Tags Posts tagged with "Town of Brookhaven"

Town of Brookhaven

Road work will begin in Port Jefferson and will continue for the next four months as PSEG will strengthen the area’s electrical grid. File photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Last month, contractors from PSEG Long Island started work on what’s planned to be an eight-month-long project in Rocky Point that will strengthen the electrical grid and harden the system to better combat extreme weather on Long Island.

The project route covers three miles along an electric main line circuit, with crews working on several streets including Hallock Landing Road and Rocky Point Landing Road.

This project is part of an ongoing effort by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to improve electrical infrastructure to protect against future storm damage and help restore power faster. Rocky Point is among a long list of routes being worked on in the Town of Brookhaven.

The project’s $729,000,000 in funds was secured in 2014 through an agreement between Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program, which helps communities implement hazard mitigation measures following a major disaster declaration.

The project will replace existing wire with more weather-resistant wire, install new and more durable poles in several locations, and install or replace switching equipment to help reduce the number of customers affected by an outage, according to the official PSEG website.

“By putting in the storm-hardened equipment, the stronger wires, and the more weather-resistant poles, it will help to reduce the number of customers affected during a storm,” said Elizabeth Flagler, PSEG Long Island’s media relations specialist. “So when we get the high winds, the equipment will hold up better.”

“By putting in the storm-hardened equipment, the stronger wires, and the more weather-resistant poles, it will help to reduce the number of customers affected during a storm.”

—Elizabeth Flagler

After Hurricane Sandy and the following winter storm in 2013, many of the areas being worked on in Rocky Point were among the longest without power on the North Shore — some homes were dark for up to 10 days. Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), who lives in Rocky Point, experienced the extensive power outages firsthand. She said that many people will benefit when the work is completed.

“In a perfect world … we won’t experience another storm like Superstorm Sandy, and we’ll never know if this was needed,” Bonner said. “But the prevailing opinion is that there were a host of reasons why so many people were without power, and PSEG is addressing these reasons. There were major health concerns for people to not have power that long … sanitary concerns; elderly and infirmed people that needed power that don’t have generators; we have concerns with long-term use of generators; so, if we can keep the power going, it’s a good thing.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) took over his post a month after Hurricane Sandy hit. He said that in his first few weeks in office he was overwhelmed trying to recover from all of the damage it caused.

“All poles and wires were down, water was about knee high throughout all the streets, if not higher, and obviously, you want to be able to withstand the next storm,” he said.

He hopes that with these improvements, if and when a next storm were to hit, the damage would be minimal.

“The recovery time won’t be that long,” he said. “And the financial damage will be limited.”

Romaine did, however, suggest that PSEG bury wires to further minimize damage.

“Costs for burying wires is about the same that you would pay to recover from a series of storms in a 30-year period,” he said. “It’s more costly in the short run, but in the long run there’s no difference, and you will be much better protected by buried wires.”

Trees that grow near power lines will be trimmed when necessary, as they increase the chances of power outages and pose safety risks. The new poles will be about the same height as existing poles but will have a stronger base and be placed about 2 to 3 feet from the current pole locations.

PSEG representatives say that they anticipate minor traffic interruptions, as well as some localized, short-duration power outages related to the project. The crews will generally work Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with limited evening and Sunday work.

by -
0 850
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. File photo by Erika Karp

Brookhaven Town is one of many municipalities being forced to tighten its belt for 2017. Faced with the unenviable task of crafting an operating budget for 2017 with very little leeway to increase revenue from taxes, the town released its tentative budget for the coming year at a board meeting Sept. 29.

The town’s tentative operating budget for 2017 stands at just under $282 million, which represents a $1.8 million increase over the adopted 2016 operating budget.

Despite a state-mandated tax levy increase cap of just 0.68 percent, a contractually mandated 1.5 percent increase in salaries and a projected increase in health benefits of more than 9 percent for town employees, the budget will maintain all town constituent services and quality of life enforcement resources, according to a statement by Supervisor Ed Romaine (R).

“The strength of this town and its finances continues thanks to the hard work of all of our [councilpersons] and to the hard work of our Finance Commissioner Tamara Wright and [Chief of Operations] Matt Miner,” Romaine said during the meeting.

Wright presented the budget to the public during the meeting, which she called the most difficult of the nine town budgets she’s worked on to date.

“As the supervisor indicated, this budget is in compliance with the New York State tax cap, which is at an unprecedented low for the 2017 fiscal year,” Wright said. “It was a challenge to meet that, but we’re very pleased we were able to stay within the cap.”

The town was granted a AAA credit rating by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services earlier this year. Romaine and Wright both said maintaining that rating played a roll in the budget process.

“We have significantly reduced the use of surplus to balance the budget, using only $3.1 million this year,” Wright said. “That is a significant reduction over our previous years and it is what Wall Street and the credit rating agencies look for to maintain as AAA. This particular budget continues to build on the principles we’ve been putting in place over the past several years that have lead to the AAA rating, and I’m confident that it is going to allow us to keep it as we move forward.”

One area that saw an increase in funds for 2017 was snow removal, which now stands at just under $6 million.

“If we do have a year of little snow, we hope to be able to move some of that budget over to highway maintenance [budget] lines to increase the spending there if we don’t need the snow budget,” Wright said.

The town was able save money by eliminating 13 full-time positions, which were left vacant primarily by retirements and resignations during the course of the year, according to Wright.

The town board will hold a public hearing and vote to approve the tentative 2017 budget Nov. 10 at 5 p.m.

Ingrid Herland, second from left, sits surrounded by family: from left, son Warren, daughter Martha and son-in-law Don Richtberg. Photo by Donna Newman

By Desirée Keegan & Donna Newman

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) joined with the Mount Sinai Senior Citizens Club to recognize centenarian Beatrice Caravella at her 100th birthday bash on Sept. 6.

Born Beatrice Mercatante on Sept. 9, 1916, in Brooklyn to parents who emigrated from Sicily, she met her husband Fred while attending church, and together they had two children, Marilyn and Richard.

Beatrice and Fred Caravella were instrumental in spearheading a Pentecostal Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They lived in Richmond Hill and Franklin Square before retiring to Miller Place. She was widowed in 1985, after 41 years of marriage.

Caravella is an avid reader and in retirement happily volunteered her time and service in hospitals, nursing homes and churches to help those less fortunate than herself.

Today she has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She still lives in her own home and celebrated her milestone birthday with her family and friends.

Beatrice Caravella, center, celebrates her 100th birthday with Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilwoman Jane Bonner and other family and friends. Photo from Town of Brookhaven
Beatrice Caravella, center, celebrates her 100th birthday with Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilwoman Jane Bonner and other family and friends. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

The Mount Sinai Senior Citizen Club celebrated Caravella’s centennial birthday with coffee and cake at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Romaine and Bonner presented her with a proclamation declaring Sept. 9, 2016, as Beatrice Caravella day in the Town of Brookhaven.

Out in Setauket, the Energizer bunny has got nothing on Ingrid Herland.

She celebrated her 106th birthday Sept. 18 with a whole weekend of partying. She shared birthday cake with her friends at Sunrise of East Setauket on Saturday and planned to spend Sunday with family at her daughter’s home.

Herland is an inspirational example of the power of positive thinking. A poetry lover, she recites verse from memory, some that she has written herself and some favorite poems — with a little Shakespeare thrown in for good measure.

Ingrid attended New York University, and said biology was her favorite subject. She left before graduation to marry and raise a family. She has three children: Warren and twins, born on Washington’s Birthday, George and Martha; five grandchildren and one great-grandchild she is looking forward to meeting at Christmastime.

Asked if she could share the secret for long life, she replied, “I never thought about it at all. I took it one year at a time. I went with the flow.” And that’s the secret. Son-in-law Don Richtberg said, “She is the most accepting person I have ever known. She seems to find the good in everyone — and everything.” And the best way to handle getting old? “You just have to be a good sport about it,” she said.

Mount Sinai Harbor. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Councilwoman Jane Bonner is getting by with a little help from a friend.

Bonner (C-Rocky Point) has aided the Town of Brookhaven to begin a long overdue jetty reconstruction project in Mount Sinai Harbor. She, along with Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and others on the town board, helped secure $5.6 million in town funding to go toward rebuilding the east and west jetties at the mouth of the harbor. The project will increase boater safety making navigation easier and could allow dredging that will bring back the winter shell-fishing season.

The issue has been a top priority for Bonner since 2010, when her office commissioned a study along with the Army Corps of Engineers to assess the need for improvements to the jetties, she said during a press conference Sept. 19 at Mount Sinai Yacht Club.

At the time, rocks had collapsed, submerging the seaward ends of the jetties at high tide, and the elevation of the jetty stones above the water at high tide was less than four feet in some places. Bonner and Romaine saw a more pressing need to address the problem after Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and other storms caused further damage, though they weren’t able to secure enough funding to complete the project until this year.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner thanks state Sen. Ken LaValle for helping to secure $3 million in funding to rebuild jetties in Mount Sinai Harbor. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Councilwoman Jane Bonner thanks state Sen. Ken LaValle for helping to secure $3 million in funding to rebuild jetties in Mount Sinai Harbor. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Bonner reached out to state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) to see if his department could kick in some additional funds to help the town reach the $10 million budget needed to complete the project.

Initially, LaValle offered Bonner $1 million.

“I was not shy, I was not embarrassed to tell him it wasn’t good enough and that we needed more money,” she said. “He actually called me at home to let me know. His first words were, ‘How’s $3 million, is that enough?’ And I said, ‘It’ll have to do Senator,’ so thank you from the bottom of my heart.’”

LaValle helped secure an extra $2 million with the help of senate majority leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).

“From day one I’ve always had as my mantra that local control was very, very important,” LaValle said. “It is nothing but a pleasure working with Supervisor Romaine and [Councilwoman Bonner], who is always looking out for her council district, and always says, ‘Senator, I could use your help.’ It’s working with the localities to identify the problems, and make it a priority. That’s how we started with $1 million and ended up with $3 million to get this done.”

Reconstructing the jetties, according to Bonner, is critical for thousands of residents who utilize Mount Sinai Harbor for recreational and commercial reasons.

“This peninsula is not just a yacht club — we have working boatyards, we have recreational fisherman, we have fishermen and women that derive their income from this harbor,” Bonner said standing on the porch of the club. “This is truly a hub — it’s a working harbor and we are very fortunate and very blessed to be surrounded by so many people that will benefit from this project being done.”

John Howell, commodore for the Mount Sinai Yacht Club, said he has witnessed how dangerous the waters have been first hand.

“This is truly a hub — it’s a working harbor and we are very fortunate and very blessed to be surrounded by so many people that will benefit from this project being done.”

—Jane Bonner

He said he’s boated through Hell Gate, a narrow tidal straight in the East River that has the reputation of being unsafe, and said even that doesn’t compare to his harbor.

“I’ve been through Hell Gate many times through many conditions, and I can attest that our little entrance here is worse than Hell Gate,” he said.

The undertaking will help improve boater safety, as there is a large sand bar that extends deep through the middle of the channel that boats get stuck on, but according to Romaine, as part of replacing the jetties, Suffolk County has agreed to also do interface dredging at the mouth of the harbor once the jetty has been rebuilt and stabilized. As a result, winter shell fishing could resume. The harbor was closed for shell fishing for the first time last winter.

The Town of Brookhaven is hoping for added assistance from the neighboring Village of Port Jefferson, which will directly benefit from the project.

According to Romaine, the east jetty is collapsing and creating an erosion problem at Port Jefferson Village Beach. Brookhaven Town is the only municipality in charge of a jetty. The Army Corps of Engineers maintains all other jetties on Long Island but the Mount Sinai Harbor’s. While the town has always budgeted the $5.6 million, it could never get the rest of the funding needed, so now with LaValle’s contribution, Bonner said she hopes Port Jefferson Village will “step up to the plate with the difference” because the area would “benefit greatly from these two jetties.”

Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant did not respond to requests for comment.

Ralph Davenport, from Ralph’s Fishing Station & Marina in Mount Sinai, said he is excited to hear the harbor will be a safer place for recreational and commercial boaters.

“If you were a person who didn’t know this harbor and were looking for a safe place to come in, odds are that you would crash on the way in,” he said. “Big boats used to be able to come in and out of this harbor years ago, with no problem at all, and now it’s a hazard. It used to be the easiest harbor on the North Shore to navigate in, and now it’s one of the worst. So hopefully next year’s time we’ll dig the sandbar out of the way enough where the people can navigate safely again.”

M-section residents look for support as they battle to keep trees. Photo by Susan Ackerman

Stony Brook residents visited the Brookhaven Town Board meeting last week to register their dismay over the large scale tree removal planned for the Strathmore housing development.

A total of 11 people addressed the issue of tree removal prior to road resurfacing during the public participation portion of the meeting.

The Brookhaven Highway Department has marked trees on several M-section streets.

Several of the speakers at the meeting were residents of the M-section, but others weighing in on the topic were just concerned citizens.

As commenters took to the microphone to express their frustration with the situation, Supervisor Edward Romaine (R) interjected and said he wanted to make it clear that these actions are not the responsibility of the town board.

“I just want to point out one thing,” he said. “The actions with the trees are not the actions of this board. They are the actions of the highway superintendent, who is an independent elected official.”

Community activist MaryAnn Johnston, of Mastic, commented on the highway superintendent’s aggressive paving policy. She said he paid no mind to resident objections in Coram regarding tree removal. “He needs to give communities advance notice — and he needs to follow the state-mandated SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review Act) process,” she said.

“People would rather live with those potholed streets than lose the trees.”

—Robert de Zafra

According to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation website, the act “requires all state and local government agencies to consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors during discretionary decision-making.”

If there is potential for significant adverse environmental impacts, the site further explains, an environmental impact statement is required.

According to the Highway Superintendent’s office, SEQR does not apply in this situation. Based on Section 617.5 (c4), the project is part of an “in place, in kind” replacement of structures. A spokesperson for the office said this is only a repaving planned for an existing road, and no expansion is being made.

Prior to the start of public participation, Deputy Highway Superintendent Steve Tricarico was invited to make a statement. He acknowledged the presence of the M-section residents and said he was there to listen to them.

“I speak on behalf of the superintendent of highways when I state that it is by no means our intention to purposely remove trees or replace concrete that is not necessary,” he said. “In order to resurface these roadways, to mill them and to pave them, certain aspects of the root systems as well as the concrete are causing serious concerns to the department.”

After the outcry from the neighborhood, Tricarico said a letter was sent to affected M-section homeowners, stating that a re-evaluation would be made to determine which trees are absolutely necessary to remove.

Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) asked Tricarico if the superintendent is willing to participate in a community meeting once the reassessment is completed. Tricarico said Losquadro has already met with some of the concerned residents.

“I know the superintendent has been up there personally and has met with a number of residents … has spoken with them, both on and off camera, and will continue to do so moving forward,” Tricarico said.

Cartright said she will schedule a meeting and notify the community so they can be present to hear the department’s findings. The date of that meeting is not yet known.

Three Village Civic Association President Robert de Zafra, who was present to support historical status for a Stony Brook building, said he decided to add his voice to save the trees.

“People would rather live with those potholed streets than lose the trees,” he said. He also thanked Cartright for working to set up the future meeting.

Algae built up on a lake where birds and other marina life inhabit. File photo

By Rebecca Anzel

Long Island’s economic prosperity and quality of life are at risk from an unlikely source, but both the Suffolk County and Town of Brookhaven governments are taking steps to combat the issue.

Bodies of water in the county face nitrogen pollution, which leads to harmful algae blooms and a decrease in shellfish population, among other environmental defects. Critically, nitrogen seeps into the Island’s groundwater, which is the region’s only source of drinking water.

Fishing, tourism and boating are billion-dollar industries in Suffolk County — approximately 60 percent of the Island’s economy is reliant on clean water. County property values are also tied to water clarity, according to a Stony Brook University report.

Nitrogen enters ground and surface water from various sources of runoff, such as landscaping, agriculture and pet waste. But the largest contributor of nitrogen pollution is failing septic systems, which County Executive Steve Bellone (D) designated as “public water enemy No. 1.”

Elected officials and environmental advocates gathered at the home of Jim and Donna Minei, recipients of a Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems through the Suffolk County Septic Demonstration Pilot Program. Photo from Steve Bellone's office
Elected officials and environmental advocates gathered at the home of Jim and Donna Minei, recipients of a Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems through the Suffolk County Septic Demonstration Pilot Program. Photo from Steve Bellone’s office

Which is why Bellone signed into law last month a resolution that amended Suffolk County’s sanitary code to help protect the county’s aquifer and surface water by improving wastewater treatment technologies to combat nitrogen pollution as part of the county’s Reclaim Our Water initiative.

“It doesn’t help our tourism industry, our quality of life or our ecosystems,” county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said of issues with the Island’s water. “Tackling the nitrogen problem, while not a sexy issue, is a very important one.” Hahn is chairwoman of the county’s Environment, Planning & Agriculture Committee.

Town and county officials are tackling the problem by utilizing what Hahn called a “multipronged approach.” Brookhaven is working to track any issues with outfalls, where drains and sewers empty into local waters, and Suffolk County is employing alternative septic systems.

Municipalities like Brookhaven are required by New York State to inspect each point where waste systems empty into a body of water and create a map of their location. It is part of a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit because, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, storm sewers collect pollutants like bacteria, motor oil, fertilizer, heavy metals and litter, and deposit them directly into bodies of water.

In addition to conducting the inspections of outfalls necessary to comply with the MS4 permit, the Town of Brookhaven conducts a DNA analysis of any outfall that has indications of impacting water quality. Since 2007, Brookhaven has spent more than $880,000 on this state requirement, Veronica King, the town’s stormwater manager, said.

“You want to put your resources where it makes the most sense,” she said. “Instead of dumping millions of dollars into structural retrofits that don’t address the true problem, the DNA analysis helps us to prioritize and make educated and cost-effective decisions.”

Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said Brookhaven contracts with Cornell Cooperative Extension because it maintains a DNA “library” of Long Island wildlife, which it uses to identify the source of any pathogens in collected stormwater. For instance, if the DNA tests conclude they came from pets, Brookhaven might conduct an educational campaign to remind residents to clean up after their furry friends. If the pathogens come from a human source, there might be an issue with a septic system.

“This type of analysis could prove of great importance because any patterns identified as a result of this study can help determine what next steps can be taken to improve water quality where necessary,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said.

Brookhaven has applied for a state grant to help pay for these DNA tests and outfall inspections for the first time this year, because, King said, this is the first time New York State has offered a grant to cover the work.

The DNA tests are important, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said, because they help to identify ways to decrease the amount of nitrogen seeping into groundwater.

“The amount of nitrogen in the Magothy aquifer layer has increased over 200 percent in 13 years,” he said of one of the sub-layers that is most commonly tapped into in Suffolk, although not the deepest in the aquifer. “Cleaning up our waterways is not going to be done overnight — this is going to take a long time — but the waterways did not become polluted overnight.”

Suffolk County launched its Septic Demonstration Program to install cesspool alternative systems in 2014, called Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (known as I/A OWTS), on the property of participants. Manufacturers of the technology donated the systems and installed them at no cost to the homeowner.

The county’s goal in testing these alternative systems is to lower the levels of nitrogen seeping into groundwater. According to a June 2016 Stony Brook University report, “the approximately 360,000 septic tank/leaching systems and cesspools that serve 74 percent of homes across Suffolk County have caused the concentrations of nitrogen in groundwater to rise by 50 percent since 1985.”

More than 10,000 of the nitrogen-reducing systems are installed in New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — all areas with similar environmental concerns to Suffolk County — according to the county executive’s office. County employees met with officials from these states to help shape its program.

“Tackling the nitrogen problem, while not a sexy issue, is a very important one.”

—Kara Hahn

The I/A OWTS installations worked out so well during a demonstration program that on July 26, the county passed a resolution to allow the Department of Health Services to regulate their use.

Typical cesspools are estimated to cost between $5,000 and $7,000 to install. The low nitrogen systems cost between $12,000 and $20,000, Hahn said. She added that as more areas facing similar environmental concerns require lower nitrogen standards and, as the technology improves, the cost of cesspool alternatives will go down.

Until then, Hahn said county officials have been discussing the possibility of subsidizing the cost of installing the I/A OWTS. It might begin requiring new homes to install low-nitrogen systems instead of traditional cesspools. Or, upon an old system’s failure, it might require an I/A OWTS be installed.

“We hope to eventually be able to help in some way,” she said.

County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she hopes local businesses begin producing the alternative systems that the county determines best work for the area since it would “keep the economic dollar here” and provide jobs.

In January, Brookhaven will be the first town, Romaine said, that will begin mandating new constructions within 500 feet of any waterway to install an alternative wastewater treatment system.

“I think alternative systems work,” he said. “In many ways, even though we’re a local government, we are on the cutting edge of clean water technologies.”

Both the initiatives by Brookhaven and Suffolk County “go hand and glove,” George Hoffman, of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, said. Many of Suffolk’s harbors and bays are struggling due to stormwater and nitrogen pollution, including Great South Bay, Lake Ronkonkoma, Northport Harbor, Forge River, Port Jefferson Harbor, Mount Sinai Harbor and Peconic River/Peconic Bay.

“Living on an island on top of our water supply and with thousands of homes along the shores of our harbors and bays, it never made sense to allow cesspools to proliferate,” he said.

The success of the initiatives, though, depends on residents.

“The public needs to be always recognizing that whatever we do on land here on Long Island and in Suffolk County affects not only the drinking water beneath us but the quality of our bays and waterways, streams and rivers all around us,” Hahn said. “It’s critically important that folks have that understanding. Everything we do on land affects our water here on the Island.”

Incident raises questions about high occupancy and code enforcement

A deck collapses at a home on Old Field Road, injuring at least two. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Rebecca Anzel

A party at an East Setauket home Aug. 26, attended by about 400 people was interrupted around 11 p.m. when an elevated deck holding 50 to 100 attendees collapsed. Two people were injured and taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, Brookhaven Town officials said.

The 10-foot high, 43-year-old deck did not violate any town codes, according to a town building inspector, but it was unclear if the structure had been inspected since it was built.

The home was illegally converted into living quarters for eight people. An investigation found it did not have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and had illegal key locks on interior doors and a broken basement window.

These types of changes, officials said, make it difficult for emergency personnel.

“The deck collapse that occurred this past weekend is a prime example of the serious safety hazards that exist when our governmental codes and laws are violated,” Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said. “The numerous violations at this location jeopardize the health, the safety and the wellness of the home occupants as well as the visitors to the home on that evening.”

The homeowner, identified by officials as Zeyit Aydinli, will appear in Sixth District court Oct. 27 in Patchogue. He paid fines of an undisclosed amount in May for code violations on the same property.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said the town plans to pursue legal action against Zeyit.

“We are not settling this case.his case is going to go the distance unless the homeowner wishes to enter a guilty plea.”

—Ed Romaine

“We are not settling this case,” Romaine said. “This case is going to go the distance unless the homeowner wishes to enter a guilty plea.”

He added that no one has been arrested for underage drinking, though three people have been ticketed for violating the county’s social host law, which holds homeowners responsible for underage drinking on their property. Those names were not released, but have been shared with Stony Brook University.

Timothy Ecklund, dean of students at the university, said many of those who attended the party were most likely university students, but there is no way to determine an exact number.

The university is working with town officials to learn as much as possible about the incident, and “appropriate action” will be taken in accordance with university student policy.

Nearby neighbor Lauren Krupp called the police the night of the party to complain about the noise. She said police told her there was already a patrol car in the area. Soon after, Krupp said she heard a loud noise and speculated later it was the sound of the deck collapsing.

Krupp spoke about her interactions with the first group of students to inhabit the house, last year at this time.

“They were very polite young men who introduced themselves,” she said. “We visited the house once and there was a big banner with Greek letters. It appeared that they were a fraternity.”

Krupp said she hopes the incident can be a learning experience.

“I hope this leads to some reform,” Krupp said. “It’s just not appropriate for the neighborhood. It’s lucky there was not a more serious outcome.”

Donna Newman contributed reporting.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner were on-site in Rocky Point for the knocking down of a zombie home on Monroe Street earlier this year. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Wenhao Ma

Brookhaven Town is doing everything it can to clean up neighborhoods in their area.

The town board unanimously passed a resolution to submit a grant application to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to request funding for the Town Fire Marshals’ Anti-Blight Housing Code Enforcement Project July 21.

The town hopes to receive $25,000 from the state government to help with the cost of assessing neglected homes.

The Anti-Blight Housing Code Enforcement Project, according to town spokesman Kevin Molloy, has been going on for three-and-a-half years. It was designed to assess the abandoned properties that have harmful conditions and come up with resolutions to either repair or remove them. All the grant money, if approved, will be spent on the assessments of the homes. A mobile app is being developed for residents to report blighted buildings.

Molloy said the town’s law department and the fire marshal are responsible for the assessments. If the town attorney or fire marshal determines a house to be a threat to the neighborhood, the town may contact the owner, or when necessary, demolish the house, according to Brookhaven Town Code. The owner will be charged with the cost of tearing down the building.

“With every demolition, every property cleanup and every court case we pursue, we are turning communities around and giving people the quality of life that they deserve.”

— Dan Panico

Molloy said blighted properties can be a real danger to residents. People who enter a house that is unsafe may hurt themselves and, if the condition of the property constitutes a fire hazard, it could endanger the surrounding buildings and residents.

Safety is not the only reason for the town to establish such a project. Property values of homes suffer when an unkempt house is nearby.

One abandoned house in the neighborhood, Molloy said, could decrease the value of all the houses in the vicinity. By demolishing it, the project helps boost the value of other properties.

Eliminating “zombie homes” has long been a battle taken up by current board members.

“With every demolition, every property cleanup and every court case we pursue,” said Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) July 15 in a statement after the demolition of an abandoned house in Mastic, “we are turning communities around and giving people the quality of life that they deserve.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) was on site for a demolition on Monroe Street in Rocky Point in June.

“Nearly every community in Brookhaven Town has been hit by the increase of vacant, neglected houses,” Romaine said. “Unfortunately, many of them are run-down and not secure from animals and squatters. We will continue to clean up properties.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) also attended the Rocky Point demolition.

“I am very happy for the residents that live on the street,” she said following the demolition. “Some stopped by during the demolition just to say how very thankful they were that it was coming down.”

With the help of the grant money, more homes could be demolished in an effort to clean up the neighborhoods of the North Shore.

Legislator Sarah Anker is hoping to turn the empty lot, which used to house a Kmart on Middle Country Road, into a local park. Photo from Sarah Anker

At the general meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) introduced two resolutions that could forever change Middle Island.

The two introductory resolutions, if approved by the Legislature, will begin the appraisal steps for the blighted Kmart property on Middle Country Road in Middle Island. One of the resolutions will appraise the southern portion of the property, approximately 21 acres, to be used as active parkland, and the second resolution will appraise the northern portion of the property, approximately 28 acres, to be designated as open space.

Since entering public office, Anker has been interested in having Suffolk County acquire the property to create a community park with athletic fields. The old Kmart, which was recently demolished by the owner, remained vacant for over a decade.

This year, Anker has been working with the county, the Town of Brookhaven, community organizations, including the Longwood Youth Sports Association and Middle Island Civic Association, and the current owner of the property to bring the idea to full fruition.

A community park, according to Anker, would help decrease crime and improve the quality of life for residents in Middle Island, as well as provide a safe space for youth sports leagues from across the area to come play.

“This blighted parcel is in great need of revitalization,” Anker said. “Having been part of the creation of Mount Sinai’s Heritage Park, I know with strong advocacy and public support we will be successful in Middle Island. After meeting with a number of stakeholders interested in creating Middle Island’s community park, I feel very confident that working together we can make this field of dreams a reality.”

To voice support for this project, contact Anker’s office at 631-854-1600, or email the Suffolk legislator at sarah.anker@suffolkcountyny.gov.