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Kings Park

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A 10-year-old Kings Park boy struck by an SUV on his way to the school bus was airlifted to Stony Brook Hospital with serious injuries, according to Suffolk County Police.

Police said a William T. Rogers Middle School student was walking across First Avenue, near Carlson Avenue, at about 7:54 a.m. Sept. 15 to board his school bus, police said. The bus had its flashing red lights on and stop sign activated to warn approaching motorists.

Pasquale Izzo, 81, of Kings Park, was driving a 1998 Dodge Durango northbound on First Avenue when he allegedly attempted to pass the school bus, and ignored its flashing lights. Izzo failed to stop his vehicle and struck the student, according to police.

NYSDMV on sharing the road with buses

  • When a stopped school bus flashes its red light(s), traffic that approaches from either direction, even in front of the school and in school parking lots, vehicles must stop before it reaching the bus. Drivers should stop at least 20 feet away from the bus.
  • Before a school bus stops to load or discharge passengers, the driver will usually flash yellow warning lights. Then, decrease speed and be prepared to stop.
  • When you stop for a school bus, do not drive again until the red lights stop flashing or when the bus driver or a traffic officer signals the you can proceed.. You must stop for a school bus even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway.
  • After stopping for a school bus, look for children along the side of the road. Drive slowly until have passed them.

The 10-year-old boy was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries, according to police. Izzo was not injured.

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen notified district parents that it has additional mental health staff available at the middle school to provide additional support to those students who witnessed the accident, students who know the injured student and anyone else as needed.

“Unfortunately, this incident is a terrible reminder that we cannot always assume that motorists will follow traffic safety rules at all times,” Eagen said in a message posted on the district’s website.

Under New York State Law, drivers who pass a stopped school bus can be fined $250 for the first violation and face up to a maximum fine of $1,000 for three violations in less than three years. Individuals convicted of three violations in a three-year span may have their driver’s license revoked.

Kings Park School District announced the bus’s route has been changed in effort to avoid any potential future tragic accidents at the intersection, and so the student involved and those who witnessed the accident don’t have to return to the scene of the accident on a daily basis.

The neighboring Commack Union-Free School District sent out an email to parents reminding them to, “Please drive slowly with no distractions, and be especially vigilant of where our precious children are playing, walking, riding or standing.”

Most school bus-related deaths and injuries occur when children are loading or unloading from a bus, according to New York State Department of Motor Vehicle’s website, not in collisions that involve school buses.

The driver’s vehicle has been impounded for safety checks and the incident is under investigation. Suffolk County’s 4th Squad Detectives are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to call 631-854-8452.

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Students of all ages were able to learn about local history and engage in hands-on projects through the Smithtown Historical Society’s summer programs. Photo from Marianne Howard

By Marianne Howard

The Smithtown Historical Society was fortunate to be able to provide children of all ages an opportunity this summer to step away from the screens, iPads and TVs to take an active role in volunteering and participating in its programs, camps, and daily activities this summer.

The historical society offers a Portals to the Past summer camp for children ages 6-to-12 for nine weeks throughout the summer. Cooking, sewing, drawing, painting and helping on the farm are all a part of the regular camp offerings. This year, Melissa Clemens,  director of education, created a junior educator program which bridges the gap between the camp years and the college years to create a well-informed core of teens to act as ambassadors in their schools and communities to promote an interest in history and education. The first training session in June had eight teens who spent the summer learning all about the historical society and their community. These 13- and 14-year-olds will continue to assist the society at various events throughout 2017.

Students of all ages were able to learn about local history and engage in hands-on projects through the Smithtown Historical Society’s summer programs. Photo from Marianne Howard

The society had two college-age interns volunteering with its education department this summer: Robert Rock, a Smithtown resident attending Williams College who has not declared a major; and Jacqueline Michels, a Hauppauge resident attending Providence College as a history and secondary education major. The two students tackled every task given to them and were able to make headway in some of the historical society’s newest projects. Rock assisted at all of the public programs this summer from goat yoga and movie night to the community barbecue. He also initiated a butterfly garden and helped to oversee its planting by volunteers from the Smithtown Youth Bureau at the end of August.

Michels worked diligently to draft a new field trip curriculum for the society’s Obadiah Smith building in Kings Park and reworked the “Long Island Kids: Then and Now” field trip program, which was offered for the first time last year.

“It’s great to see that the future of museums is in great hands,” Michels said. “Based on my time at Smithtown Historical Society this summer, I feel that SHS presents a community-building mission to the public. The organization works to bring together Smithtown residents over their shared local history through community events and programs. This summer, I’ve watched the Smithtown Historical Society make efforts to reach out to Smithtown residents of all ages to bring them to the historic buildings on their property and to bring local history out to the public.  All of their efforts build community by bringing together the residents of Smithtown to experience their shared history.” 

Rock also agreed that increasing involvement of younger members of community is essential. 

“I see the historical society as continuing to provide these programs for public involvement but increasing the involvement of younger members of the community,” he said. “As SHS has made a strong, and so far successful effort to further the involvement of this group through programs such as goat yoga, history happy hour, the movies on the lawn, and yoga on the lawn, I see this trend as continuing to mark the society’s path.”

Marianne Howard is the executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society. For more information on the society, its events or programs or on becoming a member, visit www.smithtownhistorical.org or call 631-265-6768.

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With nine returning starters Kingsmen have eyes set on postseason play

Kings Park goalie Nick VanDuesen sends the ball into play during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Kings Park’s Matt Anderer heads the ball during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Last year Kings Park needed to win the final game of the regular season to make the postseason, but after two overtime periods that left the game resulting in a tie against Hauppauge,  the Kingsmen were held back from making that playoff appearance — by a single point.

But that was then, and the Kings Park boys soccer team has shaken off the stalemate and is looking to make strides toward a better start to the season and not leave a postseason hope hanging in the balance. With nine returning starters, the chance of achieving that goal increases this season.

“We lost seven seniors to graduation, but what’s great is that we have those returning starters, which is tremendous,” Kings Park head coach Bill Hender said. “They all had big minutes last year, and our bench guys are also tremendous and I think they’re much stronger than they were last year, so we have a lot more depth.”

Because of reduced enrollment, Kings Park moved down to League V as a Class A team this season but won’t escape its nemesis because Hauppauge also dropped down in the division standings.

“We’re considered a Class A school now, which is good,” the head coach said. “When we go into the playoffs we won’t go against the Brentwoods, which have four times as many kids as we do, so it’ll be a little bit more fair for us.”

Kings Park’s Eoghan McGovern and James Sicardi fight for possesion during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

He said he’ll be leaning on Eoghan McGovern, Liam Thompson and Matt Anderer to steer the ship, but said he’s hoping junior Connor Brady can contribute some guidance.

“He really turned it on in the second half of last season,” Hender said. “In a game against Eastport-South Manor he scored two goals in a span of about 48 seconds — they were both beautiful shots.”

Thompson, a two-year varsity center back, said he thinks his team has its best chance to pick off Hauppauge this year.

“We’ve always been close with Hauppauge — we’ve always been right there but never actually made it over the hump — we’ve always wanted to beat them,” he said. “I think we have it this year with this team — we have returning guys and we’ve all been best friends forever, so we’re excited.”

Senior center midfielder Robbie Catoir agreed with Thompson in that the Kingsmen’s pros this season could help them get the better of the team who ended their last season early.

“It makes us hungrier,” Catoir said. “We’ll have to work on our communication to start, but Hauppauge is still the team to beat.”

Kings Park’s Eric Escobar catches a pass during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Defensively, the team returns three out of the four core from the back line.

Guarding the net will be starting goalie Nicolas VanDuesen, who didn’t see action last year due to an injury, but is now at full strength.

“I’m most pleased with our defense,” McGovern said. “I think we have to focus on just scoring goals. We’ll see once the games start up if we can finish.”

Hender agreed his team’s defense is a force to be reckoned with, pointing to McGovern as the biggest driving force to back up his claim.

“We have a three-year All-Conference player in Eoghan McGovern, and I think he’s the best center back in the county — he’s that good,” the head coach said. “Other coaches have made comments about how good he is. And Alex Graci is a junior who came in and gave us a lot of minutes in a lot of different positions last year, so he’s looked great throughout training camp this year. He’s really come into his own.”

Kings Park will play a pair of nonleague games, against Wyandanch and Shoreham-Wading River, before its season opener at home against Rocky Point Sept. 6 at 6:30 p.m.

York Hall, formerly the recreational center of Kings Park Psychiatric Center, has deteriorated after years of vandalism and disuse. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Sara-Megan Walsh

A historical society is holding out hope that a unique piece of Kings Park community history can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

The Society for Preservation of Long Island Antiquities has placed York Hall, the auditorium and community center of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center, on its 2017 List of Endangered Historic Places.

Sarah Kautz, director of preservation for SPLIA, said the historic building located at the entrance of Nissequogue River State Park is in critical need of preventative maintenance and security to preserve it for future community use.

York Hall, built in 1930, was used by the psychiatric patients for recreational activities and later as a community civic center and public meeting place.

“In a place where there are some darker stories to tell, it was a place where people came together to celebrate and enjoy life,” Kautz said.

When the hospital was decommissioned in the 1990s, the property was transferred to New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Since then the building has been vacant, with the exception of trespassing ghost hunters and graffiti artists, and has fallen into disrepair.

Kautz said York Hall has signs of advanced deterioration over time. The roof is damaged, allowing rainwater to leak inside, and many of the windows and doors are damaged and spray painted.

“The interior is in very poor condition due to roof leaking, copper stripping and extensive vandalism over an extensive period of time” Kautz said. “It’s been the same cyclical and recurring concern with all the buildings of Kings Park Psychiatric Center.”

SPLIA is advocating for York Hall to be secured by sealing off the building, including boarding up the roof, and mothballed. The group is seeking a public-private partnership to rehabilitate the building. Kautz said she has reached out to the Kings Park Civic Association and Kings Park Chamber of Commerce to open avenues for collaborative discussions.

“The community still wants it to be used as a theater and civic center,” Kautz said. “It’s a great mid-sized performance space that is rare to find in this area. I think because of its history and why it was built, the community would like to see it returned to that role.”

The state launched a remediation initiative in 2012 to transform the former psychiatric center into Nissequogue River State Park. Phase one of the project, which was started in 2013, focused on demolition of 19 buildings, removal of the steam tunnels and asphalt, site restoration and reconstruction of the north boat launch to improve access to the Nissequogue River. In April 2016, phase two was announced and is currently underway to remove nine additional buildings and a segment of a 10th building, according to the state parks department’s spokesperson Randy Simons.

“We have our concerns about the wider context of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center,”  Kautz said “There’s no master plan. There’s never been a master plan which would include the former psychiatric center.”

Simons said that two former psychiatric center buildings, Buildings 130 and 132, which both served as medical staff housing, have been preserved for future adaptive reuse as the development of the park progresses.

Gunther's Tap Room caught fire in May, and a fundraiser was held this week to help restore the historic bar. File photo from Photo from Chris Ciaci.

By Sara-Megan Walsh

It’s said that many hands make for light work, and if that’s true, the outpouring of community support for Gunther’s Tap Room will hopefully have it rebuilt in record time.

The uplifting refrain of “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey could be heard as dozens of Northport residents and their families attended a fundraiser Aug. 13 for Gunther’s Tap Room at the Park Lounge in Kings Park. Gunther’s has been closed since being consumed by an early-morning fire May 23.

John Weeden, owner of Park Lounge, said he hosted the $25-per-person community barbecue and extensive Chinese auction to raise money to help reopen Gunther’s Tap Room, and to financially aid its employees who have been without a job. Weeden declined to say how much was raised in total.

“I’d like to raise enough money to help them pay for whatever bills they have to reopen it. I thought it was the right thing to do.”

— John Weeden

“I’d like to raise enough money to help them pay for whatever bills they have to reopen it. I thought it was the right thing to do,” said Weeden, who worked as a bartender at Gunther’s for 13 years. “I feel [Pete Gunther] would want that bar reopened. It was his legacy.”

Peter Gunther Sr., a late Northport native and ex-chief of the Northport Fire Department, owned and operated Gunther’s Tap Room since the 1960s, according to current co-owner Brad Vassallo.

“Gunther’s is the bar of the people,” he said. “It’s been basically built amongst the patrons.”

Vassallo, who purchased Gunther’s with Eddie McGrath in 2016, said they are currently in the process of completing structural repairs to the more than 100-year-old building to make it safe and compliant with modern building codes.

“The town has been remarkable in terms of helping the process,” Vassallo said. “They and the community have been fantastic in trying to help us out — letting us do what we need to get this place reopened.”

How much it will cost to rebuild and restore the landmark bar to its former glory is still an unknown, according to Vassallo, saying that “it will be substantial.” The owners said they have run into a number of unforeseen repairs that have slowed down the process.

But several community members have stepped forward, offering donations of building supplies and skills to speed up that process. Some have offered their help to lay down new hardwood floors, and others offered to fix up the bathrooms.

“The community [has] been fantastic in trying to help us out — letting us do what we need to get this place reopened.”

— Brad Vassallo

“We are going to keep the aesthetics as similar as we can,” Vassallo said. “There will need to be some changes, but the color scheme and the way the bar was set up — we are going to keep it as close as we can to the original form.”

With Gunther’s closed for reconstruction, bartender Jani Zubkovs said it’s been difficult for him and the other employees. They’ve stayed in touch over the last few months on updates on the repairs and in trying to find other work.

“It’s an eyesore right now,” Zubkovs said. “I miss all the people, all my regulars. It’s the local Northport place where everybody knows each other.”

In an attempt to offset the financial hardship, Zubkovs has picked up bartending two nights a week at Elijah Churchill’s Public House on Fort Salonga Road in Northport.

Dozens of area businesses contributed to Sunday’s fundraiser by donating goods and services for the Chinese auction.

For those who missed the event, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up, with a goal of $75,000 to help the business reopen. Visit www.gofundme.com/gunthers-tap-room for more information or to donate to the restoration cause.

Despite the disruptions in construction, Gunther’s owners remain hopeful that beer will be flowing again within the next couple of months.

“It’s disappointing that me and Eddie just bought the place to have this kind of situation happen,” Vassallo said. “The primary reason we took it over is that we made a vow. We wanted to keep Gunther’s Tap Room as it was, as Pete Gunther made it to be. We are doing everything we can to do that.”

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How a utopian Christian community started an elder care center

William Augustus Muhlenberg, c. 1860. Photo from the Smithtown Historical Society

By Marianne Howard

Kings Park was once home to the Society of St. Johnland, a utopian Christian community founded in 1865. It was once described by authors Bradley L. Harris and King Pedlar as a “forgotten utopia,” founded as a safe haven, orphanage and school for impoverished boys from Manhattan and Brooklyn. William Augustus Muhlenberg, (1796-1877) a Philadelphia native, ordained an Episcopalian priest in the 1820s, found himself with international accolades after founding St. Paul’s, a private college near Flushing, Queens.

He began to think about creating a refuge for members of the Protestant working-class poor and thus purchased 500 acres of woodland in 1866 for $14,000, which grew into a campus built a stone’s throw from the picturesque mouth of the Nissequogue River to the Long Island Sound. It included a camp, an additional home for girls, an infirmary, a baby shelter and a living facility for seniors. Patients, their families and employees from the campus as well as nearby hospitals were excellent customers for the abundance of farmers in the area at that time. The Long Island Sound became such a draw for the families and children, providing beach access for summer education through the late 1940s.

Notable New York society philanthropists contributed to the growth of St. Johnland. Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt paid for the Sunbeam Cottage, built in 1881 for the educational training of orphan girls. The cottage had a sitting room, a playroom, dining room, kitchen and dormitory space for 20 girls. The babies’ shelter, known as the Lawrence House, provided care for children ages 2 through 8, was established the following year.

In 1911, Alice Page Thomson became superintendent and arranged for 150 impoverished boys from Manhattan and Brooklyn to travel to the beaches of St. Johnland. She spent 35 years in the position. Under her leadership, the construction of the Robert Louis Harrison Infirmary opened in 1913. She also created the Women’s Auxiliary for St. Johnland in 1915, a group of women who provided philanthropic and physical support to the residents. During World War I, St. Johnland contributed not only its alumni who entered the service but also increased crop production for over 200 people throughout the war.

During the 1950s, the trustees of St. Johnland had to decide upon which community they would focus their resources — children or the elderly, and the board voted to specialize in care for the elderly population. In 2016, St. Johnland celebrated its 150th anniversary and it is now a premiere nursing home with specialties in dementia care, adult day health care and rehabilitation services.

Bradley L. Harris, Town of Smithtown historian, Joshua Ruff, consulting curator for the Smithtown Historical Society, and I were invited by Arcadia Publishing to author a book on the history of Kings Park in 2015. The book, “Kings Park,” was published last month and is for sale at the Smithtown Historical Society.

Marianne Howard is the executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society. For more information on the society, its events or programs or on becoming a member, visit www.smithtownhistorical.org or call 631-265-6768.

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A photo in ‘Kings Park’ of a family at a clambake on the Nissequogue River, which is present-day San Remo, circa 1900. Photo from Joshua Ruff

By Jill Webb

Before it was Kings Park, the suburban hamlet in Smithtown was known as St. Johnland, a utopian Christian community founded as a haven for poor members of the Protestant working class and orphaned children.

In the newest installment of the Images of America series, you can learn all about the history of Kings Park — which just celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016.

The co-authors of “Kings Park,” Smithtown historian Bradley Harris, the Director of Collections and Interpretations at the Long Island Museum Joshua Ruff and the Executive Director of the Smithtown Historical Society Marianne Howard came together and selected more than 180 vintage photographs to be featured in the book, along with captions detailing the images relevance within the history of Kings Park.

Howard set aside time from supervising the day-to-day activities at the Smithtown Historical Society to contribute to the book and said it took two years to compile images.

She noticed in her research that most small, American towns all underwent the same transformations from colonization to industrialization. The unique aspect to every small town is the people and resources they contribute which Howard said is what is highlighted in the book.

“I hope that the people from Kings Park see people and places that they know in the book,” Howard said in a phone interview. “That’s what they should be excited about — seeing how their own community transformed the history here in this part of Long Island.”

The book’s chapters are titled St. Johnland, The Kings Park Psychiatric Center, Early Kings Park, Churches and Schools, and Building Modern Kings Park. The book’s authors divided the chapters based on personal interest and selected the photos collaboratively.

Ruff, who has been a consulting curator for the Smithtown Historical Society for over 10 years, said the image-centric format is an “immediately accessible and terrific way of connecting” with the community of Kings Park and those who are interested in its history.

But Howard, Ruff and Harris were not the only ones putting in the research — the community was also able to participate. The authors said they were grateful to receive private collections of photographs from residents that are featured in the book.

“When we thought that we were finished with what we had, other people were coming forth with their photographs that had something a little bit different that we wanted to share with everybody else,” Howard said. “What’s great about Smithtown is that many people have a strong connection to the town and have lived here for either their whole lives or are third or fourth or fifth generation Smithtown residents.”

In completion, the authors “really felt like it was a good balance of architectural and social history,” Ruff said.

One section Howard finds particularly interesting displays how the wave of immigration brought on by the Kings Park Psychiatric Center shaped the town, along with how the town dealt with — and is still dealing with — the after-effects of its closure in 1996.

The caption a photo of the hospital’s Building 93 describes it as “now obsolete, unsafe and a magnet for vandals.” It goes on to describe the building as a “decaying symbol of a past age,” which makes residents wonder when the buildings on the grounds will finally be demolished.

Howard noted Kings Park has received funding for downtown revitalization. The proposed plan hopes to reshape Main Street by initiating “the economic strength of the community and provide a center of activity for residents to enjoy,” according to the action report prepared by Vision Long Island, Inc., the group hired to create the revitalization plan. The action report said the fate of the psychiatric grounds has yet to be determined.

“I think the community has grown enormously over the last 100 plus years and the book really shows how it’s evolved,” Ruff said. “The community has grown into this large multi ethnic suburban community that now has plans in place for major downtown changes in the next couple of years that will help to continue the changing evolution of the place.”

A plan for what the new concession stand at Kings Park High School would look like. Images from Kings Park school district.

By Jenna Lennon

Although Kings Park school district is ready to get to work, summer improvements have not yet begun due to delays from the state.

Phase two of the proposed five-year renovation plan for Kings Park is still waiting for approval from the State Education Department. The construction originally scheduled to begin in the summer months will now have to be extended into the fall and spring semesters even though plans were originally submitted back in October, 2016.

Tim Eagen, superintendent of the Kings Park Central School District, said the school will try to minimize possible inconveniences due to the construction as best as it can.

“We anticipate getting all the work done; probably not all of it done during the summer,” he said in an interview. “Some of it is going to extend out into the fall. Some of it we’ll do during shut downs during the course of the school year.”

Eagen said some projects will not be too difficult to complete during the year, but that’s not true for all.

“One of the pieces, for example, is a door replacement project that can just happen nights and evenings and weekends during the school,” he said. “Probably the biggest visual piece that’s going to be delayed is for the track and the field. We have a concession stand with bathrooms that’s planned. It’s looking like that’s going to flip to the spring.”

Like last summer, improvements have been planned for every school in the district. Here is a breakdown of the specific projects happening at every school.

Kings Park High School:

Track/field lighting

Concession stand with bathroom

Library media center renovations

Auditorium seating/flooring upgrades

Electrical distribution and switchgear

Emergency power supply

Parking lot pavement upgrades

Air conditioning for auditorium and main gymnasium

William T. Rogers Middle School:

Field irrigation

Locker room renovations: new lockers

Gymnasium renovations: bleachers and electric for blackboards

R.J.O. Intermediate School:

Asphalt and pavement upgrades

Interior renovations: flooring (including asbestos removal)

Auditorium upgrades: seating and flooring

Interior renovations: ceilings

Electrical distribution and switchgear

Park View Elementary School:

Asphalt and pavement upgrades

Masonry restoration

Interior renovations: flooring (including asbestos removal)

Door and hardware replacement

Electrical distribution and switchgear

Plumbing upgrades

Toilet renovations

Boiler upgrades

HVAC and controls

 

Updated July 18: 

Egan said he received approval for RJO Intermediate School late last week, and Park View Elementary Monday, July 17.

“We are still waiting for final approval for the high school and middle school projects,” he said in a email. “They have passed the architectural review but still in the engineering review phase.”

A plan for what the new concession stand at Kings Park High School would look like. Image from Kings Park school district

By Jenna Lennon

Although Kings Park school district is ready to get to work, summer improvements have not yet begun due to delays from the state.

Phase two of the proposed five-year renovation plan for Kings Park is still waiting for approval from the State Education Department. The construction originally scheduled to begin in the summer months will now have to be extended into the fall and spring semesters even though plans were originally submitted back in October, 2016.

Tim Eagen, superintendent of the Kings Park Central School District, said the school will try to minimize possible inconveniences due to the construction as best as it can.

The proposed new first level of the Kings Park High School Library. Image from Kings Park school district

“We anticipate getting all the work done; probably not all of it done during the summer,” he said in an interview. “Some of it is going to extend out into the fall. Some of it we’ll do during shut downs during the course of the school year.”

Eagen said some projects will not be too difficult to complete during the year, but that’s not true for all.

“One of the pieces, for example, is a door replacement project that can just happen nights and evenings and weekends during the school,” he said. “Probably the biggest visual piece that’s going to be delayed is for the track and the field. We have a concession stand with bathrooms that’s planned. It’s looking like that’s going to flip to the spring.”

Like last summer, improvements have been planned for every school in the district. Here is a breakdown of the specific projects happening at every school.

Kings Park High School:

Track/field lighting; concession stand with bathroom; library media center renovations; auditorium seating/flooring upgrades; electrical distribution and switchgear; emergency power supply; parking lot pavement upgrades; and air conditioning for auditorium and main gymnasium.

William T. Rogers Middle School:

Field irrigation; locker room renovations: new lockers; and gymnasium renovations: bleachers and electric for blackboards.

R.J.O. Intermediate School:

Asphalt and pavement upgrades; interior renovations: flooring (including asbestos removal); auditorium upgrades: seating and flooring; interior renovations: ceilings; and electrical distribution and switchgear.

Park View Elementary School:

Asphalt and pavement upgrades; masonry restoration; interior renovations: flooring (including asbestos removal); door and hardware replacement; electrical distribution and switchgear; plumbing upgrades; toilet renovations; boiler upgrades; and HVAC and controls.

Stu and Josh Goldberg of Mr. Cheapo in Commack. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Stu Goldberg’s lawyer told him he was never going to make it in the midst of opening up his own record shop, Mr. Cheapo — a nickname his wife, Marcia, lovingly bestowed upon him— in Flushing, Queens.

His pursuit of a high school dream hinged on $4,000 he’d saved delivering candy to supermarkets and a lifelong love affair with music, which had turned Goldberg into a regular at garage sales and flea markets, where he bought up piles and piles of records of every genre under the sun. A self-professed “child of the 60s,” he went to Woodstock with then-girlfriend Marcia.

But nearly four decades, and two Long Island locations after taking the plunge into uncharted waters of record shop owning, Goldberg, 68, has not only made it — he’s conquered it.

Mr. Cheapo, a beloved new and used CD and record exchange business chain and haven for music enthusiasts young and old has outlived giant competitors like Virgin Megastore and Tower Records as well as a crop of local independents and stands strong in the age of Spotify and iTunes.

“I just followed my dream — I always say, part of our success is that I wasn’t smart enough to know this wasn’t a good idea,” Goldberg said as he laughed, surrounded by a library of vinyl LPs, CDs, and cassettes at Mr. Cheapo in the Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack, a town he’s worked and lived in since 1988. He set up shop there soon after closing the original Queens store for good and building a loyal customer base at his other location in Mineola.

His son, Josh, 36, who’s been working at the store since he was 13, helps him run the business now, bouncing between both locations.

The shop feels like a vibrant museum of music, perhaps a fascinating new world for younger visitors but extremely familiar territory for older visitors, with an array of album art and posters of rock icons lining the wooden walls.

There are tens of thousands of new, used, and imported records, CDs, cassettes, and 45s, on shelves and in crates. Ceiling-high shelves are also filled to the brim with DVDs, a varied collection of dramas and horror films and concert documentaries.

Customers of every shape, size, nationality, and gender gaze longingly at the fronts and backs of albums, studying them as if there will be a test on their content later.

Tim Clair, owner of Record Reserve in Kings Park. Photo by Kevin Redding

“There’s a percentage of people that just like tangible things, they like to touch it, they want to read the liner notes, they want a real CD or record,” Goldberg said. “If they’re only listening to Spotify or Sirius radio, sometimes those just don’t have what they want.”

Steven McClure, from Nesconset, sifted through some Kinks vinyl and said he’s been a loyal customer for 16 years.

“I think it’s kind of exciting to come in and find something that you’d forgotten about a long time ago,” McClure said. “I may come in here to look for Dire Straits and I’ll end up seeing something else, look at this one and that one, it’s kind of crazy — I can spend hours here. And, for me, I have to have the artwork, artwork is the most important thing apart from the record.”

When asked why his is one of the last stores of its kind, Goldberg held up his hands and explained.

“We got it all … we sell everything from Dean Martin to Metallica and anything in between,” he said. “10 years ago, I remember feeling that things were fading, the digital age was coming and we just thought we were done. Then people started thinking vinyl was a fun thing to collect, so we’re back and I don’t see it going away for a while.”

According to Nielsen’s 2016 U.S. Year-End Report, vinyl LP sales grew to more than 11 percent of total physical album sales last year.

“This marks 11 years of year-over-year increases for vinyl LPs, reaching a record sales level in the Nielsen Music era (since 1991) with over 13 million sales this year,” the report said.

“I’m very happy we have this and we seem to continue to do pretty good … I don’t think records and CDs will ever die,” Goldberg’s son, an avid record collector himself said. “We also sell video games and patches and T-shirts, and that gives us a bit more of an edge than the typical, new Brooklyn record store, where they’re just selling overpriced vinyls.”

Goldberg said every customer who walks through the doors is different.

“Our customers range from 12 to 80, you’d be amazed by what people buy … there have been old guys in their 70s buying heavy metal and young kids buying Frank Sinatra,” he said.

Pointing out a mother and young daughter buying records at the counter, he said he’s seen a new trend grow in recent years.

“That’s something new in the past three or four years, mothers buying girls record players and girls coming in to buy vinyl,” he said. “I’d never seen that before like I do now. 16-year-old girls buying Zeppelin, it’s so cool.”

A customer shops for records. Photo by Kevin Redding

Less than 10 minutes away, on Main Street in Kings Park, sits Record Reserve, a small but well-organized and fully-stocked shop that’s serious about vinyl, the only format on the shelves.

“It’s just the best form of music,” Tim Clair, the store’s owner and sole staff member said.

Clair, 52, opened the doors in 2011 when vinyl was starting to have a resurgence.

“I like giving some people a place to go to do what they enjoy and I like to bring that back to people who miss it,” he said. “People come in and look through thousands of records … you’re going to find something here.”

Shelves are decorated with records of every generation and style of music imaginable, from Miles Davis to Joe Walsh to Linda Ronstadt to obscure R&B and punk artists. Whatever there’s a market for, Clair makes sure to order it and make it available for customers.

The store is also equipped with a Spin-Clean record washer to restore and clean old records, which Clair uses to eliminate mold and dirt that might cause skips when listening to vinyl.

While he said Record Reserve sells enough to stay alive, Clair noted the record shop industry isn’t easy.

“It’s a labor of love,” Clair said. “We’re still not making money, it’s not easy at all … but I’m not going to retire. It’s something I enjoy.”

He said when he started he considered himself knowledgeable about music, but has been continually “trumped by customers.”

Roger Wilbur, 57, from Smithtown, has been a regular for about two years.

“Tim knows what I like so he’ll tell me what to stay away from, what’s good, what’s rare, and lets me play music here if I want and not a lot of places let you do that,” Wilbur said.

The customer has been trying to build back his lost record collection from the 70s.

“I got the vinyl bug,” he said. “It’s something that you can put in your hand, it doesn’t have to come off a computer. I look at this place as a time capsule, it brings me back to the 60s, 70s and 80s.”

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