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Dan Losquadro

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.

Highway super takes systems online

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro sifts through a town map with the touch of his finger. Photo by Phil Corso

Managing one of the largest highway departments in New York State takes a lot of work, and Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) has put all of it in the palm of his hand.

As of Jan. 5, the entire department went paperless with a new electronic work order system and by the end of that month, foremen in the field either updated or closed more than 1,500 work orders using a mobile app on town-issued iPads. In an exclusive interview with TBR News Media, Losquadro and his team said the Brookhaven highway department has raised the bar for municipalities across the state.

“To me, this is nothing short of transformative,” Losquadro said. “Improving efficiencies of the highway department has been one of my priorities since taking office three years ago.”

In the past, Brookhaven residents hoping to see something as simple as a pothole being repaired in front of their home would need to file a work order, which an office staffer would enter into a computer, print out and then deliver to a foreman, typically taking five to seven days before resolution. But now, the highway superintendent said, the information can be shared almost immediately.

“We owe that to our customers, because they deserve the response that a customer from any business should get,” Losquadro said, referring to his Brookhaven constituents.

The new paperless system capitalized on already existing geographic information systems the town had invested in over recent years to help create one cohesive platform, allowing town employees to view, update and create work orders in real time, from the field. And through each step of development, Losquadro said foremen and town workers who would be using the technology on a daily basis provided their feedback.

Matt Sabatello, who works in the town’s tech department, worked alongside a dedicated crew of in-house developers to grow the mobile application and make it accessible for all town employees. With more than a decade of experience working with the town already under his belt, Sabatello said he has seen the arc of technological advancement go into overdrive under Losquadro’s direction.

Some of the interactive features Losquadro and his team helped to launch over the past year included color-coded visual queues identifying outstanding work orders, a display of all open work orders prioritized by the date created and a new “follow me” GPS-enabled feature that could be used to identify problem areas as well as track town vehicles when they are out in the field.

“If you see something, create a work order,” Losquadro said, playing off the Metropolitan Transportation Authority slogan, “if you see something, say something.”

And the efficiencies stretch far beyond a run-of-the-mill pothole fix, too. John Giannott, a senior administrator with the highway department, said the mobile technology has made Brookhaven’s response time to serious weather events such as severe snowfall nearly two hours quicker.

“We keep finding new uses for this every day,” he said. “It puts you ahead of the curve, because all your assets are tracked.”

The “green” technology has also allowed the town to apply for state grants and emergency relief funds in a more efficient way, making Brookhaven that much more equipped for more green.

Looking ahead, Losquadro said he hoped to see other facets of Brookhaven government follow suit in implementing such technology. He said he has already seen an interest from the town board to use similar platforms to track constituent complaints.

“I had a vision of how I wanted to transform this department,” he said. “Working with them allowed us to move to this point in less than three years.”

Brookhaven Town Highways Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro, Sound Beach Civic President Bea Ruberto, and Councilwoman Jane Bonner near the expanded community entryway. Photo from the Town of Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) announced the completion of a revitalization project designed to enhance pedestrian safety and beautify a busy stretch of Echo Avenue between North Country Road and New York Avenue in Sound Beach.

The downtown project, which included the addition of handicap-accessible sidewalks, new curbs and guiderails, crosswalks, decorative lighting and ornamental trees, was made possible, in part, from a Community Development Block Grant.

With CDBG funding covering a portion of the project, the Brookhaven Highway Department went out to bid for the project. The total cost was approximately $500,000, including the CDBG grant in the amount of approximately $110,000.

“The completion of this project is another example of the Highway Department’s continuing efforts to bring a downtown feel to one of our Brookhaven communities, similar to what we had done in Rocky Point in 2014,” Losquadro said. “In addition to beautifying the area, this project provided long-term solutions to many of the safety concerns voiced by local residents and business owners.”

As part of this three-month revitalization project, a four-foot wide sidewalk was constructed on the north side of Echo Avenue, beginning at North Country Road. A crosswalk was installed at the corner of Devon Road, near CaraMia Pizzeria, across Echo Avenue to connect the sidewalks that continue to New York Avenue. In addition, the triangle at the Shinnecock Drive and Echo Avenue intersection — the site of the Sound Beach Civic Organization’s “Welcome to Sound Beach” sign — was expanded to provide an entryway to the community.

“Walkable communities can only happen if pedestrians feel safe and the streetscapes that they travel are pleasant and inviting,” Bonner said.

Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, said the improvements to the roadway have not only made it better for residents to walk and drive, but have also made it more welcoming to those entering the hamlet.

“We’re so grateful to Jane, Dan and the Town for realizing that smaller towns like Sound Beach add to what makes Brookhaven such a great place to live, work, and play,” she said. “And, of course, we look forward to further improvements in our little hamlet.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine takes his oath of office at the 2016 inauguration ceremony at the Town of Brookhaven headquarters. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Brookhaven is back in business.

Elected officials, their family members and other residents packed into the Town of Brookhaven auditorium in Farmingville on Jan. 7 to witness Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) being sworn into his second full term in office alongside fellow recently elected and re-elected board members, including board newcomer Councilman Michael Loguercio (R-Middle Island) and other town officials.

Loguercio said he was also in good spirits. He said the ceremony was a good way to begin “the long journey to continue helping the community.”

Back in November, Loguercio won the race for the 4th District — a position previously held by former Councilwoman Connie Kepert, a Democrat.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said Thursday’s ceremony was a day of celebration that helped validate how residents voted during the 2015 elections. Bonner added “they like to make it open to the public so they could see the whole process and take part in it.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks during the 2016 inauguration ceremony at the Town of Brookhaven headquarters. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks during the 2016 inauguration ceremony at the Town of Brookhaven headquarters. Photo by Giselle Barkley

In light of the board’s past work, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) highlighted Romaine’s performance as the supervisor saying that Romaine has always been one of the fiercest and most passionate advocates for what he believes in.

“That’s what leadership is about really,” Bellone said. “Putting aside the things that will at the end of the day do not really matter to people’s lives but what will make our communities and our town and our country a better place.”

Although residents saw the supervisor and Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) officially sworn into their terms for the first time on Thursday, other elected officials recently elected to the board were officially sworn in at a previous event held on Tuesday Jan. 5. While several councilmembers were no strangers to the ceremony, the swearing in process still never gets boring, one North Shore lawmaker said.

Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro takes his oath of office for the first time at the 2016 inauguration ceremony at the Town of Brookhaven headquarters. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro takes his oath of office at the 2016 inauguration ceremony at the Town of Brookhaven headquarters. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“I’m really excited to get started again,” said Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) before the ceremony. “It was a great first two years — we accomplished a great deal. I’m really looking forward to the next two years.”

Romaine was sworn in last by Judge Judith Pascale, who also spoke highly of the supervisor and his leadership before he took his oath of office. Despite the praise, Romaine admitted that addressing challenges in the town is a group effort.

“Working in concert with our colleagues at Suffolk County and New York State will determine in large part the future we face,” Romaine said in his speech following his oath. “I pledge to work with my town board to find common purpose. To address these challenges head on and to make decisions necessary for a prosperous future and one that serves all the residents of this town.”

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Brookhaven is implementing a new method of paving streets. Photo from Dan Losquadro

December is approaching, but things are heating up on the streets of Setauket.

Brookhaven became the first municipality across Long Island to use a product known as warm mix asphalt during repaving projects, and with three paving seasons already under his belt, Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said its implementation could not be smoother — literally.

“As the third largest Highway Department in all of New York state I felt it was important for Brookhaven to be both an innovator and a leader in introducing new technologies,” he said in a statement. “As we enter the latter part of the paving season, warm mix asphalt allows us to achieve proper compaction, especially during night work in cooler temperatures. I want to show other departments that not only is this product viable, it’s actually preferable in many instances.”

Warm mix asphalt production uses temperatures 30 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the traditional hot mix asphalt used in paving projects. The Highway Department said that greater temperature differences between asphalt mixes and the outside temperature makes for faster cooling for the mixes, which affects durability. With warm mix asphalt’s slower cooling time, it is most effective when used in lower temperatures, typically at night, Losquadro said.

The Highway Department entered into a new contract last year, which included new bid specifications calling for the technology, which Losquadro said provided more accountability and streamlined the paving process.

The technology has been used for more than a decade across the country, but did not hit the pavements of Suffolk County until last week in Setauket.

“Since it was first demonstrated in the US in 1996, warm mix asphalt has sparked the interest of transportation agencies and the private sector,” said Tom Harman, director of the Federal Highway Administration Center for Accelerating Innovation. “Warm mix asphalt technologies allow a reduction in asphalt production, flexibility when it comes to the temperatures needed for applying it and reduced production fuel consumption and emissions.”

It also extends the paving season and enables the use of higher recycled products, Harman said. In 2014, a third of all asphalt produced in the U.S. was warm mix asphalt, and “we expect use of the material to continue to grow in use.”

Over a two-night span last week, the department traveled the streets of Hulse Road to Comsewogue Road, and Comsewogue Road from the train tracks to Sheep Pasture Road to Old Town Road, Losquadro said.

By the end of the week, Losquadro said the streets of Setauket saw new life. The highway superintendent said it delivered a handful of benefits to the town right off the bat, including better working conditions for air quality and also reducing fuel emissions, fumes and odors.

“We achieved a very uniform surface with almost no roller marks or imperfections,” he said. “I wanted to pick the right time to test this out and have that proof of concept to use it in cooler temperatures. Now having done that, I see no reason why this can’t become our new standard for Brookhaven. I see a lot of benefits to us, both environmentally and from a work perspective.”

The cost, Losquadro said, is fairly minimal in difference from typical hot mix asphalt usage. The Setauket job saw a roughly 88-cent difference per ton of asphalt used, which amounted to about $4,400 more than what hot mix asphalt would have achieved.

“That’s pretty minimal in the grand scheme of the size of the jobs we’re talking about here,” Losquadro said. “The cost should be at least offset by the reduction in fuel that the manufacturer is going to save by not having to heat the material up as much.”

And with his proof of concept, Losquadro said he would be bringing his warm mix story to future meetings of various county highway departments with hopes of spreading the success.

But county Legislator Sarah Anker has just one-vote lead; longtime Smithtown board member ousted; and all local boards maintain huge majorities

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Sarah Anker are all smiles on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas

The incumbents won big on Suffolk County’s North Shore this Election Day, with only a couple real upsets at the county and town levels.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) handily won a second term at the helm against his Republican challenger, lawyer Jim O’Connor, with 57 percent of the vote.

Bellone thanked many people for his victory and also thanked his opponent for a “good race.”

Steve Bellone gives a speech after being re-elected Suffolk County executive. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Steve Bellone gives a speech after being re-elected Suffolk County executive. Photo by Rohma Abbas

“Tonight the people of Suffolk County delivered a mandate: to advance the issues we talked about in this campaign,” he said, at the Democratic Election Night headquarters in Hauppauge. “To continue the reform government so that we can protect taxpayers, make government more efficient and effective. To reverse the decades of decline that we have seen in water quality so that we can protect this precious natural resource for ourselves and future generations.”

He vowed that he would work hard for the voters.

“To the people of Suffolk County: I want to thank you for the confidence you placed in me and this incredible team of legislators. I can guarantee you we will repay that confidence by working hard every single day to make progress on the issues that matter to you and to you families. We may celebrate a little bit tonight but that work begins tomorrow.”

Though Bellone was the clear winner early on, O’Connor said he was proud of his campaign.

“I think we talked about the issues that need to be talked about here on Long Island,” he said.

Despite the results, the challenger enjoyed himself: “I love this. … In America we run for office, we put our ideas forward and we let the people decide.”

Steve Tricarico, Legislator Sarah Anker's Republican challenger, feels confident about a win on Election Day. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Steve Tricarico, Legislator Sarah Anker’s Republican challenger, feels confident about a win on Election Day. Photo by Giselle Barkley

In the Suffolk County Legislature, incumbents from Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington towns won re-election, one of them by a razor-thin margin: Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), who represents the 6th District, was leading her challenger by just one vote after the polls closed. It was not immediately clear if absentee ballots would tilt the scales in the favor of Republican candidate Steve Tricarico, a Brookhaven Town deputy highway superintendent. But Anker said Tuesday night that she felt “cautiously optimistic.”

Tricarico felt the same way.

“I’m feeling very confident,” he said before results were in. “This shows … that people are looking for a change. That’s what I’ve been offering.”

According to Tricarico, Republican absentee ballots outnumbered those of the Democrats, which he said boosts his confidence.

But Suffolk County Democratic Party Chairman Rich Schaffer was calling it in the other direction: “Sarah Anker — mark my words — in about two weeks will be a newly re-elected legislator.”

Anker said her election demonstrates that each vote counts. Asked what could have led to such a close race, the legislator said she’s got the political cards stacked against her as a Democrat representing a largely Republican district.

Legislator Kara Hahn and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone embrace after both are re-elected. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Legislator Kara Hahn and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone embrace after both are re-elected. Photo by Rohma Abbas

“Most political strategists have never understood how I won it the past three times, much less this fourth time,” she said. “But I feel it’s because the people appreciate what I do. They’re looking for leadership.”

From there, it was smooth sailing. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), the 5th District legislator, beat Republican challenger Donna Cumella, of Port Jefferson Station, with 63 percent of the vote. In the 13th, Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) beat Kings Park Democrat Rich Macellaro with more than 70 percent of the total.

In Huntington, Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) won his final term in the 16th District against Republican attorney Tom McNally with 60 percent of the vote.

“We understand what’s on the minds of our constituents, we listen to our constituents, and we deliver for our constituents,” Stern said.

Also, Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) took the 18th District against his challenger from the right, Grant Lally, after garnering 56 percent of the votes.

“It’s exhilarating,” a joyous Spencer said. “It’s really is. After two years of hard work and six-month campaign, to really have the people recognize I’m giving my heart and soul to try to support us means a lot to me.”

Doc Spencer celebrates a win on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Doc Spencer celebrates a win on Election Day. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Despite her loss, Cumella stayed positive and said she wouldn’t let this year’s election deter her from running for the same position in the future. She said she is now “a little bit more educated with the political arena.”

About her victory over that Republican, Hahn said, “I’m really gratified by the confidence the community has shown in me and I very much appreciate it and I plan to work just as hard as I’ve worked in the last four years.”

Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), the 4th District legislator, and the 12th District’s Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) were effectively unopposed for re-election and secured their next terms.

“I’m ecstatic,” Muratore said. “Maybe we can bring some of our ideas to the table … We’re about doing the right things to people.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine celebrates his re-election as the head of Brookhaven Town. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Supervisor Ed Romaine celebrates his re-election as the head of Brookhaven Town. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Kennedy said she did not spend time campaigning and was pleased with the outcome.

“I want to go home and go to bed so I can wake up tomorrow ready to vote on the Operating Budget Committee board,” she said.

Brookhaven Town saw its supervisor, Ed Romaine (R), and its highway superintendent, Dan Losquadro (R), re-elected easily — Romaine won 72 percent of the votes against Democratic challenger Douglas Dittko and Losquadro beat out his own Democratic opponent, Jason Kontzamanys, with 69 percent of the voters’ support.

Romaine called his landslide victory “encouraging” and Losquadro said, “I really feel that this is a validation of the work that we’ve been doing in the town.”

“It’s such a big department, and really, for the fundamental services that people expect from their tax dollars are that their roads are safe, cleared of snow and debris, and I’m very excited to be given the opportunity to continue to do that work.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright go in for a kiss after both win re-election. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright go in for a kiss after both win re-election. Photo by Rohma Abbas

The three incumbents running for re-election to the Brookhaven Town Board on the North Shore were returned to their seats. Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) beat Republican challenger Ed Garboski, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association. She had 56 percent of the vote to his 44 percent.

“I worked really hard,” she said Tuesday night. “The community came together.”

She has no small task ahead of her. If all of the election results stand, she will be the only Democrat on the Town Board next year, after her effectively unopposed North Shore colleagues Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) and Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) won re-election, as did South Shore Republican Councilmen Dan Panico and Neil Foley. But Cartright’s lone Democratic colleague, Councilwoman Connie Kepert, was ousted by Republican challenger Michael Loguercio Jr.

“I’m kind of speechless, which isn’t normally the case for me,” Bonner said about winning by a large margin. “I’m super, super excited to get started, move forward. I can’t wait to get to work tomorrow.”

LaValle called his own win an “honor.”

Over in Huntington, town board incumbents Gene Cook (I) and Susan Berland (D) were returned to the board after a four-way race with 27 percent and 24 percent of the vote, respectively. Democratic challenger Keith Barrett and Republican challenger Jennifer Thompson fell short, each garnering about 22 percent of the vote.

“I can’t wait until tomorrow,” Cook said Tuesday night. “I felt good throughout today because I’m always honest and I think I’ve shown that in the last four years.”

Councilmen Ed Wehrheim and Bob Creighton discuss the Smithtown board election results. Photo by Phil Corso
Councilmen Ed Wehrheim and Bob Creighton discuss the Smithtown board election results. Photo by Phil Corso

Berland said she was “proud and humbled” to be re-elected.

“I just want to keep doing good things for the people of the town and making the town the best place it can possibly be,” she said.

Smithtown Town Board experienced a bit of an upset. Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) was re-elected to one of two board seats, after receiving 31 percent of the vote, but his colleague Bob Creighton (R) was unable to battle back after losing a Republican primary to newcomer Lisa Inzerillo.

Inzerillo was elected Tuesday night with 28 percent of the vote, as compared to Creighton’s 20 percent. The latter total was even lower than that of the lone Democratic candidate for Town Board, who lost after garnering just 22 percent of the vote.

Inzerillo held a private gathering at her home Tuesday night and did not respond to requests seeking comment, but took to her Facebook page to thank her team.

Larry Vetter says the people have spoken in choosing not to elect him. Photo by Kevin Redding
Larry Vetter says the people have spoken in choosing not to elect him. Photo by Kevin Redding

“I am grateful beyond words for all of the support I received from residents,” she said. “It is very humbling to know my grassroots campaign was successful. I look forward to working with the new town board and working for the residents that elected me.”

Wehrheim, who frequently works with Creighton on town projects, called Inzerillo’s win “a loss for Smithtown” and called his own victory “bittersweet” as he prepared to work with the newcomer. Creighton apologized to his room of supporters Tuesday night, adding that he was “sorry things didn’t work out.”

About his defeat, Vetter said, “The message is clear: The town didn’t want me. … Apparently the town is satisfied with what they have.”

Earlier in the night he had said, “If I lose and it’s tight, I might try again. If I get clobbered, I’m not gonna do it again.”

Rohma Abbas, Giselle Barkley, Phil Corso, Victoria Espinoza, Desirée Keegan, Kevin Redding and Eric Santiago contributed reporting.

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Jason Kontzamanys is running on the democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Dan Losquadro, above. File photo by Erika Karp

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro had a busy year filled with rain, sleet, snow and, now, a re-election bid. We think he handled them all fairly well and deserves a second term.

Jason Kontzamanys is running on the democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Dan Losquadro, above. File photo by Erika Karp
Jason Kontzamanys is running on the democratic ticket against incumbent Republican Dan Losquadro, above. File photo by Erika Karp

Just two years removed from being elected, Losquadro is just getting started at the Highway Department level after stints in the Suffolk County Legislature and New York State Assembly. After coming into office with the inheritance of a mounting debt and crumbling infrastructure, we feel the highway superintendent has been proactive and pragmatic in finding solutions to the county’s problems, while remaining transparent throughout his office’s shortcomings.

In one of the most tangible litmus tests, Losquadro has remained accessible with his office’s attempts at putting a dent in a backlog of road repaving and repair projects, while also admitting there was no way he could tend to every single one. That kind of honesty demonstrates his willingness to work with the public and trust in those he serves.

The winter was brutal and full of snowfall, and it didn’t stop there.

We even saw a horrific tornado barrel through the North Shore in August. All the while, we were pleased with Losquadro’s handling of the storms, hitting the pavement quickly and remaining accessible throughout.

He has also worked to bring the Highway Department into the current century, ushering in new technology and implementing new methods of doing business.

Losquadro’s opponent, Democrat Jason Kontzamanys, has based much of his opposition campaign on knocking the county’s debt and vowing to watch after the taxpayer’s dollar. While we agree with the sentiment of his argument, we don’t feel that is something the current superintendent fails to recognize or act upon.

There is always debt in government, but Brookhaven has stood out with a Moody’s bond rating of Aa2. If Moody’s has given the town a favorable rating, then the town is not in dire financial straits.

Businesses that don’t carry debt are few and far between, and while we recognize the town has mounting debt, we also feel Losquadro is privy to the financing of that debt and works to deal with it accordingly as much as a highway superintendent can.

Losquadro is just getting started. He had a tough winter with very little criticisms, especially from the ground level of his constituents, and we feel he should get another term under his belt.

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Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. Photo by Phil Corso

By Victoria Espinoza

A stark difference in opinion over the town’s management of funding is a key component of the race for Brookhaven Highway superintendent.

Incumbent Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. Photo by Phil Corso
Incumbent Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. Photo by Phil Corso

The incumbent, Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), squared off against Democratic challenger, Jason Kontzamanys, at the Times Beacon Record headquarters, where they discussed finances in the highway department, use of subcontractors and why they deserve the job.

Kontzamanys has worked in the department of parks and recreation in Brookhaven for the past decade. He said it was that experience that helps shape his workers-first mentality, which he hoped to bring into office: “As I worked my way up, I realized the most brilliant ideas come from the workers doing the work day in and day out.”

Kontzamanys said he wants to consolidate the department as much as he can in order to save money and streamline government. One way to do that, he proposed, would be placing the Holtsville Ecology Site within the jurisdiction of the town’s parks department.

He also said he thinks he can bring changes to a “financially mismanaged” department, especially by cracking down on the usage of subcontractors.

“I do not want to rely on subcontractors,” he said. “I want to embolden the unionized work force and expand it as much as I can.”

He said subcontractors should not handle routine projects like lawn cutting, drainage and tree removal. Instead, he said he wants to do as much work as he can in-house within a 40-hour week.

Jason Kontzamanys. Photo by Phil Corso
Jason Kontzamanys. Photo by Phil Corso

“To deal with them on a continual basis, as far as I’m concerned is a violation of public trust when it comes to tax payers money,” the challenger said.

In terms of hiring fewer subcontractors, Losquadro said he believes there is no way around it, as Brookhaven’s scope is so large that the town needs more hands to handle the amount of work it accrues.

“With 3,350 lane miles of road to maintain and 200 employees, there is no way we could get all the work done without supplementing and augmenting some of that work to subcontractors,” Losquadro said.

With another term, Losquadro said he wants to continue to reform and update the department. He said he has already modernized the department a great deal and improved communication.

“There were no radio communications that were reliable [when I came into office],” Losquadro said. “I designed and installed a new radio communication system which is the same technology that the police and fire service use.”

Losquadro said the new system is reliable and gives the department coverage in parts of Long Island with serious topographical challenges.

He also mentioned major storms over the past year in which the department was able to dispatch and respond to public safety concerns in real time.

Another improvement Losquadro said he has brought to the department is with the work order system. He referred to the old system as “archaic,” in which a routine work order took weeks of mailing to different departments.

The town already uses this system for severe weather events like snowstorms, but Losquadro said he was still in the process of rolling out a fully electronic work order system.

Kontzamanys said many of the updates that Losquadro has brought to the department have already been in effect at the parks department for years and he would like to see more updates on his watch.

“I would try to embrace solar projects through federal grants, including solar bike paths and solar sidewalks,” Kontzamanys said. He also said he would then sell the energy back to utility company PSEG Long Island for a profit.

Supervisor Ed Romaine, Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro and Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross pose with a 32-inch female American alligator turned in on Amnesty Day. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Long Islanders turned in three American alligators and eight turtles at a recent animal amnesty event in Brookhaven Town, and all of the reptiles are shipping up to a Massachusetts sanctuary.

Brookhaven’s Holtsville Ecology Center hosted the event on Oct. 10 to allow residents to turn in any protected, endangered or threatened animals that require special New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits without fear of penalties or questioning. It was the second annual event of its kind for the town, which operated with the help of those two agencies and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

People with dangerous or illegal animals were able to turn them over to professionals, no questions asked.

Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross called the recent amnesty event a success, saying the three alligators turned in “had the potential of ending up endangering the public.”

According to Brookhaven Town, the average length a fully grown female American alligator is a little more than 8 feet, and a fully grown male can be longer than 11 feet. Of the three alligators turned in, two were males, measuring 27 and 29 inches, and one was a 32-inch female.

“People should think twice before acquiring illegal reptiles or mammals,” Gross said in a statement from the town. “They do not make good pets and you are risking fines and possible jail time.”

At last year’s animal amnesty event, people turned in 25 animals, including a western diamondback rattlesnake, a green anaconda, four boa constrictors, an American alligator and two marmosets.

“These animals were turned in before the people harboring them as pets released them into the wild, creating a potentially dangerous situation in our local communities,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a statement about the alligators and turtles turned over this year. “These animals will now receive proper care without posing a threat.”

Owners of potentially dangerous animals have dumped them in public places in the past, creating a public safety issue. In late August, a 25-pound alligator snapping turtle was discovered in a stream of the Nissequogue River opposite the Smithtown Bull on Route 25. The reptile is not indigenous to Long Island — it is a freshwater animal with enough power to bite off a human toe or finger, and is usually found in places from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.

“People need to understand that many exotic animals can be very dangerous if not handled properly or allowed to grow to their adult size,” Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said in a statement. “They are even more threatening if released into the wild, where they could harm people or other animals.”

The dangerous reptile sits on a table at Thursday's press conference. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.

A 25-pound alligator snapping turtle was found this past weekend in the stream opposite the Smithtown Bull on Route 25 in Smithtown, with enough power to bite off someone’s finger or toe, officials said.

“We’re just lucky the gentleman who found it knew how to handle it, and knew to contact us,” said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “This reptile is capable of taking toes and part of a foot clean off. People are constantly walking by this area barefoot, including children.”

A father and son, both Suffolk County residents, found the reptile while they were preparing to go kayaking, officials said. Gross said that this freshwater reptile is not indigenous to this area, and is mainly found from eastern Texas to the Florida panhandle.

SPCA Chief Roy Gross handles the alligator snapping turtle on Thursday, Aug. 27. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
SPCA Chief Roy Gross handles the alligator snapping turtle on Thursday, Aug. 27. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Gross and Dan Losquadro, highway superintendent for Brookhaven Town, both said that this is another example of people dumping reptiles in public places, creating a serious threat and risk to the public.

“This is a dangerous animal. We don’t want animals abandoned. But we don’t want to endanger the public,” Losquadro said.

According to Losquadro, the turtle will be transported to the Holtsville Ecology Center, where it will be given shelter and a veterinarian will make sure it is physically healthy, and identify what gender it is.

The ecology center is a refuge for all abandoned animals. Gross said that over the years there have been many incidents of animals being released to the public, and that someone guilty of this can be faced with multiple charges and prosecuted.

Gross suspected this was originally someone’s pet, but stressed that this is not the kind of pet you want to have.

“I can’t imagine curled up on the couch watching television with this guy,” Gross said.

When transporting the turtle to the SPCA’s office, he said the turtle was able to make a hole in the container he was being kept in, and was trying to escape.

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