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Kings Park

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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.”

Kings Park High School students celebrated during their graduation ceremony Thursday, June 22. Family members, friends and community members lined the new turf field to cheer on the graduates.

Republicans Phil Boyle and Larry Zacarese and Democrat Dan Caroleo are running for Suffolk County sheriff. Photos from left, from Phil Boyle, Larry Zacarese and Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer

Three candidates are currently in the race to become Suffolk County sheriff this November. State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-East Islip), career law enforcer Larry Zacarese (R), Boyle’s Republican primary challenger, and retired New York City police officer Dan Caroleo (D) are each hoping to inherit the position held for 12 years by Vincent DeMarco (R), who announced in May his decision not to seek a fourth term. He declined to comment on his decision.

Boyle, 55, of Bay Shore, who was elected to the New York Senate in November 2012 after serving 16 years as a state assemblyman, was endorsed for sheriff by the Suffolk Conservative Party in March and was backed by both the Republican and Independent parties soon after.

If elected, Boyle, a stepfather of two, said he wants to run the sheriff’s office in the most cost-effective manner possible, promote people based on merit rather than politics and halt the rise of drug overdoses and gang violence. He recently co-sponsored a bill to ban the sale of machetes to minors, the weapon of choice for MS-13 gang members.

The senator, who chaired and helped create the state Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in 2013 to stamp out the growing drug problem, pointed to his active involvement pushing law enforcement issues in Albany as significant qualifiers.

Under the task force, 18 hearings were held across the state, which led to 11 prevention, treatment and enforcement measures passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

When it comes to immigration issues, Boyle said he disagrees with how DeMarco has run the jail.

“I work closely with federal immigration agents to make sure any individuals housed in the Suffolk County jail that agents may want to interact with due to immigration status have access to that,” Boyle said. “DeMarco, for a while, made the jail a sanctuary jail, in my opinion, and I’m definitely not going to allow that to happen.”

Zacarese, 43, of Kings Park, who is currently the assistant chief of  the Stony Brook University police, said he’s looking forward to the primary. Zacarese and his “army of volunteers” are currently gathering 2,000 signatures in order to run. Confident he’s not just another choice, but the better choice, for the top law enforcement job, Zacarese outlined his 25-year law enforcement career.

He started as a Holbrook volunteer fireman at 17, went to paramedic school, then began to work in the NYPD as a patrol officer, canine handler and tactical paramedic. He became a sergeant, then deputy chief fire instructor at the Suffolk County Fire Academy and an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Stony Brook University.

For four years, while working at Stony Brook by day, Zacarese pursued his shelved passion, attending law school by night. He is currently admitted to practice law in the state.

“My wife tells me I’m the biggest underachiever she knows,” the father of four said, laughing. “I’ve worked really hard rounding out all of the areas that are pertinent to the office of sheriff, which is much more than just the person who oversees the correctional facilities.”

He said, if elected, his main priority is the opioid crisis.

“We really need to take a better look at the prevention and collaboration between addiction programs and not-for-profits, as well as how we can influence treatment while people are being incarcerated,” he said. “It’s about [providing] help while they’re in jail so when they return to their communities, they have started on the path to recovery.”

Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chairman Richard Schaffer, campaign manager for Caroleo, 62, of North Babylon, who was unavailable for comment, said the former New York City police officer, director of security at the North Babylon School District and current member of the district’s school board has, “a wealth of experience, he’s well-rounded and I think he can work cooperatively with, and continue, what County Executive Steve Bellone (D), Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini, and DeMarco have laid out — making sure we continue to drive down jail population.”

According to Schaffer, “Caroleo feels he has a great deal of public safety experience” that he could bring to the sheriff’s department.

The evening of May 16 was a good one for school boards across New York State, as residents cast their ballots overwhelmingly in favor of district budgets.

According to the New York State School Boards Association, the average proposed school district tax levy increase in 2017-18 will be 1.48 percent, more than half a percentage point below the acclaimed 2 percent property tax cap. It is the fourth consecutive year the tax cap growth factor will be below 2 percent.

Here’s how school districts on the North Shore of Suffolk County fared:

Commack
According to the Commack school district’s website, the district voted 2,019-555 in favor of the $187,532,818 proposed budget. Carpenter edged out Janine DiGirolamo 1,363 votes to 1,059, and Hender narrowly beat April Pancella Haupt 1,240 to 1,148.

Comsewogue
Comsewogue residents voted 789 in favor and 208 not against the $89,796,337 budget. Incumbents Ali Gordon and Jim Sanchez won back their seats in an uncontested race, with 882 and 846 votes, respectively.

Harborfields
Members of the district voted 1,224 to 249 for the $84.4 million budget. In a tightly-contested race, David Steinberg and Christopher Kelly won the two open seats with 800 and 741 votes, respectively. Sternberg won back his seat, while the third time seemed to be a charm for Kelly. Laura Levenberg finished with 623 votes while Anila Nitekman totaled 467.

Hauppauge
The Hauppauge school district passed its $107,965,857 budget 811-308, and its capital reserve fund proposition 869-248, according to the district’s Facebook page. James Kiley and Lawrence Craft were elected to the board of education, with 803 and 797 votes, respectively.

Huntington
Residents passed the $126.2 million budget and capital reserve proposition, according to the district website. Trustees Jennifer Hebert and Xavier Palacios were re-elected to three-year terms.

Kings Park
The Kings Park community passed its $88.5 million proposed budget with 1,360 yes votes to 533 no. Incumbent Joe Bianco won back his seat with 989 votes, while challengers Katy Cardinale and J.P. Andrade finished with 733 and 110.

“I just feel great,” Kings Park Superintendent Tim Eagan said. “The budget passed with 72 percent approval. I’m just happy that the community is very happy with what we have going on here, and it’s just great to have their support. We’ve been fortunate the last couple of years. We’ve been 70 percent passing or higher.”

Middle Country
Residents chose to pass the $243,590,487 proposed budget 1,658-418. Runners Dina Phillips (1,523), Ellie Estevez (1,380) and Doreen Felmann (1,512) won their uncontested board of education seat races, with 17 write-in votes.

Miller Place
Voters passed the $126.2 million budget 763-162. With no challengers, Lisa Reitan and Richard Panico were elected with 726 and 709 votes. Other write-in candidates totaled 23 votes.

Mount Sinai
The $59,272,525 budget was overwhelmingly passed by residents, 1,007 to 251 and the library 1,111 to 144. Incumbents Robert Sweeney (1,013), Edward Law (866) and Peter Van Middelem (860) won back their seats, while Michael McGuire almost doubled his total from last year, finishing with 597.

“I’m very happy that it passed,” Mount Sinai Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said. “We have great programs here. We can maintain those programs. We made the AP Honor Roll two years in a roll. Almost every team right now is in the playoffs, our music program is better than ever, so to keep those programs is great, but we’re not resting on that. Now we can get to work on our elementary reading program, bolstering that, we have a new principal coming in who has high expectations. There are programs we want to put in place that a lot of our kids need in the elementary school.”

He was disappointed with the turnout, though.

“I’m not happy,” he said. “We’re 200 lower than last year. We have 9,000 eligible voters. I’d like to see 500 to another 1,00 approve it so we have everyone together.”

Northport-East Northport
Northport-East Northport residents said “yes, yes, yes.” With 2,074 votes for and 636 against, the $163,306,840 budget passed, while support was also strong for the capital reserve expenditure, with 2,197 votes for and 512 against. This will allow the district to use capital reserves to fund additional projects including resurfacing/replacing two tennis courts and replacing the fence at William J. Brosnan School, installing new operable gymnasium windows at East Northport Middle School, replacing circuit panels at Northport High School, replacing auditorium seating at William J. Brosnan School and replacing classroom ceilings at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School. Donna McNaughton beat out Thomas Loughran for the lone seat up for grabs with 1,750 votes to Loughran’s 769.

Port Jefferson
Community members passed the nearly $43 million proposed budget 338-74. Renovations and upgrades using the capital reserve funds was also passed, 368-43. Incumbents Adam DeWitt and David Keegan were re-elected to serve three-year terms, with 357 and 356 votes, respectively.

Rocky Point
Rocky Point residents voted to pass the $83,286,346 budget with 663 saying yes, while 246 said no. The district also sought voter approval to access $3,385,965 million from its capital reserve fund in order to complete facility renovations across the district. For that proposal, 600 voted for and 312 against.

“We are extremely grateful for the community’s support of our proposed budget and capital improvement plan,” Rocky Point Superintendent Michael Ring said. “The educational enhancements included in this budget are ones that we believe will further support the needs of Rocky Point students while also providing them with opportunities to succeed at even greater levels, while still maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

Incumbent board of education member Sean Callahan and newcomer Joseph Coniglione, who is principal of Comsewogue High school, were elected with 713 and 641 votes, respectively.

Shoreham-Wading River
Voters approved the $74, 842,792 budget 1,112 for to 992 against, and passed the capital reserve fund with 1,282 yes’ to 813 nos. The people are calling for change, as Katie Anderson (1,318), Henry Perez (1,303), Erin Hunt (1,279) and Michaell Yannuci (1,087) won seats, while James Smith (1,015), Jack Costas (563) and John Zukowski (524) missed the mark. Yannucci, who has previously been on the board, will be taking the one-year seat left by Michael Fucito, and both incumbents have been ousted.

Smithtown
The community passed the proposed budget with 2,241 yes votes to 693 no. Incumbents Gledy Waldron and Joanne McEnroy, who were running unopposed, won back their seats with 2,095 and 2,090 votes, respectively.  Matthew Gribbin defeated incumbent Grace Plours with 1,835 votes to Plourde’s 1,155.

Three Village
Three Village residents voted 1,708 for to 719 against the proposed $204.4 million budget. With no challengers, incumbents Jeff Kerman, Irene Gische and Inger Germano won back their seats with 1,805, 1,794 and 1,753 votes, respectively.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Major Case Unit detectives are investigating a robbery that occurred at a Kings Park bank Friday, April 28.

A man entered Bank of America, located at 1209 Saint Johnland Road, at approximately 11:45 a.m., displayed a note and verbally demanded cash. The teller complied and gave the suspect cash from the drawer. The robber fled on foot.

The suspect was described as white, in his late 20s, approximately 5 feet, 6 inches tall with a thin build. He was wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, a black baseball cap, jeans and sneakers.

The investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the robbery to call the Major Case Unit at 6318526555 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

A scene from a recent plane crash in Setauket. File photo

Following a spike in small plane crashes over the last few years, U.S. Sen. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) called for an investigation, and he got answers.

On March 3, Schumer sent a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board asking for an in-depth analysis of recent U.S.-registered civil aircraft accidents on Long Island to help develop recommendations to prevent future incidents.

“I strongly urge you not just to conduct yet another investigation … but to also undertake a comprehensive and system-wide review to understand why these accidents are happening, and what can be done in order to decrease the occurrences,” he wrote in the letter. “The number of airplane crashes across the system must be reduced.”

This request came after a recent crash in Southampton, though others have also occurred in Shoreham, Port Jefferson, Setauket, Kings Park and Hauppauge in recent years.

The board, in a letter of response to Schumer, said it examined data from accidents in New York over the last five years, including the number of accidents, types of injuries, types of operations, causes of accidents and locations.

Since 2012, 156 aviation accidents have occurred, with 140 of these aircraft operating as flights under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations — small noncommercial aircraft. The causes have been similar in nature for the incidents with completed investigations. Most included safety-related issues, like loss of control, which occurred in one-third of aviation accidents. An in-flight loss of control accident involves an unintended departure from controlled flight, which could be caused by an engine stall, pilot distraction, loss of situational awareness or weather. According to the letter, the board said that preventing loss of control in flight in general aviation is currently on its 2018 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.

Other causes of aviation accidents included loss of engine power, controlled flight into terrain and hard landings.

Moving forward, the board plans to reach out to the general aviation community and host a safety seminar later this year.

“We consider Long Island a suitable venue for this safety seminar because a number of general aviation accidents have occurred in that area and because we believe the robust general aviation community there will be receptive to our safety outreach,” the letter stated. “We anticipate that this seminar will help raise awareness about these recent accidents in New York and around the country and about specific issues affecting the general aviation community.”

The former Steck-Philbin Landfill on Old Northport Road in Kings Park is one of the eight blighted brownfields that the Suffolk County Landbank requested proposals for repurposing. Image from Suffolk County Landbank Corp.

The site of the former Steck-Philbin Landfill in Kings Park was slated to be repurposed this year as part of a countywide effort to eliminate blighted properties, as the Suffolk County Legislature approved a contract with Powercrush Inc. and Vision Associates LLC to develop on the land. However, another business that put in a proposal for the landfill site has criticized the deal and has called for an investigation of the operations of Suffolk County Landbank Corp. for development of public properties.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of Ecological Engineering of Long Island, said he believes Powercrush and Vision Associates “had neither the ability nor the good-faith intention to build a solar farm and that the Suffolk County Landbank was either willingly complicit or, at a minimum, completely inept during this process.”

In a letter and phone interview Nuzzo brought up the connections Powercrush has with donating to political campaigns — including two members of the Suffolk County Legislature — and said the current approved resolution that does not state the contract will include a solar farm on the property.

In January 2016, the county landbank, a not-for-profit entity that works with the county to redevelop tax-delinquent properties, issued a request for proposals to revitalize eight brownfields, including the landfill in Kings Park. About two months later Nuzzo’s company submitted a proposal for a 6-megawatt solar farm that he said could generate nearly 8 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity in its first year. He also said EELI would finance, build and operate the solar farm through a crowdfunding campaign, seeking small investments from everyday Suffolk County residents. The plan would be to sell 25,000 “solar shares” in the farm at $500 each. Some local officials threw their support behind Nuzzo, including state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Out of the several proposals given to the county, the plan with Powercrush, a Kings Park company, was selected to move forward, with the same goal of reusing the site for solar farming. County Executive Steve Bellone (D) praised the plan as a turning point for dealing with blighted properties, and Amy Keyes, executive director of the county landbank, said in a past interview Powercrush was selected based on a number of qualifications, including design, impact and feasibility.

County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said the creation of the county landbank was his idea, and the process of selecting Powercrush and Vision was “completely fair.” He said claims that landbank operations are in need of an investigation are “not a credible argument.”

“We evaluated those proposals based on merit, [EELI] came up short,” Gregory said in a phone interview. “These were cases of not being able to say what you can do, but being able to do what you can say, and the strongest proposal with the best benefit to the taxpayer was Powercrush. Each proposal got a score sheet and they scored the highest.”

Nuzzo said he tried to see the winning proposal, to compare it to his own and see how his company could improve for the future, but he was unsuccessful.

“I can only speculate that the winning proposal was so inadequate and incomplete that the county is embarrassed to share it,” he said in a previous interview. “It’s a shame, because our proposal to build Long Island’s first community-owned solar farm could have been a landmark moment for Suffolk County. Instead what we got was politics as usual.”

Nuzzo said he also had an issue with the fact that the development may no longer be a solar farm. After the original resolution was passed by the Legislature, which included the intention of building a solar farm, an amended resolution was passed this past March that approved moving forward with the Powercrush and Vision contract without the language of it being a solar farm.

“If the selected bidder is unwilling or unable to develop the land in accordance with their proposal, then their bid should be voided,” Nuzzo said. “Powercrush and Vision Associates were awarded this parcel based on their plan to construct a 4-megawatt solar farm.”

Nuzzo said he’s concerned with the system as a whole.

“This is about how Suffolk County issues its contracts,” he said. “This is more of a condemnation of the system as a whole.”

However Sarah Lansdale, president of the county landbank, said a solar requirement was never a part of the original proposal from the county.

“There was nothing requiring the end use had to be a solar farm,” Lansdale said in a phone interview. “There was no foul play here. They proposed solar and if they didn’t win the contract with PSEG the redevelopment site still needs to be something acceptable to the community.”

Powercrush and Vision did lose their bid with PSEG Long Island for a power purchase agreement. However Mike Rosato, of Vision Associates, said a solar farm idea had not been scrapped.

“The original [proposal from the county] did not require a solar farm, but yes this might still be a solar project,” he said in a phone interview. “The whole idea of this project is to make something good for the community.”

Rosato said in a letter their proposal was chosen for many reasons including financial capacity to successfully implement the project and demonstrating the experience to successfully carry out the project; demonstrating the ability to start the remediation and redevelopment process within six months of tax deed transfer; and improving the environmental condition of the property.

“Although our solar partner lost its bid with PSEG Long Island, we clearly stated in our original proposal that in the event this were to happen we would work to identify another industrial end use that would be acceptable to the community and permitted by the [Town of Smithtown],” Rosato said. “Our intentions have always been to reuse the site for renewable energy and we will continue to pursue that objective.”

As for Nuzzo’s concerns with political ties, he pointed out Toby Carlson, owner of Powercrush, has donated to several political campaigns, including county Legislators Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) and Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills). Trotta recused himself from the Legislature votes on this issue, and said he has repeatedly tried to convince Rosato not to invest in this property because of the extensive work required to make it functional.

“If the original [proposal from the county] had required solar I would be screaming and [Nuzzo] would be 100 percent right,” Trotta said in a phone interview. “But it didn’t, that’s just not true.”

Stern did not return any requests for comment.

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