Tags Posts tagged with "Sara-Megan Walsh"

Sara-Megan Walsh

the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will create a task force to combat the ongoing issue of homelessness in New York City subway system with similar plans underway for the Long Island Rail Road. File photo

A Smithtown resident will take the lead in determining the future of the Long Island Rail Road.
Phillip Eng was appointed the next president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s LIRR April 12 by MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota and MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim.

“Phil has shown exceptional leadership and dedication during his time at the MTA, and I know he will bring his enthusiasm for developing a world-class transportation system to the LIRR,” Lhota said.

“As a Smithtown resident and Suffolk County native, Phil Eng understands the importance of transportation on Long Island.”

— Steve Bellone

Eng will take over for Patrick Nowakowski, who served as LIRR president for nearly four years. He submitted his resignation less than a month after the LIRR had its worst on-time performance in the last 18 years, according to a March 15 report released by the Office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in March. The report had found that nearly 21,400 trains were delayed, cancelled or terminated in 2017; a 20 percent increase from 2016.

“As millions of commuters can attest, the performance of the Long Island Rail Road has become unacceptable,” DiNapoli said in a March statement. “On-time performance has fallen to the lowest level in nearly two decades, hurting riders. While Amtrak was a big factor behind the deterioration in service last year, the LIRR was responsible for more than twice as many delays.”

Eng first joined the MTA in March 2017 when he was appointed its chief operating officer. His role as chief operating officer was leading major initiatives across all of the MTA’s agencies, particularly with a focus on using innovation and technology to modernize the transportation systems and improve customer reliability, according to the MTA. From October 2017 to January 2018, he held the position of acting president at New York City Transit.

“The LIRR couldn’t have a found a more qualified person for this role,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said in a statement. “As a Smithtown resident and Suffolk County native, Phil Eng understands the importance of transportation on Long Island.”

“My life’s work has centered on conceptualizing the best possible options to make transportation options more reliable.”

— Phil Eng

He is now expected to use his 35 years of experience in the New York State’s transportation sector to get the LIRR’s performance back on track. Prior to joining the MTA, Eng started his career with New York State Department of Transportation in 1983 as a junior engineer. He worked his way up, rising through the ranks to become the state DOT’s executive deputy commissioner. While there, Eng was responsible for delivering on the $2.5 billion annual capital construction program and was involved in the environmental impact study on the LIRR Mainline Expansion Project.

“My life’s work has centered on conceptualizing the best possible options to make transportation options more reliable, allowing commuters to get where they need to go safely and quickly,” Eng said in a statement. “I am honored to be chosen to lead the LIRR and its team of talented women and men as we work together to make the daily experience on the trains a better one.”

In his new position, Eng will be expected to manage several major infrastructural changes underway on the LIRR including the Double Track Project, which adds a second track to the Ronkonkoma branch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma stations and is scheduled for completion later this year. He will also be expected to implement the Performance Improvement Plan, unveiled March 19, which aims to improve the LIRR’s service reliability, seasonal preparedness and communications with its customers. Public calls from elected officials to expand electrification on the Port Jefferson line east of the Huntington station, a long sought technological improvement, are also intensifying.

Juan Lopez of Huntington Station was convicted of using the threat of violence to recruit people into the gang MS-13. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s office

A Huntington Station man has been found guilty of being an MS-13 gang member who used the threat of violence in attempt to recruit new members.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced April 9 that Juan Lopez, 32, was convicted by a jury of first-degree attempted coercion, a felony. Lopez faces a maximum of four years in jail.

“The victims did not join; they did the right thing,” Sini said. “That’s why it’s critical that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office is here to protect the victims of not only gang violence, but also of gang intimidation.”

On April 16, 2017, Lopez was approached by two young men at the soccer fields of Manor Field Park in Huntington Station at approximately 1 p.m. in attempts to recruit them to MS-13, according to the district attorney. This occured less than five days after the murder of four young men near a park in Central Islip by alleged gang members.

Tattoos denoting Juan Lopez’s connection to the gang MS-13, according to District Attorney Tim Sini. Photo from Suffolk County District Attorney’s office

“When the boys resisted, this defendant stated to them in unequivocal terms, ‘this is how you end up dead in the park,’” Sini said. “My message to Mr. Lopez is: That’s how you end up in jail in Suffolk County.”

Lopez was arrested by Suffolk County Police Department the following day, April 17, 2017.

The case was prosecuted by the Enhanced Prosecution Bureau’s Gang Unit. The Gang Unit was launched in January 2018 by the newly-elected district attorney to focus exclusively on investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by gang members, such as members of MS-13.

Sini said prosecutors’s evidence against Lopez at trial included witness statements in addition to his own tattoos. Lopez has a “1” tattoed on his right arm near his shoulder with a matching “3” tattooed on his left arm near the shoulder joint. In addition, he had a skull with two horns tattooed lower on his left arm, forming the letter “M” when viewed upside down. The district attorney said these tattoes are symbolic of membership in the MS-13 gang.

“We will spare no resources, we will spare no effort to eradicate MS-13 from our communities,”he said.

Running 4 Our Angels scheduled for April 8, town to rename road outside Smithtown High School West

Smithtown area friends Lauren Baruch, Stephanie Belli, Amy Grabina and Brittney Schulman died in a limousine crash, July 18, 2015. Photos from Facebook

Nearly three years after a tragic limousine crash killed four Smithtown women, their families are coming together to host a memorial 5K run in their honor.

The first Running 4 Our Angels 5K run/walk is scheduled to be held Sunday April 8 at 9 a.m. outside Smithtown High School West to remember the lives of Lauren Baruch, Stephanie Belli, Amy Grabina and Brittney Schulman.

“I wanted to do something for all four of the girls, I felt compelled to do something,” said Felicia Baruch, Lauren’s mother.

On July 18, 2015, the four young women were part of a group that rented a limousine for a bachelorette party to go wine tasting at North Fork vineyards. The outing took a tragic turn when Steven Romeo, 57, of Peconic, was driving his red pickup truck and collided with the limousine as it attempted to make a U-turn near the intersection of Depot Lane and County Route 48 in Cutchogue. Baruch and Schulman, of Smithtown, as well as Belli, of Kings Park, and Grabina, of Commack, died in the crash that also injured six others.

The limo driver, Carlos Pino, 60, of Old Bethpage, was arrested and arraigned on four charges of criminally negligent homicide, four counts of assault, failure to yield the right of way, reckless driving and other traffic violations. The charges were dismissed against Pino in October 2017, but the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office has a pending appeal to reinstate the charges against Pino.

Romeo pled guilty to driving while impaired, a traffic infraction, and received a 90-day license suspension in April 2017.

In the years following the tragedy, each of the women’s families have created nonprofit organizations or scholarship funds to honor their daughters’ memories: The Lawzie Marigold Foundation, founded in honor of
Lauren Baruch; the Stephanie Belli Whisperette Scholarship; The Amy Rose Grabina Foundation; and a scholarship given out by the Schulman family.

The Running 4 Our Angels 5K run/walk will be their first joint fundraiser, according to Baruch. All proceeds will be split equally among the four charitable organizations.

“The purpose of the 5K Run/Walk is to increase awareness in our community regarding the safety issues of limousines,” reads the event’s website. “Our top priority is to have more prudent regulations on the internal and external structure of limousines, as well as mandated comprehensive training programs. Currently, there are no formal training programs for limousine drivers.”

Online registration for the event costs $30 through April 7 at 11:59 p.m. through the website www.runsignup.com/Race/NY/Smithtown/LawzieMarigold5K. The run is certified and sanctioned by USA Track & Field with mile markers and water stations.

Bib pickup and day-of registrations will be held at Smithtown High School West, located at 100 Central Road, from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m.

Awards will be presented to the top three overall male and female finishers, as well as the top three male and female finishers in 16 different age groups.

Following the run, Town of Smithtown officials will host an honorary ceremony renaming a road outside High School West, at approximately 11:15 a.m., according to town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo.

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington Town officials released a draft of the long-awaited Crab Meadow Watershed Plan for public review March 23.

The 154-page study was prepared by GEI Consultants, with the goal of developing a community-driven stewardship plan that highlights best practices in the future management of the watershed area. The study focused on evaluating the environmental conditions of roughly six square miles of downward sloping land around the Jerome A. Ambro Memorial Wetland Preserve in Fort Salonga.

“Policies on everything from golf course pesticides to the types of road salt that we use can have an effect on the wetlands,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) in a statement. “By adopting a stewardship plan, the town is looking to implement policies in the collective best interests of the environment.”

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said his civic’s members have long awaited the results of this study. They believe its results would justify their concerns about development on Indian Hills Country Club, which lays on the border of Huntington and Smithtown.

Developer Jim Tsunis and The Northwind Group have a subdivision application pending before Huntington Planning Board to construct 98 townhouses for seniors age 55 and older, to be named The Preserve at Indian Hills, alongside the existing golf course and expanding the current clubhouse.

The Fort Salonga Property Owners Association has asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills, until the stewardship plan was completed. They fear the addition of 98 homes will be devastating to the local wetlands.

“You don’t have to be a genius to see that the report indicates that it’s not a good idea,” Hayes said.

He pointed to a portion of the draft study that recognizes the watershed area is currently built out to its zoned density and, in his interpretation, any new development could severely impact the local wetlands.

“It does say that the development whether on existing sites or small developments — and this is not a small development — has the potential to take an incremental toll on the system,” Hayes said. “It follows that the primary watershed area, which includes Indian Hills Country Club, has the potential to have a more direct impact. That’s pretty straightforward.”

The property owners also cited concerns regarding excessive water runoff if townhouses are built on the bluff’s slopes. The proposed development they fear could worsen existing flooding of local roadways and increase pollutant levels of nitrates and phosphorus in various bodies of water, including Fresh Water Pond.

The Town of Huntington Planning Board is expected to vote Wednesday night on a resolution that would require The Northwind Group to perform a full environmental study of their proposed development.

“The board will be utilizing portions of the draft Crab Meadow Watershed Study to substantiate its decision to issue a positive [SEQRA] declaration,” said town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo. “A positive declaration is issued in order to establish the fact that the intended project may have one or more significant environmental impacts and that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared to analyze potential impacts.”

Residents can review the full draft watershed report on the town’s website under the Planning and Environment Department page at: www.huntingtonny.gov/crab-meadow-watershed.

The town is accepting all public comments through April 30 either online or letters can be mailed to: Huntington Town Hall, Department of Maritime Services (Room 300), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

by -
0 1701

Veterans for a More Responsive Government, Quick Stop Deli & Catering provide meals for those who served

Volunteers gathered outside Quick Stop Deli and Catering in Commack before bringing St. Patricks Day meals to homeless veterans. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

A St. James resident and Commack business owner worked together to make sure the luck of the Irish was
delivered to homeless veterans from Huntington to Riverhead this weekend.

As many Smithtown area residents were waking to find the sun shining on St. Patrick’s Day, Robert Cornicelli, founder of the nonprofit Veterans for a More Responsive Government, gathered his friends and volunteers over cups of coffee at Quick Stop Deli & Catering in Commack.

A volunteer with St. James resident Robert Cornicelli packs meals into a car for delivery. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

Cornicelli, a U.S. Army veteran who retired in November 2017, organized the loading of boxes of prepacked meals in the back of a car to be delivered to disabled homeless veterans at nine United Veterans Beacon House locations throughout Suffolk County. Beacon House is a Bay Shore-based nonprofit that provides housing for homeless veterans, many of whom are disabled due to physical injuries or mental impairments related to their time in the service.

“Every Thanksgiving, I would raise money to bring Thanksgiving meals to Beacon House, then it became Thanksgiving, Christmas and Super Bowl Sunday,” Cornicelli said. “I decided I’m going to try to do this for every major holiday.”

He launched a GoFundMe campaign mid-February that quickly raised more than $1,000 towards the March 17 feast. When Cornicelli mentioned his idea to longtime friend Rudy Massa, owner of Gasoline Heaven and Quick Stop Deli & Catering, he quickly stepped in to provide food for the 107 veterans and cover the remaining costs.

“Why not? I’m in; let’s do something,” said Massa, a U.S. Army veteran, in remembering their conversation. “We are trying to do the right thing and give back to the community a little bit.”

St. Patricks Day meals for homeless veterans made by Quick Stop Deli & Catering in Commack. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

On Saturday, Massa provided 107 plates of a “proper St. Patrick’s Day feast” consisting of corned beef and cabbage, Irish-style potatoes, carrots, Irish soda bread and the utensils needed to dig in.

Joining Cornicelli and Massa in delivering the meals was U.S. Marine Corp veteran Terry Devaney, a resident of one of the Beacon House locations in Huntington. He wanted to lend a hand after enjoying the Super Bowl meals set up by the St. James nonprofit in conjunction with Tommy O’Grady, owner of Miller Place’s Tuscany Gourmet Market, last month.

“It’s very gratifying to know that people are thinking about you,” Devaney said. “A lot of veterans feel they are kind of forgotten once they are discharged.”

Devaney, who served in the Vietnam War, retired from his position as a veteran service officer for Suffolk County in September 2017 suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he wanted to help as the free meals provided by Cornicelli and his nonprofit go a long way towards boosting morale. 

“It may seem like a small matter to most people, but a good meal can mean a lot,” Devaney said. “To have them deliver it and say thank you for your service, it re-instills your pride in having served.” 

Students at Northport High School sat silently for 17 minutes during the national walkout. Photo from Aidan Bryant

Hundreds of Northport High School students walked out March 14 in hopes that their actions would speak louder than words.

Senior Ryan Dowling, student organizer of the walkout to pay tribute to the Parkland, Florida students and faculty killed in the school shooting one month ago, said she estimated between 200 to 300 students quietly left the building to sit in the front courtyard at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning in unified action with thousands across the country.

Students at Northport High School sat silently for 17 minutes during the national walkout. Photo from Juliana Conforti

“We decided that 17 minutes of silence was the best way to go,” Dowling said. “The point was to remember the 17 lives that were lost and to show we didn’t have to say anything to make our voices heard.”

There were no speeches given, no chanting and no homemade signs calling for gun control or legislation. Only a singular black banner with the word “Enough” written across it in white duct tape stood with the students. Those who didn’t walkout were seen photographing and videotaping the event from classroom windows, according to Dowling.

“I think that everyone was respectful and mature about it,” student participant Samantha Sanuki said. “I had a fear of it becoming political with those who disagreed with the walkout — those people who were sharing their political views.”

On their way back inside the building, Dowling and Sanuki said the participants encountered other students holding Trump banners or wearing pro-Trump T-shirts. Both say the atmosphere remained largely respectful in attempt to not disrupt those classes still in session.

Students at Northport High School gather outside the school during the national walkout. Photo from Juliana Conforti

Superintendent Robert Banzer and high school principal Daniel Danbusky had a meeting with the student organizers of the walkout prior to March 14, in which any student who considered participating was initially warned they could face up to three-day suspension for walking out without permission, according to Dowling.

“My parents were supportive of me when I made the decision to try to spearhead this movement,” she said. “My mom was encouraging me saying, ‘I think you should walk out, and if no one is starting the conversation, I believe you should it start it yourself.’”

Days before the event, the senior said Danbusky contacted the student organizers and participants would be considered cutting class for the period. It carries a considerably lighter punishment, a phone call or email to notify the student’s parents, according to Dowling.

“The students — those who decided to walk out and those who decided to stay in class — handled the matter with respect and dignity,” Banzer said in a statement. “Regardless of the decision they made, I am very proud of all of them for that.”

Improving school safety also addressed during March 8 board of education meeting

Northport has put in its preliminary budget a focus on expanding its fleet of chromebooks. File photo

Northport administrators have placed an emphasis on getting more computers into classrooms and updating athletic gear and other essentials as part of the instruction, technology, BOCES and special education sections of the preliminary budget.

Superintendent Robert Banzer said during a March 8 board of education meeting that the district intends to continue expanding the deployment of Chromebooks, laptops powered with Google applications, in the $166.2 million budget draft for 2018-19. The district began implementing a plan to provide personal computers to its students last September, piloting the program at the district’s two middle schools.

2018-19 draft budget highlights in instruction, technology, BOCES and special education:

  • $49,000 for responsive classroom training
  • $8,250 for new automated external defibrillators across district
  • $7,500 for training in CPR and AED use
  • $10,000 for upgrades to playgrounds
  • $3,860 for recycled clay for ceramics classes

“Kids want to have them available,” said Matt Nelson, assistant superintendent of student services, technology and assessment. “The biggest problem is the kids leave them at home then want to go get a loaner. They realize really quickly that the loaners run out, and they won’t have one for the day.”

Next year, the district has budgeted to give Chromebooks to its current eighth-grade students as they enter Northport High School and current fifth-grade students as they enter middle school. Banzer said the goal is to provide computers to all students in grades 10 through 12 by September 2019.

Denise Schwartz, of East Northport, asked school administrators to consider providing additional funding for more computers given some classes have students who are in different grade levels.

“I have a problem with some of the inequalities with co-seated classes,” Schwartz said. “For tenth and eleventh-graders to not have Chromebooks when ninth graders do is very unfair. What device does every student have at home to do homework?”

The superintendent has recommended $25,000 be set aside to redesign Northport High School’s career center with new seating, tables, desks and computer workstations “to update and create a learning environment conducive to group counseling, college counseling and professional development,” according to the budget draft. Banzer said staff was noticing the area was not being used as often as expected, and hopes the reconfiguration will promote it.

To build on increases in technology at the middle schools, the budget includes more than $8,000 to purchase six additional 3D printers, three for each building. There is also a proposal to include roughly $10,000 to support the FIRST robotics team and more than $4,000 for VEX robotics for high school students.

“I’m glad to see the robotics competitions fees and materials are included in here,” said trustee David Badanes.

For student-athletes, school administrators have recommended using part of the more than $40,000 budget to outfit the boys lacrosse program with school-issued helmets, similar to the football teams’. The proposal calls for purchasing approximately 30 helmets per year over the next six years.

Other athletic expenditures in the 2018-19 draft budget include more than $26,000 to replace 10-year old treadmills and elliptical machines; fix the girls field hockey goals; add new glass backboards in the north high school gym; purchase new junior varsity football uniforms in the school colors; and add new uniforms for teams.

The next presentation on the proposed budget for personnel and benefits, including security staff, is scheduled for March 15 at 7 p.m. at William J. Brosnan School building on Laurel Ave. A preliminary budget hearing for district taxpayers is set for March 22.

Northport-East Northport school district. File photo

Northport-East Northport school district parents packed the cafeteria of William J. Brosnan School to standing-room only Thursday night to make sure their desire for increased security presence in the wake of the Florida shootings was heard loud and clear.

“The elephant in the room is armed security,” said Anthony Raganella, a 23-year veteran of New York Police Department from East Northport. “I 100 percent, no, I 1,000 percent applaud Miller Place Superintendent Dr. Marianne Cartisano and the Miller Place school board for hiring four armed retired police officers for their security.”

“Our children’s lives are worth more than anything, spend the money and get the security guards and give them the weapons.”

— Joseph Sabia

While Miller Place parents were divided and conflicted about their district’s decision to place retired NYPD officers armed with pistols outside their school buildings as of Feb. 26, Northport-East Northport parents gave the concept a standing round of applause. Many urged the board of education trustees to urgently take similar actions on March 1.

“Our children’s lives are worth more than anything, spend the money and get the security guards and give them the weapons,” said Joseph Sabia, a former board trustee. “Arm them and get them out in the field.”

Sabia pointed out that the district’s security consultant, Leonard Devlin, a retired NYPD detective, said that 26 of the district’s 31 security personnel are former law enforcement officers with backgrounds with the NYPD and FBI. As such, many of Northport’s school guards are already trained to use firearms.

“If you go back 20 years ago on the eve of Columbine … in some ways, we’ve come a long ways,” said Superintendent Robert Banzer. “We also know there is significant work to be done.”

The superintendent and Devlin gave a presentation on the upcoming measures the district is taking to improve its nine buildings’ security and student safety.

Devlin, who was hired by the district about a year ago, said the number of security cameras districtwide has increased from 351 to nearly 400 in the last year, along with the installation of a new burglary system. He admitted his security staff would still like to see more installed.

Michele Pettignano Coggins voices her feelings on armed security guards. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

A fast pass visitor management system has been put in place at both East Northport and Northport middle schools, according to Devlin, in which guests entering the building must show his or her driver’s’ license. The license is scanned and run through a background check to ensure they are not sexual predators, according to the consultant, and has been successful twice. Upon questions from parents, Devlin admitted that the district does not currently pay to check visitors against a criminal record database even though the system can do so. The fast pass system is expected to be put into place at the high school within the next week, and at all six elementary schools within the next three months.

There is approximately $10,000 in the administration’s draft 2018-19 budget to purchase new uniforms for the district’s security guards to make them more visible by incorporating a bright, reflective gold color.

“It’s good for the staff to know where there is help, have someone on premises who is visible,” Devlin said. “It’s a deterrent.”

The superintendent said the district is ready to begin construction of security vestibules at each of its buildings, a measure that was approved by voters in February 2017. The first building will be Bellerose Avenue Elementary School and plans for two other buildings are currently in Albany awaiting state approval. Banzer said the goal is to have all complete by 2019.

Inside the buildings, the superintendent said the district is 95 percent complete replacing all door locks so they can be locked from inside the classroom by a staff member with a key.

“It’s good for the staff to know where there is help, have someone on premises who is visible.”

— Leonard Devlin

“These are two of the major initiatives that are underway in our district right now,” Banzer said.

Parents came forward armed with suggestions on how they would like to see security improved for students, staff and the buildings. Kathy Affrunti, of Northport, asked if there was serious discussion of installing metal detectors while Northport resident Michele Gloeckner asked why the district’s proposed plans for the security vestibules didn’t include bulletproof glass.

“When we conceived of this idea there is thicker glass, we didn’t necessarily think of bulletproof glass,” he said. “It is it something we can go back and reconsider.”

Other residents spoke of replacing ground-level windows with ballistic-proof glass, improved training for teachers and staff members, implementation of better mental health programs and creation of a task force to address school safety concerns.

“There should be a master wish list of what a guy like you would like to see in a perfect place, what we should do, where we are and what we need to get,” said David Stein, vice president of the board, to a security consultant. “We can’t execute on everything in a year, but we should prioritize it.”

Northport board trustees have asked Delvin to provide a full list of ideal security items and personnel in the upcoming weeks and have agreed to revisit the issue during the upcoming March budget presentations.

Valencia Tavern in Huntington. Image from Google Maps

A proposal to demolish Valencia Tavern to create a mixed-use complex is dividing Huntington residents by their generation.

The Town of Huntington has temporarily stalled a developer’s proposal to demolish the more than 100-year-old Wall Street bar in order to build a three-story building with retail storefront and apartments in Huntington Village.

Conceptual plans submitted to the town last November by the developer, 236 VT Wall Street LLC, call for 7,840-square-foot retail space with a total of 24 apartments on the second and third stories. This would require the developers to acquire more than 9,000 square feet of town land along West Shore and Creek roads in Huntington.

As an alternative, the developer also put forth a plan to redevelop without purchasing the town land for a smaller retail space, but the same number of apartments.

To move forward, the developer would need a number of variances approved for a 13-to-15 parking space deficit, mixed-use zoning, building above the two-story height restriction and possible vision obstruction.
James Margolin, a Huntington-based attorney who represents the developer, said they received a letter of denial from the planning board in January.

“We hope to acquire the surplus town land and move forward with the application,” Margolin said, saying there is no set time frame to submit plans to Huntington’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

The proposed plans have divided the community between those calling for the building’s historic preservation and those seeking affordable housing.

A copy of an online petition titled “Save the Valencia Tavern” was presented by Bob Suter to the Huntington town board Jan. 23 in an effort to save what he called one of the town’s most iconic taverns.

“Now this historic establishment, the one-time haunt of famed Long Islanders like Billy Joel, is being threatened by developers,” Suter read from the petition. “They want to tear down the Valencia and build yet another generic mixed-use property in its place. We feel that demolishing the Valencia would do irreparable harm to the fabric of the community.”

Calls to save the tavern were met by opposition from younger residents, millennials who currently work and play in Huntington hoping one day to call it home.

Dan Busci, a Huntington native, returned to the area after graduating from the University of Vermont with a degree in green building design and sustainable development looking for such apartments.

“I’ve looked at apartments around Huntington where I want to live and work,” Busci said. “The high prices have dissuaded me and made it impossible for me to move out.”

He encouraged the board to allow the developer’s plans to move forward and pushed for construction of a green, energy-efficient building in its place.

“Huntington Village has enough bars, what we really need are rental apartments,” Nicole Hoyt said.

Hoyt, a 24-year-old graphic designer, said she has an hour to hour-and-a-half commute daily to her job in Huntington after an unsuccessful hunt for an affordable apartment in town.

“I wish people opposing this new development would take a step back and consider the progression of the community as a whole,” she said. “To pass on this opportunity would be a mistake.”

Deer rutting season means more of the animals running out on local roads. Photo by Rohma Abbas

An East Quogue-based hunting group is taking aim at Smithtown town code that regulates the use of firearms, including longbows.

Hunters for Deer filed a lawsuit against the Town of Smithtown in New York State Supreme Court last month, claiming the town’s required firearms code is illegal and inconsistent with state regulations set by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The town is stepping on the DEC’s toes,” said Michael Tessitore, president of Hunters for Deer. “We are saying that we already have laws being regulated by the DEC, the town is muddying the waters.”

Tessitore said he and his fellow hunters take issue with the town’s definition of a firearm because it differs from the DEC’s definition and increases the required setback, or distance hunters can be from a dwelling.

Under Section 160 of town code, Smithtown defines a firearm as “a weapon which acts by force of gunpowder or from which a shot is discharged by force of an explosion, as well as an air rifle, an air gun, a BB gun, a slingshot and a bow and arrow.” It was last updated in January 1990.

By comparison, the DEC’s regulations recognize rifles, pistols, shotguns and specific types of airguns as firearms, but doesn’t include longbows which are used for deer hunting.

Due to this difference, Hunters for Deer is suing saying the Town of Smithtown’s required 500-foot setback from the nearest dwelling to discharge a firearm is illegal, citing that New York State reduced the setback for longbows from 500 to 150 feet in 2014.

The difference in the laws illegally restrains hunters from shooting deer within Smithtown or face possible prosecution, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 7, and denies them their civil right to participate in hunting activity.

“I have a lot of property owners from Smithtown who call me and ask me to hunt their property, but when they find out the setback they don’t want to do it,” Tessitore said. “It causes the property owners to not want to cause any conflict with their community and get tickets for an otherwise legal activity.”

Christian Killoran, a Westhampton Beach attorney representing Hunters for Deer, sent a letter to the Town of Smithtown advising it of the issues with its code, according to Tessitore, but no action was taken.

Nicole Garguilo, newly appointed town spokeswoman, said that town attorney Matthew Jakubowski was unable to comment on pending litigation.

The town’s response to the lawsuit filed Dec. 18 stated the town was advised of the hunting organization’s position, but its “actions were lawful and within statutory constitutional authority.”

Tessitore said his group previously filed a lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor when it attempted to make a law that would have banned hunting within its borders, getting village officials to revisit and later change it. Tessitore said he hopes this lawsuit will have similar effect on the Town of Smithtown, causing town offices to amend town code to be more inline with the state DEC’s regulations.

“The only way to get a municipality’s attention is through a lawsuit and let a court decide who is right and who is wrong,” he said.