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Town of Huntington

Hundreds gathered in Huntington to put on a proud display of their Italian heritage at the 20th annual Long Island Columbus Day Parade Oct. 7. The event, hosted by the Town of Huntington and Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, aims to celebrate Italian heritage, culture and their contributions to society.

Hundreds of New York members of the Order of Sons and Daughters of Italy in America marched along the parade route from the Old Village Green west on Main Street to the Christopher Columbus statue, at the intersection of West Neck Road, in honor of the organization’s 113th anniversary.

This year’s parade marshals were: Robert Ferrito, president of the New York OSDIA, Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R); Antoinette Biordi, an anchorwoman for News 12; and Vito DeSimone, an Italian media personality.

Huntington High School students have given a presidential gift to the Town of Huntington that is already being called “timeless.”

Huntington town officials unveiled a new historic marker Sept. 21 in Municipal Lot 49 on New York Avenue commemorating a speech given during the town’s 250th anniversary celebration in 1903 by former President Theodore Roosevelt’s (R).

“In doing so today, we are not only honoring the president who came to address the residents of our town, but the importance of the legacy he left behind,” said Katelyn Sage, a senior at Huntington High School.

Roosevelt’s visit wasn’t only very powerful because he was a sitting president coming here for the anniversary of a great town, but he also started the study of historical remembrance here in Huntington.” 

— Chad Lupinacci

Sage and Huntington senior Luke Farrell have worked together during the past year to research Roosevelt’s 1903 visit to Huntington with Joseph Levy, Huntington school district’s chairman of humanities. After hours of research, the students learned a committee of local women searched through attics, basements and barns to pull together a collection of artifacts from the town’s Colonial era ahead of the presidential visit, according to Sage. The committee and collection served as the foundation of the current Huntington Historical Society.

“Roosevelt’s visit wasn’t only very powerful because he was a sitting president coming here for the anniversary of a great town, but he also started the study of historical remembrance here in Huntington,” Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said.

On the Fourth of July in 1903, Roosevelt gave a speech praising civic-minded virtues to a large crowd gathered in an empty field now near the intersection of New York Avenue and Gerard Street in Huntington. It was reenacted by Theodore Roosevelt impersonator Leer Leary at the unveiling ceremony Sept. 21. A short excerpt is also written on the historic marker.

“In civil life, we need decency, honesty. We are not to be excused as people if we ever condone dishonesty,” the supervisor said, reading the selected Roosevelt quote. “That’s advice to heed for our representative government at all levels, whether it’s the local level, state level or national level.”

In civil life, we need decency, honesty. We are not to be excused as people if we ever condone dishonest.”

— Theodore Roosevelt’s 1903 speech

Roosevelt was only the second sitting president to visit Huntington, according to Lupinacci, after George Washington, who dined at the former Platt’s Tavern in 1790. No sitting president has visited the town since. A traditional blue-and-gold historic marker was erected in 1932 by the New York State Education Department near the intersection of Park Avenue and Route 25A to mark Washington’s visit.

“Luke, Mr. Levy and I have researched and organized this project in order to commemorate an important historic event that not only happened in our town, but has yet to be acknowledged,” Sage said.

The marker commemorating Roosevelt’s visit, funded by Huntington High School’s student government, bears a different design. The students choose to install a plaque that displays a black-and-white photo of the occasion, the quote from Roosevelt’s speech and a short caption describing the historical significance of the event.

“I congratulate them for doing a wonderful job commemorating a period from 115 years ago,” Town historian Robert Hughes said. “The quote they selected reflects modern-day America as well. This is a timeless historic marker.”

Huntington Town Clerk JoAnn Raia hands out copies of the 2019 Tentative Budget to the town council. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

The first draft of the Town of Huntington’s 2019 budget prepared by Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) was immediately met by sharp criticism and divided the town council.

Lupinacci presented a draft of the town’s 2019 budget calling for a $122.8 million tax levy, or an increase of 2.53 percent from the current year, at the Sept. 20 town board meeting. The proposed 2019 budget falls under New York State’s mandated tax levy increase cap by approximately $80,000, includes $371,000 in rollover savings from 2018, and accounts for growth in the town’s tax base valued at roughly $400,000.

I have taken a conservative approach to expenditure allocations, using previous actuals as a baseline for these costs.”

— Chad Lupinacci

“I have taken a conservative approach to expenditure allocations, using previous actuals as a baseline for these costs,” the supervisor wrote in an open letter presenting the budget. “Particular focus was given to employee salaries, overtime and benefits.”

Lupinacci said some of the challenges faced in drafting the 2019 budget included accounting for contractually mandated collective bargaining increases for all town union employees and a 9 percent increase in employee medical costs. He has suggested appropriating $750,000 from the town’s fund balance to help cover costs in three areas: the consolidated refuse fund, street lighting and the Huntington sewer district.

“I have incorporated realistic revenue budgeting, and have not relied upon one-shot revenues as a means of balancing the 2019 Tentative Budget,” the supervisor wrote.

The budget draft immediately received sharp criticism by Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) who took issue with the supervisor’s suggestion of eliminating one staff member each from each of the four board members’ personnel. Cuthbertson dubbed Lupinacci’s proposal “the height of hypocrisy” pointing to eight individuals who serve the supervisor’s office, in addition to the town board reinstating nine employees and creating 14 new staff positions in August.

In all the time I have been here, council people have had a staff of one secretary, one legislative aide, much like what is afforded our county legislators and members of the state Assembly. “

— Mark Cuthbertson

“In all the time I have been here, council people have had a staff of one secretary, one legislative aide, much like what is afforded our county legislators and members of the state Assembly,” Cuthbertson said. “Now that we have a bloated budget with these positions created in a naked power grab, he seeks to eliminate the people that help council members do their job and, in many respects, holds the administration accountable to the people of this town.”

Lupinacci said he had personally pulled all town board members aside prior to the formal release of the 2019 Tentative Budget to inform them of his proposed staffing changes. He explained his vision is that each councilperson would keep their legislative aide, who assists in policy research and handling calls from residents, and would share one combined office manager or secretary.

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) also spoke out against the proposed 2019 staffing changes.

I am not okay with the tentative budget decision regarding town council personnel which were made without consultation of fellow town board colleagues,” she said. “We, like our supervisor, must serve our constituents and this budget decision diminishes that ability.”

We, like our supervisor, must serve our constituents and this budget decision diminishes that ability.”

— Joan Cergol

In response to the proposed 2019 budget, Cuthbertson was the sole vote against reinstating four town employee positions. These staff openings include a Spanish-speaking office assistant for Town Clerk JoAnn Raia (R) at $9,260 and a dispatcher requested by Superintendent of Highways Kevin Orelli (D).

“I requested and have complete justification for a Spanish-speaking typist,” Raia said. “I have couples coming in all day long for marriage licenses, divorce documents and other documents that are in Spanish and need translation. That is a critical need in my office.”

Lupinacci said the elimination of the four positions is due to employees being replaced over time, largely due to resignations or promotions. Raia confirmed the Spanish-speaking typist submitted a resignation two weeks ago after serving with the town for four years after receiving another job offer.

“I didn’t single out any position,” Cuthbertson said. “I think we were in a better position to budget and pay for it, if we had not gone on a spending spree with patronage jobs in August.

A deli on the Platt’s Tavern site would be demolished under Dominick Mavellia’s zone change application to construct a medical office building. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Town of Huntington officials have agreed to rezone a “historic hallowed” parcel of Huntington Village turned “eyesore,” where Founding Father George Washington once stopped for dinner, after three years of extensive debate.

The town board voted 4 to 1 to allow for rezoning of the corner lot at the intersection of Park Avenue and Route 25A/Main Street from R-15 Residential District to C-1 Office Residence District to make way for a medical office building. Part of the site was formerly home to Platt’s Tavern, one of the earliest buildings in Huntington. Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) was the sole vote against the rezoning.

I believe we have an opportunity and responsibility to re-create this iconic corner in a manner that reflects and respects the historic district’s spirit and guidelines.”

— Joan Cergol

“I believe we have an opportunity and responsibility to re-create this iconic corner in a manner that reflects and respects the historic district’s spirit and guidelines,” Cergol said. “I am sorry to say I do not see that embodied in the current proposal.”

The proposed plans, put forth by developer Dominick Mavellia in 2014, would replace an abandoned gasoline service station/automotive repair shop, a deli and a vehicle storage yard with a 10,000-square-foot medical building.

The project is located within both the Old Town Green National Historic District and the Old Huntington Green Town Historic District, which contain some of Huntington’s earliest homes.

Paul Warburgh, president of the Old Huntington Green Inc. has previously voiced his opposition to the change of zoning, most recently at the Aug. 7 town board meeting. On Sept. 20, he asked town officials to table the vote and consider something different.

“I’d like to suggest some amendments to the changes to honor the historic site that exists there,” Warburgh said. “This will all then comply with the historic district law when you talk about scale and style.”

Warburgh asked the town board to put a conditional approval on the rezoning that the developer be required to construct two buildings totaling no more than 6,000 square feet and no more than 30 feet in height in order to fall within the standards of the historic district.

Cergol said she reached out to the developer herself earlier this year to see if he would consider building two smaller buildings instead of the 10,000-square-foot office. She cited Sunny Pond Farm on Park Avenue as an example of redevelopment that preserved open space, historic structures, blended into the historic district and has been economically successful.

“Right now on this corner is an ugly, abandoned gas station. This is the first step of beautifying that area.

— Chad Lupinacci

Cergol asked her fellow council members prior to the rezoning vote if any were willing to postpone the decision to consider Warburgh’s request for special conditions. When no one was willing to open the matter to discussion, more residents asked if they still had an opportunity to speak. 

Councilman Ed Smythe (R) said as the property is within the Old Huntington Green Historic District, the developer’s specific site plans will have to come back before the town board in order to receive a building permit. These plans will need to contain specific details on the architectural style of the building, according Smythe, as well as the building’s proposed elevation.

“Right now on this corner is an ugly, abandoned gas station,” Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “This is the first step of beautifying that area.

Lupinacci called the corner’s current buildings “an eyesore” and said in the future he hopes the town will install a historic plaque commemorating Washington’s visit on the site in addition to the brief sign already there.

Port Jeff Superintendent Paul Casciano and board President Kathleen Brennan. File photos by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski & Sara-Megan Walsh

Port Jefferson and Northport-East Northport school districts, as well as the Town of Huntington, were dealt a blow in the legal battle against Long Island Power Authority in August. But, it doesn’t mean they are going down without a fight.

Port Jeff board of education voted unanimously — 6-0 with board President Kathleen Brennan absent — during a Sept. 24 special meeting to file an appeal of New York State Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Emerson’s Aug. 16 ruling that LIPA “made no promises” to the Town of Huntington, Northport-East Northport and Port Jefferson school districts not to challenge the taxes levied on its power stations.

Huntington Town Attorney Nick Ciapetta said the municipality formally filed its appeal of Emerson’s decision the following day, Sept. 25.

The judge’s ruling dismissed the third-party lawsuits brought forth by Huntington and the two school districts which alleged LIPA broke a promise by seeking to reduce the power plant’s taxes by 90 percent. The resolution passed by Port Jeff school board authorized its legal counsel, Ingerman Smith, LLP, to file the appeal.

“We do think her decision was incorrect, and clearly we do recommend that the board consider filing a notice of appeal in this proceeding,” said attorney John Gross of Ingerman Smith, LLP, prior to Port Jeff’s Sept. 24 vote.
Northport-East Northport’s board trustees had previously voted to pursue an appeal at their Sept. 6 meeting.

Gross, who has been hired to represent both Northport and Port Jeff schools, said the districts

will have six months to perfect appeals. During this time, the districts’ legal team will prepare a record including all exhibits, witness depositions, and information gathered from the examination of about 60,000 pages of documents. He said a brief outlining the  legal arguments against Emerson’s decision will be crafted prior to submitting the appeal.
LIPA will be given several months to prepare a reply, according to Gross, prior to oral arguments before a four-judge panel in New York State Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. Further appeals are possible following that decision. Gross said the process could take more than a year.

Meanwhile, Huntington Town, Northport-East Northport school district, LIPA and National Grid have agreed to pursue non-binding mediation relating to the case, which begins Sept. 26. Gross said while Port Jeff is not a party to the mediation, it will be monitoring the outcome because the process could establish a pattern of resolution for its case. He also said the district can withdraw its appeal at any time, but once that occurs it cannot rejoin the process.

“Legal actions taken by the Town [of Brookhaven], [Port Jefferson] Village and school district to generate an equitable solution to the LIPA tax assessment challenges are intended to protect its residents and children against exorbitant property tax increases; especially in a very short interval of time,” Port Jeff school district said in a publicly released letter Sept. 12 prior to passing a resolution authorizing the appeal. “Please know, that the district fully understands that the decision about engaging legal counsel is one to be made with great care, as it always carries a financial implication while never guaranteeing a verdict in one’s favor.”

An aerial view of Town of Brookhaven’s Green Stream Recycling plant in Yaphank is surrounded by recyclables in August. Photo from Town of Smithtown

It’s a rubbish time to be involved in the recycling industry.

The Town of Brookhaven’s recycling plant is grappling with unprecedented mounds of bottles, used paper goods and trash. Ever since China implemented its “National Sword” policy in January banning the import of various nonindustrial plastics, paper and other solid wastes, Brookhaven’s had a hard time selling off collected recyclable materials. As China was one of the top buyers of U.S. recyclables according to NPR, this move has left many Suffolk townships unsure what to do with their residents’ recycled garbage.

To recycle or not: Tips  on handling your trash

By Kyle Barr

Operators of the Brookhaven recycling plant deal with a lot of junk. Not the good kind of junk, however, as many household items that residents assume can be recycled can cause havoc in the machinery.

In the four years since the town invested in single-stream recycling,  Erich Weltsek, a recycling coordination aid for Brookhaven, said there has been increased resident participation in the recycling program. But it has also led to some residents chucking in items that have no business being recycled.

We’ve gotten chunks of concrete, and you even get sports balls — like soccer balls, footballs — constantly,” he said. “A lot of what we call ‘wish cycling,’ where people think they’re doing the right thing and when in doubt they throw it in a recycle bin instead of the right receptacle.”

Weltsek said people have tried to recycle Coleman outdoor stoves and propane tanks, which is extremely dangerous and could result in an explosion at the facility.

The most pervasively disruptive items are plastic bags and other items that Weltsek called “tanglers,” such as Christmas tree lights, pool liners and garden hoses. The recycling facility operates on a number of conveyor belts that first feed into a device called a star screen, a number of rotating cylinders with feet that separate recyclable fibers from other items. These items either wrap around the wheels on the conveyor belt or star screen, either letting fibers through the wrong end or stopping the machine entirely.

Suffolk residents should clean out any plastic bottles or cans before putting them in the recycling. Any low-quality paper products or grease-stained cardboard such as used pizza boxes, should not be recycled because they affect the sellable quality of the entire recycling bundle.

Andrade said all plastic bags should be recycled at a local supermarket, which are mandated by New York State law to have a receptacle for all shopping bags.

The plant often has to turn away other nonrecyclable material, such as plastic utensils, bottle caps and Styrofoam. All of these are considered contaminants, either because they cannot be recycled properly, or they
dilute the quality of the material.

“While it hasn’t stopped it, China’s new policies have significantly slowed down the ability of recyclers to move material to market,” said  Christopher Andrade, commissioner of Brookhaven Town’s waste management department. “There are domestic mills and domestic markets [but] the thing is just finding them, negotiating them and moving the material.”

That is easier said than done, according to Andrade, as many recycling plants across the nation now have fewer options of where to sell their collected goods. China has publicly claimed the decision has to do with the quality of the materials, as low-quality newspaper print or thin PVC plastics are not considered valuable enough for reuse. There’s also the problem of recyclables being mixed with other, nonreusable garbage.

In 2014, Brookhaven moved from dual-stream to single-stream recycling, a system that allows residents to put out all their recyclables in a single can to be sorted out at the town’s facilities instead of bringing out a different material — plastic, papers or metal — every other week. This increased overall participation in the recycling program, Andrade said, but has led to some confusion.

The loss of the Chinese market has severely interrupted the Brookhaven-owned Green Stream Recycling facility’s outflow. Green Stream Recycling LLC, a company that contracts with the town and operates the town’s facility in Yaphank, made good use of China’s market. While the facility continues to operate without a definitive answer to where else the company can move its materials, some of it is now going back into the landfill, according to Andrade.

This crisis is not only affecting the Town of Brookhaven, but other municipalities on Long Island which sell their collected recyclables to Suffolk County’s largest township. In 2014, the Town of Smithtown formed a five-year contract with Brookhaven to send 12,000 tons of garbage to the Green Stream facility,  in return for $180,000 per year. While Brookhaven continues to honor the agreements with its partnered municipalities, the lack of market availability for recyclables has some members of Smithtown Town Board concerned.

At a Sept. 4 work session, Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) showed board members a photo taken by a drone in May showing recyclables piled in heaps just outside Brookhaven’s facility. The picture made Wehrheim and other board members question what might become of the town’s current recycling agreement.

“At one point, we’re going to come to some decision what to do with [Brookhaven Town,] Wehrheim said. “It could be a potential problem … in the short term.”

Andrade said that excess dumping on the facility’s land came from the “shock” of China’s National Sword policy being implemented earlier this year, though he said the situation has since been brought under control. Despite these international issues, Andrade said Brookhaven remains committed to recycling.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) “and the board believe very strongly in recycling, and we’ll bounce back from this,” he said.

The markets are being overwhelmed; the people taking the material can be picky on what they accept. We’re going to have to respond by being better at only putting out the things that people can actually reuse.”

— Russell Barnett

Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s environmental protection director in the Department of Environment and Waterways, said he is working on a solution with Brookhaven, including a regional approach comprising Smithtown, Huntington, Southold and several other communities that are partnered with Brookhaven.

Smithtown had its own dual-stream facility that was closed before it started sending its materials to Brookhaven in 2014, though reopening it could be costly.

“We’re assessing our equipment — seeing what’s operational, what’s not, what repairs need to be made and what upgrades need to be made if the occasion comes up that we want to go that route,” Barnett said.

In the meantime, he said residents need to be more discriminating when it comes to deciding what items to recycle. Otherwise, it will be much harder in the future to find a buyer for the world’s recyclable garbage.

“When they talk about the standard, they’re not just talking about nonrecyclable material
but the right kind of recyclable material.” Barnett said. “The markets are being overwhelmed; the people taking the material can be picky on what they accept. We’re going to have to respond by being better at only putting out the things that people can actually reuse.”

Huntington residents stood silently in the cold rain Sept. 9 to honor the 43 people from the Town of Huntington who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As each victim’s name was read aloud by a Huntington town official, a bell was rung by a Bill Ober, chairman of the town’s Veterans Advisory Board, and a single rose was laid at the base of the 9/11 memorial in Heckscher Park. The names were read by Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) and councilmembers Mark Cuthbertson (D), Gene Cook (R) and Joan Cergol (D).

“It’s hard to believe that there’s an entire generation of young people who do not [what?] what it was like to live and experience with memories of that day,” Lupinacci said. “It is the memory of your loved ones that we hold this ceremony each year and every year, so that we can remember your loss, which remains our loss, and educate those too young to have lived through that day.”

Seven of the 43 names read were first responders, including members of the Fire Department of the City of New York  and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

“As always on this sad day of remembrance, we ask the question what we can productively do in the face of such extreme hatred and evil,” said Rabbi Yaakov Raskin, of Chabad of Huntington Village, who gave the benediction for the ceremony. “Much in the answer lies in the education of our children.”

Children enjoy the grand opening of Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park in Elwood. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Huntington is temporarily re-opening the Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park at Elwood Park due to the heat wave the area is currently experiencing.

Huntington officials announced the spray park will be open Sept. 6 and 7, from noon to 6 p.m.  The hours for the week starting Sept. 10 will be determined based on the weather. Town of Huntington beaches will remain closed due to a lack of available lifeguard staffing, according a statement from the town.

The park is 4,900 square feet in area with 2,500 square feet of active play features, according to town Civil Engineer Ed Parrish, the project manager for the spray park. Parrish added that the spray pad water runoff will be collected and reused for field irrigation at Elwood Park.

The interactive spray park contains multiple water features, including several button- activated water jets, water spraying hoops and overhead buckets that fill up and dump down onto children’s heads. The largest bucket that hangs several meters off the ground is labeled with big block letters spelling “NYPD.” 

The spray park, located at Elwood Park on Cuba Hill Road in Elwood, is open to residents with Resident Recreation Photo ID Cards (children under 13 years old will be able to use the spray park if accompanying parent/guardian shows a Resident Recreation Photo ID Card – exception only for those who have Picnic Permits for that day), Non-residents may only enter the spray park if they are accompanied by a resident with a Resident Recreation Photo ID Card.

 

Scott Blackshaw's brother, David, center right, holds a sign dedicating Hillwood Drive for the 9/11 responder's honor. Photo from Town of Huntington

Town of Huntington officials paid tribute last Saturday to a Huntington Station resident who lost his life to 9/11-related illnesses.

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) led a street ceremony Aug. 25 dedicating Valleywood Drive in Huntington Station in honor of former New York Police Department officer Scott Blackshaw.

“NYPD Officer Scott Blackshaw embodied the American spirit that rises to any challenge, a spirit of selfless sacrifice to help others in need, and a spirit of resolve and bravery committed to defending our way of life,” Lupinacci said. “Scott Blackshaw dedicated his time and his love to his family.”

“NYPD Officer Scott Blackshaw embodied the American spirit that rises to any challenge, a spirit of selfless sacrifice to help others in need, and a spirit of resolve and bravery committed to defending our way of life.”

— Chad Lupinacci

Blackshaw was a graduate of Northport High School who joined the NYPD in 1990. He patrolled the Manhattan South borough and worked for the 13th Precinct at the time of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He spent six weeks on duty at ground zero working the pile, searching for traces of his fallen comrades and fellow citizens.

“We must never, ever forget what a hero really means is someone who is selfless, who gives of their time and energy because they care about their community,” state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) said. “Scott was such a person.”

Blackshaw lost his battle with cancers sustained as a result of his work at Ground Zero May 20. He was 52. The town supervisor said his neighbors recalled how he was the type of person who used to help cut their grass for free and plow their driveways when it snowed. As he fell ill, Blackshaw’s friends and neighbors rallied to his support to take care of him, calling themselves “Team Scotty.” He, in return, call them “his angels.”

“Scot was one of those people, he cultivated a family right here on this road,” said Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park). “This sign will be a living testament not only to NYPD Officer Scott Blackshaw but to the kind of person he really was.”

More than 10,000 people have been diagnosed and certified to have 9/11-related cancers and illnesses, according to John Feal of the Feal Good Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to helping all emergency personnel who have faced injury or illness due to their time of service get the health care they need.

On Sept. 15, Feal said Blackshaw’s name will be officially added to hundreds of other first responders and emergency personnel who lost their lives as result of the attacks listed on the memorial wall at the 9/11 Responders Remembered Memorial Park, located on Smithtown Boulevard in Nesconset.

“But now that the street sign is up, he’d say it’s your responsibility to cut your grass every week and pick up your leaves.

— David Blackshaw

“Today’s street ceremony serves a purpose like the park,” he said. “That history is never distorted and so generations to come will know the sacrifice that Scott and others made. These are tangible items that you can see and can touch that will be a reminder that Scott was truly a hero.”

Following the unveiling of the new street sign, Blackshaw’s friends and family hosted a block party to honor his life with donated food, drinks and supplies from the Best Yet in East Northport, East Northport Beverage, and The Home Depot in Huntington.

Blackshaw’s brother, David, said it was amazing to see the community come together for Scott, providing him with a support system that gave “full life.”

“My brother wouldn’t want this sign up on the street, and he would tell you all to go away,” he said, his words answered by laughter. “But now that the street sign is up, he’d say it’s your responsibility to cut your grass every week and pick up your leaves.”

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

The real estate developer for a controversial Fort Salonga development has handed over his proposed plans for a mandated environmental impact study for public consumption. 

The Hauppauge-based Northwind Group, founded by developer Jim Tsunis, submitted a 16-page report Aug. 14 outlining how potential impacts of The Preserve at Indian Hills will be evaluated prior to construction of the community. Residents have until Sept. 17 to give feedback and voice any concerns. 

Town of Huntington Planning Board voted Aug. 8 to issue a positive declaration that the submitted plans to construct 98 townhouses and a clubhouse on the existing Indian Hills Country Club golf course will have a significant environmental impact. In accordance with state law, the Northwind Group must undertake, with a detailed environmental impact study that looks at how the development may impact water quality of the
watershed, the area’s steep slopes and coastal erosion zone, added traffic and other issues. 

“The 99-lot yield is supported by a yield map prepared to town specifications and approved by the planning board for yield purposes and is less than what would be permitted as right-of-way under current zoning if each property were developed independently,” reads page 3 of the developer’s draft report. 

The Fort Salonga Property Owners Association has previously asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills. The group has voiced fears, despite the developer’s revised plans that scales 108 units originally requested down to 98, the development will have a devastating impact on the local roadways and
surrounding wetlands.

“There is no doubt that this latest plan is completely unacceptable to the neighborhood,” John Hayes, president of the property owners association, said. “Like its predecessors, it does not fully address many of the environmental and social concerns that have been raised.” 

Hayes admitted he and others were still going over the 16-page report but said he is likely to suggest additional intersections be added to the traffic study. Those intersections already cited for inclusion by the developer include: Route 25A at Makamah Road, Route 25A at Fresh Pond Road, Makamah and Breeze Hill roads, Fresh Pond Road and Breeze Hill Road and Fresh Pond Road at Claymore Road.

“The roads are not designed for this sort of development,” Hayes said, citing numerous fatal accidents at Makamah Road and Route 25A. 

The draft environmental study outline also clearly stated the 18-hole golf course will be modified, but maintain 18-holes calling it “an important part of the visual character of the site and area.” 

The draft scope of the environmental study can be viewed on the Town of Huntington’s website, www.huntingtonny.gov, under the Planning & Environment Department page, under Site Specific Plans, Reports and Studies. 

Comments may be submitted through Sept. 17 via email to planning@huntingtonny.gov or mailed to Huntington Town Hall, Department of Planning & Environment (Room 212), Attn: Preserve at Indian Hills Draft Scope, 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743. 

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