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Brookhaven Town Supervisor Dan Panico

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Dan Panico (at podium) joined labor leaders, builders, elected officials and more to announce a historic agreement that implements safety training standards on large construction sites. Photo from TOB

On February 22, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Dan Panico (at podium) joined labor leaders, builders, elected officials and more to announce a historic agreement that implements safety training standards on large construction sites.

Construction is a dangerous industry, representing an estimated 25 percent of all of workplace fatalities nationwide. In New York, annual statistics show that a construction worker is killed once every six days on jobsites statewide. In an effort to increase safety in construction across Long Island, industry leaders have agreed upon minimum safety training standards for all workers employed at construction sites over 35k sq/ft. Pictured are New York State Senator and Plumbers Local 200 Business Agent Mario Matera (first left of center in yellow vest); Town of Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor/Councilman Neil Foley (first right of center) and Town of Brookhaven Councilman Michael Loguercio, (second right of center) also spoke at the press conference.

The legislation, which was adopted at the Town of Brookhaven’s February 22 Town Board meeting, requires all workers to have an OSHA 30 certification at jobsites over 35k sq/ft., and also that there be a Site Safety Supervisor at jobsites over 75k sq/ft., to further ensure accountability and increased safety standards on complex construction projects.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Daniel J. Panico said, “Today’s announcement marks the culmination of talks between the Town, the development community and labor.  It is proof that an effective thoughtful compromise can be struck when people sit down and talk to each other as opposed to at each other. I thank everyone involved in bringing us to this day, where the Town Board is expected to pass this law this evening at our public hearing.”

“As certified OSHA instructor, safety is first and foremost the number one priority for the members I represent”, stated Laborers Local 66 Vice President Vinny Alu. “Far too many workers are killed on construction sites simply because they are not provided the necessary safety training to do the job safely. An OSHA 30 certification is the minimum training any worker should be required to have before entering a dangerous construction site. I want to thank the Long Island Builders Institute and Supervisor Panico for working with us to address workplace safety. This will undoubtedly save lives.”

The law will require permit holders for large construction sites to ensure that their General Contractors and Subcontractors have a trained workforce, and that proof of each worker’s OSHA 30 certification will be documented and available upon the Town’s request.

Mike Florio, CEO, Long Island Builders Institute said, “On any jobsite, worker safety is first and foremost a priority and this agreement establishes a baseline standard for all construction projects.  Our goal is to see this standard adopted from one end of Long Island to the other, which will raise the floor for worker training and safety.  We thank Supervisor Panico and the town board for addressing this important issue and the Laborers Local 66 and Nassau Suffolk Building Trades for working together to craft this historic agreement.”

“Organized labor began with a focus on safety for workers on the jobsite,” stated Matthew Aracich, President of the Nassau Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council. “Today’s announcement has strengthened the core of those labor standards for the Long Island workforce. I commend the efforts of Laborers Local 66 and the Town of Brookhaven to adopt this policy for all jobsites. Having an alignment with representatives of the Long Island Builders Institute and Association for Better Long Island means the Building Trades Council and affiliates care equally about worker’s interests.”

“We would like to applaud Supervisor Panico, the Brookhaven Town Board, and all of their colleagues across Long Island who are committed to passing this measure,” stated Ryan Stanton, Executive Director of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “The importance and value of a uniform safety standard on construction sites across Long Island cannot be overstated. The construction industry is dangerous by nature, and the requirement of an OSHA30 training standard is vital to ensuring all workers get to return home to their families at the end of the day. It’s been nothing short of amazing working in collaboration with our affiliates, contractors, development community, and local elected officials to deliver a safety policy that we all agree on and are excited about.”

Failure to comply with the law can result in fines of $1,000 and up to $10,000 for each day violations are found. Qualified third-party safety persons or entities that can provide certifications are permitted to be used to confirm compliance with the requirements.

Other union and labor officials who attended the press conference were Matthew Aracich, President Nassau Suffolk Building Trades Council; Ryan Stanton, Executive Director Long Island Federation of Labor; Vinny Alu, Vice President Laborers Local 66; Tim McCarthy, IBEW Local 25 Business Representative; Ray Fester, DC9 Painters Business Agent; Brian Kearney Jr., President SteamFitters Local 638; Mike Bourgal, Teamsters Local 282 Business Agent; and Robert Wilson, Operating Engineers Local 30.

Sunrise Wind. Photo courtesy Sunrise Wind

By Serena Carpino

Several Suffolk County elected officials have gathered in support for Sunrise Wind, an offshore wind project dedicated to using clean energy to power thousands of Long Island homes. 

Sunrise Wind is operated under a 50/50 partnership between Ørsted, a Danish international climate action leader, and Eversource, a national leader in clean energy. The project has been ongoing since 2019 and organizers aim to have it completed by 2026, with the farm generating about 924 megawatts and supplying energy to nearly 600,000 homes across the Island. 

Sunrise Wind is located approximately 30 miles east of Montauk. Developers plan to run cables through Smith Point Beach that will connect to Long Island’s electricity grid in Holbrook. Officials intend to use the wind farm to provide Island residents with 70% renewable energy by 2030, and 100% by 2040. Eventually, they hope to make Sunrise Wind a national energy hub. 

The project has received bipartisan support across the county, with members of both parties agreeing to look toward a more renewable future. Officials supporting Sunrise Wind include County Executive Ed Romaine (R), state Assemblyman Joe DeStefano (R-Medford), Brookhaven Town Supervisor Dan Panico (R), and other business and labor leaders. 

“Here, this is not a Democrat or Republican issue,” Romaine explained. “Our focus is local and since we all live here, we want to solve the problems together to get this done. When I look at the future, I realize we’re going to need more energy than ever: Why not renewable?”

Other officials have commented how the project is already helping parts of Long Island with its $700 million investment in jobs, assets, and partnerships across Suffolk County. 

“In the Mastic-Shirley community, Patriots Preserve, we got our first million dollars from this agreement,” Panico said. “We used that money in the creation of a beautiful pristine park in the tri-hamlet community, one of the most densely populated communities that is underserved.”

Furthermore, Sunrise Wind has brought many job opportunities to Long Island residents. According to Meaghan Wims, a spokesperson for Sunrise Wind, the project will “deliver major economic benefits and local jobs to New York … while accelerating the state’s growing offshore wind workforce and supply chain.”

Many officials agree that Sunrise Wind will bring many benefits to Long Island. However, they have also addressed potential concerns about the effect on marine life and fisheries. 

“Climate change is an existential threat to the biodiversity of the natural world, and one of the best ways to protect that biodiversity is the development of clean energy,” Wims explained. That being said, Sunrise Wind takes “great care to ensure that offshore wind and wildlife coexist and thrive. We’ve taken a number of steps to ensure this coexistence, often by being directly responsive to requests from the fishing community.”

For example, officials at Sunrise Wind decided the boundaries of the wind farm after considering feedback from parties that could be affected. In addition, “we’ve set the industry standard by agreeing to uniform 1 x 1 nautical mile spacing across and gridded layout of our lease areas,” Wims said. “This is the widest spacing of any offshore wind farm in the world.” Because of this type of spacing, marine transit and fishery activity can continue to occur. 

In addition to Sunrise Wind, Ørsted and Eversource also have South Fork Wind and Revolution Wind in the works. South Fork Wind is estimated to provide 132 MW of energy to New York and is projected to become the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in United States waters. 

Revolution Wind will supply Rhode Island and Connecticut with 704 MW of power and offshore construction is set to begin in several months.

Trucks line up outside the Brookhaven landfill. Photo courtesy Samantha Rutt

By Samantha Rutt

The Town of Brookhaven landfill, a towering 192-acre presence on Yaphank’s landscape, is set for a partial closure this year, but its complete demise might not be as imminent as planned. 

The initial plan, set in motion years ago, aimed for a complete closure of the landfill by 2024. While construction and demolition debris disposal has been earmarked to cease by the end of 2024, the facility could remain open until 2027 or 2028 to accept incinerator ash, sparking debates about environmental impact and responsible waste management. 

A 2021 Town of Brookhaven exploratory report stated, “The Brookhaven landfill is anticipated to reach the capacity limits of its DEC permit by December 2024, creating a challenge for residents and Brookhaven Town regarding the future disposal of MSW [municipal solid waste], ash and construction and demolition debris.”

However, new Town Supervisor Dan Panico (R) has thrown a wrench in that timeline, seeking a permit extension allowing the facility to accept ash from Covanta’s Westbury waste-to-energy plant until 2027 or 2028. 

“We will cease taking construction and demolition debris at the end of 2024, and we will continue taking ash, not only from the Town of Brookhaven Covanta but from Islip, Smithtown and Huntington as it is a regional ash fill,” Panico said in an interview with Newsday. “That will probably go through 2027 and cease in the first month of 2028.” 

The town would need to seek an extension of its state-issued permit when it expires in July 2026. This decision stems from the lack of alternative disposal solutions for the roughly 340,000 tons of ash generated annually by Covanta, which serves much of Suffolk County. The landfill stands as Brookhaven’s second-biggest source of income after property taxes, expected to generate $55 million in 2024, implying sizable financial implications for when the property closes.

“It is not necessarily an extension because the waste-to-energy facilities are a reality and a necessity on Long Island,” Panico said in an interview.

The news has divided the community. Proponents of the extension argue it buys valuable time for exploring alternatives. Opponents, however, express concerns about potential environmental repercussions. 

Locals have gathered together in efforts against the landfill, raising their concerns. Currently, the town is underway with a state-ordered assessment by the Department of Environmental Conservation of a toxic plume emanating from the landfill. 

In North Bellport and areas surrounding the landfill, community members have joined together to create the Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group. This group has committed itself to finding sustainable solutions for the disposal of Long Island’s waste. 

“The time is now. The time was yesterday,” Monique Fitzgerald, Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group co-founder, said on the group’s Facebook page. “The time was 50 years ago. This is not to wait. You’re talking about this, which is going to take two years. We can’t keep pushing this down the road. If we have a moment of intervention, this is the time to act.”

In densely populated areas like Long Island, with limited landfill space, communities are often left to grapple with balancing environmental concerns and the practicalities of managing massive amounts of waste.

The Town Board is currently evaluating the permit extension request, considering public input and environmental assessments. Environmental groups like the Long Island Pine Barrens Society have voiced their opposition, urging the board to explore alternatives like recycling, composting and waste-to-fuel technologies.

The Brookhaven landfill saga stands as a microcosm of Long Island’s larger waste management challenges. As the closure deadline looms, the community faces a crucial decision: Extend the landfill’s life for a temporary fix or invest in long-term, sustainable solutions. The next few years will be critical in shaping the future of waste management in the region and potentially impacting the environment and communities for years to come.

Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville

By Aramis Khosronejad

The Town of Brookhaven meeting on Feb. 1 was a two-hour stint. As is traditional during these meetings, an award was presented. Zariel Macchia, a 17-year-old junior at William Floyd High School, was presented with an award for her plethora of athletic accomplishments as a runner on the school’s cross-country team. 

Following the brief ceremony, Supervisor Dan Panico (R) opened the meeting with a few words of reflection. The supervisor began by saying how “change is difficult”’ and concluded with the empathetic sentiment, “before criticizing a man, you should walk a mile in his shoes.” 

There were no reports for the board, and with that a brief period passed in which several agenda items were considered. 

For general public comments, there were two speakers, both of whom talked about environmental issues further commenting on the cleanliness of Brookhaven in regard to the environment. 

To begin the public comments was Joshua Schultzer, a senior from William Floyd High School, and he was followed was John McNamara. Panico responded to the public comment presentations, “It’s nice to see two people from clearly two different generations who want to do good for the place in which we live and the planet on which we live.”

After the public comments, some of the resolutions discussed were:

  • Councilman Neil Manzella (R-Selden) presented the first resolution of 2024, which is the implementation of a street name change in place of Smith Road in Ronkonkoma in honor of Matthew “Dezy” DiStefano. He was a much loved figure who was a teacher at Sachem High School, and passed away due to cancer. 
  • Resolution authorizing accepting a donation of $550 from Centereach Civic Association. 
  • Resolution authorizing the issuance of bonds to improve Port Jefferson Marina for $864,103. 
  • A series of 10 resolutions were discussed, all of which authorized the purchase of different properties to deal with the problem of runoff and rainwater. Panico explained that this is an ongoing problem across many districts within the town. 
  • Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) declared the month of February to be American Heart Awareness Month in Brookhaven.  
  • Resolution seeking to provide sand to Davis Park on Fire Island as well as other parks. Councilwoman Karen Dunne Kesnig (R-Manorville) was concerned about the large storms being experienced and the dunes that have been erased. Brookhaven has to take measures to protect Fire Island because if not, “we might not have a Fire Island.” 

For more information on this meeting, the live stream is available at: brookhavenny.portal.civicclerk.com/event/2631/media.

 

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Dan Panico has announced that the Town’s Youth Bureau will hold its annual INTERFACE Coat Drive from January 8 to February 9 to help residents in need stay warm this winter. Donations of new or gently used clean coats, scarves, hats and gloves in infant to adult sizes can be dropped off at the following locations:

  • Brookhaven Town Hall, One Independence Hill, Farmingville
  • Brookhaven Highway Department, 1140 Old Town Road, Coram
  • Henrietta Acampora Recreation Center, 39 Montauk Highway, Blue Point
  • New Village Recreation Center, 20 Wireless Road, Centereach
  • Rose Caracappa Senior Center, 739 Route 25A, Mount Sinai
  • Moriches Bay Recreation Center, 313 Frowein Road, Center Moriches
  • Brookhaven Town Parks and Recreation Department, 286 Hawkins Road, Centereach
  • Brookhaven Town Vehicle Control Building, 550 North Ocean Avenue, Patchogue
  • Village of Lake Grove Hall & Rec Center, 980 Hawkins Avenue, Lake Grove

“Many of our residents are going through hard times and may not have proper clothing to keep warm during the winter months,” said Supervisor Panico. “I thank our Youth Bureau for organizing the Coat Drive and I encourage residents to make a donation to help their neighbors in need.

Hours of operation for the Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau INTERFACE Program’s Annual Coat Drive are from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information, please contact Josie Lunde at the Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau or call at 631-451-8011.

About INTERFACE:

INTERFACE is a partnership between individuals, generous corporate neighbors and the Town of Brookhaven united in a shared effort to give assistance to Brookhaven’s less fortunate residents all year round.