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Brookhaven

Winter is here on the North Shore, and Brookhaven Town is upgrading their system to handle snow removal. FIle photo by Alex Petroski

The Town of Brookhaven is embracing the modern age to help prepare for severe weather.

With snowstorm season fast approaching, Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) is making it a whole lot easier to clear roadways with the roll out of a new app designed to help foremen streamline the process of contacting hired drivers and achieve efficiency through technology.

The “call-out app,” created by Losquadro and staff in the Division of Information Technology, will do away with the old system in which foremen had to go to their offices and make calls to each individual driver to confirm who was working, what town to respond to and what time their services would be needed. With 1,194 active snow removal vendors throughout the district, that process could take up to four hours — precious time that could be better spent plowing the streets.

A test done on Brookhaven Town Incident Management shows which vendors have and have not responded to call-outs. Image from Brookhaven Town

With the new app, drivers provide their cell phone numbers and email addresses, and from the comfort of their iPads or iPhones, foremen can simply send a text or email about the specifics of the job — what yard to report to, what equipment or vehicle to use, what time to start — and get instant yes or no responses as to who’s available to work.  Foremen are able to see, in real time, who is coming in, who isn’t, and can dictate how many total vendors will be in specific areas.

Address hyperlinks are also included, so with the click of a button, the driver is brought directly to a map with directions to the given job site.

By automating the process and having such an immediate call-out, snow removal vendors can get to roads faster by several hours, saving the Town and its residents time and money.

“There’s no reason government needs to be archaic and not operate with the same technology that we’re using everyday of our lives outside of government,” Losquadro said. “I’ve been striving to bring us into the modern age, and this is just another step toward that. This is technology that everyone is very comfortable and well-acquainted with. The app is going to make us more efficient; we can actually spend our time doing the work that needs to be done.”

Losquadro introduced and trained supervisors and field workers on a custom-built, electronic work order system last year, developed a system to track work orders during severe weather the year before that, and is currently in the process of making an electronic time sheet program that will keep track of work hours operational before the end of this snow season.

A test email of what a call-out would look like. Image from Brookhaven Town

He said he and the IT staff have been able to build these programs in-house, rather than go out to consultants and spend thousands of taxpayer dollars. From concept to reality, the call-out app took roughly four months to get off the ground and functions on an Apple-operating system, making it as user-friendly as possible. The app can run on desktop computers, tablets and iPhones.

Matt Sabatello, an IT staff member, said a test of the app was conducted in early December and feedback from foremen has been incredible.

“The app allows for better decision-making for foremen,” he said. “It gives them a good idea of which vendors are responding to work in what areas and, if need be, allows them to react immediately to reassign a vendor to an area that nobody may have been calling in about.”

With Brookhaven being such a large township, Losquadro said “there’s no reason we shouldn’t be leading the way.”

“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of ideas about what I’ve wanted to do, and being able to [see them through] has been very satisfying. The app is a fully live and operational system and, God willing, I won’t have to use it that much this year.”

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle, at center, is honored by Centereach VFW Post 4927 at its annual Gold Chevron Ball last month. File photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Daniel Dunaief

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) has worked on big projects in the 3rd Council District, although it is his ability to hone in on some of the smaller quality-of-life details that impressed Bram Weber, a partner with the Weber Law Group in Melville.

Weber worked with Kimco Realty, the owners of Independence Plaza mall in Selden, which recently brought in new tenants and renovated the property.

LaValle has “noticed things I may not have noticed the last time I was at the property,” Weber said. “He digs deep into the details of his job.”

Indeed, LaValle, whose last name has become synonymous with public service on Long Island, is earning his own admirers as he focuses on everything from rebuilding roads, to continuing construction on a new park in Selden, to improving the aesthetics and ease of shopping in his district, to searching for businesses to bring into the area and create jobs.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle, on right, welcomes paralyzed U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. William Ventura to his newly renovated and handicap-accessible home in Selden. File photo from Town of Brookhaven

For LaValle’s dedication to his work on behalf of his constituents, while maintaining a job as a mortgage loan originator at Lynx Mortgage Bank in Westbury, Times Beacon Record News Media names the councilman a 2016 Person of the Year.

“The fact that he can balance [his roles] is quite tremendous,” said Zahra Jafri, president of Lynx Mortgage Bank, who described LaValle as “honest, ethical and service-oriented.” LaValle “does what he says he’s going to do.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who has known LaValle for 12 years, said he dug in from the moment he was elected.

“It’s impressive what he’s been able to accomplish so quickly,” Bonner said.

Indeed, Bonner cited the work the third-year councilman did to help bring businesses to Selden’s Independence Plaza.

“We were able to work with the property owner and redevelop that site,” which now has a Rite Aid and a Guitar Center, LaValle said. Five Guys Burgers and Fries is expected to move in within the next six months. “I am always looking to work with property owners who have vacant stores to bring in new businesses, whether they be big-name companies or new businesses just getting started.”

LaValle, whose district includes Lake Grove, Centereach, Selden and parts of Lake Ronkonkoma, Farmingville and Coram, said it is a challenge to fill large sites, and is excited that Ocean State Job Lot moved into the former Pathmark site in Centereach and Best Market took over the former Waldbaums site in Selden.

He sees his role as creating a way to share the community’s perspective with business.

At town board meetings, LaValle honors a business of the month. He instituted that process when he first entered office. He chooses a business that is recommended by a community organization, such as the chamber of commerce, for supporting the community through charitable acts.

Bonner said the spotlight on these businesses also helps deliver the message to residents to shop locally, work with fellow business owners and the Chamber of Commerce.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle, on left, celebrated the Selden Dog Park festival in October with the unveiling of a memorial bench in honor of deceased police dog, Ace. File photo from Town of Brookhaven

“You can tell he knows these businesses and has visited them,” town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said. “He has taken a personal interest in knocking on doors and asking what’s going on, how can we help, and what is bothering you?”

Romaine has worked with LaValle on a sport complex in Selden that currently has what Romaine describes as two “world class” turf baseball fields, with dugouts, fencing and lights behind Grace Presbyterian Church.

LaValle was the “chief motivator and instigator in getting things moving” with this park, which sits behind Hawkins Path Elementary School, Romaine said. “He made sure everything stayed on the timetable we set.”

The park will be breaking ground soon on redeveloping a baseball field to a multipurpose field, which LaValle hopes will be done by the summer. In 2017, engineers will design the remaining part of the park as well as roadway improvements along Boyle Road and Hawkins Road to handle the additional traffic.

LaValle worked to redesign a planned dog park. He said he met with residents to talk about the park, which is divided into areas for large and small dogs, and hosted a public meeting.

LaValle worked with the owners of a batting cage site in Selden that was the regular target of graffiti. He put the property owner in touch with a security company in California that uses wireless, motion-activated cameras to take a video whenever someone walks on the property. This should reduce the number of false alarms police responded to with the other types of security systems, LaValle said. It will also help law enforcement catch those who are defacing the property.

LaValle said working as a councilman and a mortgage loan originator puts pressure on his schedule, which can require him to work 17 days in a row without a break.

“My family is understanding about my commitment,” he said. “If I show up late for a party, they get it. They understand what’s going on.”

His family has been down this road before. His cousin, Ken LaValle, has been a state senator (R-Port Jefferson) since 1976. Kevin’s brother, John Jay LaValle, is a former town supervisor and is the Suffolk County Republican Committee chairman.

“Invariably, someone comes to meetings and calls him Ken or John,” Bonner said. “He handles it really well. He has a good sense of humor about it.”

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle honors Centereach High School Student of the Month, Troy Lee, in October.

The councilman said each of the politicians in his family has his own style. He’s taken to the notion that working hard will bring good results.

Those who have seen LaValle in action believe he practices what he preaches.

“He’s a hard worker,” said Donna Lent, Brookhaven town clerk. “I don’t think it has anything to do with his name. I judge people by what they do.”

A resident of Selden, LaValle graduated from Centereach High School. He earned a bachelor of arts from Salisbury University in Maryland. Before running for office, he worked for then-county Legislator Dan Losquadro (R) as his chief of staff.

Bonner, who also worked for Losquadro before becoming a councilwoman seven years ago, described how LaValle’s high energy benefits everyone in the office.

“I can hear him when he’s on the phone with residents and constituents, while he’s trying to solve their problems, he’s so high energy that he’s bouncing a ball against the wall,” Bonner said.

Having LaValle as a member of the council has put a “spring in the step” of other council members. “It’s impossible not to have that [energy] affect you.”

As the liaison with the highway department, LaValle collaborated with Losquadro, who is now highway superintendent, to complete a 23-road paving project near Centereach High School and Dawnwood Middle School.

As LaValle learned from watching his brother and cousin, he knows that he’ll hear from members of his constituency wherever he goes.

LaValle is “deeply engaged with the community,” Romaine said. “It’s been a joy to work with him. He has no reticence to take the initiative.”

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Whether you plunged or supported a plunger, Long Islanders flocked to Mount Sinai’s Cedar Beach Nov. 19, dressing up and gathering together with teams to jump in and out of the cold waters as part of the Town of Brookhaven’s seventh annual Polar Plunge.

By registering to plunge, applicants raised money for the athletes of Special Olympics New York.

Special Olympics New York has 67,162 athletes training and competing year-round in 22 Olympics-style sports. Athletes and their families or caregivers are never charged to participate. It costs $400 to support training and competition for one athlete for one sports season.

Algae built up on a lake where birds and other marina life inhabit. File photo

By Rebecca Anzel

Long Island’s economic prosperity and quality of life are at risk from an unlikely source, but both the Suffolk County and Town of Brookhaven governments are taking steps to combat the issue.

Bodies of water in the county face nitrogen pollution, which leads to harmful algae blooms and a decrease in shellfish population, among other environmental defects. Critically, nitrogen seeps into the Island’s groundwater, which is the region’s only source of drinking water.

Fishing, tourism and boating are billion-dollar industries in Suffolk County — approximately 60 percent of the Island’s economy is reliant on clean water. County property values are also tied to water clarity, according to a Stony Brook University report.

Nitrogen enters ground and surface water from various sources of runoff, such as landscaping, agriculture and pet waste. But the largest contributor of nitrogen pollution is failing septic systems, which County Executive Steve Bellone (D) designated as “public water enemy No. 1.”

Elected officials and environmental advocates gathered at the home of Jim and Donna Minei, recipients of a Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems through the Suffolk County Septic Demonstration Pilot Program. Photo from Steve Bellone's office
Elected officials and environmental advocates gathered at the home of Jim and Donna Minei, recipients of a Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems through the Suffolk County Septic Demonstration Pilot Program. Photo from Steve Bellone’s office

Which is why Bellone signed into law last month a resolution that amended Suffolk County’s sanitary code to help protect the county’s aquifer and surface water by improving wastewater treatment technologies to combat nitrogen pollution as part of the county’s Reclaim Our Water initiative.

“It doesn’t help our tourism industry, our quality of life or our ecosystems,” county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said of issues with the Island’s water. “Tackling the nitrogen problem, while not a sexy issue, is a very important one.” Hahn is chairwoman of the county’s Environment, Planning & Agriculture Committee.

Town and county officials are tackling the problem by utilizing what Hahn called a “multipronged approach.” Brookhaven is working to track any issues with outfalls, where drains and sewers empty into local waters, and Suffolk County is employing alternative septic systems.

Municipalities like Brookhaven are required by New York State to inspect each point where waste systems empty into a body of water and create a map of their location. It is part of a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit because, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, storm sewers collect pollutants like bacteria, motor oil, fertilizer, heavy metals and litter, and deposit them directly into bodies of water.

In addition to conducting the inspections of outfalls necessary to comply with the MS4 permit, the Town of Brookhaven conducts a DNA analysis of any outfall that has indications of impacting water quality. Since 2007, Brookhaven has spent more than $880,000 on this state requirement, Veronica King, the town’s stormwater manager, said.

“You want to put your resources where it makes the most sense,” she said. “Instead of dumping millions of dollars into structural retrofits that don’t address the true problem, the DNA analysis helps us to prioritize and make educated and cost-effective decisions.”

Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said Brookhaven contracts with Cornell Cooperative Extension because it maintains a DNA “library” of Long Island wildlife, which it uses to identify the source of any pathogens in collected stormwater. For instance, if the DNA tests conclude they came from pets, Brookhaven might conduct an educational campaign to remind residents to clean up after their furry friends. If the pathogens come from a human source, there might be an issue with a septic system.

“This type of analysis could prove of great importance because any patterns identified as a result of this study can help determine what next steps can be taken to improve water quality where necessary,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said.

Brookhaven has applied for a state grant to help pay for these DNA tests and outfall inspections for the first time this year, because, King said, this is the first time New York State has offered a grant to cover the work.

The DNA tests are important, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said, because they help to identify ways to decrease the amount of nitrogen seeping into groundwater.

“The amount of nitrogen in the Magothy aquifer layer has increased over 200 percent in 13 years,” he said of one of the sub-layers that is most commonly tapped into in Suffolk, although not the deepest in the aquifer. “Cleaning up our waterways is not going to be done overnight — this is going to take a long time — but the waterways did not become polluted overnight.”

Suffolk County launched its Septic Demonstration Program to install cesspool alternative systems in 2014, called Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (known as I/A OWTS), on the property of participants. Manufacturers of the technology donated the systems and installed them at no cost to the homeowner.

The county’s goal in testing these alternative systems is to lower the levels of nitrogen seeping into groundwater. According to a June 2016 Stony Brook University report, “the approximately 360,000 septic tank/leaching systems and cesspools that serve 74 percent of homes across Suffolk County have caused the concentrations of nitrogen in groundwater to rise by 50 percent since 1985.”

More than 10,000 of the nitrogen-reducing systems are installed in New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — all areas with similar environmental concerns to Suffolk County — according to the county executive’s office. County employees met with officials from these states to help shape its program.

“Tackling the nitrogen problem, while not a sexy issue, is a very important one.”

—Kara Hahn

The I/A OWTS installations worked out so well during a demonstration program that on July 26, the county passed a resolution to allow the Department of Health Services to regulate their use.

Typical cesspools are estimated to cost between $5,000 and $7,000 to install. The low nitrogen systems cost between $12,000 and $20,000, Hahn said. She added that as more areas facing similar environmental concerns require lower nitrogen standards and, as the technology improves, the cost of cesspool alternatives will go down.

Until then, Hahn said county officials have been discussing the possibility of subsidizing the cost of installing the I/A OWTS. It might begin requiring new homes to install low-nitrogen systems instead of traditional cesspools. Or, upon an old system’s failure, it might require an I/A OWTS be installed.

“We hope to eventually be able to help in some way,” she said.

County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she hopes local businesses begin producing the alternative systems that the county determines best work for the area since it would “keep the economic dollar here” and provide jobs.

In January, Brookhaven will be the first town, Romaine said, that will begin mandating new constructions within 500 feet of any waterway to install an alternative wastewater treatment system.

“I think alternative systems work,” he said. “In many ways, even though we’re a local government, we are on the cutting edge of clean water technologies.”

Both the initiatives by Brookhaven and Suffolk County “go hand and glove,” George Hoffman, of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, said. Many of Suffolk’s harbors and bays are struggling due to stormwater and nitrogen pollution, including Great South Bay, Lake Ronkonkoma, Northport Harbor, Forge River, Port Jefferson Harbor, Mount Sinai Harbor and Peconic River/Peconic Bay.

“Living on an island on top of our water supply and with thousands of homes along the shores of our harbors and bays, it never made sense to allow cesspools to proliferate,” he said.

The success of the initiatives, though, depends on residents.

“The public needs to be always recognizing that whatever we do on land here on Long Island and in Suffolk County affects not only the drinking water beneath us but the quality of our bays and waterways, streams and rivers all around us,” Hahn said. “It’s critically important that folks have that understanding. Everything we do on land affects our water here on the Island.”

New Mobi-Mats make sand easier to navigate for those with wheelchairs, other mobility devices

Deputy Parks Commissioner Rob Maag, Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Aisha Grundmann, Supervisor Ed Romaine Jason Soricelli, Program Supervisor for Wheelchair Programs, and Alex Grundmann, stand on a new Mobi-Mat at Cedar Beach West in Mount Sinai. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Rebecca Anzel

Brookhaven is laying the groundwork to make its beaches more accessible to residents.

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) announced new sand surfacing mats, called Mobi-Mats, at Cedar Beach West in Mount Sinai and West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook.

“The mats open up opportunities that didn’t exist before for people that, whatever the reason, the sand was not easy to navigate,” Bonner said. “So often times they wouldn’t go to the beach.”

The nonslip, semi-rigid roll-up beach access mats, completely made from recycled polyester roll by New Jersey company Deschamps Mats Systems Inc., enable residents who are elderly or using wheelchairs, crutches, strollers or other mobility devices to more easily traverse sandy beaches. They are low maintenance — the tear-resistant, permeable structure allows sand to filter through — and are easily maintained by removing any excess sand buildup with a broom or leaf blower. Mobi-Mats have already been used at beaches in Nassau County, including Jones Beach, and by the Marine Corps for the past 20 years in vehicular beach landing operations.

Accomplishing this project was easy, Bonner said. She saw a picture of the Mobi-Mats online over the winter and showed it to Parks Commissioner Ed Morris, who ordered them. “Everything in government should be that simple,” she said.

Rocky Point resident Aisha Grundmann said the mats are “wonderful” and installing them was “a great idea.” Her son Alex, 11, uses a wheelchair and asks to go to Cedar Beach more frequently now that he knows the mats make it easier for him to navigate across the sand.

“Multiple people have asked Alex for a beach playdate now, where they otherwise maybe wouldn’t have,” she said. “I can’t think of a more accepting community.”

Alex, who is going into fifth grade, is a local advocate for greater mobility not just for wheelchairs, but for everyone. He influenced improvements to the playgrounds and restrooms at his school to make them more handicap-accessible.

“The feedback for this project has been some of the most positive feedback I’ve ever received since I’ve been in office,” Bonner said.

Cedar Beach West and West Meadow Beach are just the first of Brookhaven’s beaches to get the mats. According to a town spokesman, Brookhaven purchased three — and there are plans to expand the program.

“They will be placed at some point at all of our beaches to allow people with disabilities or physical limitations to also enjoy the beach — one of the great pastimes on Long Island,” Romaine said. “We think this has a large impact on people’s lives.”

He added that for wheelchair-bound Brookhaven residents, beaches also have “beach-ready” chairs with larger wheels available upon request from the lifeguards.

Mobi-Mats are available for use between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The channel that runs between the Smithtown and Stony Brook yacht clubs needs to be dredged. File photo

By Phil Corso

North Shore boaters are making waves over a lack thereof.

Members of the Smithtown Bay Yacht Club and the Stony Brook Yacht Club have been kicking up sand for weeks with hopes that county and town officials would throw them a lifesaver and dredge the waters where the Stony Brook and Porpoise Channels merge on their way out into Smithtown Bay along the North Shore. And while there has been some support vocalized via elected leaders, action is still pending.

Members of both yacht clubs, though fierce competitors when the two cast off in interclub fishing contests, came together in the name of public safety this boating season when they penned a letter on June 2 to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). Using urgent language, commodores for both groups, including Mike Kozyrski and Kevin Rooney of Smithtown and Denis Lynch of Stony Brook, asked for a quick dredging of the channel leading out to Smithtown Bay in the name of boater safety.

“At dead low tide, there is oftentimes less than a foot of water in the channel leading out into the Long Island Sound,” Kozyrski said. “Should a boater experience a serious medical emergency out on the water, the bay constable or other emergency personnel may be unable to transit the channel in order to assist them. In our opinion, this is a personal tragedy simply waiting to happen.”

Rooney, coordinator of the dredging project for the Smithtown Bay Yacht Club, said the low-tide and low-water situation has reached a “critical stage” due to the continued shifting of sand and bottom material into the channel.

“It is not an overstatement to say that the very lives of our members, their families and all other boaters are potentially in serious jeopardy due to inaction by various government agencies to prioritize and complete the necessary dredging of the Smithtown Bay channel,” he said. “The situation is dire. And it is totally unacceptable.”

In their letter, the commodores said the area in question was mostly limited to where Stony Brook and Porpoise Channels merged. Navigation buoys turn in a northwesterly direction there, leading into the bay and out into the Long Island Sound. If not dredged properly, the boaters argued that personnel could be unable to reach someone in need of assistance from the shorelines of Port Jefferson or Eaton’s Neck.

“By the time they arrive, it may be too late,” Lynch said.

Bellone, who has put his administration at the forefront of the fight to improve water quality on Long Island, expressed the importance of dredging earlier this year when his administration announced the completion of a project at Champlin Creek in the Town of Islip. A spokeswoman from his office said the Town of Brookhaven submitted a formal request this week before the county’s dredge project screening committee, which will consider making the area a part of the dredging program.

Earlier this month, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) requested that Suffolk County dredge more than a dozen spots across the town for the 2016-2017 dredging season, including the waters of Stony Brook.

“Dredging our waterways is essential for both the economic and ecologic health of our region,” said Romaine, who is a past member of the Suffolk County Dredge Project Screening Committee. “Keeping these channels safe, open and usable on a consistent basis is essential for the health of these waterways, and for boaters to safely enjoy during the summer months.”

The commodores said they hoped lawmakers would put the channel on a regular maintenance dredging schedule in order to allow unlimited access to the Long Island Sound for both boaters and emergency personnel. They, along with other activists across the North Shore, have started a grass roots lobbying campaign with the goal of expediting that kind of schedule.

“This is not about boater convenience,” Kozyrski said. “This is simply about the health and safety of all boaters from our two towns — something clearly needs to be done and we hope that our county and town officials feel the same sense of urgency that we do for the safety of our club members, friends and neighbors.”

The town is taking steps to reduce the amount of nitrogen in its groundwater. File photo

The quality of the water on Long Island is worsening, and the Town of Brookhaven took an important step to reverse that trend.

The town board voted unanimously to approve a local law proposed by Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) that establishes nitrogen protection zones within 500 feet of any body of water on or around Long Island. The zones will prohibit new structures or dwellings being built in that range from installing cesspools or septic systems, effective in January 2017.

“We’ve all watched our waters degrade over the last 50 years,” Romaine said after the vote at a town board meeting held on June 9. “We all know part of the problem is nitrogen.”

Romaine has long been an advocate for improving the island’s water quality on the town and county levels. He addressed the problem at his State of the Town address in March.

“Nitrogen from our sanitary systems, our lawns, our golf courses and our farms is impacting our bays and harbors, our freshwater lakes and streams and our drinking water,” he said. “The solutions to this problem are neither easy nor cheap. But doing nothing is not an option; we must act now. Our future depends on us addressing this problem.”

Representatives from three nonprofit organizations focusing on water quality spoke in support of the law last Thursday.

“I’d like to congratulate you guys and commend you again on your environmental leadership,” George Hoffman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force said. “It’s timely. It’s needed and I’m glad that you’re moving forward with it because there just seems to be a lot of stuff going on with harbors and waters and nitrogen but nothing seems to be getting done. So this is a good thing to see that you’re actually seeing it through and that there will be an ordinance here that will start to change what’s going on in our waters.”

Kevin McAllister of Defend H2O and Doug Swesty of the Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition also spoke in strong support of the law.

“It’s critical that you do this because of the glaciated terrain in which we live on here in Long Island, that 500 feet represents approximately two years of travel time from the time something enters a cesspool or septic tank within a 500-foot radius until it reaches the water body,” Swesty said. “Groundwater travel times here are about two to three feet a day. So it’s critical that we implement something to protect our waterways from discharges that are put into the groundwater.”

According to the town’s website, there has been a 93 percent decline in Great South Bay clam harvests as a result of brown tides, which are brought about by nitrogen seepage. The island’s bay scallop industry has collapsed almost entirely due to nitrogen-caused algal blooms. These issues are in addition to the overall decreasing quality of Long Island’s water.

The law will have an added provision protecting homeowners who incur damage thanks to a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, allowing them other options should requiring the purchase of a new system be a source of financial hardship.

Third District Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden), who is in favor of that protection, supports the law as a whole.

“I think it’s a great goal we’ve set for the town and for other towns as well,” he said.

Nunu wants a home outside the town animal shelter. Photo from Brookhaven Town

The town animal shelter is now open every day as part of an effort to get more dogs and cats adopted.

Supervisor Ed Romaine said the expanded hours would make it more convenient for people to visit the shelter in Brookhaven hamlet, which is located on Horseblock Road.

The Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center is now open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-451-6950 or visit www.brookhaven.org/animalshelter.

Supervisor Ed Romaine says the town is running more efficiently. File photo by Erika Karp

Brookhaven officials announced a major win for the town, and ultimately for the community, during a meeting last week.

Financial services agency Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings upgraded the town’s credit rating from AA+ to AAA, the highest designation the agency issues. It also classified Brookhaven’s credit future as having a “stable outlook.”

The AA+ rating, which was issued in March 2015, came with a “positive outlook.”

“A municipality’s credit rating is an important and reliable indicator of its fiscal health determined by independent and objective fiscal monitors,” a statement from the town said. “A higher credit rating saves money on borrowings in the form of lower interest costs.”

Brookhaven Town Commissioner of Finance Tamara Wright said during a town board meeting last week that the credit report was based on a review of the town’s 2014 and 2015 financial statements that had gone on for about four weeks.

“I would just like to thank [Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R)] for his leadership, his steady hand,” Wright said. “He makes our job at the finance office easy because he supports our initiatives and our controls. I also would like to thank the town board for the support they give our office. I would like to recognize each employee in the finance office. It’s the little decisions they make every single day, every control decision that leads to this kind of financial performance.”

The Standard & Poor’s report said the town has strong management and financial policies and a well-defined five-year capital improvement plan, and commended the town for paying off retirement system debt while maintaining fund balance reserves.

“It means a lot,” Romaine said on Tuesday in a phone interview.

The supervisor added that he is delighted by the rating. “It’s kind of like a report card from Wall Street saying the town is in pretty good financial condition.”

Romaine credited the financial department and the board for their hard work in making the rating possible.

“It sends a clear message that their elected officials are keeping a promise to cut spending and run the town more efficiently,” Romaine said in a statement. “Our conservative fiscal policies have the led the way to financial stability and I am proud to say that we continue to save millions of taxpayer dollars while still providing the services that our residents deserve.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who serves as the board’s liaison to finance, also had some positive words.

“I commend the supervisor for his leadership and fiscal discipline which has resulted in Standard & Poor’s highest credit rating,” Bonner said in a statement. “I am happy to have played a role in this great success and I look forward to working with him and his staff to further improve our financial position.”

Suffolk County’s own credit rating was lowered in October 2015 from A+ to A, making Brookhaven’s upgrade more noteworthy. Romaine called this “the first time in a while” the town has received a AAA rating.

The supervisor also vowed during last week’s board meeting to chip in to pay for a luncheon for members of the town’s finance department.

Vapors is located on Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Local governments are cracking down on smoking in all its forms by confining related businesses to certain locations.

Brookhaven Town recently restricted smoke shops and lounges and one village is looking to strengthen rules already in place for the establishments.

The action started in the fall, when the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees passed a law that effectively banned hookah shops, as well as tattoo parlors and adult entertainment. Residents and village officials had been vocal about what they perceived to be too many shops on Main Street selling hookahs — water pipes used for smoking flavored tobacco — and their related products. Many had complained that the businesses attract an undesirable type of person to the area and sell unhealthy items. Some also said they feared the shops would sell paraphernalia and dangerous substances to underage patrons.

The dissent propelled a law that now restricts future hookah shops, tattoo parlors and adult establishments like topless bars to the Light Industrial I-2 District zone. While the preexisting shops are not affected, the law effectively bans future shops because only two properties in the entire village are zoned light industrial — and both of those Columbia Street plots are already occupied.

Hookah City is located on Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Hookah City is located on Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Passing an outright ban would have been an illegal action.

Port Jefferson Village is now seeking to tighten its restrictions by folding into the law marijuana dispensaries and stores selling products linked to e-cigarettes and vaporizers. The village code proposal, which will come up for a public hearing on June 6, states that such establishments bring “well-documented negative secondary effects … such as increased crime, decreased property values and reduced shopping and commercial activities.” It also cites the health risks of e-cigarettes and the dangers of exposing children to the behavior.

“The expansion of the foregoing businesses has resulted in increased anti-social behavior involving minors,” it says.

Among the restrictions, the shops in the light industrial zone could not be within a certain distance of facilities such as community centers, churches or schools.

The Town of Brookhaven got on the same train recently when its town board passed a law on May 12 that restricts indoor smoking establishments — businesses in which tobacco in any form, including through e-cigarettes and vaporizers, or other substances are smoked indoors. New shops can now no longer open within certain distances of residential areas, schools, churches, parks or other family- or child-oriented places. They also cannot open within 1 mile of one another.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who came up with the idea, touted it as a measure to prevent kids from using drugs.

“You cannot believe how creative addicts and users are when it comes to situations like this,” she said, “what they can do and how they can manipulate this apparatus.”

Some have used hookahs, vaporizers and other tobacco devices to smoke marijuana, among other substances.

“This legislation came to pass because of what we see, what’s happening in our communities all over the place,” Bonner said. “This is a very important first step and we may take further steps as we see how this works out.”

Both the town and village laws have had their critics. In Port Jefferson, Trustee Bruce D’Abramo and other residents did not want the village interfering with the free market, which would determine how many smoke shops one neighborhood could sustain, and did not want the village policing people’s heath. They compared the smoke shops to the numerous bars in downtown Port Jefferson.

And Alex Patel, who works at Rocky Point Smoke & Vape Shop, said the town law might have little payoff because parents buy devices for their kids or the kids shop online — those under 21 may still get what they are looking for.

“Online, I see people buying left and right,” Patel said about vaporizers and similar devices. “It’s much cheaper online because they’re buying in bulk.”

But the town law also had community support: “When I think of these [smoking] lounges I think of heroin dens, something I read about and saw movies about when I was a child and scared the heck out of me,” Jeff Kagan, of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, said May 12. “I believe that we don’t really know what these dens are all about or what’s really going to go on in these facilities. We don’t know the long-term impact.”

Alex Petroski contributed reporting.

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