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Belle Terre

Photo from Dani Adler

Dani Adler, originally of Port Jefferson, is always up for a challenge. 

Earlier this summer, NewBeauty Magazine sent out a notice looking for women to compete in its Fab Over 40 competition. The winner will receive a two-page spread in the magazine, $40,000 cash and a spa trip.

Spending most of her life as a model and actress, Adler, currently of Miller Place, got involved with the competition on a whim and now she’s asking for your help to win. 

“I’m trying to get every vote I can,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a close call, and I don’t want to take any chances.”

Photo from Dani Adler

The former Miss Belle Terre has had quite the career; she competed in beauty pageants across the state, was an extra on “Baywatch” and modeled most of her adult life. After leaving Port Jeff to pursue a life in Manhattan, she eventually landed in California for seven years where she began working in event planning. While hanging among the stars, she had a stint working on the Queen Mary and alongside celebrities like Danny Aiello, John Travolta and Sonny Bono.

When she came back to New York for a what was meant to be a quick visit, she ended up staying because she fell in love and decided to start up her own company, Red Carpet Parties, 10 years ago.

But because of COVID-19, that industry was rocked. She was unable to plan for events when things were constantly being cancelled. 

“When I saw the competition on Facebook, I was just looking for something new to do,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this online — I’ve done competitions before, and I’ve done well — but I’ve never done an internet competition … so I said, ‘What the heck,’ and went for it.”

As of Wednesday, Sept. 1, she was number two in her group. On Thursday, Sept. 2 voting closes, and if she makes it to the number one spot, she will be brought to the next round of competitions. 

She said that the contest includes dozens of women of all different ages. They were separated into several different groups, and as of this week, the winners of each group will go head-to-head for the final prize to be announced at the end of the month.

“I’m just moving along, trying to get those votes up,” she said. “It’s like pulling teeth, and I’m glad I’m not running for mayor because I don’t know what I do!” she joked.

But she likes the challenge and has always stepped out of her comfort zone for new things. 

“I’ve always jumped onto every opportunity,” she said. “You never know what doors are going to open up at any age. I tell people it doesn’t matter what age you are. Just go for it — you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Every day, people can vote for Adler to help her get closer to the prize. She said with the $40,000 prize, she’d donate a chunk of it to animal rescue.  

“My mother always taught me charity — the moment you get something you give it to somebody else first,” she said. “That’s what I want to do right now.”

A lover of butterflies, she’d also put the funds towards her Monarch Way Station to help keep the monarch population going. 

While voting for her group’s finalists ends Thursday, those who would like to support Adler’s competition can vote online at votefab40.com/2021/dani-adler.

Susan Lobacz, Joanne Wright and Kim Olenick at the new Port Jefferson Plant Cutting Swap Station inside the library. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Sharing is caring.

Recently, the Suwassett Garden Club partnered up with the Port Jefferson Free Library to bring the community together with plants. 

“What we’re doing is we are encouraging the community to swap plant cuttings,” said Susan Lobacz, co-president. “We’re asking people to bring them in, and then take a new one home.”

Inside the library, a small table stands with mason jars filled with leaves and roots. Plastic cups are on the bottom shelf, so people who want to plant something different at home can bring a piece of it back with them. 

The fun and different idea comes with the hope that new members could potentially join.

“We’re hoping that with this collaboration, we’ll be able to encourage people to become part of this Suwassett Garden Club,” said co-president Kim Olenick. “So, there’ll be applications right next to the plants.”

The Suwassett Garden Club is a small local club, started in the 1940s, that serves Port Jefferson, Belle Terre and the surrounding communities. Known for their annual fundraisers, Antiques and Garden Weekend — with the historical society — and wreath makings for holidays and the Port Jefferson Dickens Festival, things were different over the last year. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Lobacz said that pre-pandemic, the club would host field trips and hands-on gardening tips. They have sponsored fashion shows, luncheons and participate in an annual “garden therapy” program with veterans at the Stony Brook Veterans Association.   

Alternate years, the garden club plants a tree in either Port Jefferson or Belle Terre and on Arbor Day this year, they planted a new one by the basketball courts near Rocketship Park. 

On top of all that, the Suwassett Garden Club also sponsors a high school scholarship and maintains the flower garden at the Mather Museum. They are currently supporting a new children’s garden that is being pursued by the village. 

Meetings are usually the first Wednesday of the month at 11 a.m. in the Belle Terre Community Center. Due to COVID, meetings have been held via Zoom.

Past co-president Joanne Wright said she joined the club years ago because it sounded different. 

“I had recently retired and wanted to meet new people,” she said. “Even though I was local, I didn’t know a lot of people and it was a good way to meet new people.”

Other perks are learning new things with different workshops. 

People who are interested in joining can pick up a plant at the library, or email [email protected]

Stock photo by Kyle Barr

Belle Terre residents came out Tuesday to vote on two trustee positions, where Richard Harris beat incumbent Dr. Caroline Engelhardt.

According to village clerk Joanne Raso, 225 ballots were cast on June 15. Harris, along with incumbent Dr. Richard Musto, on the Citizens Party platform, took the two titles home: Harris with 136 votes and Musto with 159; Engelhardt received 112 votes

Musto has been a resident of Belle Terre for over 30 years. Now ready for his third term, he previously told TBR News Media he brings 70-plus years of life experience to the table. “I have a strong interest in the village,” he said. “I want to keep it going — I enjoy living here.”

Harris had said he previously never wanted to work in politics, but saw that change was needed in Belle Terre. He said he plans on using his 20 years of professional experience to make the village better.

“I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the village where I live,” he said. 

After moving to Belle Terre with his wife seven years ago, “We could not think of a better place to raise our family,” he said. He is the father of two school-age boys.

Photo from Richard Harris

Harris said he  has served as counsel to town and village boards, planning and zoning boards, conservation boards, public safety commissions, code enforcement and emergency management departments and agencies conducting internal affairs. Currently, he serves as Port Jefferson deputy village attorney and Belle Terre special prosecutor. 

Since moving to Belle Terre, he has served on the traffic safety committee, where he recommended traffic calming measures on Cliff Road, helped build a second kayak rack at Knapp Beach and served on the recently reconvened marina committee. 

After the announcement of his win, Harris said he is honored that his neighbors in Belle Terre elected him as their trustee.

“The role of a trustee in a small village is to ensure that quality of life issues are constantly monitored and addressed efficiently,” he said. “With this in mind, and as I promised during my candidacy, I will be getting to work immediately with the rest of the board to address traffic safety issues, environmental concerns and beach improvements, as well as other pending matters.”

Harris wanted to thank everyone who gave him the chance to continue contributing to the village.

“I’d also like to publicly acknowledge and thank Dr. Caroline Engelhardt for her service to the community, both as a trustee and, even more importantly, as a doctor on the frontlines,” he said. “Her contributions and concern for all of us cannot be overstated.”

Stock photo by Kyle Barr

On Tuesday, June 15, Village of Belle Terre residents can vote in the election for two trustee positions. 

This year’s candidates are incumbent Richard Musto on the Citizens Party ballot, with newcomer Richard Harris. Incumbent Caroline Engelhardt is on the Residents Party ballot.

Musto has been a resident of Belle Terre for over 30 years. Running for his third term, Musto said he brings 70-plus years of life experience to the table. 

“I have a strong interest in the village,” he said. “I want to keep it going — I enjoy living here.”

Before his retirement, he spent two years of service in the Navy, with one year of sea duty and a second year at the Naval Air Station in San Diego, with a rank of lieutenant commander.  

After his residency at Downstate Medical Center, he joined a urology group in Port Jefferson in 1977 and remained there until 2014. 

Since then, he has been president of the medical staff at St. Charles Hospital and Peconic Bay Medical Center. Musto has been chief of urology at Mather Hospital, and a member of the board of trustees at Peconic Bay Medical Center for the last 15 years.

Richard Harris is running for his first term as trustee and said he can bring 20 years of professional experience. 

“I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the village where I live,” he said. 

After moving to Belle Terre with his wife seven years ago, “We could not think of a better place to raise our family,” he said. He is the father of two school-aged boys.

Photo from Richard Harris

Harris said he  has served as counsel to town and village boards, planning and zoning boards, conservation boards, public safety commissions, code enforcement and emergency management departments and agencies conducting internal affairs. Currently, he serves as Port Jefferson deputy village attorney and Belle Terre special prosecutor. 

Since moving to Belle Terre, he has served on the traffic safety committee, where he recommended traffic calming measures on Cliff Road, helped build a second kayak rack at Knapp Beach and served on the recently reconvened Marina Committee. If elected, he has a list of goals he plans to accomplish.

“I know how to make government work for all residents,” he said. “I will use my expertise and my municipal and law enforcement contacts to improve traffic safety in the village, to address erosion and water runoff issues, add amenities to our village beaches, and examine options to fund and build a village marina.”

Caroline Engelhardt has lived in her home in Belle Terre for the last 23 years. After from New York College of Osteopathic Medical School in 1988, she did her first two years of residency in anesthesiology at Beth Israel Medical Center/Mt. Sinai in New York City, followed by a third year at the University Medical Center of Pittsburgh and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. After residency, she became a partner with Long Island Anesthesia Physicians in Port Jefferson and has been a senior partner for over 25 years serving patients at St. Charles Hospital, Mather Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center and Mercy Hospital. 

Engelhardt has served on several boards and volunteered with Doctors Without Borders. She is a teaching faculty member at Northwell/Hofstra Medical School.

Engelhardt did not respond to TBR News prior to press time. 

Residents can vote for two of these three candidates from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Community Center in Belle Terre. 

Photo from Melyssa Cornell

Longtime Belle Terre resident Joanne Wright Cornell passed away on May 16 at 80 years old. 

Born on Jan. 31, 1941, in Staten Island, she leaves behind a vibrant legacy in the Port Jefferson community after decades of service.

Starting off as a model in Manhattan and working on Wall Street with stock and bond traders, she moved to Long Island in the early 1970s where she entered the world of real estate. 

“Her emotional intelligence was incredible,” said her daughter, Melyssa Cornell.

Joanne formed a lifelong friendship and business partnership with Eileen Petsco, together forming Cornell/Petsco Real Estate. The duo started their firm in a modest small office space, eventually growing into a larger building on East Main Street that lasted almost four decades. 

“Joanne was a perfect partner,” Petsco said. “In 37 years, we never had a serious argument. She was a tireless worker and a valued friend.” 

Their friendship lasted long after their firm shutdown. 

Photo from Melyssa Cornell

“A few years ago, we were kidding around about what epitaph we wanted on our gravestones,” Petsco added. “We settled on this for Joanne: ‘My candle burns at both ends, it shall not last the night, but oh my friends and oh my foe, how brilliant was the light.’ The world will be a dimmer place without Joanne to light the path. She will be deeply missed.” 

While building up her real estate business, Joanne was also a single mother who worked hard to create a successful life and business, and gave back to her community in a multitude of ways.

“The early 1970s wasn’t the easiest time for a woman to launch a business,” Melyssa said, “But she and Eileen did an incredible job creating an extremely successful company.”

Joanne was vice president and then president of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, and president of the Belle Terre Community Association. She supported a multitude of the area’s charities and civic functions.  

Along with her other hats, Joanne was a founding member of the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, and chaired the ladies day golf outings at the country club for many years.  

She immersed herself in community pride chairing the Fourth of July committee and was known as the Easter Bunny and Mrs. Claus for years in the parades.  

“She made the community a better place because of the professional and civic leadership she demonstrated over the years,” Melyssa said. “Her legacy is extraordinary — she lived life to the fullest with an incredible zest for life, a mischievous twinkle in her eye and her dancing shoes on. She was always the life of the party, the first on the dance floor and the last one off — life to her was not a dress rehearsal.”

Melyssa added that her mother should be remembered for her strength, fierce loyalty, honesty and that she welcomed all. She was a true friend to everyone — and still had so many lifelong friendships going back to elementary school.

“Joanne Cornell was a professional, a dedicated member of her community, a warm, welcoming and generous friend and a gracious hostess on all occasions,” said Denise Adler, one of Joanne’s closest friends. “She believed in making life more joyful for all those she touched.”

Melyssa said that her mother “knew how to make a moment last and always believed that the best of times is now. … She did what she said she would do — always.”

She is remembered by TBR News Media publisher, Leah Dunaief for her sense of community and service. 

Photo from Melyssa Cornell

“Joanne had a great sense of fun even as she was very good at her job,” she said. “I enjoyed working with her on the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, where she gave many hours on behalf of helping the business community and the village. She and Eileen Petsco were a dynamic duo, personifying successful business executives at a time when not many women were in business. They were the founders of Cornell/Petsco Real Estate, and their race horse weather vane was a frequently seen icon.”

Joanne leaves behind her daughter Melyssa, and a grandson, Ryan Cornell Thorpe, 17, who both live in Virginia. She is survived by her sisters Leslie Ellerbrook and Judy Repage, both of New Jersey.

“We found fun and laughter in every adventure,” Melyssa said. “We loved Broadway, and, to her, life was a cabaret. My mom made every moment special. When I was super young, and she was working hard to make it in real estate, we didn’t have much money, but we would always sit down and have dinner by candlelight — usually Chunky soup. She didn’t wait for the special moments to happen — she created them.”               

A Celebration of Life will be held in honor of Joanne at The Country House in Stony Brook on June 30 from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. 

“A life so beautiful deserves a special celebration and we welcome anyone who would like to come and share in the memories, the love and the laughter of her life that was lived to the fullest with us,” Melyssa said.

Miriam with great-grandaughter, Ella. Photo from Jeff Remz

Miriam (Groman) Remz, a long-time resident of Belle Terre and former business manager of the Port Jefferson school district, passed away from COVID-19 on Feb. 21 at the age of 94 in Brookline, Mass.

Miriam was born on Dec. 15, 1926 in Czestochowa, Poland, the only child of Israel and Gertrude Groman. She moved with her parents to Brussels, Belgium at the age of 2, where she lived until emigrating to New York on March 1, 1938, avoiding the terrible fate that awaited most of the remaining Jews in Europe.

Miriam considered that date her second birthday, special to her because it represented the beginning of her new life in the United States.

Miriam graduated from City College of New York in 1946 with a degree in business administration and accounting. She then worked in a New York City accounting firm where she met Louis (Leo) Remz. 

Miriam and Leo Remz. Photo from Jeff Remz

After he popped the question and was told “I’ll get back to you,” (she said “yes” a week later), the two were later married on Feb. 17, 1948 in the Bronx.

They moved to Port Jefferson in 1949 where Louis worked with his brother, Morris, at M. Remz (later Louis Remz Supply), a feed and grain business —which eventually added bakery ingredients, as well — located next to the Port Jefferson train depot. 

Having moved to Cliff Road, Belle Terre where they built a house, Miriam took time off from work to raise a family of three boys. The Remzes were among the founding families of the North Shore Jewish Center, then in East Setauket. 

Miriam would later become president of the Sisterhood and a member of the Board of Trustees of the synagogue.

Miriam returned to work in 1963, spending her career with the Port Jefferson school district. She worked first as an account clerk and later became the business manager, a position she held until she retired in 1991.

Miriam was a world traveler — visiting more than 150 countries and all 50 states (North Dakota was the last that she visited — not to mention all U.S. territories. 

Her final major international trip was in August 2016 at the age of 89 for the wedding of her granddaughter in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

Miriam had a keen sense of adventure, enjoying interactions with people from other countries and cultures and enjoyed learning history. But sometimes her love of travel got the better of her judgment. 

On one occasion, already well into her 80s, she visited eastern Turkey at a time when the Syrian civil war had spilled into that region, very close to where she had planned to visit. When asked by her children why she would go there, she said she had already been to western Turkey three times, so she had to see the rest of Turkey.

After her husband Leo passed away in 1994, Miriam continued traveling at an even more frenetic pace, doing about six trips around the world each year.

In addition to her travels, Miriam was passionate about many things in life, including education, her family, Israel and the Jewish people, theater and the arts. 

A formal photo of Miriam Remz. Photo from Jeff Remz

She often went on trips to New York for theatre and dance with friends and sometimes meeting up with her grandchildren. She always enjoyed a good time, dancing, celebrating and socializing with family and friends, and making new acquaintances. 

Miriam wanted to pass that on to her family and made sure her children and grandchildren would have every opportunity that she could provide, whether in supporting their educational endeavors or taking her grandchildren on special trips abroad upon them becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah including London, Paris, Italy and Brazil/Uruguay/Argentina.

She moved from Belle Terre to Brookline in 2014 to be near two of her sons, Jeff and Sandy. She continued her love of lifetime learning by attending lectures about politics, current events, history, literature, art and Judaism and reading history and biographies. 

Almost exactly two years before she passed away, she attended a Dolly Parton tribute concert by Berklee College of Music students in Boston.

Miriam is survived by her three sons, Harvey (Mary Jane) Remz of Huntington, Conn.; Sandy (Arlene) Remz of Newton Centre, Mass. and Jeff (Judy) Remz of Newton Centre, Mass., six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 

Burial took place at Washington Memorial Park in Coram. 

Obituary from Jeff Remz

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One newcomer and one incumbent elected to Port Jeff Village Board

Stock photo by Kyle Barr

In a contentious race between a slate of newcomers and longtime incumbents, it was the old guard who won out in the end.

Current Mayor Bob Sandak got 280 votes to challenger Enrico Scarda’s 169. Scarda is the president and founder of The Crest Group development agency which owns multiple properties around the Port Jeff area, including Danfords Hotel & Marina and The Waterview at the Port Jefferson Country Club. Sandak has been mayor since 2016, and has previously worked as a school administrator for multiple districts on Long Island.

The morning after the votes were counted, Sandak said in a phone interview he was glad the election is over, and moving forward he has already spoken to the other candidates “to arrange meetings and get their thoughts on what they wanted to accomplish — it’s always good to have new ideas,” he added. “We just want to move forward.”

In a statement, Scarda said he remains positive. He congratulated Sandak on his win and offered to assist the village should the admin want any help. He added regarding future elections that, “If the residents want me involved I will be there for them.”

“I will continue to stay involved with the village administration,” Scarda said. “Belle Terre needs residents to get involved and help Bob and the trustees to move the village forward.”

On the trustee side, incumbent trustees Sheila Knapp and Jacquelyn Gernaey won back their seats with 315 and 272 votes, respectively. Newcomer candidate Peter Colucci, a 12-year village resident, gained 128 votes. Fellow newcomer Lou Bove, the president and CEO of East Setauket-based contractor Bove Industries, gained 124 votes.

Poll workers the night of the vote Sept. 15 said this was the most attention any Belle Terre election has had in at least a few decades, especially for a village with just a little under 800 residents. Village Clerk Joanne Raso said they were up until midnight counting votes, which included two write-in votes and 73 absentee ballots.

Port Jefferson Village Elections

On the Port Jeff side, one incumbent and one newcomer trustee candidate have been elected to the village board. Both seats were uncontested after nine-year trustee Bruce D’Abramo announced this would be his last term on the board.

Rebecca Kassay, a local activist and owner of The Fox & Owl Inn in Port Jeff, gained 103 votes. Incumbent trustee Bruce Miller won 114 votes.

A total of 171 votes were cast, including 10 absentee ballots.

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Rohan Singh and his brother Rishabh holding the masks they have been making on a 3D printer. Photo from Singh

Young Belle Terre resident Rohan Singh, at home during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, told himself he needed to do something to help the surrounding community using GoFundMe and a 3D Printer.

Singh’s father, Ravi, is a doctor working in Patchogue, and so from both him and the news in general, he said he heard about the general lack of personal protective equipment from hospitals all around Long Island. He said, speaking with his dad, he learned of his father’s old colleague from college, who now works at Japan-based company Aizome Bedding. The business originally created pillows and beds, but has since transferred to making N95 masks. 

These masks, in today’s world costs $2.50 each. To get 1,000 of these would require $2,500. Taking to GoFundMe, Rohan made up the amount by donations in five days. He said he plans to distribute the masks to Mather Hospital and Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue, the medical center his father works closely with.

“After talking to my dad, I asked what I can do to help,” he said.

Looking to do more, Singh looked into 3D printing. The first time using the device, he said it was difficult at first, but now with six masks under his belt he is joining the legions of people looking to help hospital workers by producing his own PPE. Each takes about five hours to print, and so far he has produced six masks. 

“This isn’t the first time Rohan has tried to make  a difference. When he was in fifth grade, he won the Suffolk County Social service award for collecting and distributing left over pencils for an orphanage in India,” Singh’s mother Priyanka said. “He manned a Farmers Market stall in Port Jefferson selling Samosas to raise money for a prosthetic foot camp as a sophomore in high school. So during this pandemic it didn’t surprise us that he wanted to use his time in quarantine to try and help people in the front line.”

The Port Jeff high school student said he is also looking long term.

“I want to think of the bigger picture, think of something more like industrial alternative masks that don’t take up as much time to print,” he said.

Singh’s GoFundMe can be found here. More and more people are reaching out and doing their part to support hospitals in their time of need. Visit here to see how locals have been making handmade PPE for hospitals and keep up with TBR News Media to see how locals are giving back to healthcare workers.

By Irene Ruddock

After spending his childhood in Port Jefferson, artist Dino Rinaldi studied art at the University of South Florida. Upon graduating, he exercised his artistic creativity by pursuing a career in advertising as an illustrator and sales representative. While also creating television commercials, he devoted his spare time studying fine art with renowned artists at the Art Students League of New York City. After twenty-five years of intense study, Rinaldi moved to Setauket. While living on a nature preserve with his wife and daughter, he is happy to devote himself to drawing and painting. 

Were you interested in art as a child? 

From an early age I was attracted to art. I drew as a teen and some of my best pieces were created on desktops in high school. Boy, I would love to see some of them now! But what impressed me the most was my Italian grandfather’s pastel portrait and landscapes that sadly disappeared over the years. Both of my parents painted, so the talent apparently has been passed down. However, my mother was the driving influence in me pursuing art throughout my life. 

Who influenced you while you studied at the Art Students League? 

I started at the League where I discovered a world that I had no idea existed. The talent was intimidating but I was welcomed in by all and turned the intimidation into the goal of being the intimidator! I moved from one teacher to another until I discovered Costa Vavagiakis for figure drawing and Nelson Shanks for color theory, learning techniques that nobody had taught me before. 

How did you transition from the advertising world to full time painting? 

I noticed people were expendable in that business. I needed an escape plan and a second career that I could pursue anywhere in the world. While hitting my most lucrative stride, I quit the ad business at age 42 and went back to the art school full time, intensely learning for eight months. 

After living in New York, what drew you back to Long Island? 

At 48, I met my wife Hazel and at 49 my daughter Lia was born. Not wanting to raise Lia in the city, I returned to my home town area. Having grown up in Belle Terre and finding it magical, we found the artists’ dream setting, Miller’s Cottage in Frank Melville Memorial Park, East Setauket. I still work in the ad business, but now work in the seclusion of my studio. 

How does living in a nature preserve impact your painting? 

Although I hadn’t taken a course in landscape, I knew the allure and dreamlike beauty of the surrounding area would have to be painted. I watched instructional videos, while applying my previously acquired skills and set out with my easel. I love being outside so landscape painting was a natural progression. Hearing swans taking off on the pond and an owl that likes to say hello around 11 p.m. always makes me smile and gives me inspiration to paint.  

Tell us about painting local scenes. 

I have painted and drawn the Belle Terre Gates in Port Jefferson many times, loving every stroke and remembering back to my childhood. Painting the cove at the end of Cliff Road also holds some of my fondest memories.

You are also known for your paintings of animals. Do you have many commissions for those? 

I have a pretty steady clientele who commission me to draw their horses and dogs. The number of people requesting pencil portraits of a family member is gaining momentum. Relatives, famous musicians, artists, and celebrities are among the most requested.    

How would you describe your style of painting? 

I feel I have yet to hit my stride on one subject are or even one style, but continue to grow and hone my skills with the goal of creating something each painting better than the last one.  

You exhibit many beautiful still life paintings in a box. How did this genre come about?  

While living in SoHo, I took a walk to Houston Street where people were selling goods. I suddenly saw an old box with a wonderful patina. I was told it was from the 1800’s and “very rare.” After much haggling, we settled on $10. I told the man I was going to paint a still life in the box and paint so many that I would turn the $10 purchase to $10,000. I ended up selling the first one for at the Art Students League for $600. Only $9,400 to go! Since then, I have painted close to 100 objects in the box and the amount must be close to $100,000 in sales. 

Since you don’t often enter shows or work with a gallery, how do you seek out opportunities to sell your work or cultivate a collector base? 

When it comes to selling my work I found a worldwide audience through Facebook, Instagram, and Saatchi Art online. I love interacting with my over 4,500 friends from around the globe on Facebook: Dino Rinaldi Art. I also have lawn exhibits outside the cottage in the park where my daughter joins me.

Is your daughter following in your family’s footsteps? 

My daughter has begun taking her art seriously, often accompanying me with her pink easel to paint various spots in this stunning park. She has already sold 6 pieces! A fine start indeed!  

What qualities does a painting to have to satisfy your standards? 

Before setting out to paint, I ask myself “Would it be something I want on my walls?” Another criteria is that it must be a great drawing or painting. If the work fails to meet these two criteria, I put it aside and re-use the canvas. I am my toughest critic. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

 If I had a chance I probably tell a younger Dino to focus more on art at an earlier age, save your money for a rainy day so you could escape the city earlier for the peaceful life at Setauket, and to keep my head down longer on my chip shots! 

Is there one habit that helps or hinders your creativity?  

Determination! I paint and draw as many as a hundred hours a week, working late into the night while listening to music. I learned that when you can do something you love, it is no longer a job but a passion.  

What role does art have in society?  

I have used my art toward helping charities whenever possible. I began a friendship with Petra Nemcova, a model who lost her fiancé in the tsunami almost a decade ago. I was so moved, I set up an art show at Guava Studios and was able to raise $13,000 toward building a school in Thailand. 

That is a wonderful achievement! I have heard that you also give to other charities as well.

I have donated to horse rescues and other animal rescues. I think it is a natural progression to want to help people even as I sometimes struggle to make money; rarely do I question if it is the right move. 

What are your future aspirations as an artist? 

My goal has been to always to enjoy my life in the fullest manner possible while also being able to spend more time with my wife and daughter. I want to sell enough art to pay the bills and keep me in cadmium red! By continuing to study the old masters, I will someday reach my goal of fame and fortune. 

Brookhaven resident and avid hunter John German speaks to the Town and DEC about the need for more places to hunt. Photo by Kyle Barr

With villages like Belle Terre and Port Jefferson taking steps in handling the issue of deer in their municipalities, Town of Brookhaven representatives say there’s things they can do at the Town level to stop the scourge of deer and their impact on the local environment.

At a forum hosted by Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) and representatives of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, residents were split on how to handle the overwhelming deer population, but no one questioned whether their impact has been felt far and wide, whether it’s from them simply eating people’s gardens or the mass depletion of saplings and bushes in Long Island forests.

Leslie Lupo, left, a biologist for the state DEC, and DEC spokesperson Aphrodite Montalvo speaks on Deer. Photo by Kyle Barr

“We have not played an active role in respect to deer management,” Cartright said. “It is an issue within our Town, and we can’t rely solely on our villages. So, it’s a question of how can we work with the villages, or how we can do something on our own.”

Leslie Lupo, a big game wildlife biologist for the DEC, said that, despite some misconceptions, deer do very well living in a suburban landscape such as Long Island, especially since they have no natural predators. They are polygamous and have short gestation periods, which means, unchecked, their population continues to grow.

“No management means more and more deer,” Lupo said.

Despite residents’ constant complaints of deer eating plants and vegetables at people’s homes and gardens, deer have had an even more major impact on Long Island’s forests and biodiversity, the biologist said. Many of the saplings in forests have been eaten by deer, and their favoring of ground plants has meant the loss of habitat for some songbird species. 

“They are a huge changer of their own habitat,” she added. “Deer will just eat everything here and move on to the next property.”

Cartright said the forum was an example of one of the first steps the DEC provides in its deer management guide, originally published in 2012, in starting to make change. Over the last several years, the deer issue has ballooned into near-crisis proportions. While state officials said they cannot give estimates of the number of deer on Long Island, due to migration and other mitigating factors, the total number of deer shot and tagged by hunters in Suffolk County is around 3,200-3,400 in the last five years.

Multiple North Shore villages have gotten ahead of towns in dealing directly with the deer issue. Belle Terre, for example, has been allowing residents to bring in hunters onto their properties as long as they conform to state laws regarding setbacks from other properties. Belle Terre Mayor Bob Sandak said this has already made a significant impact in the village’s deer population.

What More Can Be Done?

With the need to reduce deer population clear, the two major schools of thoughts are to either encourage recreational hunting or professional culls or by surgical or chemical sterilization. Lupo favored hunting, citing mixed-at-best results from sterilization initiatives.

Lupo called recreational hunting the most utilized tool for the DEC and said it is “safe and effective” with a large bowhunting culture on Long Island. Even with nonlethal alternatives, she suggested it would be more effective combined with lethal removal.

Both Lupo and several hunters who came to the Jan. 30 meeting said, despite areas which have been opened up with cooperative agreements with the DEC, there are many parts of the Island where they are restricted from hunting. 

Not all municipal lands allow access. While the setback for bowhunters between properties was changed from 500 feet in 2012 to 150 feet a few years later, hunters said there are only a few public properties on which they can actually hunt. The archery season, which runs from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31, is much longer than the shotgun season, which only runs from Jan. 4 to Jan. 31 and requires a Town permit or landowner consent form. The DEC’s tagging system essentially allows for “an unlimited harvest of deer,” Lupo said. “The harvest has been increasing and increasing to go along with our increased population.”

Though DEC officials said some harvest years are better than others, and some are worse than others since various conditions can impact harvest rates, such as weather.

John German, of the Brookhaven hamlet and an avid hunter, said that, despite there being a large hunting crowd, the number of deer does not seem to have stymied. He and other hunters complained about Town-owned lands in which they are unable to hunt. 

“There’s more deer now than there ever was,” German said.

Some called for the Town when it buys land for municipal purposes to allow hunters on that property, but Cartright said the majority of space the Town acquires is small and not conducive to hunting.

Lupo said that residents or the Town could start organizing hunts and allow residents to interact with them to allay fears, but other residents strongly supported sterilization initiatives, including Elaine Maas, a board member of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, who pointed to data from Hastings-on-Hudson and its chemical contraceptive program, which from 2014 to 2018 sterilized about 60 deer, which the city described as about 75 percent of the population. 

Maas also said she has had issues with hunters on a neighboring property for years and described being “confined” in her own home during hunting season.

Surgical sterilization can cost as much as $1,000 per deer, while chemical sterilization can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000. At minimum, 75-90 percent of females would need to be treated to see some effect. Lupo also said another issue is that, in an uncontrolled setting, deer often migrate to and away from some areas, meaning that some chemical sterilization techniques that require multiple treatments become that much harder.

“Maybe it will prove to be more beneficial in the future,” she said.

Cartright said the next step is to get the rest of the Town council on board. While the board could form a committee in the future, there’s a few “low hanging fruit,” including doing a survey and speaking with villages and her fellow board members. She also mentioned changing Town code regarding fencing to make more residents able to buy higher barriers on property.

This post has been amended Feb. 13 to correct Lupo’s comment on managing deer, also to change “incubation period” to “gestation period” and add context to another of Lupo’s quotes.