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Town of Smithtown

Simple Good in Port Jefferson offers zero waste and sustainable products. Photo by David Luces

Millions of people around the world demanded action from world leaders on climate change as part of the Global Climate Strike Sept. 20. The protests have put the ongoing crisis back in the forefront. 

Recently, New York lawmakers aimed to tackle the climate change issue head on, as they passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a bill that will aggressively target greenhouse gas emissions in the state. On Long Island, there are plans for two offshore wind projects, located off the East End and South Shore. The wind farms will provide close to 1,700 megawatts of energy, and are expected to power more than 1 million homes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has mandated 9,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2035. 

 

Simple Good in Port Jefferson sells items made to be reusable or nontoxic to the environment. Photo from Melanie Gonzalez

While those goals are in the distant future, there are still things the average person can do on their own to help in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation. 

“It all comes to educating people and making sure they are aware of these issues,” said Melanie Gonzalez, owner of Simple Good at 35 Chandler Square in Port Jefferson which offers a number of sustainable and zero waste items. 

Gonzalez said the inspiration for the store came after buying plastic toys for years for her son, Julian, when she noticed the toys would break easily and she was left with tons of plastic packaging. 

“I was like, ‘What happens to all this plastic and where does it go?’” she said. “I was totally ignorant … but once I learned the facts [on plastic waste], it was life changing.”

Since then, Gonzalez has been an advocate of reducing plastic waste and protecting the environment. She believes Long Island has moved in the right direction on climate change and plastic reduction, but it may also come down to changing people’s habits and behaviors. 

The Rocky Point resident said it could be as simple as switching your plastic toothbrush with alternative that is made out of bamboo, which is more cost effective and in turn better for the environment. 

Gonzalez said everybody should avoid single-use plastic items and recommended using your own utensils when ordering takeout food. She also spoke on the importance of composting and recycling. 

“People are frustrated about recycling,” she said. “Long Island isn’t the easiest place to recycle.”

Last year, the towns of Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington had a rude awakening about their recycling practices when China announced it would cut its intake of U.S. recyclables by a huge margin. Municipalities across the nation were affected. In just one example, Brookhaven Town has moved back to asking residents to separate their garbage.

Gonzalez said she remains optimistic that the climate change movement on the Island is on the right track. 

A non toxic dishwashing bar that is sold at Simple Good in Port Jeff. Image from Melanie Gonzalez

Elisabeth Van Roijen, vice president of the Sierra Club at Stony Brook University, said Long Island is a much better place environmentally than it has been in the past. 

With about 60 other SBU students, she attended the Global Climate Strike rally in New York City. The Sierra Club at SBU helps students gain experience in political activism as well as experience the outdoors first hand.   

“The experience as a whole was incredible,” she said. 

The senior at SBU said the plans for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and offshore wind is something she is hopeful for. 

“The only problem is that it takes time, but having a goal is good because it pushes us to achieve results faster,” Van Roijen said. 

The chemical engineering major added that getting to those goals will need behavior and culture changes. 

“We have to start teaching these things at a younger age, as it is much harder to break out of habits when you get older,” she said. “It comes down to being more mindful.”

The Town of Smithtown recoups $222,000 in losses from V. Garofalo Carting after sentencing with restitution in a plea agreement. Photo from the Town of Smithtown

A Smithtown garbage contractor has been sentenced for defrauding the Town of Smithtown for $222,000.

The scheme entailed illegally passing off over the course of several years consumer waste from locations across Long Island as commercial waste generated by businesses in the Town of Smithtown. 

“These defendants were stealing money from the taxpayers in the Town of Smithtown and from their own hardworking employees,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) at a Sept. 20 press event following the sentencing.

Mario Garofalo, 61, of East Northport, and his cousin Robert “Bobby” Garofalo, 64, of Kings Park, each pleaded guilty to felony charges May 13 for attempted enterprise corruption. The corporate entity, V. Garofalo Carting Inc., also pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption. The three defendants were sentenced by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William J. Condon to conditional discharges, which include restitution payments of $222,000 to the Town of Smithtown. The case also found that the business had violated prevailing wage laws and was ordered to pay $32,000 to underpaid company employees.

“That’s $222,000 in residents tax dollars that these defendants pocketed for no reason other than their own greed.”

— Tim Sini

The Garofalo attorney did not respond to a telephone request for comment. Details in the plea agreement show that the company forfeited $1.1 million in cash plus assets that include a front end loader and a metal container. Payments were made to the town from that forfeiture.  The remaining assets were used to cover court costs and other public safety initiatives. 

The case, according to the DA, was an extremely complex investigation and prosecution. 

In 1990, New York State ordered most Long Island landfills closed, according to the town. Consequently, the town has paid Covanta Waste Management for the disposal of commercial waste from certain businesses operating within the town. To be acceptable, the commercial waste must be generated from known businesses within the town, registered by unique accounts with the town, and the registered businesses must pay fees and receive a unique medallion identifying the establishment as part of the plan. Carting companies, including Garofalo Carting, submit a manifest each time Smithtown commercial waste is brought to Covanta, attesting to the contents.

The investigation revealed that the Garofalos and their company repeatedly disposed of waste at Covanta’s facility in East Northport that was collected throughout Long Island from their customers, including through roll-off containers, then falsely attesting that the waste was solely Town of Smithtown commercial waste. 

In total, the investigation found that the Garofalo corporation unlawfully avoided paying $222,000 in fees, which were instead paid by the town as a result of the scheme.

“That’s $222,000 in residents tax dollars that these defendants pocketed for no reason other than their own greed,” Sini said. 

The defendants profited from the scheme by falsifying business records, including their garbage disposal manifests, and submitting them to the Town of Smithtown for payment, the DA stated. The defendants also profited from the fees collected from their private customers for both garbage pickup as well as roll-off container rentals, according to the DA.

“Today’s verdict is the product of an intricate intergovernmental investigation, which was exceptionally well litigated,” said town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R). 

During the course of the investigation, the Town of Smithtown also referred to the District Attorney’s Office the issue of prevailing wage claims by employees of Garofalo Carting. 

With the criminal enterprise effectively shut down, the DA said justice has now been served for Smithtown residents.

“Enterprise corruption cases are often extremely complex, and certainly require a lot of hard work and dedication by investigators and prosecutors, but our office is determined,” Sini said. “We are committed to dedicating resources and utilizing innovative strategies to seek justice in each and every case, and that’s exactly what was done here today.”

“Today’s verdict is the product of an intricate intergovernmental investigation, which was exceptionally well litigated.”

— Ed Wehrheim

This case was prosecuted by county Criminal Investigations Division Chief Megan O’Donnell and Assistant District Attorney Lucie Kwon, of the county Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau.

“I would like to commend the detectives who worked diligently on this case and I hope our strong partnership with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office sends a message that fraudulent business practices will not be tolerated in Suffolk County,” said county Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.

The Town of Smithtown’s six-year contract with Garofalo Carting, which was from 2014 to 2020, is now void, according to the supervisor’s press office. The Town Board has instead hired National Waste Services, of Bay Shore, to replace services for garbage pickup at its Sept. 3 meeting. National Waste Services recently purchased Garofalo Carting and has retained the Garofalo trucks and employees, according to Smithtown’s Attorney Matthew Jakubowski. 

The town paid $2.1 million to Garofalo Carting in 2018 for its services, which included garbage  pickup for six of the 12 solid waste districts in the town. The contracts are based on weight of waste collected annually. 

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The Town of Smithtown, in collaboration with the New York Blood Center, will host a community blood drive at the Smithtown Landing Country Club, 495 Landing Ave., Smithtown on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donors will receive a coupon for a sandwich or salad from McDonalds. Refreshments and snacks will be provided as well. To register, call 631-360-7626.

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

With weekend heat expected to reach the high 90’s plus humidity that could make it feel like well over 100 degrees, towns across the North Shore are offering ways for residents to help beat the heat.

Brookhaven

Brookhaven town is offering extended hours for pools and beaches for the weekend of July 20 through 21.

The Centereach and Holtsville town pools will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Meanwhile all beaches including:

  • Cedar Beach – Harbor Beach Road, Mount Sinai
  • Corey Beach – Corey Avenue,, Blue Point
  • Shirley Beach – Grandview Avenue., Shirley (spray park)
  • Shoreham Beach – North Country Road, Shoreham
  • West Meadow Beach – 100 Trustees Road, Stony Brook (spray park)
  • Webby’s Beach – Laura Lee Drive, Center Moriches

Will be open until 7 p.m. both days.

More information can be found at: https://www.brookhavenny.gov/216/Parks-Recreation

Smithtown

On Friday,  July 19,  the Smithtown Senior Center will operate as a cooling station until 5 p.m. The Public Safety with support staff from the Smithtown Senior Citizens Department and Senior Transportation to operate the Senior Citizens Center as a cooling center, for seniors without air conditioning over the weekend. 

All residents are advised to take extra precautions for themselves, elderly family members, children and pets for the duration of the heat watch. 

“It’s  going to be dangerously hot over the weekend,” Supervisor Ed Wehrheim said in a release. “ We want to ensure the health and quality of life for our elderly residents… It is with this in mind, that our Public Safety Department has made special arrangements to make sure our seniors have a cool place to enjoy the weekend.” 

Seniors can make arrangements ahead of time by contacting the Senior Citizens Department today or tomorrow at (631) 360-7616. After 5 p.m. Friday, arrangements to use the senior center should be made so by calling Public Safety at 631-360-7553. If a senior citizen does not have transportation, the public safety department said it will make travel arrangements at the time of the call. Residents are asked to check on elderly neighbors and pass along this information ahead of the weekend. 

Huntington

The Town of Huntington is offering extended hours at its Elwood spray park and Dix Hills pool.

Extended hours at the Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park at Elwood Park on Cuba Hill Road are as follows, with weather-permitting: 

  • Friday, July 19: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours due to camp programming at the park)
  • Saturday, July 20: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 21: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The park will be waiving the Recreation Photo ID Card requirement for Town residents only for the weekend heat wave, though residents must show another form photo ID proving residence to enter the spray pad.

Otherwise, the Dix Hills Park Pool, located at 575 Vanderbilt Parkway, are now:

  • Friday, July 19: 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours due to scheduled swimming lessons at the pool)
  • Saturday, July 20: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 21: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Non-residents accompanied by a town resident may use the pool by paying the daily Non-ID Card holder fee.

 Pool Admission Fees with Recreation Photo ID Card, are children (under 13) – $5; teens (13 – 17) – $6; adults (18 and older) – $7; sr. citizen / disabled – $4.50.

Pool Admission Fee (without Recreation Photo ID Card): $15 per person.

Pool Membership: Family Membership – $250/season; Individual Membership – $100/season; Sr. Citizen/Disabled – $50/season.

Otherwise, all Town Beaches will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (usual hours) during the weekend heatwave. These include:

  • Asharoken Beach, Eaton’s Neck Road, Northport
  • Centerport Beach, Little Neck Road, Centerport
  • Crab Meadow Beach, Waterside Avenue, Northport
  • Crescent Beach, Crescent Beach Drive, Huntington Bay
  • Fleets Cove Beach, Fleets Cove Road, Centerport
  • Gold Star Battalion Beach, West Shore Road, Huntington
  • Hobart Beach, Eaton’s Neck Road, Eaton’s Neck
  • Quentin Sammis/West Neck Beach, West Neck Road, Lloyd Harbor
  • Geissler’s Beach, (fishing only), Makamah Road, Northport

Blossom needs a home. Photo from Town of Smithtown

By Leah Chiappino

Blossom, who earned her name through a collar that she wore featuring a bright flower that stood against her silky white coat, is a playful 5-year-old pitbull mix. She arrived at Smithtown Animal Shelter on June 5, after a tumultuous journey. She was found whimpering in a park at wee hours in the morning by an off-duty police officer, essentially left for dead. She had likely been there for hours. 

Despite this, shelter workers say her sweet demeanor comes through immediately. She is very quick to warm up to people and incredibly affectionate. She would do best in a home with children older than 12 due to her size. As her history is unknown, it would be best to place her in a home without dogs or cats, as her behavior around them has not been observed. However, this is not to say her adopter could not adopt another dog, if the proper introductions were put in place. 

She is spayed, up to date on vaccines and ready to be adopted as soon as possible.

Blossom is one of 10 dogs in need of a home at Smithtown Animal Shelter, 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information or to arrange a visit call 631-360-7575.

Schedules match play championship

Smithtown Landing golf course gets a makeover. Photo from the Town of Smithtown

On July 8, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) and his fellow elected leaders joined with PGA master professional and golf Hall of Famer Michael Hebron and tournament organizer David Capo at the Smithtown Landing Country Club. Wehrheim announced registration was officially open for the first-ever Sarazen Par Three Match Play Championship, aka “The Squire”. The announcement came one week after major renovations and repairs to the golf club were completed.

Left to right: PGA Hall of Famer Michael Hebron, Director of Parks Joe Arico, Director of Recreation Tom McCaffery, Superintendent of Highways Robert Murphy, golf championship organizer David Capo, Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo, Director of Traffic Safety Mitch Crowley, Receiver of Taxes Deanna Varrichio, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy, Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, Councilwoman Lynne Nowick, Town Clerk Vincent Puleo and Councilman Tom Lohmann. Photo from Town of Smithtown

“Over the last year-and-a-half we set out to invest in smart improvements to the Smithtown community that would result in a return on investment for the taxpayer. The renovations just completed here at Landing speak to this point,” Wehrheim said. “I am very pleased to present the community with this exciting match play event, which will undoubtedly bring attention to the historic roots here at Landing and generate a weekend of new foot traffic for surrounding businesses.”

Recent renovations to the Smithtown Landing Country Club include repaved golf cart paths, entryway, roads, curbs and pavement, new starter shack, newly renovated halfway house, sidewalk areas, benches and fencing. An entryway island was redesigned and landscaped with plantings, signage and renovated crosswalks featuring all new traffic calming signs and lighting. Additionally,  ID cards have been instituted for the pool and golf course, which has already generated $6,000 in new revenue in two weeks. Building renovations are set to begin in the fall. The Smithtown Departments of Parks, Building and Grounds; Recreation; Traffic Safety and Highway were responsible for the completion of the work. 

“It’s been an honor for me to be here for many years and see the influence the town’s golf course has had on the community. To be a part of this team has been an opportunity for me to share what we can do with the community,” PGA Hall of Famer Michael Hebron said. “Children’s camps, children going off to play golf in college, children developing social and business skills through golf … to be a small part of the big picture here has been a real honor.”

This event is meant to honor the life of golf legend Gene Sarazen, known as “The Squire,” who helped to design the Par Three Course at the Smithtown Landing Country Club. Many golfers who have played on the course have said it is one of the most difficult par three courses they have played. 

“We embarked on a five-year project in the Town of Smithtown, and part of that is understanding the history … it’s a fascinating place,” said golf championship organizer David Capo. “After finding an old map, learning that the course weaves along the historic Culper Spy Ring … I came down to talk with Michael Hebron and his knowledge about the history of Smithtown Landing helped to inspire this event.”

The opening ceremony will take place on July 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the two-day championship running July 27 and July 28. Golfers at all skill levels (ages 16 and older) are invited to register for the 64 available spots in this 100 percent handicap par three match play championship, held on the Sarazen par three course. 

The opening ceremony will feature presentations by Wehrheim, Hebron and members of the Sarazen Family. Practice rounds are available by contacting the pro shop at 631-979-6534. 

Registration is $29 per golfer to enter the tournament. Tickets to attend the opening ceremony party are $25. Registration closes on July 20. 

Smithtown East celebrated the 2019 graduation June 26.

Thomas Fanning addressed the 2019 Smithtown West graduation as honorary speaker. While attending high school, Fanning participated in Italian Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society, robotics, pit orchestra and winter track. He will attend Stony Brook University studying computer science.

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An unexpected storm hit Long Island on Sunday, causing severe damage to areas within the township of Smithtown. Destructive straight-line winds up to 60 m.p.h. caused downed power lines with uprooted, fallen and large tree limbs causing multiple power outages in the area. The Town of Smithtown was one of the three towns in Suffolk County to be hit the hardest.

All emergency response units are still working to clean up and address the needs of the community. Residents who are still without power, or with spoiled food and tree debris have a number of resources available to them to ensure quality of life is restored before the holiday weekend.

“It was a fun day with the whole family, that quickly became frightening. I ran up to Main Street, Kings Park after the storm passed to survey trees on top of cars, power outages and to assess the damage,” said Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R). “I was very pleased to see Public Safety & the Highway Department were on scene shortly after… Residents without power, spoiled food to dispose of, or storm debris in need removal, are reminded to contact the appropriate departments so we can help get your home ready for the July 4th weekend. Please know we are working around the clock to cleanup in this unexpected event and we will not rest until your standard of living has been reinstated.”

Municipal Services Facility (MSF) will be open to residents who wish to dispose of spoiled food from the power outages, during regular business hours. Private garbage carters do not pick up waste on holidays, which includes Thursday, July 4. Residents with a larger than normal amount of garbage may wish to drop off solid waste to MSF which is located at 85 Old Northport Road in Kings Park.  Hours are from 7 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. five days a week. No hazardous waste will be accepted.

Tree and debris removal operations have been underway since the storm passed Sunday afternoon. While the highway department’s fleet continues efforts to remove all “right-of-way” town tree debris, residents should be mindful to place neatly piled branches, cut to no longer than 6 feet in length, at the roadside. Smaller branches should be tied and bundled.

“If you still have trees waiting to be picked up, please call the highway department with the address of the removal,” said Robert Murphy, Superintendent of Highways. “I would just ask that residents have patience as we get through the cleanup, after this unexpected storm. Our team is dealing with lots of landscapers dumping debris on the street, not adhering to the town code. This causes delays in our operations as we need to stop to cut large stumps and trees. However, We won’t stop until we’ve gotten to every call.”  –

The Smithtown Highway Department addressed approximately 250 to 300 fallen or uprooted trees reported to the Department. That number is expected to increase as cleanup is still underway.

 Storm Damage Totals:

According to PSEG Long Island, over 17,000 residents in the Commack and Hauppauge areas experienced power outages. The majority of those customers now have power. On Tuesday, July 2, there were approximately 1,800 PSEG customers in the Town of Smithtown affected by outages, primarily in Commack. As of this morning ,July 3, that number has been reduced to 80 customers affected. PSEG estimates that power will be restored to every customer in Smithtown by 7PM this evening.

Last night, PSEG briefly shut down power in the Pickwick Drive area (between Veterans Memorial Highway and Jericho Turnpike) and along Harned Road and Wyandanch Boulevard, in order to cut down damaged trees leaning on power lines.

Power Outages – PSEG Information: View PSEG Long Island’s outage map Click Here

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

To register, have your account number available and text REG to PSEGLI (773454)

Downed wires should always be considered “live.” Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything contacting the wire. To report a downed wire, call PSEG Long Island’s 24-hour Electric Service number: 1-800-490-0075.

Tree Debris, Flooding or Road Concerns: To report tree debris for pickup, flooding and other storm related conditions along the roads, please contact the Highway Department at (631) 360-7500.

Stranded Vehicles: If there is an emergency, please dial 911 immediately. All non life-threatening calls can be directed to the Department of Public Safety by calling (631) 360-7553.

Suffolk 311: Suffolk County 311 is a central call center available to residents who do not know which number to call for any non-emergency. Residents can reach the 311 line Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or leave messages after hours.

Animals & Family Pets: Outdoor animals should be sheltered indoors for the duration of any storm. To report animals in distress, strays or other loose domestic or wild animals please call (631) 360-7575.

Elderly Neighbors & Special Needs individuals: Always check on your neighbors living with disabilities, special needs or senior citizens. Make sure they have an emergency phone, plenty of water, food and blankets. Ask if they have someone to call in the event of an emergency.

Photo by Mark Stevens

Residents gather at the marina in Nissequogue River State Park for the 2018 Regatta on the River. This year’s launch is planned for July 13 at the same location. A family barbecue and picnic is scheduled after the paddle. High school students help to coordinate the event and encourage residents to join in to enjoy all the park has to offer. Photo from the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation

For the fourth year running, Kings Park students are working to bring the Smithtown community together to raise funds for the upkeep and improvement of Nissequogue River State Park. All residents are invited to participate July 13 in the annual canoe, kayak and paddleboard regatta at the park’s South Marina at 799 Saint Johnland Road in Kings Park. 

Residents gather at the marina in Nissequogue River State Park for the 2018 Regatta on the River. This year’s launch is planned for July 13 at the same location. A family barbecue and picnic is scheduled after the paddle. High school students help to coordinate the event and encourage residents to join in to enjoy all the park has to offer. Photo from the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation

The Nissequogue River State Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the park for future generations, is coordinating the event with students. The event, called Regatta on the River, is sponsored by the Reichert family, owners of the East Northport and Fort Salonga IGA supermarkets, and will feature both a competitive 10-mile race that begins at 9 a.m. and a leisurely five-mile excursion that begins at 9:30 a.m. This year the event includes a barbecue and picnic. 

Three co-presidents of the foundation’s student board, Emily Dinan, Caleigh Lynch and Juliana Quigley, have worked together to organize this year’s event. Last year, the regatta event raised a total of more than $2,500. Lynch, a senior at St. Anthony’s High School in Melville, said the student board makes decisions about the regatta for the organization, which instills leadership qualities among board members.   

“Knowing that our involvement with the board is making a difference right here in my own community is an amazing feeling,” she said. “It will be amazing to see all of our hard work from January to July go into full effect.”

Dinan, a senior at Kings Park High School, said being on the board allows her and others to give families in the community a fun activity to do and helps them raise money to beautify and help clean up the park. 

“We are excited to see how big our event grows each year,” she said. “I love seeing new faces among the familiar ones as they gear up and get ready to go out on the river.”

In preparation for the event, the group files the necessary permits for the event, designs T-shirts and obtains event sponsors. Dinan said everyone is responsible with helping spread the word about its events. Quigley, also a senior at Kings High School, said it feels great to help maintain the park. 

“There comes a sense of pride in the work we’ve done to contribute to this jewel in our backyard,” she said. A third-generation resident, the senior said she has been visiting the park all her life since her grandparents took her there when she was young. 

Dinan said many people have told them they didn’t even know how big the park was or that there was so much you could do.  Last year, paddleboarders were included in the regatta for the first time, and the group hopes they can get even more participants this year. 

Lynch said the park often gets a bad reputation for being located on the waterfront portion of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center, stopping people from realizing how beautiful the park is. 

“I believe the park is one of Mother Nature’s greatest hits,” she said.  

All proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation for use in the park. To register for the many different options available for participation visit www.ourstatepark.com/4th-annual-regatta-on-the-river.

Aerial shot of the new solar array. Photo from anonymous

After the Izzo family leased their 26-acre Kings Park property to the Town of Smithtown for a landfill during the 1970s, the place was declared uninhabitable. Today, the site is revered as one of Long Island’s largest solar farms.

Izzo family leads Long Island into New York’s green energy future. Photo by Donna Deedy

The 4-megawatt project was showcased on June 20 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an event that unexpectedly coincided with New York State’s sweeping new clean energy legislation promising to become carbon neutral by 2050.

“It’s almost like we knew what we were doing,” said Tom Falcone, Long Island Power Authority CEO, who attended the event along with county and town elected officials. The achievement, he said, entailed a cooperative effort. “It took a village, a town, a state and the Izzo family.”

The state’s ambitious new energy plan renders the privately owned Kings Park solar farm a shining new example of what the future may look like with private landowners and non-developable property transformed to serve a public utilitarian purpose.

“It takes a lot of gambling but, wow, was this a good project,” said Paul Curran, founder of Wappinger Falls-based BQ Energy, a company committed to the sustainable redevelopment of environmentally contaminated sites known as brownfields. “Once you see it, people say it makes so much sense.” He expects the site to inspire additional projects. 

Curran first approached the Izzo family with the idea of using their property for a solar site in 2013. RECOM Solar leased the development rights from the family to construct the project. NextEra Energy Resources, which claims to be the world’s largest supplier of renewable energy took over in December 2018, when the site became operational. 

The solar project, which consists of 18,000 solar panels, created 50 jobs, mainly in the construction sector, according to Bryan Garner, NextEra’s director of communications. NextEra signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with LIPA, which will ultimately result in nearly $800,000 in revenue for Smithtown. That’s $33,000 per year for the first 15 years in payments in lieu of taxes and $296,000 in tax revenue for the final five years. 

The project will offset more than 4,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of removing 800 cars off the road. 

Unlike fossil fuel plants, the facility operates silently and requires very little maintenance. “We check it about four times a year, so it’s maintenance free,” said Aaron Benedict, who monitors the project for NextEra. His cellphone includes an application that remotely monitors the operation 24/7. 

Suffolk County and Smithtown government officials attended the event with Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) arriving in one of the town’s two all-electric vehicles. 

“We are all in with renewable and clean energy,” he said. The town, he said, expects to systematically transform the Old Northport Road corridor. The roof on its recycling center, which is located near the solar farm, is fitted with 50-kilowatt solar system and has a 10-kW wind turbine. The town is also discussing the development of a solar farm on the closed landfills, which could eliminate the town’s need to purchase electricity, according to Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s Environmental Protection director. Additional town projects are also under discussion and will be considered during the town’s 2020 budget process.

The financial terms of the arrangements between NextEra and the Izzo family remain confidential. 

“This is all about what good this site can do for years to come,” said Robert Izzo Jr, whose family has owned the property for decades.

PSEG reports that 161 MW of its energy supply is generated from renewable projects, mainly solar panels.