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Rocky Point dedicated the square at the corner of Broadway and Route 25A, formerly the blighted Oxygen Bar property, to a Veterans Memorial Square. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Once an eyesore to the community, Rocky Point’s corner of Broadway and Route 25A is now a place that honors those who fight for our freedom.

On Oct. 17, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) along with other members of local government, dedicated the former Oxygen Bar property as a new veterans memorial square, with a flag-raising ceremony.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner helps members of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 in the flag raising ceremony Oct. 17. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner helps members of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 in the flag raising ceremony Oct. 17. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“The members of the community have been so supportive of this project and have a vision for a greater, better downtown,” Bonner said at the event. “We all appreciate the sacrifices every veteran has made and honor them today as we dedicate this veterans memorial square by raising the flags of our armed forces. This beautiful green space will also serve as the gateway to a revitalized downtown Rocky Point for years to come.”

Bonner visited the formerly blighted property back in March, and said it excites her now to see how it’s transformed in seven short months.

“A source of problems is gone, and a source of pride has taken its place,” she said.

The square wouldn’t have been made possible if it wasn’t for the help of VFW Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore.

“This piece of property will be here much, much longer than I will, and that’s where the return on this investment is going to come,” Cognitore said of the square. “We should do this to all counties and municipalities throughout our area. We must make sure that our younger generations know about our military, what they go through and what they do for our country.”

Bonner helped to formally present the colors to the playing of the National Anthem. All of the flags raised were donated by Rocky Point resident Roland Jackson.

“Roland Jackson is one of those people who never says ‘if you need anything, let me know,’” Bonner said. “He just does it. He called me up and said he was getting the flags and he’d like to donate them.”

Joe Cognitore, commander of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249, speaks during the dedication ceremony Oct. 17. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Joe Cognitore, commander of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249, speaks during the dedication ceremony Oct. 17. Photo by Desirée Keegan

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) was also at the ceremony, and told a story of how he visited troops in Iraq last Christmas, meeting a Command Sgt. Major on his 11th deployment, and a young teenager on his first.

“Eleven deployments later he was still serving and loving ever minute of it,” Zeldin said of the Major. “When that Command Sgt. Major signed up for the military there was no Sept. 11 on his radar. But when that teenager signed up, that’s all that he had ever known. He knew exactly what he was signing up for. But he loved the flag, he loved our country and he cherished our freedoms and liberties, and he’s willing to lay down his life in defense of it.”

Zeldin said the new parcel in Rocky Point proudly displays its support for its veterans like the ones he’s met.

“For that teenager who signs up, it’s not just about the flag, it’s not just about his freedoms and liberties, but it’s out of deep admiration and respect for those who have come before him or her,” he said. “We get to live in the greatest nation of the world, and for those veterans, we salute you and we thank you for your service.”

State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said the memorial square is not just a wonderful thing for the Rocky Point community, but for all members of the nation.

“Our freedoms that this nation was based on are always under assault, and always will be, and that’s why we’re the greatest nation in the world,” he said. “Today, we are saying to the world we are alive, we are America and we are proud to be Americans.”

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Suffolk County Police 7th Squad detectives are investigating a crash that killed a woman in Rocky Point Sept. 22.

Rachel Stalter was operating her 2014 Toyota Highlander westbound on Route 25A when she approached an intersection and collided with a 1999 Chevrolet Malibu that was turning to go northbound onto Hallock Landing Road.

The passenger in the Chevrolet, Carol Sardegna, 65, of Rocky Point, was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where she was pronounced dead. The driver of the Chevrolet, Colleen Gorman, 61, of Rocky Point, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Stalter, 47, of Port Jefferson Station, and her 12-year-old daughter were transported to Saint Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, where they were treated with non-life-threatening injuries.

Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is continuing. Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to contact 7th Squad detectives at 631-852-8752.

This version corrects the date of the accident.

From left, Bea Ruberto; Inge Goldstein, Sound Beach Civic Association membership chair; Suffolk County Supervisor Steve Bellone; and Suffolk County Leg. Sarah Anker at the bus stop in Sound Beach when second run of the 5A was added in 2014. File photo by Erika Karp

By Bea Ruberto

Sound Beach, nestled between Miller Place and Rocky Point, had a population of 7,612 as of 2010. When I first became involved with the Sound Beach Civic Association, I often heard that our hamlet was forgotten by all levels of government. I can honestly say that in recent years, this has begun to change. Among other projects, the Town of Brookhaven was instrumental in revitalizing Echo Avenue and paving this road to lower Rocky Point Road and is currently working on restoring the East Beach.

Several years ago, Suffolk County recognized the need for better bus service through Sound Beach and added two new runs of the 5A. Now, they’re getting ready to take this back and more — eliminate the 5A. This will mean there will be no service north of 25A and east of Echo Avenue. The only “service” will be the S62, which skirts our community and only runs twice a day — in the a.m. eastbound and p.m. westbound — to allow people to get to Suffolk County offices during rush hour.

Suffolk County is planning to eliminate eight routes throughout the system to help close a looming $78 million deficit, and, yes, the 5A is not a busy route, but it is the only public transportation in Sound Beach. People use this to get to work and to doctors’ appointments and to connect with other routes in Port Jefferson and Middle Island. In addition, an increasingly aging population may need to do things as basic as get to the grocery store. At this point, I don’t use the bus system, but, having just turned 70, I foresee a time in the not-too-distant future when I may need to give up my car.

According to the county, in some cases there may be alternate routes for passengers. In Sound Beach, this only applies to those living within walking distance of 25A, and most Sound Beachers live too far to walk to 25A. In other cases, existing routes may be altered to cover key destinations on the routes subject to elimination.

We then ask that the route of the 5A be modified instead of eliminated.

Barring this, perhaps the S62 can be modified so that it runs through Sound Beach proper and more often than once in the morning and once in the evening.

Public hearings on this will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. on the following dates/locations:

• Thursday, Sept. 8, Riverhead Legislative Auditorium, Evans K. Griffing Building, 300 Center Drive, Riverhead.

• Friday, Sept. 9, Hauppauge Legislative Auditorium, W. H. Rogers Building, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Smithtown.

Written comments may be submitted up to five days following the hearings to Suffolk County Transit, 335 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank 11980-9774.

Members of the Sound Beach Civic Association will attend the Sept. 8 meeting. If this route is removed, it won’t be easy to get the service back. We urge everyone in Sound Beach to join us whether you ride the bus or not. We will also be crafting a written comment that will be made available for use by the community. For more information, to get a copy of the written comment or if you need a ride to the Sept. 8 meeting, email [email protected] or call 631-744-6952.

Bea Ruberto is a Sound Beach resident and current president of the Sound Beach Civic Association.

Donald Gennarelli was charged with 14 counts of larceny, once at a McDonald's on Route 25A in Miller Place. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Police today arrested Donald Gennarelli for committing multiple larcenies from 14 Suffolk County stores over the past two months.

Officers from the 3rd Precinct Crime Section initiated an investigation to multiple larcenies occurring within the area, and discovered that similar larcenies had occurred in other precincts.

The suspect would engage the teller and appear to purchase a product, and when the teller opened the register he would jump over the counter and take money.

Detectives from the Major Case United were assigned to the investigation, and the joint investigation resulted in 3rd Precinct Crime Section Officers Joseph Passantino, and Matthew Fernandez arresting Gennarelli in Islip on Aug. 17.

Gennarelli was charged with larcenies from the following businesses:

  • Dunkin Donuts, located at 411 Furrows Road, Holbrook, June 16.
  • Dunkin Donuts, located at 19 Bay Shore Road, Bay Shore on June 18.
  • Dunkin Donuts located at 280 Sunrise Highway, North Lindenhurst on July 1.
  • Dunkin Donuts located at 155 Sunrise Highway Lindenhurst on July 4.
  • Dunkin Donuts located at 529 East Main Street, Bay Shore on July 5.
  • CVS located at 15 West Main Street, East Islip on July 6.
  • 7-11 located at 500 Islip Avenue, Islip, on July 9.
  • Dunkin Donuts located at 13 West Main Street, East Islip, on July 11.
  • McDonald’s, located at 4498 Sunrise Highway, Oakdale on July 12.
  • Dunkin Donuts, located at 13 West Main Street, East Islip on July 18.
  • 7-11 located at 4506 Sunrise Highway, Oakdale on July 25.
  • CVS located at 1944 Deer Park Avenue, Deer Park, on July 27.
  • Subway located at 1105 Horseblock Road, Medford on August 1.
  • McDonald’s, located at 340 Route 25A Miller Place on August 2.

The suspect was charged with 14 counts of petit larceny and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. He was held overnight at the 3rd Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned today at First District Court in Central Islip.

The investigation is ongoing.

Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) will host his next mobile office hours in Mount Sinai.

Constituents can sit down with the Congressman or a staff member for a one-on-one to discuss the issues or concerns important to them at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center on Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All members of the public are invited to attend, and walk-ins are welcome, as no appointment is necessary, but all attendees who arrive by noon will be guaranteed a meeting with  Zeldin or a staff member.

The Rose Caracappa Senior Center is located at 739 NY-25A.

Residents brainstorm during the Community Vision Forum. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

North Shore lawmakers are gauging the public’s opinion as they revisit what Route 25A should look like.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) gathered residents, business owners, community leaders, teachers and elected officials at a forum at the Kanas Commons of The Stony Brook School on Monday, June 30, to discuss the future of the section of Route 25A between Main Street in Stony Brook and Bennetts Road in Setauket.

“As your councilperson, I thought it was important to engage in a community discussion regarding this issue,” Cartright said to the 95 residents gathered. She said that many members of Stony Brook, Setauket, Centereach and the greater Brookhaven area had been vocal about creating a discussion on this issue.

The public was divided into groups once they arrived at the forum and each group represented a different issue facing the road. The various issues included uses and zoning, traffic safety and transportation, design and aesthetics, impact on nearby businesses, Stony Brook University, community relations and infrastructure.

Each group was given a list of questions to discuss and then present to the entire forum. These questions were designed to get an idea of the changes the community wanted, the problems they thought this zone needed to address and what things the community wanted to preserve.

“This is a precursor to a land use plan,” said Brenda Prusinowski, the deputy commissioner for the Town of Brookhaven. “There are many steps to go once anything has been discussed here.”

Prusinowski said she was encouraged by the high number of residents that came out, and expected that everyone would come up with a great discussion to make the community better.

“This should be a gauge of what the majority wants, but also what every individual feels is important as well,” Cartright said.

Cartright urged that everyone keep an open mind and accept that conflicting opinions will arise. However, as the night unfolded, it seemed that a majority of the community members were on the same page.

Major issues that were brought up, in terms of improvement, were safety measures for pedestrians and bicyclists, the architecture and look of the downtown shops and better parking options near the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road station.

Residents expressed a desire for a more cohesive look, while still maintaining the historical nature and heritage of the town, which leaders in attendance also support.

“We have a great sense of place, and that is important to all of us, that we maintain that,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket). “We want people to see the historic and charming feel of this community.”

Groups also said that although students from Stony Brook University can rent bikes to ride downtown, they still needed more safe paths to take. If students felt safer to go for a bike ride, residents argued they would be investing more into the area businesses by shopping there more frequently.

Many people said they felt there was almost an “iron curtain” between the students of Stony Brook University and the towns of Brookhaven and Stony Brook, and that more needs to be done to integrate the students.

Yet, other residents said that they feared the towns are losing their identity to the university.

“We were not brought together tonight to react to a problem, rather to look at our values as a community,” said state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket).

Englebright said that this community is host to a large economic engine with the university and that keeping the community great benefits the university and vice versa.

Preserving local small business was also very important, as no one said they were interested in seeing a national chain pop up anywhere near Route 25A.

 

File photo

A holiday weekend sobriety checkpoint netted nine arrests in Port Jefferson Station, Suffolk County police said.

Cops teamed up with officers from the state Police Department and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to set up the overnight checkpoint on Route 25A between 11:15 p.m. and 3:15 a.m. on July 3 into July 4 and arrested residents from several different communities, police said. A total of 761 vehicles made it through the checkpoint and nine were arrested on various charges, including driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired, cops said.

Four residents were charged with driving while intoxicated, including Lisa Strickland, 27, of Port Jefferson, John Jakob, 22, of Selden, Ibidapo Kayode, 21, of the Bronx and David Morgan, 29, of Riverhead, police said.

Two suspects were arrested and charged with driving while ability impaired, including Oscar Quiles Jr., 29, of Bellport and Catherine Frenkel, 30, of Chappaqua, cops said.

Two others were charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, including Robert Smith, 49, of Blue Point and Charles Leo, 18, of Miller Place, the Suffolk County Police Department said.

Arnold Roundtree, 30, of Shirley, was also arrested and charged with driving without an ignition interlock device and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, the police said.

The operation was conducted for the sake of preventing injuries and fatalities associated with driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs during the holiday weekend, police said.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, right. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) is inviting all North Shore residents to attend a community forum looking into potential visions for the future of Route 25A in Stony Brook and Setauket.

The forum is scheduled for June 30, at 6 p.m., inside the Stony Brook School’s Kanas Commons, located at 1 Chapman Parkway, Stony Brook.

RSVPs can be sent to [email protected], or call (631) 451-6963 by June 26.

Residents across Three Village in East Setauket, Stony Brook and beyond stopped on Monday to honor the memories of our nation’s heroes as their respective Memorial Day parades stepped off.

Groups representing various facets of the community came out in full force to march in the parade before somber ceremonies stopped to say thanks to those who dedicated their lives to military service.