Town of Huntington

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said public hearing set for May 15 may be pushed to June

An artistic rendering of the proposed development on Elwood Orchard site along Jericho Turnpike. Rendering from Villadom Corp

Though its little more than plans on paper, Huntington residents are furiously voicing their opposition to a proposed Elwood megamall.

More than 3,000 people have signed an online petition in the last week whose aim is to stop the proposed construction of the Villadom Mall off Jericho Turnpike. The proposed development on what is known as the Elwood Orchard site is being headed by Great Neck-based developer Villadom Corp.

“Over the years the project keeps coming back to life, the zombie project,” Huntington resident Patrick Deegan said. “Hopefully, this is the last time this project comes up.”

The petition is in response to Huntington Town Board scheduling a public hearing on the mall proposal. The meeting was originally scheduled for May 15 at the Huntington Town Hall, though Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said that most likely the meeting will be moved to sometime in June and will be hosted in the Elwood school district.

The developer has proposed to construct a 486,380-square-foot mall with retail and office space including a fitness center on the 50-acre property. The Elwood Orchard website claims the development will create 750 jobs during construction and 950 permanent jobs once completed.

Over the years the project keeps coming back to life, the zombie project.”

— Patrick Deegan

A representative of Villadom was not available for comment.

Residents are afraid of what environmental impacts the proposed development could have on the area’s drinking water.

According to a draft environmental impact statement filed for the project with the town in 2015, the stormwater runoff is not anticipated to contain significant amounts of pollutants. Though several petitioners reject that claim and say that because the area is at a high elevation — 284 to 296 feet above sea level — there is risk of pollutants getting into the water system from construction and vehicles.

“All this water flows to the south. With a 2,000-car parking lot, with 50 acres being disturbed, do you not think this is going to affect the quality of that well?” civil engineer Paul Besmertnik said. “It may not cause a problem in the first year, but the problem is cumulative and every year it adds up to more and more.”

Bob Santoriello, superintendent of the Greenlawn Water District, said it can take up to 20 years for stormwater runoff or groundwater to reach the wells, at which point the real impact can be determined. 

“What man does today the future generations will find,” Santoriello said. “But if they properly design it, if there is a proper sewage treatment plan that is allowed by the county, then I don’t think there would be a great impact.”

Residents have also expressed fear of what could happen to the already congested roadways in that area of Elwood, especially on Jericho Turnpike.

Petitioners point to an independent study published by Greenman-Pedersen Inc. in 2016. The traffic study said that the northbound approach of Old Country Road at Deer Park Road would “operate at an unacceptable level of service.”

You always want to have a balancing act between the financial benefits and the environmental impact.”

— Chad Lupinacci

“I think a well-executed study without the flaws found in the developer’s study would have produced even worse implications on the traffic impact.” Huntington resident Andrew Kaplan said about the environmental impact statement: “But we don’t need additional analysis to tell us that a project of this scale will only exacerbate an already recognized material issue affecting our quality of life in Huntington.”

The proposed mall would add approximately 1,339 more drivers on the surrounding roads during the evening rush hour. The developer has proposed some of these traffic problems could be mitigated by building additional lanes for cars making turns onto the property.

“When you have something like this, you’re always looking at impacts, whether its traffic, environmental or community-wise,” Lupinacci said. “You always want to have a balancing act between the financial benefits and the environmental impact.”

In order to move forward with construction, the developer requires approval of a change of zone application by the town. Residents say Huntington officials would have to change the town’s comprehensive plan and alter its zoning laws.

Councilman Ed Smyth (R) said that he is skeptical about any rezoning request.

“Whenever an applicant seeks a zone-change classification, they come out of the gate with the heavy burden of persuading me why it should be granted,” Smyth said. “However, I am keeping an open mind until after the public hearing.”

A public hearing on the proposed mall will likely be pushed back to June, according to Lupinacci. The supervisor encouraged concerned residents to attend.

Pastor Gideon Pollach, of St. John's Church, and Denice Evans-Sheppard at Jones Cemetery. Photo from Town of Huntington

Huntington Town officials are seeking the public’s help in putting back together forgotten pieces of African-American history in Cold Spring Harbor.

Located off the east side of Harbor Road, there is a small plot of town-owned land that’s only known as Jones Cemetery. Huntington Town Historian Robert Hughes said it is named after the Jones family that owned extensive pieces of land in the area in both the current towns of Huntington and Oyster Bay through the 20th century. They’re also famous for starting Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Company.

“We knew he was most likely buried at that cemetery. We could not find it. There was a lot of brush covering up the graves and headstones.”

—Denice Evans-Shepard

Hughes said he believes most, if not all of those buried in the cemetery are African-Americans who once worked for the Jones family — some as slaves.

“The Jones Cemetery is one of 56 historic cemeteries located throughout the Town of Huntington,” Hughes said. “Unfortunately, many have become overgrown over the years. Other priorities often take precedence over cemetery cleanups.”

Hughes, Huntington’s director of minority affairs Kevin Thorbourne and volunteers from St. John’s Church in Cold Spring Harbor cleaned up the cemetery grounds March 3. Their work revealed about three dozen graves marked only by simple field stones and two traditional marble headstones.

One of the marked headstone is for Alfred Thorn, an African-American who worked for Charles Jones, and then Oliver Jones as a coachman. Thorn died Feb. 3, 1900, at age 55. The other marble headstone is for Patience Thorn, who is believed to be Alfred’s mother, according to Hughes. The identities of the three dozen others buried in the cemetery are unknown.

Denice Evans-Sheppard, the new director of the Oyster Bay Historic Society, said she has reason to believe one of her ancestors is buried in Jones Cemetery.

“It’s like finding the missing piece to the puzzle,” she said.

Evans-Sheppard said growing up she was told her family originally worked on the Jones family estate. Her great-great-great-grandfather, Lewis Carll, once worked as one of the coachman for the Jones family. He’s the only member of her family not buried in Oyster Bay, according to Evans-Sheppard.

“To to learn who was buried at Jones Cemetery will help us put the missing pieces of Huntington’s history back together.”

— Chad Lupinacci

“We knew he was most likely buried at that cemetery,” she said. “We could not find it. There was a lot of brush covering up the graves and headstones.”

She was invited to tour the grounds with Gideon Pollach, pastor of St. John’s Church; Hughes and Thorbourne after the cleanup March 7.

“It was beautiful to finally make that connection,” she said.

Evans-Sheppard said she knows some descendants of other African-American families who worked for the Jones, including the Jacksons, the Seamans and her own, the Carlls. Many related individuals still live in nearby areas of Huntington, Oyster Bay and Amityville, she said. 

Along with Huntington Town officials, Evans-Sheppard is hoping families will step forward to help identify their remains.

“The Town of Huntington has a rich history of contributions from the African-American community, and to learn who was buried at Jones Cemetery will help us put the missing pieces of Huntington’s history back together,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) in a statement.

Anyone with information on individuals who may be interred in the cemetery is encouraged to contact Hughes at 631-351-3244 or email at [email protected]tonny.gov

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington Town officials released a draft of the long-awaited Crab Meadow Watershed Plan for public review March 23.

The 154-page study was prepared by GEI Consultants, with the goal of developing a community-driven stewardship plan that highlights best practices in the future management of the watershed area. The study focused on evaluating the environmental conditions of roughly six square miles of downward sloping land around the Jerome A. Ambro Memorial Wetland Preserve in Fort Salonga.

“Policies on everything from golf course pesticides to the types of road salt that we use can have an effect on the wetlands,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) in a statement. “By adopting a stewardship plan, the town is looking to implement policies in the collective best interests of the environment.”

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said his civic’s members have long awaited the results of this study. They believe its results would justify their concerns about development on Indian Hills Country Club, which lays on the border of Huntington and Smithtown.

Developer Jim Tsunis and The Northwind Group have a subdivision application pending before Huntington Planning Board to construct 98 townhouses for seniors age 55 and older, to be named The Preserve at Indian Hills, alongside the existing golf course and expanding the current clubhouse.

The Fort Salonga Property Owners Association has asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills, until the stewardship plan was completed. They fear the addition of 98 homes will be devastating to the local wetlands.

“You don’t have to be a genius to see that the report indicates that it’s not a good idea,” Hayes said.

He pointed to a portion of the draft study that recognizes the watershed area is currently built out to its zoned density and, in his interpretation, any new development could severely impact the local wetlands.

“It does say that the development whether on existing sites or small developments — and this is not a small development — has the potential to take an incremental toll on the system,” Hayes said. “It follows that the primary watershed area, which includes Indian Hills Country Club, has the potential to have a more direct impact. That’s pretty straightforward.”

The property owners also cited concerns regarding excessive water runoff if townhouses are built on the bluff’s slopes. The proposed development they fear could worsen existing flooding of local roadways and increase pollutant levels of nitrates and phosphorus in various bodies of water, including Fresh Water Pond.

The Town of Huntington Planning Board is expected to vote Wednesday night on a resolution that would require The Northwind Group to perform a full environmental study of their proposed development.

“The board will be utilizing portions of the draft Crab Meadow Watershed Study to substantiate its decision to issue a positive [SEQRA] declaration,” said town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo. “A positive declaration is issued in order to establish the fact that the intended project may have one or more significant environmental impacts and that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared to analyze potential impacts.”

Residents can review the full draft watershed report on the town’s website under the Planning and Environment Department page at: www.huntingtonny.gov/crab-meadow-watershed.

The town is accepting all public comments through April 30 either online or letters can be mailed to: Huntington Town Hall, Department of Maritime Services (Room 300), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

James Garside's innovative signs helped save the like of a hiker in October 2017

Suffolk County police officer James Garside is honored by Huntington town officials March 20. Photo from Town of Huntington

Suffolk County police officer James Garside knows well that every second counts in an emergency.

That’s why he helped develop and implement innovate GPS-enabled trail markers at Cold Spring Harbor State Park. The trail markers played a critical role in saving the life of a heart attack victim last year.

“Officer Garside’s trail markers helped save that man’s life and improved public safety for all the park’s visitors and emergency responders,” Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said while presenting Garside with a proclamation at the March 20 town board meeting for his work .

Garside, an advanced medical technician, designed a system of trail markers to help emergency responders quickly locate injured hikers along the 1.14-mile long section of the greenbelt trail, which runs through the state park. It consists of 15 bright yellow arrow signs attached to trees, labeled 101 to 115, between Cold Spring Harbor High School and Cold Spring Harbor Library. The latitude and longitude of each sign has been publicly recorded.

On Oct. 15, 2017, a 47-year-old man suffered a heart heart attack approximately halfway along the trail, and made a critical call to 911 for help. Due to Garside’s trail markers, he was able to give responders his location within the 47-acre park.

“Critical minutes, even seconds were saved because of the trail markers,” the supervisor said.

A full map of the Cold Spring Harbor State Park trail and the location of the trail markers can be found at parks.ny.gov/parks/attachments/ColdSpringHarborTrailMap.pdf.

Residents at the Town of Huntington's vigil for Dix Hills native Scott Beigel. Photo by Kevin Redding

Scott Beigel was a beloved teacher, coach and son, and on Feb. 14, he became a hometown hero.

The Florida school shooting hit close to home for Huntington residents, who joined together inside Town Hall March 14 for a candlelight vigil in honor of the Dix Hills native. Beigel died protecting students from danger as a geography teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Beigel, 35, who graduated from Half Hollow Hills East, was one of 17 killed during the tragedy. He was shot while attempting to lock his classroom door after holding it open for students fleeing from the gunman. Beigel had only been teaching at Parkland for six months, but also served as the high school’s cross-country coach.

“[Scott] was a hero not just on the day he died but every day of his life, to his students and the people whose lives he often helped,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said. “We have unfortunately seen these incidents happen far too many times … but I do truly believe that Scott’s death and what happened in Parkland is something that will change this country. His heroism will change our country and save many, many lives. That will be his legacy.”

Michael Schulman and Linda Beigel Schulman. Photo by Kevin Redding

During the ceremony, Beigel was remembered for his “goofball” sense of humor, selflessness and a true love for his job and the students he taught.

Prior to working in Florida, he was a camp counselor and division leader at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania and a volunteer teacher for underprivileged children in South Africa.

Half Hollow Hills Superintendent Patrick Harrigan said in honor of Beigel, students at the local high schools have implemented a 17 acts of kindness initiative to improve the culture of their environment and make an effort to prevent another senseless tragedy from occurring.

“Scott was a new teacher, only six months into his tenure, and already making a difference every day for his students,” Harrigan said. “As an educator, it is my hope that Mr. Beigel’s lasting legacy is as a child advocate, a teacher, a coach and an inspiration to other teachers to always improve the lives of their students and the children in their communities.”

Looking up at a large photo of her son, Beigel’s mother Linda Beigel Schulman held back tears and said, “I love you Scott … you will forever be my inspiration and hero.”

She called to action the need for gun control legislation including universal background checks before purchasing a firearm; a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines; and an increase in the minimum gun-buying age from 18 to 21. She also commended students who participated in the National School Walkout.

“We need action now and we will continue to be heard,” Beigel Schulman said. “When Scott was a child and came home from school, I worried about what kind of a day he would have; I did not worry about if he was going to come home from school.”

Beigel Schulman then turned to look upon a photograph of her son again.

“You may have died senselessly, but as I stand here today, I can honestly say not in vain,” she said. “It has been one month and I promise I will not stop until no child ever has to fear going to school, being with their friends at school and learning from their teachers [at school].”

A street sign that will rename Hart Place in honor of Dix Hills native Scott Beigel. Photo by Kevin Redding

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) unveiled the new street sign renaming Hart Place, where Beigel grew up and where his parents still reside, to become Scott J. Beigel Way.

Tragedies such as Parkland, Lupinacci said, “especially touch home when you have someone that grew up here, went to the high school, went to many of the same stores we go to … We thought it very fitting for where he grew up and spent his formative years to be renamed in his honor.”

The supervisor said a proper ceremony for the street renaming will take place in the upcoming weeks.

“We just want Scott’s voice and legacy to live on — we don’t want him to ever be forgotten,” said Melissa Zech, Beigel’s sister. “I think he would be so proud and I know we’re so proud of him. ― He was so smart, quick-witted, caring and loving. These are things I wish I would’ve told him when he was here.”

Michael Schulman, Beigel’s father, also spoke of the honor.

“This took us all by surprise,” he said. “It’s a great acknowledgement of what this town meant to him, and what he meant to the town. Right now, the street sign is something that’s bittersweet, but, in the years to come, it’ll just be sweet. I just wish we didn’t have to have it.”

Huntington Town Board is expected to formally vote on renaming Hart Place in Beigel’s memory at its March 20 meeting. Lupinacci also said the new street sign would be put on public display for area residents to see.

 

Thousands lined the streets of Huntington to show off their Irish pride at the town’s 84th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. The nearly two-hour parade featured performances by pipe and drum corps, including New York Police Department’s The Emerald Society, and local high school marching bands. The parade was led by grand marshal Andrew Brady,  former president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Huntington and parade co-chair for several years.

A scene from the Huntington St. Patrick's Day Parade last year. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

The 84th annual Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held March 11. The Suffolk County police department’s 2nd Precinct is advising motorists of road closures in Huntington between 12:45 and 4:30 p.m.

Route 110 will be closed from the Long Island Railroad station north to Main Street. Main Street will be closed between Spring Road and Lawrence Hill Road. Pulaski Road should be used as a detour for eastbound and westbound traffic. On-street parking will be prohibited after 4 a.m. on Route 110 and Main Street.  Motorists are advised to use alternate routes.

In addition to regulating traffic, the police department will be enforcing town ordinances and state laws regarding the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Town of Huntington snow plows. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) assured residents that town employees are ready on standby to react to whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Huntington’s Highway Department has 16,000 cubic yards of salt and sand set aside in its yards to be spread on its more than 800 miles of roadway, according to the supervisor. The town has are 129 pieces of snow removal equipment and has called in approximately 150 additional contractors who will start lining up Tuesday night.

“They are on call and will usually come in about an hour and a half prior to when the storm is anticipated to to get equipment ready, plows ready and load the trucks,” Lupinacci said.

The National Weather Service is predicting snow is likely to begin after 4 a.m. March 7 totaling approximately one inch, according to its website. There’s a possibility drivers could see a sloppy commute as snow mixes with sleet and rain, with total of 2 to 4 inches on the ground before turning back to snow after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

The supervisor said town officials are keeping a close eye on potential flooding in the North Shore villages. Weather forecasters are calling for the 2:50 a.m. high tide to be 1 to 2 feet above normal, according to Lupinacci, with wind gusts of more than 40 miles per hour.

“We will be in touch with our village mayors along the northern coastal areas, particularly Lloyd Harbor and Asharoken, to make sure there is no flooding,” he said.

Residents are strongly encouraged to move their cars off the streets to aid in snow removal. In addition, the superintendent asked those who shovel to throw snow into their yards where possible, rather than the street to allow cleanup to progress as quickly as possible.

Huntington officials will be posting updates throughout the storm on town website at www.huntingtonny.gov. Residents with emergencies or cleanup complaints can call 631-499-0444.

PSEG Long Island is also taking steps to prepare for the nor’easter.

“PSEG Long Island personnel worked tirelessly to restore power to all customers’ affected by the severe storm last weekend and are ready to respond again for the impending nor’easter,” said John O’Connell, vice president of Transmission and Distribution at PSEG Long Island. “Our workforce is performing system checks and logistics checks to ensure the availability of critical materials, fuel and other supplies.”

To report an electrical outage and receive status updates Text OUT to PSEGLI (773454) or to report an outage online visit www.psegliny.com.

New machine fills a depression in 60 to 90 seconds; can repair more than 100 per day

Pothole Killer repairs a depression on Laurel Road in East Northport March 5. Photo By Sara-Megan Walsh.

Huntington Town officials are excited to be taking the Pothole Killer out for a test run on the local roadways. Hopefully, it will mean a smoother ride for all.

Kevin Orelli (D), Huntington’s Superintendent of Highways, unveiled that the town has struck an agreement with Patch Management, Inc. to try out a one-man spray-injection machine to repair potholes and cracks in Huntington’s roads during the next several months.

Huntington Superintendent of Highways Kevin Orelli and Supervisor Chad Lupinacci in front of the Pothole Killer. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

“We’ve been repairing potholes for than 50 years in the same method,” ORelli said. “We want to bring the Town of Huntington into the 21st century and use a new, more efficient method to do that work.”

Currently, Orelli said he sends out a crew of highway department workers with a hotbox containing hot asphalt to lay down a patch over the pothole. He estimated that a crew can fill approximately 40 potholes a day using this method.

Scott Kleiger, the inventor of the Pothole Killer with Patch Management said his machine can fill the average pothole in 60 to 90 seconds, with a skilled operator repairing more than 100 per day.

The Pothole Killer is run by a trained operator who remains inside the cab of the truck at all times, according to Kleiger, avoiding the roadway hazard of oncoming traffic.

“One of the key elements of this is safety,” he said as a former public works employee. “The job they do out there for the common good of the people is very dangerous and very tedious.”

Using a joystick, the machine’s operator positions an external arm over the crack or pothole which blows pressurized air into it, removing all loose debris. The machine is used to spray an asphalt emulsion, or “tack coat,” that provides an adhesive base for the filler material to bond to. Next, the machine coats aggregate filler in the asphalt emulsion to fill the hole or crack to surface level. Last, dry material is sprayed over the top of the repair.

Pothole Killer drops aggregate filler coated with asphalt into a depression. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

“The roadway is open immediately, as it doesn’t stick to their tires,” said Brian Rutledge, a field sales agent for Patch Management.

Rutledge said the Pothole Killer is currently used in 10 states, including by Rhode Island and New Jersey Department of Transportation. Resident may be able to see the machine in action as New York State Department of Transportation uses it to fill holes and cracks along the Long Island Expressway.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said that given this winter’s extreme cold weather, he anticipates it will be particularly bad year for potholes. The town has received more than 500 phone calls, according to Orelli, and already repaired more than 2,000 potholes this year.

“We expect the situation to get worse over the next several weeks, especially as we enter the spring season,” Lupinacci said.

Drivers can report developing cracks and potholes by visiting the town’s website at www.huntingtonny.gov, and going to Highway Department page, or by calling the Highway Operations Center directly at 631-499-0444.

A public hearing on the Creekside by the Harbor II apartment's plans will be held Feb. 15 at 7 p.m

Valencia Tavern in Huntington. Image from Google Maps

As Huntington residents rally against demolition of a local watering hole for mixed-use development, they were surprised to learn of a second set of plans.

Elizabeth Turney, owner of Huntington’s Valencia Tavern, stepped forward at the Feb. 6 Huntington Town board meeting to ask residents to stop protesting plans for the future mixed-use development of the site for retail with 24 apartments overhead.

“It’s wonderful so many people love the Valencia and have great memories there, I have great memories there too,” Turney said. “I now have the opportunity to get out of the bar business and focus on my health and family.”

If the petition is successful in stopping the sale of the property, I’m left with empty buildings as my tenants have already found new [premises], and I have no other offers.”
— Elizabeth Turney

The bar owner said she can no longer continue running Valencia Tavern as she is dealing with health issues, and neither of her children are able to take over the family-run business as originally planned. The building, she claims, is in need of costly repairs to remain in good standing — funds she doesn’t have.

Turney said the only offer she’s received to purchase the land is from developer, 236 VT Wall Street LLC, which submitted conceptual plans to demolish the tavern and construct a three-story building with 7,840-square-foot retail space and 24 apartments above. The developers seek to acquire more than 9,000 square feet of town-owned land along West Shore and Creek roads in Huntington.

An online petition titled “Save the Valencia Tavern,” that has received more than 375 signatures as of press time, was presented by Huntington resident Bob Suter to the Huntington Town Board Jan. 23 in an effort to save what he called one of the town’s most iconic taverns.

“If the petition is successful in stopping the sale of the property, I’m left with empty buildings as my tenants have already found new [premises], and I have no other offers,” Turney said Feb. 6. “Abandoned buildings, that’s not a good thing for the town either.”

Matt Suter, Bob’s son and a Huntington native, said that the petition signers are angry and frustrated with the direction of development in the town.

“This is an epidemic of apartments on one of Huntington’s most environmentally sensitive areas and it must be stopped.”
—Matt Suter

“This petition reflects mounting opposition among your constituents against another real estate deal to replace another corner of Huntington’s heritage with a mixed-use monstrosity no one wants,” he said.

He also pointed to plans submitted by Creekside by the Harbor Phase II LLC to construct an 18-apartment complex on Creek Road in Halesite, approximately 500 feet down the road from the Valencia Tavern.

A public hearing on the Creekside plans will be held before Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals Feb. 15 for a zoning change from residential to garden apartment special district and for parking relief.

Matt Suter asked town officials to also consider that both Valencia Tavern and the Creek Road property border the town’s Mill Dam Park, environmentally sensitive wetlands that are both protected and prone to flooding.

“This is an epidemic of apartments on one of Huntington’s most environmentally sensitive areas and it must be stopped,” Matt Suter said.