Port Jeff. Station preserve naming to honor legacy of Dr. Joseph Rella
The Suffolk County Legislature has approved naming Port Jefferson Station’s Terryville Greenbelt in honor of former Comsewogue School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Rella. The initiative was led by Legislator Kara Hahn, in honor of the highly regarded teacher, principal and administrator who passed away in February 2020 at the age of 69.
Described as “one of the most courageous and inspiring educators ever,” Dr. Rella began his 25-year career with the Comsewogue School District as a part-time music teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School. He also served as principal of Comsewogue High School prior to becoming school superintendent in 2011, a post he held until his retirement from the district in 2019.
“Dr. Rella was absolutely beloved in the community. Every child in the Comsewogue School District knew he cared about them, knew he believed in them and knew he loved them,” said Legislator Hahn. “His impact upon the district, his students’ lives and this community have been profound and through this tribute we honor the lasting legacy of his actions.”
Located within the Central Suffolk Special Groundwater Protection Area, the Terryville Greenbelt is situated between Route 112 and North Bicycle Path in Port Jefferson Station. The greenbelt area is over 75 total acres that Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven have each pursued preserving through individual and joint purchases of open space parcels.
“The Terryville Greenbelt adjoins Comsewogue High School so forever linking this preserved land to the school where Dr. Rella served and to the greater community seems fitting,” said Leg. Hahn.
The bill, which has been co-sponsored by neighboring Legislators Sarah Anker and Nick Caracappa, now goes to County Executive Steve Bellone for his signature. It is anticipated that once the naming becomes official, a ceremony will be held in recognition of Dr. Rella’s contribution to education and to his community.
“Dr. Rella cultivated a community where people came together and respected one another in all of their differences. His mission was we are one, working together to be the best we can be. His focus was always to ensure the best for the students and their families” said Joseph Coniglione, Comsewogue SD Assistant Superintendent for Staff and Student Services.
“He created a culture of kindness throughout his career and having a wellness space dedicated in his memory is a tremendous honor for his family, our schools and this community.”