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Town of Brookhaven

Troop, town and community all had a hand in the new memorial

The Boy Scouts of Troop 161 formed lines, and in each of their hands, they clutched a small red stone. Their faces were reflective and grieved, and when they walked, they did so silently, placing those rocks around the symbolic ribbon outside the troop’s meeting place at the Robert E. Reid, Sr. Recreation Center in Shoreham, all to honor one of their member who was killed last year.

Since the death of Andrew McMorris, a fellow in their troop who was killed by a drunk driver in the fall of last year, the community has rallied in support of the family after their loss. On that June 5 evening the red stones were inlaid with phrases written by the community. Some were stenciled with “fly high Andrew” while others read “fly high on an eagle.”

The final part of the Scout law says the young men should remain “reverent,” and as they paid homage to Andrew, the Scouts in his troop remained solemn throughout the entire ceremony.

Alisa McMorris, Andrew’s mother, was struck by how much the community and Boy Scout troop came out to support her family.

“A part of me died that day, and I didn’t think that I could stand again,” she said. “When the boys and the troop surrounded us, and the community surrounded us, we realized we had a support that would go to any lengths to help us take the next step forward.”

John McMorris, an assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 161 and father of Andrew, could barely hold back tears as he spoke to the crowd of gathered town officials and friends of the troop.

“It’s a beautiful place to do it where we hold our meetings every week,” he said. “Andrew loved Scouting, he loved his Scouting brothers.”

The new garden in honor of Andrew is located just outside the windows of the Shoreham community center, facing toward the playground. Members of the troop have been working on the project for months. In May, the troop spent hours upon hours on one of the hottest days in spring to help dig the ground for the project.

Since October the troop had spent months planning and then building the garden, starting with the red dogwood tree, which was donated by local Girl Scout Service Unit 69. Alisa McMorris is a Girl Scout troop leader, and her daughter, Arianna, is a member. 

“We thought, what a beautiful way to merge the two Scout worlds is to put a garden around that tree,” she said. 

In all, it has been a complete Scout effort. Joseph Pozgay, 16, who was named an Eagle Scout earlier this month, made it his Eagle Scout project to lay the bricks in front of the new garden. The idea came to him from a friend, Ryan Ledda, who used his Eagle Scout project to construct a memorial statue for Thomas Cutinella, who died in 2014. He said he remembered Andrew, the whole troop did, as a young man with great ambitions.

“I feel honored — I feel like I’ve achieved something,” Pozgay said.

Ken Wrigley, an assistant Scoutmaster and owner of Wading River-based Emerald Landscaping, helped to design the new garden. He said some of his distributors donated the plantings seen placed around the rock ribbon and red dogwood tree.

So much had been donated to the project that there were thousands of dollars left over. In the next Brookhaven town board meeting, officials voted to take a donation of $6,839 from the troop and use the funds to construct a pergola at the town-owned community center, near the troop-built garden.

“It’s commendable for Brookhaven that the Scouts have taken the center under their wing,” said Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point). “The fact that so much money was left over shows just how generous people have been with donations.”

Throughout the ceremony, Alisa McMorris kept raising her eyes to the sky. Above, the clouds had rolled in an overcast, threatening rain throughout the evening, but Alisa was watching and listening for something. That’s when they heard it, a plane overhead, likely a passenger jet.

To the McMorris family, it was a sign. Andrew had wanted to be a pilot, and the Shoreham-Wading River middle school student had flown in local youth pilot programs.

“It’s helping healing occur — it’s helping us move forward,” Alisa said.

East Beach in Port Jefferson is getting smaller due to erosion, according to a consulting firm contracted by the village. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Town of Brookhaven has finally accepted a bid for the Mount Sinai Jetty restoration project, setting the town up to start reconstruction on the damaged jetty at the mouth of Mount Sinai Harbor.

Bay Shore-based H&L Contracting won the bid at a total of just over $7.4 million. The next lowest bid came in from SumCo Eco-Contracting of Massachusetts at almost $8 million.

“Quite frankly this was the hardest part.”

— Jane Bonner

Issues with the jetties have been on the town’s radar from way back. “It’s been 11 long years,” said Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point). “But good things come to those who wait.”

Rocks have collapsed, submerging the seaward ends of the jetties at high tide, while the elevation of the jetty stones above the water at high tide was less than 4 feet in some places. Holes in the jetty had also allowed sand to run through, causing further erosion to surrounding bluffs and beachfronts. The western jetty has been of particular concern to neighboring Port Jefferson village and its beaches.

At the June 6 meeting, town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) thanked Bonner for her work on acquiring the funds for the jetty repairs.

“It will benefit all those who use the harbor,” he said.

In September 2016, the town received $3 million in a Dormitory Authority of the State of New York grant, originally secured through New York state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). An additional $5.6 million for the project is coming from the town, partially out of a bond.

Bonner said there is another follow-up meeting required before the date can be set when the repairs will take place, though she suspects construction should begin in either fall or winter of this year or the start of next year, well after the summer season has ended. 

Further meetings will be held to determine where and when the project will begin, though the councilwoman said she hopes construction will last only one season, but it’s dependent on how mild the following winter will be.

Mount Sinai Harbor. File photo by Alex Petroski

“Quite frankly this was the hardest part,” Bonner said about coming up with funds for the project. “We’re very pleased with the bid, and then we roll it out.”

The town is hoping Suffolk County will complete their annual dredging after the jetties are fully repaired.

Meanwhile, officials in the Village of Port Jefferson relished the news of the bids being awarded for the dredging project. Trustees have held off on several major renovations to East Beach surrounding the country club because of those damaged jetties. 

Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant said the village is in contact with the county about getting that sand back for East Beach once the harbor is dredged.

The news about the finalized bid was met with pleasant surprise at the village’s June 3 meeting. Garant said the village hopes they will receive a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to start construction of a retaining wall on the bluffs outside of the Port Jefferson Country Club. She said the DEC approved the village’s plans May 15. 

Officials said they may wait until after the county finishes their dredging to get their sand back before starting on repairs to the bluff.

Village of Shoreham Town Hall is located at 80 Woodville Road. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Village of Shoreham is looking to put themselves under the protective umbrella of the nearby fire department. 

While the village currently contracts with the Rocky Point Fire District, village officials have requested home rule applications to extend the fire district boundaries to encompass the tiny North Shore municipality. It might seem like a minor change but expanding the district boundaries to include the .5-square-mile village could take months of work getting the state to agree to the extension.

Rocky Point Fire District boundaries currently do not include the Village of Shoreham. Image from from Long Island Index Maps

For more than a decade, Shoreham village has contracted out to the Rocky Point Fire District for their fire and emergency service needs, according to Rocky Point Fire District manager Ed Brooks. 

Neither a representative of Shoreham village nor the village attorney, the Riverhead-based Anthony Tohill, responded to multiple requests for comment.

If the district boundaries are expanded, the cost will instead come out of village residents’ taxes paid to the district. Brooks said the cost shouldn’t be much different for village residents either monetarily or in the coverage by the district.

“We met with them, they sent us some literature and letters, we had a meeting, we advised our attorney, we have given our consent to make the application,” Brooks said.

Village officials requested that the Town of Brookhaven send a home rule request to the New York State legislature to extend the fire district’s boundaries, which was approved unanimously at Brookhaven’s May 23 meeting. A copy of the letter for the request was forwarded to State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk).

The expansion of the district boundaries requires home rule requests by both Shoreham village and the Town of Brookhaven to New York State, requesting special legislation to expand. The process could take months.

“By extending the boundaries, the state gets involved, there’s legislation — it’s a long process,” said town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point). 

The Village of Old Field started the same process at the tail end of 2016 to bring in the Setauket Fire District. By July of 2017 the town hosted a public hearing and approved the extension. The fire district taxes were on residents’ bills by December of that year.

Rocky Point Fire District attorney, the Port Jefferson-based Bill Glass, who represents the fire district, said this change would have virtually no difference to the district, adding it would also have little to no difference in the amount the village pays for emergency services.

“When these contracts were designed, they were designed that [village residents] would pay as much as if they were paying for it through their taxes,” Glass said.

North Country Road in Shoreham will be getting repaved thanks to a New York State grant. Photo by Kyle Barr

Town workers will soon be taking hammers and dozers to a stretch of North Country Road in Shoreham, all thanks to a state grant.

Plans for the new sidewalks will connect to Brookhaven town owned Shoreham Beach. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Brookhaven announced it had received a $1.8 million grant from the New York State Department of Transportation, Transportation Alternatives Program and made available through the Federal Highway Administration with the intent to start construction in 2020. The plan calls for a revitalization of the well-worn pavement from Woodville Road to the entrance of Shoreham Beach. In addition, the town will construct new U.S. American Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks, curbs and ramps from Valentine Road down to the entrance of Shoreham Beach. 

Dan Losquadro (R), the town superintendent of highways, said they have had the road on their radar for the past three years, but new ADA compliance standards have mandated the town reconstruct all the sidewalks before they look at paving the road, as was the case when they repaved roads in Rocky Point last year. These new compliances include sensory pads on all ramps and a widening of the sidewalks.

“On North Country Road, there’s almost none of it that’s ADA compliant,” Losquadro said. “For our residents who are disabled, this is a very worthwhile project.”

In addition to the roadwork on North Country Road, the town has also received $50,000 in Multi Modal #4 funding from the state DOT to replace the sidewalk on Route 25A in Shoreham from Roswell Avenue to Woodville Avenue, which should start within the next two months.

The town boasted the new sidewalks will allow walkability from Shoreham Plaza on Route 25A, to Miller Avenue Elementary School all the way to the town-owned Shoreham Beach.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said local chambers of commerce, civics and the Shoreham-Wading River schools superintendent, Gerard Poole, wrote letters to the state to help in the grant effort. 

“Those sidewalks are crumbling, they’re narrow and they’re not ADA compliant,” she said.

Currently the sidewalk ends at Valentine Road, and the shoulders of the road, beyond a few residential homes, border sharp slopes and woods on both sides. This makes it hazardous for bikers and joggers who climb the hilly road north of North Country Road. Losquadro said the new sidewalk will be located on the north side of North Country Road and construction should start in spring of next year.

Along with road resurfacing, new sidewalks, curbs and ramps, plans include the construction of new retaining walls along grade changes and drainage installations plus upgrades. 

“This project will dramatically improve the road safety and access for our students and families as they travel to school and walk to bus stops,” Superintendent Poole said in a release. “We look forward to its implementation as it is an added level of protection for our school community.”

The highway superintendent said the new project has the potential to dovetail into Suffolk County’s upcoming Rails to Trails project, which looks to make a hiking and biking trail from Wading River to Mount Sinai along the PSEGLI/LIPA-owned right-of-way. County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) has told TBR News Media in previous interviews that project is expected to start construction in the fall, however there is no word where construction will begin.

Local residents help clean up; from left to right, Donna Denner, Susan Guerin, Debbie Bush, Pete Giery, Danielle Ray, Laura Rizzo, Christina Heaney and Claudia Capie-Friszell. Photo courtesy of Audrey Asaro

For the first time, Comsewogue Public Library participated in helping to clean up Brookhaven town.

As part of the 12th Annual Great Brookhaven Cleanup, staff and patrons from the library started early May 17, on the northern section of Terryville Road, cleaning up garbage along the wooded areas. They collected over eight large bags of garbage, two hub caps and a lot of plastic and glass bottles. 

Steven J. Crowley Memorial Park in Port Jefferson Station on Old Town Road is one of the parks affected by the new limitations. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Brookhaven is looking to make cleaning up their parks a little quieter and a little more environmentally friendly.

At its May 2 meeting, the town board voted unanimously to establish “green parks” at various locations within the Town of Brookhaven. This mandates the town to only use electric-powered, handheld landscaping equipment when cleaning up the parks.

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) was one of the main drivers for the bill, which would establish the ordinance in only small parks, including the Steven J. Crowley Memorial Park and Block Boulevard Park in Port Jefferson Station, and Sycamore Circle Park and Parson Drive Park in Stony Brook. The Democratic councilwoman said it is a case of both noise and pollution.

“Thirty minutes running a gas-powered leaf blower pollutes the same as a Ford Raptor truck running 3,900 miles. One leaf blower creates two to four pounds of particulate matter per hour,” Cartright said.

The changes have been limited to small-sized parks in the town, according to Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), because the batteries wear out if used constantly for the larger town-owned parks, though he said the town was looking to go beyond this pilot program in the direction of all electric handheld landscape equipment for more than town employees.

Cartright said she has been looking into more general legislation that would affect gas-powered leaf blowers within the entire town. She pointed to the town of North Hempstead, which passed a law in January this year banning the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from June 15 to Sept. 15. 

The councilwoman said she wants to bring landscaping associations and other advocacy groups to the table.

“I don’t want to do something that impacts the landscapers that’s negative,” Cartright said. “I do want to bring them to the table to talk about how we can be a little more environmentally friendly.”

The new ordinance requires a budget transfer of $10,000 for the new equipment, which mostly comes in the form of electric leaf blowers.

Other parks included are Miller Avenue Park in Shoreham, the Gary Adler Park in Centereach and the Pamela and Iroquois parks in Selden. All councilors on the board cosponsored the bill with parks from their individual areas.

Cartright said she receives constant notice from residents complaining about landscapers using loud equipment not just in town-owned parks, but at all times in the day on people’s property. 

“We have constituents calling every other day telling us they’re in violation of our noise code, and that we need to do something about it,” Cartright said. 

When it comes to choosing a landscaper, the Democratic councilwoman said there is no one person helping to show which landscapers try to use electric equipment.

“If I wanted to pick a landscaper that used only electric, we don’t know who that is,” she said.

File photo

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced April 30 the arrest of a Town of Brookhaven employee for allegedly stealing more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel from Town fuel facilities since August 2015.

Daniel Curtin, 50, of Wading River, was arrested April 29 and charged with multiple counts of grand larceny for stealing the fuel.

“We will not tolerate the theft of public funds or government property for someone’s own personal use,” Sini said. “I thank the Town of Brookhaven for bringing this matter to my Office’s attention and continuing to partner with us to protect taxpayers.”

Curtin, who is employed as a foreman for the Town of Brookhaven’s Highway Department, was issued a 2012 Ford pick-up truck by the town to be used for official business and to transport him to and from work. Curtin was permitted to obtain unleaded gasoline for the truck at various town fuel facilities. Curtin’s duties and responsibilities did not require any use of diesel fuel, the DA said.

Curtin is alleged to have stolen a total of 510.40 gallons of diesel fuel from town facilities on 75 separate occasions between Aug. 8, 2015, and Jan. 2, 2019. The fuel had a total value of $1,023.50.

The investigation revealed that Curtin was allegedly using the fuel for a heater in the garage of his house.

The case was referred to the District Attorney’s Office by Town of Brookhaven officials. Curtin has been an employee of the town for approximately 29 years.

If convicted of the top count, Curtin faces a maximum sentence of two and one-third to seven years in prison.

Curtin was arraigned on the charges April 29 by Suffolk County District Court Judge Gaetan B. Lozito and was released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court June 18.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward of the Public Integrity Bureau.

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The vehicle Bruce Brant allegedly drove into the Rose Caracappa Senior Center April 30. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Guess he didn’t try knocking first.

Senior citizens who attend activities at Mount Sinai’s Rose Caracappa Senior Center were in for a surprise when they arrived for morning activities. The whole front door was pasted over with plywood after a man allegedly crashed his vehicle into the senior center in the early morning April 30, police said.

Bruce Brant was allegedly driving a 2012 Mazda3 northbound on North Ocean Avenue when he failed to stop at the end of the roadway and crashed the vehicle into the Rose Caracappa Senior Center, located at 739 Route 25A, at around 12:25 a.m. The vehicle came to a stop inside the building, according to Suffolk County Police.

Mount Sinai Fire Department Heavy Rescue extricated Brant from the Mazda. He was transported to John T. Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. There were no other injuries.

Town of Brookhaven workers were there at around 1 a.m. after the car had been extricated to make repairs on the front door, which were completed without interruption to center activities. A Brookhaven spokesperson said the town had not yet completed a cost estimate on repairs.

Brant, 25, of Pennsylvania, was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He will be arraigned at a later date. 

From left, Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilman Dan Panico, honoree Cathy Cutler and Town of Brookhaven Receiver of Taxes Louis Marcoccia at the March 21 event. Photo from BNL

Cathy Cutler, director of the Medical Isotope Research & Production program at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, was honored for her scientific accomplishments at Town of Brookhaven’s 33rd annual Women’s Recognition Night, held on March 21 at Town Hall in Farmingville. The Shirley resident was among 13 women honored for their contributions to a variety of fields at a public ceremony that celebrated the significant achievements of local women during Women’s History Month.

At BNL, Cutler and her team collaborate on research with radiopharmaceuticals for cancer therapy, and they make radioisotopes required for this research as well. These radioisotopes would otherwise not be available but are, thanks to the high-energy Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer (BLIP) that is part of the extensive particle accelerator infrastructure for the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider — a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility for fundamental nuclear physics research located at Brookhaven.

Radiopharmaceuticals are vital for “noninvasive,” personalized cancer treatments that provide patients with high-impact doses to combat tumors without damaging nearby healthy cells. With more than 20 years’ experience developing and evaluating radiopharmaceuticals, Cutler is helping lead their development for “theranostics” that combine medical therapies with diagnostic medical tests.

“I am honored to receive this award from the Town of Brookhaven,” said Cutler, who acknowledged the contributions of her colleagues in the success of her research and the isotope program at BNL. “Brookhaven Lab is one of just a few facilities in the DOE complex that can produce certain critical medical isotopes. We are hopeful that this research will lead to improved treatment options for cancer patients.”

“The Town of Brookhaven is pleased to recognize Cathy Cutler for her achievements as an outstanding scientist, leader, and role model for those aspiring to careers in science, technology, and engineering,” said Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R).

Cutler joined BNL in 2015 after earning a doctorate in inorganic chemistry from the University of Cincinnati and spending nearly 17 years at the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center. She serves as a mentor to young scientists, has received numerous awards and holds several patents.

In addition to her role at the lab, Cutler has served as chair of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging’s committee on radiopharmaceuticals. She is a board member for the society’s Therapy Center of Excellence and Center for Molecular Imaging Innovation and Translation and an executive board member for the Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences.

For more information, please visit www.science.energy.gov.

Thousands of residents came out to enjoy the exhibits, including this one courtesy of Bloomin Haus Nursery, at last year’s Home & Garden Show. Photo courtesy of Town of Brookhaven

It’s back! The Town of Brookhaven will present its annual Home & Garden Show at the Holtsville Ecology Site, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville on March 23 and 24 and March 30 and 31 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m..

The indoor event will feature dozens of vendor exhibits including landscaping, garden centers, stonework, garden structures, siding and windows, interior décor, gutters and more.

In addition, with paid admission, visitors can participate in free educational workshops and hands-on classes for children, as well as photos with the Easter Bunny. Classes and workshops are subject to change; a comprehensive schedule of seminars is available at www.brookhavenny.gov.

“The Home and Garden Show is an excellent opportunity for residents to support local businesses and reinvest in our local economy, while getting some unique ideas from our vendors’ displays,” said Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro.

“From building outdoor fireplaces and getting more creative with landscaping design to replacing fencing and walkways or even going solar, the Home & Garden Show features innovative ways to enhance your home, garden and property this spring,”  he added.

The cost of admission is $6 for adults; children 16 and under are free. Discounted tickets are available for prepurchase at www.brookhavenny.gov. Parking is free, as is the opportunity to visit with the Easter Bunny and walk through the animal preserve, which is home to more than 100 injured or nonreleasable wild and farm animals. In addition, each day attendees will have the opportunity to win services or merchandise raffled off by vendors.

For further information, contact the Ecology Site at 631-758-9664.

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