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Brookhaven

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 is taking a leadership role in trying to streamline town government services. 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.

People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, someone practices spraying into a dummy’s nostrils. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Residents from all Brookhaven communites are welcomed and encouraged to attend Brookhaven Town Youth Bureau’s free substance abuse awareness and opioid overdose prevention program training class, provided by Suffolk County EMS, on June 7 at Brookhaven Town Hall.

The training will discuss what an opioid overdose is, the signs and symptoms that will help identify an overdose, what to do until EMS arrives, and how to administer nasal Narcan to reverse an overdose.

Substance abose treatment information resources will be available from 5:30-6:30 p.m., and Narcan training will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Brookhaven Town Hall is located at 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville. Call 631-451-8011 for more information or to RSVP by May 27.

Old friend gets third organ transplant with councilwoman’s help

Tom D’Antonio and Jane Bonner spend time after a successful kidney transplant surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Photo from Bonner

A Brookhaven Town Councilwoman was elected in 2007 to serve the community. On April 26, she took the idea of public service to a whole new level.

Tom D’Antonio and Jane Bonner spend time after a successful kidney transplant surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Photo from Bonner
Tom D’Antonio and Jane Bonner spend time after a successful kidney transplant surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Photo from Bonner

Jane Bonner, councilwoman for Brookhaven’s second district, and Tom D’Antonio have known each other for almost 40 years. Bonner said she became friends with D’Antonio’s younger brother Steven in her seventh grade Spanish class at Middleville Junior High School in the Northport-East Northport school district, which has since closed, and the families have stayed in touch ever since. D’Antonio was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was 10 years old. He said the disease has “wreaked havoc” on his kidneys over the years. The 57-year-old EMT has a medical history that most would consider unlucky. He wouldn’t agree.

“I’m living proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” D’Antonio said.

He has had three successful kidney transplants and a pancreas transplant, and survived an acute coronary thrombosis, which was a 100 percent blood clot-blockage in a vessel of his heart in 2012.

The flip side to the hard luck of requiring three kidney transplant surgeries is the fact that three times, D’Antonio had a willing and able donor who was also a match. The first time was in June 1988 when his then girlfriend Cheryl, who he has been married to for 27 years now, stepped up and donated D’Antonio a healthy kidney. He said at the time, doctors told him the chances of his girlfriend being a match were one in a million.

In 1999, he underwent a pancreas transplant, which he said at the time was somewhat experimental. The result was the formerly insulin-dependent diabetic was essentially cured. But by 2002, the diabetes had done damage to his wife’s former kidney. This time, D’Antonio’s sister stepped up. She wasn’t an option in 1988 because she had just given birth.

Everything was fine until October 2012 when the blockage caused his heart to stop for about 14 minutes while he was riding the Long Island Rail Road one day. An EMT riding the train performed CPR to resuscitate D’Antonio. Luckily, the incident occurred near the Mineola train station, which is about five minutes walking distance from Winthrop University Hospital. Doctors told him they thought he’d have brain damage if he survived the ordeal, emphasis on “if.”

D’Antonio’s brain was okay, but the heart stoppage caused damage to his sister’s kidney. He was back in a familiar position. For a third time he needed a family member or close friend to step up and offer an organ that would save his life.

‘Once I make up my mind, I’m pretty steadfast and determined. I’m a big believer in God having a plan.’ — Jane Bonner

According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list every month, and 13 people die every day waiting for a kidney transplant. According to the Living Kidney Donors Network, more than 80,000 people are currently on the waiting list, where most people remain for more than five years waiting for a life-saving donation while on dialysis.

D’Antonio found himself in need of a kidney with his options exhausted. In October 2015, Bonner invited D’Antonio and his wife to meet her and her husband, John Sandusky, to join them and some friends at the Huntington Lighthouse Festival in Huntington Harbor. Bonner and Sandusky sailed their boat from Mount Sinai, while the D’Antonios took the short trip by boat from their home in Eaton’s Neck.

“We almost didn’t stop — we didn’t want to intrude,” D’Antonio said about that October day. He revealed to Bonner he was in need of a kidney once again, and told her that a family member who might have been an option was not going to work out.

Tom D’Antonio, his wife Cheryl and Jane Bonner sail on the open seas, which is where Bonner first told D’Antonio she’d like to donate her kidney. Photo from Bonner
Tom D’Antonio, his wife Cheryl and Jane Bonner sail on the open seas, which is where Bonner first told D’Antonio she’d like to donate her kidney. Photo from Bonner

“I said, ‘I’ll do it,’” Bonner said. Taken aback, D’Antonio suggested Bonner should think it over and maybe discuss it with her husband and family.

“John!” D’Antonio said Bonner called out to her husband across the boat. “I’m going to give Tommy a kidney!”

That was all the discussion the Bonners needed, which D’Antonio said was apropos of their relationship.

“Once I make up my mind, I’m pretty steadfast and determined,” Bonner said. “I’m a big believer in God having a plan.”

On April 26, Bonner donated her left kidney to D’Antonio in what she called a “minor surgery” at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

As that master plan has played out since, Bonner said doctors discovered two precancerous polyps that were about two years away from manifesting into colon cancer during the litany of tests she had to undergo in preparation for the donation.

D’Antonio said he’s not sure what his outlook would have been if Bonner hadn’t offered to help.

‘I’m living proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
— Tom D’Antonio

“I know that right now I wouldn’t be feeling as good as I’m feeling,” he said. “I was to the point, the week of and the week before the surgery, if I walked a block I’d have to stop and rest. It’s like a slow, miserable, downward spiral.”

Bonner has since shared news about the transplant on social media using the hashtag #ShareTheSpare, and plans to advocate for programs like the Kidney Paired Donation Pilot Program, which is managed by the United Network for Organ Sharing and is an option for patients with a living donor who is not a match.

“It’s more dangerous to drive to work every day than it is to live with one kidney,” Bonner said. “There’s no greater gift to give than the gift of life.”

Bonner, who missed just eight days of work, has been hesitant and uncomfortable with the baskets, flowers and cards she’s received since the surgery.

“There’s like this common element that runs through people who do that,” D’Antonio said. “They’re all like ‘it’s a no brainer.’ Clearly it’s more than that. That’s the thing that’s hard to express in words — how that makes you feel.”

D’Antonio shared what he said to Bonner in response to that hesitancy to accept thanks or praise.

“Get used to it.”

Town Assessor Ron Devine, above, said the state abolished the March 1 deadline to apply for STAR exemption, meaning that residents won’t have to wait a full year to receive their exemptions. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance will see an influx in state school tax relief applications after the state revamps its STAR program.

The change affects new homeowners, buyers and those building a home in the Basic and Enhanced STAR Programs. Residents who changed their primary residence from last March onward, must apply to the program, through the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, for an approved exemption. Long Islanders who started constructing their homes within the same time frame are affected, according to Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Town Assessor Ron Devine.

Devine said residents who have the program up to the 2015-16 tax year will maintain their exemptions. According to Devine, “anyone who is in the system is in the system.” The town will also maintain its approximate 15,000 Enhanced STAR program holders. These holders will receive renewal letters this fall.

The Enhanced STAR program benefits senior citizens 65-years-old and exempts the first $65,300 of the home’s value from school taxes. The basic STAR program, however, is available for owner-occupied primary residences where the homeowners’ and their spouses’ income is less than $500,000. The program exempts $30,000 of the home’s value from school taxes.

According to Romaine, the change in the application process may only affect 3 to 5 percent of homes in the town. But the supervisor questioned if the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance bit off more than it could chew.

“My big concern is that if they’re not staffed, there’ll be a huge backlog of processing that will occur,” Romaine said during a meeting at town hall. “People won’t get their check on time, and it will put people who are either buying a house or building a house in severe disadvantage.”

But the NYS tax department said this change won’t be an issue. According to the department, it successfully processed 2.4 million tax returns after implementing the initial STAR registration program in 2013. The department typically receives around 150,000 applications annually.

The New York State Legislature passed the law earlier this year to change how towns enforce the program within the state. New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called for the new application process for first-time homeowners and buyers in his 2017 Executive Budget. The budget was approved on April 1.

“The STAR exemption is the only property tax exemption funded by New York State,” the NYS tax department said in an email. “Therefore, it’s more appropriate and efficient for it to be administered by the state rather than by local assessors.”

According to the NYS tax department, residents can start applying through the department in the upcoming weeks by calling the department or visiting its website. Although residents once received credits on their income tax forms, holders receiving an exemption will get a check in the same amount as their STAR benefit.

For more information about the STAR program, residents can call the Town Assessor’s office at 631-451-6300. New homeowners can apply for STAR with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance by calling 516-571-1500 or visiting its website at www.tax.ny.gov.

Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. Photo by Phil Corso

A few Brookhaven officials are bringing in more bacon after the town board approved salary increases for them on Tuesday.

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), Town Clerk Donna Lent (R) and Town Tax Receiver Louis Marcoccia (R) will see an uptick in their salaries following the board’s unanimous vote — Losquadro from $98,534 to $112,000; Lent from $92,386 to $100,000; and Marcoccia from $90,922 to $100,000.

But some community members weren’t on the same page as the board.

“There’s no doubt they deserve a raise, however, we all do and we’re not getting one,” Brookhaven resident James Wilkie said during a public hearing on the matter. “Taxpayers of this town, as you know as well as anybody else, are hurting.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine said the positions in question haven’t seen salary increases in the past eight to 10 years.

“Several years go by and it becomes evident that other municipalities are paying higher than Brookhaven for different positions,” the supervisor said.

Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said the town looked at the salaries for those positions in neighboring towns and took the average.

“You want to stay competitive, you want to be able to attract good people to this job in the future,” Romaine said before the vote. “One way to do it is to make sure the compensation is accurate.”

Clifford Hymowitz, president of a part-timers union in the town, expressed gratitude that the town is financially stable enough to increase certain employee salaries, but demanded similar recognition for people working part-time.

According to Hymowitz, 38 of his 171 part-timers have made less than $12 an hour over the past four or five years. He added that some have worked for a decade or more and are still making $9.75 an hour.

Eaderesto noted that residents who wish to put the salary increases up for a public vote have 45 days to submit petitions to request a referendum.

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