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Heritage Park

Mount Sinai’s Heritage Park held its annual breakfast with Santa Sunday.

A buffet breakfast complete with eggs, Belgian waffles, bacon, sausage, bagels, fresh fruit, juice and hot beverages was served inside the Heritage Center as families waited to take a photo with Santa Claus. Each child also received a favor for attending one of the three sessions Dec. 10.

Following the full buffet breakfast, Johnny Whimple and the kids in attendance filled the room with Christmas spirit with a holiday music sing-along.

Non-perishable food donations were also collected during the event for a local food pantry.

From left to right, Thomas Bokinz, Grace Burns, Anthony D’Angio, Alexandria Sanatore and Brett Petralia at the new reading center at Heritage Park. Photo from Grace Burns

READING AL FRESCO

The Heritage Park in Mount Sinai keeps getting better and better. Recently Grace Burns of Girl Scout Troop 004 created a nature-themed reading center directly behind the park’s new Little Free Library for her Gold Award project. “After the park moved the Little Free Library near The Shack, it hadn’t been recognized to it’s full potential,” said the 17-year-old in a recent email. The Mount Sinai High School senior is hopeful the sitting area will spark more interest in reading and hopefully some more visitors to the library.

But that’s not all. According to Burns, the project is still in the works. “I’m currently running a book drive to restock the library and I’m creating signs that will draw more attention to the area. One sign reads, ‘You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book,’ by Dr. Seuss.” “I’m superexcited to be working on this and I’m hoping to establish a Volunteer Reading Program to be up and running in the spring time,” said Burns, adding, “A huge part of this project has come from my love of teaching and reading, as I wish to pursue a career as an English teacher next year in college.”

Heritage Park is located at 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk. Check out the Little Free Library and sit for awhile, courtesy of Grace Burns. And remember, take a book, leave a book. For more information, call 631-509-0882.

Events were held across the North Shore last week in honor of Veterans Day.

State and local officials gathered to remember all those who served, and celebrate those still serving at local parks and memorials.

Events included a Veterans Day service at Sound Beach Veterans Memorial Park. Resident Debbie Goldhammer presented Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto and all of the veterans in attendance with a themed painting and three hand-painted rocks from her client David Weinstein, a quadriplegic who couldn’t be in attendance but wanted to thank his local veterans.

Heritage Park in Mount Sinai displayed its annual Parade of American Flags. Members of Mount Sinai Boy Scout Troop 390 — Brian McCrave, Trevor Satchell-Sabalja, John Lamparter, Kim DeBlasio, Joseph McDermott, Matthew Lamparter, Brandon McCrave, John DeBlasio and Jake DeBlasio — helped assemble the flags.

A speech and presentation of wreaths ceremony commemorated the day at East Setauket Memorial Park.

Huntington Town officials paid a special tribute to all those who have served in the United States Armed Forces in a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 5 at 9 a.m. The ceremony placed special recognition to this year commemorating the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I with a flowered wreath laid at the flagpole memorial.

In addition, Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) held a moment of silence for two Huntington veterans who have recently died.

Dominick Feeney Sr., a longtime Huntington Town highway supervisor and former organizer of the town’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade,  served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He died Oct. 15.

Northport resident Alice Early Fay, served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and Korean War and received many awards including the World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, and the National Campaign Medal.  She was a member of the Huntington Veterans Advisory Board and was chairwoman of the committee that built the town’s Women Veterans Memorial in front of town hall. Fay died Nov. 2.

Tree decorated in honor of national Breast Cancer Awareness month

Sound Beach resident Patti Kozlowski, founder of the nonprofit North Shore Neighbors Breast Cancer Coalition, places a flag with her friend Camille's name under the Pink Tree for Hope at Mount Sinai's Heritage Park. Photo by Kevin Redding

Throughout October, a tree at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai will be pretty in pink in celebration of national Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Up to 5,000 lights on the Pink Tree for Hope, which sits in front of the Heritage Center on Mount Sinai-Coram Road and overlooks the park, burned bright during a ceremony Oct. 4 held by Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and the nonprofit North Shore Neighbors Breast Cancer Coalition.

The Pink Tree for Hope glows pink at Heritage Park in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Photo by Kevin Redding

The glowing tree will serve as a reminder to passersby of the importance of breast cancer prevention by way of early detection screenings and education. The names of local breast cancer survivors and those who lost their lives to the disease are displayed on little flags around the tree.

“There’s not one person I know that has not been affected by breast cancer in one way or another,” said Anker, whose grandmother passed away after a long fight with the disease. “I am honored to partner with the North Shore Neighbors Breast Cancer Coalition to raise awareness about the prevalence of breast cancer, honor our loved ones lost to breast cancer, and support survivors across Long Island.”

Anker encouraged residents to work together and support groups like the coalition to help find a cure for breast cancer. The North Shore Neighbors Breast Cancer Coalition, founded in 2001 by Sound Beach resident Patti Kozlowski, is a grassroots organization that raises funds to provide non-medical or support services for local families fighting breast, gynecological and other forms of cancer. If someone is out of work for a number of weeks during and after breast cancer treatment, it can be devastating financially, Kozlowski said.

“We need to help raise awareness and hopefully help people understand the magnitude of what we’re dealing with,” said Kozlowski, who will be collecting donations to support the nonprofit’s mission at the park throughout the month. “Treatment is incredibly important.”

Darlene Rastelli, assistant director at the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center at Stony Brook Medicine, set up at a table during the ceremony to spread the word that “early detection is the best prevention.”

A flag placed in honor of a man’s wife, a breast cancer survivor, sits under the Pink Tree for Hope at Heritage Park. Photo by Kevin Redding

The American College of Radiology, Rastelli said, recommends women over the age of 40 have a breast screening once a year.

“It’s so important to screen not only in October, but throughout the year,” she said. “Breast cancer is not a death sentence anymore. If you get your screenings done early enough, it can be managed early and you can survive.”

Miller Place resident Felicia Lopez said she was scared when she was diagnosed in 2011, because she wasn’t educated and assumed the worst.

“I didn’t know anything about it, but the doctors comforted me and told me it was curable,” said Lopez, who is now cancer-free. “You have to be your own advocate. You have to check your own body regularly.”

Before the ceremony, Kozlowski, who started her nonproit as a way to inspire women to come together, wrote her friend Camille’s name on a flag.

“She’s a co-worker of mine who retired Aug. 31 and was diagnosed with breast cancer Sept. 1,” Kozlowski said before placing the flag under the tree. “I think this tree will give people a good feeling to know they’re not alone.”

The Pink Tree of Hope, adorned with lights donated and installed by Bob Koch of Koch Tree Services Inc., will be lit throughout October at 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai.

Learn more about the North Shore Neighbors Breast Cancer Coalition at https://www.facebook.com/NSNBCC/.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (fourth from left) with local community members around the Pink Tree for Hope at Mount Sinai’s Heritage Park. Photo by Kevin Redding

More to come as next location is planned for Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson

Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society Vice President Antoinette Donato unveils the new Little Free Library in front of the William Miller house in Miller Place. Photo by Kevin Redding

Outside the oldest house in Miller Place sits the newest public library on the North Shore.

What might initially appear to be a newly installed, red-and-white mailbox in front of the William Miller House at 75 North Country Road is actually a Little Free Library, where residents of all ages are encouraged to pick up or drop off a book while on the go.

The mini library, which is shaped like a tiny schoolhouse and currently holds between 15 and 20 books ranging from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to “Goodnight Moon,” stands as the most recent free book exchange program to sprout up on Long Island, with others installed at West Meadow Beach and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai last year.

Books inside the new Little Free Library in front of the WIlliam Miller House in Miller Place were donated by the Port Jefferson and Comsewogue libraries. Photo by Kevin Redding

The idea for the book-sharing movement, which has spanned more than 70 countries around the world since the first little library was built by Todd Bol of Wisconsin in tribute to his mother in 2009, is that with a quick turn of a wooden latch, it can increase book access for readers of all ages and backgrounds and to inspire a love of reading and community connection.

Members of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society unveiled their new addition Aug. 9 to a large crowd of smiling faces, which included residents, elected officials and representatives from Port Jefferson Free Library and Comsewogue Public Library. The two libraries partnered with the historical society to buy and sponsor it.

“I woke up this morning and I had the Mister Roger’s song in my head, ‘Oh what a beautiful day in the neighborhood,’” said Antoinette Donato, vice president of the historical society, during the ceremony. “This little library is symbolic of how our community comes together … and a community is strengthened when all the different organizations work well together. So when you reach into that box to put something in or take something out, please remember that you’re also reaching into your community. I hope it’s a very active library.”

Tom Donlon, director of Port Jefferson Free Library, said when he and Debbie Engelhardt, director of Comsewogue Public Library, decided to partner up to bring the program to the Miller Place community, they immediately knew the perfect place for it.

Jack Soldano, who has been selling his comic book collection this summer to raise money to help fix the historic William Miller House, was the first to add to the new Little Free Library’s collection. Photo by Kevin Redding

“Right away we thought of the historical society,” Donlon said. “The society really meshes with our libraries’ goals of education, entertainment, enlightenment and lifelong learning and investigation. We love that it’s here, it’s a great spot and I think it’s certainly going to serve the community very well.”

Engelhardt called little free libraries a beautiful concept.

“Anybody can use it as much as they want and it’s always a mystery when you open that box — you never know what you’ll find,” Engelhardt said. “There are no late fees, no guilt, no stress. If you want to keep a book, you can … we are pleased to partner with the historical society to bring this gem. The books inside will move you and teach you. We say that libraries change lives and, well, little free libraries can too.”

She added that these mini libraries have also proven to energize the spot they’re put in. For the historical society, whose William Miller House is nearly 300 years old and needs between $18,000 and $28,000 to renovate a collapsing roof and a total $100,000 for a full-house repair, any amount of attention to their cause is welcomed.

“What this does for us is it puts us in the limelight again, so that people are aware of us, they come and visit us and are sensitive to our needs,” Donato said.

Fittingly, although the box was stocked with books already donated by the libraries, the first batch of reading material from the public came from 12-year-old Jack Soldano, who spent the summer raising more than $1,000 for the historical society with his very own comic book stand.

Soldano contributed issues of Captain America, Star Wars and Power Rangers comics to join such titles as “Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, “The Stranger” by Harlan Coben and the Grimm fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Over at Heritage Park, next to the Shack concession stand by the playground, the red-painted little free library currently contains more youth-oriented reads. Several books within “The Babysitters Club” series and Walt Disney’s “Fun-To-Learn Library” collection, as well as “Sable” by Karen Hesse, are available for the taking.

Manorville resident Megan Murray, who was at the park with her young daughter, said she’s been a fan of the initiative since a few popped up in her area.

“The concept is great because it’s for everybody, rich or poor,” Murray said. “It’s really sad that so many kids don’t have access to books and I think it’s wonderful.”

Currently there are plans for a little free library to be installed at Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson next month.

Jack Soldano wanted to help the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society repair the roof of the William Miller House, so he’s selling some of his collection of comic books at Mount Sinai’s Heritage Park yard sale this month and next. Photo by Kevin Redding

With a little help from some super friends, a local boy wonder is on a mission to save the oldest standing house in Miller Place.

For most 12-year-olds, summer vacation means sleeping in, goofing off and avoiding responsibility at all costs.

Some of Jack Soldano’s collection of comic books. Photo by Kevin Redding

But for Jack Soldano, a North Country Road Middle School student and self-professed “lover of geeky things,” it’s been spent organizing and pricing hundreds upon hundreds of old comic books and making pins, magnets and bottle openers out of the collection’s vibrant panels, sometimes from 8 in the morning until 11 p.m.

Although Jack has a passion for the medium — he dresses up every year as his favorite superheroes at New York Comic Con and even wrote a letter to Marvel Comics when he was 6 years old detailing why the company should hire him — he isn’t doing this for himself.

“With a great supply of comic books comes great
responsibility,” Jack said, laughing.

He will be selling up to 1,000 comic books — Marvel, DC and everything in between — and homemade superhero accessories throughout July and August at Heritage Park’s community yard sale in Mount Sinai to help the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society repair the roof on its main headquarters.

The nearly 300-year-old William Miller House at 75 North Country Road, built in 1720, is the ancestral residence of the family after which Miller Place was named. The oldest existing house in the town, which is open to public tours and serves as the meeting place for the nonprofit organization, needs between $18,000 and $28,000 to renovate its collapsing roof and a total $100,000 for a full-house repair, including window replacements.

Jack Soldano is selling some of his comic books for a cause at Mount Sinai’s Heritage Park yard sale this month and next. Photo by Kevin Redding

The society has offered family-friendly programs for years at the Miller House, like Postman Pete, where kids eat cookies and mail out letters to Santa, and the Spooky Lantern Tour of the historic Miller Place district in the fall.

So when Jack, whose family has been involved in the programs since he was very young, saw on the news more than a month ago that members of the historical society were pleading for public donations, he got an idea.

He went to his grandfather, who has an expansive library of comic books that includes everything from “Batman” to “Superman” to “Dr. Strange” as the former owner of a Port Washington hobby shop in the early 1990s, and told him he wanted to sell the collection to raise as much money as possible for the restoration project.

His grandfather simply said, “Okay,” and started donating bins of issues.

“I remember when I was younger in Miller Place, going to the Spooky Lantern Tour and Postman Pete, and having much fun, and I want the younger kids to be able to experience that too,” Jack said, adding with a smile that he won’t be giving away every comic. “I’ve kept some comics for myself, of course, because why not, but I wanted to sell the leftovers to a worthy cause and what’s more worthy than one in your own backyard?”

Jack Soldano is also handmade pins to help restore the William Miller House. Photo by Kevin Redding

Jack’s mother, Cristin Mansfield, said she and her husband are proud of their son for coming up with the idea himself.

“He’s not using the proceeds for himself,” Mansfield said. “He’s sitting there and immersing himself in this thing that he loves, reading the comics, finding funny speech bubbles. We’re super proud.”

Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society Vice President Antoinette Donato said the society is extremely grateful.

“We are so inspired that someone so young has such an interest, and that nobody planted the seed — it all came from him,” Donato said. “I think it’s everybody’s responsibility to keep history alive, so when somebody like Jack comes along who obviously has an interest and is genuine, it’s very reassuring for us and gives us hope.”

Residents can buy comic books every Thursday between 5 and 8 p.m., through Aug. 24, at the Mount Sinai Heritage Park. Visit https://www.facebook.com/comics4acause/ and https://www.etsy.com/shop/ComicsForACause for more information.

Those affected or who know someone affected by preeclampsia headed to Heritage Park in Mount Sinai June 16 to raise awareness and funds for the rare but life-threatening pregnancy disorder. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Families and friends walked to raise awareness and funds to help put an end to a life-threatening pregnancy disorder.

Coram mom Jen DiSanza was 33 weeks pregnant with her second child in early 2016 when she started experiencing what felt like really bad heartburn, which she was told was a common symptom experienced at the end of pregnancy.

Coram resident Jen DiSanza, who was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, a complication of preeclampsia, during her second pregnancy, hosted a Promise Walk for Preeclampsia to raise awareness to and fund for the disease. Photo by Kevin Redding

Even though a recent visit to the doctor had ensured her everything was going well, in a matter of days, she was vomiting, her blood pressure was up to 188/110 and her liver was shutting down while in labor seven weeks ahead of schedule at Stony Brook University Hospital.

“My liver enzymes were very high, my blood stopped clotting and my platelet count dropped — normal is around 200,000 and I was at 27,000,” DiSanza said. “I couldn’t even walk down the hallway in the hospital because if I stubbed my toe, I could internally bleed to death.”

She was soon diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, which is a complication of preeclampsia, an all-too-prevalent but widely overlooked pregnancy disorder that threatens the lives of mothers and their unborn babies. HEELP gets the acronym for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count, which are all affected by the disorder.

There is currently no direct cause, which affects .2 to .6 percent of all pregnancies, which symptoms include headaches to swelling, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Women in the United States are at a higher risk for maternal death than women in 47 other countries, and about 4 to 12 percent of women diagnosed with preeclampsia develop HELLP syndrome.

Since giving birth to her perfectly healthy daughter, Elisandra, at midnight Feb. 4, 2016, DiSanza has bounced back from a post-birth health crisis and become an active volunteer with the nationwide Preeclampsia Foundation, an empowered community of patients and experts that aims to raise public awareness of the disorder and funds for research and a cure.

The foundation is a driving force behind two bipartisan bills currently trying to be passed in Congress that would support states in their efforts to identify a cause for the disorder and use their findings to improve healthcare quality and ultimately inform change.

Those affected or know someone affected by preeclampsia headed to Heritage Park in Mount Sinai June 16 to raise awareness and funds for the rare but life-threatening pregnancy disorder. Photo by Kevin Redding

DiSanza, with the support of several sponsors including Macaroni Kid and Eurofins NTD, organized the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia June 17, where dozens of local residents affected by the disorder in some way or another walked a mile and half around Heritage Park in Mount Sinai in support of disorder recognition and research.

A goal for donations to the foundation was set at $5,000, $3,000 of which was raised before the event even started. Gift certificates to local businesses were raffled off and a post-walk workout session was offered by Energy Fitness of Miller Place, where DiSanza works as an instructor. Face painting was available for kids.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of what preeclampsia actually is, and how serious it can be and how quickly it comes up,” DiSanza said to the small crowd before the walk began. “There’s a lot that women just don’t know to look for. Being here, and telling all your friends and family why we’re here, helps to share that message. [The foundation] sends out pamphlets to doctors’ offices and clinics around the country, they explain the warning signs and what to look for.”

Laura Moakley, a Seaford resident who helped DiSanza coordinate the event, and her 6-year-old daughter, Rowan, wore a pink shirt that read “Kick Preeclampsia to the Curb.” Moakley was diagnosed while 32 weeks pregnant with Rowan in 2011 after her midwife mistreated the signs.

Ray and Jen DiSanza with their two children. Elisandra, on left, was who Jen DiSanza was pregnant with when she was diagnosed with HELPP syndrome, a complication of preeclampsia. Photo by Kevin Redding

Feeling scared and uncertain of what awaited her, having been told she or her child could die in labor, Moakley had an emergency Cesarean section and woke up with a photo of Rowan next to her pillow. Her daughter spent 35 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“I felt robbed of a normal pregnancy … why didn’t I have the picture perfect pregnancy that our society needs to see? My goal was for no other woman to ever have to go through this,” Moakley said as a happy and healthy Rowan hugged her. “Awareness is key — we must continue forward with all of our work, our walks, changes in the medical community and even Congress.”

She eventually discovered the foundation online and found a network of women and men to talk to and get support from.

“I feel more connected … I feel like we’re not alone,” she said. “I feel like there’s a movement happening and there could be change in the future. I already see there’s more awareness and support … not just for women, but men, who are just as deeply affected by it also. There’s the stress of coming home without a baby or of having to take care of a premature baby.”

Ray DiSanza, whose wife Jen was who was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome, said more mothers need to be aware of the deadly disease and its all-too-common symptoms. Photo by Kevin Redding

DiSanza’s husband, Ray, could vouch for that stress.

“It was the single most horrifying experience of my life,” he recalled. “I didn’t know all that much about preeclampsia before it happened … it was a good thing that Jen did, because if we had both been as ignorant of it as I was, we might not be here today.”

Dr. Terrence Hallahan, of Eurofins Clinical Diagnostics in Melville, spoke of a recently developed test screening for early onset preeclampsia at the lab, which is the only one offering the test at the moment.

“It’s something near and dear to our hearts,” Hallahan said. “We now have the ability to test pregnant women in the first trimester, and determine which are most likely to develop early onset preeclampsia. Not only can we detect this, we can now prevent it. People need to know.”

The Heritage Trust, a nonprofit, is looking for help in raising funds to repair Heritage Park's playground. File photo by Erika Karp

Heritage Park has some new arrivals.

Following the unveiling of the plant maze and with a splash pad currently in the works, a free book exchange program has landed at the Mount Sinai square.

The Little Free Library, a free book exchange, is located near the playground, alongside the shack at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. Photo by Fred Drewes

The park’s newest addition — Little Free Library — can be found next to the shack concession stand, which sits alongside the playground on the west side of the park. A nonprofit organization, Little Free Library inspires a love of reading and builds community relationships by fostering neighborhood book exchanges. According to the U.S. Department of Education, up to 61 percent of low-income families do not have access to books for their children at home, and the organization hopes to increase that access for readers of all ages and backgrounds. The books, which can be borrowed or swapped, are located in a red, house-shaped box on a post in front of a large rock near the shack at the Wedge.

Heritage Trust, the nonprofit that runs the park and the Heritage Center, is also working on enhancing the playground. Repairing and improving the park is a priority for the organization, with the playground being one of the most-used features at the Wedge. With much of the fundraising being weather dependent, the trust has had a difficult time keeping up with events while finding the funds needed to fix sections of the playground. Currently, pieces of the playground have been closed for use, and with the repairs costing more than the trust anticipates — about $7,000 — the nonprofit is looking for the community’s help.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the trust come up with the money to make repairs.

“Our children in the community really love Heritage Park,” the trust wrote on the GoFundMe page. “The playground gets lots of use, but the repairs are costly. We remain dedicated to maintaining and improving our park for everyone who wants a safe place to enjoy the open spaces and participate in community activities.”

To contribute to Heritage Trust’s fundraising efforts, visit www.gofundme.com/heritageplayground.

On April 8, Heritage Park in Mount Sinai and Rocketship Park in Rocky Point held their annual egg hunts.

During the sold out event at Heritage Park, children had the chance to take a picture with the Easter Bunny and enjoy refreshments following the hunt.

At Rocketship Park on Hallock Landing Road, children got their face painted and took part in various arts and crafts while listening to music provided by Parties by Ziggy during the event.

Not-for-profit asks community members to join committee

Heritage Trust President Lori Baldassare, below, talks to community members about various elements that could be incorporated in a splash pad, like the one shown above. Image from Heritage Trust

Heritage Park in Mount Sinai has been a safe place to walk, play soccer, hit the playground, attend a carnival and fly a kite. Now, the not-for-profit Heritage Trust is looking to add another summer attraction to keep visitors coming in the hotter months: a splash pad.

The trust’s board of directors held a meeting Feb. 4 to ask not only for community input, but community involvement and help in implementing the idea.

Lori Baldissare speaks during the meeting. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We need people to come back and help us take this to the next stage,” trust president Lori Baldassare said. “We do all of these things, but think about what we could do if we had more people.”

The almost 50 attendees that packed the Heritage Center were in agreement they’d like to see the idea come to fruition.

“It should be a place where kids play and splash around, but kids could also discover,” one father said.

In a slideshow presentation, Baldassare showed various images of what the splash pad, which will be built next to the playground, could look like — vertical water features like mushroom or tree showers, a spray pool, misters, grills that shoot water straight up from the ground or some combination of those ideas.

Most community members in attendance agreed whatever was decided on should maintain the multi-generational feel of the park, making it a place where kids could play and pretend they’re discovering, say, a lake, but also a place adults can walk past and marvel at.

“I like the kiddie ideas where they can run and chase the water, but then there’s people like me who are seniors and like more ‘adult’ water parks — parts of it where it mists you,” said Deirdre Dubato, a member of the Mount Sinai Civic Association who was also a founding member of the trust. “I like the dual idea and a nature element.”

“I like the kiddie ideas where they can run and chase the water, but then there’s people like me who are seniors and like more ‘adult’ water parks — parts of it where it mists you.”

—Deidre Dubato

This splash pad was in the original master plan, which was submitted to the town not too long after the trust was established in 2000, but being that the not-for-profit runs almost solely on donations, raising money has taken time. The trust first raised $1.7 million to build the center in 2007, put up the playground in 2008 and added a putting green last year, which was donated by a local community member. Funds are generated from events, like the spring and fall carnivals, Easter egg hunt, Halloween festival and Breakfast with Santa. Other ideas are also currently in the works, like a plant maze, skating rink and amphitheater, and a pollination garden is set to open this year.

“We grow with the community as wants and needs change,” Baldassare said.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was in attendance, and urged residents to help in any way they can. The splash pad will cost roughly between $100,000 and $125,000 depending on how elaborate the design is. The trust only has about $10,000 in reserves, so fundraising will be a big part of the splash pad committee’s task, besides formulating a design and finding the right builders.

“It doesn’t matter how small a contribution it is, anything given is helpful,” Anker said. “Be it money, resources, knowledge.”

To give feedback and ideas, join a committee or donate, interested people should email contact@heritagetrustmail.org.