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Town of Brookhaven

Broadway Beach in Rocky Point still shows major storm damage. Photo by Kyle Barr

Town of Brookhaven highway officials are completing the final FEMA-funded project to shore-up Brookhaven shoreline following Hurricane Sandy, the storm that wrecked Long Island’s coastline nearly 7½ years ago.

At its Dec. 5 meeting, the Town Board voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association to go in and add a new stone revetment and bulk heading to halt erosion, but also adding an interceptor unit at the end of Broadway in Rocky Point, one that town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said will treat runoff for sediment and organic material before it outfalls into Long Island Sound. The project is expected to start early in 2020 and finish by Memorial Day. Losquadro said he doesn’t expect any major difficulties in construction.

“The storm presented an opportunity — building it stronger so it doesn’t get damaged later,” he said.

While the town only got federal approval for the project last year, the costs comes in at about $1.2 million, with 90 percent being taken up by Federal Emergency Management Agency funds secured in part, Losquadro said, by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1). The last 10 percent, or $120,000, comes from the town’s highway budget as a capital project.

The interceptor unit is a large concrete drum that will lie somewhere under the road.

Losquadro said the town has been involved with 10 other Sandy-related projects on the North Shore since the storm hit, which not only look to repair storm damage but help prevent future injury to the shoreline. The town has spent around $12 million in FEMA and their own funds with these construction projects, he said.

Many of the roads lying nearest to the shore are named some combination of “gully” and “landing,” with many of these streets being low-lying areas where water naturally congregates. Where once they were dirt and gravel, paving them has led to drainage complications. Much of the land is privately owned, such as the case of the end of Broadway and the connected beachfront. 

“There’s been a number of homeowner associations we’ve had to work with,” the highway superintendent said. “A lot of these drainage easements go through private properties.”

A representative of the NSBPOA did not return calls for comment from their clubhouse.

Brookhaven Taps Lower Bid, Cites Environmental Concerns

The Mount Sinai Yacht Club has been around for close to half a century, and its lease has been renewed for another 20 years. Photo by Kyle Barr

A new lease agreement between the Town of Brookhaven and Mount Sinai Yacht Club sees its annual price increase by a factor of 10, and some bidders were left unhappy with the board’s final choice.

The Town Board voted unanimously to award the lease bid to the Mount Sinai Yacht Club for a term from Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2040, for a total of $302,500 annually. This amount will increase by 3 percent after the first 10-year period and every five years after. 

A score of yacht club members showed up at the Dec. 5 meeting for support. Photo by Kyle Barr

This is a hefty jump of what the yacht club is currently paying for the lease agreement, $29,109. Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said the site is assessed at around $110,000, but competitive bids upped that price.

Both Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) recused themselves from the discussion, with Bonner being a member and LaValle’s family having been past members.

The town acquired the property in 1975 through a condemnation process for “town purposes.” The town then leases the property to the yacht club, and the first term of the town lease that was set to expire in 2000 was extended until 2020. The yacht club operates the marina and ancillary facilities, with a yacht club commodore saying they currently operate over 100 boat slips. The lease agreement includes 2.4 acres of upland and 2.6 acres of underwater property. He said the yacht club currently has a $1.2 million gross yearly revenue through both its house and general funds.

The yacht club charges $1,000 as a first-time fee and $1,600 in annual fees after that. Some who spoke at the Dec. 5 meeting charged that it was unfair that taxpayers be restricted from entering town property based on being a member or paying for the privilege.

Jeffrey Hulse, a Sound Beach-based attorney representing the yacht club, said the yacht club considers itself a “public-oriented facility” that makes itself available for other organizations to meet or run events, including Boy Scout groups and Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“We are open on a nondiscriminatory basis for anyone who wants to apply — we bring in new members each and every year,” said the attorney, who is also a 30-year member of the club. “We consider ourselves a working man’s clubhouse … we maintain this club in a pristine condition.”

Several scores of yacht club members attended the Dec. 5 public hearing where trustees discussed the merits of the separate bids. By the end they clapped and cheered as the town announced its decision.

“We’ve had the honor of experiencing an environment that is very family oriented and community oriented,” yacht club member John Amato said to the board. “This organization has provided our family with the true experience of family and community when we lost our son almost 17 years ago.” He added the club has facilitated scholarships for high school students throughout the local area in the name of his son.

However, not all were happy with the board’s decision. 

“Sounds to me if I wanted to go there, I would have to come up with $2,600 before I step foot on the property.”

— Chris Abbot

Chris Abbot, of the Riverhead-based Smith, Finkelstein, Lundberg Isler and Yakaboski LLP, represents Russell Waller, the CFO of North Shore Enterprises, the operator of Old Man’s Boatyard along the same peninsula as the yacht club. That proposal came in at $327,600.

In its original proposal letter, then attorney for Waller, Dennis Collins, proposed creating a restaurant with bar service that is open to the public, also renovating the upstairs attic area into a large room with an outside deck that could be rented for parties or meetings. The proposal also spoke of securing the four docks and 100 boat slips with gates and cameras in the same way that Danfords in Port Jefferson secures its docks.

The attorney was miffed over the board’s decision, saying his client’s proposed bid was the highest out of the four submitted. The yacht club’s bid came third highest at a total of four other bids for the lease, the other amounts being $230,000 from Strong’s Marine in Mattituck and $317,000 from William Dick, a yacht club member and past commodore. 

“The yacht club was there when the town acquired the property through a condemnation proceeding — that’s when property is for public use and benefit,” Abbot said. “Sounds to me if I wanted to go there, I would have to come up with $2,600 before I step foot on the property.”

Members of the town board said the choice in lease agreement also came down to the use of the property, with Abbot’s client looking to add an additional story to the building, which a town review said would have increased traffic and parking issues, as well as environmental concerns. The yacht club, and other surrounding buildings are built on a sandbar, and Eaderesto said an analysis showed an intensified use would lead to more pollution into the Mount Sinai Harbor.

A report from the town’s Division of Land Management said they were concerned with the other proposals for adding to the footprint and height of the structure, saying it would increase the impact of nitrogen and traffic. The report acknowledged the Mount Sinai Management Plan, which looked to keep development of the sand bar down while looking to restore habitat and decrease pollution.

“We have a lot of issues in this town, but money is not always the paramount issue,” said Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville). “We always try to find the best fit, and in a town with over $300 million budget every dollar matters … to me on a sandbar, I don’t find the actions of this committee to be in any way arbitrary.”

Feral cats in a wooded area in Mount Sinai eyes humans entering its habitat. Photo by Kyle Barr

With the growing issue of feral cats in Suffolk County, local animal rescue groups have told the Town of Brookhaven its current programs are not doing enough to stem the tide.

The rising population of feral cats on Long Island has been an ongoing issue for the past few years. In 2018, well over 300,000 cats lived in Suffolk County, including both feral and domesticated cats, according to data from the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

Erica Kutzing speaks on cats to the town board. Photo from TOB video

While trap, neuter and release programs have helped in combating the increasing population of feral cats, animal rescuer groups from the North Shore say the Town has not done enough to provide assistance in getting cats spayed and neutered.  

Erica Kutzing, vice president of North Shore-based Strong Island Animal Rescue League, asked town officials at a board meeting Nov. 19 to consider creating a trap, neuter and release task force to assist local rescue groups in the ongoing feral cat crisis. 

Kutzing said the rising population of feral cats has overwhelmed many animal groups’ resources, especially citing the lack of manpower and cost they themselves incur.

Since speaking at a previous board meeting, she posted a message on Facebook asking people who have unfixed feral cats to reply with the number of felines they need to get spayed and neutered. 

Within 24 hours, 23 individuals had contacted Kutzing and among them they had a total of 324 unfixed feral cats that could “breed over and over again.” 

She said if those 23 people got two free vouchers from the Town, as the current trap neuter return program allows, it would leave about 278 of those cats still untreated. A task force, she added, could be an effective partnership with the Town, adding they could bring in volunteer trappers to teach others and help facilitate the task force.  

“Now they’re [the cat’s treatment] on nonprofit organizations and homeowners’ dime — who don’t usually want to spend their money on situations like this,” Kutzing said. 

The vice president of the animal rescue group said the proposed task force would help bridge the gap between nonprofits and municipal shelters and cut feral cat numbers down.  

As of now, two vouchers can be issued at a time to a resident, which critics said are not enough to handle the influx of feral cats. 

The vouchers are redeemed at Integrative Veterinary Therapies in Ridge, though residents must first call the clinic to make an appointment at 631- 924-7700. That policy has been criticized by animal rescue groups. 

Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter Director Christina Tormey said she does not speak to press and referred all questions to the Town
of Brookhaven.

A Brookhaven spokesperson said town officials could consider some of the proposed ideas brought up by the animal rescue group members, but added that the Town already has its own trap, neuter, release voucher program in place and at the moment the town doesn’t foresee making any major changes to it. 

Kutzing said if half of the 278 cats are female, the current voucher program would do very little to stop the proliferation of feral felines. 

“Multiply that by the average amount of kittens in a litter — five, that brings us to 695 kittens that will be born by the end of kitten season that normally occurs around February and March,” she said. “We don’t have room for 600 kittens, does Brookhaven Animal Shelter have room for this amount? Or hundreds more?”

Sue Hansen, Rocky Point resident and former Smithtown Animal Shelter supervisor, said the problem with feral cats is a community problem in need of local government support. 

“We have and will continue to offer our time, experience and services but we need your assistance … an effective program that works with the volunteers is the solution,” she said.  

A Selden resident asked the board to reconsider changes to the town’s TNR program.   

“I have many kittens in my home because there is no place for them to go but I have to keep them isolated from my other animals, we need some help,” she said. 

The Selden resident also mentioned the out of pocket cost to take care of these animals. 

“I’m not a trapper, I’m able to reach out to see if I can get a trapper for those cats that are not chipped but who’s going to pay for that?” she said. “Who is going to take care of them when they recover? It is a serious problem … something has to get done.”

Brookhaven town hall. File photo

The Brookhaven Town board passed Nov. 19 its $312.9 million budget also establishing its capital budget plan for the next four years. 

The budget is a nearly $10 million increase from last year’s $302 million, but officials have said there would only be a small increase in property taxes.

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) praised the budget for not dipping into the town’s fund balance, or its rainy-day funds, and for staying under the 2 percent state tax cap.

The board unanimously voted to amend the two budgets at the Nov. 19 meeting. Town Chief of Operations Matt Miner said those amendments were cases of overestimating or underestimating revenues from specific items. Other areas were changed to make the final document budget neutral.

“There were no changes to the overall budget or the tax levy,” Miner said.

New budget capital projects comes in at $43.9 million, which is $14.6 million less than 2019. The town budget eliminates $15.8 million in pension debt and $30.1 million in “pipeline” debt, which is money left over from the closed bond projects, either unused or unappropriated.

“The budget meets my original three-point plan to reduce deficit spending,” Romaine said. “All funds are in compliance with the fund balance policy.”

The 2020-24 capital budget sets up public improvement projects established via bonds and reserves. This includes $26.4 million for the Highway Department, comprised of road repairs, drainage, traffic safety, facilities and machinery/equipment. This is in addition to a $5 million increase for road resurfacing in the operating budget from $10 million to $15 million.

Elected officials will also see a small raise in annual pay. Council members will receive a $1,446 increase to $73,762, while the supervisor will be bumped by $2,398 to $122,273. The highway superintendent salary is set at $121,515. Town clerk and tax receiver will each receive around $2,000 in increases. Elected officials have seen an approximate $2,000 pay increase over the past few years.

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On Oct. 29, 70 residents attended the Town of Brookhaven Youth Board’s first Brookhaven’s Got Talent student art show. 

Students enrolled in seventh through 12th grade were asked to submit summer-themed photos, paintings and/or drawings through the town’s website, and entries were accepted from late June through Sept. 27.

 In total, 19 submissions were received from 15 students. The event took place in the second-floor lobby at Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville where prints of the students’ artwork are currently displayed for residents to view. 

“The goal behind this initiative was to recognize and encourage young, talented artists in Brookhaven Town. We ended up having an intergenerational event where students were engaging with their peers, adults and seniors, sharing details about their art. It is gratifying to see so many residents coming out on a cold, rainy October night to view the students’ exceptional work and encourage their artistic talents,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine.

Councilman Michael Loguercio, Town Board liaison to the Brookhaven Youth Bureau agreed. “The Youth Board did a great job of bringing the Brookhaven community together to celebrate the students’ artwork. It is encouraging to see students from school districts throughout Brookhaven Town participate. The large turnout and positive feedback we received will certainly encourage these students to continue to pursue their artistic goals,” he said.

For more information about the Town of Brookhaven Youth Board and programs offered by the Youth Bureau, please call 631-451-8011 or visit www.brookhavenny.gov.

People go to vote at the Albert G. Prodell Middle School in Shoreham. Photo by Kyle Barr

Suffolk County Executive:

(WINNER) Steve Bellone (D) – 55.42% – 148,043 votes

John M. Kennedy Jr. (R) – 43.38% – 115,867 votes 

Gregory Fisher (L) – 1.18% – 3,147 votes 

 

Brookhaven Town Supervisor: 

(WINNER) Ed Romaine (R) – 61.52% – 51,155 votes 

Will Ferraro (D) – 37.42% – 31.113 votes 

Junie Legister (L) – 1.04% – 865 votes 

 

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent: 

(WINNER) Dan Losquadro (R) – 58.47% – 48, 624 votes 

Anthony Portesy (D) – 41.51% – 34,514 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 1st District: 

(WINNER) Valerie Catright (D) – 57.36% – 8,647 votes 

Tracy Kosciuk (R) – 42.59% – 6,421 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 2nd District: 

(WINNER) Jane Bonner (C) – 61.97% – 10,028 votes 

Sarah Deonarine (D) – 37.99% – 6,147 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 3rd District:

(WINNER) Kevin LaValle (R) – 65.12% – 8,228 votes 

Talat Hamandi (D) – 34.85% – 4,404 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 6th District: 

(WINNER) Sarah Anker (D) – 54.32% – 9,715 votes 

Gary Pollakusky (R) – 41.05% – 7,342 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 5th District: 

(WINNER) Kara Hahn (D) – 63.1% – 9,763 votes 

John McCormack (R) – 36.88% – 5,706 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 4th District: 

(WINNER) Thomas Muratore (R) – 58.97% – 7,275 votes 

David T. Bligh (D) – 39.23% – 4,839 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 16th District

(WINNER) Susan Berland (D) – 53.89% – 6,501 votes 

Hector Gavilla (R) – 46.08% – 5,559 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 13th District: 

(WINNER) Rob Trotta (R) – 61.99% – 10,385 votes 

Janet Singer (D) – 38.01% – 6,367 votes

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 18th District:

(WINNER) William “Doc” Spencer (D) – 61.47% – 11,998 votes 

Garrett Chelius (R) – 33.81% – 6,599 votes 

Daniel West (C) – 4.71% – 919 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 15th District:

(WINNER) DuWayne Gregory (D) – 72.15% – 7,037 votes

Chrisopher G. Connors (R) – 27.68% – 2,700 votes 

 

Huntington town council member – two seats:

(WINNER) Joan Cergol (D) – 26% – 20,882 votes 

(WINNER) Eugene Cook (R) – 24.81%- 19,931 votes 

Andre Sorrentino Jr. (R) – 24.07% – 19,336 votes 

Kathleen Clearly (D) – 23.38% – 18,777 votes 

 

Huntington Town Clerk: 

(WINNER) Andrew Raia (R) – 57.71% – 23,804 votes 

Simon Saks (D) – 42.28% – 17,441 votes 

 

Smithtown town council member – two seats: 

(WINNER) Thomas Lohmann (R) – 32.35% – 14,076 votes

(WINNER) Lisa Inzerillo (R) – 32% – 13,925 votes 

Richard S Macellaro (D) – 17.36% – 7,556 votes

Richard Guttman (D) – 17.32% – 7,535 votes 

 

 

 

Ed Romaine the night of Nov. 5, 2019.

The race for Brookhaven town supervisor was called before the final votes were tallied, with the night ending with Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) racking up 51,155 votes to Democratic challenger Will Ferraro’s 31,113 votes.

Romaine went on stage to thank the town for an “overwhelming mandate,” of the town board.

Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) the night of Nov. 5. Photo by Kyle Barr

“We are going to go back to work tomorrow,” he said. “The reason we ran is so we can govern, to move Brookhaven forward so we can fix its finances, help its AAA bond rating, get rid of the zombie homes and do all the things that are necessary to build a better town.”

In a phone interview after the night was called, Ferraro congratulated Romaine on his election, but urged the incumbent to listen to resident’s criticisms of the town’s recycling policies and road infrastructure. He added he will continue to be a community organizer in the local area and plans to get involved with his local school board. He added he did not plan on running for another office at least until after next year.

“I ran on 100 percent what I believe in, with every fiber of my being,” he said. “I have no regrets.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) defeated her challenger, Coram Democrat Sarah Deonarine with around 62 percent of the vote to 38 percent.

Though last year’s referendum to give town councilmembers a four-year term, Bonner said it will mean elected officials can focus on long term projects, especially “environmental based projects.”

Deonarine said campaigning was strenuous and difficult.

“If I could pull it off anybody can,” she said. “So, I hope other people follow in the footsteps. I’ve met amazing people. We started something new and we’re really hoping for a better Brookhaven in the future.”

She doesn’t plan to run for office again but is interested in the behind the scenes work and helping future candidates, saying there’s no existing playbook.

“I learned so much that was not given to me when I started.”

Kevin LaValle the night of Nov. 5, 2019. Photo by Kyle Barr

In the battle of Port Jeff Station neighbors, with Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) against her challenger Tracy Kosciuk, a nurse running on the Republican ticket, the town board’s lone Democrat won with 57 percent of the vote.

Cartright said she plans to focus on completing land use plans in the Three Village area and Port Jefferson Station and working on the cottages at West Meadow Beach among other initiatives.

“I’m looking forward to completing the process on all of these initiatives that we’ve embarked upon in the community,” she said.

Kosciuk said that even with her loss, she “still won in many ways,” by “making my opponent more responsive to everyone in the council district, rather than specific pockets.” She added she hopes her opponent works toward revitalization efforts and on the zombie homes issue.

In the Middle Country area, incumbent Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) won with 65 percent of the vote against his Democratic challenger, social justice activist Talat Hamdani.

The incumbent thanked his constituents, and said he plans to continue bringing more business into the Middle Country area and finalize work on the Selden Park Complex.

Hamdani wasn’t available for comment.

In the race for town highway supervisor, Dan Losquadro (R) beat his Democratic challenger Anthony Portesy with 48,624 votes to the Democrat’s 34,514.

Losquadro thanked Garcia and said he was “overwhelmed by the mandate” of the voters.

“They see the progress we have made in Brookhaven,” he said. “They have seen the efforts and results that are possible when we work together. The results of this election will allow us to plan long term.”

Portesy said he ran a good race and thanked all his supporters who came out for him.

“Overall, we fought a good race … If anything, I’ve forced a level of accountable the highway department hasn’t seen in decades,” he said. “There was a level of energy in this cycle in 2019 that we didn’t see in 2017 and that’s really going to build going into 2020 as we go into the congressional and presidential races.”

Dom Pascual, a Democrat, took on Lou Marcoccia (R) for receiver of taxes, but voters went again for the incumbent with the Republican making near 60 percent of the vote.

“We cared, and we listened,” Marcoccia said.

Pascual said he thought they put on a strong campaign.

“I’m a [Democratic] district leader so I’m going to continue to recruit people,” he said. “We’re not going away no matter what. I ran in 2017, it was just me, and this time around we recruited over 50 people. Demographics are in our favor, there’s more Democrats moving into Brookhaven than Republicans, so I think eventually things will change.”

David Luces and Rita J. Egan contributed reporting.

Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. Photo by Phil Corso

The responsibilities of the Brookhaven highway superintendent prove to be a daunting task, as it is the third biggest highway department in the state. The position oversees thousands of miles of roads and we feel that Dan Losquadro (R) is still the right man for the role. He has done an admirable job with the budget given to him in fixing roads throughout the town. 

While some residents may not be fond of Losquadro, they do deserve a more transparent process and more communication on when work is being done. Putting a list of expected road work on the Town’s website as his challenger Anthony Portesy (D) proposed is a good idea to qualm residents’ questions and concerns. It would probably lessen the amount of calls and letters his office receives. 

We commend his challenger, Portesy, for deciding to run again for this position, as he brought in fresh ideas and enthusiasm. We believe with enough experience down the line Portesy could make himself an attractive candidate for other offices in the town or other municipalities. We hope he continues to stay involved in the local community and politics.  

Councilwoman Jane Bonner. File Photo by Giselle Barkley

It’s been 12 years since Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) first stepped into office, and we at TBR News Media say she richly deserves another term. 

Bonner has been a steadfast representative for her district, and despite her years on board she remains tireless in representing the people of her district. The Mount Sinai Jetty repairs are finally coming to fruition, much thanks to her advocacy. She is a consistent friend to local civic groups such as Mount Sinai’s in its advocacy for refocusing the Mount Sinai Meadows project toward millennial-geared apartments. Her work helping to remediate zombie homes cannot be understated. 

Sarah Deonarine has a good breadth of knowledge relating to environmental issues but lacks detail in her plans to deal with people leaving Long Island and addressing zombie homes. The liens placed on properties after they are demolished hinders new people buying the property, but in the end, someone has to pay for that remediation. 

Last year, the town included Proposition 1 on the ballot that restricted candidates to three terms but also increased the stint of those terms to four years. Our newspapers endorsed against the proposition, which allows incumbents like Bonner to continue in office for two extra years than they had for the past decade. We do hope that will allow candidates to focus more on issues and less on campaigning, but we also wish town reps listen to dissenting voices over Proposition 1 and take those complaints into account with any future referendums.