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Valerie Cartright

Tom Manuel leads the Jazz Loft Big Band on a bandstand at the loft, constructed from pieces of the original dance floor of New York’s famed Roseland Ballroom. Photo from The Jazz Loft

By John Broven

On May 21, Stony Brook Village reverberated to the sounds of a New Orleans-style street parade to mark the opening of The Jazz Loft at 275 Christian Ave. That happy day brought to reality the dreams of president and founder Tom Manuel.

“In the brief seven months the Jazz Loft has been open we’ve been able to accomplish the goals of our mission well ahead of schedule,” Manuel said. “Our performance calendar has presented some of the finest local, national and international artists; our educational programming has established our pre-college Jazz Institute in collaboration with Stony Brook University; and Our Young at Heart program has introduced wonderful music therapy events to people with memory loss.

“In addition to all of this our lecture series, family concerts, sponsored concert series and acquisitions and installations of jazz memorabilia, art, photography and more are ongoing and ever growing.”

Tom Manuel with children during The Creole Love Song: Operation Haiti! mission. Photo from The Jazz Loft

For establishing The Jazz Loft so quickly and effectively as a community resource, Manuel, a 37-year-old educator, historian and trumpet player, from St. James, is recognized by TBR News Media as a Person of the Year.

“Tom Manuel is a well-deserving nominee for Person of the Year,” Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said. “The Jazz Loft is an incredible gift to the 1st Council District. Tom’s passion for jazz has been transformed into a vivid, vibrant, collection of jazz history and a home for local talent, musicians and performances. In a short time, The Jazz Loft has become an incredible community space for art, history, culture and music.”

Visitors are able to view the loft’s museum exhibits featuring greats such as saxophonist Louis Jordan, the biggest African-American star of the 1940s and a massive influence on the ensuing rock ’n’ roll era; heartthrob blues and jazz crooner Arthur Prysock; upright bassist Lloyd Trotman, a prolific session musician who provided the bass line on Ben E. King’s anthem, “Stand by Me”; society bandleader Lester Lanin; and the seafaring vibraphonist and composer Teddy Charles.

Jean Prysock, of Searingtown, donated the memorabilia of her late husband Arthur Prysock, who played the top theaters and clubs from the 1940s onward and recorded for labels such as Decca, Mercury, Old Town and MGM-Verve. Why did she feel Manuel was worthy of support?

“He was young, he was enthusiastic, he was dedicated, he was sincere,” she said. “I first met him at a jazz bar in Patchogue. He led an 11-piece band, which sounded as if it could have played at New York’s Paramount Theatre.”

Apart from conducting bands, Manuel is an expert trumpet player, who credits among his inspirations Chet Baker, Warren Vache, Bobby Hackett, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Roy Eldridge. As an indication of the Jazz Loft’s authentic atmosphere, Manuel said the impressive three-tier bandstand was constructed from the original dance floor of the famed Roseland Ballroom on New York’s 52nd Street, adding, “It was an extreme labor of love, but certainly worth the effort.”

Manuel has directed a full program at The Jazz Loft while holding an adjunct post at Suffolk County Community College and a faculty position with Stony Brook University directing the jazz program of the Pre-College Music Division. If that’s not all, he has recently completed his doctorate, a DMA in jazz performance, at SBU and carried out charity work in Haiti.

“Tom is fully deserving of this award, not only for creating The Jazz Loft and making jazz available in our area, but also because of his remarkable spirit in bettering every community with which he engages,” Perry Goldstein, professor and chair at SBU’s Department of Music, said.

Tom Manuel (white hat at center) on opening day at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, on May 21 of this year. Photo by John Broven

“He motivated seven volunteers to go to Haiti with him after the recent hurricane, where they distributed 200 pairs of sneakers, clothing and school supplies purchased through donations. Tom radiates positive energy in everything he does,” Goldstein said.

Manuel readily acknowledges the help of others in giving liftoff to The Jazz Loft, including board members Laura Vogelsberg and Laura Stiegelmaier, many musicians and sponsors Harlan and Olivia Fischer who “donated our sound system, which is quite outstanding.” Manuel’s philosophy is summarized by the title of his well-received talk at the Three Village Community Trust’s annual celebration, held at The Jazz Loft in November: “Collaboration: The Art of Possibility.”

The jazz facility is housed in a historic building, comprising the old Stone Jug tavern and the former firehouse station, which accommodated the first museum in Stony Brook, founded in 1935 by real estate broker and insurance agent O.C. Lempfert. With the backing of Ward and Dorothy Melville, the museum was formally incorporated as the Suffolk Museum in 1939 before evolving into today’s The Long Island Museum. The renovated building, which was accorded landmark status by the Town of Brookhaven in September, is leased long term to The Jazz Loft by The Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

“Tom Manuel is a unique individual who was born into a generation of musicians steeped in rock ’n’ roll, rap and new wave,” Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO, said. “I got to know Tom because of a[n] … article about a ‘young man’ with a house full of artifacts and memorabilia relating to the jazz era. The Ward Melville Heritage Organization owned a vacant building … and Tom had a collection in need of a home. A year later The Jazz Loft opened in Stony Brook, where Tom shares his love of jazz with like-minded musicians and fans. Tom is truly a role model for the concept of accomplishing your dream through passion and dedication. We are proud to welcome The Jazz Loft and Dr. Tom Manuel into our community.”

Jeff and Laura Long tie a ribbon on a tree marked for removal in Stony Brook. Photo by Donna Newman

By Donna Newman

Residents of the M-section of Strathmore houses in Stony Brook would like to know where things stand as far as their sycamore trees, are concerned. Will they be able to keep the trees, and get their roads paved?

They said they have been told Brookhaven Highway Supervisor Dan Losquadro’s (R) office will only say that the project is “on hold” until the re-evaluation is completed. Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said she has received no potential schedule date for a meeting she plans to hold after the review has taken place, to allow the highway department to explain their re-evaluation with the chance for residents to respond.

“The need for road maintenance and repair must also be weighed against the quality and character of neighborhoods that would be impacted by the loss of trees…”

–Steve Englebright

A spokesperson for Losquadro’s office said Wednesday that the re-evaluation is ongoing and the office has received quite a few phone calls, some from residents who want the trees on their property taken down. She said they will be in touch with Cartright’s office and will work together moving forward once a plan is in place.

The reassessment of the tree removal was announced in a letter to affected M-section residents sent from the supervisor’s office, dated Aug. 26, and reiterated by Deputy Supervisor Steve Tricarico at the Brookhaven Town Board meeting Sept. 1. Since then, there have been no updates as to the progress of the review.

M-section resident Patricia Woods described a telephone conversation she had with Losquadro in which she said, “He was very nice. He said he ‘just wants to do the job the right way. [He doesn’t want to be] repairing the streets if they’re not done correctly the first time.’ I said to him, ‘if your idea is to do it the right way, you have to look at the whole picture, because [cutting down all the trees], that’s not the right way to do it.’”

Sunday morning at 10 a.m., homeowners gathered on Mariner Street, where Woods initiated another action to help call attention to their plight. At the suggestion of a friend, Deena Brando, who doesn’t reside in the M-section, but has empathy for the cause, Woods began tying green ribbons on the trees marked for removal on her street.

3-year-old Liam Fink and his brother, 6-year-old Tyler Fink, take spools of ribbon to adorn trees. Photo by Donna Newman
3-year-old Liam Fink and his brother, 6-year-old Tyler Fink, take spools of ribbon to adorn trees. Photo by Donna Newman

Spools of green ribbon were distributed to neighbors who gathered on the dead-end street Sunday morning. Petitions were available for homeowners to sign, indicating their opposition to the proposed tree removal. And after signing, M-section residents fanned out to the affected streets to encircle all the marked trees with green ribbons.

The organizers of this grass roots campaign have reached out over the last month to every official and organization they could think of to find help. They set up a Facebook page titled “Save the Stony Brook Street Trees” to facilitate communication to keep residents and others who are interested apprised of developments.

Many residents contacted Assemblyman Steve Englebright’s office (D-Setauket), because of his well-known stance on environmental issues.

In a letter to Losquadro dated Sept. 22, Englebright wrote, “Safe and well-maintained roads are vitally important to our communities and your department should be commended for striving to get the most out of the tax dollars spent on our roads. However, the need for road maintenance and repair must also be weighed against the quality and character of neighborhoods that would be impacted by the loss of trees, including the ecological benefits, aesthetics, property values, and health aspects that these mature street trees provide.”

Despite the fact that Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) informed the residents who attended the Sept. 1 board meeting that the highway superintendent is an autonomous, elected official who does not report to the supervisor, M-section homeowners plan to attend the Sept. 30 board meeting to continue to press for resolution of this issue.

Sisters Denise Pianforte and Heather Richards received a new roof on their Port Jefferson Station home in February, as part of Port Jefferson Station-based A-1 Roofing & Siding's partnership with the No Roof Left Behind project. Photo from A-1 Roofing & Siding

By Rebecca Anzel

Whenever Denise Pianforte saw one of her neighbors getting a new roof installed, she hoped to soon be able to afford one as well. The Port Jefferson Station home she lived in with her sister, Heather Richards, was 60 years old.

Pianforte saw a flier on her church’s bulletin board for a program that advertised a free roof for a Suffolk County family in need. “I always pray to God to help me find a way to get the money [for a new roof],” she wrote in the online nomination form. She added that even with her and her sister each working two jobs at over 50 hours a week, it looked like the day would never come. “Seems like my only hope would be to win the lottery.”

Sisters Denise Pianforte and Heather Richards received a new roof on their Port Jefferson Station home as part of Port Jefferson Station-based A-1 Roofing & Siding's partnership with the No Roof Left Behind project. Photo from A-1 Roofing & Siding
Sisters Denise Pianforte and Heather Richards received a new roof on their Port Jefferson Station home as part of Port Jefferson Station-based A-1 Roofing & Siding’s partnership with the No Roof Left Behind project. Photo from A-1 Roofing & Siding

She did not win the lottery, but she did win the new roof. A-1 Roofing & Siding, a family owned and operated contractor in Port Jefferson Station, installed it Feb. 6.

Maria Malizia and her three brothers, who took over running the business after their father retired, became involved in the national No Roof Left Behind program last year.

No Roof Left Behind provides contractors with the necessary tools and resources to construct a free roof for a local family in need. The program was founded in 2009 by Jay and Dena Elie, the owners of a Detroit roofing firm called Ridgecon Construction.

Malizia said that they were immediately interested in the opportunity to help deserving families in Suffolk County.

“We’ve been in the community for decades and were just happy that we were finally able to give back a little,” Malizia said. “When we heard about the program, we said to ourselves, how could we not do this.”

After helping Denise Pianforte and Heather Richards, Malizia said the immediate gratification let them know they needed to continue their involvement with No Roof Left Behind.

“They were really grateful, excited and relieved that they were safe under a new roof and didn’t have to worry about any leaks in the future,” Maria Malizia said.

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said No Roof Left Behind is providing the community an important service.

“We are fortunate to live in an area such as Port Jefferson Station where residents and local businesses strongly believe in giving back to their community,” Cartright said. “I am sure the program will have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of the 2017 winners and I commend A1 Roofing for their sponsorship of the program.”

A-1 Roofing & Siding is a family owned and operated contractor in Port Jefferson Station. Photo from A-1 Roofing & Siding
A-1 Roofing & Siding is a family owned and operated contractor in Port Jefferson Station. Photo from A-1 Roofing & Siding

The importance of community support is not lost on the organization.

“This is a nice way for contractors to engage the community and let them know they’re one of the good guys,” said Dena Elie, who is a member development director for the program. “No Roof Left Behind helps the community to recognize you as a shareholder there, and someone who genuinely cares and wants to support you locally.”

More than 247 roofs have been installed by 60 contractors in more than 27 states and provinces since the program’s founding.

As a participating contractor, A-1 Roofing pays an annual subscription fee to join No Roof Left Behind. That gives it access to the outreach and promotional materials Elie created, and designates the firm as the sole participating contractor in Suffolk County. It is one of two in New York — the other, Marshall Exteriors, is located in Newark.

Nominations for this year’s recipient, are open until Oct. 31 for a local family deserving of a new roof. Malizia said community members are invited to submit photos and a brief paragraph to the local No Roof Left Behind website.

Then, the roofing contractor will narrow the list down to four finalists. Malizia said A-1 considers whose roof is least able to survive the winter months. When the finalists are revealed, residents can vote from Nov. 14 to Dec. 16 for the winner, who will be announced on Dec. 23.

A-1 Roofing & Siding is a family owned and operated contractor in Port Jefferson Station. Photo from A-1 Roofing & Siding
A-1 Roofing & Siding is a family owned and operated contractor in Port Jefferson Station. Photo from A-1 Roofing & Siding

Currently, there are four nominees — two from Sound Beach, one from Amityville and the other Nesconset.

The day the new roof is installed is usually a huge celebration, Elie said. She encourages contractors to bring members of the community to meet the winning family. A-1 has not yet set a date for the installation, but it will be using materials donated by General Aniline & Film (GAF) and delivered to the home by Allied Building Products, both national No Roof Left Behind sponsors.

“Roofing contractors are a group of big-hearted fellows,” Elie said. “They grow to care for the folks they’ve put roofs on for, and I think one of the most rewarding things to see is a sense of community develop.”

Malizia said her family is looking forward to helping more Suffolk County families.

“We all know how difficult it is to survive when you don’t have a safe roof — it’s a constant worry,” she said. “We’re going to keep participating as long as we’re able.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Robert de Zafra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rebecca Anzel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Kara Hahn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incident raises questions about high occupancy and code enforcement

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

By Rebecca Anzel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Ed Romaine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donna Newman contributed reporting.

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Porta-potties are located outside the locked bathroom facilities at the popular Stony Brook beach.Photo by Rebecca Anzel

By Rebecca Anzel

The absence of functioning public bathroom facilities has caused a problem at a popular Stony Brook beach.

Because the health department does not permit swimming where there are no restrooms, there will be no lifeguards on duty this season, town spokesman Jack Krieger said.

A recently added sign warns beachgoers to swim at their own risk, due to the lack of lifeguards.

Stony Brook Beach is crowded in the summer with families, children and dogs, village resident Nicole Mullen said. She goes to this beach on Sand Street four to five times a week.

Now that the bathrooms are closed, though, she said some beachgoers are less than thrilled.

Mullen said she is lucky to live nearby, but for the typical folks that frequent the beach, the nearest public bathroom is in Fratelli’s Italian Eatery — about a 10-minute walk away.

“It feels like the town put so much money into West Meadow Beach, upgrading it, and they cut back here,” — Nicole Mullen

The Town of Brookhaven did not open the bathrooms at Stony Brook Beach, which is commonly referred to as Sand Street beach by residents, because findings in an engineer’s report commissioned by the town found structural and plumbing issues with the 50-year-old building, said town spokesman Kevin Molloy. The beach will remain open all summer, albeit without lifeguards.

“I have been working with the Parks Department to address the issues with the bathroom facilities at Stony Brook Beach as it is of great importance for our community to have access to our beautiful Town beaches,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said in an email. “I have, and will continue to, explore the options for reinstating lifeguards with [Brookhaven parks commissioner] Morris.”

The Town placed two porta-potties outside the existing, closed bathroom structure, Cartright added. Though Mullen said the town does not clean them.

It is unclear when the beach’s restrooms will be renovated. Molloy said the estimated cost of the work is a minimum of $400,000. Parks Commissioner Ed Morris is just beginning the budget process for 2017.

“It feels like the town put so much money into West Meadow Beach, upgrading it, and they cut back here,” Mullen said. She added that the restrooms look the same now as they did when she worked at Stony Brook Beach in the 1980s.

Her friend Michelle Roach agreed. “This beach is a little hidden treasure,” she said, adding that she prefers Stony Brook Beach because it is free to park in its lot. There is a $5 charge to park at West Meadow Beach, which is about 3.5 miles away.

“Moving forward, I will continue to work with Parks to address repairs to the bathrooms with the expectation that they will be opened as soon as possible,” Cartright said in an email.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, right. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) is continuing her Community Connect Campaign to stay in contact with residents and will hold mobile office hours in which she will meet with constituents in different locations throughout her council district so that they don’t have to travel all the way to Town Hall.

The first mobile office will be at New Village Recreation Center at 20 Wireless Road in Centereach on April 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The councilwoman will go to the Setauket Fire Department station at 394 Nicolls Road in East Setauket on May 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From there, on June 16, she will head to Comsewogue Public Library at 170 Terryville Road in Port Jefferson Station from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Those who want to stay informed through email can sign up for both emergency alerts and updates on town-related business affecting the 1st Council District by visiting that district’s page under the “elected officials” section of the town’s website, at www.brookhaven.org, and completing the “Join Councilwoman Cartright’s Mailing List” form.

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Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, Brookhaven Historian Barbara Russell, Kerri Glynn, Old Field Farms President Sally Lynch, Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn pose for a photo in front the clubhouse. Photo by Giselle Barkley

In the early 1930s, Setauket’s Old Field Club was a recreational hotspot that brought community members together for various events or programs. Now 87 years later, the club is still a reminder of Three Village’s past — especially now that it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) designated Wednesday, March 9, as Old Field Club and Farm Day in the town in honor of that club’s newfound status. He joined Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Brookhaven Historian Barbara Russell, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), club member Kerri Glynn and Old Field Farm President Sally Lynch this week to pay tribute to the site and look ahead.

While some clubs have had its setbacks with fires, the Old Field Club’s clubhouse is still the original structure designed by architect Richard Haviland Smythe. Smythe didn’t only design the clubhouse but also the beach cabanas — his original court layout included a plan for the cabanas, which was modified due to storm damage and increased demand for cabanas.

Glynn helped to start the effort to register the club, its farm and the nearby beach and cabanas around three years ago. She said she saw other historically designated buildings and clubs throughout the county with similar stories, making the Old Field Club on West Meadow Road an obvious choice.

“I looked around at various other clubs like [Old Field Club] in the area, like the St. George club and Nissequogue club, and they had both had fires that destroyed their buildings,” Glynn said. “It occurred to me that [Old Field Club] was a very special building.”

Cartright, who represents the town’s historic 1st District, said the designation was not only appropriate, but also necessary for preserving the North Shore’s character.

“The Old Field Club, farm and out buildings reflect the past of the Three Village area all the way back to the 1930s,” Cartright said in an email. “The club continues to serve as a location for community gatherings nearly a century later.  It is a staple in our community.”

Glynn, who has been a member since 1977, added, “the preservation of the beach and cabanas is especially important in light of the loss of the West Meadow cottages.”

The cottages were also added to the register after they were destroyed in the early 2000s. Romaine said that members of the community felt the property should be a natural beach at the time.

The cottages as well as the club were part of the Old Field South, a property subdivision that was being established at the time.

“Having a beach, swimming, tennis club to augment the sale was very much apart of the social life in the 1920s and 1930s,” Russell said.

Members paid $50 per visit at the time to use the club and attend programs and events. Various events were open to all community members, including the North Shore ball. The ball, one of the most important social events at the time, was held at the Old Field Club. The club also organized a number of dances for teenagers, which attracted countless teens.

The Old Field farm grounds were also used for horse shows. The 13.2-acre parcel is divided into the main barn complex and the horse show grounds.

A schoolhouse was also built on the property but was not included in the National Register of Historic Places alongside the clubhouse, farm and beach and cabanas because the building is privately owned.

Although Long Island is bustling with historic sites like the club, Russell said sites must be at least 50-years-old and must have a clear important historic significance, which Old Field certainly satisfied.

Some sites like the Old Field Club have more than one qualification — the club was placed on the register for its social and agricultural significance. The clubhouse includes a large ballroom with four sets of French doors among other characteristics.

Romaine commended those involved, for helping preserve this historic landmark.

“The work done by our historian [and] by these individuals involved, has ensured that these structures [the clubhouse and farm] will forever remain as they are,” Romaine said. “They can be improved upon but they can’t be changed and this piece of history…will forever be with us and remind us of our past.”

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The Gentlemen’s Driving Park is currently overgrown and hidden, but will soon be restored. Photo by Elana Glowatz

By Elana Glowatz

Officials are on track to restore a piece of Long Island history, bringing an abandoned and forgotten horse-racing site back to life.

The Cumsewogue Historical Society has a ticket to the Gentlemen’s Driving Park from July 4, 1892. Photo by Elana Glowatz
The Cumsewogue Historical Society has a ticket to the Gentlemen’s Driving Park from July 4, 1892. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Brookhaven Town finished purchasing a swath of wooded land off of Canal Road in Terryville at the end of 2013, after Cumsewogue Historical Society President Jack Smith discovered the faint outline of the horse track and dug up information about what was once called the Gentlemen’s Driving Park. The town now owns the entire 11-acre site.

Today it’s an overgrown path hidden among trees, but the Gentlemen’s Driving Park used to be a place where Victorian Era bettors watched men race around the half-mile loop — counterclockwise — behind horses in carts called sulkies. It was part of a circuit of harness racing tracks in the Northeast, according to Smith, but likely fell into neglect with the rise of the automobile.

But cars have also helped keep the track viable: Smith previously reported that at least through the mid-1950s, kids raced jalopies around the track, preventing it from becoming completely overgrown.

Smith said on Monday the effort to restore and preserve the track is moving slowly, but there has been progress since the town finished acquiring the property. There are plans in place to clear the track to about 20 feet wide, although leaving larger trees in place, and to move up the southern curve of the oval, he said.

Jack Smith takes a closer look at a wrecked car on the Gentlemen's Driving Park track around the time he first discovered the forgotten historical spot. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Jack Smith takes a closer look at a wrecked car on the Gentlemen’s Driving Park track around the time he first discovered the forgotten historical spot. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Currently, a small PSEG Long Island facility cuts into that southern tip. Rather than moving the facility or leaving the track incomplete, the town would retrace that small section of track, slightly shortening the loop but completing the oval so as to make a walkable path for visitors.

“The town is in the process of working on the track to restore the track as closely to the original footprint as possible,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said in a statement this week. “There will be some adjustments needed and the town is actively working on that.”

If all goes according to plan, the councilwoman said, the restored track could open late in the summer or early in the fall.

“The important thing is that it will be an oval,” Smith said Monday. “We want to keep some of the historical integrity.”

His goal is to put informational signs around the track that will teach people about its history.

The Gentlemen’s Driving Park is currently overgrown and hidden, but will soon be restored. Photo by Elana Glowatz
The Gentlemen’s Driving Park is currently overgrown and hidden, but will soon be restored. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The driving park was adjacent to well-known horse trainer Robert L. Davis’ Comsewogue stables, now the Davis Professional Park. After hearing rumors of such a track in Terryville, Smith discovered it by looking at an aerial image of the neighborhood taken during the winter, when the foliage was less dense. He saw the faint shape in the woods near Canal Road and went walking in to find it. Since that visit, he has uncovered a broken pair of Victorian-era field glasses near the finish line on the track’s west side, which may have been dropped and trampled. He also has a ticket from a racing event on July 4. 1892.

Once restoration work is completed, Cartright said the town hopes to work with the historical society and the community “to hold a kickoff event to highlight the track and its history.”

For his part, the historical society president has said he would like to hold a fair in which people will re-enact the late 1800s horse races with vintage sulkies or participate in a carriage parade.

“We can’t be happier that it’s been preserved,” Smith said.

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