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Stony Brook

Suffolk County Department of Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson outlines the proposal that would change the way drivers enter Nicolls Road off Route 25A. Photo by Phil Corso

Suffolk County is turning a corner.

A problematic intersection where Nicolls Road meets Route 25A is in the county’s crosshairs as officials seek ways to make it more pedestrian-friendly and safer for drivers. Three Village residents heard a presentation on the proposal last Monday evening, where elected officials and administrators outlined plans to install a new sidewalk on the northern side of the intersection.

“The county has been responsive to our concerns about pedestrian safety here,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-East Setauket). “Right now, the 25A-Nicolls Road intersection is sort of scary for pedestrians trying to make their way across. The aim here is to improve safety and I wanted to make sure the public was included.”

Gil Anderson, commissioner of the county’s Department of Public Works, pointed to a blueprint of the proposal, which would remove an access ramp for drivers making a right onto Nicolls Road from 25A, and instead make the access point to the major roadway in the same spot as motorists making a left onto it from 25A. The intent, he said, was to ease the flow onto Nicolls without impacting eastbound traffic along 25A.

“Our intent is to improve safety at this intersection,” he said. “The county will be putting in sidewalks to connect the existing sidewalks put in by the state.”

As it stands, there are two ways to access Nicolls Road from 25A. Drivers going east on the route make a right onto the road via the access ramp in question under the county proposal, while drivers going west on the route make a left off 25A at a traffic light where the two roadways meet.

Bill Hillman, chief engineer with the county Department of Public Works, called the intersection the “genesis of pedestrian safety issues and vehicular issues” for the Three Village area and said this proposal could solve a lot of those problems. He said eliminating the current access ramp for cars going east on 25A making a right onto Nicolls Road was the safest way to handle the situation, and the county would be exploring the possibility with the state’s permission, because state-owned 25A is the crux of the county’s traffic issues at this site.

Some residents asked about the possibility of bike lanes being included in the proposal, and Anderson said civic members and elected officials should reach out to the state, which maintains Route 25A, with hopes of breaking through.

“If the civic reached out to the state, now would be an opportune time,” he said. “Route 25A is a state jurisdiction when it comes to bike lanes. They’ll take your requests a lot more seriously than ours.”

Hahn said she also requesting planning money on the county level for a bike path down Nicolls Road and near Route 25A and hoped it gets considered for the betterment of Stony Brook University students who frequent the area either by bike or foot.

“I’m hoping that money stays in and gets implemented one day,” she said. “Many students utilize the sidewalk and this will improve safety, no doubt.”

Burglar caught
A 33-year-old woman from Hauppauge was arrested in Smithtown on May 5 and charged with third-degree burglary. Police said that on April 23 at 10 a.m. she entered a vacant home on Davis Street in Hauppauge by smashing a window and damaged the interior of the structure. She was arrested at 9:35 a.m. at the 4th Precinct.

Facepalm
Police said a 29-year-old man was arrested at his home on Apple Lane in Commack on May 9 at about 6:30 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man took six containers of Olay face cream, put them in a bag and exited the store without paying.

Cat food thief caught
A 55-year-old woman from Commack was arrested in the same town on May 7 at about 3:20 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the woman took cat food, a pillow, paper goods and soup from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road without paying. She was arrested at the location.

Cash nabber caught
Police said a 43-year-old man from Yaphank was arrested in Smithtown on May 7 and charged with two counts of grand larceny, one in the third and the other in the fourth degree. Police said the man on two separate occasions earlier this year took cash from a cash register drop box from a store on West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown and removed it without permission.

An elaborate steal    
An unknown person entered a vacant building, broke down a sheetrock wall and entered neighboring Markar Jewelers on E. Main Street in Smithtown and stole assorted jewelry in a display case on May 8 at about 3:18 a.m.

In your face
Police said two men were involved in an altercation at Accompsett Middle School on Meadow Road in Smithtown on May 5 at about 4:25 p.m. Someone threw dirt into the complainant’s face.

Tires, rims stolen
Eight sets of tires and rims were taken from Smithhaven Dodge on Middle Country Road in Nesconset and a passenger side door window was also damaged sometime between 9 p.m. on May 7 and 7:45 a.m. on May 8.

Jeep stolen
Someone took a customer’s 2012 Jeep from the parking lot of Smithaven Chrysler on Middle County Road in Nesconset sometime between 7:45  and 11:45 a.m. on May 8.

Indian Head harassment
Police received a report of harassment from Key Food on Indian Head Road in Kings Park on May 7 at about 6:15 p.m. A male complainant said a man grabbed him by the shirt and left a red mark.

Figurines lifted
Someone stole figurines from the St. James General Store on Moriches Road around noon on May 8.

Window damaged, rims lifted
Police said someone smashed the window of Smithtown Nissan on Middle Country Road in St. James and stole rims and tires and damaged a window of a 2015 Nissan 370z sometime between 10 p.m. on May 5 and 6:45 a.m. on May 6.

Damaged window
An unknown person smashed the back window of a 2001 Volkwagon Suburban on Middle Country Road in St. James sometime between 9:30 a.m. on May 5 and 8 a.m. on May 6.

Speedy arrest
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Stony Brook and charged him with first-degree operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana. Police said the man was driving a 2011 Subaru southbound on North Country Road and Beacon Hill Drive in Stony Brook and was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit. He was arrested on May 7 at 2:45 a.m.

Can’t get enough
Two men — one a 21-year-old from Centereach, another a 22-year-old from Coram — were arrested on May 10 at about 6:42 a.m. in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with trespass. Police said the two men were attempting to open doors of parked vehicles at a location on Pond Path in Setauket. Both were ordered to leave and later returned to the property. The Centereach man was also charged with criminal mischief — police said he punched a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado at that location.

Shopping flee
A Shirley woman was arrested on May 10 at the Walmart on Route 347 in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with petit larceny. Police said she took assorted clothing and household items, put them in a shopping cart and bags, and walked past the register without paying. She was arrested at the location at about 6 p.m. that day.

Pocketbook pocketed
Someone entered an unlocked front door of a residence on Galleon Lane in Setauket-East Setauket and took a pocketbook containing credit cards, cash and a cell phone sometime between 3:30  and 7 p.m. on May 8.

Money mystery
A Robinhood Lane resident from Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of first-degree identity theft on May 7. Police said someone took cash from the individual’s Bank of America online account and transferred it to different accounts. The transaction occurred at 5:30 p.m. on May 6, police said.

Those darn kids
A Brandywine Drive resident in Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of second-degree harassment on May 5 at 7 p.m. Police said an adult neighbor verbally harassed an 11-year-old.

A lot at stake
Two Willis Avenue neighbors in Port Jefferson Station got into a verbal argument on May 6 after one removed stakes in the ground that marked a proposed fence line.

Do not enter
A 21-year-old Port Jefferson man was arrested in Port Jefferson Station on May 9 after he entered a building and remained in it unlawfully. He was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Hateful
A resident of Richmond Hill Road in Sound Beach reported on May 8 that an unknown person had spray-painted a swastika in the street by their home.

Bang bang
An unknown person shot somebody with a BB gun on May 5 in Rocky Point at around 2:45 p.m. According to police, the perpetrator was traveling north on Shell Drive when they fired the gun. The person who was shot was OK.

We are the Champlins
Several people were involved in a fight at a home on Champlin Street in Centereach on May 10. Police said a man went to the hospital after sustaining a head laceration that required medical attention.

Out of gas
A 35-year-old homeless man was charged with third-degree robbery after he stole money from a Middle Country Road gas station on May 8.

Shattered glass
An unknown person smashed a window with a rock at a Shamrock Lane home in Centereach on May 8 at around 8 p.m.

Failing to stop
A 39-year-old Port Jefferson man is facing numerous charges, including leaving the scene of an accident, after he crashed his 2004 Hyundai into a 2015 Jeep on May 8, causing damage. Police said the man fled the scene, which occurred by Skips Road and Route 112 in Coram.

Lost numbers
An unknown person stole a cell phone from a 2009 Chevy Malibu on Wood Road in Centereach on May 8. The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m.

Zoom
A 1994 Ford was stolen from a Centereach mechanic on May 6. According to police, the vehicle had been repaired, but when the owner went to pick it up, it wasn’t there.

Play ball
An unknown female stole both a baseball cap and a decal from Bob’s Stores in Selden on May 8, shortly before 6 p.m.

Rabbi Chaim Grossbaum speaks at a ceremony last week. Photo by Barbara Donlon

The North Shore Jewish community is one step closer to getting its forever home as the groundbreaking ceremony for its new center took root in Stony Brook on Thursday evening.

Rabbi Chaim and his wife Rivkie Grossbaum addressed the eager crowd at the ceremony at R.C. Murphy Junior High School to mark the new Chabad Merrin Center at Stony Brook, named after Edward and Vivian Merrin, who donated $1 million to the center.

“Our wandering has come to an end,” Chaim Grossbaum said at the ceremony last week. “The Merrin Chabad Jewish Center is the answer.”

Since acquiring its first space at the Lake Grove Jewish Center in 1990, Chabad Stony Brook has spent much of its last 25 years wondering where it would offer its services. The growing Jewish community was hard to fit in the current center and it often relied on rental space to get the job done, Grossbaum said.

Members of Chabad at Stony Brook join with community leaders to ceremoniously break ground. Photo from Motti Grossbaum
Members of Chabad at Stony Brook join with community leaders to ceremoniously break ground. Photo from Motti Grossbaum

The current space can fit roughly 80 people, far less than the 400 families Chabad Stony Brook serves. The new center, now in phase two of the $5.5 million four-phase project, will be able to accommodate far more families once it is completed, he said.

The new center will have a banquet room, a gym, Mikvah and spa, a library, a pool, a santuary and more. The building is expected to open in the summer of 2016, the group said.

“It will pretty much be multi-use in many fashions for the several programs we service the community with,” Grossbaum said in a phone interview.

The center will offer Hebrew school, pre-school, summer camp and other school programs. According to layout plans, there will be five pre-school rooms and two regular classrooms.

The new center will be right in the heart of the Three Village community it serves, Grossbaum said. The center will also have a hospitality suite for the Jewish community taking care of sick loved ones at Stony Brook University Hospital, the group said.

The rabbi said he is hoping the center attracts new families to help Chabad Stony Brook grow exponentially.

“We want to give them reasons to want to go,” Grossbaum said. “It’s hard to create atmosphere in a rental space.”

The rabbi highlighted many of the difficulties the group experienced while going from place to place over the last 25 years. He said the center would help expand on everything they currently offer to enhance services.

Sheila Skolnick, an attendee at Chabad Stony Brook, said the center’s kind and welcoming atmosphere would draw many people into the new center. Skolnick along with many others said she is eagerly waiting for the new center to be built.

“The Merrin Center will be our place and we’ll know where to go,” Skolnick said. “It’s really a place for Jews to congregate from all over.”

Construction of the new center is expected to begin shortly. Kevin Harney of Stalco Construction is leading the project and John Tsunis of Gold Coast Bank is financing it.

By Ed Blair

“I don’t entirely approve of some of the things I have done, or am, or have been. But I’m me. God knows, I’m me.”

Iconic actress Elizabeth Taylor’s self-appraisal references a life that ranged from the sensation of stardom to the sensationalism of tabloids. She was one of the last superstars of the Hollywood studio tradition, and her life and career, both on and off screen, were a source of entertainment for decades.

Elizabeth Taylor. Photo from the WMHO
Elizabeth Taylor. Photo from the WMHO

Audiences can listen to the legendary actress’ tale as the Ward Melville Heritage Organization presents “The Elizabeth Taylor Story” May 9 through June 17 at its Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook. The popular musical theater and high-tea luncheon series returns to the center with a tribute to the enduring screen idol. The 1963 setting for the St. George Productions finds singer Eydie Gorme (played by Rosie Flore) headlining a musical comedy spring spectacular, with Taylor (portrayed by Lisa Mondy) as the her guest. Along with her faithful domestic, Rosie (played by Kim Dufrenoy), Gorme will talk with her glamorous visitor and delve into the roller coaster ride that marked both a distinguished acting career and an often turbulent personal life. A light lunch of finger sandwiches will follow the show.

The cast members weighed in with their thoughts about the star of the show.

“I think people will walk away with a different perception of Elizabeth Taylor. As she tells her story, you realize that she herself never took her stardom seriously. She felt fabricated by the movie studios, which staged her look as well as with whom she was seen. She never really wanted all the hoopla and drama that went with being a celebrity,” said Dufrenoy.

Added Rosie Flore, “Celebrities and icons are people too. They live, love, laugh and hurt just the way we all do.”

Portraying the former movie idol, Monde said, “Elizabeth Taylor represented glamour. She represented style; she represented Hollywood stardom. At times her personal life overshadowed her screen accomplishments, but in the end, after eight marriages and numerous life-threatening illnesses, Elizabeth Taylor was a survivor.”

Born in London in 1932 to American parents who took their St. Louis art dealership abroad, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor returned with them to the United States at age 7, as the family fled the impending war in Europe. The Taylors resettled in Los Angeles, where a family friend suggested that the arrestingly attractive Elizabeth be given a screen test at a movie studio. Her radiant good looks and charisma captivated the camera lens, and, by the time she was 10, the fledgling actress was appearing in films at Universal, MGM and 20th Century Fox. After playing several small parts, she rocketed to stardom, playing opposite Mickey Rooney, in the 1944 hit “National Velvet.” Now a child star with a contract with MGM, young Elizabeth scored another big success for her role in “Little Women” in 1949.

Blossoming into a voluptuous-figured, violet-eyed beauty as she entered her twenties, Taylor soon found herself playing opposite some of Hollywood’s top leading men. She received Academy Award nominations for her roles in “A Place in the Sun” (1951), “Raintree County” (1957), “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958), “Suddenly Last Summer” (1959) and “The Taming of the Shrew” (1967). She garnered two Oscars for her role as a call girl in “BUtterfield 8” (1960) and for her definitive roll as Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in 1966.

She also appeared famously in “Giant” with James Dean (1956) and with Richard Burton in “Cleopatra” in 1963 for which she was paid the then-stunning sum of one million dollars. Taylor became an international star and appeared solo on the cover of People Magazine 14 times.

Taylor was a significant voice in the battle against AIDS, helping to raise funds for research and playing a major role in focusing public opinion on the epidemic. For her tireless efforts, she was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001.

“It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS,” she said, “but no one should die of ignorance.”

Performances of “The Elizabeth Taylor Story” will run from May 9 through July 17 and take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and select Fridays at 11:30 a.m. and on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. Advance reservations are required. Tickets are $48 general admission, $45 seniors. For more information or to make a reservation, call 631-689-5888 or visit www.wmho.org.

District Attorney Tom Spota speaks at a press conference about Patrick O'Sullivan, who was convicted of raping a woman in Stony Brook in 2012. File photo by Michael Ruiz

The East Moriches man convicted of raping and sodomizing a woman in Stony Brook was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday at Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead, the district attorney said.

Patrick O’Sullivan has been convicted of raping a woman while she was housesitting in Stony Brook in 2012. Photo from Robert Clifford
Patrick O’Sullivan has been convicted of raping a woman while she was housesitting in Stony Brook in 2012. Photo from Robert Clifford

Patrick O’Sullivan, 23, pleaded guilty to charges of rape, criminal sexual act, burglary, sexual abuse and conspiracy in relation to the Nov. 20, 2012, incident, at a residence where his victim was house-sitting. Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said the man wore a mask and carried a loaded rifle when he entered the house through an unlocked door. He fired his weapon twice and sexually assaulted the victim after restraining her with duct tape.

While in custody at the county jail following his arrest, O’Sullivan was also charged with conspiracy after prosecutors said he tried to hire a hit man to kill the victim and another person he believed would testify against him, Spota said. The plot was foiled when the man he tried to hire notified the police.

The conspiracy charge alone landed O’Sullivan a concurrent prison term of up to 25 years, Spota said.

O’Sullivan appeared before Judge Barbara Kahn in county court Thursday morning for sentencing.

At the sentencing, he apologized to the victim, who also provided a statement. He said he hoped she could one day forgive him, a spokesman for Spota said.

In a moving testimony, the woman, who is not being identified because she is the victim of a sex crime, relived the horrific experience and the subsequent days before an arrest was made.

“For over an hour that night I was terrorized, tormented and violated. He showed me bullets and told me I shouldn’t make him use them,” she said in court Tuesday. “He left me in a house tied up, naked, violated, broken and alone. It was 10 days before an arrest was made, 10 days when I couldn’t bring myself to walk outside my house. It was eight months before I could return to work.”

The victim called her attacker a sociopath who made the conscious decision to commit “purely evil acts” of violence against her and said the memories of her attack will always be with her.

“There aren’t words to accurately describe the sheer panic, terror and fear when someone walks into a room and they are dressed in all black, wearing a ski mask and pointing a rifle directly at your head,” she said. “It is a moment that never leaves you. It is a moment in time that changes you forever.”

O’Sullivan waived his right to appeal in February and a permanent order of protection was issued for the victim, the district attorney said.

Dangerous duo
Two men from Commack — one a 22-year-old, the other 23 years old— were arrested at the precinct in Smithtown and charged assault with intent to cause serious physical injury. Police said the two men, while working in concert with one another, punched and struck a male victim in the head with an object, causing physical injury, on July 5, 2014. One man was arrested on April 26, the other man was arrested on May 3.

An expensive habit
Police arrested a 24-year-old woman in Smithtown on April 28 and charged her with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, in one instance, with intent to sell. Police also said she had a bench warrant out for her arrest. On April 23 by 3:23 p.m., police said she sold a quantity of heroin to someone in exchange for cash. She was arrested on April 28 at 6:10 a.m. on Blydenburg Avenue in Smithtown.

Ford-ified with tape
An 18-year-old woman from Holbrook was arrested in Smithtown at the precinct on April 27 and charged with third-degree criminal mischief, with damages greater than $250. Police said the woman damaged a 2005 Ford, scratching the car with her key and affixing duct tape to the vehicle’s paint.

Boozy temper tantrum
A 32-year-old man from Stony Brook was arrested in Smithtown at 5:25 a.m. on April 26 and charged with resisting arrested and disorderly conduct: obstructing traffic. Police said the man, who was highly intoxicated, and arrested at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Glenrich Drive in St. James, was standing in the middle of the street, obstructing traffic and being violent and belligerent as cars tried to pass.  He also refused to comply with an officer’s demand to place hands behind his back. When he was transported to the 4th Precinct, he refused to get out of the police vehicle, but eventually did.

The smoking gun
A Smithtown man filed a report on May 3 against his male neighbor on Route 111, claiming the neighbor was yelling at him. Police said the dispute erupted over an ongoing issue: the neighbor smoking on his patio. The complainant told police smoke drifts into his property.

Tire troubles
Two cars were damaged in separate incidents on Pine Acre Drive in Smithtown sometime between 11 p.m. on April 27 and 5 a.m. on April 28. Police said an unknown person punctured the front driver-side tires of a 2008 Toyota Highlander and a 2013 Dodge Ram using an unknown object.

Plate stolen
Someone took a license plate affixed to a 2008 Kawasaki motorcycle parked at LA Fitness on East Main Street in Smithtown sometime on April 27.

Storefront damaged
Someone gouged the front door and frame of Andre’s Precision Auto on Smithtown Boulevard, causing damage near the locks, sometime between 8 p.m. on April 30 and 9 a.m. on May 1.

Gimme my money
A man at Americas Best Value Inn on Nesconset Highway in Nesconset told police on April 26 that another person he knows at the inn pushed him because he asked him for $25 he wanted back. No one pressed charges, police said.

Bad reality checks
A 19-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on May 2 and charged with two counts of petit larceny. Police said that, in separate incidents, he took the checking account numbers of two individuals and cashed checks. The incidents occurred on April 3 and April 13.

Crash ‘n go
Police said a 46-year-old Hauppauge male was arrested on April 28 in Huntington at the 2nd Precinct and charged with leaving the scene of a car accident. Police said the man was driving a 2008 Toyota on Broadhollow Road in Melville on April 10 at 2 p.m. and he collided with a 2000 Jeep, causing damage to the rear end of the vehicle. He failed to stop and speak with the driver.

Burglarized bling
A 40-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested in Huntington on April 27 at the 2nd Precinct and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny of property valued at more than $1,000. Police said that sometime between 1 a.m. and 11 p.m. on April 26, the man removed an iPad, gold and a watch.

Popo push
A 22-year-old woman from Central Islip was arrested in Greenlawn on April 30 at about 9:20 a.m. and charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration. Police said she pushed a police officer trying to take down a police report.

Best friends forever
A man claimed his friend punched him in the face and kicked him on May 2 on East 13th Street and Varney Avenue in Huntington. The victim was taken to the hospital.

Prints, kettle missing
A Huntington man told police that he discovered several items missing when he went to his dad’s house on Marine Street to help him pack his belongings. The items included a Currier and Ives lithographic print and a solid copper kettle. The incidents occurred sometime between April 21 at noon and April 25 at 3 p.m.

Cat fight
Two female friends punched, kicked and pulled each other’s hair at a house on Park Avenue in Huntington. The incident was reported on May 3 and no one is pressing charges.

Food fight
On April 29, an employee at Wendy’s in Port Jefferson Station reported that a co-worker scratched their arm, causing minor redness. No charges have been filed.

Bulking up
An unknown person stole three protein bars from a gas station on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on April 29 shortly after 4:30 p.m.

Clipped
A man was making a deposit at Bank of America in Port Jefferson Station on May 1 when he left his money clip on the counter. When he returned shortly after, the money clip and the cash it contained were missing.

Fore!
The windshield of a 2013 Honda was damaged on May 3 while parked at a residence on Village Green Drive in Port Jefferson Station. An errant golf ball from the neighboring golf course may have been to blame.

Mystery fire
An unknown person set a grassy median, property of Suffolk County, ablaze on County Road 83 in Mount Sinai on May 4. If caught, the person could face a fifth-degree arson charge for the 2:30 p.m. incident.

Bandits
Two unknown males entered a residence on Canal Road in Miller Place shortly after midnight on April 30 and stole property including cash, a rifle and a wallet.

Through the window
An unknown person entered a Patchogue Drive home in Rocky Point through an unlocked window on April 30 at some point between 9:10 a.m. and 9:10 p.m. The suspect rifled through drawers, closets and medicine cabinets and stole jewelry, a Sirius radio docking station and a laptop.

Tale of the robber
A woman discovered property from her 2015 Nissan Murano was missing while on her way home from North Shore Public Library in Shoreham on April 28. Police said a tablet and its case, a wallet — including a driver’s license and debit and credit cards — were stolen from the unlocked car while it was parked at the library.

Flagged
An unknown person destroyed a flagpole at a residence on Briarcliff Road in Shoreham in the early morning of May 2. The person broke the pole in half and then stole the flag.

Secret garden
An unknown person entered and stole items from a garden nursery on Middle Country Road in Centereach between May 1 and May 2. According to police, the person entered through an unlocked door and stole two iPhones, one iPad and assorted coins.

Passed out
A 23-year-old Centereach man was arrested on May 2 after police observed his vehicle stopped at the center of Huron Street and Dillon Avenue in Port Jefferson Station. Police said the man, who was impaired by drugs, was passed out in his 2002 Hyundai and the keys were still in the car’s ignition.

Teen angst
Four West Babylon teens were arrested in Selden on first-degree robbery, displaying a firearm, on April 28. According to police, the four teens — three aged 17 and one aged 15 — entered a Middle Country Road gas station shortly after 10 p.m. and threatened an employee with what appeared to be a weapon and demanded money.

Household items stolen
Someone stole household items and cleaners after walking through the garden department at the Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket on April 26.

Phone jacked
Someone playing basketball at Sayville Coastal Sports on West Road in Setauket-East Setauket told police that he returned to his gym bag to find his iPhone stolen. He reported the incident on April 26.

Window screen damaged
A female complainant told police that she opened a window in her home on Old Town Road in Setauket-East Setauket and found the screen cut. The window was not damaged. The report came in on April 25.

The Lusitania is docked in Liverpool sometime before 1912. Photo from the Michael Poirier Collection

Nancy Dorney will spend several hours at Pier A in New York City on May 7 honoring relatives she never met.

A retired shop owner from Stony Brook, Dorney will join officials from Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and other countries to pay tribute to those who took a journey that ended abruptly and in many cases tragically exactly 100 years earlier when a German submarine torpedoed and sank the British ship Lusitania off the coast of Ireland as it was heading for Liverpool.

Among the 1,198 killed that afternoon were 128 Americans, which included 39-year-old pianist Charles Harwood Knight and his 42-year-old sister Elaine. The Knights were Dorney’s great-great-uncle and aunt and, for a time, were also her grandmother Millicent Lawrence’s guardians. After the sinking, which took 18 minutes, the Knights, who were traveling in first class, were never found.

The Knights “disappeared off the face of the Earth because they decided to take the ship that day,” Dorney said.

The sinking of the Lusitania, like the loss of the Titanic three years earlier, raised questions about what actions could have prevented the death of so many at sea. It also triggered active discussion about what role the United States could or should play in World War I.

The German government had warned of an aggressive campaign to sink ships around the British Isles that they believed were carrying munitions and reinforcements for the war. Some thought the Lusitania, which, at 24 knots, was the fastest cruise ship active at the time, could avoid becoming a target. The ship, however, had shut down one of its boilers to keep down costs, bringing its top speed to 21 knots, said Michael Poirier, co-author of the book “Into the Danger Zone: Sea Crossings of the First World War.” In the waters where the Germans had been patrolling, the ship was only going 18 knots, said Poirier.

The Lusitania “was handicapped by not speeding through the danger zone,” Poirier said. There are so many “what ifs,” he added.

In the aftermath of the sinking, opinions in the United States were sharply divided over the proper course of action. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, who had run for president three times and was an outspoken member of the Democratic Party, urged the country to steer clear of involvement.

Bryan thought the sinking didn’t immediately require farm boys from the middle of the country to risk being “killed for the rights of wealthy Americans to travel through war zones,” said Michael Barnhart, a distinguished teaching professor in the History Department at Stony Brook.

Even if America didn’t enter the war, Bryan didn’t want the sinking to become “a line in the sand,” where, if the Germans cross that line in the future, America “paints itself into a corner and has no option but to go to war,” Barnhart continued.

Teddy Roosevelt personified the other side of this argument, urging the United States to come to the aid of the British. Roosevelt viewed the sinking of the Lusitania “as an example of barbarism,” Barnhart said.

Political cartoonists at the time described the Germans in terms similar to the way people view ISIS now, Barnhart said.

Sensing that the country wasn’t eager to become involved in war, President Woodrow Wilson demanded that “Germans give the citizens of neutral nations a chance to get away in lifeboats before the ship on which they had been sailing was sunk by a German submarine,” explained Richard Striner, a professor of history at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. The Germans told Wilson the British had deck guns on their passenger ships that the British could use if the submarines surfaced. Wilson, Striner continued, suggested the British get rid of these guns but, not surprisingly, the British refused.

Ultimately, however, Wilson did what Bryan feared, indicating that future attacks would bring the country closer to war. In protest of the president’s posturing, Bryan resigned. In 1917, the Germans “realized that turning the U-boats loose would bring the U.S. into the war,” Barnhart said, but, they resumed their attacks anyway amid a shift in political winds in Germany. The United States joined the war on April 6, 1917.

As for Dorney, she has delved deeper into the lives of distant relatives who were important for her grandmother. Charles Knight, who people called by his middle name Harwood, was an accomplished pianist and, as Dorney described, a bit of a character. He forgot the organ music he was supposed to bring to a family funeral and played a somber version of a ragtime song from 1896, called “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.”

The last anyone heard from the Knights was when they sent a note to Dorney’s grandmother that contained a list of first-class passengers aboard the Lusitania, with names including Alfred Vanderbilt and Charles Frohman. A theater producer, Frohman helped develop such stars as Ethel Barrymore and John Drew, relatives of current actress Drew Barrymore.

As the former owner of Pride’s Crossing, a housewares and furniture store in Stony Brook, Dorney said she has an appreciation for what she’s learned about the Lusitania. The woodwork on board was “beautifully made and included interior design and artwork that were magnificently done.”

Dorney and those attending the wreath-laying ceremony in New York will heed the words Poirier said are so often connected with the sinking of the Lusitania: “Lest we forget.”

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Port Jefferson’s Alden Mohacsi leaps over the high jump bar in the Royals’ 81-60 win over Stony Brook Monday, May 4. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Port Jefferson’s Spencer Cona leaps into the sand pit in the Royals’ 81-60 win over Stony Brook Monday, May 4. Photo by Bill Landon
Port Jefferson’s Spencer Cona leaps into the sand pit in the Royals’ 81-60 win over Stony Brook Monday, May 4. Photo by Bill Landon

Although the Port Jefferson boys’ track and field team is fielding 13 freshmen on a roster riddled with injuries, the Royals remain atop the League VII leaderboard with an 81-60 win over Stony Brook Monday.

According to head coach Rod Cawley, the team found itself filling holes in events that the athletes were not unaccustomed to, and the competitors came through for the team on their own home track to improve to 5-0 and tie with Wyandanch for first place in the standings.

Winner of the 800-meter event was Port Jefferson junior Billy Witrock with a time of 2 minutes, 12 seconds, despite the shorter hurdle events being his primary focus.

Port Jefferson junior Justin Julich won the 400-hurdle event in 64 seconds flat. He said he rarely runs the event, and the time became his new personal best. A three-year varsity runner, Julich, who the coach said is a superb athlete and touch competitor, also races in cross country, in the two mile and the 3,000 steeplechase, while also pole vaulting and running in the 400.

The Royals took the longest race of the day, as senior Parker Schoch crossed the finish line first in the 3,200, with a winning time of 12:09. Schoch said the conditions were less than ideal, but that didn’t stop him from also claiming first place in the 1,600 with a time of 5:09.

Port Jefferson’s James Concepcion receives the handoff from Parker Schoch in a relay event during the Royals’ 81-60 win over Stony Brook Monday, May 4. Photo by Bill Landon
Port Jefferson’s James Concepcion receives the handoff from Parker Schoch in a relay event during the Royals’ 81-60 win over Stony Brook Monday, May 4. Photo by Bill Landon

“It was windy and it was hot — it was the first warm meet we’ve had this season,” said Schoch, a four-year varsity runner who also competes in the two-mile and high jump.

Cawley said he had to lean on some freshmen to step up and fill the holes left by injured runners, but added he was pleased with their performance.

“We’re a very young team … we had guys who filled rolls today because we have a couple of injuries, and they rose to the occasion,” he said. “We had a couple of sophomores run their personal best today, which was great because our top distance runner in the state, James Burke, is out with a hamstring injury, and our top sprinter couldn’t be here today due to a family obligation.”

Cawley added that his team did well in the relay events, which is something they don’t usually do because of how young his runners are.

Port Jefferson’s Justin Julich and Parker Schoch race around the track in the Royals’ 81-60 win over Stony Brook Monday, May 4. Photo by Bill Landon
Port Jefferson’s Justin Julich and Parker Schoch race around the track in the Royals’ 81-60 win over Stony Brook Monday, May 4. Photo by Bill Landon

“We won three relays, which we don’t usually do because of the ages of the group, so that was a pleasant surprise,” the head coach said.

He was also pleased with sophomore James Concepcion, who competes in the 100, 200 and 400, and 100 and 200 relays.

“He’s an excellent young athlete — rises to the occasion when asked and will be very good one day,” Cawley said.

The Royals will take on top-seeded Wyandanch on Tuesday, May 12, at 4:30 p.m., to settle the dispute for first place in League VIII.

“For right now, we’re just focused on Wyandanch,” Cawley said. “I hope we can get healthy. If not, we’ll have to realign and adjust our strategy.”

This state Department of Environmental Conservation map hilights special groundwater protection property in yellow, which includes a lot in the center on which a North Shore developer hopes to build.

A Setauket-based civic group is drawing a line in the sand as a North Shore developer looks to build three houses on an environmentally sensitive area.

Brookhaven is home to two of Long Island’s nine special groundwater protection areas, designated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and Charles Krohn of Windwood Homes, Inc. has applied for variances to divide his land within one of them — in East Setauket near Franklin Avenue and John Adams Street —  into three separate plots. But Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, argued the town should adhere to existing zoning laws there to protect the area’s aquifer.

The DEC’s special groundwater protection area in question is a large, oddly shaped chunk of land on the North Shore that includes Stony Brook University, St. Georges Golf and Country Club, Ward Melville High School, wooded properties on the southern part of Setauket, pieces of Lake Grove and more.

“[This area] is critical to ensuring the future potability of our underground water supply,” Nuzzo said in a statement read aloud at the April 22 Brookhaven Town Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. “Granting variances to allow for these substandard lots would serve to undermine not only the state environmental conservation law, but also … Brookhaven’s own adopted comprehensive land use plan.”

The civic president said the town granted the area special protection in its 1996 land use plan — the most recently adopted plan to date — because of its environmental significance. In his testimony, Nuzzo asked the town to deny the requested variances solely to protect the environmental standards already in place, adding he was not opposed to development all together.

“If the applicant wishes to develop this property, we recommend they adhere to the town’s existing zoning ordinances,” he said.

Krohn, who lives in East Setauket, purchased the land from the town in September 2014 and said he was looking to build three homes between 3,000 and 3,500 square feet in the same community where Windwood Homes has already been developing for years.

“The houses might, in fact, be smaller than this footprint,” he said at last month’s Board of Zoning Appeals meeting. “These are not sold right now.”

Diane Moje of D&I Expediting Services in Farmingville represented Krohn at the hearing and said the goal was to make three equal lots for development.

East Setauket resident Thomas Cardno has lived near Franklin Avenue for nearly a decade and said he worries that overdevelopment would create a safety risk for young children, referring to the variance proposals as “jamming three homes on there” as a means to maximize profits at the expense of the families in the area.

The cul-de-sacs in the area are too crammed already, he said. “Just put two homes in there and call it a day, at this point.”

Moje, however, said the town has already granted similar variances for other homes in the surrounding area, making the current proposal nothing out of the ordinary.

“This is not out of character and not something this board hasn’t addressed previously, and granted,” she said.

Christopher Wrede of the Brookhaven Town Planning Department reviewed the proposal and said the variances posed no significant environmental impact. The Board of Zoning Appeals held the public hearing open, to get additional information in the coming months.

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Chabad co-directors Rabbi Chaim and Rivkie Grossbaum visit the site of the new building construction on Nicolls Road. Photo from Rebecca Itzhaky

The days of celebrating in rented spaces are coming to an end for the North Shore-based Chabad at Stony Brook Jewish community.

Since acquiring its first space at the Lake Grove Jewish Center in 1990, Chabad at Stony Brook is finally breaking ground on its home turf with a new facility being built on Nicolls Road, much closer to the epicenter of its Three Village neighbors. The group will celebrate the new beginning with a groundbreaking ceremony on May 7 at 5:30 p.m. in anticipation of the summer 2016 building opening.

Chabad has been home to more than 400 families from Smithtown to Port Jefferson, but has relied on rental spaces throughout the year to host key events like the High Holiday services and popular holiday celebrations. The Shabbat services have also been held at the rabbi’s home.

Rabbi Motti Grossbaum of Chabad at Stony Brook said planning events like Bar and Bat Mitzvahs has become a logistical headache for the group, making the potential of a new space a welcome addition to the family.

“Since 1987, Chabad at Stony Brook has been like ‘the wandering Jew,’” Grossbaum said in a statement. “Though Chabad was fortunate to acquire the Lake Grove Jewish Center in 1990, it was not a perfect fit. For one thing, the location was 15-20 minutes away from the larger Jewish community in Stony Brook and other surrounding towns on Suffolk County’s north shore. Also, the building was too small to accommodate Chabad’s ever-growing attendance.”

The new facility was made possible thanks to a $1,000,000 grant from Edward and Vivian Merrin, founders of the Merrin Gallery in New York City and the project is being led by Kevin Harney of Stalco Construction and it is also being financed by John Tsunis of Gold Coast Bank.

“The new building will serve as a home and a hub for the rapidly growing Jewish community in the Three Village area and beyond,” Grossbaum said.

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