Miller Place

File photo

By Sabrina Artusa

New Leaf Energy has proposed a new battery energy storage system facility in Mount Sinai — a proposal that necessitates a rezoning of the current property.

The increase in development of battery energy storage systems in the state is part of the effort to achieve the goal of the 2019 New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which states that by 2030, 70% of electricity should be derived from renewable energy. 

The battery energy storage system will work to offset the lack of wind and solar power during off seasons by storing excess electricity throughout the year, then release electricity when demand dictates. 

The facility will be approximately 40,000 square feet and will consist of 24 Tesla Megapack 2XL containers, and will generate around 80 megawatt-hours, which could power 16,000 homes. The proposed site is adjacent to Mount Sinai‒Coram Road and Route 25A.

The proposal was met with opposition from the community, many of whom were concerned that the facility, which consists of four battery installations, would provide a safety risk to the nearby school. 

In March, the developer approached the Mount Sinai Civic Association with their plans. At the civic’s May 6 meeting, New Leaf Energy prepared a presentation and answered questions. The meeting, according to the association’s president Brad Arrington, lasted two-and-a-half hours. 

Arrington estimated that of those who attended, 70-80% were opposed. 

“I think most people are concerned about the safety around BESS. They are worried about proximity to lithium and they are worried about fires,” Arrington said. “People are rightly concerned about that.”

A petition against the development listed safety concerns as a major reason why the facility should not be approved. While fires are a reasonable concern, New Leaf Energy’s systems have several safety measures to ensure any fires stay contained. 

However, the property is not zoned as a residential area, but as transitional business. The application from New Leaf Energy proposes a change to light industrial. 

According to their presentation, toxic gases are not a risk and precautions have been taken to limit the likelihood of fires. The units are spread out, have a thermal management system and on-site and remote monitoring systems. 

The civic expanded the conversation to include Mount Sinai School District and Mount Sinai Fire Department. Arrington said that the fire department seems “satisfied with the information they were provided” and have not “expressed significant concerns around safety.”

New Leaf Energy, in a PowerPoint presentation available on the civic website, has indicated there will be a community benefit agreement “in place of school district PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes),” which is estimated at “approx. $10,000 per year per project.”

The civic association is still gathering information and has not yet formed an opinion on the proposal. Arrington said the vote will likely take place in the fall. 

“We really try to represent the interests of our community to our elected officials and provide meaningful and balanced opinions to our officials,” he said.

Operation of the facility is estimated for summer 2027 if approved. 

Miller Place senior Zoe Weissman battles at the draw. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Royals of Port Jefferson had their hands full when they hosted the Panthers of Miller Place Friday afternoon, April 26, in a home game in a girls lacrosse matchup. The Royals hoped to use the home field — which is grass, not turf — to their advantage. But the game didn’t play out that way in the Division II matchup.

Port Jeff junior Anna Matvya split the pipes midway through the second quarter to break the ice for her team, but it was little consolation as the Royals trailed 11-1 at the half. Miller Place peppered the scoreboard with seven more goals in the second half with Matvya finding the back of the net thrice more for an impressive four goals as the Royals fell to the Panthers 18-4.

Miller Place attack Mirabella Altebrando had three goals and eight assists with teammate Lyla Coffey netting three times. 

Sophia Ingenito and Casey Gilbert both had two goals and an assist for the Panthers and Angie Efstathiou and Hayden Young had two goals apiece.

Port Jeff goalie Emma Batter had 11 saves.

Ava Zicchinelli slides safely home for the Panthers in a road game against Shoreham-Wading River. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Miller Place Panthers opened their 2024 softball season with a victory over Islip, a win against Sayville and then blanked Kings Park, before traveling to Shoreham-Wading River looking to make it four in a row.

Freshman Delaney Schleider’s bat spoke first, driving in two runs for the Panthers in the opening inning to take the early lead in the nonconference matchup April 8.

With one out, Miller Place loaded the bases in the top of the 4th when the Wildcats defense made a statement, turning a double play to strand three runners to end the inning.

It didn’t matter, the Panthers went on a scoring fest in the top of the 5th to break the game wide open by plating 11 runners before it was all over. Shoreham Wading River with their backs against the wall trailing 13-0 in the bottom of the 5th needed to answer back but the Wildcats bats fell silent, triggering the mercy rule — trailing by 10 runs or more — to end the game two innings early.

Miller Place junior Ava Zicchinelli put on an impressive pitching performance for the Panthers striking out eight batters while giving up just two hits, and teammate Brooke Borkowski had three hits, two runs with two RBIs in the win.

Miller Place retook the field the next day, April 9, with a home game against unbeaten Bayport-Blue Point, but lost for the first time, 2-0. Shoreham, on the other hand, cantered to an 18-5 victory at Harborfields. — Photos by Bill Landon 

Photos by Greg Catalano


First responders swarm the scene on Feb. 22. Photo by Lynn Hallarman

By Lynn Hallarman

Christian Neubert, third assistant chief for the Port Jefferson Village Fire Department, was first on the scene, responding to the emergency dispatch called to the Port Jefferson fire station at 5:44 AM, Thursday, Feb. 22. 

At 5:46 AM, Neubert arrived at the corner of Thompson Street and East Main Street in the Village to find flames shooting in the air from the roof of a two-car garage on the residential property at 119 East Main Street. He quickly realized the worst was possible and told the dispatcher to alert neighboring fire departments that a full-structure fire was underway. 

When a report of a structure fire is called to the Port Jefferson Fire Department, the Terryville Fire Department is simultaneously alerted, putting in motion a quick response firefighting team as an extra layer of support for dangerous fire situations, Neubert explained the emergency response process in an interview with TBR. “This system is excellent and part of our automatic mutual aid program. And we do the same for Terryville,” he said. 

Belle Terre resident Mel Kravitz, on his early morning walk with his dog, could see the flames reaching into the sky from the Gap parking lot. 

“I heard explosions, then shortly after, I saw the fire trucks shooting down East Main,” Kravitz said. 

At 5:51 AM the Terryville Fire Department arrived on the scene. 

At 6:03 AM,  neighboring fire departments began to arrive to fight the blaze: Setauket Fire DepartmentMount Sinai Fire Department, and Stony Brook Fire Department responded, according to Neubert. The Miller Place Fire Department stood by at the Port Jefferson Fire Station in case an alarm sounded for another village fire. 

After confirming residents were safely outside, the crew assessed if the fire had extended into the house. The fire jumped from the garage and was eating its way through a low roof on the side of the house. Firefighters split efforts between containing the garage fire and extinguishing the rapidly spreading fire inside the home.

Several firefighters were fighting the blaze — some were on the house’s roof and inside the house searching for hot spots, while others drenched the destroyed garage with water. Cars parked inside the garage were now heaps of melted metal. Smoke plumed from burnt remnants, and radiant heat melted the siding off the house next door on Thompson Street. Firefighters doused a charred shed on the adjacent property on East Main. 

At 6:48 AM, the Port Jefferson Fire Department declared the fire incident under control. 

“The theory is the fire originated in a car in the garage,” Neubert said. But as a firefighter, you can’t know.” The incident will now be under investigation by the village Fire Marshall and the Suffolk County police, who make these determinations, he explained. 

No residents were hurt in the fire. A second-degree hand burn sent one firefighter to the emergency room at Stony Brook University Hospital. He was treated and released, according to Neubert. 

Fire Safety Tips

“The number one fire safety tactic is to install smoke detectors,” Neubert said.  

“And don’t assume that the fire department knows because your smoke alarm is going off; call 911 immediately,” he said. 

“Sleep with the doors closed at night. A closed door is imperative to stop fire spread,” he warns.

The Port Jefferson Fire Department has a designated fire alarm hotline: 631-473-3232. 

“We’re proud of having that capability. Residents can call the firehouse directly, saving critical minutes in response time.

Neubert reminds the public that every firefighter in the Port Jefferson fire department is a volunteer.

“Volunteer firefighters responded to this fire, then left, showered, and went to work.”

Loose ball. Bill Landon photo

Being one of the smallest schools in Suffolk County, when the Lady Royals of Port Jeff play an early season nonleague game, they always face a team from a larger school district. This was the case Friday afternoon with a home game against Miller Place. 

Having lost perennial scoring threats to graduation, Port Jeff’s roster features only one senior as the Lady Royals had their hands full, falling to the Panthers 47-22 in the Dec. 8 matchup.

Returning starter Ava Zicchinelli for Miller Place was the offensive spark for the Panthers, leading her team with 14 points followed by Brooke Callaghan, who banked nine. Sophia Ingenito netted seven.

Rose Meliker-Hammock scored three from the floor and three from the free throw line for nine points for the Royals.

Port Jeff (0-2) retakes the court with another nonleague matchup Saturday, Dec. 16, with a road game against West Islip. Game time is scheduled for 10 a.m.

The Panthers (2-4) face one more nonleague matchup at home to Pierson/Bridgehampton Dec. 20 before league play begins with a home game against Harborfields Thursday, Jan. 4, with tipoff at 5:30 p.m.

High school drama production draws a crowd to two performances

Photo courtesy MPSD

The Miller Place Panther Troupe recently captivated audiences with two performances of their fall drama production “The Curious Savage,” written by John Patrick.

“I’d like to commend the actors, set designers, musicians and everyone involved in the incredible production of ‘The Curious Savage,’” said Superintendent of Schools Seth Lipshie. “Our students put on two engaging performances that moved their audience with scenes that were both poignant and comedic. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

Over the course of this fall, cast members developed their characters and honed their acting skills while crew members sharpened their technical theater skills and helped curate the set. Director Jenna Ely and assistant director Colleen Annicelli led a talented cast that had their audiences laughing, crying and thoroughly enjoying the show.

The Miller Place Panther Troupe captivates audiences with two performances of ‘The Curious Savage,’ written by John Patrick. Photos courtesy MPSD

“The Curious Savage” follows the story of an elderly widow named Ethel Savage who was left $10 million from her late husband. She seeks to donate the fortune, but her stepchildren seek to thwart her plan and have her committed to a sanatorium.

She bonds with the kind residents there and discovers the meaning of love and family. The dramatic comedy opened on Broadway in 1950 and starred Lillian Gish as Ethel Savage.

For their work on “The Curious Savage,” the Miller Place Panther Troupe is eligible for the East End Arts’ 22nd annual Teeny Awards. The annual high school theater awards show, given its name as a reference to the Tony Awards, will take place this June.

For more information about the Miller Place school district, please visit the district’s website at To read more about the great things happening in Miller Place schools, visit

Miller Place school district officials break ground on the Andrew Muller Primary School gymnasium with representatives of RENU Contracting & Restoration. Photo courtesy MPSD

Miller Place Union Free School District recently celebrated the start of construction of a new gymnasium at Andrew Muller Primary School.

Superintendent of Schools Seth Lipshie joined with members of the district administration, the Board of Education, district architect and representatives of RENU Contracting & Restoration to celebrate the groundbreaking.

“We are thrilled to announce the start of construction of the new gymnasium at Andrew Muller Primary School,” Lipshie said. “Our district has worked diligently to make this possible. This provides an excellent physical education environment for our students. The current shared gymnasium space can now be utilized for a dedicated cafeteria and an area to host school assemblies.”

The site of the new gymnasium will be located to the left of the main entrance with an adjoining hallway. The construction of the primary school gym is part of the district’s bond referendum, approved by voters in October 2021.

For more information about the Miller Place school district, please visit the district’s website at To read more about the happenings in Miller Place schools, visit or the district’s Facebook page.

After edging by Miller Place in the first set having to win by two, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats lost the second set to make it a new match in the League VI matchup.

Squeezing by the Panthers 25-23 in the third set and rallying in the fourth set, the Wildcats were lucky to escape with the 3-1 victory, 28-26, 18-25, 25-23, 25-18, on the road Sept. 22.

Senior Giorgia Balza led the way for the Wildcats with 13 kills, a pair of aces and 4 blocks, and teammate Caroline Lange had a block with 4 kills.

Setting the pace for the Panthers was Payton Horan with 13 kills, a service ace and 2 digs along with Olivia Honkanen’s 6 kills 3 service aces and 4 digs.

The win lifts the Wildcats to 2-2, leaving the Panthers searching for that elusive first win.

Both teams are back in action Sept. 28 when the Wildcats host Bayport-Blue Point at 4 p.m. and the Panthers have a road game against nearby Mount Sinai. First service is set for 4:30 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

File photo
Marianne Cartisano. File photo
By Marianne Cartisano

On Thursday, May 11, I woke up to the realization that I, like hundreds of people across Long Island, had lost a great friend in Matt LoNigro, a popular youth lacrosse coach and community leader from Miller Place. He was a man of many contradictions and contributions. He advocated loud, yet did his service work quietly. He loved hard, yet reflected softly.

In Matt’s untimely and too-soon passing there are no answers to why and how come? We are left with huge voids in our communities across Nassau and Suffolk schools, youth leagues and charitable organizations. Following Matt’s example of how to live life will not be easy, but it is possible if we pay it forward.

In honor of Matt’s love of youth sports, we can show up 15 minutes early for practices/games and help the coach set up the lacrosse, soccer or baseball field. We can help organize the pizza dinner, picture day or uniform handout.

In honor of Matt’s dedication to community we can create a raffle basket for a local fundraising event.

In honor of Matt’s commitment to service we can work with our neighbors to fill a few grocery bags and drop them off at a local food pantry.

In honor of Matt’s loyalty to mentor those who are currently challenged, or in recovery, we can donate hygiene products, paper goods or towels to a local support facility or organization.

In honor of Matt’s love of family, we will not forget them. There are a lot of LoNigros who are in shock and devastated by his passing. Connecting with them, however we are most comfortable, will help them through this horror.

Keeping Matt’s legacy alive is easy if we all take the time to pay it forward.

Matt, your life was filled with those that love you from here to the heavens. My hope is that you felt that love while you were with us and beyond.

Rest in peace, Matt, but watch over us — we got you. 

Marianne Cartisano is a former superintendent of schools of Miller Place school district.