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Greenway Trail

The 10-mile route that the Port Jefferson Station to Wading River Rails to Trails project will take. Image from Legislator Anker's office

As hundreds packed the auditoriums of Shoreham-Wading River and Miller Place high schools the same sentiment reverberated off the walls — there’s not only a want, but a need for a safe place for children to ride their bikes.

After the deaths of two local children, the desire for the Rails to Trails project to push forward was prevalent among the Port Jefferson Station, Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Sound Beach, Rocky Point, Shoreham and Wading River residents who live along the proposed 10-mile trail.

“I don’t know if this trail is going to move forward 100 percent, but so far it’s picking up momentum,” Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said to the March 29 group in Shoreham. “We need the ability to ride bikes in a safe place, the ability to take a walk or push a baby carriage in a safe place.”

Residents listen to questions and answers during the meeting at Shorheam-Wading River High School. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The legislator, who is propelling the project, brought members the Suffolk County Department of Works and engineering company NV5 to her first general meeting to gather public input and answer questions.

“I need to hear what you want, because I’m here to make it happen,” Anker said.

Steve Normandy, project manager with NV5, discussed the flat surface and location being conducive to a trail.

“There’s over 1,600 rail trails nationwide over 20,000 miles,” he said. “They’re good for biking, hiking, walking, safe travel to school, and studies have shown businesses thrive and home values increase, it improves air quality and enhances sense of community.”

On March 28, the county Legislature unanimously approved a negative New York State Environmental Quality Review Act determination for the proposed 10-foot-wide trail, which would be opened from dawn to dusk. The adoption of negative SEQRA determination means that there is no anticipated environmental impact for the project.

The path will have paver markings and mile-markers for county miles, as well as emergency services to locate those in need. It will also meet Americans with Disabilities Act slope requirements. The design report was submitted to the state Department of Transportation in February. If design approval is received this summer, final design plans will be prepared in the next year in the hopes of received final design plan approval from the NYSDOT in winter 2018.

Currently, the plan is that construction will begin in spring 2019, for a fall 2020 finish.

“We’ve met with quite a few partners and discussed a bunch of different aspects of maintenance, but the biggest issue we anticipate is really going to be cutting the grass,” said county Department of Public Works chief engineer, Bill Hillman. “We’ll be asking the community for help, to pitch in with a lot of the different maintenance aspects.”

The hope is that a not-for-profit like the Friends of Greenway, which maintains the Setauket to Port Jefferson Greenway Trail, will form to beautify and preserve the attraction.

Kaitlin Brown, who moved to Wading River five years ago, said she entered the area because she loved the trees.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker responds to questions from the audience. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I want to pledge my support because I think it’s a wonderful component that our community doesn’t have, and it needs,” she said, adding she is willing to help mow and maintain the piece of property, which is owned by LIPA. “I found my house on the map, and it looks like one day when I have kids, they’ll be able to get from our house through back roads to the trail, and then take the trail to the high school.”

Judy Black, who has lived in the area for 47 years, said she’s been hoping the trail would become a reality from day one, back in 2001 before plans derailed, and again in 2011 when Anker tried to revive the idea.

“I so hope we can come together and make this happen,” she said. “With a son that rode his bicycle all over the place I was always worried about him.”

She explained how she once saw a cyclist fall on North Country Road trying to maneuver around a construction sign. She was in need of medical attention, and when examiners arrived, they asked her why she was riding along a major road.

“But where else do you ride your bike?” Black said. “We need a safe place to ride, to walk with friends, to expand our community connection, and I’m so for it.”

The ideas weren’t without opposition.

There were some like 10-year Rocky Point resident Mary Anne Gladysz, who said she’s felt like she’s been kept in the dark.

“I’m not in favor of this at all,” she said, although adding she would probably be in favor of Rails to Trials if she didn’t live near it.“This is in my backyard 24/7; you come for an hour-and-a-half walk and then you leave. I’m here all the time.”

Some of her concerns included if the trail will take property from homeowners, if cesspools will be affected and what issues her dogs barking toward the trail could bring.

Hillman and Anker reassured her that she will not be losing property, and cesspools will not be affected. As for dogs barking and noise ordinances, Hillman said it’s an issue Gladysz would have to take up with Brookhaven Town.

The trial currently doesn’t have any guardrails, fences, beautification elements, toilets or lights budgeted into the $8 million plan.

Those who would like to see where the trail will be located in relation to their homes could view individual hamlet maps during the meeting. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Anker said she is working on a plan to protect privacy along the path, and said Eagle and Girl Scouts typically do beautification projects, which could include adding benches and other useful things along the trail.

Others still worried about safety and other crime-related issues, were soothed by Sgt. Walter Langdon of the Suffolk County Police Department, and 7th Precinct COPE officer Mike Casper, who said there has been “little to no crime” at Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway Trail, but added that there will still be a police presence along the path.

By the end of the first meeting, those like Rocky Point resident Cory Fitzgerald were heard loudest, and supported by other community members for their opinion of the trail.

Fitzgerald has daughters aged 8 and 6, and both love riding their bikes.

“We take trips to Cape Cod every summer and the rail trail up in Cape Cod is phenomenal,” he said. “My girls ride their bikes more in that one week than during the entire year in Rocky Point. The roads in Rocky Point are very narrow and hilly, so I want to give my girls that opportunity to ride whenever they want. We’ve been waiting for so long — I’ve been told this was coming and I’ve been so excited and the girls really want this to happen. It’s going to be great for our community.”

Residents in favor of the trail, which some like Wading River resident Bruce Kagan are naming the “Tesla Trail,” because it will lead to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, were unanimous on the biggest topic of discussion: kids.

“This is the most deadly county for injuries and deaths for pedestrians and cyclists,” Kagan said. “There’s no place for our kids. Let us do this for our children and our children’s children.”

The first section of the greenway opens in 2009. Charlie McAteer (red shirt) watches as Herb Mones and Steve Englebright (holding scissors) cut the ribbon. Photo from Nick Koridis

By Susan Risoli

What could have been a highway nobody wanted became a nature trail everyone loves. The nearly-3.5-mile Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail is maintained by hometown people, with a little help from members of local and state governments.

Charles McAteer of Friends of the Greenway helps with a clean up. File photo by Alex Petroski

The volunteer organization Friends of the Greenway, and civic groups that support its work, are Times Beacon Record News Media’s People of the Year for the attention paid to a place enjoyed by many.

Community activism for the trail started in the 1980s, with a task force formed by state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket). The group wanted to stop the proposed construction of a four-lane Route 25A bypass highway, on New York State Department of Transportation land stretching from East Setauket to Port Jefferson Station. Englebright secured $2.1 million in state funds for design and construction of a greenway. The first section of the trail opened in 2009, and the project was completed with $5 million in federal transportation funds obtained by U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton).

Friends of the Greenway, a group affiliated with the Three Village Community Trust, grew out of the concern of those who wanted to watch over and improve the trail. Chairman Charlie McAteer said that through the friends’ trail stewardship program, people can “adopt” a section of the greenway. By taking ownership, volunteers agree to walk the path, removing litter and debris.

Stewards prune and mow vegetation, and supervise cleanups in their section. Any problems the trail stewards can’t resolve on their own — a fallen tree or broken lights — are referred to the community trust, to the Town of Brookhaven or to the DOT.

“Ultimately, government can only do so much,” McAteer said. “You always need people looking after things and helping maintain. You need those eyes and ears.”

Englebright said that just as the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station greenway connects communities, the Friends of the Greenway is the group that works to bring people together and engages them.

“Through scheduled cleanups and community programing, the Friends of the Greenway work step-by-step to encourage a culture of caring and connection that results in making the greenway a better place,” he said. “The friends should also be applauded for bringing local Scout troops into the mix, through volunteer days and being a prime location for Eagle Scout community service projects.”

Herb Mones, a member of the Three Village Community Trust’s board, said at first, some didn’t understand what a greenway could bring to their lives.

“There are many greenways around the country, but not many in Suffolk County,” he said, adding he feels that once the trail became a reality people embraced it. “A lot of people use it every single day because now they can see, feel and touch it.”

Trail steward Susan Colatosti keeps a close eye on the trail from her own property bordering the greenway. If she sees a sign knocked down or garbage cans overflowing, she reports the issue. When she sees litter clutter on the landscape while walking, she picks it up. Colatosti and other volunteers planted daffodils along the trail.

Eagle Scout Nick Brigantino (in uniform), from Boy Scout Troop 229 in Selden, leads an effort to install a bat house. Photo by Nick Koridis

“The trail has preserved this open space for posterity,” Colatosti said. “It’s a wonderful way for people to walk safely and see their neighbors.”

Boy Scout unit commissioner Nick Koridis spreads the word to local Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops, who have held car washes to raise funds to buy recycled plastic lumber for benches along the trail, and have donated labor to install the benches. Other projects have included installing mile markers, birdhouses, bat houses and street crossing signs. Younger kids clean up the trail with their parents.

“It’s all for the community,” Koridis said. “For the Scouts themselves, taking care of the greenway lets them have fun outdoors while learning the skills of working together.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) also has been involved with the trail since its beginning.

The greenway is “sustained by the labor of devoted volunteers, and because of their care the trail binds the hearts of two communities,” Hahn said. “The partnership of government and community has become the foundation of a recreational space that not only unites these hamlets to one another, but also to all people from across Long Island.”

Local Boy Scout Troop 454 helps beautify the Greenway Trail as part of a community service project, led by James Nielsen. Photo by Alex Petroski

The popular walking trail that connects Setauket and Port Jefferson Station is getting much needed TLC from some of the community’s youngest leaders.

Fifteen-year-old James Nielsen of Terryville Boy Scout Troop 454 organized a clean-up effort on the Port Jefferson Station end of the Greenway Trail Oct. 29 and has future plans to create a sign post with a smartphone scannable QR code that will provide historical information alongside a bench in the trail. The plan would be part of James’ process to become an Eagle Scout.

At the other end of the 3.4-mile long nature trail, Eagle Scout candidate Jake Linkletter also organized a clean-up effort and fundraised for a new kiosk in the Gnarled Hollow Road parking lot in Setauket.

Local Boy Scout Troop 454 helps beautify the Greenway Trail as part of a community service project, led by James Nielsen. Photo by Alex Petroski
Local Boy Scout Troop 454 helps beautify the Greenway Trail as part of a community service project, led by James Nielsen. Photo by Alex Petroski

The cleanups were started to remove brush and litter from the trail as part of a beautification process.

Charles McAteer, chairman of the not-for-profit organization Friends of the Greenway Trail, is grateful for all of the work being done by local Scouts, which he called “invaluable.”

“This community spirit is what has and continues to make the Greenway the community gem we all hoped it would be,” McAteer said in an email. “Civic groups like Scouts have contributed via their fundraising thousands of dollars for improvements to the trail as well as hundreds of man hours in cleanups and creating the various improvements. As mentioned, all to help the community keep the Greenway clean — fulfilling the needs of our citizens.”

James said he feels the community service efforts are important because it shows how many people care about the area and its trail.

“I’ve [been] sending out emails to the people in my troop and the people I’ve been working with on the project — the fundraising people who have been working to get my project improved — It’s been a bit of work, but I’ve been glad for all the help that I’ve been getting,” he said. “I feel like it’s a good community.”

James attends JFK Middle School, and his parents Steven and Jean are both teachers in the Comsewogue School District.

From left Marc Difilippo, Jake Linkletter, AJ Colletta and David Linkletter install a new kiosk on the Setauket end of the trail. Photo by Nick Koridis
From left Marc Difilippo, Jake Linkletter, AJ Colletta and David Linkletter install a new kiosk on the Setauket end of the trail. Photo by Nick Koridis

“It has been an unbelievable experience to watch him,” James’ father said of his son. “When he started he was kind of shy and introverted, and to watch him grow throughout the years in Scouts — taking a leadership role … I’m so proud of him.”

James’ mother stressed the importance of doing something positive to benefit the community.

“It’s really nice to see something positive in Port Jefferson Station,” she said. “I feel like living here forever, we need some things to be proud of, some things for our community. But to have some pride, and see all of these residents working together, it’s just very, very exciting. I’m proud of James and the Boy Scouts.”

Strathmore Bagels in Setauket donated bagels on the morning of the cleanup. James has also set up a crowd-funding website where community members can donate money to support his project. He has received almost $450 in donations, and his ultimate goal is to raise $800. To contribute to his efforts visit www.youcaring.com/james-nielsen-659986.

Footsteps for Furniture walkers assemble on the Greenway Trail. Photo by Susan Risoli

By Susan Risoli

People who cannot afford furniture sleep on the floor, do homework on the kitchen counter, and dream of a day they might invite friends over.

Open Door Exchange is a one-year-old, Setauket-based organization that offers gently used furniture to those who need it. The group held a walkathon Sept. 24 to raise funds and awareness for its mission.

Founder of the Open Door Exchange in Setauket, Kate Calone, examines a piece of furniture. Photo by Susan Risoli
Founder of the Open Door Exchange in Setauket, Kate Calone, examines a piece of furniture. Photo by Susan Risoli

On a rainy morning, 40 people gathered to walk the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail. Lake Grove resident Frank Miranda said he ventured out on the blustery fall day because “I’m a big fan of Open Door; all my friends are here’.”

As the event got underway, online pledges totaled $1,890 toward the walk’s fundraising goal of $2,500, said Open Door Exchange member Diane Melidosian of Stony Brook.

By the time walkers reached the trail’s end, the clouds cleared and sunlight filtered through the windows of the exchange’s nearby warehouse, behind Fun 4 All in Port Jefferson Station.

The all-volunteer group is an outreach of the Setauket Presbyterian Church. Founded last year by parishioner Kate Calone, the organization accepts donated furniture. Merchandise can either be dropped off at the warehouse, or volunteers will pick it up, by appointment.

Keeping furniture out of landfills is one of the group’s goals, and member Sheila Towers said volunteers have been known to pull over to the curb and scoop up perfectly good pieces placed outside with the trash.

The furniture is given free of charge. Calone said many of her clients are veterans, people transitioning to housing after being homeless or living in shelters, or families displaced by a disaster. After networking with social service agencies, Calone learned that providing furniture was often beyond their scope and their budgets.

“Other organizations were saying to us, ‘We’re just [giving furniture] piecemeal,’” Calone said. “So we said, ‘Okay, maybe that’s a gap we can fill.’”

“They get furniture, but we get just as much from doing this.”

—Sheila Towers

Open Door Exchange needs more dressers, small kitchen tables and chairs, and twin bed frames. Anyone looking for an alternative holiday gift idea is encouraged to donate to the “mattress fund,” Calone said, because she does not accept donated mattresses, but will purchase one if she or other volunteers find out someone is sleeping on the floor.

Even in this gritty industrial park, volunteers make the warehouse cheerful. A vase of dried flowers adds a splash of color to a furniture display. Visitors are greeted with snacks. Dignity is given to clients who come to pick out furniture. Calone said that was one of her intentions in starting the program.

“When any of us go to the furniture store to shop, we get to think about what we would like, and what would look nice in our home,” she said. This is no jumble of discarded stuff, but a space carefully set up so people can browse.

Volunteers of all abilities and ages are welcome, for one time — or on a continuing basis — as an individual or with a group. 

Open Door Exchange needs help with a variety of tasks, from driving a truck and picking up furniture, to greeting clients and doing an intake, to dusting the furniture.

Sheila Towers said the name of the organization reflects the exchange that flows between clients and volunteers. “They get furniture, but we get just as much from doing this,” she said. “Seeing the people take their furniture home and how happy they become, it’s a great feeling.”

To reach Open Door Exchange, call 631-751-0176 or visit www.opendoorexchange.org.

Marty Buchman, a cyclist for over 40 years, and owner of Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, rides down a path at Sylvan Avenue Park in Miller Place. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

It has been more than 30 years in the making, but by 2018, cyclists in the Town of Brookhaven may finally have a new 10-mile route to ride from Port Jefferson to Wading River.

The Rails to Trails Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to preserve land strictly for recreation and transportation, proposed to use old North Shore railroad track locations and pave the way, literally, for a bike path.

Railroad tracks used to lay behind Sylvan Avenue Park in Miller Place, which is where the proposed trail will run through. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Railroad tracks used to lay behind Sylvan Avenue Park in Miller Place, which is where the proposed trail will run through. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Marty Buchman, who lives in Stony Brook and opened the new Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, has been a member of Rails to Trails for 20 years and cycling for over 40.

“It means everything for us cyclists,” Buchman said of the project. “There is no joy like riding on a bicycle trail. The trail will bring economic development, health, jobs — I can’t understand why it took so long to get this started, but I’m absolutely overjoyed. I can’t wait. I’ll be here the first day.”

He has frequently rode along the Greenway Trail, which connects Setauket and Port Jefferson Station, and said that the usage and the joy people get out of the trail is exciting to see. He added that he knows the new trail, which will connect Port Jefferson Station, Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Sound Beach, Rocky Point, Shoreham and Wading River, will have the same impact.

“If you build it, people will come,” he said. “I’ve been cycling since I was 16, and when I ride, I feel like I’m 16 again. I feel like I’m connected to the world around me. I sometimes ride 30 miles to work.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (R-NY), Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) all helped give the proposal life, advocating for the project over the years in an effort to secure funding.

According to Zeldin, converting the rails into a bike trail had been discussed in 2001 when North Shore advocate Mike Cosel spoke to then-legislator Martin Healy about the idea, which has long been stalled since then. Though the projects roots date back much further than that. The previous allocated funding for the project sat for over five years, and was in danger of being cancelled and repurposed, so local officials worked over the past 19 months across party lines to restore the funding so the project could move forward.

Cyclists would no longer have to share the road with cars once the Rails to Trails project is completed. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Cyclists would no longer have to share the road with cars once the Rails to Trails project is completed. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Living on Long Island we are blessed with so many natural treasures, including our renowned parks and beaches, many of which are connected through our scenic biking and hiking trails,” Zeldin said. “Long Island’s trails are an important part of our local community and economy, connecting our residents and visitors to our beaches, parks, local farms, festivals, wineries, restaurants and other destinations, while providing an option of healthy recreational activity and transportation. In addition to improving quality of life and livability, trails help to protect our environment through conservation and by reducing traffic and pollution on our roads.”

The $9.51 million project, according to the congressman, will be 80 percent federally funded, with Brookhaven Town covering the remaining 20 percent.

“We’re going to take this and make this something that people can enjoy,” Romaine said. “This will be a great addition to what we have to offer for recreation in the Town of Brookhaven.”

For experienced cyclists, skateboarders, walkers or even first-time riders, safety was a main concern for all parties involved in approving the trails.

“Unfortunately Suffolk has the very dubious honor of having the highest fatality rates of cyclists on the road,” said Robert DeVito, president of the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association and director of the Nassau-Suffolk Bicycle Coalition. “We constantly go out riding, whether in a group or alone, always concerned [about safety]. With people today utilizing their phones more and more in their car, it’s really become an issue. We need safer areas to ride.”

The project will also provide an economic boost, as shops could set up along the trail. Anker said the goal is to create ecotourism where along the trail, community members and visitors can stop at the various hamlets, whether it be just to buy a bottle of water, to sit and eat dinner or even visit the Tesla Science Center.

Ashley Hunt-Martorano, director of marketing and events for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, talks about her excitement for the Rails to Trails project. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Ashley Hunt-Martorano, director of marketing and events for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, talks about her excitement for the Rails to Trails project. Photo by Desirée Keegan

According to Ashley Hunt-Martorano, director of marketing and events for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-profit organization focused on national policies to address climate change, it will also help create a safer place for cyclists to travel during ozone days, when county or state officials determine it’s not safe for bike riders to be out on their bikes.

“The more people get outdoors and engage in their community, the more they’re paying attention to the changes we’re seeing in our planet,” she said. “I have really fallen in love with riding my bike, and I love riding my bike on Long Island. I visit places I’ve never went before in my car. There are certain areas where it’s just gorgeous.”

Although there’s still more time to wait and see if the plan will come to fruition, for now, many locals are excited to hear there may be a plan in place.

“This project has always had tremendous support from all of the surrounding communities,” said Rock Point resident Jeff Carlson, who is president of the Rocky Point Civic Association. “We’re really happy that this is finally getting somewhere.”

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Norman Samuels and Herb Mones clean up the Greenway Trail.

By Karen Jillian

“It’s not a surprise that many people are calling the Three Villages ‘Long Island’s Bicycling Capital!’” So writes Herb Mones regarding the Setauket to Port Jefferson Greenway Trail. Mones, a member of the Friends of the Greenway, says “the Greenway Trail [protected open space constructed for conservation and recreational purposes] is a great community resource. Its second phase finished, it has now become “the longest paved greenway in Suffolk County — 3 ½ miles long.”

The Greenway Trail runs between Limroy Lane in East Setauket and the New York State Department of Transportation parking lot in Port Jefferson Station, near Route 112 at Hallock Avenue.

Due to the overwhelming amount of positive results associated with the path, Mones has decided to “engage the community in a program to enhance and beautify the Greenway through monthly cleanups and having the public adopt and maintain portions of the trail.”

A biker enjoys a section of the Greenway Trail.
A biker enjoys a section of the Greenway Trail.

A cleanup was held this past Saturday morning. The 28 volunteers were ably assisted by Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) who believes that “the development of the Greenway has been nothing but a positive asset and resource.”

“When I speak to people in my district about the trail, they mention they enjoy that it connects communities. At the beginning, when a new idea like this is introduced, there is always a level of fear from some in the community until people see what an asset it can be, especially once people use it,” said Cartright.

Local resident and volunteer, Norm Samuels, echoed her sentiments. “People are generally very happy with the trail and use it in many different ways:  walking, running, biking and dog walking. During the right weather I go cross-country skiing! Only complaint some have: no port-o-potty.”

Another hardworking elected official at Saturday’s cleanup was Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).An obvious environmental enthusiast, she said, “I was always excited about this idea of a trail. From social community, health and environmental  perspectives, we are all better for it. The good use of the trail drives out any bad use.”

The volunteers report that “bad use” consists of the occasional strewn trash, which is a light amount. As for people being worried about kids hanging out, non-usage of the trail or any negatives, the trail, has, instead, brought many positive attributes. Usage of the trail is very high. Most people have cleaned up after themselves and their dogs and traffic on Upper Sheep Pasture has slowed down dramatically because of the enhanced safety crossings and alerting of drivers to crosswalks.

But the best may be yet to come. This trail, which began as an acquired stretch of property in the 1960s and had originally been pitched as a bypass to 25A, had, in the 1990s become part of an alternative plan to become a Greenbelt Trail. Today the Friends of the Greenway are working with North Shore Rails to Trails “in an effort to extend the path from Port Jefferson Station to Wading River, which would create a 15-mile ribbon of bike paths,” according to Mones.  Not bad for something that started out over 50 years ago as a paper road for a vehicular bypass!

The trail, though, needs the community for it to survive and be maintained. The next clean up is scheduled for Sept. 26 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. If you would like more information on being a part of this growing community that uses the trail or would like to volunteer, you can call the Three Village Community Trust’s Friends of the Greenway at 631-689-0225.

The Greenway Trail runs between Port Jefferson Station and East Setauket. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

The Friends of the Greenway is hosting another cleanup event for the Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail on Saturday, Aug. 29, from 8 to 10 a.m.

Volunteers who want to help mow, prune, clip and beautify the community hiking and biking trail should bring gloves, trash bags, clippers, mowers, brooms or shovels along with any gardening tools. The helpers can choose an area on the trail to beautify and head straight to work — but please contact Charlie McAteer from Friends of the Greenway at cfmcateer@gmail.com to report the location — or they can report to one of the trailheads for an assigned task.

Participants can also help distribute information to trail visitors at either the Port Jefferson Station end or the Setauket end of the trail.

The Greenway Trail runs between Limroy Lane in East Setauket and the New York State Department of Transportation parking lot in Port Jefferson Station, near Route 112 at Hallock Avenue.

To take part in maintaining the trail apart from the cleanup event, contact McAteer to find out other ways to help.

Sketch from SCPD

Police have released a sketch of the woman whose skeletal remains were found near a stretch of the Greenway Trail earlier this year, and are asking for the public’s help to identify her.

The human remains were found on March 22 around 4 p.m., near a stretch of the 3.5-mile hiking and biking trail — which connects Setauket and Port Jefferson Station — off of Gnarled Hollow Road. At the time, police could not confirm whether the person was a male or female and had not determined a cause of death. But the Suffolk County Police Department said Aug. 4 that the deceased was a woman, believed to have been white or Hispanic and between 30 and 50 years old. She was between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall and had poor dental work, police said.

Police, asking for help to identify her, said her remains are believed to have been at the location for about a year.

Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at 631-852-6392, or to anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

The Greenway Trail runs between Port Jefferson Station and East Setauket. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

With the summer in full bloom, the Friends of the Greenway will mow, prune, clip and beautify the Greenway Trail — and the group would like community help.

Volunteers for the event, this Saturday, July 25, from 8 to 10 a.m., should bring gloves, trash bags, clippers, mowers, brooms or shovels along with any gardening tools. They can choose an area on the hiking and biking trail to clean or report to a trailhead for an assigned task.

The Greenway Trail, which opened in 2009, runs from Limroy Lane in East Setauket to the New York State Department of Transportation parking lot in Port Jefferson Station, close to Route 112.

A monthly effort to clean the trail will help maintain the community connection. Volunteers who cannot make the Greenway’s monthly beautification schedule can contact Charlie McAteer from Friends of the Greenway at cfmcateer@gmail.com to find out other ways to help.

Michael Cosel fought hard for people with disabilities, will be remembered as model of advocacy, generosity

By Alex Petroski

Michael Cosel is remembered as a staunch advocate for the community. File photo
Michael Cosel is remembered as a staunch advocate for the community. File photo

The North Shore’s own Michael Cosel will always be remembered as a relentless advocate for people with disabilities, according to those who knew him.

Cosel, a resident of Setauket for 44 years, died this week. He was 69 years old.

Cosel dedicated much of his life to improving the lives of others, his wife Ronne said.

“It forces me to reflect on those things and makes me realize just how deep and enduring his effect was on people and the community,” she said.

The couple was married for 48 years.

It is difficult to quantify just how many lives her husband touched, she said.

“He had a big heart and a generous spirit,” Ronne Cosel said. “We had a lot for ourselves so he had enough to share.”

In addition to his wife, Michael Cosel is survived by a daughter, Paige, and a son, Andrew. His mother, Claire, will turn 90 on Friday.

He leaves behind the Michael & Ronne Cosel Foundation, which was established in 2007 to fight for the rights of people with disabilities. The Cosels’ son Andrew, 43, has cerebral palsy.

Cosel was a coordinator for the Suffolk County Special Olympics. Because of those efforts, Andrew was the first student to attend Ward Melville High School with a service dog in the mid-1980s. Cosel also helped to set up a vocational program for students with disabilities to help them find work after high school. Andrew works at Stony Brook University Hospital today.

“We were a very big thorn in Three Village school district’s side,” Ronne said with a chuckle.

The North Shore native was also instrumental in helping to spark efforts to put in a pedestrian and bike path linking Port Jefferson to Wading River as well as the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail, which eventually secured $2 million under a federal grant to finance the project linking the communities.

Cosel’s efforts in the community did not in any way impact his dedication to his family.

Daughter Paige mentioned Cosel’s humor and generosity as the traits that she would remember most.

“As a father and a grandfather he was playful and generous,” she said.

Ronne Cosel had similar memories of the family man.

“He always had time to have dinner with us,” she said.

Along with his advocacy efforts, Cosel was a custom builder of single-family homes. In his spare time he liked to travel, scuba dive, sail and ski. His wife said she shared nearly 400 dives with her late husband over the years.

“I would have probably stayed home,” she said. “He was an adventurer.”