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Legislator Kara Hahn

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn visits the war memorial along Port Jefferson Harbor with local veterans. Photo from Kara Hahn's office

Despite the United States’ long military history, many local memorials created in times of peace have not kept up to the history of modern conflicts. The memorial near Port Jefferson Harbor references up to the Korean War, while other memorials in the Three Village area do not go beyond the Vietnam War.

“Through our local veterans memorials our communities show our love of country and respect to those who gave all. America’s freedom can never be taken for granted — veterans can never be forgotten.”

— Jack Gozdziewski

“You go year in year out to many of these services such as the Memorial Day parade and you think, ‘Why is the last item on the memorials the Vietnam War,’” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket). “We have lost brave men and women in all the wars since.”

The Veterans Memorial Fund, a campaign created by Hahn and local veteran service groups, is looking to update the memorials located at Stony Brook village, Setauket Village Green, Setauket Veterans Memorial Park and the memorial at the Port Jefferson harborfront to reference the Cold War, the two Gulf Wars and the global War on Terror.

Hahn and several leaders from local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts, as well as the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University, have been meeting for several months to design the fundraising campaign and new memorials. The fundraising committee said it requires $30,000 to upgrade all four memorials fully and hopes to have it all built in time for Memorial Day 2019.

“This project is in recognition to all veterans who served in all wars whether it was during the Cold War or boots on the ground,” said Bill Wolf, the commander of the American Legion Wilson Ritch Post 432 in Port Jefferson.

The original concept was proposed to Hahn back in May by Jack Gozdziewski, a veteran and member of the American Legion Post 432 and VFW Post 3054. He said that those veterans of America’s most modern wars shouldn’t be left out of the local history.

“Through our local veterans memorials our communities show our love of country and respect to those who gave all,” Gozdziewski said. “America’s freedom can never be taken for granted — veterans can never be forgotten.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn visits the war memorial at Setauket Village Green with local veterans. Photo from Kara Hahn’s office

The fund is accepting donations at multiple sponsorship levels. The lowest starts at the $100 Enlistee level. Higher levels such as the $3,500 Defense Superior Service Medal sponsor level will list the sponsor’s name on a sign to be placed close to the monuments. The highest level, the $10,000 Medal of Honor sponsorship, will give the sponsor recognition during the opening ceremonies and allow them to use a digital “seal” in business advertising or in other promotions.

The memorials at Stony Brook village and the Setauket Village Green will receive new bronze plaques referencing these later wars. Meanwhile, the more elaborate memorials such as the one in the Setauket Veterans Memorial Park will require new marble work and other amenities.

Hahn said the fundraising committee is hoping to have the $30,000 in hand by the end of January in order to start planning the renovations, gathering the materials and contracting out to a stonemason. If the fund doesn’t reach its goal by that deadline, the legislator said they will continue to fundraise to make these changes hopefully by Veterans Day 2019.

“Our community is very patriotic,” said Carlton “Hub” Edwards, the commander of American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766 in Setauket. “I am certain the community will step up to help fund this veterans memorial project to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and have yet to be fully acknowledged.”

Donations can be sent via check mailed to: Veterans Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 986, Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776.

Checks may also be dropped off at the American Legion, Wilson Ritch Post 432 located at 1450 Hallock Ave. in Port Jefferson Station or the VFW Post 3054 at 8 Jones St. in East Setauket.

People with questions about the fund can send queries to: SBSPJveteransmemorialfund@gmail.com or call at 631-828-1452.

The Setauket Harbor Task Force hosted Setauket Harbor Day Sept. 29 at the Brookhaven town dock and beach located on Shore Road in East Setauket. The mission of the Setauket Harbor Task Force is to work toward clean water and healthy harbors.

At the free event, attendees had the opportunity to explore the harbor with kayak lessons, take round-the-harbor boat trips, participate in hands-on harborside activities, take maritime history tours and more.

File photo

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) will be collecting school supplies at her office, located at 306 Main St. in Port Jefferson, the Port Jefferson Free Library, Comsewogue Public Library and Emma S. Clark Memorial Library through Aug. 14.

Coordinators of the drive are looking for notebooks, loose leaf paper, three-ring binders, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, calculators, rulers, backpacks, scissors and erasers.

Supplies will be distributed during the 11th annual Stand up for the Homeless event hosted by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services Aug. 29.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn and the Suffolk County Plastic Reduction Task Force calls on restaurants and residents to reduce straw use this summer at a press conference July 2 at The Purple Elephant in Northport. Photo by Amanda Perelli

By Amanda Perelli

A Suffolk County legislator is asking residents to go strawless this summer, along with local participating restaurants pledging to keep from giving out plastic straws.

Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and members of the Suffolk County Plastic Reduction Task Force, have launched a countywide initiative to reduce single-use plastic straws, named Strawless Suffolk.

The goal is to have 100 seaside restaurants in Bellport, Greenport, Huntington, Northport, Patchogue and Port Jefferson Village take a pledge to stop using plastic straws by Labor Day, according to Hahn.

The initiative’s kickoff announcement was held July 2 at The Purple Elephant in Northport. It is one of 31 restaurants and two schools that have already taken the pledge.

The restaurants that pledge will be provided with a blue turtle decal that states “Strawless Summer 2018 Participant.”

“We can get rid of that throw away culture that we have and move toward reusing, rather than just trying to recycle.”

— Kaitlin Willig

“If you see the sticker, go back to those restaurants because they are doing the right thing,” Hahn said.

To be eligible, restaurants can participate in three ways: Stop using straws completely, provide biodegradable straws made with paper or bamboo upon request and/or provide reusable straws made of stainless steel or glass.

“The task force was created in order to reduce the single-use plastics,” said Kaitlin Willig, Stony Brook
University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and vice chair of Suffolk County Plastic Reduction Task Force. “I think we are trying to go about it in a way that educates people, so they make the choice themselves. We can get rid of that throw away culture that we have and move toward reusing, rather than just trying to recycle. We are trying to go through education and make smarter choices.”

Hahn said she’s been participating in beach cleanups for a long time and is always struck with how many straws she comes across.

“We’d go to a restaurant and it would make me so angry when they just put [a straw] in your drink without even saying anything,” Hahn said. “I mean it’s really just a waste. I can’t even say no at this point because it’s too late. If they put it down and it’s wrapped, I’ll just give it back.”

Hahn added that leaving the unused wrapped straw on the table is not enough. She worked in a restaurant and said it is common an unopened straw would be thrown out anyway. She directed those interested in getting involved to take their own pledge with the Skip the Straw campaign, a similar initiative tailored
to get individuals involved by Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting ocean health.

“I think individuals should think about trying to do it themselves,” Hahn said. “You know first and foremost you can be responsible for what you do as an individual and then you can also tell the restaurants you frequent. You can tell them they don’t need to, and they’ll save money if they don’t automatically give out straws. If they make it by request, they can save a lot and then if they do choose to provide some upon
request, make it paper.”

Nearly 90 percent of all marine debris is made of plastic, including plastic straws. Every day Americans discard half a billion plastic straws, many of which find their way into oceans and inland waterways,
according to the press release.

Legislator Kara Hahn visits challenges residents to visit a county park everyday in May as part of her effort to promote Suffolk's green spaces. Photo from Hahn's office

Suffolk residents may not realize it, but the county has enough parkland to explore for an entire 31-day month and then some. Making sure her constituents are fully aware of their outdoor options right in their own backyard has become a mission for Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).

Legislator Kara Hahn visits challenges residents to visit a county park everyday in May as part of her effort to promote Suffolk’s green spaces. Photo from Hahn’s office

She has been the chair of the Parks & Recreation Committee in Suffolk County since 2016, and upon getting started, said she was excited to start talking about parks. But Hahn didn’t realize how big of a job building awareness was going to be.

“Even in our neighborhood, there were people who had never been to Avalon [Park], people who had never been to the Greenway Trail,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that people didn’t know these things existed.”

In 2017 she kicked off her A Park a Day in May challenge, an initiative designed to get people out and about, visiting one of Suffolk’s dozens of parks to take a selfie and share on social media with the hashtag #APADIM. Hahn said even as the county’s parks chair, in researching and preparing for the now-annual challenge, she encounters green spaces she wasn’t aware of.

“When I became parks chair I said to all of my colleagues, ‘I want to tour all of the parks,’ thinking it was going to be so easy,” she said, adding she was totally mistaken. “It’s awesome.”

Legislator Kara Hahn visits challenges residents to visit a county park everyday in May as part of her effort to promote Suffolk’s green spaces. Photo from Hahn’s office

She said she and her family realized a couple of summers back, after taking a family trip to Cape Cod, they were traveling to enjoy experiences that were similar to what could be done back home.

“There’s so much here,” she said. “What we have here — there is no comparison anywhere else.”

Hahn admitted it would be impossible for her as a legislator to visit 31 different parks on 31 consecutive days, so the selfie’s she posts on a given day in May are sometimes taken previously and involve months of planning. She said getting out and visiting parks also affords her the opportunity to speak with constituents and gauge needs at certain parks, like monitoring ticks and funding for more benches.

In addition to her May initiative, Hahn also spearheaded a parks passport program last summer, which encourages kids to explore county parks and keep track of where they’ve been in a green, replica passport.

To see a full list of Suffolk green spaces and activities available at them — like kayaking, hiking and fishing to name a few — visit www.suffolkcountyny.gov/departments/parks/thingstodo.aspx.

Members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held a press conference in Hauppauge June 1 before the illumination of the H. Lee Dennison building to commemorate Gun Violence Awareness Day. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Suffolk County is showing its support for a national movement using light.

On June 1, the H. Lee Dennison Suffolk County headquarters building in Hauppauge was illuminated in orange — the color adopted by activists working to reduce gun violence. The illumination will last until June 5 and began the night before Suffolk County’s Gun Violence Awareness Day. The event was designated to honor the lives of gun violence victims through legislation cosponsored by county legislators Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) and Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville).

The H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge illuminated in orange to commemorate Gun Violence Awareness Day. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Before the initial illumination June 1, members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America gathered in the building’s lobby for a press conference. Hahn said orange was chosen by high school students in Chicago in 2013 after their friend was murdered because they knew hunters wear orange to prevent being shot by others.

The legislator talked about the day of the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 when she returned home after visiting with her daughter’s kindergarten class and heard the news. Hahn said the tragedy inspired her to author legislation requiring Suffolk County law enforcement agencies to cross reference the names and addresses of suspects transported to Stony Brook University’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program with the county’s pistol license registration. She said the bipartisan legislature unanimously passed the piece of legislation in 2013.

“There is no reason this country can’t have stronger laws,” she said. “We can have the 2nd Amendment, and we can have stronger laws that protect our children.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn addresses attendees at a Gun Violence Awareness Day event in Hauppauge June 1. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Moms Demand Action advocate Gemma Saylor discussed the importance of speaking up.

“We all have a voice, and we must use it,” she said. “We have a voice, and we can use it to provide comfort to grieving families. We have a voice, and we can use it to raise awareness about the enormous number of lives taken by gun violence every single year, every single day.”

Shenee Johnson, of Queens, and Paul Guttenberg, of Commack, were in attendance to share their stories of losing loved ones to gun violence. In 2010, Johnson’s 17-year-old son, Kedrick Morrow, was shot and killed at a party. She said while she feels it was once believed gun violence only happened in certain neighborhoods, unfortunately tragedies like Sandy Hook and Parkland have made Americans realize otherwise, and the victims’ families have become one in the fight against gun violence.

“We are the vanguards, we’re on the frontline, and we’re going to do everything we can,” she said, adding no parent should be fearful when dropping his or her child off at school.

“This can happen to anyone and anywhere. This could happen here to us, and it already happened to me.”

— Paul Guttenberg

Guttenberg’s niece Jaime was killed during the Parkland shooting Feb. 14 when a shot from the killer’s AR-15 rifle severed her spinal cord. He detailed the depth of emotion he felt the day of the shooting. At first, Guttenberg said he had hoped his niece had left her phone in a backpack when he first received news his nephew arrived home safe and sound, but his brother and sister-in-law hadn’t heard from Jaime. Later that hope turned into despair when he received the news she was one of the victims who was fatally shot.

“How could this have happened,” he said. “I remember hearing about mass shootings on the news, but you never think you’ll be so affected until you are. This can happen to anyone and anywhere. This could happen here to us, and it already happened to me.”

Guttenberg has spoken at a number of rallies on Long island, and his brother Fred, Jaime’s father, has become an activist for stricter gun legislation.

“Jaime’s murder is now a national tragedy, but for my family it is deeply personal and unsettling,“ Guttenberg said. “We are strong. We are resolute, and we will make Jaime’s memory a blessing.”

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Volunteers at last year's spring cleanup at the Stony Brook railroad station. Photo from Kara Hahn's office

The Greening of 25A Committee and Setauket Harbor Task Force are looking for volunteers.

The Greening of 25A Committee

On April 21, The Greening of 25A Committee will hold its annul spring cleanup at the Stony Brook railroad station. The event is scheduled from 8 to 11 a.m. and will be held rain or shine.

The committee needs volunteers to trim bushes, pick up trash, rake leaves, weed, spread mulch, plant flowers and sweep salt, sand and dirt. Bagels and coffee will be provided by Bagel Express.

For more information, call Legislator Kara Hahn’s (D-Setauket) office at 631-854-1650.

Setauket Harbor Task Force

The Setauket Harbor Task Force is looking for volunteers to help the organization collect water quality data.

Twice each month from May to October, the task force will head out from Port Jefferson Harbor at sunrise to collect data at 10 sites in Port Jefferson Harbor, Setauket Harbor and the Narrows near Conscience Bay.

Each monitoring trip will run about three hours, and volunteers can participate at whatever level they are comfortable. Training and equipment will be provided.

For more information, contact George Hoffman at 631-786-6699 or email the task force at setauketharbortaskforce@gmail.com.

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Tom Manuel, left, owner of The Jazz Loft, and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, third from right, along with local musicians look forward to the Swing into Spring! jazz festival to take place in Stony Brook village March 27 to 31. Photo from Kara Hahn's office

Mother nature may disagree, but the calendar shows spring has arrived, and Stony Brook village is planning to help Long Islanders celebrate.

Swing into Spring!, a jazz festival scheduled for March 27-31, is where Long Islanders can enjoy the music at village restaurants. Tom Manuel, owner of The Jazz Loft, where some of the concerts will be held, said the lineup of talent ranges from solo artists to two 17-piece big bands. He said a variety of styles and genres of jazz will be presented, including traditional, bebop, folk and emerging fusion. The festival was made possible by a county grant secured by Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).

“It’s just exciting to think about spring and getting out,” Hahn said.

The legislator obtained the grant in the fall when there was extra money for cultural arts in the county’s hotel and motel tax fund. She said the cultural arts category of the fund is to enable ways to spur economic development through the arts. The project was included in the adopted 2018 Suffolk County operating budget.

“I had wanted to help The Jazz Loft and Stony Brook village,” Hahn said. “I’ve been trying to think of ways from an economic development perspective of using grant money that could help the businesses in the community.”

“The idea was to showcase musicians from varied points of the Island from both Suffolk and Nassau County.”

— Tom Manuel

Manuel said he was excited about the news of the grant, and after a few phone calls and a meeting with Hahn, presented the legislator with the idea of the five-day festival featuring jazz musicians from all over the Island.

“The idea was to showcase musicians from varied points of the Island from both Suffolk and Nassau County, and also to offer an educational component which will be our Wednesday workshop on jazz improvisation,” the venue owner said, adding the workshop would be followed by a jam session for all musicians of all ages and abilities.

Manuel said the festival will include performances by guitarist Steve Salerno, trombone player Ray Anderson, accordion player Rich Dimino, the Eddie Balsamo Quartet and more. In addition to appearing at The Jazz Loft and The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center, the musicians will play at Pentimento, Sweet Mama’s Family Restaurant, Lakeside Emotions Wine & Spirits and Three Village Inn.

Hahn hopes once jazz lovers visit Stony Brook for the festival, they’ll want to come back in the future to the shops and restaurants, and more Long Islanders will become familiar with The Jazz Loft and Manuel.

“I grew up in Stony Brook village so seeing what Tommy was able to do with The Jazz Loft — I know it’s been good for the village,” Hahn said.

Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO, said she enjoys working with Manuel on projects and believes the festival will be good for the village.

“We do things with Tom all the time, and this is just another extension of how we collaborative so well together,” Rocchio said.

The WMHO president said on the night of March 28, barring no weather setbacks, there will be plenty of different things for visitors to do and see.

“People can actually stroll from one location to the other,” she said.

Manuel considers Stony Brook village a hidden gem, and said he believes collaborations like this festival bring out the best of what the area can offer.

“I hope that this event introduces people to our town that will not only enjoy it, but will come back again and again to experience all we have to offer,” Manuel said. “I am thrilled that Legislator Hahn has reached out to collaborate with The Jazz Loft, and that we can bring live jazz into so many of our restaurants and businesses.”

For more information on Swing into Spring!, visit www.thejazzloft.org or www.stonybrookvillage.com.

Developer decides not to proceed with low-nitrogen septic systems for Stony Brook Square shopping center

Construction will soon begin on the Stony Brook Square shopping center, rendering above. Photo from the Stony Brook Square website

By Rita J. Egan

After three years of planning and changes, things are gearing up for the Stony Brook Square shopping center, which will be located near the Long Island Rail Road Station in Stony Brook on Route 25A. However, local environmentalists and legislators are disappointed the developer will not be installing low-nitrogen septic systems.

While the developer, Parviz Farahzad, a former scientist with Brookhaven National Laboratory, was encouraged by Brookhaven Town and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to install a low-nitrogen septic system, and said he originally hoped to, he has now opted to use a traditional waste system.

“It’s in the area that if you flush the toilet there, under two years that water ends up in the harbor loaded with nitrogen.”

— George Hoffman

In a letter dated Jan. 4, 2017, to Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), SCDHS Commissioner James Tomarken said the Stony Brook Square property was proposed to be served by public water and on-site sewage, and advanced wastewater treatment was not required under the current Suffolk County Sanitary Code. However, he wrote that the systems were encouraged by the county for both new development and retrofits to existing development.

“Although nitrogen reduction from advanced wastewater treatment is not required for this project, Suffolk County would be committed to working with the town and the applicant in reviewing the potential use of alternative, advanced wastewater treatment technology,” Tomarken wrote.

George Hoffman, co-founder of the Setauket  Harbor Task Force and vice president of the Three Village Civic Association, said he and other environmentalists were disappointed to hear Farahzad was not installing the low-nitrogen systems. Hoffman calls the septic systems the “wave of the future” and said he believes most commercial properties will install them in the next year or so.

“Everybody at some point, when it comes time to redevelopment, they should be putting in low-nitrogen systems,” he said. “It’s crazy to put in the old system that we know really doesn’t work and could cause problems.”

Hoffman said the shopping center site, which is a mile from Stony Brook Harbor, is within the watershed of the waterway.

“It’s in the area that if you flush the toilet there, under two years that water ends up in the harbor loaded with nitrogen,” Hoffman said. “It really is a missed opportunity. He knows our concerns. He can be a real leader here in the community. I think people would think very highly that he was doing the right thing.”

The land parcel was recently fenced off to prepare for construction. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), who spearheaded community visioning meetings for Route 25A, said the town encourages project applicants to follow environmentally friendly practices when possible.

“In this case, both the town planning board and the 25A Citizens Advisory Commission strongly encouraged the applicant to utilize a low-nitrogen septic system,” Cartright said. “As of earlier last year, it was the town’s understanding that the applicant would be applying for the low-nitrogen system. This recent development is very disappointing and a missed opportunity to benefit our environment.”

According to the SCDHS website, three systems have been approved for commercial properties that process between 1,000 and 15,000 gallons of water per day. According to Tomarken’s letter to Romaine, the calculation for the proposed density flow of the shopping center was 1,800 gpd.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said Farahzad met with SCHDS staff members who were eager to assist him, and other Suffolk County developers have used the systems.

“As the county health department works to update county requirements for on-site wastewater treatment, this project could have led the way and shown our community that our drinking and surface waters are a priority to protect,” Hahn said.

Farahzad said he was hesitant to use technology that he feels is fairly new, and he said he feared if it failed it could let off obnoxious odors in an area surrounded by homes.

“If you want true elimination [of nitrogen] — basically what we want for it not to get into the groundwater — you have to have a sewer system.”

— Parviz Farahzad

The developer said such systems only reduce a percentage of nitrogen, and he believes sewers are more appropriate for commercial use. If a sewer district was established in the area, he said he would immediately connect the shopping center to it.

“If you want true elimination [of nitrogen] — basically what we want for it not to get into the groundwater — you have to have a sewer system,” Farahzad said.

Development of the shopping center was approved at the March 6, 2017, Town of Brookhaven Planning Board meeting. Farahzad agreed to add more trees to the final site than originally planned and will require tenants to use signage that consists of wood-base signs with gooseneck lighting, among other concessions after receiving community feedback. He said originally there were plans to add a clock tower; however, residents at a town board meeting objected to permitting a 60-foot height to raise a clock tower in the middle building at the rear of the center.

“It’s going to be something that is good for the community, good for the university, good for The Stony Brook School,” Farahzad said. “These are the people that are going to basically need it.”

In December, the vacant nursery that stood on the land designated for revisioning was demolished, and the parcel is currently fenced off and ready for construction once the weather warms up. Farahzad said it will take a year before the shopping center is completed, and owners of a bank, restaurants, a neighborhood pharmacy and a coffeehouse have already shown interest in leasing.

The Port Jefferson community lined Main Street in the village Nov. 25 to welcome a very special visitor. The annual Santa Parade saw the man himself riding his sleigh through the streets for hundreds of onlookers, along with floats from local Boy Scout troops, the Port Jefferson Ferry, the Chamber of Commerce, the Village Board, Port Jefferson Fire Department, local businesses and many more. Port Jefferson’s annual Dickens Festival begins Dec. 2.

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