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Eaton’s Neck

Deer hunting via long bow has been a controversial topic in Huntington Town since first permitted in September 2015. Stock photo

Huntington Town Hall was as tense as a drawn bowstring as residents agreed to disagree on bow hunting as a means to address deer overpopulation.

The Town Board held its public hearing Sept. 19 on proposed changes to rules regulating the use of longbows for hunting.

The proposed changes, sponsored by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D), take aim at further restricting the use of a long bow under the town’s firearm regulations, not directly regulating deer hunting, which falls under the oversight of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

One major change would expand the definition of what is considered a dwelling to include farm buildings, school buildings, school playgrounds, public structures,  occupied factories or churches, as hunters would be prohibited from firing an arrow within 150-feet of these structures.

Diana Cherryholmes, an Eaton’s Neck resident of 15 years, said she has concerns about the potential of hunters accidentally shooting a resident, their children or pets.

“I’m very uncomfortable during deer hunting season taking a walk…”

— Diana Cherryholmes

“Currently, I’m very uncomfortable during deer hunting season taking a walk, riding my bike and I’m scared for the kids playing outside,” Cherryholmes said.

Her concerns were echoed by  Eaton’s Neck residents Charlotte Koons and Christine Ballow. Town officials first voted to permit bow hunting in September 2015 to see if it would help address issues of deer overpopulation in the shoreline communities. The proposed changes are in response to safety concerns raised by community residents about unknown persons traveling through properties and arrows being fired in close proximity to houses and people.

“I think this is a trial that didn’t work,” Ballow said. “I think the 150-foot setback is hard to comply with given the density that we have. [The] density is not right for this type of hunting in this type of situation.”

Doug Whitcomb, speaking on behalf of Eaton Harbors Corporation civic group, said hunters realize there are additional efforts that must be made in a small community  where they must interact with neighbors who don’t agree with the sport.

“We are challenged by it as well,” Whitcomb said. “We similarly feel compromised when we have people around us when we’ve been in the woods since 5 a.m. trying to do a service to the community.”

Mike Lewis, a volunteer for NYSDEC who has taught hunter education classes since 2006, told town officials the five-year average for hunting-related accidental shooting incidents in New York is 20 to 25 people a year — a total for hunters using firearms, shotguns, pistols and bows.

“The majority of these incidents are two-party accidents where two or more people are hunting in close proximity and someone makes a mistake,” Lewis said.

He said there has only been one reported accident which involved an accidental shooting while long bow hunting, involving an elderly father and son pair. During that incident the father mistook his son for a deer and shot him in the leg, resulting in a minor injury.

“To understand our frustration and fears, understand we are taking part in an activity that’s as old as mankind itself.”

— John Marcinka

“If you put in your time and practice, you can tell a deer with antlers from a female with no antlers, or someone’s cat, dog or child,” Lewis said. “The last thing anyone wants to see is any innocent person get hurt.”

Several avid deer hunters spoke out to ask town officials to continue to permit bow hunting, despite the regulatory changes, believing they provide a valuable community service.

“Your arrow is like a surgical utensil as it pierces right through, and is the most humane way of taking out a deer,” said Joseph Wine, a hunter from Eaton’s Neck. “I think hunting is one of the best ways to control the deer. It’s free and it’s cheap.”

Huntington hunter John Marcinka requested additional clarification from the board on the proposed change that would require hunters to provide written notification to the town’s Department of Public Safety and local police departments prior to beginning a hunt.

“To understand our frustration and fears, understand we are taking part in an activity that’s as old as mankind itself,” Marcinka said. “When we’ve gone hunting on other people’s property in the past, we get permission from the farmer or landowner and it’s done with a handshake and nothing in writing.”

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) directed Marcinka and other hunters to speak with the town attorney to work out specifics on how the written notice must be sent to property owners, how far in advance, and how frequently.

Town board members did not vote on the proposed changes Sept. 19. Their next town board meeting is not until Oct. 17, after the Oct. 1 start of the 2017 hunting season.

“I support amending the law as moving forward to a more permanent solution for relationships between people who don’t want deer hunting, like myself, and the hunters,” Cherryholmes said. “There must be a solution to help control the deer population and for the residents to have peace of mind.”

Photo by Wendy Mercier

The aim of allowing deer hunting to control the population in Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck has not exactly hit the target for many Huntington residents.

Members of the public expressed their continuing concerns over the policy enacted last year, which allowed bow hunting of deer in Eaton’s Neck during hunting season, during the March 21 town board meeting, and town officials assured them they understand many are not satisfied with the current law.

“I know there has to be a better solution because I think the solution that’s in place now is causing a hardship for the taxpayers and the people that live here,” Cindy Gabel, an Eaton’s Neck resident, said.

Gabel said she and friends have witnessed hunters assembling tree stands at night, a method to hunt deer, and she fears hunters are out when there is almost no visibility.

“It’s really dark out there at night and they’re hunting out there at night — I am sure of it,” she said. “I think one of the troubles you have is there really isn’t anyone besides the residents — I am trying to do it myself — going out at night and seeing if illegal hunting is happening. There’s not someone patrolling the streets and the police that are patrolling can’t really do anything about it anyway. There’s an awful big burden on us, the residents, about the deer hunting and it’s not really solving the problem.”

Gabel said whenever she calls the police about possible illegal hunting they instruct her to call the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and those officers are allowed to deal with any illegal hunters. But Gabel said it usually takes the DEC officers more than a half hour to get to the scene, leaving the chance of catching hunters slim.

Gabel was not alone in her fear night hunting could lead to dangerous situations.

“My fear too is that after 60 years on Locust Lane a stray arrow may mistake me or you for its quiver, so I ask you to deliver us from men in tree stands, from those deer slayers in tree stands,” Charlotte Koons, an Eaton’s Neck resident, said at the meeting.

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) assured the residents the town is listening.

“We’re looking at many, many different things because we are all concerned with the hunting,” Petrone said at the meeting. “We are looking at this very seriously because we know there’s a problem and we know that there are other problems as a result of this happening. So we share your concern, and the hunting situation that exists does not seem to solve the problem.”

The main problem the bow hunting for deer was intended to solve was the overpopulation in areas like Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck. Residents attended multiple town hall meetings last year citing their fear of deer causing car accidents and spreading Lyme disease as tick carriers.

But some community members feel this solution was not the right way to go.

“This is going to be the worst tick season we’ve had … the deer yes they carry ticks — so do we and so do white mice,” Gabel said. “We could kill all the deer in Eatons Neck, we’re still going to have the problem of the ticks and the Lyme disease so what do we do then? If someone gets killed in the process what have we all accomplished here?”

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said she and Asharoken officials intend to work together to try and find a new solution.

“Mayor [Greg] Letica is committed to working with us and the town attorney to see where we could have some common ground and also bring a proposal for you [Petrone] to review and consider for an amendment that would care for some of the issues and safety concerns,” she said.

At a March village board meeting Letica confirmed he spoke with Edwards about a possible change to the law.

“I had a phone conversation with Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards about the status of the draft law to amend the existing town deer ordinance,” he said at the meeting, “Councilwoman Edwards informed me that once a draft is complete she will share it with the village.”

File photo

Police assisted a Commack man on Sunday afternoon after he could not get back onto his boat and was struggling in the water in the Long Island Sound, a mile and a half north of Eaton’s Neck Point.

At about 4:30 p.m. on July 12, police said Russell Giannotti and his wife Kim Giannotti anchored their boat to fish when their fishing line became tangled in the boat’s propeller. Giannotti, 63, went overboard to clear the tangled line. When he attempted get back on the boat, his boarding ladder broke and he became stranded in the water. His wife threw him a life jacket and a rope but he was unable to put the life jacket on while in the water — although he was able to hold on to it for flotation. The Commack resident ended up becoming entangled in the rescue rope and started to struggle in the water.

A passing boater observed Giannotti in distress and called 911. The boater was unable to assist due to choppy sea conditions, but was able to give the victim’s location to police dispatchers. Two Marine Bureau vessels, a Suffolk County Police helicopter, the U.S. Coast Guard and Huntington Harbormaster Marine 3 responded to the search area.

Marine Bureau Section Officers Christopher DeFeo and Anthony Sangimino responded in Marine Bravo and were the first rescuers on scene. They were directed to the victim’s location via Marine VHF radio by the nearby boater, and once they positioned their boat close to Russell, they threw him a life ring, and pulled him aboard the Marine Bravo. On board, the officers treated him for exposure and transported him to the Soundview Boat Ramp in Northport, where they were met by rescue personnel from the Northport Fire Department. Giannotti refused medical attention for exposure and minor abrasions.

Huntington Harbormaster Marine 3 took the victim’s boat in tow. The victim was eventually reunited with his boat and his wife, and both were able to return to Huntington Harbor, on their boat, without assistance.

Deer rutting season means more of the animals running out on local roads. Photo by Rohma Abbas

With the first deer-hunting season in Eaton’s Neck coming to a close, Huntington residents and town board officials are evaluating if the new bow hunting rules are a success.

Huntington Town spokesperson A.J. Carter said in a phone interview that the board plans to gather different viewpoints and “assess what to do going forward,” to see if the town achieved its stated goal of cutting down the deer population.

The board voted to allow bow hunting of deer in early September, amending the town code to allow it in Eaton’s Neck under the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation during the state’s deer hunting season, between Oct. 1 to Jan. 31.

Joe DeRosa, an Eaton’s Neck resident and president of the civic group Eaton’s Neck Corporation, said he thinks this season has gone well.

A petition on Change.org calls for an end to deer hunting in Eaton's Neck. Screen capture
A petition on Change.org calls for an end to deer hunting in Eaton’s Neck. Screen capture

According to DeRosa, the community has hunted and removed more than 60 deer — and residents have noticed a difference.

“During the day, you don’t see too many deer at all,” DeRosa said in a phone interview. “The number of sightings has drastically declined since this time last year.”

DeRosa said his expectations for the town measure have been met.

Some residents do not share that sentiment.

A petition on activism website Change.org, created in November, now has more than 500 supporters who want the Huntington Town Board to stop allowing hunting in residential areas. The petition expressed safety concerns from neighbors who have hunters on adjacent lots acting close to their own properties.

“These deer slayers now roam freely in the Town of Huntington with no enforced restrictions, regulations or policing of any kind,” the petition states. “They come and go, killing and wounding at will.”

When the law passed in September, Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said measures would be taken so “it’s not just ‘Joe the hunter’ coming in.”

According to the resolution, anyone with a DEC permit can hunt on their own Eaton’s Neck property or on such a property where they have the owner’s consent.

DeRosa said residents were advised to call the Suffolk County Police Department with any complaints or concerns they had after the law was enacted, but neither a police spokesperson nor a DEC spokesperson could immediately confirm whether their departments received any complaints.

Many of the people who signed the petition are not actually from the Huntington area, with some living as far as Delaware and Pennsylvania.

DeRosa said the petition does not reflect the overall consensus of the community.

The Eaton’s Neck Corporation conducted a resident survey earlier this year, before the town took action, and more than 85 percent wanted something done about the perceived overpopulation of deer in their area, according to DeRosa.

“The community asked for help and they got what they wanted,” he said. “This is a community effort.”

The issue was a hot debate in the summer and fall, with many people concerned about the traffic danger deer posed as well as the threat of spreading Lyme disease.

In addition to the bow hunting law, the town board created a deer management program to research alternative methods of lowering the deer population, such as contraceptives or herding programs. Carter said that program is still in the early stages of development.

Does not compute
Early in the morning on Oct. 23, an unknown person entered an unlocked business on Oakland Avenue in Port Jefferson and stole a computer.

NoGood
An unknown person stole a woman’s wallet from her purse on Oct. 25 while the woman shopped at the HomeGoods on Nesconset Highway in Port Jefferson Station.

Got my eye on you
Police said a dispute broke out between two males on Main Street in Port Jefferson on Oct. 24, during which one punched the other in his face, near his eye. It was not clear if the victim needed medical attention after the altercation.

Left unlocked
An unknown person entered an unlocked 2005 Toyota Sequoia on Harbor Beach Road in Mount Sinai and stole assorted items between Oct. 22 at 9:30 p.m. and Oct. 23 at 3:30 a.m.

A clean getaway
At some point between Oct. 22 and Oct. 23, unknown people entered a residence on Norwich Road in Sound Beach through a basement window and stole a washing machine from the residence.

Beer me
Police said on Oct. 23 a man entered a store on Middle Country Road in Centereach and took a 12-pack of beer without paying.

Getting to work
On Oct. 24, an unidentified person stole work gloves and cell phone accessories from the Centereach Mall in Centereach.

Smashing pumpkins
An unknown person smashed a pumpkin in front of a residence on Ambassador Lane in Selden on Oct. 23, then threw another pumpkin through the front window of the residence. Police didn’t know if the individual was acting alone or with others.

Cold case
Police said three people took off in a yellow sedan after stealing five coats from the Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in Selden on Oct. 23.

Drove my Chevy to the jailhouse
Police arrested a 23-year-old woman from Centereach for driving while ability impaired on Oct. 23, after pulling her over for failing to maintain her lane while driving east in a 2004 Chevy on Chereb Lane in Port Jefferson Station. The officers arrested her at the scene at 1:15 a.m.

Larceny tour
Police arrested a 39-year-old man from Farmingville on four charges of petit larceny, after he hit different stores throughout the county. According to police, on Sept. 11, the man stole assorted merchandise from the Walmart in Centereach, then stole a snow blower from the Kmart in Farmingville 10 days later. On Oct. 5, he stole a vacuum from the Walmart on Middle Country Road in Middle Island, and on Oct. 20 stole toys from the Kmart on North Ocean Avenue in Farmingville. Police arrested the man at the 6th Precinct two days after the final incident.

Gone with the ganja
A 38-year-old woman from Mount Sinai was arrested for criminal possession of marijuana on Oct. 23, after Suffolk County police executed a search warrant at her residence on Island Trail in Mount Sinai. Officers found more than one pound of marijuana. Police did not elaborate on why the search warrant was issued.

Stay focused
A 33-year-old woman from Selden was arrested for unlicensed operation of a vehicle on Oct. 23, after she was pulled over while driving a 2005 Ford Focus down Route 25 in Centereach.

Low maintenance
On Oct. 25, a 25-year-old woman from Mount Sinai was arrested for driving while ability impaired. Police said the woman was driving a 2013 Hyundai east on Route 25A in Port Jefferson shortly after 1 a.m., when police pulled her over for failing to maintain her lane.

Targeted approach
A 42-year-old woman from Centereach was arrested for petit larceny on Oct. 25, after she stole clothing and toys from the Target on Pond Path in South Setauket.

Man gets batty
Police arrested a 50-year-old man from East Setauket for menacing after he prevented the female passenger in his 2002 Toyota from leaving the car on Oct. 26. The driver then exited his car with a baseball bat and hit her car. The incident occurred on Old Town Road in East Setauket.

Stolen apparel
A 36-year old man from Plainview was arrested after police said he stole assorted apparel from the Smith Haven Mall in Smithtown on Oct. 24. He was arrested at 1:20 p.m. and then, once he was taken to the 4th Precinct, police said he had an altered New York State identification card. He was charged with second degree forgery of an official document.

Smoke sign blows away
It was reported that business signs from Aroma Smoke Shop in Smithtown were damaged by four unknown teens at 4 p.m. on Oct. 24.

Xanax o’clock
Police said a 24-year old woman from Northport was in wrongful possession of Xanax at 5:55 a.m. at 4 Parsons Lane in Nissequogue on Oct. 22. She was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Not so lucky
Police said an unknown white man entered Gulf gas station on Nesconset Highway and fled with scratch lotto tickets on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.

Oxy-co-don’t
A 17-year old man from Smithtown was arrested after police said he was in possession of oxycodone at Commack Liquors on Route 25A in Commack on Oct. 23 at 6:05 p.m. He was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Rims gone
It was reported that two sets of rims and tires were stolen from a 2016 Cadillac Escalade at a dealership in Smithtown sometime between 10 p.m. on Oct. 20 and 8 a.m. on Oct. 21

Bad contact
On Oct. 22, a 23-year old woman from Commack was arrested after police said she hit someone on the head on Route 454 in Commack at 3 a.m. She was charged with second degree physical contact.

Home Depot items have new home
A 47-year old man from East Northport was arrested on Oct. 22 after police said he stole miscellaneous items from Home Depot on Jericho Turnpike in Commack at 10 p.m. He was charged with petit larceny.

Wrong turn
On Oct. 24, a 40-year old man from Bay Shore was arrested after police said he made an illegal left hand turn on Route 25A in Smithtown and they discovered he was driving drunk. He was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Boozing and speeding
A 36-year old man from Centereach was pulled over for speeding on Route 347 in Commack when it was discovered that he was driving drunk at 1:50 a.m. on Oct. 22. He was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Toke at the traffic stop
A 25-year-old man from Dix Hills was arrested when police said he had marijuana in plain view during a traffic stop on the corner of Lebkamp Avenue and Brennan Street in Huntington on Oct. 24. He was arrested at 7:50 p.m. and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Welcome to New York
Police said a woman was punched and kicked in the face on New York Avenue in Huntington on Oct. 24 at 3:12 a.m. She was transported to Huntington Hospital for treatment of a broken nose.

Under control
On Oct. 21, a 20-year-old man from Central Islip was arrested after police said he had marijuana and another controlled substance on him at the corner of Park Avenue and Pulaski Road in Huntington Station. He was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Police would not specify which other controlled substance the man had on him, nor why he was not charged with unlawfully possessing it.

Wild times
Someone reported that a wallet containing cash, a credit card and a driver’s license was stolen from a counter in Wild by Nature in Huntington on Oct. 23.

High times at the beach ramp
A 19-year-old man from Commack was arrested at 7:54 p.m. on Oct. 21 in the parking lot of the Hobart Beach boat ramp in Eaton’s Neck for having marijuana and another unspecified controlled substance on him. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Oh no in the Volvo
Someone entered a 1991 Volvo on Fort Salonga Road in Huntington on Oct. 23 and took medication and cash.

The nail polish remover
Police said a 30-year-old woman from East Northport stole 75 bottles of nail polish from a Walgreens on Larkfield Road in East Northport on Oct. 23. She was charged with petit larceny.

An unknown person stole numerous bottles of nail polish at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 21 from Walgreens on Larkfield road in Commack.

Puffing at the park
A 17-year-old man from Huntington was arrested after police said he possessed marijuana in plain view in Elwood Park in Huntington on Oct. 23 at 12:35 p.m. He was charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

On the fence about staying
Early in the morning on Oct. 24, a 41-year-old man from Centerport was arrested after police said he hit a fence at a residence on Dunlop Road, at the intersection with Greenlawn Road in that neighborhood, with a 2008 Nissan and fled the scene. He was charged with leaving the scene of a crash and property damage.

Minor problem
A 69-year-old man from Lindenhurst was arrested after police said he was selling a can of beer to an underage person on Oct. 23 on New York Avenue. He was charged with first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child.

Huntington Town Board votes to allow bow hunting of animals

Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

The Huntington Town Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to amend town code to allow bow hunting of deer in Eaton’s Neck under the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The board’s move was in response to Eaton’s Neck residents’ concerns of deer overpopulating their communities. Residents there have told town officials that they believe the animals have contributed to increased car accidents, tick-borne illnesses and a downgrade in their community’s quality of life.

“I think the Town Board did a great job in recognizing the fact that we have a problem,” Joe DeRosa, an Eaton’s Neck resident, said in a phone interview. “It’s a fantastic decision. It took the courage of the board to make this difficult decision.”

The decision comes after a heated summer-long debate, with some residents strongly in favor of this resolution, and others staunchly against it.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said that this resolution takes the town’s firearms legislation, and amends it to include deer hunting with bows on private property with the approval of the property owner after the hunter has obtained a DEC permit.

Deer hunting season is just around the corner, starting on Oct. 1 and ending Jan. 31.

The supervisor said that homeowners themselves would go in and decide how they want to handle hiring a hunter to shoot deer on their property.

“We’ve gotten community groups and civic groups involved,” Petrone said. The groups will help find someone qualified, a deer hunter or deer hunter group, to come in. He called it a safety measure, so “it’s not just ‘Joe the hunter’ coming in.”

Deer hunters need to be approved by residents before they hunt on the residents’ private property. Petrone said hunters would most likely have to sign something like a release before hunting.

Also, in a separate resolution, the board voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing to consider adopting a law to introduce a deer management program.

Petrone said he recognizes that some residents say that bow hunting is not favorable, and that they are more interested in a method to reduce deer numbers through using contraceptives. He said he’s been researching annual contraceptive drugs, which require tagging deer, tranquilizing them and following up every year. He has also learned of a drug called GonaCon, a contraceptive drug that would only have to be given once. The company that is offering this drug would actually pay for this drug, because they want it to be used, according to Petrone.

“A deer management program will provide for various alternatives,” Petrone said. “One of the things that’s really being looked at is the contraception concept.”

Concepts are also being looked at for herding programs, to help round up deer, and get a count of how many deer there actually are in the area.

“What this is is we’ve started the process, because there is a need to begin,” Petrone said about the mission of the management program. “Let’s now get into sophisticating this as a real management program.”

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) supported all the bills on the deer issue.

“I recognize the seriousness of this issue for the residents of Eaton’s Neck,” she said in a phone interview.

In terms of the deer management program, Berland said, “it’s a natural second half of this.”

“I think we need to look into deer management; we need a long-term plan. Not everybody wants hunting on their property. We have to appeal to everyone.”

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Above, the Northport Historical Society. Photo from Heather Johnson

By Eric Santiago

Over the last year, a group of Northport-East Northport teachers and students have worked to preserve an overlooked piece of Long Island’s history.

Eaton’s Neck was home to a leading patriot, forgotten except by a few local history buffs. Yet the biography of John Sloss Hobart (1738-1805) reads like the résumé of a Revolutionary War hero. Born in Connecticut, Hobart went on to graduate from Yale University, join the American resistance, help draft the New York State Constitution, briefly becoming a U.S. senator and eventually accepting a federal judgeship.

Unlike Revolutionary War-era icons like Nathan Hale or Paul Revere, Hobart’s name largely faded into obscurity.

“For some reason his name didn’t stand out the way theirs did,” Peter White, a retired social studies teacher who taught at Northport Middle School, said.

But there are pieces of Hobart’s legacy that survive. After his death in 1805, a close friend of Hobart’s, the judge Egbert Benson, commissioned a marble tablet in Hobart’s honor.

Bearing an inscription that praised his work in life, the Hobart tablet spent about the next 150 years in the basement of New York City Hall, according to a letter White co-wrote to the Northport-East Northport school board. This was until Richard Streb, a teacher at Northport High School, discovered the tablet in 1963. He convinced then-Mayor Robert Wagner’s administration to sell the tablet to the Northport-East Northport school district for $1.

A view of the tablet honoring John Sloss Hobart. Photo from Kathleen Cusumano
A view of the tablet honoring John Sloss Hobart. Photo from Kathleen Cusumano

It’s bounced around Northport-East Northport schools ever since, most recently embedded in the wall of the auditorium at Northport Middle School. When Streb retired in 1981, he asked White, his close friend and protégé, to look after the tablet.

It gathered dust in the back of the auditorium until last December when music department chairperson, Izzet Mergen, considered dedicating the space to former music department chairperson, Robert Krueger.

Realizing that moving the tablet would be a sensitive issue, Mergen contacted White, who then contacted Kathleen Cusumano, a permanent substitute teacher at Northport Middle School. A former student of White’s and a local history expert, Cusumano and the others formed a group to decide the tablet’s fate. The goal was to find somewhere the tablet could be seen and appreciated.

“We had the task of trying to figure out what to do with it,” White said.

Sensing this could be a valuable learning experience, Cusumano started recruiting students to help with the search.

“We have middle school students who are living on Hobart land,” Cusumano said. “There’s always that connection when you’re trying to teach history — that tangible connection of actually seeing something that really existed and didn’t just come out of a textbook.”

Now with a dozen students in tow, the group began exploring possible homes for the tablet. Several places were considered, with the Northport Historical Society, Northport Library and Huntington Town Hall as some of the most popular contenders. The students visited these locations before voting on where they would recommend the tablet be placed. Ultimately the school district, which owns the tablet, had the final say.

Heather Johnson, the director of the historical society, remembers when the students visited. She was particularly impressed with their thoughtful questions.

“For somebody who works in a historical society, we’re always trying get people involved of all ages interested in history,” she said. “There’s nothing more heartwarming and positive to see — really any group — but certainly a young group who are trying to make a difference.”

After the visit, the students started to lean toward the historical society, but they were reluctant to declare a permanent home for the tablet, Cusumano said. What if no one came to the historical society? Could they guarantee that some place like the library wouldn’t guarantee more visibility?

But the students managed to come up with a compromise, according to Cusumano; they decided to ask that the tablet only be loaned for a year. If the historical society turned out to be a poor fit, the tablet could be moved elsewhere at the end of the year.

The school board approved this recommendation at a recent meeting. According to district clerk, Beth Nystrom, the tablet will be moved to the historical society once the attorneys from both parties draft the formal agreement to loan the tablet.

For their part, Johnson said the historical society was proud and excited to add the tablet to their collection.

“When we found out we were the top choice, we were delighted and honored,” she said. “[The students] did their research, and that made it even more meaningful to be chosen.”

Cusumano also praised the students’ dedication. She stressed that some of the best learning can only be done outside of the classroom.

“I think when you experience — when you have experiential learning — it stays with you,” she said. “More things like field trips where [the students] can get involved, I believe, makes for a lifelong learner.”

Some Eaton’s Neck residents have set their sights on terminating deer through bow hunting. Stock photo

Residents of Eaton’s Neck are still divided on how to deal with what they say is an overpopulation of deer in their community, and it looks like the Huntington Town Board hasn’t come to a decision on the matter either.

The board held a public hearing last month to consider allowing longbow hunting during hunting season on private proprieties on Eaton’s Neck and in unincorporated areas of Asharoken to anyone who has a hunting license issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. It brought out those in support of the proposal and some against the idea. In interviews this week, board members said they have not currently made up their minds on how to proceed with the issue.

Residents expressed concerns about the deer population at the July 14 board meeting.

“Our major concern is safety — traveling our roads at night is hazardous,” Ken Kraska, a resident of Eaton’s Neck said at the meeting then.

After that meeting, the board hosted a public hearing about the longbow hunting proposal, where nearly 30 people took to the podium to speak about the issue. While some residents were very supportive of bow hunting to reduce the population, others felt it was an inhumane way to deal with the issue.

Some are still divided on this idea.

Doug Whitcomb, an Eaton’s Neck resident and member of the Eaton Harbors Corporation board, said in a phone interview this week that he supports longbow hunting. He spoke at the public hearing last month on the issue.

“We are overrun with deer,” Whitcomb said. “They no longer run from you. I was personally challenged by one yesterday, and not even my 150-pound Great Dane scared the deer.”

Whitcomb said that many of his neighbors now have Lyme disease, and he doesn’t want to wait until a member of his family contracts it before something is done.

“We want the same quality of life as every other resident, and we’re being denied that,” he said.

According to the DEC, which manages the state’s deer hunting, the Long Island deer population has been steadily increasing since the 1980s. The DEC considers hunting, or culling deer, is the most cost-effective and efficient way to stabilize or reduce deer populations, while also alleviating associated damages to private property and natural resources.

Christine Ballow, an Eaton’s Neck resident, said she supports more humane ways to handle this issue. She said she didn’t feel longbow hunting was 100 percent effective.

“I’m hoping this doesn’t go through,” Ballow said in a phone interview.

Wendy Chamberlin, president of the Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island, also shares the belief that bow hunting is a cruel and ineffective option.

“For sentient animals, that have thoughts and feelings, it is particularly cruel … it is a long, drawn-out, agonizing death,” she said in a previous interview.

Ballow supports hormonal sterilization of the male deer. “It’s a peaceful solution,” she said.

Joe DeRosa, an Eaton’s Neck resident, spoke at both board meetings, and is expecting a decision from the Town Board at the Sept. 16 meeting.

DeRosa is president of the Eaton Harbors Corporation, which conducted a survey of Eaton’s Neck residents. He said 85 percent of residents were found supporting some type of hunting to reduce deer numbers.

“The problem is getting worse by the day,” DeRosa said. “And we are running out of time. Hunting season starts soon. Our hope is that [the board] approves this idea.”

Suffolk County hunting season begins on Oct. 1 and ends on Jan. 31.

Town Board members this week either said they had no comment on the issue or that they had not come to a decision on the matter.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said he is “still weighing the testimony from the public hearing and the input from the public that has come in and may still come in before the board meeting,” according to an email from town spokesperson A.J. Carter.

Residents vet plan for Eaton’s Neck deer

Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

Dozens of residents weighed in at a public hearing on Tuesday on a Huntington Town Board plan that would allow seasonal longbow hunting of deer on Eaton’s Neck.

The proposal would amend the town code to allow longbow hunting during hunting season on private properties on Eaton’s Neck and in unincorporated areas of Asharoken to anyone who has a hunting license issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Nearly 30 people took to the podium at town hall to voice their concerns on the plan.

Those who supported the proposal, which would only apply to private properties, said they wanted the measure in place to regulate what’s become an overpopulation of deer in the neighborhood. The great numbers of deer have given rise to public health, safety and quality of life issues, supporters said.

Opponents called the plan an “inhumane” solution and suggested the town explores other deer management routes and raised questions about whether the hunting method would even be effective in curbing the population.

Among the residents who spoke against longbow hunting included some who have been impacted by tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme disease, an infectious bacterial disease that if left untreated can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system; and babesiosis, a disease caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells.

Dr. Gary Stone, Huntington Hospital’s chairman of pathology and director of the laboratory, said in an interview on Wednesday that the hospital has treated about 10 to 15 cases of babesiosis in total this year. Those cases are of individuals from the Huntington Town area, he said. The hospital announced in a statement “more are expected,” and said the disease is “prevalent in our area but sometimes goes unnoticed.”

“This has happened before but it doesn’t happen to do this degree this summer,” Stone said. “This summer is definitely worse than the last few summers.”

He said in research he’s carried out on cases at other area hospitals, it seems as though medical centers on the North Shore are experiencing greater numbers of cases of babesiosis.

“I’m thinking there’s a higher percent of ticks here on the North Shore actually have the disease than on the South Shore,” he said.

Doug Whitcomb told Town Board members that the population has exploded to the point where “everybody encounters deer on a daily basis.” He and others pleaded with board members to consider the elevated health risks associated with a large deer population and to allow longbow hunting.

“I am here to represent that the residents of Eaton’s Neck deserve the same opportunity to quality of life as all of the other residents of Huntington have, and deer are causing us unimaginable problems,” Whitcomb said.

Animal advocates, however, took aim at longbow hunting.

“Animals feel pain and experience a full range of emotions — happiness, contentment, fear and dread,” Jeannie Gedeon said. “They are intelligent. …  If you vote to allow deer hunting in the Town of Huntington we might as well go home and shoot our pet dogs and cats with an arrow and go watch them die.”

The uptick in the deer population has led to a rise in car accidents, residents said. They also claim the animals eat their plants.

Residents of the Eaton Harbors Corporation have been working on the issue. The group posted on its website a January meeting with DEC deer biologist Josh Stiller, who provided an overview of the deer population growth issue.

“The problem is going farther and farther west it seems like every year,” he told residents then. … “Deer can multiply really quickly under ideal situations and in a lot of these suburban areas you have an ideal situation for deer.”

In prior interviews, Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and Councilman Gene Cook (I) spoke about wanting to see a more humane approach to managing the deer population. In separate interviews after the public hearing, they said they hadn’t decided whether they’d support the measure or not.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) echoed similar sentiments. Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) told reporters that he felt something needed to be done and that he’d look into the issue further.

“It is getting out of hand. We have to do something. Are we happy about this alternative with bows and deer running and they’re shot? No. There’s no immediate quick fix,” the supervisor said.

Young bathers dive into the waters of a newly reopened beach at the Centerport Yacht Club. Photo by Rohma Abbas

The county health department warned locals on Friday against bathing at 25 Huntington area beaches, the morning after heavy rainfall drenched the North Shore.

According to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, it issued the advisory because the rain could have led to bacteria levels in the water that exceed state standards.

“The beaches covered by the advisory are located in areas that are heavily influenced by stormwater runoff from the surrounding watersheds and/or adjacent tributaries,” the department said in a press release, “and, because of their location in an enclosed embayment, experience limited tidal flushing.”

Affected beaches include Eagle Dock Community Beach, Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club beach, West Neck Beach, Lloyd Neck Bath Club beach, Lloyd Harbor Village Park beach, Gold Star Battalion Park beach, Head of the Bay Club beach, Nathan Hale Beach Club beach, Baycrest Association beach, Bay Hills Beach Association beach, Crescent Beach, Knollwood Beach Association beach, Fleets Cove Beach, Centerport Beach, Huntington Beach Community Association beach, Centerport Yacht Club beach, Steers Beach, Asharoken Beach, Hobart Beach (both the Long Island Sound and cove sides), Crab Meadow Beach, Wincoma Association beach, Valley Grove Beach, Prices Bend Beach and Callahans Beach.

The advisory was scheduled to be lifted at 9 p.m. on Friday, to give enough time for two tidal cycles to clear out the water. However, the health department said the advisory would not be lifted if water samples from the affected beaches showed continued high levels of bacteria.

For up-to-date information on the affected beaches, call the health department’s bathing beach hotline at 631-852-5822 or visit the beach monitoring webpage.