Times of Middle Country

The town is taking steps to reduce the amount of nitrogen in its groundwater. File photo

The quality of the water on Long Island is worsening, and the Town of Brookhaven took an important step to reverse that trend.

The town board voted unanimously to approve a local law proposed by Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) that establishes nitrogen protection zones within 500 feet of any body of water on or around Long Island. The zones will prohibit new structures or dwellings being built in that range from installing cesspools or septic systems, effective in January 2017.

“We’ve all watched our waters degrade over the last 50 years,” Romaine said after the vote at a town board meeting held on June 9. “We all know part of the problem is nitrogen.”

Romaine has long been an advocate for improving the island’s water quality on the town and county levels. He addressed the problem at his State of the Town address in March.

“Nitrogen from our sanitary systems, our lawns, our golf courses and our farms is impacting our bays and harbors, our freshwater lakes and streams and our drinking water,” he said. “The solutions to this problem are neither easy nor cheap. But doing nothing is not an option; we must act now. Our future depends on us addressing this problem.”

Representatives from three nonprofit organizations focusing on water quality spoke in support of the law last Thursday.

“I’d like to congratulate you guys and commend you again on your environmental leadership,” George Hoffman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force said. “It’s timely. It’s needed and I’m glad that you’re moving forward with it because there just seems to be a lot of stuff going on with harbors and waters and nitrogen but nothing seems to be getting done. So this is a good thing to see that you’re actually seeing it through and that there will be an ordinance here that will start to change what’s going on in our waters.”

Kevin McAllister of Defend H2O and Doug Swesty of the Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition also spoke in strong support of the law.

“It’s critical that you do this because of the glaciated terrain in which we live on here in Long Island, that 500 feet represents approximately two years of travel time from the time something enters a cesspool or septic tank within a 500-foot radius until it reaches the water body,” Swesty said. “Groundwater travel times here are about two to three feet a day. So it’s critical that we implement something to protect our waterways from discharges that are put into the groundwater.”

According to the town’s website, there has been a 93 percent decline in Great South Bay clam harvests as a result of brown tides, which are brought about by nitrogen seepage. The island’s bay scallop industry has collapsed almost entirely due to nitrogen-caused algal blooms. These issues are in addition to the overall decreasing quality of Long Island’s water.

The law will have an added provision protecting homeowners who incur damage thanks to a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, allowing them other options should requiring the purchase of a new system be a source of financial hardship.

Third District Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden), who is in favor of that protection, supports the law as a whole.

“I think it’s a great goal we’ve set for the town and for other towns as well,” he said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone pitches the proposal. Photo from Steve Bellone

Suffolk County is delaying a bold proposal that would have charged residents a minimal fee to enhance water quality protection efforts.

In April, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) staged a press conference in the company of environmentalists and lawmakers to announce his plan to address nitrogen pollution in drinking and surface water across the region by charging an additional $1 per 1,000 gallons of water. It needed the state legislature’s blessing in order to go before Suffolk County residents in a referendum vote in November, and this month, Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider said in reports that the county would be holding off on the plan to allow more time before putting it on the ballot.

The proposal would have kicked in in 2018 and established what Bellone called a “water quality protection fee,” which would fund the conversion of homes from outdated septic systems to active treatment systems, the county executive said. He estimated the $1 surcharge would have generated roughly $75 million in revenue each year to be solely dedicated to reducing nitrogen pollution — and still keep Suffolk County’s water rates nearly 40 percent lower than the national average.

Peter Scully, deputy county executive and head of the water quality initiative, said in an interview that some state lawmakers showed no interest in advancing the proposal, forcing the county’s hand before putting it to a referendum.

He said that Bellone preferred this kind of surcharge be decided by residents via referendum.

“We received kind of a sobering indication from the state Senate that there was not enough support for the proposal to let the people of Suffolk County vote,” he said. “We decided that this appears to be more of a timing issue.”

Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, endorsed the initial county proposal but said he was “mad as hell” over the decision to halt the plan for another year. In an interview with TBR News Media, Amper said the administration was handcuffed by state lawmakers who did not want to see Bellone’s plan come to fruition.

“If I had children, and they pulled something like this, I’d send them to their room,” Amper said. “The Bellone administration felt the Senate had made this decision for them. It was killed — not withdrawn.”

Amper said state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) expressed little interest in allowing Bellone’s proposal to come to a vote this November and accused him of playing political games with the environment.

“This is something they can’t not do something about,” Amper said. “It’s the biggest environmental and economic crisis this island ever faced.”

A spokesman for Flanagan issued the following statement: “Our office has always considered the merits of any legislative proposal advanced by Suffolk County’s elected officials, and we will continue to do so in the future.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) — a known environmental activist — said the measure would have done wonders for the state’s water supply.

“We’re really looking at an opportunity to correct some deficiencies that could, if left uncorrected, unhinge our economy, which is based upon people bathing and recreating in our coastal waters, fishing and otherwise enjoying our waters,” he said when it was announced. “For the first time, we are pulling a program together that integrates both our fresh water and saltwater in one protection initiative, and that is very significant.”

Some lawmakers, including county legislators Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) and Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) staged a press conference following Bellone’s proposal to express opposition, calling it unwelcomed taxation.

George Hoffman, of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, also stood behind Bellone’s proposal when it was announced and said it would benefit Suffolk County for decades to come. He said it was “one of the most far-reaching and important public policy issues in decades,” and said it was important to proceed slowly and “get it right” moving forward.

“I worked with the supervisor of Brookhaven in 2003 when the town put forward a $100 million dollar open space fund referendum that received over 70 percent voter approval — but we spent many months going out to the various communities and explaining why it was needed,” he said. “You can’t cut corners on big policy issues and when you need the voters to approve new funding sources like the proposed water surcharge.”

Roughly 90 percent of the population in Nassau County operates under an active wastewater treatment system through connections to sewage plants. But in Suffolk County, there are more than 360,000 individual cesspools and septic systems — representing more unsewered homes than in the entire state of New Jersey — that are more likely to release nitrogen into the ground and surface water.

Scully said the county would be workshopping the proposal with civics and business and other stakeholders across Suffolk in order to perfect the proposition before putting it to a vote.

“If there are folks who are opposed to our proposal and don’t have one of their own, that means they’re not concerned about solving the problem,” he said. “We’re hoping we can get productive discussions.”

A new chemical rating system will inform people using dry cleaners in Suffolk. File photo

Customers will soon have more information about how their clothes are being cleaned.

The Suffolk County Legislature recently approved a new law that will require dry cleaners to share information with customers about the types of chemical solvents they are using and the environmental effects of those solvents.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) had proposed the law, which passed on June 2. Under the new requirements, the county health department will categorize dry cleaning solvents, ranking “each chemical grouping based on both human and environmental impacts,” according to a press release from Hahn’s office.

From there, during the existing annual inspections for dry cleaners, county officials will provide the businesses with color-coded signs that “indicate the cleaning methods and solvents used by each individual shop.”

The dry cleaners would have to post the signs in their windows and behind their counters.

On the government side, the health department will also have a website — the address of which will be on the color-coded signs — with environmental and health information about different dry cleaning solvents and processes.

“This bill empowers consumers and allows them to make more informed decisions, which in the end is good for all of us,” Hahn said in a statement. “While it is common for consumers to read food ingredient lists and nutrition labels and to search out reviews for other products, most are hard-pressed to find the time to research details related to a myriad of dry cleaning solvents, figure out the exact solvent used by their cleaner and then investigate its potential impact on his or her self, family and environment.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) still has to sign the approved bill into law.

Hahn’s bill was related to a previous one she put before the Legislature, which was also approved in mid-April, to stop garment-cleaning businesses from using the term “organic” to describe their services, because there are no set criteria for its usage in consumer goods and services and could be misleading. The legislator has given the example of dry cleaning chemicals that are harmful to the environment but might be referred to as organic because they contain naturally occurring elements such as carbon.

“Organic in this context is a technical term, and does not mean chemical-free,” Beth Fiteni, owner of Green Inside and Out Consulting, an advocacy organization committed to empowering the public to find healthier alternatives to common toxins, said in a statement at the time the bill passed the Legislature. “This legislation in Suffolk County helps address possible confusion.”

That law prohibited dry cleaners from using the term to advertise their services, with fines between $500 and $1,000 for violating the rule.

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A sweet victory for U-11 MC United team, which finished No. 1 in Hershey Cup tournament

The U-11 boys’ soccer team MC United. Photo from Robyn Reitano

Boys’ U-11 MC United

Middle Country is proud of its new 10 and 11-year-old boys’ travel soccer team for taking the first place title in its first out of town tournament on Memorial Day.

After two days of playing four games, the boys beat all their competition except for the local Hershey club team comprised of top players around the area.

Hershey awarded Midlle Country United the second place finalist trophy, but first place ranking and champion title for defeating every team in its bracket.

Despite the oppressive heat, distraction of the park, and some illnesses and injuries on the field, the new team played together as if the boys had been doing it for years.

The sportsmanship and maturity displayed was commendable. Instead of treating it as a vacation, focusing on going to Hershey Park and enjoying hotel facilities, the boys were completely focused on the games. They concerned themselves with proper diet and getting plenty of rest.

The experience fostered the boys’ love of the game. MC United now ranks 12th out of 172 teams in the New York East, 95 out of 1,191 teams in the region and 593 out of 3,873 in the nation. They team, consisting of Anthony Ciulla, Kevin Cosgrove, Michael Cosmo, Eric Crescenzo, Lucas Ferreira, Andrew Ferreira, William Kiernan, Benjamin Mark, Timmy McCarthy, Sean McGuigan, Luke Reitano and Christian Torres, has superseded expectations for a new team.

Girls’ U-11 MC Bandits

The girls’ U11 team, called the Middle Country Bandits, also competed on Memorial Day and took home a first-place finish.

The girls put together four solid games and finished in first-place in the Memorial Day soccer tournament in Manalapan, New Jersey. The girls displayed great determination, teamwork and grit throughout the 90-plus degree heat.

Girls’ U-13 LGN Sting

The LGN Sting girls’ U-13 team also successfully brought home first-place honors from the Manalapan tournament in dramatic fashion.

After controlling much of the possession in the championship game, the Sting still found itself trailing 1-0 in the late stages of the game. The team eventually broke through and evened the score 1-1 with five seconds to play in regulation, and won the championship in a penalty-kick shootout.

By Bob Lipinski

Barbecues are great and so is watching baseball on Father’s Day. However, as the day heats up, I enjoy a libation that brings me peace of mind, helps me relax and makes MY day special. I’m talking about some California chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, followed by a glass of cognac after dinner.

“The land itself chooses the crop that suits it best.” Hugh Johnson

I recently had the opportunity to taste a few wines from the J. Lohr Winery in Monterey, California. Jerry “J” Lohr started the winery back in 1974 after a meticulous search of the Arroyo Seco region, an ideal site for grapes due to its long growing season. In 1986, Jerry purchased property in Paso Robles, a favored area for big full-bodied red wines.

The J. Lohr Winery has grown to approximately 3,700 acres of vineyards, where he grows chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, petite sirah, merlot, sauvignon blanc, syrah, riesling, and Valdiguié grapes, among others. Below are my tasting notes:

2013 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay; Arroyo Seco, California:
Light golden colored with a bouquet full of baked apples, spices, butter and toasted hazelnuts. A creamy mouthfeel, along with vanilla, banana, coconut and citrus. Pairs well with fish or a chicken breast rolled in crushed pistachios.

2012 Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir; Arroyo Seco, California:
Fairly dark colored with hints of smoke, cocoa, black cherry and black raspberries. Medium bodied with a flavor of cola, dark fruit, jam and mint. Real easy to drink while grilling. Serve with farfalle and some grilled vegetables and hot peppers.

2013 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California:
Deep, dark colored with a bouquet of cassis, black tea, violets and plums. Full-bodied, powerful with flavors of black raspberry, coffee and cocoa powder. It is tannic, but nevertheless, easy going down. The lingering aftertaste begs for another glass (or bottle). I served this beauty with a porterhouse steak, brushed with extra-virgin olive (after grilling).

The lingering aftertaste of the 2013 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon begs for another glass (or bottle).

2013 Tower Road, Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, California:
Inky black colored with a spicy bouquet and flavor of black pepper, blackberry, black cherry, plums and raisins. Full-bodied and intense, with overtones of herbs, tobacco and violets; a powerful aftertaste. I don’t assign numbers or points to a wine, but if I did, this Petite Sirah would easily score 90+ points. It’s that good!

Now, after those wonderful wines and perhaps dessert, a glass of cognac is certainly in order. Prunier VSOP Cognac from the “Grande Champagne” region of Cognac is amber colored with a delicate bouquet and flavor of orange, rose petals and pear. Very smooth finish and a lingering aftertaste. Prunier 20-year-old Cognac is amber colored with a captivating bouquet of prunes, raisins, cedar and orange blossoms. Warming in the mouth and is ultra-smooth; no burn! You will hear the violins play with a glass of Prunier.

Say hello to dad for me!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or  [email protected]

Nunu wants a home outside the town animal shelter. Photo from Brookhaven Town

The town animal shelter is now open every day as part of an effort to get more dogs and cats adopted.

Supervisor Ed Romaine said the expanded hours would make it more convenient for people to visit the shelter in Brookhaven hamlet, which is located on Horseblock Road.

The Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center is now open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-451-6950 or visit www.brookhaven.org/animalshelter.

A house and property owned by James Grant on Marshall Drive in Selden is unstable and unsecured, leaving it in danger of imminent collapse. Grant has until June 25 to fix the property or the Town of Brookhaven will demolish it. Photo by Alex Petroski

A vacant house on a dilapidated property on Marshall Drive in Selden is in danger of imminent collapse, according to Town of Brookhaven Senior Building Inspector Robert Incagliato.

The Brookhaven Town Board, at a public hearing on May 26, discussed the roughly 2,000-square-foot house and surrounding property, and ultimately voted to demolish the house upon the recommendation of Incagliato and other independent engineers’ reports if no significant progress is made by the owner in fixing the house’s compromised foundation within 30 days.

James Grant purchased the house for about $45,000, he said, in March 2015, with the intentions of rehabbing it and the surrounding property then flipping it to a prospective buyer for a profit. Grant’s sale fell through when the buyer learned of the possibility the town would demolish the structure, leaving Grant with few options. He testified at the hearing that he started the process to obtain a building permit that would be required to fix the crumbling foundation, in April 2015. The building permit, which is good for one year, was issued on October 29, 2015.

“I didn’t know I was under a specific time restraint to get it done,” Grant said.

An engineer’s report from the firm Cashin, Spinelli & Ferretti LLC declared the house unfit for human occupancy on April 15, 2015. The report sites debris and rubbish throughout the property, abandoned vehicles with expired registrations, an illegal and unsafe rear addition to the house, a deteriorated roof and frame, animal and insect infestations and damage to the house’s foundation as evidence for the recommendation to demolish the house. It stands less than 500 feet from Newfield High School.

“It is evident that the owner has not taken any of the required steps to perform maintenance as may be required from time to time to ensure the entire site is safe and secure and does not present a hazard to the adjoining property owners and to the general public,” the report said.

Grant and his attorney argued that he was required to spend about $5,000 to receive the yearlong building permit, and didn’t want to invest more time and money into fixing the property knowing the town was considering having it torn down anyway.

A house and property owned by James Grant on Marshall Drive in Selden is unstable and unsecured, leaving it in danger of imminent collapse. Grant has until June 25 to fix the property or the Town of Brookhaven will demolish it. Photo by Alex Petroski
A house and property owned by James Grant on Marshall Drive in Selden is unstable and unsecured, leaving it in danger of imminent collapse. Grant has until June 25 to fix the property or the Town of Brookhaven will demolish it. Photo by Alex Petroski

Town officials visited the property on May 25, one day prior to the hearing to check on the status of the house and see how much progress Grant had made. According to Incagliato, the front door was wide open along with second floor windows, making access to the dangerous structure easy for anyone.

“The damaged walls and foundation still exist,” town employee Bill Faulk said on behalf of the Town Law Department. “There has been no work done to the house at all.”

Grant and his attorney attended the hearing hoping for a six-month adjournment to continue working on the rehabbing process.

“You can’t just get a permit and use that as a ticket not to do anything for a year,” Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said. “It has now been exposed since October 29, 2015 to all the elements of the winter. This foundation is getting worse. … We don’t want a kid to be in there when this thing starts to collapse.”

Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) represents the district that the property is in.

“We’ve been getting complaints about this house constantly and you’re not moving,” he said to Grant. “We’ll give you 30 days. That’s the fairest thing we can do. You’ve had over a year to start to rectify these problems. Now we’ll give you another 30 days. If you don’t make any substantial move at this point, we’ll knock down the house and we’re probably going to do you a favor because I think that’s what you’re going to end up having to do with this structure.”

A check of the house from just outside the property on June 3 showed a roll-off dumpster in the driveway and very little visible debris. The front door appears secured, though second floor windows remain wide open. Leaves and overgrown vegetation remain on the property. It is unclear if any work has been done to repair the foundation.

Grant has until June 25 to stave off demolition, though Eaderesto said he could get an extension if he makes a good faith effort to repair the foundation before that time.

Shouldn’t be that EZ

A 27-year-old man from Port Jefferson Station stole several diamond rings from a display case at EZ Cash Pawn & Jewelry on Brentwood Road in Brentwood at about 2 p.m. on June 3, police said. He was arrested at about 8 p.m. in Port Jefferson Station and charged with third-degree grand larceny.

Drill-bit taker

On April 30 at about 10 a.m., a 36-year-old man from Port Jefferson Station took a Milwaukee hammer drill and a Klein Tools auger bit from a home on North Country Road in Miller Place, according to police. He was arrested on June 3 in Miller Place and charged with petit larceny.

Bulls-eye

At Target on Pond Path in South Setauket at about 8 p.m. on June 3, a 39-year-old man from Medford stole 96 items, police said. He was arrested and charged with petit larceny.

Who needs a license?

A 51-year-old man from Mount Sinai was driving a 2015 Ford on Nesconset Highway at about 4 p.m. on June 2 when he was pulled over, according to police. He was driving with a suspended license. He was arrested and charged with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Police said his license was revoked on 11 other occasions.

Money laundry

On March 8 at about 7:30 p.m., a 34-year-old woman from Farmingville stole a wallet containing cash from a table at Fun Wash Coin Laundries on Middle Country Road in Centereach, according to police. She was arrested on June 5 in Selden and charged with petit larceny.

Hit-and-run

At about midnight on June 3, a 29-year-old man from Coram was driving a 2010 Toyota on Route 112 in Coram when he hit a pedestrian and did not stop, police said. He was later arrested in Selden and found to be driving without a required interlock device, which prevents drunk driving. He was charged with leaving the scene of an incident causing serious injury and use of a vehicle without an interlock device.

Heroin Hyundai

A 21-year-old man from Selden who possessed heroin was in the driver’s seat of a 2003 Hyundai near the corner of Magnolia Drive and Pine Street in Selden at about 4 p.m. on June 2, according to police. He was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Brand new car bashed

On North Titmus Drive in Mastic on May 27 at about 6:30 p.m., a 50-year-old man driving a 2003 Toyota crashed into a 2016 Ford and left the scene without stopping, according to police. He was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an incident with property damage.

Should have gone for Blu-ray

At about 10 p.m. on May 12, a 29-year-old woman from East Moriches stole DVDs, a DVD player and assorted makeup from Kmart on North Ocean Avenue in Farmingville, police said. She was arrested on June 1 in Selden and charged with petit larceny.

Caught red-handed

A 19-year-old man from Mastic Beach was in possession of a 2004 Honda all-terrain vehicle that had previously been reported stolen at about 7 p.m. on June 1 from a home on Judith Drive in Coram, according to police. He was arrested and charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

Greedy beaver

An employee at Eager Beaver Car Wash on Route 347 in Port Jefferson Station stole more than $3,000 in cash from the business between Sept. 17 and April 8, police said. The 24-year-old woman from Mount Sinai was arrested in Selden on June 1 and charged with third-degree grand larceny.

Surprised it still runs

Someone stole a 1991 Toyota from the driveway of a home on Ruland Road in Selden at about midnight on June 5, according to police.

Fresh paint job

A 2003 Chevrolet was spray-painted by an unknown person while it was parked in the road in front of a home on Balin Avenue in Centereach at about 12:30 a.m. on June 5, police said.

Residents weep over stolen tree

A weeping sequoia tree was stolen from the property of a home on Chelsea Drive in Mount Sinai at about 2 p.m. on June 5, according to police.

Rise and shine and high

A 26-year-old woman from Nesconset was arrested on June 4 after police said she had heroin on her while on Roosevelt Avenue in Ronkonkoma at 10:25 a.m. She was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Charged for not charging

On June 2, a 19-year-old man from Brentwood was arrested after police said he failed to charge customers for various items while working at Walmart on Crooked Hill Road in Commack. He was charged with three counts of petit larceny.

Lotion theft

Police said a 71-year-old man from Dix Hills stole tanning lotion from Kohl’s on Crooked Hill Road in Commack on June 2. He was arrested and charged with petit larceny.

Not the right time for a shot

A 24-year-old man from Smithtown was arrested on June 1 after police said he shot a BB gun at a house on Carmel Road in Commack. He was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment.

Far from a king

On June 1, a 41-year-old man from Lake Ronkonkoma was arrested after police said he stole property from King Kullen on Ronkonkoma Avenue and had Suboxone in his possession. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and petit larceny.

I think he skipped a step

Police said a 45-year-old man from Brentwood placed items in a shopping cart while at Walmart on Veterans Highway in Islandia on April 10 and walked out of the store without paying. He was arrested at the 4th Precinct on May 31 and charged with petit larceny.

CVS fans

A 24-year-old woman from Lake Ronkonkoma was arrested on May 31 at the 4th Precinct, after police said she stole markers and glue from CVS Pharmacy in Nesconset on April 19, and then stole miscellaneous items from a CVS Pharmacy on Middle Country Road in Selden. She was charged with two counts of petit larceny.

On May 31, a 28-year-old man from Nesconset was arrested after police said he stole miscellaneous items from CVS Pharmacy in Selden and had a warrant out for him for a probation violation. He was charged with petit larceny.

Nightmare on Elm Street

Police said a 25-year-old man from Hauppauge stole a wallet from an unlocked vehicle parked on Elm Street in Commack on May 31. He was arrested and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.

Crooked thief on Crooked Hill

On May 30, a 29-year-old man from Babylon was arrested after police said he stole clothing from Kohl’s on Crooked Hill Road in Commack. He was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.

You’ve got no mail (box)

Police said an unknown person damaged a mailbox at a residence on Pine Avenue in Ronkonkoma on June 3.

Sad shed

On May 29, an unknown person stole a generator and a leaf blower from a shed at a residential property on Florida Avenue in Commack, according to police.

In danger of paper cuts

An unknown person entered a building on Motor Parkway in Hauppauge on June 4 and tossed papers around, police said.

Santa in the off-season?

Police said two unknown men and two unknown women entered a Banana Republic in the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove on April 10 and stole $2,900 worth of men’s clothing. According to police, one of the men is elderly with white hair, a white beard and a white mustache.

Fishers across the North Shore are angry with limits to black sea bass fishing. File photo

Something seems fishy this black sea bass fishing season.

Local legislators, fishers and state organizations alike agree that there are issues with how black sea bass fishing is being regulated.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for modifications to what he said are “inflexible” and “outdated” federal regulations for black sea bass fishing, which some North Shore fisherman said are hurting their wallets because they have to wait to fish during this crucial fishing period.

Schumer said at an event in Northport last Wednesday that the bottom feeders are not being fairly managed, and the next permitted fishing period should be allowed to start in June instead of July to put people to work at harvesting the plentiful populations.

“After a slow start to the black sea bass season, mostly due to weather, our Long Island commercial fishers are ready to bounce back and access the plentiful supply of sea bass,” Schumer said at the event. “But instead they might fall flat if the feds and the state don’t throw them a line and let them do what they do best — fish.”

“They might fall flat if the feds and the state don’t throw them a line.” —Chuck Schumer

Three organizations — the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Mid-Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission — jointly manage black sea bass fishing, by determining the quota for sea bass each year. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation then determines the quota distribution through the state and periods throughout the year when fishermen can fish for black sea bass.

The quota this year was set at about 189,000 pounds and the most recent period for sea bass fishing ended on May 31, with the next slated to begin on July 1.

According to the Atlantic States group, “The objectives of [management] are to reduce fishing mortality to assure overfishing does not occur, … promote compatible regulations among states and between federal and state jurisdictions…and to minimize regulations necessary to achieve the stated objectives.”

Kirby Rootes-Murdy, that commission’s senior fishery management plan coordinator, said it works to ensure that the black sea bass population stays at a safe level.

But Schumer said the break in June is only hurting fishermen.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks to fishermen in Northport last week. Photo from Marisa Kaufman
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks to fishermen in Northport last week. Photo from Marisa Kaufman

“Below-average black sea bass catch rates … have made it so the total catch at this point of the season is well below the allowable quota limits,” Schumer said, “which is why it is critical to allow these struggling fishermen to continue catching black sea bass this month.”

Sean Mahar, the DEC director of communications, acknowledged fishing got off to a slow start, and said the DEC is committed to re-opening the season before the July 1 date, as long as it’s accurate that anglers are below quota — the agency is still investigating that.

Through May 21, only one-third of the May quota had been harvested, “with approximately 42,000 pounds [still] available on May 21,” Mahar said in an email.

“However, the harvest rate increased dramatically the last week in May, and the state is still awaiting data from the commercial fishermen and dealers that are required to submit landings and sales reports to DEC to determine the how much of the quota was actually harvested. If there is quota leftover, we will open the season again sooner than July 1.”

Mahar also said the DEC has pressed federal regulators, including the Atlantic States commission, to implement changes to improve fishery in New York, including the system for tabulating bass populations.

“The increasingly restrictive measures demanded of Northeastern states are inequitable and cause great socioeconomic harm to our anglers and related businesses,” DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. Regulatory agencies “must revise their management strategy and not keep New York … at a competitive disadvantage while the black sea bass population continues to grow.”

“It’s a disaster for conservation and the economy.”
—James Schneider

Rootes-Murdy said these decisions on quotas are based on population projections for the species but black sea bass pose a challenge for accurate projections, as they are a hermaphroditic species, meaning they change sex from male to female.

“That aspect makes it difficult to develop a population model around,” Rootes-Murdy said.

North Shore fishermen said the break in the season is hurting their livelihood.

“It’s a disaster for conservation and the economy,” said James Schneider, a boat captain in Huntington. “It’s crushed us.”

Schneider is catching other fish in the meantime and said he has been forced to throw back black sea bass he inadvertently catches. Those die shortly after, he said, further contributing to a loss in potential profits.

Northport fishing captain Stu Paterson said he agreed that he has had to throw back many sea bass during the off-season, as they “are all over the Sound right now.”

He also questioned why Connecticut’s black sea bass season, which opened on May 1 and runs through Dec. 31, allows fishermen to start earlier than in New York, as they share a body of water.

Ada Robinson mugshot from SCPD

An incident between a homeless couple in a North Shore Home Depot parking lot has left the man dead and the woman behind bars.

The Suffolk County Police Department said on Wednesday morning that detectives had arrested a woman at the scene of a fatal stabbing the night before and charged her with first-degree manslaughter.

Patrol officers from the 6th Precinct were responding to a 911 call in the parking lot of the Home Depot on Middle Country Road in Coram close to 7:30 p.m. when they found 55-year-old Ralph Anthony had been stabbed, police said. He was pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue.

Homicide Unit detectives arrested 60-year-old Ada Robinson at the scene.

Both the victim and the alleged attacker are homeless, according to police. The Homicide Unit’s Lt. Kevin Beyrer said in a phone interview Wednesday that the pair was “at least common-law husband and wife” — they had been a couple for a long period of time, he said, but he wasn’t sure if the two were legally married. They frequented the Coram area where the stabbing took place.

Attorney information for Robinson on the first-degree manslaughter charge was not immediately available on Wednesday morning.

She has previous charges against her of assault with a weapon, stemming from an incident with Anthony on May 9, 2015, according to the New York State court system’s online database. Her attorney on the one felony and one misdemeanor charge for that incident, Central Islip-based Robin Stanco, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Wednesday morning.

Beyrer confirmed that Anthony was also the victim in the 2015 assault case.

Detectives are still investigating the stabbing. Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392.

This version corrects the date Ada Robinson allegedly assaulted Ralph Anthony in 2015.