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Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine

Ken LaValle officially announced he would not be running for reelection Jan 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

State. Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), 80, has been a fixture in New York’s 1st District for more than four decades. At an event held for him at the Village Center in Port Jefferson Jan. 10, the crowd of gathered officials and friends said goodbye to the elder statesman the only way they knew how — in a standing ovation that lasted well over a minute.

Sen. Ken LaValle joined with his wife and daughter Jan. 10 in announcing he would not be seeking reelection. Photo by Kyle Barr

“The best part of the job is the people, those who come into your office looking for help,” the 44-year statesman said in a speech that saw him choked up at several points. “What a thing — to be able to
help people.”

The news broke Wednesday, Jan. 8, that LaValle would not be seeking reelection.

A common refrain of “1st District first,” was shared continuously throughout the Friday gathering, joined by a real “who’s who” of public officials on the East End, including reps from town, county and state, as well as local community and party leaders.

Jesse Garcia, the Suffolk County Republican chairman, said LaValle represented his district so well he will be a hard man to replace. Garcia knew of the senator from the age of 14, he said, and had knocked on doors for the senator along with his father.

“Nobody can really fill LaValle’s shoes,” he said.

Some begged the senator, half-jokingly, to reconsider.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said the senior senate member had been one of the hardest workers for his district. LaValle was at the forefront of preserving over 100,000 acres of land in the Pine Barrens, and Englebright has worked with the senator on many projects since then. At that time, Democratic Assembly member Tom DiNapoli, who is now state comptroller, worked with LaValle in establishing the Pine Barrens Protection Act back in 1993.

“Most of his work has been achieved,” DiNapoli said. “Your example we will all continue to point to, which was beyond partisanship.”

Englebright stressed his colleague’s term is not yet over, and he hopes he can work with LaValle on preserving several hundred acres of woodland currently surrounding the defunct Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, land, he said, that is so pristine and ancient it “has never been touched by a steel plow.”

For his past and present role in preservation, the senior assemblyman said it went beyond a partnership.

“I would use the word ‘indispensable,’ but it’s not adequate,” Englebright said.

When speaking on his legacy, local officials mainly pointed to two things: His support of the environment and preservation efforts, and his support of schools, including growing the SUNY system and particularly noting Stony Brook University has been built up over the past several decades under his watch and support. His name adorns the sports stadium.

State Sen. John Flanagan and Ken LaValle Jan. 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

Englebright shared the sentiment that LaValle’s support went down to the most unsuspected, including the building of the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center. Other members of the SBU community said they were both congratulatory and sad that the senior senator was set to retire within a year.

“He has been a tireless champion for Stony Brook University and a staunch advocate for higher education support,” said SBU Interim President Michael Bernstein in a statement. “Stony Brook has advanced significantly thanks to his leadership and deep commitment to our students, our patients and our region.”

Port Jefferson Village mayor, Margot Garant, said LaValle has been in office since she was young, and was a consistent aid to Port Jeff. She added that it was with LaValle’s eventual support that the Village Center, which was built under then-mayor and Garant’s mother, Jeanne Garant. The center was also where the senator hosted his official retirement announcement.

“He listened to everyone,” she said. “He shows that things get accomplished with time.”

Other local legislators knew him for his general support of their districts. Brookhaven Town supervisor, Ed Romaine (R), said the senator had gone out of his way to bridge divides and work for the people of the district. He said he hopes the next person to secure the district will “be one who will advocates for the people of [state Senate District 1].”   

“It’s not the barbs or criticism, it’s not the tweets, it’s reaching out to both parties to get things done,” he said.

Brookhaven town hall. File photo

By Monica Gleberman

Town of Brookhaven residents were in for a shock the day before new years, after the town posted on its website that the sanitation company, Quickway, abruptly broke its contract Dec. 31 saying it would no longer be doing pickups in multiple areas throughout Brookhaven.

Brookhaven officials said they were given notice at noon on December 31 that Ronkonkoma-based Quickway Sanitation would no longer honor their contract to collect residents trash from areas they serviced in Brookhaven; including portions of Shoreham, Rocky Point, Port Jefferson Station, Farmingville, East Patchogue and Manorville.

“Quickway carting was one year into a multi-year contract where they were the successful bidder for residential refuse and recycling services,” town officials said in a statment. “Town of Brookhaven intends to pursue every available legal option as a result of this carter’s unacceptable actions.”

Officials added the town is working with other local carting companies to put contingency plans in place.

The Town of Smithtown also had contracts under Quickway, which concurrently voided its garbage carting with them New Year’s eve.

Within 24 hours of its original message, Brookhaven town had a new post on its website that it had entered into emergency award agreements with several local companies to immediately “provide coverage for garbage pick-up in the seven garbage collection districts affected by the carter who broke their contract with the town.”

Kevin Molloy, spokesperson for Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), said the new contract is only for the time-being.

“The contracts were emergency contracts so they are for the short term,” he said. “For the long term, we will be looking at the second highest bidders and making sure any changes we make keeps us in compliance with New York State laws. We will keep residents informed as the information comes in.”

Smithtown also held an emergency meeting and signed a one-year procurement contract with Brothers Waste to takeover Quickway’s route in St. James and Smithtown.

Quickway did not respond to phone calls for comment.

Molloy said that the town has received “normal to low cals” to its waste management office as of today.

Multiple community Facebook groups spread the message of the company having voided its contract. Some residents complained of Quickway’s past policies. The release said all companies it reached out to have worked with Brookhaven in the past and service would continue as normal with regular pickups on Thursday, but did ask residents to be patient with this transitional process.

“Because they will be new to these service areas, we ask residents in these areas to be patient as they learn these routes. Please call 451-TOWN if your garbage has not been collected by late afternoon.”

This post will be updated when more information becomes available.

This post was updated Jan. 2 to include quotes from Kevin Molloy. This post was updated Jan. 3 to include information on Smithtown garbage services. 

Brookhaven town hall. File photo

The Brookhaven Town board passed Nov. 19 its $312.9 million budget also establishing its capital budget plan for the next four years. 

The budget is a nearly $10 million increase from last year’s $302 million, but officials have said there would only be a small increase in property taxes.

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) praised the budget for not dipping into the town’s fund balance, or its rainy-day funds, and for staying under the 2 percent state tax cap.

The board unanimously voted to amend the two budgets at the Nov. 19 meeting. Town Chief of Operations Matt Miner said those amendments were cases of overestimating or underestimating revenues from specific items. Other areas were changed to make the final document budget neutral.

“There were no changes to the overall budget or the tax levy,” Miner said.

New budget capital projects comes in at $43.9 million, which is $14.6 million less than 2019. The town budget eliminates $15.8 million in pension debt and $30.1 million in “pipeline” debt, which is money left over from the closed bond projects, either unused or unappropriated.

“The budget meets my original three-point plan to reduce deficit spending,” Romaine said. “All funds are in compliance with the fund balance policy.”

The 2020-24 capital budget sets up public improvement projects established via bonds and reserves. This includes $26.4 million for the Highway Department, comprised of road repairs, drainage, traffic safety, facilities and machinery/equipment. This is in addition to a $5 million increase for road resurfacing in the operating budget from $10 million to $15 million.

Elected officials will also see a small raise in annual pay. Council members will receive a $1,446 increase to $73,762, while the supervisor will be bumped by $2,398 to $122,273. The highway superintendent salary is set at $121,515. Town clerk and tax receiver will each receive around $2,000 in increases. Elected officials have seen an approximate $2,000 pay increase over the past few years.

Ed Romaine the night of Nov. 5, 2019.

The race for Brookhaven town supervisor was called before the final votes were tallied, with the night ending with Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) racking up 51,155 votes to Democratic challenger Will Ferraro’s 31,113 votes.

Romaine went on stage to thank the town for an “overwhelming mandate,” of the town board.

Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) the night of Nov. 5. Photo by Kyle Barr

“We are going to go back to work tomorrow,” he said. “The reason we ran is so we can govern, to move Brookhaven forward so we can fix its finances, help its AAA bond rating, get rid of the zombie homes and do all the things that are necessary to build a better town.”

In a phone interview after the night was called, Ferraro congratulated Romaine on his election, but urged the incumbent to listen to resident’s criticisms of the town’s recycling policies and road infrastructure. He added he will continue to be a community organizer in the local area and plans to get involved with his local school board. He added he did not plan on running for another office at least until after next year.

“I ran on 100 percent what I believe in, with every fiber of my being,” he said. “I have no regrets.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) defeated her challenger, Coram Democrat Sarah Deonarine with around 62 percent of the vote to 38 percent.

Though last year’s referendum to give town councilmembers a four-year term, Bonner said it will mean elected officials can focus on long term projects, especially “environmental based projects.”

Deonarine said campaigning was strenuous and difficult.

“If I could pull it off anybody can,” she said. “So, I hope other people follow in the footsteps. I’ve met amazing people. We started something new and we’re really hoping for a better Brookhaven in the future.”

She doesn’t plan to run for office again but is interested in the behind the scenes work and helping future candidates, saying there’s no existing playbook.

“I learned so much that was not given to me when I started.”

Kevin LaValle the night of Nov. 5, 2019. Photo by Kyle Barr

In the battle of Port Jeff Station neighbors, with Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) against her challenger Tracy Kosciuk, a nurse running on the Republican ticket, the town board’s lone Democrat won with 57 percent of the vote.

Cartright said she plans to focus on completing land use plans in the Three Village area and Port Jefferson Station and working on the cottages at West Meadow Beach among other initiatives.

“I’m looking forward to completing the process on all of these initiatives that we’ve embarked upon in the community,” she said.

Kosciuk said that even with her loss, she “still won in many ways,” by “making my opponent more responsive to everyone in the council district, rather than specific pockets.” She added she hopes her opponent works toward revitalization efforts and on the zombie homes issue.

In the Middle Country area, incumbent Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) won with 65 percent of the vote against his Democratic challenger, social justice activist Talat Hamdani.

The incumbent thanked his constituents, and said he plans to continue bringing more business into the Middle Country area and finalize work on the Selden Park Complex.

Hamdani wasn’t available for comment.

In the race for town highway supervisor, Dan Losquadro (R) beat his Democratic challenger Anthony Portesy with 48,624 votes to the Democrat’s 34,514.

Losquadro thanked Garcia and said he was “overwhelmed by the mandate” of the voters.

“They see the progress we have made in Brookhaven,” he said. “They have seen the efforts and results that are possible when we work together. The results of this election will allow us to plan long term.”

Portesy said he ran a good race and thanked all his supporters who came out for him.

“Overall, we fought a good race … If anything, I’ve forced a level of accountable the highway department hasn’t seen in decades,” he said. “There was a level of energy in this cycle in 2019 that we didn’t see in 2017 and that’s really going to build going into 2020 as we go into the congressional and presidential races.”

Dom Pascual, a Democrat, took on Lou Marcoccia (R) for receiver of taxes, but voters went again for the incumbent with the Republican making near 60 percent of the vote.

“We cared, and we listened,” Marcoccia said.

Pascual said he thought they put on a strong campaign.

“I’m a [Democratic] district leader so I’m going to continue to recruit people,” he said. “We’re not going away no matter what. I ran in 2017, it was just me, and this time around we recruited over 50 people. Demographics are in our favor, there’s more Democrats moving into Brookhaven than Republicans, so I think eventually things will change.”

David Luces and Rita J. Egan contributed reporting.

Ed Romaine. Photo by Kyle Barr

As the Town of Brookhaven is the closest level of government to residents, the supervisor position requires a person who can look at each hamlet as its own entity, while also looking at the whole.

We at TBR News Media believe Ed Romaine (R) has done that well, and for that reason TBR News Media is choosing to endorse Ed Romaine to continue his role as supervisor.

It’s a shame Will Ferraro (D) has chosen such a candidate like Romaine to run against. We enjoyed his energy and passion and believe his head and heart are in the right place. We sincerely hope he continues to run in local elections. We see him as another one to watch in the future.

We do like some of the Democratic challenger’s plans, especially concerning a capped pay-as-you-throw system toward trash. Romaine, however, has done a good degree of due diligence in banking $12 million for when the landfill finally closes in 2024. Garbage will become Long Island’s top issue in only a few years’ time, and officials should start getting a concrete plan now, rather than later, for what Brookhaven will do with residents’ trash. 

Romaine’s track record on environment and green energy issues has been commendable, and we hope his plans for the CCA program and any other future plans to reduce residents’ tax burdens will go a long way to keeping people in the Town of Brookhaven.

Ed Romaine (R) and Will Ferraro (D) are looking for town residents’ votes come Nov. 5. Photos by Rita J. Egan

The race for Town of Brookhaven supervisor sees one candidate with years of electoral experience facing a young newcomer who says he’s representing those in town who have been ignored by government the past several years.

Seven-year town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) is facing Democratic challenger, first-time candidate and Selden political activist Will Ferraro. While the incumbent cites his efforts over the past seven years, including his work on getting control of Brookhaven’s budget and the push toward clean energy, Ferraro is pushing hard on recycling and trash issues, as well as keeping young people on Long Island.

Romaine said the town has made huge strides toward clean energy in the past several years, including incorporating wind and solar technology at Town Hall in Farmingville. 

“You had a year, a year and a half, where that market had been collapsing and the town just waited.”

— Will Ferraro

Recently, a new offshore wind project, Sunrise Wind, has plans to create an offshore wind farm off Montauk, and plans to have a home base in Port Jefferson Harbor. Romaine claimed he had been a big proponent of that project and will have a large impact on it going forward.

“I’m not a proponent of fossil fuel,” Romaine said.

Ferraro criticized the town’s movement on the Caithness II plant, which has since stalled, though Romaine said he had voted against the plant.

More eyes have turned toward Brookhaven’s waste management and recycling since the market crashed in 2018, leading the town’s recycling contractor, Green Stream Recycling, to void its contract. Brookhaven has switched from single-stream to dual-stream recycling and has asked residents to drop glass off at 21 points in the town instead of picking it up at curbside.

The Democratic challenger criticized the supervisor for not seeing the writing on the wall when it came to the recycling market and single-stream recycling.

“Where I find problem is that [the Town] waited and tried running out 20-plus year contract with Green Stream,” Ferraro said. “You had a year, a year and a half, where that market had been collapsing and the town just waited.”

He advised the town should look into a pay-as-you-throw program, which would lessen the cost of people’s trash bill for those who turn out less trash. He said he would cap the cost of people’s bills to where it currently sits at $350, enticing people to throw out less. He added he would want to return to glass pickup once every two weeks or once a month.

Romaine said such a program might work in the long term, but believed it would lead to illegal dumping, which he added was already a huge problem in Brookhaven. 

The town’s landfill has long been a hot spot for controversy. The landfill currently only accepts ash and construction debris. All garbage is taken to a plant outside of town, while the ash is returned to the landfill. Current plans see Brookhaven capping the landfill by 2024. Romaine said closing the location will be a net loss for the town but suspects they will not take a large hit. Otherwise, Brookhaven, along with other townships that dump their ash at the Brookhaven landfill, still needs to decide where that trash will go once the last landfill on Long Island is closed.

“This is not a Brookhaven problem, this is a regional problem,” Romaine said.

People around the landfill have long complained about the odor from it, and many claim they have experienced negative health effects from living close to it. Ferraro criticized the town for not doing more to research what could be causing such effects or doing air testing during an odor event and called for an air quality task force for the area.

Romaine said a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation does testing every day, and they have no research that qualitates the landfill has resulted in these negative health effects at the nearby school district.

“Health to me is the most important thing,” Romaine said. “If we knew there was something, we would have stopped.”

Recent years have shown people, both young and old, moving off the Island due to high property taxes. While both candidates agreed the majority of taxes come from the local school districts, Ferraro said the most important thing is to attract industries that provide jobs, while working on town infrastructure to get people to those jobs. He suggested that Brookhaven should look into some sort of limited public transportation system, similar to Huntington’s Area Rapid Transit system.

“Health to me is the most important thing.”

— Ed Romaine

He agreed with Romaine on a lack of multifamily housing but said some residents are being heard more than others. 

“A lot of NIMBY [not in my backyard] is being pandered to,” the challenger said. “A lot of their concerns are valid, some are not … We need a comprehensive approach. It’s one thing to have $1,800 rent, but when you talk about transportation costs, other factors than just rent that play into that.”

Romaine said he and fellow council members have done a good job in securing large industries to the town, such as Amneal Pharmaceuticals, which brought a facility to Yaphank with several hundred jobs earlier this year. He added the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency has been key in bringing jobs like these to the area. He also cited intent to lessen the cost of gas and electricity by allowing the town to purchase those resources on behalf of its residents through a Community Choice Aggregation program.

Ferraro said many of those jobs created through the IDA were temporary construction jobs. Though some residents have complained about some of the tax breaks some of these developments have received, such as the Engel Burman-owned senior facility currently going up in Mount Sinai for only providing around 50 full-time employees after the facilities finally open. Romaine agreed that the IDA should avoid multifamily housing unless its “affordable.” He said he was opposed to the IDA giving tax breaks to the Heatherwood apartment complex in Port Jefferson Station and South Setauket, which were ultimately rejected. 

Port Jeff currently looking at more than 10 zombie homes

The Town of Brookhaven and Port Jefferson village have launched numerous intermincipal agreements over the past year. File Photos

A new intermunicipal agreement between the village and town could mean more zombie homes in Port Jeff may have a larger target on their heads. 

The boarded-up house at 49 Sheep Pasture Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

At its Oct. 3 meeting, the Brookhaven Town board voted unanimously to enter into an intermunicipal agreement to let town workers assist, if requested, with demolition projects and then dispose of the waste at the town’s landfill in Brookhaven hamlet.

Under the agreement, Port Jefferson would pay the expenses of inspecting the property, demolition and carting away the debris.

In previous meetings, the village identified little more than 10 zombie homes in the village boundaries. These colloquially named “zombie homes” are derelict houses that have slowly started to degrade where the owner is absent. The village’s Zombie Task Force, run by the constabulary, goes weekly to these houses to check in, looking to see if there are vagrants or squatters at the premises and checking for other illicit activity.

Mayor Margot Garant said this will mean shearing costs for the village.

“Tremendous savings for us, because we can just call it in and schedule it, instead of going out to bid and doing everything like that,” she said. “If it works out, it will be great.” 

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said the agreement will mean the town’s engineers that usually inspect these derelict houses, Hauppauge-based Cashin Spinelli & Ferretti, will inspect homes in Port Jefferson upon request and report to the village. Then, depending on the decision by the board after a public hearing, a vote to demolish will mean either Brookhaven employees will demolish the home, or a private company will be contracted in the case where asbestos is on the premises. The area will be cleared, and debris taken to the town landfill. The village will then have to put a lien on the property for any unpaid taxes and for the cost of demolition.

Costs range on average from $25,000 to $40,000, depending on the size and type of home being demolished, according to the supervisor.

“It helps reduce the overall cost of government.”

— Ed Romaine

Romaine said this is just one deal in a long line of 35 intermunicipal agreements between the Brookhaven and smaller municipalities such as Port Jefferson Village for close to a year. The town has made these deals as part of a $20M Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency grant from New York State. Other agreements have included plowing snow in the Village of Shoreham and completing road repairs in the Village of Patchogue.

“We have contracts and things of that nature that they can benefit from, and we’re happy to help with that,” he said. “It helps reduce the overall cost of government.”

Recently the village announced it would be working on two zombie homes, one on Sheep Pasture Road and another at Nadia Court. The former was soon found to be a nearly 300-year-old historic structure, and the village has promised not to touch the property while local historians and New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) work to find ways to preserve it, though the difficulty comes from the owner, Jericho-based Tab Suffolk Acquisitions, not responding to any calls or having a set location. 

While the village has not made any move on the property, other than to continue to board it up and monitor for vagrancy, Garant said the village is not willing to pick up the tab for any restoration, citing the costs associated with fixing up the Drowned Meadow House.

“Until you find a full-time [caretaker] for [the house], it’s going to be a big challenge,” she said. 

This is just one in a line of intermunicipal agreements between the village and town. Earlier this year the town and village announced a new intermunicipal agreement to consolidate property tax collections. The village has also worked out an agreement over salt and sand between the two municipalities.

The article that appeared in the Oct. 24 edition of the Port Times Record inaccurately reported the number of zombie homes in Port Jeff. We regret the error.

Brookhaven town hall. File photo

The Town of Brookhaven outlined the first steps toward creating a program that could lower gas and electric rates for homeowners at a public hearing Oct. 3. 

Town officials are considering creating a Community Choice Aggregation or CCA, which is an energy program that allows local governments to buy electricity and gas on behalf of its residents.

In a presentation to the Town Board, Matt Miner, town chief of operations, outlined how the program could be beneficial to residents. 

Essentially, CCA is a municipal energy procurement model that replaces the utility companies as the default supplier. It can be used for either gas or electricity.  

“The suppliers, National Grid and PSEG, would still be responsible for energy delivery and billing,” Miner said. “The advantages of a CCA is pooling those demands and allow us to negotiate lower rates for residents.”

The town chief of operations added it would allow Brookhaven to pursue other clean energy programs. 

The next step in the program would be for the town to begin to work with its eight villages to see if they wanted to participate in the CCA. From there, the town would seek to appoint a program administrator. 

“[The] CCA administrator would then seek bids from energy services companies to obtain competitive rates for residents on behalf of the town,” Miner said. “They would be responsible with creating a data projection and implementation plan.”

CCA is an opt-out program, so residents are not bound by a contract and can go back to their original supplier if they chose to do so. 

The CCA program was created by the New York State Public Service Commission in April 2016. Westchester was the first New York county, through the Sustainable Westchester consortium, to launch the CCA program under Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). If successful, Brookhaven will join more than 50 municipalities in the state to enact legislation to begin a CCA including the towns of Hempstead and Southampton on Long Island. 

Miner said if the bids and rates aren’t competitive then the town doesn’t have to move forward with the program. 

“I want to be clear, this only goes forward if we can save all the residents and businesses in Brookhaven money” 

– Supervisor Ed Romaine

The town would first pursue competitive rates for gas and then would move on to electricity. According to town officials it could take about a year to implement the program. Bid contracts could last from two to four years.  

George Hoffman, a vice president of the Three Village Civic Association, said at the public hearing he supports the town’s initiative to adopt the CCA and believes it moves them closer to clean energy.

“It’s about time we started to take back some local control over our energy future,” he said. “We all thought then, when LIPA was created, we would be starting to get back some of our local control of our energy policy, but that was taken away by Albany. I think this a good start in taking back our energy future.”

 

Sunrise Wind official speaks of ‘underutilized facilities’ in Port Jeff

Ken Bowes, a vice president at Eversource, talks of using Port Jeff as a headquarters. Photo by Kyle Barr

Imagine a field, not on land but on the open ocean — not of green plants topped with colorful flowers, but of huge, 800-foot towers topped with spinning, white wind blades.

That is what officials from two companies and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority asked Brookhaven Town residents to envision. At a public meeting hosted at Town Hall Sept. 17. Plans are for two offshore wind projects, located off the East End and South Shore of Long Island. Eventually, the wind farms will provide close to 1,700 megawatts of energy to Long Island, powering 1 million homes and generating up 30 percent of New York’s power capacity by 2035, according to NYSERDA officials.

One offshore wind project, Sunrise Wind, a combined venture with U.S.-based Eversource and Denmark-based Ørsted, is of special interest to Brookhaven Town and the Village of Port Jefferson. The companies have announced its intent to use Port Jefferson Harbor as a headquarters and base of operations for not only this upcoming project, but for offshore wind across the Eastern Seaboard.

Ken Bowes, the vice president of offshore wind siting and permitting at Eversource, said they are currently working with local realtors, as suggested to them by Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. The business is searching for warehouse and office space in the local area. He said they are looking for space in close proximity to the village, though finding a suitable location within the village boundaries will likely be difficult.

He said he expects around 50 full-time employees will work on the vessel the company uses to go out and provide maintenance and service the wind turbines, though they expect the project to supply 100 jobs over the planned 25-year lifespan of the turbines. These employees would stay on the vessel for weeks at a time before arriving back in Port Jeff, and he said the vessel should not interfere with the Port Jeff to Bridgeport ferry.

Representatives from Eversource and Orsted
presented plans for its offshore wind project at a Port Jeff Village meeting Sept. 17. Photo by Kyle Barr

If the plans pan out, Bowes said its ambitions are for Port Jefferson to be the headquarters for all work done for their company’s wind projects on the Eastern Seaboard, including current projects off Rhode Island and Massachusetts. 

“We may look to do this as a service for all of our projects and possibly for others as well,” he said. “We’ll see how that all unfolds.”

Sunrise Wind will encompass 110 wind turbines situated 30 miles off the coast of Montauk, and at full capacity will generate 880MW of electricity. Both projects, which include Empire Wind, are expected to be operational by 2024, according to current timelines. 

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said they are in support of renewable energy projects but said there are numerous questions that still need answered about how the projects will impact people, especially in terms of how it will affect fishing communities and in its cost to the surrounding communities.

“We all need to have clean renewable power — I think it’s more urgent than ever,” he said. “There’s a promise of not only clean power but also a little bit of economic opportunity.” 

Some major concerns have come from Long Island fishermen, who have said the planned wind projects could impact their business. Jennifer Garvey, the Long Island development manager at Ørsted, said there is no exclusion area for their project, and fishermen can get as close as they want to the turbines when fishing. Each turbine is planned to be spaced 1-mile apart east to west in a grid-like pattern, which, she said, will aid in navigation and in search and rescue operations.

In addition to the offshore wind projects, both Sunrise Wind and New York State say they plan to invest heavily in college-level training programs for people to work on offshore wind. Doreen Harris, vice president for large-scale renewables at NYSERDA, said the state has already invested around $20 million for an offshore wind training institute through the SUNY system. She described it as a hub-and-spokes model, where colleges and universities such as Stony Brook will contain centers for education and training in harnessing wind energy. For their part, Bowes said Sunrise Wind has already promised invested $10 million for a training program at Suffolk County Community College, though the college has not received any funds yet and details on the program remain sparse. The energy company vice president said they were still hashing out the details, adding more information will be available in the near future. 

Bowes said they chose Port Jefferson because of its deepwater harbor and its existing amenities. He also said they chose it due to its currently “underutilized infrastructure,” though when asked if that indicated the
LIPA-owned Port Jefferson Power Station, he declined to say. He did not wish to speak about Sunrise Wind.

The Sunrise Wind project is expected to be operational by 2024. Photo by Kyle Barr

“I can say we are looking at sites that would be natural for [the project,]” he said. 

The Port Jeff power plant, which recently settled in a tax certiorari agreement with the Town of Brookhaven over its tax assessments, has been running at low percentages for the past several years. It was only 11 percent in 2017, for example. In a previous Port Times article, LIPA said the reduction in taxes may help move the plant toward a clean energy recourse but has not provided more details on what that could entail.

The recently passed state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act calls for a transition to a carbon-free electric grid for New York by 2040. A LIPA spokesperson previously told TBR News Media the Port Jeff power plant will be more than 70 years old by 2030. LIPA has already decommissioned fossil-fuel power plants in Far Rockaway and Glenwood Landing. LIPA has also said Sunrise Wind is key to transitioning toward the state engineered clean energy milestones.

Adrienne Esposito, director of the environmental advocacy group Citizens Campaign for the Environment said the best-case scenario would be Ørsted and Eversource using the power plant.

“Think about the symbolism of repurposing a fossil fuel plant and transform it to something that will help wind power. How great would that be?”

This story has been amended Sept. 19 to say Sunrise Wind has promised $10 million for SCCC has been promised but not yet received.

The community is asking SUNY for a chance to sit at the table in selecting a new president. File photo

With the departure of Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. as Stony Brook University president July 31 and the appointment of Michael Bernstein as interim president, the school and the State University of New York have begun the process of finding a new permanent president. Elected officials and community groups have called on SUNY to include local representatives in the search committee and selection process.

Supervisor Ed Romaine during his State of the Town address. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Stony Brook University is one of the crown jewels of the SUNY system,” said Ed Romaine (R), Town of Brookhaven supervisor, in an Aug. 26 letter sent to Kristina Johnson, SUNY chancellor. 

Citing SBU as being ranked one of the top 35 public universities in the nation and a major health care provider for the community, Romaine described SBU as “an integral part of our community as an educational resource, employer and economic driver.”

“Because of this, I urge you to include at least two representatives from the community on your search committee for a new university president,” Romaine said.

The supervisor recommended eight different community groups that he felt had qualified individuals that could serve on the search committee.

“The president of the university is a huge part of the community. I believe the community should be invited to the search committee for the new president,” Romaine reiterated in an interview. “We have a lot of local issues, and there needs to be better communication between the university and the community.”

The Brookhaven supervisor brought up the issue of off-campus housing, particularly illegal rooming homes, which he acknowledged the school has worked with the town to crack down on landlords.

Romaine brought up traffic, especially the issues on Stony Brook, Oxhead and Nicolls roads.  

“I proposed to the county they consider making three lanes north and south from 347 to the university because that’s where it really jams up,” he said. “… The university is already working with us, but the best way to confirm that is to make sure the local community is represented.”

The Three Village Civic Association also sent Johnson a letter.

“We appreciate the many benefits of being the home community of a large world class university,” the association stated in the letter. “However, with those benefits come many challenges for our small community. We think it would be beneficial for the search committee to include a civic perspective that can help bridge the specific needs of the university with those of the surrounding community.”

“We have a lot of local issues, and there needs to be better communication between the university and the community.”

– Ed Romaine

University officials, said in a statement that SUNY board of trustees sets the procedure for the search and determines the mix of committee members. Members of the Stony Brook Council will be included who are also community members.

SUNY Guidelines for Conducting Presidential Searches require that the local college council, the Stony Brook Council, follow a prescribed process and submit names to the SUNY board for consideration.

The search committee would consist of four members of the local council, including the chair, seven members of the full-time teaching faculty of the campus, one undergraduate student, one graduate student, one alumni representative, two campus-related foundation representatives, one academic dean, one professional or support staff member, one incumbent or retired SUNY president from another campus or a member of the chancellor’s senior staff designated by the chancellor.

SBU said members are nominated by faculty, staff and students. The faculty then vote via a secret ballot on the seven faculty positions, and the rest of the positions are selected by the council chair from the list of nominees. 

Nominations for the committee took place over the summer, according to university officials. Voting on faculty representatives began on Aug. 26 and runs until Sept. 6. Once the faculty results are in, the council chair, Kevin Law, will finalize his selections and will convene the first search committee meeting. The first meeting will likely be in late September.

SUNY could not be reached for comment before press time.