Tags Posts tagged with "Councilwoman Jane Bonner"

Councilwoman Jane Bonner

From left, Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Suffolk Legislator Sarah Anker and Town Supervisor Ed Romaine join together Nov. 23 announcing the purchase of property for open space in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kyle Barr

Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County officials are combining efforts and funds to protect 15 acres of wooded property in Mount Sinai. The land combines with previous purchases to save a total of nearly 60 acres of land from any potential development now or in the future.

The $1,653,300, 15 acres purchase, which was formerly owned by the Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai, is in addition to 44.3 acres that had been acquired by both parties in 2014. The purchase was made based on a county bill passed in 2017.

“My hope is that purchasing this parcel will help protect the environmental integrity of the area and provide our community residents with another county park to visit and enjoy the natural beauty of Long Island,” Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said at a Nov. 23 press conference announcing the purchase. “We’re happy to see government at different levels working together — this is how you get things done.”

The county is picking up 75%, or $1,239,975 of the cost, while the town is covering 25%, or $413,325 of the total. The money used to purchase the land was taken from accounts meant to preserve open space. Officials said the property was at risk of being bought and developed on.

Anker added that with the current pandemic, the county has seen a rise in the number of people visiting parks and adding more land will only increase residents’ options. 

The now fully acquired 59.3 wooded acre lies over a groundwater aquifer and is within the watershed of the Long Island Sound national estuary, serving as a source of freshwater for the estuary system. 

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said he was also happy to partner with Suffolk in such land preservation deals, as with the combined funds they have “the financial resources to ensure this happens.” The deal also means nobody can come in to develop on the property.

“We want Brookhaven town to look like Brookhaven town, and not like Queens,” he said. “The way we do that is by saving our groundwater, preserving our open spaces and having habitats for animals — along with all the things that are important to protecting our shoreline.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the land holds a unique significance to her family. Her husband, John Sandusky, grew up in Mount Sinai and traveled those woods as a young man.

“We’ve seen a whole lot of development,” Bonner said. “Some of it good — most of it bad … the last thing Long Island needs is another housing development and more traffic.”

The Little Portion Friary, bordering the new land purchase, was bought by Hope House Ministries back in 2015 and is now being used to help people fight addiction.

Both county and town reps touted open space purchased using joint ventures between the two municipalities, including Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. The county has recently purchased other parkland in the local area, including Pine Lake in Middle Island and Chandler Estate in Mount Sinai.

The next step, Anker said, is to clean up some of the trails in the newly purchased parkland. 

From left. Wading River Fire Dept. Chief Branden Heller, Suffolk Count Legislator Sarah Anker, Fire Commissioner Joesph Moren, Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Fire Commissioner Kevin McQueeney, Covanta Huntington Facility Manager Ken Hinsch, Brookaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Fire Commissioner Jim Meier, Fire Commissioner Michael Harrigan, Fire District E.M.S. Supervisor Brian Danowski. Photo from Anker’s office

Local Electeds joined fire department members to celebrate a North Shore power plant for donating PPE during the height of the pandemic.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) recently joined Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Brookhaven town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and local fire department members at the Wading River Fire Department to thank and honor Ken Hinsch and Convanta Energy of Huntington for their donation of personal protective equipment to the Wading River, Ridge and Rocky Point Fire Departments during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Covanta Energy of Huntington’s donation included over 15 cases of Tyvek suits and N95 masks that were distributed to Wading River, Ridge and Rocky Point Fire Departments. The donation was estimated to be between $5,000- $6,000 in supplies.

“This pandemic has brought many challenges to our community, including the availability of much needed PPE for our emergency responders,” Anker said. “I am so thankful to Covanta and their Facility Manager, Ken Hinsch, for donating PPE to our local fire departments, and to our fire department

volunteers who have continued to protect and provide emergency services to our community members throughout the pandemic.” 

Covanta is a waste management company that regularly uses PPE. In April, Wading River Fire Commissioner Kevin McQueeny reached out to Covanta’s Facility Manager, Ken Hinsch, when the department was nearly out of the life-saving equipment. Ken Hinsch coordinated with the Wading River, Ridge and Rocky Point Fire Departments, donating several cases of Tyvek suits and N95 masks. A member of the Ridge Fire Department drove to the Huntington location to receive the initial donation, while the remaining donation was given to the Wading River Fire Department. The Wading River Fire Department then distributed a portion of the donation to the Rocky Point Fire Department. 

“The Board of Fire Commissioners, the Chief’s office and the volunteers of the Wading River Fire Department would like to thank Covanta Energy of Huntington and their Facility Manager, Ken Hinsch, for the generous donation of much needed PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wading River Fire Commissioner Kevin McQueeney.

Highway Super Dan Losquadro and Councilwoman Jane Bonner on North Country Road in Miller Place. North Country Road has been repaved from Honey Lane to the entrance of the Miller Place elementary school. Photo from TOB highways

The Town of Brookhaven’s plan to redo the well-tread North Country Road is coming close to completion, with only a stretch in Sound Beach left for 2021. Officials said the last bit of work will depend on an extra $600K as part of this year’s proposed capital budget.

Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced the completion of three separate capital improvement projects, totaling more than $3.425 million on North Country Road from Miller Place to Rocky Point.

The initial phase of this project took place in 2019 when sidewalk, curbing and crosswalk improvements were constructed on North Country Road and Miller Place Road from the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School to Echo Avenue. This phase was funded in part by a Multi-Modal grant secured by State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) in the amount of $500,000, with the Town of Brookhaven contributing the $345,418 match. Also in 2019 and part of this project, crews worked to dredge the bottom of the Miller Place Duck Pond, lowering its level and improving its drainage and water quality, at a cost of $125,629.

The second phase of this infrastructure improvement project included the construction of new sidewalk, curbing, bike lanes, ADA-compliant handicap ramps, driveway aprons, drainage infrastructure, pedestrian crosswalks, benches, bike racks, and the resurfacing of North Country Road from Honey Lane to the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School. This phase was funded in part by a New York State Department of Transportation “Transportation Alternatives Grant” for $1.159 million, with the Town of Brookhaven contributing the $751,580 match.

It’s not just the road surface, but all the other improvements that make their work so important for the people who use it every day, especially when school is in session,” Bonner said. 

The third phase of this project included the milling and paving of North Country Road from Washington Avenue in Sound Beach to NYS 25-A at the Miller Place/Rocky Point border which totaled $555,411.

To complete the North Country Road reconstruction project in Miller Place, Losquadro said he has included 600,000 in his proposed 2021 capital budget to install over 3,000 linear feet of drainage pipe and 14 drainage basins on North Country Road from Honey Lane to Pipe Stave Hollow Road to solve the significant water problems experienced along this stretch. Once the drainage infrastructure work is complete, the entire roadway from Pipe Stave Hollow Road to Honey Lane will be resurfaced, completing the three-year capital project.

“The capital improvement projects completed on North Country Road over the last two years have created safer pedestrian access for the students who walk to the middle and elementary schools; residents who walk, bike and jog in the area; and motorists,” Losquadro said in a release. “Once the final phase of drainage infrastructure work and resurfacing is complete next year, we will have resurfaced North Country Road from the Village of Port Jefferson border to Route 25A at the Rocky Point/Miller Place border.”

Local civic leaders have noticed the difference from before to where it is now.

“All the improvements that have been done so far have made the area safer and more aesthetically pleasing, especially given all the kids that do walk there,” Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto said. “I know that the town is strapped now because of COVID-19, but I do hope that they are able to secure the funding needed to complete this really worthwhile project.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine (right) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (left) met with Colleen Kelly on July 21 at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville to congratulate her for winning First Prize in the Connecticut Fund for the Environment’s Save the Sound photo contest.

The winning photo (on right) was taken at the Town of Brookhaven’s Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. A resident of Middle Island, Ms. Kelly is pictured with her son, Caedyn, who is her “photo assistant” and a frequent subject of his mother’s photographs. 

“Cedar Beach is a great location to shoot pictures and Colleen proved that with her stunning, prize winning photograph. It illustrates the need to do whatever we can to preserve and protect the Long Island Sound and our beautiful shoreline for everyone to enjoy,” said Councilwoman Bonner .

“I congratulate Colleen for her outstanding photograph and thank her for showing everyone just how beautiful our north shore landscape is. It also reinforces why we must take good care of the environment and encourage children like Caedyn to preserve our precious natural resources,” added Supervisor Romaine.

The mission of “Save the Sound” is to protect and improve the land, air and water of Connecticut and Long Island Sound. Visit www.savethesound.org for more info

Brookhaven finalized repairs on Lower Rocky Point Road this past week. Photo from TOB

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced the complete resurfacing of Lower Rocky Point Road from Woodhull Landing Road to Rocky Point Landing Road, as well as Hagerman Landing Road.

Residents have noticed the repaving of the thoroughfare over the past few weeks, which included some need for cars to take detours to avoid construction. Officials said in a press release that the paving project included the milling of nearly 38,000 square yards of roadway, before 4,400 tons of asphalt were put down on the roadway. The total cost for this paving project was approximately $448,300, a portion of which, $138,643, was funded by a Community Development Block Grant.

Losquadro called the road “a very busy, main thoroughfare,” adding, “I am glad we were able to include it, along with Hagerman Landing Road, in our 2020 paving season.”

Bonner said Lower Rocky Point Road is one of the most traveled in her council district.

“This road and Hagerman Landing Road are much safer for drivers, bike riders and pedestrians,” she said.

Photo from Leg. Anker's office

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker joined Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner, the Miller Place–Mount Sinai Chamber of Commerce and the community in celebrating the grand reopening of Vincenzo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, 343 Route 25A, in Miller Place on Oct. 19.

 “I am pleased to welcome Vincenzo’s to the Miller Place community,” said Anker. “I encourage residents to try its delicious food and inviting atmosphere!”

 Vincenzo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant is a family-owned Italian restaurant originally established in Port Jefferson. In 2017, the business had the opportunity to relocate to a larger space in Miller Place, while also expanding its menu and offerings. For more information, visit www.vincenzospizzalongisland.com.

VFW Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore salutes those soldiers lost through the years along with other veterans. Photo by Kyle Barr

A local town official is asking people to donate their unused phones for veterans.

Brookhaven town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) is teaming up with Cell Phones For Soldiers, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. Donations of devices allow the organization to fund its three programs, which include:

Minutes That Matter: Domestic air time that provides domestic wireless minutes and phones to veterans, military personal and military family members

Minutes That Matter: International calling cards that provide free calling cards to troops overseas to help connect to loved ones.

Helping Heroes Homes: Assists veterans with emergency funds to alleviate communication challenges, as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships.

“Our military men and women take extended time away from their families to ensure our safety,” Bonner said. “It is an honor to work with Cell Phones For Soldiers to provide them with a connection to their loved ones while they are serving and protecting our country.”

The drive will take place from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Residents can donate their cell phones at these four Brookhaven town locations:

Highway Department, 1140 Old Town Road, Coram

Rose Caracappa Senior Center, Route 25A in Mount Sinai

Henrietta Acampora Recreation Center, 39 Montauk Highway, Blue Point

Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville

For further information, call  631-451-6964.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner and Father Frank in front of the new plaque at the Cedar Beach basketball courts. Photo courtesy of Councilwoman Bonner’s office

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

These are difficult days for our country and for the world. The rhetoric all around us is infectious and vile. Recent images from our southern border about undocumented people being detained in squalor and filth is unconscionable. There is no humane justification for separating children from their parents no matter what their legal status is.

What has happened to our moral compass that was once able to transcend political parties and nonsense and do what is right for humankind?

Despite this troubling American landscape, hope and compassion still lives. On Friday, July 12, I went to support the efforts of two brothers from Miller Place who lost their brother from a heroin overdose more than five years ago.

To honor their brother who was a senior at Stony Brook University and an avid basketball player, The Jake Engel Foundation was created. Jake’s two brothers did not want their brother’s senseless death to be in vain. They were determined to celebrate his life and “bring awareness, community and change to all people negatively affected by substance abuse in Suffolk County.”

Their focus is on developing healthy outlets for youth. They reach out to people who are struggling or have struggled with addiction. They reach out to students who need to navigate peer pressure during school; people who know others who are struggling or have struggled with addiction. They believe that the human community as a whole is responsible for creating a world free of addiction!

These two brothers could have buried their heads in the sand. When they started Hoops for Hope five years ago, the youngest brother was still in high school and his older brother was still in graduate school.

These two courageous young men have raised thousands of dollars for many worthy programs that treat addiction. Equally as important, they have raised the awareness of an entire community about the opioid epidemic that is taking so many lives senselessly in record numbers.

When I arrived at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai for this annual basketball tournament, there was not a parking spot to be found. There were vendors everywhere raising money for this important cause. Thirty teams participated from all over the North Shore. Ten teams were on a waiting list for next year because of limited space. 

That Friday was really a community effort. Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Republican) had the Cedar Beach basketball court renamed “Jake Engel Memorial Basketball Court “Shine On …” and a new plaque was attached on its entrance gate.

The spirit in the air that day was electric. I must admit it was so good to feel so much positive energy that afternoon. These two young brothers continue to inspire an entire community to be more. Their passion and commitment to make a difference should be recorded and sent to every elected official at every level of our government, challenging them to roll up their sleeves and lead this nation by example — working harder to build bridges and not walls and grounded in hope that tomorrow can always be better than today.

These two brothers and their parents are the embodiment of our great American spirit and that hope lives! Hope does not abandon us. We abandon hope! Let hope become the anthem of our souls.

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Owner Anthony Amen, center, celebrates with his staff, local officials, chamber members and clients last Saturday. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening for Redefine Fitness in Mount Sinai on May 4. The event was attended by friends, family, staff, clients, chamber members and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Leg. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), who presented owner Anthony Amen with Certificates of Congratulations. 

“Redefine Fitness offers personal training and special weight loss programs with a unique approach to guide their clients to reach their goals. The Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance welcomes them to our community and wishes them all the best in their future success,” said JoAnn Klein, membership director for the chamber.

“Leg. Anker and I are major supporters of small businesses. We appreciate you having faith in Mount Sinai and opening up a business here. We wish you all the success in the world,” added Bonner.

“Redefine Fitness offers one on one training, small group training, special needs training. We’re here to help people. We just want to help everyone live happy and healthy lives. We hope to continue and grow,” said Amen. “I just want to thank everyone for their support.”

Located at 5507 Nesconset Highway in the King Kullen Shopping Center, the gym is open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 631-743-9906 or visit www.redefine-fitness.com.

A house located at 55 Shinnecock is torn down by Brookhaven town. Photo by Bea Ruberto

There was once a house on Shinnecock Drive in Sound Beach. Now there is a vacant patch of land and rubble. From the front, it was close to idyllic, featuring a small single-floor cottage, a mason stone exterior, a picket fence and a worn birdbath sitting just behind a fence. 

The house is gone, torn down by the Town of Brookhaven for being a derelict property. Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the frontage of the home was beautiful, but everything behind the front, what one couldn’t see from the street, was torn up and run down.

“It was like on a theater stage, the front looked good, but there was nothing behind it,” Bonner said.

A house located at 55 Shinnecock is torn down by Brookhaven town. Photo by Bea Ruberto

The work to take down derelict homes is constant. At the tail end of February, the town had demolished another home on Audrey Street in Miller Place. These vacant and derelict houses have had a menacing moniker affixed to them, zombie homes, and since the 2008 mortgage crisis and subsequent recession, they have become endemic on Long Island. At a Sound Beach Civic Association meeting March 11, Bonner explained the process the town takes to removing these blighted structures and explained the reasons why it’s difficult to repurpose the land after the home is torn down.

Town officials are informed about zombie homes in multiple ways. Residents can call up town hall or contact the council district office directly. Otherwise, Bonner said her office learns about these derelict buildings through interacting with the community at civic meetings or by just driving around the district.

The town sends out a third-party inspector, namely Hauppauge-based engineering firm Cashin, Spinelli & Ferretti LLC, to check on the home and make sure the property is vacant. If not, the house is then put on the vacant home registry, a long list of houses in the town that no longer have legal occupants.

At its annual March 11 state of the town address, Brookhaven town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said more than 250 zombie homes had been demolished since 2014. Bonner said the town currently has approximately 2,000 zombie homes in the process of being demolished by the town.

“When I started, I never thought the town would be in this kind of business,” Bonner said. 

Bonner said her office often gathers information on a derelict property from the Suffolk County Clerk’s office, especially looking at whether the property’s taxes are current, whether there is a mortgage on the property, or whether the land is owned by an LLC. Town employees try to contact the homeowner, who is required to contact the town clerk, pay a fee of $250 and provide a point of contact for the maintenance company. However, this step is especially challenging, as often there are little means of contacting the homeowner, especially if they no longer live in the state and their contact information is not current. It could mean months of work talking to the banks or going through other channels to contact these people.

“When I started, I never thought the town would be in this kind of business.”

— Jane Bonner

If there is a significant number of problems with the property, and if there is no property management company the town can get a hold of, Brookhaven will go in and cut overgrown grass or board and secure the property, though they will only board and secure the first floor and the town does not repair roofs. After the inspection is done the inspector determines whether it meets the threshold for demolition. The inspection will also detail if there is asbestos on the property, which will mandate additional work to contain during demolition.

After the home is recommended for demolition, the town hosts a public hearing on the property. A typical town board meeting could have several of these public hearings for properties all across the town. Occasionally, the homeowner or bank that owns the property will come to the hearings and based on the arguments of the property owner, an extension could be made to allow the owner to fix up the property. Otherwise, the town allows 30 days after the public hearing before a final decision to raze a property is made.

“Occasionally, I think they don’t think we’re serious at the public hearing,” Bonner said. “Sometimes we give them time, other times we tell them they already had their 30 days.”

Brookhaven spokesperson Jack Krieger said the town expects to spend $1.8 million in 2019 on derelict properties, of which $1.2 million is directly related to demolition. The rest of that money is spent on support staff dealing with matters on contacting property owners or taking care of the property. The property owner is responsible for the demolition costs.

The town has two full-time employees who work directly on these derelict properties. Beyond that, each council member is supposed to be involved in the houses within their own district. Bonner said her office will spend a cumulative time of a full eight-hour day each week just dealing with these zombie homes.

Krieger said there have been 35 zombie homes demolished in district 2 since the zombie program began in 2013. That is peanuts compared to the likes of Mastic Beach, a village that had disincorporated in 2016. In that area, the town is dealing with more than 100 known derelict and run-down properties.

“Talk about impacting the quality of life,” Bonner said. “Talk about squatters, talk about drug dealing, talk about impacting your property values — there are a lot of components to it.”

These derelict properties often have issues with animal infestation, break-ins and squatters, which can intensify and lengthen the process of removing the run-down properties. But the biggest roadblock to bringing a house back up to standards might be the lien put on the property. 

“Talk about squatters, talk about drug dealing, talk about impacting your property values — there are a lot of components to it.”

— Jane Bonner

After the town cleans up the property, Brookhaven will often put a lien on that property for the property taxes, either expecting the property owner or the county to pay back the town. In order to buy that property, a prospective buyer must satisfy that lien first, which on the steep end could be as high as $500,000, such as the case with the house on Audrey Street, according to Bonner.

These liens could make buying the now vacant property much harder, often leaving the property vacant for years with minimal means of getting a developer to build on the property with the extra fee coming from the lien. 

“It’s kind of like a cog in the wheel, it gums up the work, it really does,” she said.

Mimi Hodges, a Sound Beach resident, asked why these houses couldn’t be rejuvenated using state loans to rehabilitate them. That, or start community projects in order to buy the property and turn it into housing for homeless veterans or other needy groups, an example of which was a land trust that was recently created in Uniondale by community members.

“To support the character of the community,” Hodges said. “Make it an affordable house.”