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Brookhaven Town Hall

Residents traveled to Brookhaven Town Hall, above, to resist two draft proposals on the Brookhaven Redistricting Committee's website. Photo from the town website

For the second consecutive week, the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville community gave a strong display of community solidarity, this time during a public meeting at Brookhaven Town Hall on Thursday, Aug. 11.

Joined by neighbors from around the township, residents spoke out against two proposed maps for the redistricting of Brookhaven Town Council. If approved, the proposed maps would make significant changes to the existing boundaries of Council Districts 1 and 2, severing large chunks of Port Jefferson Station from Terryville and cutting Mount Sinai in half.

Public comments

Logan Mazer, a Coram resident, has proposed an alternative to the maps on the redistricting committee’s website. He told the Town Board that the only two districts requiring change are Districts 2 and 6 — the former being underpopulated and the latter being overpopulated. Because the two districts share a border, Mazer proposed the simple transfer of territory from District 6 into District 2 to correct the population imbalance.

The map of least change “doesn’t really change the political alignment … it doesn’t produce any gerrymandered districts and it protects communities of interest that are being carved up in these new maps for no discernable reason,” Mazer said.

Throughout the evening, Mazer’s map received favorable reactions from those in attendance. Among the supporters of the Mazer map is Lou Antoniello, a member of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, who considered the draft proposal a way to transfer the burden of costs and maintenance into District 1.

“They showed that there was a portion of Mount Sinai — a beautiful section down by Cedar Beach and the surrounding community — which is a high-maintenance area for Mount Sinai that would be swapped out for the relatively self-sufficient area of Terryville,” he said. “I am here tonight to tell you that I don’t think that map is a map that should be voted on.”

Joan Nickeson, a Terryville resident and community liaison for the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, discussed the phenomenon of cracking, a practice in political redistricting that dilutes the voting power of an area by distributing its population across districts.

“It is unconscionable that you would crack our high school from the rest of its district, and crack neighbor from neighbor, and actually cleave members of the chamber of commerce from the chamber of commerce office,” she said. Addressing the board, she added, “I want you to remember to keep [the] 11776 [zip code] together when you go to vote.”

Paul Sagliocca, also a member of PJSTCA, shared the historic neglect of PJS/Terryville. He said that recently, the community has begun to counteract that narrative, introducing a Shakespeare in the Park event at the Chamber Train Car Park and building momentum for positive changes to the area.

Sagliocca asked that the board not impede the development of the area by dividing community members across political boundaries. “It is on the up — we do not need to be divided,” he said. “I would really wish that when it comes time to vote, that Port Jeff Station/Terryville stays in one solid community within District 1.”

Francis Gibbons, a Port Jefferson Station resident and member of the PJSTCA, said the redistricting process has diminished the public’s faith in its institutions. “Why are we continuing with this farce?” he asked. “I believe disenfranchisement brings with it a lack of political faith in our system. When you have a lack of faith, after time it brings civil war.”

Community members were joined by allies from the village of Port Jefferson. Bruce Miller, a former trustee of Port Jefferson Village, criticized the process. He considered the multiple cancellations of public hearings in CD1 as a way to silence the public.

Miller also suggested that the proposed maps fail to advance the interests of the town. “Just leaving Mount Sinai and Port Jefferson Station and Terryville the way they are seems to be a more appropriate strategy,” he said. “All this straining, all these machinations, result in small gains but are a bad look that angers the public needlessly.”

Also attending was Port Jeff Village trustee Rebecca Kassay. Speaking on her own behalf, Kassay told the Town Board that plans to divide Port Jefferson Station/Terryville would impair the village’s own efforts to revitalize its uptown areas.

Citing her history of coordinating with the PJS/T chamber of commerce and the civic association, the village trustee said, “To see the work slowed at all by political lines, by having these two communities needing to go to two different councilmembers, that would surely slow down the work and the progress of the area at large.”

Kassay also described how a breakdown in procedure can alienate ordinary citizens from the political process, leading to cynicism and distrust of their elected officials.

“There are people who truly believe that all politicians get into office and then they serve themselves or they serve their parties, and I don’t want that to continue,” she said. “I want all elected officials to stand up and make decisions and show their allegiance to their constituents and not their party.”

Supervisor’s reply

Following the public comments, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) responded to those in attendance. He thanked the residents for coming out and for expressing their opinions. The supervisor affirmed his trust in the Town Board to listen carefully to constituent concerns.

Romaine also discussed the criteria that he will use to evaluate the proposed maps, saying that he favors a map that offers fewer “splits” of communities of interest.

“As supervisor, I’m going to tell you, I’m going to be looking for a map with less splits,” he said. “Your comments were very helpful. We’re looking for less splits.” Referring to his colleagues on the Town Board, the supervisor added, “I think they’ll sit down and they’ll take all the comments that you said … and they will consider all of them.”

The next meeting of the Brookhaven Redistricting Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. at Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776.

Councilmember Kornreich with Troop 229. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On July 25, Boy Scouts from Troop 229 in Selden visited Town Hall to meet with Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and satisfy requirements of the “Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge.” For this badge, each Boy Scout is required to choose an issue that is important to their community, then interview a member of the local government responsible for the issue.

The Boy Scouts chose to interview Councilmember Kornreich and brought up some very important community issues and concerns regarding littering, recycling, redevelopment vs. new construction, dilapidated parks and inflation. They were also given a tour of Town Hall by Councilmember Kornreich. Pictured left to right with the Councilmember (back row) are Aidan Soviero; Kieran deCarolis; Dylan deCarolis; Dean Ricciardi; Collin Tirado; Ryan Wagner; Joseph Reeves; Landon Holbrook; Carl June and Logan Schaefer.

“I always enjoy meeting with scouts and was particularly impressed by the thoughtfulness and sophistication of the questions and observations they shared. I was encouraged by their community spirit and have every confidence that these scouts will be ready to be the civic leaders of tomorrow.”

Stock photo

Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville hosts a blood drive on Wednesday, Dec. 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the 2nd floor auditorium. Appointments preferred by calling 1-800-933-2566 or by visiting www.nybc.org. All donors will be entered into a Home for the Holidays sweepstakes and receive a McDonald’s voucher. For more information, call 631-451-9100.

Above, a sample of some of the raffle prizes. Photo from Facebook

Time to shop! Dress for Success Brookhaven will hold a semi-annual fundraiser sale at Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville on Friday, Nov. 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Join them tomorrow for some amazing deals on clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and coats. Make sure to visit their Designer Section. Take a chance on wonderful raffles and enjoy some free giveaways and door prizes. Proceeds will support programs that help women get back into the workforce. For more information, call 631-451-9127.

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On April 30, the Town of Brookhaven celebrated Arbor Day by planting a Red Maple tree in front of Town Hall, following a longstanding tradition. Since 2016, the Town has been designated as a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

The annual planting at Town Hall is part of Supervisor Romaine’s Green Energy & Sustainability initiative for Town facilities announced in his 2015 State of the Town Address. The plan focuses on Town-owned Buildings and Facilities, Traffic Controls, Street Lights and Town Vehicles. Pictured left to right are the Town’s Environmental Analyst Alan Duckworth; Councilman Kevin LaValle; Supervisor Ed Romaine; Councilman Dan Panico; Councilwoman Jane Bonner; Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and Councilman Neill Foley.

Arbor Day has been celebrated around the world since originating in Spain in 1805. The first American Arbor Day was on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt brought the event to national attention when he issued an “Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States.”

Patrick Boyce, of Middle Island, shuffled forward on a line he stood in for the past three hours Oct. 24. As time dragged on, and his feet grew sore, he said he wished he had brought a chair.

He wasn’t the only person complaining about sore feet, as Boyce was just one of 55,000 people, including 20,319 in Suffolk, who came out to vote on Long Island over the weekend of Oct. 24 and 26, according to Newsday. At Brookhaven Town Hall, just one of two locations in Brookhaven where one could vote early, the line started near the end of the hill along Independence Drive. It curved up and over to the left, then wrapped like a snake through the parking lot south of the main building before finally ending at the front door of the main building. Poll workers walked through with a unique kind of energy, getting people to move forward in line and make room for more.

The time to vote was from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., but as the line closed to any newcomers in the evening, hundreds still had to make their way into the polling place. Some, like the Biondo family of Port Jefferson, spent five hours on line, having originally arrived around 12:30 p.m. The line at Nesconset Elementary School, which they tried first before coming to Brookhaven, was just as long, if not longer.

By most accounts the lines were long but calm, and the majority of people were wearing masks. At Brookhaven Town Hall, people paid for snacks and drinks from a small concession stand like food hawkers at a major league game.

Boyce, who got on the line at 11:54 a.m., though he was getting there early, though very few expected the lines to be that long. 

“It’s worth it though,” he said. “I think election day, it’s going to be even worse.”

Early voting continues this week until Sunday. Click on the image to see a chart of when and wear you can cast your early ballot.

 

Local Union 154 workers held a protest in front of Brookhaven Town Hall Nov.19. Photo by David Luces

Hauppauge-based Local Union 154 workers protested outside of Brookhaven Town Hall Nov. 19, disputing the Town of Brookhaven’s decision to hire another contractor to work on roofing of the government building. 

The protesters who stood at the entrance to Independence Hill did not want to speak on the record, but said they were protesting because town officials hired nonunionized workers for the ongoing roof work being done at Town Hall. Brookhaven has ongoing projects to put solar panels on the Town Hall roof.

Local 154 did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time. 

The contractor, Ronkonkoma-based Statewide Roofing, has been performing commercial and industrial roofing on the Island since 1983, according to its website. Notable projects include replacing the roof and deck waterproofing at Stony Brook University South Stadium. The company is a member of the National Roofing Contractors Association and North East Roofing Contractors Association. 

Gerry Curtin, president and part owner of the company, believes his workers are more than qualified to do the work and said the problem is with Local 154, who “wants everyone to go through them.” 

Curtin said they have long resisted unionization. 

“We’ve been around 36 years — we pay our workers prevailing wage and we’ve had apprenticeship program for over 25 years, we have done a lot of public work [over the years],” he said. 

The president of the company said they do have labor union agreements and take on other laborers if needed.

A Brookhaven spokesperson said they make sure the union/contractor they hire offers a prevailing wage and has an appropriate apprenticeship program in place. 

The spokesperson said work being done on the roof is part of the town’s solar energy program. The town put out a request for bids for the roof work and got a response from five different companies. They ultimately went with Statewide Roofing, which came in $1 million less than the next lowest bid. 

 

Classic car owners cruised into the parking lot at Brookhaven Town Hall last weekend to not only show off their collection of vintage hot rods, trucks and wacky automobiles, but their hearts, too.

At the town’s annual Charity Car and Motorcycle Show Nov. 12 — a partnership between the Brookhaven Youth Bureau and different classic car, truck and motorcycle clubs throughout Long Island — more than 300 vehicles of all shapes, makes and models were on display for residents in an effort to gather nonperishable food and unwrapped toy donations for families in need.

This year’s event raised 1,500 pounds of food, including canned soups, tuna and boxes of rice, which were transported by the town’s charity-based INTERFACE program to its Thanksgiving Food Drive, and will go directly to residents that need it most. By the end of the day, residents filled 25 big garbage bags with toys for children to open next month.

“This really helps allow people to have a very merry Christmas and a happy holiday,” said Sound Beach resident Dan Ryan, a member of the Long Island Chapter of the American Truck Historical Society, one of the event’s main groups that has helped collect donations since it first began about 12 years ago. “It’s just one day out of the year but it makes a big difference in people’s lives, especially kids. The crowds here are really caring people. They come out and give what they can.”

Maxine Kleedorfer, the event’s chairperson and a member of East End Olds Club, said of the day: “This is still so amazing to me. It’s Long Islanders giving to Long Islanders.”

Other organizations represented at the all-day free event were Long Island Moose Classic Car Club, the Long Island and New York City Oldsmobile Club and Long Island Street Rod Association, as well as independent car owners, who showcased everything from old Chevy Coupes to Lincoln Continentals to a 1981 Checker Taxi Cab.

Residents perusing the variety of wheels in the parking lot were treated to live music from local bands, free hot dogs and beverages, 50/50 raffle prizes and even a special visit from Santa Claus, who rolled up in an antique LaFrance Brockway Torpedo fire truck to meet with the kids and ask what they wanted for Christmas.

Adam Navarro, a vintage car collector from Centereach, said while he was happy to see so much generosity in the air that day, it didn’t surprise him all that much.

“One of the biggest things about car culture is that those involved are always giving back to the community,” Navarro said. “So you come out here, look at some great cars, sip hot chocolate, meet some friends and at the same time help out the community. You can’t get better than that.”

Joe Morgani from Mastic, who brought along his classic Corvette and several cans of soups and vegetables, called the event a win-win.

“The cars are amazing, we have the band and everything, and it all brings people together to help other people,” he said. “We need more charities like this. I love it.”

Sitting in front of a blue 1958 Chevy Bel Air was the car’s original owner, Lake Ronkonkoma’s Karl Krumsick. His wife Carol said he bought it when he got home from serving in the Korean War. The two went on their first date in the car and drove off in it after they got married.

“We come to this show every year because we love to donate to the needy,” Carol Krumsick said. “We brought a bunch of toys and canned goods. It’s wonderful here.”