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TBR Staff

TBR Staff
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TBR News Media covers everything happening on the North Shore of Suffolk County from Cold Spring Harbor to Wading River.

Group would also determine costs of repairs

Above, a view of Northport High School's grass field. Parents have been calling for athletic upgrades at the district's facilties. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Northport-East Northport school board member Regina Pisacani has spearheaded a new committee that would advise the board on the conditions and the potential needs of the district’s fields and the athletic facilities.

The board approved creating an Athletic Facility Advisory Committee at its Monday night meeting. Pisacani said she’s currently working on attracting candidates for the positions by putting ads in the paper and reaching out to community members. The application process is underway and the due date to apply is April 30.

This committee will focus on inspection and evaluation of the present state of athletic facilities and grounds and rehabilitation versus replacing fields, equipment and facilities. It is charged with reviewing, analyzing and summarizing the state of the district’s athletic facilities in a written report to the school board and creating a list in order of safety and importance of recommended repairs and/or replacements.

Other tasks of the group include determining the costs of the recommended repairs and analyzing outside funding opportunities to help pay for upgrades.

The committee must present a five-year plan to identify priorities for the board by Dec. 14, 2015. It must also prepare a presentation for the 2016 budget meeting.

Membership will total at least 13 people, with at least six residents appointed by the school board; two parents appointed by the president of the PTA Council; one teacher appointed by the president of the United Teachers of Northport union; two support staff members selected by their peers; one school board member appointed by the board’s president; and one administrator appointed by the superintendent. Also, the superintendent of building and grounds as well as the athletic director would be present at each of the meetings as requested.

The committee would expire on June 30, 2016.

Parents have been calling for upgrades to the district’s athletic facilities at recent meetings. In January, 27 people emailed the school district on the matter, saying the current state of the facilities at the district is “embarrassing.”

“I have to say that I am disappointed in the sports facilities (with the exception of Vets Field), particularly at the high school,” Steve Kils wrote in an email at the time. “For example, lighted football/soccer/lacrosse/field hockey fields with either well-groomed grass or, preferably, artificial turf is the standard. Our children are competing with others throughout the country with these basics, and I believe strongly that we need to make these upgrades a priority for our community and school district.”

Rohma Abbas contributed reporting.

Narcan, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, can be administered either through the nose or intravenously. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) is hosting a free Narcan training seminar later this month, with the goal of teaching local residents how to administer the drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

At the Comsewogue Public Library on March 31, starting at 7 p.m., community members will also learn how to identify an overdose and administer the lifesaving medication.

The seminar will take place in the community room of the library, located on Terryville Road in Port Jefferson Station, and participants must be 18 years or older.

Hahn said in a press release that the training is important “because it is often the family and friends of a victim who are first on the scene when someone is overdosing.”

Those who wish to attend must pre-register by calling the legislator’s office at 631-854-1650.

The property is adjacent to Cordwood Landing County Park off of Landing Road in Miller Place. Photo by Erika Karp

By Jenni Culkin

A parcel of wooded land next to Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place is up for grabs, and the community isn’t letting the land be developed without a fight.

The 5.4-acre parcel, which backs up to the more than 64-acre county park off of Landing Road, has value to the residents of Miller Place, and according to Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), constituents have been making it clear that the land needs to be preserved.

A website and Facebook group, operating under the name Friends of Cordwood Landing, was launched a few months ago, and the group has been advocating for the land’s preservation. A representative from the group could not be reached for comment.

Back in December 2014, Anker began the process of acquiring the land from its owner, Rocky Point developer Mark Baisch, of Landmark Properties. The legislature unanimously voted to start the acquisition process so that the county could protect the area, which Anker described in a phone interview on March 17 as “residential,” from possible commercialization or industrialization.  The county has hired appraisers to determine the land’s worth. According to law, the county can’t pay any more than the appraised value.

Anker said she would like to see the land become a part of the waterfront property of Cordwood Landing.

“I am a true environmentalist,” Anker said. “I will do everything I can to advocate and move this parcel forward through the acquisition process.”

According to Town of Brookhaven planning documents, Baisch submitted a request for a subdivision back in January. In a recent phone interview, Baisch said he would like to build homes on the land. However, if the county’s offer is sufficient, he said he would sell the land.

Anker said the proposal to acquire the land is currently in its early stages and is awaiting approval from the Environmental Trust Fund Review Board. If approved, the proposal will head to the Environmental, Planning, and Agriculture Committee, of which Anker is a member. She expects the proposal to get there by April.

In 2013, the county tried to purchase the land from its original owner, but the owner refused to sell.

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Gordon Brosdal addresses parents about full-day kindergarten on Wednesday. Photo by Erika Karp
A small contingent of parents erupted into a round of applause at Mount Sinai’s Wednesday night school board meeting, as Superintendent Gordon Brosdal announced that full-day kindergarten is included in his 2015-16 budget proposal.
Gordon Brosdal addresses parents about full-day kindergarten on Wednesday. Photo by Erika Karp
Gordon Brosdal addresses parents about full-day kindergarten on Wednesday. Photo by Erika Karp

The meeting marked the first time district administrators committed to making the jump from half-day kindergarten. However, they were quick to remind parents that the move helps more than just the youngest students.

“It’s not a full-day K budget,” Brosdal said. “By giving our kids full-day K, you’re benefiting our entire program.”

The school board still must vote on whether to adopt the budget next month before it goes to a community vote on May 19. The proposed $56.7 million plan increases spending by a little more than 3 percent over the current year and stays within the school district’s tax levy increase cap of 1.86 percent.

Last month, a group of residents spoke in support of full-day kindergarten, saying students need the additional classroom time to meet the new Common Core Learning Standards.

Supporters of the plan had previously expressed concerns that students would fall behind under a half-day program, as there isn’t enough time to cover all the topics required by the Common Core. This was also a worry for Brosdal, who said under a full-day program students would have extra time to learn and would benefit down the line, as would their teachers, who will no longer have to worry about playing catch-up.

Last month, Renee Massari, one of the parents who supported the full-day plan, said she supported full-day kindergarten because she is seeing her son struggle this year as a first-grader who went to a half-day program. On Wednesday, she thanked the district administrators for proposing the change.

“I think I am speaking on behalf of plenty of people when I say thank you and we are excited.”

While the district is receiving $459,125 in state aid to help implement the program, it will still have to spend $90,000 of its own funding to cover the cost. In past budget presentations, officials had estimated a higher district cost.

At previous meetings, school board members agreed that full-day kindergarten was important for student success, but were hesitant to propose the change, as they wanted to make sure the district’s current Kindergarten through 12th grade offerings were maintained and the full-day program would be sustained in the future.

“The board and myself annoyed you perhaps, but you have to look at the budget down the road,” Brosdal said.

On Wednesday, school board President Robert Sweeney spoke about some of the challenges in budgeting for the upcoming school year, as the district grapples with a dwindling surplus, which could run out by 2017-18.

Even so, he said he remained optimistic about the future, as the school board members advocate for additional education aid and legislators move to restore the Gap Elimination Adjustment, a reduction in aid for each school district that was once used to plug a state budget deficit.

Sweeney thanked residents for their patience, but was blunt about the importance of voting in the future.

“Where will you be in the future, as a community, in terms of supporting your school?” he asked.

Abdelgheni Dakyouk mugshot from SCPD

Police have arrested the man they say is responsible for an early morning hit-and-run in Coram that killed a pedestrian.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, East Patchogue resident Abdelgheni Dakyouk, 48, has been charged with leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting.

Shortly after the crash on Route 112 on Saturday, March 14, police reported that the victim had been walking north between Granny Road and Route 25 when he was hit by a light-colored, possibly tan vehicle. The incident occurred just before 6 a.m. and the driver, whose car had front-end damage, fled north.

Police arrested Dakyouk on March 18, following an investigation by detectives from the SCPD’s Vehicular Crime Unit.

Attorney information for Dakyouk was not available. He was scheduled to be arraigned on March 19.

Officials have not yet named the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene. But two days after the crash, police announced they had “tentatively identified” him as a 37-year-old Medford resident, awaiting positive identification by detectives and the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. Police said they had notified the person’s next of kin.

Jack Muise, 14, is a national Tourette Syndrome Association youth ambassador. Photo from Jack Muise

A Northport teen will be standing on the steps of Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., this month to speak with lawmakers about Tourette’s syndrome.

Jack Muise, 14, is a national Tourette Syndrome Association youth ambassador. Photo from Jack Muise
Jack Muise, 14, is a national Tourette Syndrome Association youth ambassador. Photo from Jack Muise

Jack Muise, 14, is a ninth-grader at Northport High School. At the age of 10, Jack was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Sponsored through the national Tourette Syndrome Association, Jack was selected as a youth ambassador — a title that will give him the opportunity to attend a two-day training in Arlington, Va., with 39 other 13- to 17-year-olds, from March 23 to 25, to learn how to educate peers about the disorder.

Jack, who says he is very excited about the training, learned about the program through his Tourette’s syndrome support group, which generally meets once a month from September through June in Old Brookville in Nassau County.

The youth ambassador program originated from Jack’s own support group — the national group’s Long Island chapter. Jennifer Zwilling, now 24, who also has Tourette’s syndrome, started the training program in 2008.

“The goal of this exciting program is to educate children all over the country about TS, a widely misunderstood disorder,” Zwilling said in a press release. “We are following the motto ‘think globally, act locally.’ Understanding and tolerance are the program’s goals.”

Since 2008, the youth ambassador program has completed more than 1,000 activities, including presentations, interviews and training sessions and, through its combined efforts, has reached over 5.5 million people.

Following the training, all of the youth ambassadors, Jack included, will meet with their respective local representatives on the steps of Capitol Hill on March 25.

Jack will be meeting with U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), New York’s 3rd Congressional District representative, to advocate for support for the neurological disorder, he said.

“I think people don’t understand, for me personally, it’s when I say inappropriate things that I can’t control and people think I’m weird,” Jack said. “I just want to be able to explain what it is and make them aware and hopefully make them better people in general.”

After returning to Long Island, Jack, along with the three other Long Island youth ambassadors, will visit schools throughout Nassau and Suffolk County to educate children about the disorder.

Jack, who joined his support group three years ago, said that prior to joining, he never really knew or understood what the disorder was.

“Jack’s been through a lot,” Jack’s mom, Stephanie Muise said. “He’s had a lot of challenges, even just today. He’s really focused on training and how to talk to people about Tourette’s and hoping to raise awareness. He really wants people to understand him.”

Jack said that in his free time he likes to solve Rubix’s Cube and do card tricks. He also sings and is learning to play the piano.

“Over the years I’ve heard great stories about the training in D.C. and presentations the other kids have made,” Jack said in a press release. “I’m really excited that it’s my turn. It will be great to be able to share my story and educate others about a very misunderstood disorder.”

A young boy stands in a pothole on Woodhull Avenue in Port Jefferson Station to demonstrate its size. Photo from Dawn Andolfi

The Brookhaven Town Highway Department is recouping from the cold and moving on to a new task: filling those pesky potholes.

“This proved to be an exceptional winter,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a Monday interview. “This year was worse than last year in terms of icing.”

The winter also proved to be costly. Losquadro estimated the department spent double the $3.6 million budgeted amount for snow removal, despite town officials injecting the budget line with an additional $1 million. Now, as the weather is warming up, the department is moving forward with repairing the roads.

A car swerves to avoid a pothole on Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. Photo by Barbara Donlon
A car swerves to avoid a pothole on Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. Photo by Barbara Donlon

Losquadro said the frequent below-freezing temperatures made the ground freeze deeper and is leading to potholes “literally forming overnight.” He said the warm daytime temperatures and colder nights aren’t helping the situation either, as the warming and refreezing of the ground allows liquid to get into cracks and expand.

Although the holes aren’t finished forming, repairs are on the way.

Losquadro said local asphalt plants are opening soon, which will benefit the department, as workers will no longer have to travel to and from Deer Park and Bay Shore to retrieve the materials.

“They were only able to [pick up] two loads a day, which doesn’t go a long way,” Losquadro said.

Despite the town’s effort, the potholes have been a nuisance for some residents. Mt. Sinai Bagel Cafe owner Marcus Argyros was driving on Mount Sinai-Coram Road on Monday when he popped a tire.

“I didn’t swerve and because it was in the middle of the road, I hit it and it popped my tire,” Argyros said, as he worked to put a spare tire on his car. “It’s like Mario Kart with all the potholes right now.”

In an effort to complete all of the repairs, Losquadro said the town is extending workdays by two hours.

Marcus Argyros changes his tire on the side of the road after hitting a pothole. Photo by Barbara Donlon
Marcus Argyros changes his tire on the side of the road after hitting a pothole. Photo by Barbara Donlon

While residents can try to get reimbursed, the likelihood of it happening during this time is unlikely, as the potholes are to be expected.

Losquadro urges residents to call the town when a pothole is visible so they can write it down and fix it as soon as possible.

As for next winter, Losquadro is already planning. He said he would ask for an increase in the snow removal budget, as he wants to avoid being in this situation again.

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New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales hit Hauppauge last week to outline Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to increase the state minimum wage from $8.75 to $10.50.

In his pitch, Perales projected a rippling economic impact that could potentially give 150,000 workers a pay raise and bring $382.3 million in value to Long Island. While this newspaper supports the notion of empowering our low-income earners with higher minimum wages, we still only see it as a one-dimensional, short-term fix that does not address the bigger issues of affordability.

Raising the minimum wage is a risky move that could end up hurting us in the long run if not done in conjunction with other means to address inflation and making New York — and Long Island — more affordable and livable. Long Island has already been struggling to prevent its young people from relocating because of its lack of affordable living options, and raising wages could consequently end up bringing the cost of living even higher for those still hanging on.

It’s already hard enough to live on Long Island as rents continue to skyrocket and costs continue to increase. That’s why we need a multi-pronged approach to coincide with the established proposal to raise the state minimum wage, which has increased a total $4.50 since 1991.

There are plenty of pros to raising the minimum wage, and Perales outlined key points during his Hauppauge visit — he said the number of workers on Long Island earning minimum wage would jump from the current 85,264 to 202,248.

But the state must not ignore the cons that come with such a move, including the potential layoffs at Long Island’s small businesses lining the main streets of our communities.

Our leaders too often put short-term patches on long-term wounds. Those immediate fixes serve a purpose, but we should be looking at the bigger picture.

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Adolescence stinks. I’m not talking about the heightened age of self-consciousness, the potential for bullying, the physical and emotional growing pains, or the shifting alliances with friends who become enemies who become friends again.

Those all stink applying the definition of the quintessentially American expression: “That stinks.”

What I’m describing is the literal smell, as in “Ooh, those roses smell beautiful”; or “Wow, that smell reminds me of the time I went to Montauk and we saw dolphins and whales while drinking aromatic hot chocolate with whipped cream.” With their spectacularly busy schedules, thanks to us, no doubt, teenagers live in the same uniforms day after day.

The last thing we do before going to bed, or the first thing we do when we get up in the morning, is to throw those uniforms in the washing machine.

We can’t and don’t wash their footwear every night. We can air it out, we can put deodorizers in it, we can even, in a fit of pique, rush out and buy them a new set of Storm Trooper cleats to protect ourselves, but, eventually, the sneakers in the cabinet by the door — or tucked in the basement — develop a cloud of toxic fumes above them.

On the positive side, I suppose, the horrific stench could be like smelling salts. If they are suddenly feeling tired or they bump into one wall too many, as soon as they go down on the ground, they smell their own and everybody else’s cleats and spring back into action.

“I’m fine,” they say, as they wobble on one knee, “just get me off that floor.”

Sensing that their sweat-driven, body-changing odors may be offensive, some children use deodorants, scented moisturizers or perfume — in the case of my daughter’s friends. That’s like diving into a pool that is way too hot and way too cold, confusing the senses without defeating the odor.

I recently brought my son and a friend back from a basketball practice and pulled up next to a mom who was shuttling home six sweaty teammates. We rolled down our windows at a red light and my nose felt as if it had returned to the gym. No car, not even one with a new car smell, would stand a chance against the pungent odors of adolescence marinating in her three rows of boys.

“Oh, hey,” I said, as the boys greeted each other through their open windows. “I guess you got the bigger carpool duty today.”

“Uh huh,” she grunted, making it clear she’d somehow drawn the short, smelly straw.

“That’s, um, a lot of sweat in there, huh?” I said.

She winced while concentrating on breathing only through her mouth.

When the light turned green, I thought about those incredible first few months of our kids’ lives. The smells from the delicate shampoos were like the kind of subtle flavor waiters describe to entice us into ordering the specials of the day.

Even after those magnificent miracles of life no longer occupied a room, their comforting smell made us forget the late nights of “what’s wrong with her, why won’t she go to sleep,” or the “why is she crying now,” reminding us, instead, of how sweet life can be.

Maybe the smell assault is one more way adolescents challenge authority figures. When their feet enter the room, we don’t need to see their frustrated faces or hear their answers-with-attitude to know another battle is about to begin, filled with arguments that sometimes don’t make sense — and scents that make their own arguments.

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Ed Maher file photo

The Smithtown Democratic Committee is gearing up for a competitive election season and setting its sights on the town board.

“It is important that we reflect on the past, but it is necessary that we plan for the future of Smithtown — 2015 will be the year that we reshape our town’s policy-making body,” said committee chairman, Ed Maher, citing the town’s recent 350th anniversary festivities. “Our screening committee will convene this spring and we are excited to hear what the potential candidates have in mind for the future of Smithtown.”

Maher also said he will consider screening potential candidates from other parties if needed, and that the Democrats will put the strongest candidates on the ballot in November.

Maher said that several notable Democrats have approached him with interest in running for town board, including former town supervisor candidate Steve Snair and Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency board member, Tony Giordano.

“I cannot deny that one of my goals is to serve our community as an elected official,” Snair said of his possible run. “The voters here in Smithtown have seen how little this all-Republican board has done for them and they will remember in November.”

Giordano also confirmed that he is considering screening for the Democratic nomination for town board positions.

“It’s something that I’m currently looking into,” he said.