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Grant

The William Miller House is located at 75 North Country Road in Miller Place. File photo

A Gardiner grant is growing one local historical society’s reach.

The Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society announced the approval of a $4,750 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, which will be used to upgrade and enhance the format and capabilities of its website and social media platforms.

The Daniel Hawkins House was donated to the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society. Photo from Edna Giffen

“The website itself will allow us to better communicate with our members and the general public, and to build awareness about our society and the local history that we are stewards for,” historical society trustee Matthew Burke said. “Once the upgraded website is unveiled, we anticipate launching multiple social media outlets that will seamlessly connect with and populate our website to further enhance our outreach efforts.”

The Miller Place Historical Society was founded in 1979. In 1982, the name was changed to Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society to reflect the membership and the close ties that the two communities have had since the 1600s. Burke filled out the application, emphasizing how upgrading can continue to raise awareness of the historical significance of the hamlets and the buildings the society owns.

The main property is the 1720 William Miller House — the namesake of the town and the oldest house in Miller Place. Its listing on the National Register of Historic Places enabled the eventual preservation and restoration of the structure beginning in the early 1980s. In 1998, the Daniel Hawkins House, located just east of the William Miller House, both on on North Country Road, was donated to the society. It has undertaken a major fund drive to finance the restoration of the historic gem, with the hopes of using it an archival library and exhibition space. Doing this, will also allow for the William Miller House to become a living museum.

Becoming connected with the Gardiner foundation, according to Burke, could help the society in this process.

“We like to see organizations try to become more sustainable by broadening their outreach and embracing technology to make regional history more accessible.”

—Kathryn Curran

“We’re thrilled not only to have received the financial assistance, but to start developing a relationship with the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation,” he said. “Executive Director Kathryn Curran has already introduced us to other members of the Long Island preservation and history communities who may help us.”

Besides handing out the capacity-building grant, networking, according to Curran, is part of what the foundation is all about.

“We want historical societies to link to each other, so if somebody likes going to a Revolutionary War house or Civil War site, they would want to go to another — their success would be built on each other to create tourism,” she said. “We also want them to come to us in the future for funding for different kinds of projects to build their base, their audience and their supporters.”

She said history is hot — noting a rise in genealogy searching and finding different connections to their communities — so she said this is a good time for historical societies to be growing.

“We like to see organizations try to become more sustainable by broadening their outreach and embracing technology to make regional history more accessible to a new audience,” Curran said. “Historical societies don’t like change, and they really need to grow. These investments by the foundation are there specifically to help them become more self-sufficient and have a broader outreach. It’s all about making history an important part of the community.”

Part of the funds will go toward a new wireless network

Rocky Point High School. File photo by Desirée Keegan

By Kevin Redding

More than two years after New York State voters passed the Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014, Rocky Point school district is moving forward on its preliminary investment plan to fund improvements in educational technology and infrastructure for K-12 students.

At a school board meeting last week, Susan Wilson, executive director for educational services at the district, gave a presentation to the public about how grant money from the state, totaling $2.45 million, will be utilized.

“This is really to provide improved learning and educational opportunities for students in Rocky Point,” Wilson said. “Through the act, every school is getting a different amount of money and the state wants us to develop new and exciting things for school technology.”

If approved by the board of education in a March 20 vote, the district’s preliminary plan will be brought to the state and, from there, funds will kick in for the eventual installation of a high-speed wireless network throughout the school, which would require a full update of the current network.

“It’s a big deal for us because it gives us the ability to expand on our educational programs and allow us to start engaging with online testing.”

— Michael Ring

Of the $2.45 million grant, $525,000 of it will go toward the installation of the networks, while $510,000 will go toward upgrading infrastructure, leaving about $1.4 million left.

Wilson said she and the Technology Committee — the group that’s been working on the preliminary plan for over a year — are considering to use the leftover funds for classroom lab equipment upgrades or tablets or laptops. A technology meeting will be held Jan. 26 in the district office where public input is encouraged.

In fact, the district is offering a 30-day comment period for community members to weigh in on how the extra money should be spent, which started Jan. 9 and will continue through Feb. 9.

“It’s a thorough process that requires a lot of input from various stakeholders,” Wilson said.

Among the major stakeholders are teachers, students, parents, BOE members, higher education and district tech support.

According to Wilson, the turnaround to see the preliminary plan in action is completely dependent on the state and its approvals, but she hopes phase one, the installation of the wireless networks, will happen between September 2017 and September 2018.

The executive director said the initiation of the Smart Schools Bond Act partly served as a jumping-off point toward online testing in the future. New York has indicated that by 2022, all regents and state assessment exams must be taken online.

Rocky Point Superintendent Michael Ring said he’s excited for the upgrades and what it could do for the district.

“Once we have Wi-Fi we can go from having a handful of active wireless users who are on hot spots to thousands with access,” Ring said. “It’s a big deal for us because it gives us the ability to expand on our educational programs and allow us to start engaging with online testing. It’s a long process, but it’s worth it in the end.”

If you have any questions or comments regarding the preliminary plan, contact Susan Wilson at swilson@rpufsd.org. The technology meeting on Jan. 26 in the district office is open to the public.

Ru Jurow was able to afford this new home with the help of a grant from Community Housing Innovations. Photo from Douglas Elliman

By Guy Santostefano

For most, homeownership is a dream, and for many, it’s also a big challenge.

For some Long Islanders, owning a home seems financially out of reach, but that’s where Community Housing Innovations can help.

The cost of living continues to rise, while home and apartment rental costs make saving to buy a home nearly impossible. Lenders are now requiring larger down payments for many homebuyers — so a buyer seeking to land a modest $250,000 home on Long Island may need $25,000 cash up front, plus another $10,000 in closing costs. Saving $35,000 is not an easy task. But for those who qualify, help is available.

Community Housing Innovations is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-sponsored agency that assists first-time buyers in meeting the challenges of homeownership. From homebuyer education classes to credit counseling, and down payment and closing cost assistance, the company’s staff have the ability, and most importantly, the financial resources to help buyers realize their dream.

Grants earmarked for closing costs and down payments have averaged $25,000. Other programs offered through the nonprofit, in conjunction with the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, help a novice buyer arrange special savings accounts geared toward meeting down payment requirements.

“Being able to buy a home allows my children and I to have a sense of permanency and security.”

—Ru Jurow

Andrea Haughton, the director for home ownership at Community Housing innovations, reports that since 1997, 31 homes on Long Island have been purchased through the program, which has bases in Patchogue, Hempstead and White Plains.

For Ru Jurow, a graphic designer living in Farmingville, this program was critical.

A single mom, Jurow has been paying nearly $2,000 a month in rent and utilities for a small home in the Sachem school district.

“I wanted to stay in the same school district, as I have two teen children, both honors students,” she said. “And after 10 years in the same rental, we really needed more space and privacy for the kids.”

Jurow found a charming three bedroom, two bath home one mile from her current rental, and did a search on Google for grant programs for new homebuyers, coming across Community Housing Innovations’ website. She saw she met the requirements, and applied, receiving a $25,000 grant, which she said, must be split with 51 percent going toward renovations and upgrades, and 49 percent going toward closing and other costs.

“Being able to buy a home allows my children and I to have a sense of permanency and security,” Jurow said. “With the purchase of our own home, we can feel pride.”

According to Haughton, the grant is recorded on the home’s title as a second position lien for ten years. This encourages the owner to stay in the house and thus avoid paying penalties. Eligibility guidelines and other key information can be found on the organization’s website, www.chigrants.org, or by visiting their Patchogue offices.

“All three of us are incredibly excited,” Jurow said of her family beginning its new journey. “My daughter has been planning how she will get to decorate her own room and can’t wait to have big sleepover parties with her friends in the finished basement. My son is looking forward to having a work-out room in the basement and I am a huge baker and cannot wait to get into that kitchen and cook up a storm.”

Suffolk County Community College’s $2.9 million will be used to train individuals with the skills and credentials required to meet the growth in cybersecurity, manufacturing and health information technology. Photo from SCCC

A $2.9 million cybersecurity, manufacturing and health information technologies U.S. Department of Labor job training grant — the largest single grant in Suffolk County Community College history — has been awarded to the college.

The college will collaborate with Suffolk County Workforce Development Board, New York State Department of Labor, Suffolk County Department of Labor and independent business, including Alken Industries Inc., GKN Aerospace Monitor Inc., Precipart Inc. and Custom Computer Specialists Inc., as well as business-related nonprofit organizations the Manufacturing Consortium of Long Island, Long Island Science Technology Engineering and Math Hub and New York State Workforce Development Institute in executing the grant.

The $2,949,237 Resources and Education that Support Training Opportunities within the Regional Economy (RESTORE) Grant, according to college president Shaun L. McKay, will be used to train individuals by providing them with the skills and credentials required to meet the growth in cybersecurity, manufacturing and health information technology.

“The RESTORE Grant will allow our college to focus new and additional resources on recognizing and empowering residents in our region … to develop new skills and earn higher wages.”

—Shaun McKay

RESTORE is part of the federal government’s national TechHire initiative that is funded by H1B visa fees, nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science and medicine; and intended to train local workforces with the skills required by regional industry.

“The RESTORE Grant will allow our college to focus new and additional resources on recognizing and empowering residents in our region with the education and training they need to develop new skills and earn higher wages,”  McKay said.

The president explained that some workers may be just starting their careers, while others may be older workers who don’t have the basic skills to allow them to assume more responsibility and reach higher paying roles. Others could also be workers who may have the competencies but not formal credentials to excel at a more senior-level job in their field.

The RESTORE Grant will provide the resources for retraining individuals and upskilling to earn an associate’s degree and transfer to a baccalaureate program for expanded career options. Boot camp training programs will be developed and students will prepare for online coursework while learning valuable industry and job readiness skills to help them excel.

McKay said the college envisions the RESTORE Grant providing training for 350 students.

“Ultimately,” McKay said, “our goal is to ensure that local, highly trained and motivated individuals remain on Long Island.”

Friendship Beach in Rocky Point will receive renovations to improve the infrastructure which will limit erosion and enhance water quality. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

Friendship Beach in Rocky Point is next on the list of local beaches receiving renovations.

The Brookhaven Town Board recently adopted a resolution approving a $1,215,000 bond to pay for erosion control and drainage improvements, which will limit pollutants in local ground and drinking water, while also helping to improve the water quality of the Long Island Sound.

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) secured the Federal Emergency Management Agency funding through a State Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant, which is given to help reduce or eliminate long-term risk from natural disasters. Friendship Beach, along with others on the North Shore, was heavily affected following Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“This project will help us not only from an erosion standpoint, but also to prevent pollution,” Losquadro said. “The hazard mitigation program allows us to repair or replace, but replace with something much better and stronger. It hardens our infrastructure to leave us less vulnerable to damage from future storms.”

“The hazard mitigation program allows us to repair or replace, but replace with something much better and stronger. It hardens our infrastructure to leave us less vulnerable to damage from future storms.”

—Dan Losquadro

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) recently spoke about the significance of the Sound at press conference at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, where he called on the Environmental Protection Agency to keep its commitment to permanently close the Eastern Long Island Sound disposal sites.

“The Long Island Sound, an EPA designated Estuary of National Significance and one of the nation’s most populated watersheds, is a cultural and natural treasure that provides a diverse ecosystem with more than 170 species of fish, over 1,200 invertebrates and many different species of migratory birds,” he said. “The Sound is also essential to the everyday economy and livelihood of millions of Long Islanders. Over the years, water quality on Long Island has suffered severely from issues such as pollution and overdevelopment, but through work between the EPA, state and local governments, and dedicated Long Islanders, progress has been made to improve water quality and ecosystem health in the Sound.”

Improving the local North Shore beaches will help eliminate some of the waste that makes it’s way into the Sound.

According to the highway superintendent, improvements at Friendship Beach include the addition of armoring stone, which are two to three-ton granite boulders that are used to strengthen and fortify the area; over 200 feet of bulkheading; replacing the drainage system with a filtration system that includes catch basins that separate sediments and solids rather than it being discharged into the water; along with replacing the stairs and planting native beach grass.

What Losquadro said is important about armoring stone is that unlike worn down Long Island boulders, the blasted granite the town will be installing is angular, helping the stones lock together to protect beaches. This is unlike the rounded edges of natural existing stone, which is easier for material like sand and debris to slide around the edges. The new uniform surface will stop the sand from migrating or getting sucked out by hydraulic action, to limit erosion. There will also be stone placed above the boulders, to disperse the energy of waves and help prevent water and sand from breaching the wall.

Improvements to Friendship Beach in Rocky Point include the addition of armoring stone and and a filtration system. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Improvements to Friendship Beach in Rocky Point include the addition of armoring stone and and a filtration system. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said it has been a long time coming.

“I sat in on several meetings with FEMA and was at the beaches with FEMA representatives showing them the magnitude of the problem,” she said. “The areas along the North Shore have become severely compromised, especially because everything around here flows downhill.”

Sills Gully Beach in Shoreham and Amagansett Drive in Sound Beach are two areas that have already received upgrades, although the restoration part of the cleanup at Amagansett Drive will not be covered by FEMA. Currently, the highway department is working on completing Gully Landing improvements in Miller Place, and is close to getting approval to renovate Hallock Landing. Broadway is also on the town’s list.

Losquadro said dealing with FEMA, is unlike the normal process of getting help from the town’s environmental division or the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The Environmental Protection Agency and United States Army Corps of Engineers are involved, which make sure the undertakings are well vetted and that the completed project meets stringent guidelines.

“This is an instance where being persistent and consistence really pays off,” Bonner said. “As a resident of the community I know how vital these structures are to bluff stabilization and water quality. These projects will help the Long Island Sound for fisherman, users, the fish that live in the water — there’s a whole host of reasons why this is a good thing. This is another spoke in the wheel to assure water quality by reducing stormwater runoff and pollutants associated with it.”

Money will fund the purchase of a cataloging program

Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe’s new grant will help the center document important information and provide a temperature controlled-storage unit to house artifacts. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe rang in the new year with another grant.

On Jan. 5, the center announced that it received a grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. The news comes just two days before the anniversary of Nikola Tesla’s death, which was on Jan. 7, 1943.

The money from the grant will fund the purchase of a cataloging program and storage unit. While the new unit allows the center to store artifacts and collections, the program, PastPerfect, will help the center record and document those artifacts and collections.

The organization applied for the $3,800 grant in October and was approved the following month. Although it received the grant in December, the organization was unable to buy the program at the time. But the news that they received the full $3,800 grant was a surprise.

The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation supports and aims to preserve New York State history, particularly in Suffolk County. The foundation is known for meeting organizations halfway on an approved grant.

“We support [the organizations],” said Kathryn Curran, president of the foundation. “But they also need to find ways to be sustainable.”

Organizations applying for a grant must be able to fund half the money it requests on the application. Curran said Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe received the full grant they applied for because the organization wasn’t requesting a significant amount of money and because, when it comes to fundraising, Curran said, the center is one of the best. Although Tesla Science Center applied for the grant in hopes of purchasing the program, Treasurer Mary Daum said the program hasn’t been installed yet, but will be soon.

In 2012, the center raised $1.37 million dollars in one month from a crowdfunding campaign. Daum said this was the organization’s first real fundraising campaign. The money they raised helped purchase the Tesla Science Center property at the time. As Nikola Tesla’s last and only existing laboratory, Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is world-renowned, leaving them with thousands of followers. Some followers are active donors, while others like to keep up with the center’s newsletter.

Although the organization didn’t use crowdfunding to help raise money for its last fundraiser, they raised around $17,000 during its six-week campaign.

“We’ve done so much work on construction or improving the grounds, and that’s not the kind of thing the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation supports,” Daum said. “But what they do support is preserving Long Island’s historic legacy.”

While it was the first time the center applied for a grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, it wasn’t the first time the foundation gave an organization the full grant it applied for. The foundation wants to know that organizations like the center at Wardenclyffe are meeting their fundraising goals.

It will be a few years before the center achieves its main goal of establishing a science center and museum, but Jane Alcorn, president of Tesla Science Center, said it recently purchased a collection of historic electrical equipment that are similar to tools Tesla may have used during his lifetime and other artifacts the center can catalog.

“We feel very fortunate that the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation provided funding for us to start our collection on the right foot,” Alcorn said. “We’re grateful to their foresight in providing grants to us and local institutions.”

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Hurricanes have caused power outages in recent years. File photo

Port Jefferson Village will study its own potential in hooking up the community to a backup energy grid, thanks to a $100,000 grant it won last week.

The governor recently announced that several dozen communities across New York, including Port Jefferson, were awarded grants through a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority competition to perform feasibility studies on building the backup grids, known as microgrids.

Microgrids are independent of the regional grid and rely on their own power-generating resources — and thus can keep communities going during power outages. According to the governor’s office, the grids “would integrate renewable power with other advanced energy technologies to create a cleaner, more affordable and more resilient localized energy grid for a limited number of users.”

Port Jefferson Village officials began exploring the idea earlier this year because the area has several critical community and emergency services packed into a small area, and those services cannot stop when an event like a hurricane or a snowstorm knocks out power.

“During a severe weather event such as we had with [hurricanes] Irene and Sandy, where the hospitals lost power and some of us lost power — some up to 14 days, [and the] hospitals were out eight to 10 days — those … patients that were on critical care services were put in harm’s way,” Mayor Margot Garant said during a previous village board meeting. “So basically if we have a microgrid during those severe weather systems … where the overall grid goes down, we flick a switch and keep our critical services online.”

The $100,000 the village won was in the first stage of grants through NYSERDA’s microgrid funding competition. After Port Jefferson works with consultants and local stakeholders, such as the fire department, over the coming months to research its project proposal from technical, operational and financial standpoints, it may apply for more funding to advance microgrid construction efforts.

In choosing which projects to award grants to, NYSERDA is using criteria such as the area’s level of vulnerability to outages, how a microgrid would improve community function and the possible effect on ratepayers.

“We have two major hospitals, a ferry, a railroad station, our own school district, a village hall, a wastewater treatment facility, a groundwater treatment facility, an ambulance company,” Garant said. “We have a lot of emergency services-related components within a very small radius.”

Port Jefferson is not the only local government working toward microgrid grant money. The Town of Brookhaven and the Town of Huntington were also awarded $100,000 grants to perform studies on their own proposed projects — Brookhaven Town, with help from Brookhaven National Laboratory, is seeking to put in a grid to support Town Hall as an emergency operations center and two nearby Sachem schools as emergency shelters; Huntington Town wants to build a backup grid for their own Town Hall, Huntington Hospital, the local wastewater treatment plant and community centers.

Between Nassau and Suffolk counties, NYSERDA awarded grants to 14 projects.

Power generation and distribution in the U.S. used to operate at a local level, but grids became more regional over time to make utilities more cost-effective and reliable, according to NYSERDA’s website.

“These systems are, however, vulnerable to outages that can impact large regions and thousands of businesses and citizens, particularly as a consequence of extreme, destructive weather events.”

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Hurricanes have caused power outages in recent years. File photo

With several emergency services packed into a small area, Port Jefferson Village officials hope to secure a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority toward building a local backup energy grid to be used in case of a crisis.

The village applied for the NYSERDA grant to build the backup grid, known as a microgrid, through a statewide competition because of the critical community services that cannot stop functioning during a power outage, Mayor Margot Garant said.

“During a severe weather event such as we had with [hurricanes] Irene and Sandy, where the hospitals lost power and some of us lost power — some up to 14 days, [and the] hospitals were out eight to 10 days — those … patients that were on critical care services were put in harm’s way,” Garant said at the village board of trustees meeting Monday night. “So basically if we have a microgrid during those severe weather systems … where the overall grid goes down, we flick a switch and keep our critical services online.”

Microgrids are independent of the regional grid and rely on their own power-generating resources. NYSERDA may award up to $40 million total to help communities around New York State build those microgrids.

Port Jefferson Village is not the only municipality on Long Island applying for a slice of the pie. Huntington Town officials recently agreed to pursue the grant funding for their own microgrid, to support buildings like Huntington Hospital and the town’s wastewater treatment plant. And a month ago, NYSERDA awarded the first five grants — $100,000 each — to communities from Buffalo to East Hampton, so the applicants could perform feasibility studies on their projects.

NYSERDA expects to announce the next round of grant winners soon.

“We have two major hospitals, a ferry, a railroad station, our own school district, a village hall, a wastewater treatment facility, a groundwater treatment facility, an ambulance company,” Garant said. “We have a lot of emergency services-related components within a very small radius.”

Port Jefferson is listed on the NYSERDA website as one of five “opportunity zones” on Long Island where microgrids might reduce strain on the regional utility system and have other positive benefits. The other zones are Long Beach, Montauk, Hewlett Bay and Inwood. Statewide, there are eight other regions that have their own opportunity zones.

With a $100,000 grant, the village would work with consultants and local stakeholders, like the fire department, to research the Port Jefferson project. In choosing which projects to award grants to, NYSERDA is using criteria such as the area’s level of vulnerability to outages, how a microgrid would improve community function and the possible effect on ratepayers.

Although power generation and distribution in the United States used to operate at a more local level, the grids have become more regional over time to make the utilities more cost-effective and reliable, according to NYSERDA’s website.

“These systems are, however, vulnerable to outages that can impact large regions and thousands of businesses and citizens, particularly as a consequence of extreme, destructive weather events,” the website said. “Microgrids could help minimize the impact of these outages by localizing power generation, distribution and consumption so that a fallen tree or downed wire will not interrupt critical services for miles around.”

Projects awarded the $100,000 grants to perform feasibility studies will later be eligible to apply for more funding under the NYSERDA program, to advance the microgrid construction efforts.

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