Tags Posts tagged with "Rita J. Egan"

Rita J. Egan

by -
0 630
Demolition of the eastern section of the Setauket Fire Department headquarters. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

The headquarters of the Setauket Fire Department continues to transition into a rescue center for the 21st century with its construction project dubbed by the department as “new era.”

David Sterne, district manager, said a new apparatus bay on Old Town Road is now completed and ready to use. The structure connected to the original firehouse on Route 25A can fit modern day trucks, something the 1930s building couldn’t do. The closed cabs of current fire trucks make them much wider than emergency vehicles used in earlier decades. Trucks will also now exit and enter on the Old Town Road side instead of Route 25A. Sterne said the new entranceway has a bigger driveway apron, which provides safer entering and exiting than the old entrance.

“It is a good example of how things can be accomplished when we are all willing to work together.”

— David Sterne

After waiting nearly a decade for a bond approval, a $14.9 million bond was approved in April 2014, and renovations began on the Main Street firehouse June 4, 2016. Sterne said the approval of the bond in 2014 was due to a collaboration of the fire district, fire department, community members and the Three Village Civic Association discussing the needs of both the district and its residents.

“It was a community effort to get this passed,” Sterne said. “It is a good example of how things can be accomplished when we are all willing to work together.”

Robert Reuter, president of the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation, was part of a community advisory committee that included Stony Brook architect John Cunniffe and the late civic leader Bob de Zafra. Reuter said the planning for the new firehouse was “an excellent example of the value in involving the public.” He credited Sterne’s organized process and the cooperation of H2M architectural firm and the fire commissioners for making the committee members input meaningful.

Reuter said the committee advocated for reuse of the existing firehouse on Route 25A, the continuation of brick as the primary building material and landscaping the southeast corner, which will include trees and other plantings.

“It will be good to see that work take shape now that the firehouse is operating with a new garage and work is underway on the original building,” Reuter said.

The apparatus bay also includes a bail-out window for volunteers to practice mandated drills with life rescue ropes. The structure has a break room and a gear room that is separate from the apparatus bay, making it safer for firefighters to dress for a fire. Sterne said previously volunteers would put on their gear in the bay, which posed potential hazards with trucks in the vicinity.

“I think everyone understands the importance of building for the future in a responsible manner.”

— David Sterne

South of the building a spillover parking lot will be available for when a large number of volunteers respond to an emergency, attend a meeting or community members use the facilities.

When the new bay was completed, work began on the 25A side. Sterne said the facade of the western portion of the Main Street building, the original 1935 structure, will remain the same, and there will be bunkrooms for both male and female firefighters. The eastern section of the old building will be replaced with a two-story structure that includes offices, meeting and training rooms.

With the future in mind, Sterne said the construction fits the needs of the fire district while being environmentally friendly. Solar panels will be used for hot water, a white high-efficiency roof is included in the apparatus bay, and there will a high-efficiency cooling system.

“I think everyone understands the importance of building for the future in a responsible manner,” Sterne said. “We felt that it is important to have an efficient building … efficient in the sense of being environmentally responsible, as well as a more cost-effective, fiscally efficient building to operate. Building a building that will be kinder to the environment for years to come and costs less tax dollars to operate was imperative to us … the whole community.”

Sterne said the goal is for the firehouse to be completed by November 2018, and the fire district plans to commemorate the completion of the project with a ribbon cutting ceremony and community celebration.

Maryland aster

By Rita J. Egan

Diane Bouchier hopes to plant the love of botanical art in the hearts of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library patrons. The library, located in Setauket, will host an exhibit of Bouchier’s drawings, Native Plants of Long Island, through the month of February.

Diane Bouchier

The Stony Brook resident said she has been artistic since she was a child, but her career path took a slightly different direction. For nearly 40 years, she was a professor at Stony Brook University where she taught sociology of art. While artistic activities fed into her academic work “in a very positive way,” over time she felt a need to hone her skills. 

“I was always supposed to be artistic as a kid, but then I went into the social sciences,” said Bouchier in a recent interview. “I guess I was a child of the ’60s, and I thought it was important to understand what was going on. I don’t regret that choice, but along the way, in fact, when [my husband and I] moved to our house in Wading River I started a garden, I realized I could not draw the flowers to the level I wanted to draw them. I said to myself, ‘Wait a minute, you’re supposed to be artistic, why isn’t this turning out?’”

Her frustration in drawing flowers inspired Bouchier to take courses at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx where she obtained her certification in its botanical arts and illustration program.

It was during her time studying botanical art that she met one of her mentors, Ann-Marie Evans, a teacher at NYBG. Bouchier said it was Evans who encouraged her to start the American Society of Botanical Artists, an interactive community dedicated to preserving the tradition and encouraging excellence in the contemporary practice of botanical art.

The artist has exhibited extensively, including having her work on view at the 8th International Exhibition of Botanical Art at Carnegie Mellon University’s Hunt Institute in Pittsburgh and the Long Island Museum’s juried exhibition, Animal Kingdom: From Tame to Wild.

Bouchier, who lists 17th-century French artist Nicolas Robert among her favorites, said when she retired two years ago, art became a full-time pursuit. She calls her most recent work her retirement project.

“They say that when you retire you need a project, so I needed something,” the artist said. “So, what do I really care about, and the answer was ecology and art. And what am I trained in? I was trained in botanical and natural history illustration, so I put the two together.”

For the last few months Bouchier’s drawings were in a traveling exhibit displayed at various locations in Suffolk County including the Smithtown Library, North Shore Public Library and Sweetbriar Nature Center. While those exhibits included 20 of her 16- by 20-inch pieces, the Emma Clark Library exhibit, which is the last stop in the tour, will consist of only 10 drawings.

Bouchier said she decided to select those that pointed toward warmer weather for the Setauket location since she feels that come February many are tired of the winter.

New England aster

The artist said many of her drawings depict specimens she obtained from the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, an organization that encourages people to plant native plants that support birds, bees and butterflies, while her garden inspired her for others.

“In the course of drawing the plants and learning about them, I started planting them in my garden,” she said. “It’s a small garden but I’m very pleased that some of the drawings exhibited are from plants from my own garden, and that’s a special pleasure.”

Bouchier said for most of her artwork she prefers using colored pencils on Stonehenge paper, which she said is soft and smooth. She also works in pastels and egg tempera, a medium that has egg yolks in the paint that leaves a brilliant surface.

The artist said it can take a week to 10 days to complete a drawing when she uses colored pencils. She said one morning she’ll do the basic drawing and then another day the undercoat. “It’s very calming,” she said. “If you want to de-stress you should do this.”

Bouchier encourages people of all ages to learn how to draw, and she shares her knowledge by teaching classes at Gallery North in Setauket. In April she will head up a course on the fundamentals of botanical art techniques on Sundays, April 8, 15, 22 and 29. Call 631-751-2676 for times and cost.

“There are very few self-taught artists in the field because whether you’re drawing animals or plants, it’s important that it be accurate at a certain level,” Bouchier said. “You can still be expressive — these things are not opposites — but you don’t want to get the basic structure of the plant or animal wrong.”

When it comes to the artist’s classes, Judith Levy, director of Gallery North, said Bouchier’s classes are informative and relaxing and students leave feeling successful when the workshops are over.

“She’s very focused, she’s very organized, and she gives them a process of how to look at things or how to do a particular technique or use whatever the material is,” said Levy in a recent phone interview. “Sometimes it’s pencils; sometimes it’s colored pencils, it depends on what medium. She is very, very good, and her classes are popular.”

Bouchier also shares her love of creativity with her husband, WSHU radio personality and essayist David Bouchier. The artist said her husband asks her for feedback when it comes to his radio scripts, and she also reads and edits his book manuscripts. In turn, she tests out her ideas for drawings and paintings on him. In 2002, her husband released “The Cats and the Water Bottles,” a book of his essays of life in France, which includes line drawings by his wife.

The artist, who lists her drawing “American Holly and Winterberry” among her favorites, said she hopes the exhibit will inspire library patrons.

“It’s to encourage people to recognize the subtle beauty of our native plants and to perhaps consider planting them in their own gardens,” she said.

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, 120 Main St., Setauket will present Native Plants of Long Island by Diane Bouchier through Feb. 28. For more information, call 631-941-4080 or visit www.emmaclark.org.

#MeToo social media movement founder Tarana Burke answers questions during a public forum at Stony Brook University. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Long Island men and women are prepared to keep the #MeToo conversation going in their communities after an appearance by the movement’s founder, Tarana Burke, at Stony Brook University Jan. 28.

More than 500 people filled the Sidney Gelber Auditorium in the Student Activities Center for #MeToo … #LIToo, a Q&A with Burke led by three young women of i-tri girls, a free program working to raise the self-esteem of middle school-aged girls on the Island’s East End by training them for a triathlon. Abby Roden, Noely Martinez and Maria Chavez posed questions to Burke that covered a range of topics, from how she felt when the #MeToo movement gained momentum, to empowering survivors of sexual abuse and harassment, to showing empathy when a someone shares his or her story.

Burke, a survivor of sexual violence, said it can be difficult to talk about sexual assaults or harassment because he or she feels isolated.

“The idea behind #MeToo being an exchange of empathy is that if you tell me this thing that is already difficult to say, one of the hardest things in your life, and my first response is, ‘Me too,’ that draws you in,” she said. “Regardless of what else is discussed, we have an automatic connection now.”

Giving advice for those who may not be able to say “me too” when a survivor shares a story, Burke said the best thing to do is ask what he or she needs. If the person says nothing, don’t keep asking.

After the #MeToo movement went viral Burke felt crippled. She said she stopped reading comments on her social media posts, even though most responses were thoughtful.

“I had people telling me I was too ugly to get raped, sexually harassed,” Burke said, adding that she is thick-skinned, and didn’t let the comments get to her. “‘You look like a man.’ Just awful, awful things.”

The movement also affects the LGBTQ community — something Burke said is personal for her, as her daughter identifies as queer and gender nonconforming. She said many young people in the LGBTQ community deal with sexual abuse, and it’s important they tell their stories, too.

“Survivors of sexual violence, we’re not victims,” Burke said. “That’s why we call ourselves survivors. We have solutions, we have answers and we have the experience.”

Attendees said the forum was uplifting and meaningful.

“It was very empowering and definitely brought the community together,” said Cassandra Gonzalez, a graduate student at LIU Post. “It just brings awareness to the #MeToo movement.”

Retired teacher Terry Kalb, of Wading River, said Burke is skilled at connecting others through experiences, calling the forum “beyond inspiring.”

“I liked the fact that there was such emphasis on the intersectionality of this issue,” Kalb said. “I think it’s very important that the vast majority of the people who are marginalized with domestic violence issues, sexual harassment issues and sexual violence issues — all people — are afforded a voice. This just can’t be about celebrity issues; it has to be about people who are often powerless to be able to respond. That they be the focus, because that’s where the most damage is done.”

Updated Feb. 1 to add additional quotes from Tarana Burke.

An i-tri girl crosses the finish line of the marathon. Photo from i-tri girls

Nonprofits are working toward creating stronger support for females.

L.I. Against Domestic Violence provides a range of services to Long Island adults and children, helping them escape from abusive relationships and build new lives. I-tri girls, a free program, works to raise the self-esteem of middle school-aged girls on the Island’s East End by training them for a triathlon.

“[We need] to bring young girls into this discussion and to recognize that this isn’t just happening to us in our 20s and 30s and 40s, but this is happening to our 10-year-olds and our 12-year-olds, it’s so important,”
said Cindy Morris, chief operating officer of i-tri girls.

Many of the children in the program don’t know how to swim or ride a bike.

“We not only teach them how to set a goal, but we teach them how to work toward a goal,” Morris said. “And when you have done something that you think is impossible once, you are so likely to see yourself capable of doing that [again].”

Bethpage-based The Safe Center LI, Islandia-based Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk, and The Suffolk County Crime Victims Center all work to help victims of domestic abuse.

County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said nonprofits are vital in educating young people and women. Many provide educational programs in schools.

“Women and children should not be afraid to speak up,” Anker said. “I think it’s really important presentations start in schools.”

Executive director of LIADV, Colleen Merlo, said in a phone interview local legislators are receptive to receiving advice on taking measures to end domestic and sexual abuse.

“This is the start of what’s going to be a years-long process to try to bring Long Island to a place that really is safe,” Merlo said. “Where men and women can feel safe from sexual assault. It’s going to take more work.”


• L.I. Against Domestic Violence — www.liadv.org / 631-666-7181

• i-tri girls — itrigirls.org / 631-902-3731

• Suffolk County Crime Victims Center — www.parentsformeganslaw.org / 631-689-2672

• The Safe Center LI — www.tscli.org / 516-465-4700

• Victims Information Bureau — www.vibs.org / 631-360-3730

A year after millions of Americans participated in women’s marches across the U.S. following the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R), Long Islanders are still rallying to raise their voices — and signs — with the hope that elected officials in Washington, D.C., will hear their cries.

On Jan. 20, women, men and children gathered on the southeast corner of routes 347 and 112 in Port Jefferson Station for the 2018 Women’s March Rally Long Island: A Call to Reclaim Our Democracy. Despite a similar event taking place in New York City, hundreds from Suffolk and Nassau counties chose the Port Jeff Station event organized by grassroots activist groups Long Island Rising and the North Country Peace Group. In 2017, the Women’s March held at the same location drew 2,000 participants, according to a press release from the organizations. This year’s event once again gave residents an opportunity to voice their concerns about women’s rights, the environment, immigration and many more issues facing Americans.

Kathy Lahey, a founding member of Long Island Rising, said she felt hopeful about the future after seeing so many women in attendance, and she hopes elected officials will hear their concerns.

“Women are going to step up to the ballot box in November and [beyond] and create a country that works for all of us, not just a few.”

— Kathy Lahey

“To me it’s billionaires and the corporations and very few people that are getting their way right now, and people are suffering,” Lahey said. “Women are going to step up to the ballot box in November and [beyond] and create a country that works for all of us, not just a few.”

Susan Perretti, a member of the North Country Peace Group, was also optimistic after the rally.

“It is clear that status quo is not going to fix the mess America is in,” Perretti said. “And with the marches and rallies this past weekend, I feel confident that we are ready and willing to do what it takes to bring back the America of compassion for the poor and vulnerable, of respect for the dignity of all people, the America of inclusion not exclusion.”

Margaret Allen, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook, attended the event with 25 congregants from her church.

“I was in New York City last year for the march, and this is nothing compared to that in terms of people, but in our relatively conservative area, this is a good turnout,” Allen said. “And, we are getting a lot of people honking.”

At times, the cheers of participants and honking from drivers passing by drowned out the voices of guest speakers such as former Suffolk County legislator and congressional hopeful Vivian Viloria-Fisher and Tracey Edwards, former Huntington councilwoman and Long Island regional director of the NAACP New York State Conference.

Leslie Luft, owner of Absolute Yoga Studio in Woodbury, said she traveled to the Suffolk County event with teachers and students from her school, choosing it over the New York City rally.

“We came out here to stand up for women’s rights,” said Elyce Neuhauser a teacher with Absolute Yoga Studio. “We came to stand up for human rights, to support each other, to create a peaceful community and country.”

Maryanne Vogel said she was glad the group made the trip from Nassau County to exercise their rights in a peaceful way.

“It’s just wonderful to see all the people out here — men, women and children,” Vogel said. “And, the honking of the horns, it just makes me feel good to be an American today, and an American woman.”

Dan Cignoli, of Coram, who attended last year’s event in Port Jeff Station, said he is politically active because he believes people need to do something about an administration he feels is at war with Americans. He found this year’s gathering invigorating.

“The Women’s March last year and this year has brought out the activists in everybody,” Cignoli said. “It’s wonderful to see.”

“The Women’s March last year and this year has brought out the activists in everybody.” It’s wonderful to see.”

— Dan Cignoli

Across Route 347 on the northeast corner, about a dozen people stood with American flags and pro-Trump signs. Howard Ross and Heather Martarello, members of the North Country Patriots who stand on the corner of Route 25A and Bennetts Road in East Setauket every Saturday morning to show support for Trump, said it was important for them to be there.

Ross, who served in Europe during the Vietnam War, remembered coming home in 1963 in his uniform and being spit on. He said for him it’s important for people to participate in events such as the rally, even if they are on the opposing side, and voice their opinions. Ross said he has two granddaughters and sees how much the country has negatively changed since he was a child in the 1950s.

“I get upset for them that’s why I feel we have to do more for this country,” Ross said.

Martarello said when she first arrived on Saturday the size of the crowd on the southeast corner seemed daunting to her but she said the rally was a peaceful one.

“They are entitled to express their opinions, and we want to express ours,” Martarello said. “Not only to get our voice out but to reach out to people going past, who when they see that huge crowd on the other side, and think, ‘Wow, there are so many people there, everybody thinks that way.’ But, then they see us, they say, ‘No, everybody doesn’t think that way. See, there are people who think like us.’ They realize a lot of people feel the way we do.”

Back on the southeast corner, Cindi DeSimone, of Farmingville, who attended the event with her 5-year-old twins Jake and Kate, said she attended similar rallies in the past, but this was the first time she brought her children. While Jake held a sign that read, “Boys will be boys” with “boys” crossed out and replaced with “good people,” Kate held a sign with the same sentiment about girls.

“I think that the times are scary, and I only hope that we have something to leave to our future generations,” DeSimone said. “I think everybody can do one thing. What I’m doing is trying to teach [my children] to be good stewards of the environment and be respectful of each other.”

This post was updated on Jan. 24 with the full story.

Engineer Charles Voorhis describes the planned community dock in Poquott and answers residents’ questions at a Jan. 5 planning board meeting at Emma Clark Library. YouTube screenshot from Village of Poquott

While the divisiveness over a proposed community dock in the Village of Poquott may be lessening, some are keeping a watchful eye on the plans.

A handful of residents attended a Jan. 5 village planning board meeting at Emma S. Clark Public Library to hear a presentation given by village engineer Charles Voorhis. The managing partner of Nelson, Pope & Voorhis was on hand to discuss the design of the proposed dock, which is planned for California Park at the end of Washington Street.

Voorhis said the proposed fixed dock would be 128-feet long and 4-feet wide, and at the end, would include a landing area measuring 6-feet wide. The engineer said the dock will include water service, solar panel-powered rail lighting for nighttime and an ADA access ramp made of concrete.

During high tide, a beachgoer could walk up the stairs on the north side and down the stairs on the south side, according to Voorhis, and during low tide villagers could walk underneath. There will be a 30-foot gangway that will serve as a transition from the dock to a 30-by-8 foot float which will make it easier to get into boats, especially smaller recreational crafts.

“I will say that this is a very straightforward installation,” he said. “It’s very similar to what you see for recreational piers for residential homes around the harbor.”

“It’s very similar to what you see for recreational piers for residential homes around the harbor.”

— Charles Voorhis

Ted Masters, interim planning board chairman, said the design meets the criteria described in Chapter 64 of the village code. At a Oct. 26 public hearing, the village trustees made amendments to the chapter per suggestions made by the planning board. According to the Oct. 26 meeting’s minutes, the required water depth to build a dock was changed from 4 feet to 3 ½ feet, and the width of the dock was changed from not to exceed 3 ½ feet to 4 feet and may exceed where needed to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Voorhis said the depth of the water is taken into consideration to ensure any floats for the dock will not rest at the bottom of the waterway and 3 ½ feet is adequate.

After the engineer’s presentation, the meeting was open for public comments and questions.

“I’m just concerned about people who have difficulty maneuvering, putting steps in their way,” Cindy Davis said, after asking if there would be railings, which Voorhis said there would be.

Another resident asked what can be done to prevent icing on the dock. Voorhis said the village is addressing whether or not the dock will need bubblers, which circulates water when there are freezing conditions, and the village is looking into options as far as powering them if needed.

Roger Flood, of Poquott, asked how the dock would be moved and stored in the winter. Voorhis said large cranes are used in many areas including Port Jefferson Harbor, and he suggested an upland location for storage either in the parking lot, since its not used as much in the colder seasons, or a grassy area.

After the Jan. 5 meeting, board trustee Jeff Koppelson said in a phone interview there has been less public debate about building a community dock, a topic that disrupted prior meetings as many questioned the financial impact of installing one.

“The board of trustees are very conscious of what we have to do to keep an eye on the money angle,” he said, adding a notice was recently posted on the village’s website regarding costs.

The board is looking into a five-year bond for $150,000, according to the post, and the payments would be $32,475 per year. The first two years could be paid off if the board approves the moving of $50,000 from the fund balance plus the $16,160 from the Poquott Village Community
Association.

In order to pay the remaining balance of the bond, there would be a tax increase for each household of $80 per year for three years. There would also be the maintenance cost of the dock at $2,075 a year for the village, which would include general maintenance, the floats being removed from the water in the winter and additional insurance.

A few in attendance questioned whether enough or proper notice was given regarding the Jan. 5 meeting. Masters said another public planning board meeting regarding the dock is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 29 at Poquott Village Hall. Residents can also send comments to village hall if they are unable to attend. Dock plans and minutes from past meetings are available for viewing at Poquott’s village hall and posted on its website.

by -
0 343
Members of the Three Village Schools Retiree Association work together to make calls to community members about last year’s Constitutional Convention vote. Photo from Betty Baran

For a number of Three Village Central School District retirees, serving the community didn’t stop when they left their former place of employment.

The Three Village Schools Retiree Association provides an opportunity for the district’s past employees to stay connected with former coworkers, and a way to help those in need in the community at the same time. This past holiday season the association continued its yearly tradition of donating to the school district’s adopt-a-family program, as the group raised $3,800.

Debbi Rakowsky, R.C. Murphy Junior High School social worker, said a growing number of families are in need in the Three Village district and most buildings averaged 15 families they collected for this past holiday season. All eight schools in the area coordinate collections at the end of every year and rely on staff donations. She said there was apprehension this holiday season that the gift cards donated by building staff wouldn’t cover the families needs, and the $3,800 from the retirees was distributed amongst all the school buildings and was a major help.

According to Judy McCready, president of the  retiree association and member since 2004, one of the missions of the association is to help the community. In addition to donating to the schools’ adopt-a-family program every year, it also grants scholarships to a number of Ward Melville High School seniors in the spring.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that the need for financial assistance is as great as it is in Three Village.”

— Judy McCready

The association combines fundraising with socializing. In the fall the retirees hold a welcome breakfast, a holiday lunch at the beginning of December and a happy hour to welcome new retirees at the end of the school year. McCready said at each event the group raises money for the holiday drive and scholarships and attendees are asked to bring a food item or toiletry that is donated to St. James R.C. Church in Setauket. She said members who no longer live in the area send checks for the causes, too.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize that the need for financial assistance is as great as it is in Three Village,” McCready said.

Betty Baran, corresponding secretary of the association and member since 2004, said the first retirees group in the Three Village area was founded in 1983 and called The Retirees Association of the Three Village Central School District. In the ’90s another association for only teachers formed called the Three Village Retired Teachers Association. In 2010, the two groups merged. Baran said the current group includes 511 retirees, and while 80 percent are former teachers, the rest of the membership is made up of administrators, custodial, secretarial and clerical staff.

Baran said the members enjoy giving back to the community that was good to them while they were working. Another goal of the association is to provide moral support for current teachers by getting involved in political issues with an educational slant.

“We do try to keep our members abreast politically as it applies to education, and different changes in things that are happening with active teachers,” Baran said. “We support them. We make phone calls to legislators. So, we have a political agenda to foster education in New York state. These are issues that we feel strongly about because we were involved in education.”

In the past, members of the association have reached out to local legislators about potential tax cuts, which would have severely impacted school districts and funding for public schools. The group also reaches out to the community to show its support for candidates running for school board and actively made calls opposing the Constitutional Convention before Election Day 2017.

Rakowsky said all the social workers in the district are appreciative of the retirees’ assistance, and it has been a pleasure working with the group.

“I am so proud to be part of this district for a million reasons and this just highlights how our teachers are committed to supporting the community even after they have retired,” the school social worker said. “I plan on retiring in June of 2019 after 31 years, and I look forward to being part of such an amazing legacy.”

by -
0 950
Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn and recovering alcoholic and addict David Scofield answer questions posed by concerned parents at a past Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness meeting. File photo by Donna Newman

An outpatient facility slated to open on Technology Drive in Setauket is prepared to provide relief for those suffering from various types of addiction.

Lauren Grady, a private practice clinician and social work investigator for the New York State Department of Health, works at B.E.S.T. PLLC located in Deer Park, which she said will be expanding to Setauket in late February or early March. Grady will be speaking at the Jan. 25 Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness Program held at The Bates House and will answer questions about the services offered by B.E.S.T. and what families can do when a loved one suffers from an addiction.

Practitioners at the facility, which treats those 18 and older and provides counseling for family members who have a loved one addicted to alcohol or drugs, follow the belief that patients have an underlying mental illness.

Lauren Grady, a private practice clinician from B.E.S.T. PLLC, will be on hand for the Jan. 25 Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness Program to answer questions about a new facility in Setauket. Photo from Lauren Grady

“Not only do we want to free the addiction, but we believe the addiction is actually the function of an underlying mental illness that has never been treated,” Grady said, adding the facility utilizes intensive psychotherapy and psychopharmacology.

She said the facility has tailored new programs based on clients’ needs including nondenominational and scientifically oriented recovery groups for those who don’t like traditional faith-based anonymous groups.

The clinician, who has worked at B.E.S.T., which stands for Behavioral Enhancement and Substance abuse medicine Treatment, since 2016, said it has been opened in Deer Park since 2013. In the future, the hope is for the organization to open more facilities in Middle Island and outside of New York in Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio. B.E.S.T. is owned and operated by Dr. Tom Tuzel, who is on the psychiatric team at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, and the facility accepts most insurances and Medicaid.

Grady said she hopes Three Village residents will feel comfortable visiting B.E.S.T. when they need help.

“When people think of outpatient facilities, they think of methadone clinics, and we’re not,” Grady said. “We’re more medically based. So it would be more like you’re walking in to go see a primary care doctor or maybe even your therapist.”

She added staff members are approachable, and B.E.S.T. is a place where addicts can come and talk even if it’s just because they had a rough day.

For the clinician, who said she lost a friend to drug addiction, helping others with substance abuse problems is personal. She said many addicts are trying to feel normal and balance moods by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, when medical attention should be sought to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety. Due to her friend’s death, Grady said she understands the greater consequences of drug use.

“It’s not just about the addict,” she said. “This is an epidemic that is affecting everybody. Mental illness addiction is affecting the family, the friends, the employer and the employees. It hits everybody.”

Grady said she encourages loved ones to talk honestly with addicts and not be afraid of the consequences, such as the person ceasing to talk with them, because she said there is a potential to lose the person to overdosing.

Merrit Hartblay, a substance abuse counselor who leads the series of Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness educational programs, said he is optimistic about the facility coming to the area. He hopes having a center such as B.E.S.T. in Setauket will begin to remove the stigma of drug addiction in the area and more residents will feel comfortable addressing the issue and attending discussions like the ones presented at The Bates House. He said he feels it’s important for residents to do everything to embrace and combat the drug problem that he feels has reached epidemic proportions in the Three Village area.

“You have to get rid of the shame and the guilt and say, ‘No, we’re here because we want people to come and move to this community because they know that we are being proactive instead of reactive,’” Hartblay said.

He hopes loved ones of addicts will take advantage of the family counseling at the facility, even if their child is too young to be treated there, feeling discussions are beneficial to everyone in the addict’s life.

“Once you can get family members engaged and explain to them about the disease of addiction, and how it affects family, that it’s not just the addict but the whole family
becomes addicted to the addict. Once the family can embrace that, my three big words are always prevention, intervention, education,” Hartblay said.

Hartblay encourages Three Village residents to attend the Jan. 25 meeting and to feel comfortable asking questions in what he describes as a safe and open forum.

“You need to come out so we can hear from you, and you can understand and hear the things that we are going to do to make this community a safer community that can deal with drug addiction, that can be more proactive instead of reactive,” Hartblay added. “Deal with the issues before they become a problem. We want this to be a safe community. We want this to be a community that other people look to and say look at what the Three Village community is doing.”

The Jan. 25 meeting will be held at The Bates House located at 1 Bates Road in Setauket at 7 p.m. Heather Reilly, Three Village Central School District certified drug and alcohol counselor, will also be in attendance to answer attendees’ questions. For more information about the meeting, call 631-689-7054. For more information about B.E.S.T. call 631-392-4357.

Old Field residents, neighbors crowd village hall to express concerns over proposed tower in park

Residents and nonresidents of Old Field are protesting the proposed plan to install a cellphone tower on the grounds of the park known as Kaltenborn Commons, above, saying it will be unaesthetic and create possible health consequences. Photo from the Village of Old Field website

A battle might be on the horizon over a proposed cellphone tower.

Before the Jan. 9 public board meeting in the Village of Old Field, residents living slightly outside the community’s borders received a letter simply signed “Concerned Neighbors.” A number of residents were alarmed to hear the village board was proposing the construction of a cellphone tower at a public park known by many as Kaltenborn Commons located at the intersection of Old Field Road and Quaker Path.

The letter writers asked residents of Old Field and surrounding streets to attend the monthly meeting to voice their concerns about health, economic and aesthetic issues. The agenda for the meeting included a presentation by Tanya Negron, founder of Elite Towers, a Long Island-based company that develops wireless telecommunications tower sites and is working on the Old Field project, to answer any questions.

A few dozen Old Field and Setauket residents crammed into the small Keeper’s Cottage that serves as the village’s meeting hall. Negron said the proposed tower, which is similar to the one on the bluff in Belle Terre, will have a 50-by-50-foot footprint. A stealth concealment pole, the slim structure will have cellphone carrier antennae inside, and the only antennae that would be outside are for emergency agencies, such as the fire department, if requested.

Elite Towers sketch for proposed cellphone tower in Old Field. Photo from John Coughlin

Negron said the area around it will be landscaped based on the village’s recommendations and no trees will be removed. The pole will be centralized within the property and set back from the road 132 feet on the west, 130 feet on the east and 160 feet to the south.

Many in attendance raised concerns and asked questions of the board members, with Mayor Michael Levine multiple times reminding participants to speak one at a time.

Former board member John Von Lintig said when he sat on the board for six years, the suggestion of installing a cellphone tower came up frequently. The conclusion was always that there was no suitable place to put it in the village without negatively affecting those around it.

“You put it right in the gateway of the village, and it is unconfirmed but with definitely possible health effects, it has possible economic effects on the homes immediately surrounding on resale, and it has aesthetic impact on people coming into the village seeing this thing,” Von Lintig said.

While a few in the room believed there are no health consequences in association with cellphone tower poles, one Setauket couple, who live across from the park, said they worry about potential health risks.

“We have three kids that are in that park daily,” Charles Catania said. “You can’t promise me or tell me there are no health consequences in connection with this pole.”

Oleg Gang, who works at Brookhaven National Laboratory, said he lives in close proximity to the proposed location. He said the savings in property taxes due to the revenue generated by the pole was negligible, and even with WiFi and an extender, it’s possible to improve an individual’s cellphone service at home.

Gang said board members need to research studies concerning the increase of various cancers and other disorders when living a certain distance from a tower, even if the conclusions are not definitive or there are debates.

“The bottom line is it’s not clear, but because it’s not clear, and there are so many technical solutions, and there is no benefit really from the tax point of view because it’s negligible, it’s really irresponsible to put it in the backyard of the people who will be suffering potentially five or 10 years getting cancer,” Gang said.

“We have three kids that are in that park daily. You can’t promise me or tell me there are no health consequences in connection with this pole.”

— Charles Catania

According to the website of the American Cancer Society, there is currently very little evidence to support the idea of cellphone towers increasing the risk of cancers or other health problems.

Many also said the tower will be aesthetically unappealing not only to nearby residents but to those considering buying a home in Old Field.

One resident who lives across from the park and considers the land historic said she found the board a bit smug toward those who didn’t live in the village.

“You are basically desecrating historic land by erecting this horrendous looking thing,” she said. “When we are in our yards, we are going to be laying in our pools or sitting in our lounge chairs looking at this freaking pole that is 130 feet tall. So all you’re saying, first of all comes across a little demeaning to us, and it’s not right at all. Secondly, it does affect our property values.”

She added that she spoke to a real estate agent who said home values can potentially drop 20 percent when such a pole is installed.

To address concerns regarding health issues and real estate prices dropping, Levine asked anyone who knows of experts in the fields to invite them to talk at future board meetings.

One resident in favor of the pole said it will generate tax revenue for the village and make the community more attractive to younger people who don’t use landlines.

“As I look around here, the average age of the person in this room is over 50,” he said. “Let me tell you something; your kids and my kids don’t use landlines, OK? They want cell coverage, and we don’t have decent cell coverage.”

Village lawyer Anthony Guardino said installing the pole would result in $40,000 capital at the outset and another $15,000 capital contribution for each canister that goes in the tower in village revenue. The village would also receive 40 percent of the rent stream from the first carrier, 45 percent from the second and 50 percent from any others.

Levine said if the village decides not to install a pole there is still a chance that Stony Brook University will do so on its Sunwood Estate property as the university has filed a request for proposals to install a cellphone tower, and the estate is one of the suggested locations. If this occurs, the village would not generate any revenue from the SBU pole.

Options were discussed at the meeting including installing the cellphone tower near the Old Field lighthouse. Levine said the location had been considered but the U.S. Coast Guard, which supervises the lighthouse, must approve it. While the village reached out to the Coast Guard, it did not receive a definitive answer.

Another subject of contention was the lack of notification for those who live right outside of Old Field who feel they will be affected. Others said even though they are residents, they were unaware of discussions about a cellphone tower. Levine and Village Clerk Adrienne Kessel reminded residents to sign up for email notifications, and they said the village posts meeting information on its website available to both residents and nonresidents. The mayor also said the village is not legally required to notify nonresidents but they are always welcome to attend the meetings.

Levine stressed that a lease agreement has not been signed yet, and the board will schedule one or two more meetings to hear from Old Field residents and its neighbors. The next public board meeting will be held Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. For more information visit www.oldfieldny.org.

Many living around Setauket Harbor for years have complained about waterfowl hunters who they feel practice their sport too close to homes and residents enjoying the area. Photo from End Duck Hunting in Setauket Harbor

Residents in the vicinity of Setauket Harbor are crying “fowl” when it comes to the shooting of ducks and geese on the waterway and are hoping to change local hunting laws.

Early in December, a post on the Facebook page Three Village Parents generated a lot of buzz. Many residents near Setauket Harbor reported seeing hunters and hearing shotguns in the area. One resident commented that she had seen pellet holes in her window, while another said she changes her jogging route during hunting season, which runs until Jan. 28 for ducks and Feb. 26 for geese.

Waterfowl hunting is legal in the state. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the agency promotes it as both a recreational sport and wildlife management tool. Those wishing to hunt waterfowl can do so during open seasons as long as they possess a valid hunting license, migratory bird stamp and Harvest Information Program number. Despite the laws, local residents aren’t happy with the early morning noises and feel the nearby hunting is a threat to their safety.

Tami Robitsek said she was sitting in her car the morning of Nov. 15 at Shore Road beach in East Setauket when she heard a loud gunshot and noticed two men in camouflage with shotguns hiding in the reeds on the beach. Robitsek said she felt it posed a dangerous situation as she witnessed several people walking and running along the road, a school bus filled with children, a man working on his boat moored off the shore and an elderly woman crying just off the road after hearing the shots.

Hunters spotted by a resident on View Road. Photo from End Duck Hunting in Setauket Harbor

“After this jarring experience, I am committed to working to end duck hunting in Setauket Harbor,” Robitsek said.

The East Setauket resident is rallying her neighbors and recently created the Facebook group, End Duck Hunting in Setauket Harbor, which has gained 70 members. She said community people have expressed support for a no-discharge ordinance in Setauket due to safety concerns and have discovered that neighboring Village of Poquott already has a no-discharge ordinance, which prevents the discharging of firearms outside official duties.

“Given the historical significance of this waterway, the delicate ecosystem, waterfowl nesting, dense population on all sides of the harbor and so on, it is clear to me that Setauket Harbor and its area residents deserve to be protected from hunting of all kinds,” Robitsek said.

Animal rescue and activist Joanne Tamburro, who has worked with Guardians of Rescue, an organization dedicated to rescuing abused animals, has offered her support to organize residents and approach local elected officials to initiate the no-discharge order. The 20-year Setauket resident said while residents have complained in the past, their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

“I’m against hunting, but I don’t preach,” Tamburro said. “However, if you want to hunt, not by me. I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to be a part of it and don’t try to convince me that it helps the environment.”

As an animal activist, Tamburro is concerned for the birds, too.

“What about these poor animals that are getting shot, and they’re walking around with a broken wing,” she said.

Chris Spies, a hunter from Holbrook who works in Stony Brook, said he has had negative interactions in the past with residents.

“I understand that people are upset getting woken up early, I completely understand,” he said. “However, I also get up early in the morning with an expectation to go out and enjoy myself in my pursuit of a lawful activity and not be accosted in the field with people cursing me out, taking photographs of me, videotaping me, banging pots and pans and calling the police on me multiple times.”

He said some residents don’t mind though and even come out to talk to him.

“It is clear to me that Setauket Harbor and its area residents deserve to be protected from hunting of all kinds.”

— Tami Robitsek

Spies said residents should be aware that while standard hunting laws state that shooting must be done 500 feet from an occupied residence, that rule is suspended while waterfowl hunting. According to the DEC’s website, it is lawful to discharge a shotgun over water within 500 feet of a dwelling, public structure or person as long as no buildings or people are in the line of discharge.

The hunter said residents should know that duck hunters don’t use bullets but shot shells, which shoot many BBs in a shot string for more effective hunting while not posing safety risks beyond 70 yards or so.

“Shooting a single projectile at a flying bird would be very ineffective at harvesting them, as well as dangerous further down range,” he said.

He also has a few tips for his fellow sportsmen. Spies said before hunters head out, they should visit gis3.suffolkcountyny.gov/gisviewer to view a county map that shows property lines and ownership to ensure that they are not trespassing.

While out shooting, Spies suggests that when seeing others, hunters should stop shooting, put down their guns and take off their hats. He said they should let their decoys work in their favor and wait until the ducks are in an effective range, typically under 30 yards, which would avoid unnecessary shots. He suggests one shot per bird or less as random shooting annoys nearby residents and scares the birds.

“I’m a big proponent of hunters being ethical and part of the ethics of hunting is not taking indiscriminate shots,” he said.

Robitsek and Tamburro said while they face a difficult road in fighting the state law that allows hunting, they are prepared for the battle with plans to solicit the help of local lawmakers and stage protests if necessary.

“It’s ridiculous to allow any type of hunting in and around this area, with the amount of homes we have here,” Tamburro said.

Social

4,898FansLike
1,036FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe