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Town of Huntington

James Garside's innovative signs helped save the like of a hiker in October 2017

Suffolk County police officer James Garside is honored by Huntington town officials March 20. Photo from Town of Huntington

Suffolk County police officer James Garside knows well that every second counts in an emergency.

That’s why he helped develop and implement innovate GPS-enabled trail markers at Cold Spring Harbor State Park. The trail markers played a critical role in saving the life of a heart attack victim last year.

“Officer Garside’s trail markers helped save that man’s life and improved public safety for all the park’s visitors and emergency responders,” Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said while presenting Garside with a proclamation at the March 20 town board meeting for his work .

Garside, an advanced medical technician, designed a system of trail markers to help emergency responders quickly locate injured hikers along the 1.14-mile long section of the greenbelt trail, which runs through the state park. It consists of 15 bright yellow arrow signs attached to trees, labeled 101 to 115, between Cold Spring Harbor High School and Cold Spring Harbor Library. The latitude and longitude of each sign has been publicly recorded.

On Oct. 15, 2017, a 47-year-old man suffered a heart heart attack approximately halfway along the trail, and made a critical call to 911 for help. Due to Garside’s trail markers, he was able to give responders his location within the 47-acre park.

“Critical minutes, even seconds were saved because of the trail markers,” the supervisor said.

A full map of the Cold Spring Harbor State Park trail and the location of the trail markers can be found at parks.ny.gov/parks/attachments/ColdSpringHarborTrailMap.pdf.

Event will be held in Huntington Town Hall's parking lot March 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Huntington Town Hall. File photo by Rohma Abbas

The organizers of the Huntington’s school shooting protest have announced a change of location after storms blanketed the area in more than a foot of snow.

The March for Our Lives Long Island event scheduled for March 24 at Heckscher Park will be relocating across the street to Huntington Town Hall, according to student organizers. The event’s website read: “due to the severe winter storm and resulting bad grand conditions expected on Saturday the location of the event has changed.”

Huntington Town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said town officials had safety concerns regarding the use of Heckscher Park for the rally, due to large number of people attending, multiple entrances to the park and potentially muddy fields. By comparison, there are only two entrances to the town parking lot on Irwin and Jackson streets.

“The town supports the First Amendment rights of the students to assemble and speak their minds on this national matter,” she said on behalf of town officials.

The student organizers have filed the proper paperwork and received permits to host the rally on town property, according to Lembo.

The Huntington event is being held in conjunction with the Washington, D.C., march to show solidarity with the Parkland, Florida, shooting survivors and “demand that our lawmakers make gun reform a top priority to end this cycle of gun violence in our schools and our communities at large,” the organizers’ website reads. It will feature students speakers and local residents who lost loved ones in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Participants and those following the events are promoting use of the hashtag #NeverAgain. As of March 22, the event’s Facebook page shows more than 900 individuals are stating they will attend.

Are you attending Huntington’s March For Our Lives March 24? Tweet us @TBRNewsMedia with your thoughts and photos. 

Residents at the Town of Huntington's vigil for Dix Hills native Scott Beigel. Photo by Kevin Redding

Scott Beigel was a beloved teacher, coach and son, and on Feb. 14, he became a hometown hero.

The Florida school shooting hit close to home for Huntington residents, who joined together inside Town Hall March 14 for a candlelight vigil in honor of the Dix Hills native. Beigel died protecting students from danger as a geography teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Beigel, 35, who graduated from Half Hollow Hills East, was one of 17 killed during the tragedy. He was shot while attempting to lock his classroom door after holding it open for students fleeing from the gunman. Beigel had only been teaching at Parkland for six months, but also served as the high school’s cross-country coach.

“[Scott] was a hero not just on the day he died but every day of his life, to his students and the people whose lives he often helped,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said. “We have unfortunately seen these incidents happen far too many times … but I do truly believe that Scott’s death and what happened in Parkland is something that will change this country. His heroism will change our country and save many, many lives. That will be his legacy.”

Michael Schulman and Linda Beigel Schulman. Photo by Kevin Redding

During the ceremony, Beigel was remembered for his “goofball” sense of humor, selflessness and a true love for his job and the students he taught.

Prior to working in Florida, he was a camp counselor and division leader at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania and a volunteer teacher for underprivileged children in South Africa.

Half Hollow Hills Superintendent Patrick Harrigan said in honor of Beigel, students at the local high schools have implemented a 17 acts of kindness initiative to improve the culture of their environment and make an effort to prevent another senseless tragedy from occurring.

“Scott was a new teacher, only six months into his tenure, and already making a difference every day for his students,” Harrigan said. “As an educator, it is my hope that Mr. Beigel’s lasting legacy is as a child advocate, a teacher, a coach and an inspiration to other teachers to always improve the lives of their students and the children in their communities.”

Looking up at a large photo of her son, Beigel’s mother Linda Beigel Schulman held back tears and said, “I love you Scott … you will forever be my inspiration and hero.”

She called to action the need for gun control legislation including universal background checks before purchasing a firearm; a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines; and an increase in the minimum gun-buying age from 18 to 21. She also commended students who participated in the National School Walkout.

“We need action now and we will continue to be heard,” Beigel Schulman said. “When Scott was a child and came home from school, I worried about what kind of a day he would have; I did not worry about if he was going to come home from school.”

Beigel Schulman then turned to look upon a photograph of her son again.

“You may have died senselessly, but as I stand here today, I can honestly say not in vain,” she said. “It has been one month and I promise I will not stop until no child ever has to fear going to school, being with their friends at school and learning from their teachers [at school].”

A street sign that will rename Hart Place in honor of Dix Hills native Scott Beigel. Photo by Kevin Redding

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) unveiled the new street sign renaming Hart Place, where Beigel grew up and where his parents still reside, to become Scott J. Beigel Way.

Tragedies such as Parkland, Lupinacci said, “especially touch home when you have someone that grew up here, went to the high school, went to many of the same stores we go to … We thought it very fitting for where he grew up and spent his formative years to be renamed in his honor.”

The supervisor said a proper ceremony for the street renaming will take place in the upcoming weeks.

“We just want Scott’s voice and legacy to live on — we don’t want him to ever be forgotten,” said Melissa Zech, Beigel’s sister. “I think he would be so proud and I know we’re so proud of him. ― He was so smart, quick-witted, caring and loving. These are things I wish I would’ve told him when he was here.”

Michael Schulman, Beigel’s father, also spoke of the honor.

“This took us all by surprise,” he said. “It’s a great acknowledgement of what this town meant to him, and what he meant to the town. Right now, the street sign is something that’s bittersweet, but, in the years to come, it’ll just be sweet. I just wish we didn’t have to have it.”

Huntington Town Board is expected to formally vote on renaming Hart Place in Beigel’s memory at its March 20 meeting. Lupinacci also said the new street sign would be put on public display for area residents to see.

Town of Huntington snow plows. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) assured residents that town employees are ready on standby to react to whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Huntington’s Highway Department has 16,000 cubic yards of salt and sand set aside in its yards to be spread on its more than 800 miles of roadway, according to the supervisor. The town has are 129 pieces of snow removal equipment and has called in approximately 150 additional contractors who will start lining up Tuesday night.

“They are on call and will usually come in about an hour and a half prior to when the storm is anticipated to to get equipment ready, plows ready and load the trucks,” Lupinacci said.

The National Weather Service is predicting snow is likely to begin after 4 a.m. March 7 totaling approximately one inch, according to its website. There’s a possibility drivers could see a sloppy commute as snow mixes with sleet and rain, with total of 2 to 4 inches on the ground before turning back to snow after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

The supervisor said town officials are keeping a close eye on potential flooding in the North Shore villages. Weather forecasters are calling for the 2:50 a.m. high tide to be 1 to 2 feet above normal, according to Lupinacci, with wind gusts of more than 40 miles per hour.

“We will be in touch with our village mayors along the northern coastal areas, particularly Lloyd Harbor and Asharoken, to make sure there is no flooding,” he said.

Residents are strongly encouraged to move their cars off the streets to aid in snow removal. In addition, the superintendent asked those who shovel to throw snow into their yards where possible, rather than the street to allow cleanup to progress as quickly as possible.

Huntington officials will be posting updates throughout the storm on town website at www.huntingtonny.gov. Residents with emergencies or cleanup complaints can call 631-499-0444.

PSEG Long Island is also taking steps to prepare for the nor’easter.

“PSEG Long Island personnel worked tirelessly to restore power to all customers’ affected by the severe storm last weekend and are ready to respond again for the impending nor’easter,” said John O’Connell, vice president of Transmission and Distribution at PSEG Long Island. “Our workforce is performing system checks and logistics checks to ensure the availability of critical materials, fuel and other supplies.”

To report an electrical outage and receive status updates Text OUT to PSEGLI (773454) or to report an outage online visit www.psegliny.com.

New machine fills a depression in 60 to 90 seconds; can repair more than 100 per day

Pothole Killer repairs a depression on Laurel Road in East Northport March 5. Photo By Sara-Megan Walsh.

Huntington Town officials are excited to be taking the Pothole Killer out for a test run on the local roadways. Hopefully, it will mean a smoother ride for all.

Kevin Orelli (D), Huntington’s Superintendent of Highways, unveiled that the town has struck an agreement with Patch Management, Inc. to try out a one-man spray-injection machine to repair potholes and cracks in Huntington’s roads during the next several months.

Huntington Superintendent of Highways Kevin Orelli and Supervisor Chad Lupinacci in front of the Pothole Killer. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

“We’ve been repairing potholes for than 50 years in the same method,” ORelli said. “We want to bring the Town of Huntington into the 21st century and use a new, more efficient method to do that work.”

Currently, Orelli said he sends out a crew of highway department workers with a hotbox containing hot asphalt to lay down a patch over the pothole. He estimated that a crew can fill approximately 40 potholes a day using this method.

Scott Kleiger, the inventor of the Pothole Killer with Patch Management said his machine can fill the average pothole in 60 to 90 seconds, with a skilled operator repairing more than 100 per day.

The Pothole Killer is run by a trained operator who remains inside the cab of the truck at all times, according to Kleiger, avoiding the roadway hazard of oncoming traffic.

“One of the key elements of this is safety,” he said as a former public works employee. “The job they do out there for the common good of the people is very dangerous and very tedious.”

Using a joystick, the machine’s operator positions an external arm over the crack or pothole which blows pressurized air into it, removing all loose debris. The machine is used to spray an asphalt emulsion, or “tack coat,” that provides an adhesive base for the filler material to bond to. Next, the machine coats aggregate filler in the asphalt emulsion to fill the hole or crack to surface level. Last, dry material is sprayed over the top of the repair.

Pothole Killer drops aggregate filler coated with asphalt into a depression. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

“The roadway is open immediately, as it doesn’t stick to their tires,” said Brian Rutledge, a field sales agent for Patch Management.

Rutledge said the Pothole Killer is currently used in 10 states, including by Rhode Island and New Jersey Department of Transportation. Resident may be able to see the machine in action as New York State Department of Transportation uses it to fill holes and cracks along the Long Island Expressway.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said that given this winter’s extreme cold weather, he anticipates it will be particularly bad year for potholes. The town has received more than 500 phone calls, according to Orelli, and already repaired more than 2,000 potholes this year.

“We expect the situation to get worse over the next several weeks, especially as we enter the spring season,” Lupinacci said.

Drivers can report developing cracks and potholes by visiting the town’s website at www.huntingtonny.gov, and going to Highway Department page, or by calling the Highway Operations Center directly at 631-499-0444.

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Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said construction scheduled to begin in March

The master plan for the spray park at Elwood Park is revealed September 2017. The plans are in memory of a Huntington resident Paul Tuozzolo, who was killed in the line of duty. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington’s first interactive water park is one step closer to construction with the approval of town funding.

Huntington Town Board unanimously voted to appropriate $230,000 for the construction and installation of a spray park in honor of fallen New York City police Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo within Elwood Park at their Feb. 6 meeting.

“It’s important that we are recognizing a wonderful family and an officer who died in the line of duty who has left behind two young children who will no doubt be using the spray park,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said. “It’s a nice way to remember Officer Tuozzolo.”

Children Austin and Joseph Tuozzolo sit with a family member at the spray park’s unveiling in September 2017. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington resident Tuozzolo, 41, was working for the 43rd Precinct in the Soundview section of the Bronx in November 2016 when he was shot and killed responding to what was reported as a home invasion, but later turned out to be a domestic incident. A police dispatcher told responding officers that a man who had broken into the home was fleeing in a car, which Tuozzolo swiftly tracked down. Upon approaching the vehicle, the suspect opened fire and shot Tuozzolo who later died of his injuries.

“It’s a very fitting way to remember the sacrifices of Sgt. Tuozzollo who lost his life back in 2016,” Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “It’s a real tribute to his life, legacy and the work he did on behalf of protecting people and the community, making sure public safety was there to help.”

The police officer is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two young sons, Austin and Joseph.

“The two most important children in his life were his sons, Austin and Joseph, and the moment he walked through the doorway upon returning from work, our home lit up as bright as the sun from the smiles on everyone’s faces,” Lisa Tuozzolo said, at the September 2017 unveiling of the spray park plans. “[The] dedication is a fitting tribute to the devotion he had toward his children and I know that he is smiling down with great pride, knowing that his boys will have laughter and smiles at this spray park.”

The spray park is set to cover a 2,500-square-foot area with
approximately 1,600 square feet of active play features that will be purchased from playground equipment manufacturer
Waterplay Solutions. Its equipment will include a shade structure, six park benches, a 4-foot vinyl-coated chain-link fence and a memorial trellis naming the park.

The preliminary estimated cost of the project is $450,000. The town board’s Feb. 6 action appropriated $230,000 from the Parks and Recreation Capital Improvement Reserve Fund, which will not incur any additional debt service payments. Other sources of funding will include using money paid by the developer of The Seasons at Elwood as part of the community benefits agreement with the town.

Lupinacci said the town remains on track with its initial plans to break ground on construction of the spray park in March 2018. It is slated to be the first interactive water park completed in the Town of Huntington, with second to be built at the James D. Conte Community Center in Huntington Station

Democrat town board members question hiring process, diversity of town appointments

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

The first wave of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci’s (R) appointments to his new administration has sparked allegations of bias and possible nepotism.

Huntington Town Board voted 3-2 to appoint 11 directors to various town departments at their Feb. 6 meeting. The vote was sharply split along party lines with Democrats Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and Councilwoman Joan Cergol raising objections based on the hiring process, or lack of one.

“We have 11 appointees and 11 white males,” Cuthbertson said. “If we were looking to recruit an executive team for high school sports, this might be a good start. We are looking to run a diverse and dynamic town. I think we need to have at least considered other candidates.”

Lupinacci’s Appointments:

•John Clark
Director, Dept. of Environmental Waste Management
$120,000 annual salary

•Paul Ehrlich
Vice chairman, Planning Board
Unknown compensation

•Leah-Michelle Jefferson
Equal Employment Opportunity officer
$2,000 Stipend

•Matthew Laux
Deputy director, Dept. of Environmental Waste Management
$118,000 annual salary

•Brooke Lupinacci
Liaision officer, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program
No stipend

•Richard McGrath
Member, Zoning Board of Appeals
Compensation unknown

•William Musto
Deputy director, Dept. of Parks and Recreation
$100,000 annual salary

•Joseph Rose
Deputy director, Dept. of Public Safety
$27,880 annual stipend

•Peter Sammis
Director, Dept. of Public Safety
$115,000 annual salary

•Andre Sorrentino
Director, Dept. of General Services
$120,000 annual salary

•Dominick Spada
Deputy director, Dept. of Maritime Services
$60,000 annual salary

•Greg Wagner
Director, Dept. of Parks and Recreation
$115,000 annual salary

•Nick Wieland
Deputy director, Dept. of Information Technology
$100,000 annual salary

The supervisor originally sought to hire or confirm those individuals he selected at the Jan. 23 town board meeting. He pulled the action from the meeting agenda, delaying two weeks after protests from Cuthbertson and Cergol saying they had not had adequate chance to vet the candidates.

“As I’ve considered my vote for today, several key questions have surfaced in my mind,” Cergol said. “Chief among them was who else was up for these jobs? How wide of a net did we cast to fill these jobs? Were there efforts to seek diversity in the hiring process?”

Lupinacci said the candidates’ résumés were  received through the New Direction Transition Team website launched Nov. 30. The applicant were narrowed down by him, members of his transition team including newly elected Councilman Ed Smyth (R), and town employees before being invited in for an interview.

“I think we have an all-star list of appointees that will be heading up each department,” Smyth said.

Cuthbertson pointed out that several of Lupinacci’s appointments are Republican party members who have previously run unsuccessfully for town offices.

Republican John Clark, who lost to Democrat Kevin Orelli for superintendent of highways last November, is the new director of Department of Environmental Waste Management as of Feb. 26. Clark will receive an annual salary of $120,000.

Huntington Bay mayor Dominick Spada, who lost to incumbent Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) in his bid to represent the 18th District, will become the town’s new deputy director of the Department of Maritime Services. Spada will receive $60,000 annually.

Richard McGrath, who ran on the Republican line for town board in Nov. 2003, has been appointed as a member of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals by Lupinacci.

“One of the criteria is that if you ran for public office as a Republican, you have a chance to be a department head,” Cuthbertson said, sarcastically. “It should not be a disqualifier that you were involved in politics. I think people should be involved in politics, and I think there are good people on this list who are involved in politics, but it really lends itself to cynicism about the process.”

The councilman said previous administrations had run advertisements for open positions in The New York Times to ensure a large, diverse pool of applicants.

In addition to the 11 appointments to department heads and town boards, Lupinacci also designated two programs liaisons to existing town employees.

Lupinacci said that despite several conversation and invitations, he had not received any résumés for applicants looking to be considered from either of his Democrat board members. The supervisor said he is looking to fill several town positions in coming months and all are welcome to apply.

The New Direction TransitionTeam website can be found at www.chad2017.com

New law to places limit of three consecutive terms, or 12 years, in office

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

By Sara-Megan Walsh

No sooner had the era of former Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone ended that its residents were guaranteed a 24-year reign cannot happen again.

Town of Huntington board voted 4-1 to approve term limits for all elected officials Jan. 23.

The legislation, proposed by Councilman Gene Cook (R), limits the offices of town supervisor, town council, town clerk, receiver of taxes and the superintendent of highways to three consecutive terms, or a total of 12 years in office.

“The town is going to be much better off,” Cook said. “Elected officials have an upper hand and can be there forever. Now, we’ve sort of evened the field today. It took a long time, far too long, but I’m glad it’s done.”

The councilman has been working to enact term limits on Huntington’s elected officials since June 2017, when he publicly solicited and polled residents for their opinions regarding term limits before scheduling the issue for a public hearing in August 2017.

The controversy of his legislation has been the inclusion of two non-policy-making positions, the position of town clerk and receiver of taxes. Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia (D) publicly spoke against it Tuesday night.

“I fail to see how term limits for all eight elected officials is a mandate,” Raia said. “Have any of you researched this proposal to determine where it is successful? Have any of you spent time in the Town Clerk’s and Tax Receiver’s office to actually see the work we do and what we are legally responsible for?”

Raia said since the public debate on term limits began, none of the town board members have stepped foot in her office or sat down with her to have a conversation about what the town clerk’s responsibilities include based on her more than 35 years of experience in office.

“My office issues 30-plus various licenses and permits,” she said. “I have to learn 15 state and town laws, and one federal law that governs the town clerk’s responsibilities. It takes years to learn the licensing procedures alone.”

Raia rallied support from dozens of town clerks across the state, who sent letters opposing term limits on town clerks and receivers of taxes to be read into the record. Among her supporters were Riverhead Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm, Islip Town Clerk Olga Murray and Brookhaven Town Clerk Donna Lent.

“Every change in town clerk, there has been a path of destruction,” Lent wrote in a letter, citing the rapid turnover in the Brookhaven town government.

Islip is the only other town government on Long Island to have placed term limits on the position of town clerk, according to Raia. It enacted term limits after a ballot referendum passed in 1994, limiting town clerks and supervisors to three 4-year terms.

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) was the sole vote against enacting term limits, citing her reason it shouldn’t include non-policy-making positions.

“I don’t believe in term limits for non-policy-makers because of my own experience as a technician of sorts in the [Community Development Agency] and understanding it takes a long time to master laws, policies, procedures and the details associated with that type of work,” said Cergol, the former director of Huntington’s CDA. “I don’t feel term limiting of that type is cost effective or efficient for taxpayers.”

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) stood by the resolution and said he believed it was a step forward.

“I believe if we are going to institute term limits at this level of government, it should affect all of the elected officials at that level of government,” he said.

The supervisor said he does have a concern that the legislation could face a legal challenge as it was drafted to be effective starting in 2017, making it retroactive on those elected to office last November. He stated it may be amended to be effective as of 2018 or 2019.

Town to send letter to New York State comptroller asking for review of town's finances

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

A request by Huntington’s new town board to have the state comptroller review the town’s finances was met with criticism.

Huntington Town Board voted 4-1 at its Jan. 3 meeting to go forward with a request to New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D) to conduct a review and audit of the town’s finances, policies and procedures. Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) was the sole vote against the measure.

“I just think this is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money,” he said. “I think it’s a shot at the prior administration that had healthy financials and won a number of awards each year for the records we keep and our finances.”

In December, the Town of Huntington received its 17th consecutive certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.  The nonprofit professional association serving nearly 18,000 government financial professionals across North America, had reviewed the town’s comprehensive financial report for the year ending Dec. 31, 2016.

I just think this is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money.”
— Mark Cuthbertson

Councilman Eugene Cook (R), who sponsored the audit resolution, denied that it was a strike against former Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) and his practices, but rather a way to provide for a fresh start.

“Any business owner knows if they are buying a new business and going into a new business, they want to check all the records,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Cuthbertson suggested given the lengthy time and funds it would require for the state to audit the town, the new administration and town officials would be better served by studying the town’s yearly internal audits performed by an outside contractor.

Cook sponsored a similar resolution in 2012 calling for state review, but it failed to gain the board’s approval. Petrone then offered a revised resolution that was approved, and ultimately resulted in a 2013 audit conducted by the state comptroller.

The 2013 audit report, which reviewed the town’s finances from Jan. 1, 2011, to May 31, 2012, found issues with the town’s ability to track overtime hours and paid leave for town employees adequately.

“We found that the town may have higher payroll costs than necessary because town officials did not monitor and control these costs,” states the 2013 audit’s summary findings.

Any business owner knows if they are buying a new business and going into a new business, they want to check all the records.”
— Gene Cook

The state comptroller’s office also found the town was awarding contracts to attorneys without going through the standard bidding process and then paid without providing detailed invoices in some cases. Recommendations were made and discussed between state and Huntington officials on corrective actions to be made.

“While serving as an affirmation of the policies that have helped Huntington maintain its AAA bond rating, we also appreciate the audit’s insight on how to make Huntington’s government operate even more efficiently,” Petrone had said in his response to the 2013 audit. “We will consider changes to implement the recommendations we have not already put into place.”

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D), who worked for the town prior to 2013 and was sworn in to sit on the town board this month, voted in favor of requesting the state comptroller’s office perform an audit, though she said the measure was not necessary.

“I welcome an audit, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” the councilwoman said. “If there is one, I think it will prove we run a tight ship.”

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said the resolution merely sends a letter to the state comptroller’s office to review the town’s financials “if they feel it is necessary,” to indicate the town would be both willing and cooperative in the process.

6,000-square-foot home would be built on Cuba Hill Road in Greenlawn

A conceptual rendering of the proposed K.I.D.S. Plus adult group home in Greenlawn. Photo from Facebook

By Sara-Megan Walsh

A Northport advocate and Cuba Hill Road residents will have additional time to reach an understanding over a proposed Greenlawn adult home.

Huntington Town Board voted to unanimously Jan. 3 to extend the time to make a decision on whether K.I.D.S. Plus Inc. should receive a special use permit to operate an adult home off Cuba Hill Road for those with physical and developmental disabilities age 21 and over.

Dozens of residents have spoken up with concerns about the proposed 6,000 square-foot building since the town’s Oct. 17 public hearing, citing concerns about traffic, landscaping, overall size of the home and density of group homes in the area.

“The homes tend not to be very large; the properties are large, that’s why we like to live there,” said Taylor McLam in October, a Cuba Hill Road homeowner who said his residence is approximately 1,200 square feet by comparison. “Seven times the size of my house seems a little much.”

Cuba Hill resident John Wilson presented the town with a petition signed by approximately 30 residents at their Jan. 3 meeting.

“One of the conditions is it shouldn’t change the character of the neighborhood,” he said. “This neighborhood is a section of Cuba Hill Road between Manor and Little Plains Road, that isn’t very built up. The houses are generally on more than an acre.”

A conceptual sketch of the interior layout of K.I.D.S. Plus proposed Greenlawn home for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. Rendering from K.I.D.S. Plus.

K.I.D.S. Plus founder Tammie Murphy Topel, a Northport resident, said she has hosted two community meetings since October 2017 to hear and address the Greenlawn residents’ concerns, in addition to one-on-one meetings. Based on their feedback, Murphy Topel said she’s made revisions to her proposed building plans.

“We want to know what’s going on in the community, we want to be good neighbors,” she said. “We don’t want to be adversarial in any way.”

One of the most cited issues, according to Murphy Topel, was the appearance of the originally planned 26-foot-wide driveway for vehicles. After speaking with Huntington officials, changes have been made to narrow that to 20 feet, the width of a standard two-car
garage, according to Murphy Topel.

She said significant work has been put into the landscaping of the outside of the building, sharing an artistic rendering showing a variety of indigenous trees planted postconstruction to help obscure view of the building from Cuba Hill Road and its neighbors. The outdoor lighting will feature gooseneck barn lamps to direct the light downward instead of out, according to
Murphy Topel, with some subtle ground lighting along the driveway.

Murphy Topel hopes to share these new renderings and changes with concerned Greenlawn residents at a community meeting set for Jan. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Harborfields Public Library. She said she has invited all town board members, town planning officials and any residents.

One thing she won’t consider is downsizing the 6,000-square-foot size of the home featuring suites for eight individuals, she said, which is all one level.

“These are people with disabilities looking at this as a forever home,” Murphy Topel said. “We are looking into the future when there will be ambulatory issues. We don’t want them to be navigating stairs.”

Even the K.I.D.S. Plus founder had to admit though, the parcel she purchased  on Cuba Hill Road is less than ideal for constructing the home, due to its hilly nature, the amount of grading and retaining walls that will be required.

“By designation in the [town] code, we have to have a two-acre piece of property and in the town of Huntington, there’s not a whole lot of two-acre pieces of property that are affordable,” Murphy Topel said. “If someone else can find me a two-acre piece of property for $400,000, I would take it, flip this land and build elsewhere.”