Local Government

Marie Parziale. Photo courtesy of Parziale

By Aidan Johnson

Port Jefferson resident Marie Parziale is running for the village board of trustees. Also known as Marie Johs — though her name will appear as “Marie Parziale” on the ballot — she announced her bid on May 29. She has been a resident of Port Jefferson since 1995 and works as the senior alumni career coach at Stony Brook University, along with being an elder and deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson.

In an interview, she recounted how she got involved with the village early into her residency.

“I was lucky enough to have [former mayor] Jeanne Garant living a few doors down [from me], and we had a neighborhood community association. Of course, Jeanne was involved, and I jumped right in,” Parziale said, also describing how she helped on Garant’s mayoral campaign.

Parziale also took pride in discussing how she was part of the committee that worked with the architect that designed the inside of the Village Center, along with being on the parking committee and Vision 2010, a committee created to envision and discuss the goals and future of Port Jefferson by the year 2030.

“When I look back at the happiest times in my life I’m giving,” she said. “I really wanted to jump right back and do community work.”

One of her biggest issues is the revitalization of the downtown and uptown areas of Port Jefferson.

“I work at Stony Brook, and the person who hired me is the vice president of student affairs now, so he oversees residential life, and we have an issue there that there’s not enough housing for students. Upper Port is one stop away [on the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Rail Road],” Parziale said.

She explained her vision of providing a place for graduate students in the uptown area, which would allow more room on the Stony Brook University campus for first- and second-year students.

“What’s missing in this village up there is … a good, vibrant energy, a young energy,” Parziale said, describing an area that would include coffee shops and bookstores.

Parziale also said that a stronger village police presence was needed in the Upper Port area.

“If code had a presence up there, there would be a level of safety, and then people will be willing to come in and invest. I know the developers are building, but we don’t want empty shops like we have down here,” she said.

Parziale praised Mayor Lauren Sheprow for “keeping us up to date on her promises,” though the candidate expressed a need to better amplify this to the community.

“I think what maybe could be better is that she’s got some wonderful things on the website that’s explaining it, but it sounds like people aren’t going there, so maybe a little bit better PR [to be able to] better amplify all that’s being done.”

Parziale is joined by two other candidates for village trustee, Xena Ugrinsky and Kyle Hill, for the two open seats. A meet the candidates night for the three candidates will take place on June 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center.

The election is on Tuesday, June 18, at the Village Center from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Port Jefferson’s East Beach on Jan. 25. Photo courtesy Myrna Gordon

By Sabrina Artusa

With further recession of the East Beach bluff threatening the safety and structural integrity of the Port Jefferson Country Club, tennis and pickleball courts and golf course, the Village of Port Jefferson held a town hall meeting May 28 at the Waterview catering hall to discuss how to proceed with the bluff revitalization plan initiated in 2021. This plan was interrupted by fierce storms that damaged the barrier wall the village spent two years and approximately $6 million building.

While portions of the wall held strong against runoff and winds, the damage has made some residents unsure if continuing with Phase II is the most effective solution. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is funding 75% of Phase II, but the specifics of the grant agreement have not been finalized.

Country club

Some residents question why money should be spent protecting a commercial business and argue for the demolition of the village-owned country club and rebuilding further from the cliff.

“There are a lot of people in this town who are hurting. Inflation is hurting middle American families … we talk about putting millions of tax dollars into this beautiful club, but for what?” one resident asked. 

“It’s not just an engineering issue. It’s a cost-benefit analysis for the entire community, and a referendum requires that we be included,” another person said.

The club, however, reportedly brings in over $300,000 of revenue to the village annually. Additionally, one does not have to be a member of the country club to visit.

“When you are repairing the bluff, what is it actually going to protect? It is going to protect a building that is revenue neutral at its worst and it sounds like it is a revenue positive facility,” another resident said.

Other options

Mayor Lauren Sheprow said that the wall held strong for the most part and that engineers and environmental scientists are being consulted on the most responsible course of action going forward.

Nick Thatos, co-founder of the Long Island-based Coastal Technologies, said that planting native species is key to preventing further erosion. He noted that North Shore native plants evolved “to stabilize” and “colonize this niche environment,” citing the complex root systems and cement-like excretions that can keep sand in place.

“Nature is incredible. We cannot engineer anything near what nature can accomplish,” he said.

Some said that the angle of the bluff needs to be corrected to prevent recession, while others said that retreating is the most dependable option.

“The only way to fortify the top is to retreat,” said a woman who has lived in Port Jefferson for over 30 years. “The golf and tennis are separate. Another building can be built.”

Sheprow is asking for volunteers for the village’s Citizens Commission on Erosion. “We want input, we don’t want to do it in a vacuum,” she said.

Photo from TOB

Special guest speaker was Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner 

On June 4, Councilwoman Janer Bonner served as the Keynote Speaker at the Decision, Women in Commerce and the Professions Installation of Officers and 45th Anniversary Dinner. The event was held at the Meadow Club in Port Jefferson Station.

Pictured left to right are Celeste Siemsen, President; Marion McNulty, First Vice President; Councilwoman Jane Bonner; Kiran Wadhwa, Second Vice President; Kerry Baardsen, Treasurer; Leslie Mitchel, Corresponding Secretary and Kathryn Krejci, Recording Secretary

Decision, Women in Commerce and the Professions is an organization that has been serving the women of Brookhaven for the past 45 years. Membership includes women who are professionals and those who are administrators or who own their own businesses.  In addition to providing education and networking opportunities, Decision has been dedicated to making charitable donations for women’s causes in the community.  Over $300,000 has been shared with recipients as diverse as Good Samaritan Hospice, Mather Hospital, the Flag Fund at the corner of 112 and 347 in Port Jefferson Station and AGAPE, serving lunches in school districts where there are children with “food insecurity.” 

Port Jefferson village trustee candidate Kyle Hill. Photo courtesy Kyle Hill

By Aidan Johnson

Port Jefferson resident Kyle Hill has entered the race for village trustee.

Hill, who announced his bid on June 16, was originally a Democratic candidate for the 1st Congressional District, but suspended his campaign on Feb. 28, stating, “I will never be able to fully put into words my sincere gratitude and appreciation for the warm reception and excitement I received all across the district.”

After attending graduate school at Stony Brook University, he worked for Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY 2/3) on Capitol Hill. Hill has a background in public policy, with many of his projects extending across the aisle. He is also a volunteer EMT with the Port Jefferson EMS.

He decided to run for trustee after being encouraged to do so by Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay in order to “carry on her environmental legacy,” he said.

He stressed flooding as one of his major issues, describing how it is more than just an inconvenience.

“The fire department floods a lot … and it’s wild that we are just letting this happen without a solution coming to the forefront, because if the firehouse is flooded out how can they respond to emergencies, ” Hill said in an interview. 

While Hill was open to considering moving the firehouse, he noted that since the fire station has special district status the village could not tell them to move, and he also stated the importance of acknowledging what the firehouse members wanted.

However, he said that it was important to focus on alleviating the flooding itself, including by preserving open space in the village.

“I think it would be really great if we had a true census on what’s left of open space because if you hardscape everything, the water can’t seep back into the soil — and that’s what causes flooding because the water has no place to go,” Hill said.

Hill is joined by two other candidates, Xena Ugrinsky and Marie Parziale, for the two trustee seats, meaning that two out of the three candidates will be elected. He did not offer an opinion on Parziale as he had not yet met her, but said that he and Ugrinsky had a good working history together as they both worked on the elections task force.

He also advocates for keeping the school district open, adding that it is important for everyone to focus on solutions instead of arguments.

Hill believes that he could give a “young voice perspective” on the board of trustees. 

“I think me being on there would be an important perspective for the future of the village, and just being able to bring folks together and focus on the problems,” he said.

By Heidi Sutton

Twenty years in the making, Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton is finally breaking ground on a new dog kennel and isolation facility on the 2.8-acre campus at 2259 River Road. The announcement was made at a press conference attended by local officials and Kent’s board of directors, staff and volunteers on May 24. A few adoptable dogs made an appearance as well.

The current dog kennel, which was built in 1968, will be demolished and replaced with a 3000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility with additional kennel space, more dog runs, puppy facilities, and meet-and-greet rooms. A former caretaker’s cottage on the property will be replaced with a dedicated isolation and quarantine facility for sick animals that arrive at the shelter. The project is expected to cost around 4.3 million. 

“I am so excited today because we have been waiting to do this about 20 years now and there have been many roadblocks along the way,” said Kent Animal Shelter’s Executive Director Pam Green. “I am grateful to everyone that came along with us [including] the board of directors. It’s been a long time. Our goals and our mission are the same — to rescue as many animals as possible, bring them here, give them medical attention, vaccines, surgery, whatever they need to bring them to their permanent homes. That hasn’t changed since the founders in 1968 and it remains the same today.”

Green went on to thank Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine and New York State Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio for being so supportive of the project.

“It is a great day because Kent Animal Shelter does so much to help animals that are homeless find their forever home,” said Suffolk County Executive Romaine during the event. Romaine adopted his dog Lucky from the no-kill shelter several years ago. “He is my pride and joy,” he said.

Giglio praised County Executive Romaine for getting the project “over the finish line.”

“When he was the Town of Brookhaven Supervisor and sitting on the Pine Barrens Commission he realized the importance of this great project. He has always been a supporter of Kent Animal Shelter, also of the environment, myself included, which is why when I heard they were so close to getting the permits and getting across the finish line I had some grant funding that was presented in my lap.” 

Giglio then presented a check for $75,000 to the board of directors for a new Innovative/Alternative (I/A) septic system to change the sanitary system over which is a requirement for Suffolk County given the shelter’s location in the Pine Barrens. “And I know the county is working on more funding for this great project,” she said.

“We will look to make sure that Kent has the funding they need to move forward on this project. They do a great job,” added Suffolk County Executive Romaine.

Joann Waski of the Riverhead Town Council and former Planning Board member also attended the event. “On behalf of the Town of Riverhead we’re so happy that we were able to move this project forward and we hope that a lot of the animals get adopted. You have a great program going on here,” she said.

“I want to also thank all the volunteers for everything that they do to make this place so special for all of these animals that are sometimes forgotten. May they find nice homes and may people enjoy their visit to  Kent Animal Shelter and find a pleasant environment just like the one that they will create when they adopt [pets] and bring them home,” said Giglio.

The project, which is being handled by J. Petrocelli Contracting, Inc. in Ronkonkoma, is expected to be completed in approximately six to eight months. In the interim, all of the adoptable dogs have been transferred to Bide-A-Wee at 118 Old Country Road in Westhampton Beach while the cat shelter will remain in Calverton. Hours for both locations are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

For more information, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

Screenshot

By Samantha Rutt

All members of the Brookhaven Town Board at the May 16 meeting sported a green ribbon to signify their support for mental health awareness. “We are all wearing green ribbons … that is for mental health,” town Supervisor Dan Panico (R) said. “Statistics show one in five people in this country have a mental health issue. It is an issue that touches all of our lives, some of our families and what we want in the Town of Brookhaven for you to know you are not alone.” 

Panico continued, “There is help out there. If you feel you need help or a family member needs help, contact the supervisor’s office or your councilperson.”

Moving on to the public hearing portion of the meeting, several applications were addressed including a modified site plan of Mount Sinai Meadows. The plan to amend the excess materials to be removed from the site was approved and will have no financial impact. 

In Centereach, the Centereach Hyundai filed an application for a change of use for the reduction of the building size from 45,150 square feet to 40,091 square feet, update landscaping, lighting and parking areas, special permit for outdoor parking or overnight parking with variances for property located on the north side of Middle Country Road. The application was approved with oversight from the town Environmental Protection Division ensuring no significant impact on the environment. 

Soon after, the board addressed the resolution agenda portion of the meeting. As part of the town’s agreement with the Long Island Housing Partnership, an extension of the initial agreement was granted. This agreement from May 25, 2022, was created under Title II of the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990. The general purposes of the program include expanding the supply of decent and affordable housing, particularly rental housing, for low and very low-income persons. The program is fully supported with HUD Federal funds. There is an adequate budget of $90K remaining resulting in no financial impact.

A request was made by District 1 councilmember, Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) for increased travel efficiency of the Port Jefferson Ferry terminal. The Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company is currently in the process of a major construction project at the ferry terminal by connecting to a sewer line located in a Port Jefferson Village parking lot. Approval of the councilmember’s request is awaiting state Legislature approval. 

Still pending decision, the application by Staller Associates for a zone change from Business to a Commercial Redevelopment District located on Patchogue Road in Port Jefferson Station. The application, initially submitted in 2021, proposes a demolition of an existing commercial building and an addition of a new mixed-use development. The proposed development includes seven commercial buildings for retail, restaurant, health club, professional/medical buildings as well as 280 dwelling units — 20% of which will be marketed as affordable housing units. 

The next Town Board meeting will be held on June 6 at the Town Hall in Farmingville. For more information about the Town Board visit brookhavenny.portal.civicclerk.com.

Town of Brookhaven employees remove illegal signs from public right-of-ways. Photo courtesy Town of Brookhaven

By Sabrina Artusa

The Town of Brookhaven is making a revitalized effort to remove illegal signs and enforce commercial sign restrictions. 

Unclear diction in the existing code made enforcement difficult, but now, as the town revises the code, officials are reviewing and discarding prohibited signs throughout Brookhaven. 

Signs in the right of way along state-owned highways were simplest to extricate, as anything in that zone is considered litter according to New York State. However, restrictions unique to the town in regards to size, location and lighting were more challenging to enforce. 

Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) said, “The new sign code will be a little more detailed and enforceable in regards to size, location and lighting.” According to him, unclear language and years of making exceptions make the current code insufficient. 

The proposed new code includes a more extensive list of purposes and 30 more definitions for terms and signs named in the code.

While zoning districts have different restrictions in terms of size, placement, lighting and materials, there are certain signs prohibited in all areas, such as revolving signs, reflective signs, billboards, roof signs, signs for off-premises businesses and signs attached to a tree, fence or utility pole, among others.

“The public interest has to be taken into consideration and allowing the proliferation of signs makes the streetscape look terrible,” Kornreich added. 

Improving the aesthetic of the community and preventing dangerous distractions to drivers were listed as considerations in the code revision.

While some business owners may feel these restrictions hinder their ability to attract customers, Kornreich, a small-business owner, is confident that by improving the atmosphere, more people will want to visit the area. 

Instead of signs, businesses can buy ads in newspapers or utilize websites and social media, he said. “Ultimately, making the community beautiful and a more desirable place to live is good for everybody. Our goal is not to harm small businesses — our goal is to make our downtown community better and more inviting.” 

This sentiment is echoed in the revised code. Most signs, including personal expression signs and temporary signs, require a permit from the Building Division. 

The town has sent the proposed revised code to the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association and chamber of commerce, also the Three Village Civic Association and chamber of commerce for review. After a period of feedback from these organizations, there will be a public hearing. 

Pixabay photo.
Three Village 

Budget vote: 

Yes: 2,140
No: 1,140 

Board of education election: elect three, third highest gets one-year term.

Shaorui Li – 1,976

Susan Rosenzweig – 1,970

Stanley Bak – 1,688

Amitava Das – 1,683

 

Port Jefferson 

Budget vote:

Yes: 640

No: 148

Trustee election: To elect three board of education trustees for a three-year term, July 1, to June 30, 2027. 

Tracy Zamek – 598

Traci Donnelly – 574

Michael Weaver – 563

 

Comsewogue 

Budget vote:

Yes: 540

No:  204

Trustee election. Incumbents ran unopposed:

Margaret Mitchell – 593

Richard Rennard – 543

Corey Prinz – 508             

 

Shoreham-Wading River

Budget vote:

Yes: 526

No:  125

 Board of education election, vote for two:

Jim Lauckhardt – 537

James Smith – 487

 

Miller Place 

Budget vote: 

Yes: 565

No:  170

Board of education trustee election, elect one:
Bryan Makarius – 584 
Votes for other candidates –  43     

 

Rocky Point        

Budget vote:

Yes: 846 

No:  289 

Board trustee election, vote for two: 

Michael Lisa – 599 

Stacey Lasurdo – 482

Elizabeth Diesa – 367

Shelita Watkis – 361                

Michael Sanchez – 289

Capital Reserve Fund vote:

Yes: 919 

No:  217  

Hallock Homestead Museum vote:

Yes:  787

No:   352

 

Mount Sinai 

Budget vote:

Yes: 802

No:  212

The terms are three years. Vote for two, elected at-large. 

Paul Staudt (incumbent) and Joseph Randazzo ran unopposed 

 

Hauppauge 

Budget vote:

Yes: 584

No:  278 

Board of education, two terms (three years): 

Catherine Collins – 583

Brian Michels – 574

 

Kings Park

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,046

No:     533

Board of education election: 

Kevin Johnston (incumbent) and James Lovastik ran unopposed

 

Smithtown

Budget vote:

Yes: 4,569

No:  1,722

Board of education, vote for two:

Dana Fritch (3,614) defeated Stacy Murphy (2,664) (incumbent)

Emily Cianci (3,605) defeated Karen Wontrobski-Ricciardi (incumbent) (2,669)

 

Commack

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,701

No: 400

Board of education, vote for one:

Dana Schultz – 1,047

Gus Hueber – 997

 

Middle Country 

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,578 

No: 569

Board of education, vote for three: 

John DeBenedetto – 1,568

Denise Haggerty – 1,531

Arlene Barresi – 1,501

 

Harborfields 

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,227 

No: 279 

2015 Capital Reserve Fund:

Yes: 1,217 

No:     254

Board of education’s three open seats, currently held by incumbents Susan Broderick, Eve Meltzer-Krief and Suzie Lustig (not seeking reelection):

Susan Broderick – 1,124 

Rachael Risinger – 1,053 

Eve Meltzer-Krief – 1,044

David Balistreri – 396 

Freda Manuel – 316 

 

Elwood 

Budget vote:

Yes: 652 

No:  287

To expend $500,000 in capital reserve for districtwide security enhancements and purchase of district wide maintenance and grounds vehicles.

Yes: 714

No:  213

For the board of education’s two open seats, currently held by incumbent members James Tomeo and Heather Mammolito (not seeking reelection):

James Tomeo – 717 

Walter Edwards – 620

 

Cold Spring Harbor 

Budget vote: 

Yes: 657                            

No: 186                            

Board trustees, two elected at large:

Heather Morante Young (incumbent) – 555

Mark Attalienti – 484

Scott Kaufman – 414

 

Northport-East Northport 

Budget vote:

Yes: 2,202

No:  1,536

Board of education election:

Terms are three years. Voters select two candidates among four who are running: 

Carol Taylor (incumbent) – 1,984

Michael Cleary – 1,860

Paul Darrigo – 1,601

Victoria Bento – 1,328

 

Huntington

Budget vote:

Yes: 1,059         

No:     206

Board of education, vote for three:

Theresa Sullivan (incumbent) – 882

Thomas Galvin (incumbent) – 856 

Annie Michaelian – 812

Sara Baliber – 656

Residents gather at the Heritage Center for a Mount Sinai Civic Association meeting. Photo courtesy Sarah Anker

By Sarah S. Anker

Over 100 residents gathered at the Heritage Center during a May 6 Mount Sinai Civic Association meeting to hear from New Leaf Energy, a battery storage company, about a proposed lithium-ion battery storage facility. 

According to the civic president, Brad Arrington, the plan to site the 20-megawatt battery storage system facility on a 1-acre parcel, located at the corner of Mount Sinai-Coram Road and Route 25A in Mount Sinai, has been in the works for seven years. Surprisingly, despite representing the area as a former Suffolk County legislator for the past 13 years, I only recently learned about this project.

Having facilitated the Green Homes and the Go Solar programs as the former director of Town of Brookhaven’s Office of Energy & Sustainability, I strongly support clean energy initiatives. However, I have concerns about the proposed location of this facility. Placing it on a 1-acre parcel with no buffers, near one of the county’s most accident-prone intersections, raises red flags. Additionally, the site is close to residential neighborhoods, a public walking path, an SCWA drinking water well and Mount Sinai schools.

I would have no problem if the siting were in an area that, if the units were to catch on fire, there would be less exposure to the highly toxic fumes emitted. After the East Hampton battery storage facility caught on fire, several towns — including Southampton, Southold and Huntington — moved forward with moratoriums. It is only common sense that more scrutiny be done to address the safety of these facilities and where they are placed. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has created the Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group to review the issue of battery storage systems safety. As the working group investigates the fires that have occurred at three New York locations, a moratorium is needed in Brookhaven to ensure the safety of its residents. 

Over 20 years ago, a Home Depot was proposed to be built on the site that is now Mount Sinai’s centerpiece, the North Shore Heritage Park. We fought hard to create the park by collecting petitions, writing letters to our elected officials, wrapping green ribbons around our mailboxes and rallying our community together. Can you image if no one cared back then, and a Home Depot was built? Eighteen-wheeler trucks would snarl traffic, the green rolling hills would be black pavement and the memories of community concerts, holiday events, sports games and the springtime daffodil smiling face on the hill would be lost. 

Just as location, location, location is what the realtors say when emphasizing the value of real estate, let’s also consider the location of this project and the value we place on public safety and quality of life. Do we really want an industrial parcel located in the heart of our hometown? The project cannot move forward until the Town Board votes to change the zoning to light industrial. I encourage residents to attend upcoming Town Board meetings and provide input before a decision is made. Government is here for you when they hear from you. 

Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) is a District 1 candidate for the New York State Senate and was formerly a Suffolk County legislator.  

On May 4, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner was at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mt. Sinai for her first Paper Shredding, Electronic and Prescription Drug Take Back recycling event of the year. The beautiful weather brought out 520 vehicles to drop off 6360 lbs. of electronic waste, 16,480 lbs. of paper for shredding and 11 boxes of prescription drugs for proper disposal.