Business

Veterinarian reflects on family business

The Huntington Animal Hospital, located on Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station, is celebrating 63 years. Photo from Dr. Jeff Kramer

A four-year-old boy’s dream of being a veterinarian and following in his father’s footsteps has led to decades of business success.

The Huntington Animal Hospital is celebrating 63 years of business, and owner Dr. Jeff Kramer, who is living his lifelong passion, plans to mark the milestone with a special client appreciation day on June 6.

From the time Kramer, 61, was brought home as a baby from the hospital to his bedroom, which now serves as the exam room in Huntington Animal Hospital on Walt Whitman Road, he has been surrounded animals and the veterinary office.

“Growing up all I was ever going to do was be a veterinarian,” Kramer said in a recent interview. “I was always going to be a vet, there was never any other options.”

The animal hospital that Kramer owns once served as his childhood home and his father Mort Kramer’s veterinary office, which is where he got first-hand experience working in the field. The younger Kramer would hold animals, clean cages and observe as his father performing daily duties. Every free second he had was spent working with his dad, Kramer said.

“I’ve worked in this animal hospital since I was a little boy,” Kramer said. “I skipped Saturday morning cartoons and came here.”

Huntington Animal Hospital's Dr. Jeff Kramer is hard at work doing what he does best — helping animals. Photo from Kramer
Huntington Animal Hospital’s Dr. Jeff Kramer is hard at work doing what he does best — helping animals. Photo from Kramer

Kramer attended Johns Hopkins University and then went on to attend veterinarian school at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he worked hard to fulfill his dream of becoming a vet.

After graduating from veterinary school, Kramer spent time living in Virginia and working at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C.  He then returned to Huntington Station where he teamed up with his dad and worked at the family’s animal hospital. Once his dad retired, Kramer took over the business and has been operating it ever since.

“It has been an all-around wonderful experience, giving back to people and providing the animals and people with care and help,” Kramer said.

In the past Kramer has treated ferrets, guinea pigs and hamsters, but the practice now treats cats and dogs. Kramer said the staff would treat other animals if they came in.

While he loves treating dogs and cats, he said a big part of his job is treating their owners and helping them cope through difficult times. Through his more than 30 years running the practice, he said he has seen some sad cases that are just part of the job.

“It’s hard to see a dog and cat that has been hit by a car,” Kramer said.

The veterinarian said his job is very rewarding and he loves helping animals and owners. He said he loves giving back and providing animals with the care they need.

“It’s a wonderful profession,” he said. “I’m very very lucky to be a veterinarian. I’m one of the family doctors, that’s my favorite part.”

Sal Migliore, an owner of four cats, visits Kramer regularly and has been for the last three years. He called the veterinarian a good person who is very caring with animals.

“He is our Dr. Doolittle,” Migliore said. “He is a doctor for animals. We don’t know what we would do without him, we have so much faith in him.”

Next week, at the June 6 client appreciation day, people will get to meet a dog trainer, groomer along with Kramer and his team. Attendees will also be able to enjoy snacks and drinks, Kramer said.

“It’s really saying thank you to our Huntington Animal Hospital family,” Kramer said.

Fresh produce will make its way to the streets of Kings Park once again as the annual farmers market takes shape with an opening date set for Sunday. Photo from Alyson Elish-Swartz

The market is fresh.

Kings Park’s coveted Farmers Market will start a brand new season on Sunday, June 7, with all of last year’s farmers returning plus some new additions. Founded in 2010, the market boasts everything from locally grown produce, baked goods, fresh fish, goat cheese, olive oil, pickles and more.

One addition includes the St. James-based Saint James Brewery, a craft brewery which specializes in Belgian beer.

Returning farmers market participants also include Thera Farms, from Ronkonkoma, Fink’s Country Farm from Manorville and Monty Breads from Islip Terrace.

There will be multiple festivals held at the market throughout the summer, including a strawberry festival, a corn festival, Oktoberfest, a baking contest and a chili cookout, according to members of the Kings Park civic group helping to organize events.

“This market has brought the town together, while also supporting local agriculture,” said Alyson Elish-Swartz, a member of the Kings Park Civic Association and a chairperson of the farmers market committee said.

The King’s Park Civic Association sponsors this event in partnership with ligreenmarket. Kings Park’s Farmers Market will also spotlight local musicians, as they have done before, with new acts coming this summer. But new this year will be a spotlight on local photographers, with booths featuring photographs from some of Kings Park’s most talented photographers.

Kings Park restaurants will also be hosting cooking demos, where they buy the ingredients from the farmers market and then show fun and fresh dishes residents can make with them. Restaurants like Café Red and Relish have participated in the past, making dishes like fresh watermelon soup.

The Kings Park Farmers Market is open Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., now through November 22, at the municipal lot on Route 25A and Main Street.

The whole idea of the farmers market started when two local residents who didn’t know each other, Ann Marie Nedell and Elish-Swartz, had the same the idea. Sean Lehmann, president of the Kings Park Civic Association, gave Nedell and Elish-Swartz each other’s phone numbers and told them to link up. He asked them to find out more and report back to the civic association.

Elish-Swartz and Nedell pounded the pavement, talking up the idea to community groups and handing out surveys to find out what Kings Park wanted in a farmers market, with free parking high on the list.

The plan took a leap forward when Nedell and Elish-Swartz met Bernadette Martin. Martin is director of Friends and Farmers Inc., a company she started to advocate for small family farms and to bring fresh, local food to Long Islanders. The market first opened in the summer of 2010 and Martin manages it, every Sunday, from June through November.

Susan Risoli contributed reporting.

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Lawn signs opposing a potential CVS in St. James have resurfaced several months after the pharmacy withdrew its initial application. File photo by Phil Corso

After striking out the first go-around, CVS has stepped up with a second attempt at building a new site in St. James, and residents are not going silently.

Vincent Trimarco Sr., the attorney representing CVS Albany LLC, had withdrawn initial plans to install a 13,551-square-foot CVS pharmacy with a mezzanine and 57 parking spaces at the intersection of Woodlawn and Lake avenues back in November. But Peter Hans, principal planner for the Town of Smithtown, outlined the details of the latest proposal at a Town Board work session on Tuesday as St. James residents dusted off their anti-CVS lawn signs for another bout.

The new plans, documents showed, included an 11,970-square-foot building on the first floor with 1,581 square feet of mezzanine space. Hans said CVS had modified its original plan, now placing the proposed building within a commercial business portion of the lot without a zone change, and would require slight variances to make the plans possible, including a special exception to expand parking in a residential district.

Hans said the applicant was requesting this exception to give CVS an extra 50 feet of parking. The proposal will be heard at the June 9 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting at 7 p.m. at the Smithtown senior center. If approved, the BZA will send the proposal to the Town Board for site plan review.

“So they’re more or less shoehorning the building in,” Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said in response to Hans’ outlining of the new plans at Tuesday’s work session.

Trimarco could not be reached for comment. But in a presentation to the Planning Board last October, he assured St. James that CVS would be a good neighbor.

“CVS wants to become part of the community,” he said at that initial meeting late last year, inviting a heavy stream of jeers. “The community of St. James, we believe, really needs a full-service pharmacy.”

Residents had long been against the proposal to build a CVS on the site, citing an abundance of reasons why they felt it would be a detriment to their community.

When the first proposal was at the center of controversy in November, residents took to a special Facebook page called Say No to CVS in Saint James as a means to organize and promote their cause. That page breathed new life this week in light of the newest proposal — something the page had warned about months ago.

“Don’t be fooled,” the page posted after CVS’s application was withdrawn on Nov. 19. “This fight may not be over yet. If you have a sign, hold onto to it. CVS can revise their plan and come back at a later date.”

The signs started sprouting back up over the past month.

CVS currently owns three stores in Smithtown. But for more than 70 years, the St. James community has been the home of Spage’s Pharmacy, which is located roughly five blocks from the latest proposed CVS site.

Residents approaching the podium at a BZA meeting last year often cited Spage’s as a more-than-adequate option for anyone in town looking for basic pharmacy needs, including the store’s own management.

“In my opinion if you were to grant this, these variances are excessive, there’s no need for it, you wouldn’t have as many people in this room and the signs that are out there, with over 6,500 hits on our Facebook page Say No to CVS, that are opposed to what is going on here,” a recent post on the page said. “This is a downtown community and we care about the character of our area, and we care about our quality of life, and we care about the values of our properties.”

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Bill Stewart's Kings Park hobby shop. Photo by Jenni Culkin

By Jenni Culkin

An entrepreneur from the North Shore is making his hobby into a new career.

Bill Stewart, the owner and sole employee of Filadelfos Toy & Hobby, decided after 20 years as an IT worker that he was looking for a job with more fun, stability and control over his profession.

“I decided to turn my hobby into a business,” Stewart said in an interview.

According to Stewart, “filadelfo” is a modernized form of the Greek “Philadelphia,” which means “brotherly love.”

Bill Stewart proudly shows off one of his favorite items at his Kings Park hobby shop. Photo by Jenni Culkin
Bill Stewart proudly shows off one of his favorite items at his Kings Park hobby shop. Photo by Jenni Culkin

Since 2010, Stewart has been selling his merchandise through the Internet. In late March of this year, Stewart made the leap to establish a physical shop on 12 Main St. in Kings Park. The shop stands parallel with the local train station, has an exterior decorated with pinwheels and whirligigs and plays 1980s music from inside the storefront.

The store’s interior is about 200-square-feet in size and fits comic book merchandise, model planes and cars, action figures, cards and so much more.

Stewart said he runs the shop simply “for the love of the stuff” that he sells and not to make excessive profit margins or achieve any goals of expansion.

The shop hosts sessions to play games such as the Magic card game and Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. On Saturdays at noon, Filadelfos already hosts a Dungeons & Dragons competition for residents.

If people are also looking for something that is difficult to find, they can ask Stewart whether or not he can find and sell it to them. Stewart sometimes makes purchases directly from the manufacturers.

Stewart is currently waiting for Shopkins, popular new toys that are modeled after food and have faces and online profiles, to stock his store with.

There are also plans to expand if his current shop experiences enough success.

Visit www.frchobby.com to find out more about Stewart’s store.

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The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat ferry company is temporarily operating with a significantly scaled down schedule. File photo

Port Jefferson hopes to become a hub for weekend travelers with the launch of a new ferry service connecting the village to New York City and New Jersey.

The Seastreak ferry will start running on May 22, according to a press release, in partnership with other travel companies that already link the village to Connecticut and the Hamptons.

Port Jefferson will operate as the center of the new Sea Jitney service, with the high-speed Seastreak ferry running between Highlands, N.J., Manhattan’s East River ferry terminal at 35th Street and Port Jefferson; the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry running across the Long Island Sound between Connecticut and Long Island; and the Hampton Jitney bus service driving between the village and the Hamptons and other locations on the East End.

The three transportation companies will coordinate service between the branches.

“This powerful partnership has an extremely low impact on our infrastructure while introducing visitors to our beautiful, historic village,” Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said in a statement.

According to the press release, one-way fares change based on where passengers start and finish their trip, but range from $33 to $50.

Reservations are required for the trips, which will focus on travel toward Long Island on the weekends, with departures from New York City and Connecticut on Fridays and Saturdays and from the East End on Sundays.

“Sea Jitney is a game changer for people who travel between Connecticut and the Hamptons,” Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry General Manager Fred Hall said in a statement. “At two and [a] half hours from Bridgeport to Southampton, it’s shorter than going through NYC and much less stressful.”

The ferry between the city and Port Jefferson takes about two hours, the press release said, while the bus from the village to the Hamptons takes another hour.

Visit www.seajitney.com for more information.

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The King Kullen supermarket on Route 25A will close its doors next month. Photo by Phil Corso

A North Shore grocery chain is shuttering one of its locations next month just as summer breaks into full bloom.

Joseph Brown, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer for King Kullen Grocery Co., Inc., said the East Setauket location on Route 25A will close its doors for good on June 11, answering to rumors that have been swirling through the Three Village area over the last several weeks. The chain’s workforce, however, will be taken care of, Brown said.

“We do not anticipate a layoff of employees, as they will be offered relocation to other stores, including our nearby supermarkets in St. James and Selden,” Brown said.

The East Setauket King Kullen opened back in 2005 in the same shopping center as two other grocery chains — Wild by Nature and Super Stop and Shop. The former grocery chain also operates under the King Kullen brand, which Brown said was not going anywhere.

“It has been a privilege to serve the Three Village community and we remain committed to the area through our East Setauket Wild by Nature,” he said.

Andrew Polan, president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said his group was sad to see the supermarket chain go after several years of service to the community. He said it was likely that oversaturation in the area could have made it difficult for King Kullen to prosper as it stood alongside two other major chains.

“Anytime something closes down, it’s a cause of concern for us. King Kullen is a longtime Long Island company and we’re sorry to see this happening,” he said. “I’m sure the increase in competition in the area has made it difficult for businesses to survive.”

King Kullen operates several other locations in communities near the North Shore area including Mt. Sinai, Lake Ronkonkoma, Middle Island, Commack, Northport, Huntington and Huntington Station among others.

Construction could start in September

Stephen Normandin, of The RBA Group, answers residents’ questions at the Sound Beach Civic Association meeting on Monday. Photo by Erika Karp

Echo Avenue in Sound Beach is getting a makeover.

Brookhaven Town officials presented plans for a revitalization project along the busy street at the Sound Beach Civic Association meeting on Monday. Handicap-accessible sidewalks, new curbs, decorative lighting and ornamental trees are set to line the approximate .3-mile stretch between New York Avenue and North Country Road in the near future, as leaders seek to beautify and make the area safer for pedestrians.

Steve Tricarico, deputy highway superintendent, said the project will “bring that downtown feel like you may have seen the highway department do in Rocky Point.”

Late last year, the department completed a similar project along Broadway in Rocky Point.

In 2013, the town adopted a four-phase plan to revitalize Echo Avenue and received a Community Development Block Grant for the first phase. Last year, officials applied for more CDBG funding, but found out the hamlet no longer qualified for the grant.

Tricarico said the highway department went out to bid for new contracts and was able to get a better deal and was therefore able to match the 2013 grant and fund the project in its entirety — a total cost of about $240,000.

According to Stephen Normandin, director of design and planning for The RBA Group, the engineering group selected to oversee the project, starting at the intersection of New York Avenue, a four-foot-wide sidewalk will be constructed on the east side of Echo Avenue that connects all the way up to Handy Pantry. Then, a crosswalk will be created, by Devon Road and Caramia Pizzeria, that crosses over Echo Avenue and links up to another sidewalk on the west side of the street, ending at North Country Road. In addition, the triangle by Handy Pantry, which houses the civic’s “Welcome to Sound Beach” sign, will be extended in an attempt to slow traffic at the Shinnecock Drive and Echo Avenue intersection.

Normandin said the project does come with its challenges, as there are hills and existing guardrails and trees, and limited space within the public right-of-way.

“We are sensitive to the [private] properties,” he added.

If all goes according to plan, the project will commence in late August or early September and wrap up before the winter season. The road will be paved once the sidewalk and concrete work is complete.

A few residents, including Bea Ruberto, civic president and the driving force behind the project, requested some additional lighting by New York Avenue and Mesquite Tex Mex Grill. Currently, the plans don’t include new sidewalks and lighting on that side of Echo, but Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said her office would look in to it. However, an easement agreement between the town and property owner might be needed, which could delay the project.

“None of this is set in stone; the dollar amount kind of is, so wherever we can … cut from one area and add to another, we are certainly willing to do that,” Bonner said.

Stony Brook students field questions at their final project presentation. Photo by Phil Corso

Nick Fusco is still in college, but he already has a vision for the Three Village community’s de facto Main Street known as Route 25A. He and his classmates brought that vision to his neighbors Monday night to show what a little dreaming can do for the North Shore’s future.

“Our community could look like this,” Fusco said in front of a projected rendering of a reinvented Route 25A complete with greenhouse spaces, apartment housing, environmentally friendly landscaping and more. “We’ve come up with ways to improve safety, aesthetics and, most importantly, functionality.”

Fusco and about a dozen other Stony Brook University students presented at the Setauket Neighborhood House on Monday evening as part of a final project for Professor Marc Fasanella’s ecological art, architecture and design class under the college’s sustainability studies program. The conversation, “Keeping a sense of place in the Three Villages,” involved four students presenting PowerPoint slides showing off their reimaged Setauket and Stony Brook communities, utilizing existing infrastructure to help employ ecologically-friendly additions and make Three Village a community that retains young people.

A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso
A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso

“We looked at this as a tremendous opportunity for our students and for the community moving forward,” Fasanella said. “Are we dreaming? Of course we’re dreaming.”

The class built off the work of last year’s students, who brainstormed ways to bridge the gap created by the railroad tracks that separate the university from the greater Three Village community. Their proposals were met with great praise from residents, civic leaders and officials in attendance Monday. The ideas were bold, including anything from pulling buildings closer to the 25A curbside to make way for a greater “Main Street” feel to constructing a “green” multi-tiered parking garage near the train station for both retail space and commuter parking.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, applauded the students for daring the community to take a different look at the future of Three Village. His group helped to sponsor the event alongside the Three Village Community Trust.

In an interview, Nuzzo said the Route 25A corridor, especially near the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road station, has a long and troubled history and could use a facelift to enhance safety for pedestrians, motorists and anyone living in the area.

Nuzzo, who also studied environmental design, policy and planning at Stony Brook University, was also once a student in Fasanella’s ecological urbanism course and underwent a similar exercise in which he dreamt up projects to connect the campus to the nearby community.

“We need to have this discussion over what we want for our de facto Main Street. If we don’t decide, the developers are going to decide for us,” he said. “What do we want as a community? It starts with stuff like this.”

And the students’ visions did not fall on deaf ears, either. Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) sat attentively throughout four students’ presentations and ended the meeting with encouraging words.

She said she was working alongside Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) to enact a comprehensive Route 25A study, which should be discussed in a community forum on June 30 in East Setauket.

“It’s our responsibility to engage and continue the visioning process,” she said, on behalf of civic leaders and lawmakers in the community. “We want to work on our ‘Main Street’ and put the community’s visions into planning.”

By Lynn Johnson

From its beginnings more than a half-century ago, Stony Brook University has been characterized by innovation, energy and progress, transforming the lives of people who earn degrees, work and make groundbreaking discoveries here. Stony Brook is the largest single-site employer on Long Island, and the diversity of career opportunities available is equaled by the diversity of our employees.

New jobs are being posted daily using innovative software recently implemented on our applicant job site. These enhancements make the process of applying for jobs at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook Medicine and Long State Veterans Home quicker and easier than ever before.

Through the university’s new Talent Management System, you can create your own profile electronically on any device and then apply for multiple jobs at Stony Brook with a few quick clicks online, 24/7. At any time during the search-and-selection process, you can update your profile details, monitor your status and receive customized job alerts based on individual preferences — all while conveniently keeping track of everything in one place.

This system allows for easier access to the tremendous job diversity at Stony Brook. Long Island’s premier research university and academic medical center offers outstanding career potential in health care, research, academia, administration, public safety, food service, maintenance, construction and more. It’s an environment in which you can explore a myriad of career opportunities.

As the university expands, more opportunities for employment and career advancement are becoming available. The new Research and Development Park is home to the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology and the Small Business Development Center. The 250,000-square-foot Medical and Research Translation (MART) building, scheduled to open in 2016, will have eight floors devoted to imaging, neurosciences and cancer research. New student housing facilities and a dining center, also slated for 2016, will make Stony Brook the largest campus-housing program in SUNY.

The sheer size of the university makes it seem like a small city in itself, with countless amenities, such as on-campus banking, eateries, childcare and transportation via the LIRR and bus services. Employees are immersed in an active, vibrant campus life. You can see world-class live performances at Staller Center, cheer the Seawolves NCAA Division I athletic teams, work out at the Walter J. Hawrys Campus Recreation Center, learn from our renowned faculty or enjoy the tranquility of the Ashley Schiff Nature Preserve.

Stony Brook also offers a rich benefits package with multiple health insurance plans, including retirement health benefits; paid holidays, vacation and sick leave; retirement and college savings plans; flexible spending plans; and employee tuition assistance benefits.

To create an account and start the search for your new career at Stony Brook, visit stonybrook.edu/jobs.

Lynn Johnson is the vice president of human resource services at Stony Brook University.

Officials broke ground Monday morning on a housing complex many hope will spur redevelopment in uptown Port Jefferson.

After four years of plans and approvals, developer Rail Realty LLC can get started on demolishing homes and buildings along Texaco Avenue to make way for 74 rental apartments, a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom. The Hills at Port Jefferson apartments will be constructed as two three-story buildings on several parcels along that street: One building will take the place of two vacant houses and the former Port Jeff Auto Spa car wash on the north half of Texaco, close to Sheep Pasture Road; while the other will be built in what is now a grassy field at the intersection with Linden Place. Resident parking will be underground, with a final parcel on the south side of Texaco and Linden, currently holding Stony Brook Electric Inc., to be used for additional parking.

Ryan Gitto arrives at a groundbreaking ceremony in upper Port Jefferson prepared to work. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Ryan Gitto arrives at a groundbreaking ceremony in upper Port Jefferson prepared to work. Photo by Elana Glowatz

“This is the beginning of a renaissance and a jumpstart to upper Port Jefferson,” Rail Realty principal Tony Gitto said at the groundbreaking ceremony, after digging into the earth at the grassy field.

The shovel work was followed up on the car wash property next door, where Mayor Margot Garant climbed into an excavator and took the first crack at taking apart the building there. Concrete crunched as she closed the vehicle’s claws over a corner of roof and ripped it away from the rest of the building.

“I can get used to this,” she shouted from the operator seat.

Garant said that the apartment project will be “so important” to upper Port revitalization efforts.

The village has been working to enhance that troubled area around Main Street between North Country Road/Sheep Pasture Road and the Long Island Rail Road tracks. An entire section of the village’s draft comprehensive plan is devoted to upper Port, with recommendations geared toward improving quality of life, making it more pedestrian-friendly and attracting developers and visitors.

Rail Realty got final village approval on its project last year. Under the conditions of that approval, the developer will make improvements to a pocket park near the apartments and improve traffic flow in the area by redesigning the intersection of Main Street and Sheep Pasture Road.

Tony Gitto breaks ground at the site of his upcoming apartment complex. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Tony Gitto breaks ground at the site of his upcoming apartment complex. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The housing complex will be constructed in phases, with the first phase being the northern apartment building, the second being the other building, and the third being the parking area across Linden Place.

The Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency gave financial assistance to Rail Realty on the project, including sales tax exemptions on construction items, a mortgage tax exemption and a 10-year property tax abatement through which the owner will pay taxes on roughly the current value of the site, as opposed to the increased value of the property once work is complete.

The IDA aims to boost the economy within Brookhaven Town by assisting businesses in locating or expanding in the area.

IDA Chairman Fred Braun said Monday, “Cleaning up a semi-blighted area is the first step,” and Long Island needs rentals both in the area of Stony Brook University and elsewhere.