall was installed to protect the area from high storm surges, combined with wave action, or undermining, according to Losquadro. Erosion control and slope stability measures included native plantings, geotextile filter fabric coverings and geo-grid slope reinforcement solutions.

“Hurricane Sandy had such a devastating effect on so many communities across Brookhaven Town,” said town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). “Superintendent Losquadro and the men and women of the highway department are still repairing the infrastructure damage nearly five years later, but we are very fortunate that Congressman Lee Zeldin has been so responsive to our need for repairs at Gully Landing Road and other locations in the town.”

The project was funded with a $1.4 million federal grant, secured by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This revitalization effort will go a long way to improve water quality while strengthening local infrastructure,”  said in a statement.

In addition to storm hardening the shoreline and reconstructing the drainage outfall, the town installed an upstream storm water treatment structure that’s 10 feet in diameter to properly treat storm water prior to its discharge into the Long Island Sound. This downstream defender reduces the environmental impact of storm water runoff from the 75-acre beachfront property that contributed to the pollution, by capturing contaminated sediment before it reaches the outfall. By installing these coastal hardening features, Brookhaven officials believe the town has prevented future damage to the slope, Gully Landing Road, the waterfront access, residential homes and the drainage system.

“The revitalization project at Gully Landing will not only help us from an erosion standpoint, but it will also assist in preventing pollution from storm water runoff,” Losquadro said. “We have successfully hardened our infrastructure to ensure we are less vulnerable to damage from future storms.”

He thanked Zeldin for expediting the federal funding necessary to complete the project and improve the resilience of the shoreline. Miller Place Park Homeowners Association Vice President Marc Mazza also thanked deputy highway superintendent Steve Tricarico for his involvement, and was glad to see the project come to fruition.

“Because of all the hard work and dedication, the Long Island Sound will be cleaner,” Mazza said. “The bluffs and the beach will remain secure and aesthetically pleasing for many years to come.”

Asharoken Village beach. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Earlier this month, Asharoken officials voted to bring an end to the multiyear-long dune restoration project with the Army Corps of Engineers.

The village had been working with the Army Corps to create a proposal to replenish the community’s eroding beaches, but part of the plan included creating public access points at certain private properties, which many residents rejected.

Mayor Greg Letica wrote in a letter to residents that the decision to no longer go forward with the plan was a result of surveying residents and opinions from public hearings.

“I was not surprised by the outcome because this is what the residents wanted,” Letica said in a phone interview. “It was a combination of the public access points, the liability and the cost.”

According to Letica, residents would have been liable for any injuries or mishaps that happened when the public was on the shoreline of the property — if new public access points had been created.

The village would have been expected to pay 10.5 percent of the $21.5 million cost for the initial placement of sand, and then 15 percent of the future sand placement costs, which were left undefined.

Back in December, village officials looked over the results of a public survey where it was revealed 85 percent of the 427 surveyors were against moving forward with the plan. Ninety percent of the homeowners that own Long Island Sound beach property that responded were opposed. If the remaining homes on the Sound property all responded with approval of going ahead, opposition would still be at 73 percent. Half of the beach lot owners in Asharoken responded.

“The responding property owners sent a comprehensive, resounding, unambiguous and nearly unanimous message to the board of trustees — we do not want to do the ASDRP,” Letica said in the letter. “You were heard loud and clear.”

Village trustees said repeatedly during previous board meetings they wouldn’t approve a plan without resident approval, and Letica said he was grateful for resident participation throughout the process.

“I would like to sincerely compliment the residents of Asharoken for their participation in the process to help guide the board of trustees in their decision on the ASDRP,” he said. “You were engaged every step of the way, provided very helpful insight into aspects of the plan that otherwise may have gone unnoticed, communicated passionately to the board about how you felt, responded to the survey in very high numbers and provided polite, concise and clear comments at the public hearing. Everyone who took time to be involved in this historic decision should be proud of their efforts.”

The village originally entered an agreement with the Army Corps in 2001 to perform a Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, but it did not obligate the village to move forward with any of the proposals suggested. The resolution was approved with a 4-0 vote, with Trustee Laura Burke being absent.

In previous meetings, some residents expressed the need for a plan to protect the beaches.

“We need to protect the beaches,” Asharoken resident Christine Peterson said in a previous interview. “I understand the residents that don’t want to give access to their private property, but I think this is something we need to do. It’s not like we’re opening up a new beach and expect many new visitors to come and use it.”

Cedar Beach file photo

To help residents keep cool during the extreme heat wave, Brookhaven Town will extend hours at municipal pools and beaches on Friday, Aug. 12 and Saturday, Aug. 13.

The town’s Centereach and Holtsville pools will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook, Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai and Corey Beach in Blue Point will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Normal operating hours at all facilities will resume on Sunday, Aug. 14.

For more information, call 451-TOWN or visit www.Brookhaven.org.

U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner and town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro at Sills Gully Beach following the revitalization. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) announced the completion of repairs intended to protect, restore and strengthen Sills Gully Beach in Shoreham, after it was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“The revitalization project at Sills Gully is one of a dozen North Shore surface water quality protection projects the highway department has undertaken since I took office,” Losquadro said. “I want to thank Congressman Zeldin for expediting the federal funding necessary to complete this project and ensure the resilience of our shoreline.”

“Preventing storm water runoff from entering the Long Island Sound this is a victory for the residents of Shoreham and the environment.”

— Jane Bonner

In order to reduce risk of damage from future storm events, members of the Brookhaven highway department completely removed the ineffective gabion basket walls, replacing them with 160 feet of steel bulkhead with stone-toe protection to prevent scouring. The bulkhead — which now protects areas of the bluff that have experienced significant levels of erosion in the past — has a longer life span than the gabion walls and will better protect from future disasters.

“The completion of restoration at Sills Gully Beach is an excellent example of different levels of government working together for the benefit of our community,” Bonner said. “I have been diligently working on this issue since the damage was caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and I am extremely happy to see these necessary repairs come to fruition. By preventing storm water runoff from entering the Long Island Sound, this is a victory for the residents of Shoreham and the environment. I want to thank Congressman Zeldin and Superintendent Losquadro for working with me to make this happen.”

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro points out the new improvements his department made to protect the area. Photo from Town of Brookhaven
Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro points out the new improvements his department made to protect the area. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

As a result of these mitigation measures and to comply with Tidal Wetlands and Clean Water Act permits, the department included upgrades to the existing storm water system by installing a new bioretention area where storm water naturally collects. This bioretention area consists of two, 12-foot deep leaching basins and an 8-foot wide trash rack to capture storm water and transport it through nearly 400 feet of 48-inch, smooth, interior-corrugated polyethylene pipe for natural dissipation. Additionally, a rock-lined drainage swale was constructed along the length of the parking lot to collect any remaining runoff. These upgrades will ensure that polluted storm water is not directly entering the Long Island Sound.

The project was funded with an $875,000 federal grant secured by Zeldin through FEMA.

“Once Brookhaven Town received the necessary federal funding to make repairs at Sills Gully Beach and Gully Landing Drainage Facility, the town was able to complete this important project,” said Zeldin, who is also a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “This revitalization project will help protect, restore and strengthen Sills Gully Beach in Shoreham and the overall quality of water in our local area, and I am proud to join with Superintendent Losquadro and Councilwoman Bonner to announce the completion of this project.”

Village kayak racks at Centennial Park beach don't provide enough space to meet demand. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Before the boating season gets into full swing, officials are trying to agree on what to do about people who leave their kayaks strewn on Port Jefferson beaches without a permit.

During a recent trip to the beach at the end of Crystal Brook Hollow Road, village Trustee Larry LaPointe saw “there were five licensed kayaks on the rack and 20 on the ground scattered over the entire area, some chained up to trees, most of them just laying there,” he said during a recent board of trustees meeting.

In April, the village held its annual lottery to determine which residents would get to use its kayak racks at that beach, which is located on Mount Sinai Harbor, and the beach at Centennial Park, on Port Jefferson Harbor.

“All of the slots were accounted for” in the lottery, LaPointe said, “so that means most of the people who won the lottery haven’t put their kayaks down there yet.”

There are signs at the beaches warning that kayaks must be properly stored in racks, yet there are still many left unattended. To solve the issue, a code proposal would give the head of public works authority to remove unpermitted vessels that have been left unattended for 48 hours, Village Attorney Brian Egan explained at the meeting. The village clerk would give notice that the boat was removed, with a description of the vessel, and after 30 days unclaimed it would be considered abandoned.

At that point, Egan said, the village would be able to sell or otherwise dispose of it. And LaPointe said there could be an annual auction of the abandoned vessels.

“And what do I do when some of [the owners] come to kill me?” Trustee Bruce Miller joked, referring to potentially angry kayak owners confronting public works Superintendent Steve Gallagher.

The trustees also discussed kayaks being unmarked with ownership information.

“What happens when they say, ‘That’s my kayak,’ and the other guy says, ‘No, that’s my kayak,’” Trustee Bruce D’Abramo said.

“How do you prove that’s your kayak when there’s no marks,” LaPointe agreed.

D’Abramo replied, “Yep, I could get a free kayak.”

As the code would allow the village to charge those picking up impounded vessels with the costs of removal, storage and the price of the clerk’s public notification, another question raised was what the “reasonable costs” referenced in the proposed code would entail.

Mayor Margot Garant said she hoped to have a list of recommended fees by the time the matter went up for a public hearing at the board meeting on June 6.

Centennial Park beach is located on the Port Jefferson Harbor. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Join local environmental group Coastal Steward for a beach cleanup on Saturday, May 28, and help keep the North Shore beautiful.

Volunteers are meeting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Centennial Park in downtown Port Jefferson. Snacks, water, gloves and garbage bags will be provided, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own sunscreen and tick protection.

It is recommended that participants wear clothes and shoes that they would not mind getting wet or dirty.

Centennial Park is located behind the Port Jefferson Village Center, off East Broadway and next to the Port Jefferson Yacht Club.

Volunteers should register at www.coastalsteward.org by clicking on the release form, under the beach cleanup program, filling it out and bringing it to the event. Community service credit is available.

For more information, contact Pat at 631-334-6824.

Sills Gully Beach scattered with litter. File photo

Federal dollars are giving Sills Gully Beach and Gully Landing face-lifts.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced that Brookhaven Town will receive $2,275,000 in federal funding to repair Sills Gully Beach in Shoreham and the town’s Gully Landing Road drainage facility in Miller Place, which were severely damaged due to high winds, heavy rains and the tidal surge during both Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“Working closely with the Brookhaven Town finance department, Brookhaven highway department, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the New York State department of homeland security, my staff and I were able to successfully expedite the necessary federal funding to make critical repairs to Sills Gully Beach and Gully Landing Drainage Facility,” said Zeldin, who is a member of the House of Representatives’ transportation and infrastructure committee, in a press release. “As a result, Brookhaven Town will now be able to make renovations to protect, restore and strengthen the beach, so that Long Islanders can enjoy its beauty for generations to come.”

The funding will be used to repair and reinforce the bluffs by installing a bulkhead. According to town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), the drainage systems and shoreline protection at the locations had been so severely damaged that it was no longer serving its primary function.

Hurricane Sandy “was not only a South Shore event — our North Shore communities were affected as well, and Sills Gully Beach and Gully Landing Road were particularly hit hard,” he said. “I thank Congressman Zeldin for securing the funds so we can finally begin work to repair the damage so residents can once again safely enjoy this popular recreation spot.”

The funding will also be used to upgrade the existing stormwater drainage system.

“We were able to finally cut through the bureaucratic red tape after years of inaction and allocate the necessary federal funding to modernize our stormwater infrastructure and repair badly eroded bluffs, protecting the endangered surface waters of the Long Island Sound,” town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said. “Shoreline protection projects such as these are critical in our efforts to maintain our shoreline and ensure its resilience.”

The federal grant was secured through FEMA. The funding is being provided under authority of Section 406 of the Robert T. Stafford Act and will be granted directly to New York State.

“I appreciate the hard work of Congressman Zeldin, the Town of Brookhaven, the highway department and Councilwoman Jane Bonner [R] have done for our community to get this project approved,” said Marc Mazza, a board member of the Miller Place Park Homeowners Association. “I offer my heartfelt thanks.”

Community clubs and organizations were just excited to see the beach restored for local enjoyment.

“We are very, very grateful,” said Jennifer Juengst, a board member of the Shoreham Shore Club. “The funding obtained with Congressman Zeldin’s efforts are a lifeline for the health of this North Shore beach and will ensure that future generations of beachgoers will enjoy safe summers for years to come.”

This version replaces an incorrect photo.

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