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Councilwoman Joan Cergol

Town of Huntington officials held a press conference on Aug. 30.
Town Officials and Task Force Members announce purple flag initiative 

Huntington Town Officials were joined by elected officials and members of the Town of Huntington Opioid & Addiction Task Force at a press conference on August 30 to announce the return of “Huntington Goes Purple,” an initiative designed to raise awareness of the drug addiction crisis on Long Island and across the United States.

Town of Huntington officials held a press conference on Aug. 30.

Approximately one million Americans have died of a drug- or alcohol-related overdose since 1999, with a 30% increase in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020. Some of the most prominent barriers to recovery include social stigma toward addiction and a lack of access to treatment options.

As part of this initiative, the Town of Huntington will fly purple flags on the front lawn of Town Hall and on lamp posts along New York Avenue and Larkfield Road in observance of National Recovery Month, which was created in 1989 in order to destigmatize the disease of addiction, promote evidence-based treatment, and celebrate the tens of millions of Americans in recovery.

“Huntington Goes Purple” was started in 2021 by Huntington resident Sharon Richmond, a member of the Town of Huntington Opioid & Addiction Task Force who donated the first set of flags for the inaugural program. This year, the program has expanded to Larkfield Road in East Northport with the support of the Northport-East Northport Community Drug & Alcohol Task Force, on which Richmond serves as President.

“This initiative allows us to preserve the memories of those we lost to addiction and pay tribute to the amazing social workers, mental health care professionals, and nonprofit volunteers who work tirelessly to support individuals in recovery.  “I am honored to help bring back ‘Huntington Goes Purple’ for its third year,” said Councilwoman Cergol.  “But, it is now time for me to pass the torch to my colleague, Councilman Sal Ferro, who will be the new Town Board liaison to the Town of Huntington Opioid & Addiction Task Force.

Town Officials further announced a series of Recovery Month events to be held in the Town of Huntington, including:

  • Wellness Walk for Recovery at Heckscher Park on September 9
  • Interfaith Community Forum on September 20 at the at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington
  • Celebration of Hope and Recovery at Old First Presbyterian Church on September 28

Following the announcements, Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds and Mary Silberstein, Co-Chairs of the Opioid & Addiction Task Force, spoke on the importance of educating the public on both the dangers of drugs and alcohol and where to locate treatment for substance use disorder.

Sharon Richmond closed the press conference by urging New York to follow the lead of the State of Illinois and mandate prevention and support education for all school age children.

“Together we show support for those individuals and families affected by mental health and substance use disorder,” she said. “Together we send the message: you are not alone.”

Individuals seeking support for substance use disorder are urged to call one of the following hotlines:

SAMHSA: 1-800-662-4357 (or text your ZIP code to 435748)

LICADD: (516) 747-2606 | (631) 979-1700

OASAS: 1-877-846-7369

File by Lina Weingarten

By Raymond Janis

A townwide debate over accessory dwelling units came to a conclusion Tuesday, Aug. 8, with the Huntington Town Board opting not to advance Councilwoman Joan Cergol’s (D) proposed code amendment to sanction basement apartments and detached garages as secondary living spaces in single-family homes.

Lois Hayn, one of the attendees, added some context to the discussion. She told the Town Board that the code amendment was part of an ongoing local opposition effort to resist the “ever-increasing congestion that plagues this town and a Queens-like atmosphere that has taken a huge toll on our quality of life.”

Desiree Ben, a member of Harp the Alliance of the Responsible Civics, reflected upon the public effort to resist the code amendment.

“Huntington’s at a tipping point,” she said. “The people spoke, they were organized and you heard.”

She inquired about the overall planning of the town. She said the ADU reversal was a matter of the town overseeing and guiding the development of the area.

“I don’t think anyone here is against development, but development done thoughtlessly and without a master plan can really decrease the value in the single-family home areas and put that value right into the pockets of developers,” she added.

To see the video of the entire meeting, go to huntingtonny.gov/meetings.

On Saturday, April 22, Town of Huntington councilmembers Joan Cergol (D) and Sal Ferro(R) co-sponsored an Earth Day event at Manor Farm Park. Other elected officials in attendance included Suffolk County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (R-Centerport), Legislator Manuel Esteban (R-Commack), Huntington Town Clerk Andrew Raia and Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman. 

The event featured a number of different interactive opportunities. The Volunteers for Wildlife set up a booth and had a 20-year-old, one-eyed turtle for attendees to look at. She lost her eye in a dog attack, so she could no longer live in the wild. Cornell Cooperative Extension brought a marine touch tank with clams, a horseshoe crab, mud snails and other creatures. Children excitedly gathered around the booth to pet and touch them.

The Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center showed up to raise awareness for their not-for-profit shelter. They brought a litter of five 6-week-old kittens for attendees to play with through the bars of their cage.

There was also a beekeeping demonstration put on by local resident Joe Schwartz. He showed a large crowd of people frames from beehives, which displayed the brood in the honeycomb as well as how the bees cap their honey.

Brandon Stephan Davis, a local Huntington resident, said that the highlight of Earth Day so far for him was the beekeeping display. “I learned a lot,” Davis said. “I didn’t know so much about the details of the hive. I’m grateful that he’s doing this event.”

Schwartz said that he volunteers a lot of his resources at Manor Farm, which is run by Starflower Experiences. He keeps roughly a dozen hives on the property. “They have a farming program,” Schwartz said. “They do a sunflower maze. That’s so much pollen, so much nectar for them. It’s just an ideal place.”

Schwartz went on to say that these should be one of the best-producing hives out there, but they can still struggle due to pesticides in the area, since bees can travel up to a couple of miles to get pollen.

Schwartz said that pesticides and insecticides are bad for the environment and that alternatives like setting up bat boxes may be preferable for getting rid of ticks. He said that bees can survive modern pesticides, but they then bring tainted pollen back to the hive, and then when their larvae feed in the spring, many of them die, and the hive collapses.

Schwartz is also passionate about getting children involved in outdoor activities. In the summer, he does beekeeping classes at Manor Farm twice per month. “We need to get the kids out of the house,” Schwartz said. “I know what COVID did to the kids. It was not a help. You need to get them back outside. They need to appreciate what we have here, and this is one way to do it.”

Ferro was pleased with the results of the event. “It was great to see the large turnout at this year’s Earth Day festivities at Manor Farm Park,” he said in an email. “The event was filled with fun and educational programs for people of all ages with the shared goal to safeguard our environment.”

Ferro’s office estimated that over the course of the day 500 people had shown up for the event.

Huntington councilmembers Joan Cergol and Sal Ferro, shown above on the right, hosted free Earth Day festivities at Manor Farm Park April 23 along with co-sponsors the Town of Huntington, Covanta and not-for-profit Starflower Experiences.

It was the first time the event was held at the park and included hands-on activities, raffles and giveaways. Activities included a marine touch tank operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County; an exhibit of formerly wild animals hosted by Volunteers for Wildlife; water chemistry and conservation demonstrations by the Town of Huntington Maritime Department; garden planting, composting, and beekeeping demonstrations by Starflower Experiences, and face painting and arts and crafts booths

All participants received a raffle ticket with the chance to win electric-powered landscaping equipment courtesy of a $2,500 donation from Covanta, including a string trimmer/leaf blower combo kit, a compost tumbler with a cart, a lawn mower, and a pressure washer. Several event attendees also took home a birdhouse courtesy of Love of Learning Montessori School in Centerport.

The town’s Planning Department distributed bare root tree saplings, provided by the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, to everyone in attendance, and volunteers from the Robert M. Kubecka Memorial Town Garden gave away vegetable and flower seedlings.

The event also provided free paper shredding, e-waste and medical pill disposal services.

From left, Councilman Ed Smyth; Senior Bay Constable Jeff Kropp; Councilwoman Joan Cergol; Senior Harbormaster and Interim Maritime Services Director Fred Uvena; Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci; Jackie Martin; Ed Carr, Commodore of GHCYBC; and members of GHCYBC. Photo from TOH

Huntington Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Town officials, the Town Harbormaster, Bay Contables and members of the Greater Huntington Council of Yachting and Boating Clubs met at Mill Dam Marina in Halesite on Thursday, May 27 to promote boating safety for boaters and kayakers.

Saturday, May 22 kicked off Huntington’s Boating Safety Week heading into Memorial Day weekend. May, June, July and August are the busiest times for boating on Long Island.

“We expect high volume turnout on the water this year. Our Harbormaster’s Office averaged one rescue per day last season for boaters and kayakers,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. “Kayakers: Don’t get out on the water before learning how to extricate yourself from an overturned kayak or how to get back into or on your kayak in deep water while you wait for rescue. Test yourself – not alone – but practice with a partner, sit in your kayak in shallow water, and turn the kayak over. Do not learn the hard way.”

“We Huntington residents are fortunate for our proximity to the waterfront, but that privilege comes responsibility. I want to thank the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs for helping Huntington meet one of our most important responsibilities: safety on the water. Each year the Boating Council sponsors an invaluable array of boating education classes for people of all ages and is a generous contributor of improvements to our waterfront and toward the well-being of boaters. Their public service is exemplary,” said Councilwoman Joan Cergol.

Councilman Ed Smyth reminded boaters that they can pick up spare lifejackets available at the Harbormaster’s office at the Halesite Marina, adding advice for kayakers, whom the Town has seen in increase in activity over the past year, “Kayakers should take note of offshore winds before getting out on the water — if you’re not careful, you may end up in Connecticut waters.”

Senior Harbormaster Fred Uvena warned that his team of Bay Constables are well-trained to spot intoxicated boaters and they are prepared to make BWI arrests. He warned against speeding and the dangerous wakes speeding boats create, also advising boaters to include baby aspirin in their first aid kits, and even ibuprofen as a precaution against anaphylactic shock from bee stings and other allergic responses that may occur over the waterways.

Boaters may call VHF Channel 16 for emergencies and VHF Channel 9 for pump-out service. The Harbormaster’s Office is located at 53 N. New York Avenue, Halesite, NY, open Monday through Saturday 8:30am to 4:30pm, office phone (631) 351-3255.

Jackie Martin of the Greater Huntington Council of Yachting and Boating Clubs reviewed highlights from Huntington’s 9th Annual Safe Boating Week, which was established after three children lost their lives in a preventable boating tragedy in 2012. She advised boaters, “you are responsible for your wake.”

The Harbormaster also reminded beachgoers of the reason dogs are not allowed on the sand at any beach, “Children play in the sand and you cannot clean up pet urine so please, respect your fellow residents and do not allow your dog on the sand, it’s unsanitary – keep them in the parking lot or on boardwalks.”

Supervisor Lupinacci also advised boaters and kayakers not to disturb the bird sanctuary at Hobart Beach, as landing boats and kayaks on the sand in the area of the preserve can have significant unintentional consequences for the endangered birds nesting there.

“Please heed the signs and fencing, stay away from the water and sand in the entire area located south of the parking lot during the birds’ mating season, which runs from early April through August.”

All trespassers in the sanctuary, including on foot, should be reported to the Department of Public Safety’s 24/7 emergency hotline at (631) 351-3234.

VIDEO: https://huntingtonny.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=4&clip_id=2531



Girl Scouts help plant the American Elm tree donated by Covanta with Town and Covanta officials looking on. 

Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Councilman Ed Smyth and Councilwoman Joan Cergol were joined by Covanta and Girl Scout Service Unit 12, Troop 239 for an Arbor Day tree planting ceremony and to unveil trees planted with Tree City USA grant funding at Columbia Street Park in Huntington Station Friday, April 30. 

 “Thank you to Covanta Huntington for your environmentally-conscious donation and to our Girl Scouts from Troop 239 for your commitment to Columbia Street Park and many of our green spaces,” stated Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. “The Town of Huntington is fortunate to have maintained our Tree City USA designation for over 20 years and thanks to your contributions, grant funding from the New York State Urban Forestry Council, and our Volunteer Parks Stewards like Alvin White, we will continue to plant trees, beautify and preserve our open spaces.” 

 “It’s great to be in Columbia Park, one of the “hidden gems” of the Town’s parks,” said Councilman Ed Smyth. “Our bigger parks get most of the attention, but it is worthwhile for our residents to explore the smaller parks that are often within walking distance of their homes.” 

 “I want to thank Covanta for donating such a beautiful American Elm tree and Girl Scout Service Unit 12, Troop 239 for planting additional saplings at Columbia Park,” Councilwoman Cergol said. “Planting trees is one of the best things we can do for the Town’s natural beauty and for the environment, and I’m proud to serve a Town that has been designated a Tree City USA community for 20 years and running.” 

 Maureen Early, Senior Community Affairs Specialist for Covanta, stated, “Covanta was delighted to partner with Supervisor Lupinacci and the Town of Huntington to plant trees in honor of Arbor Day. It’s efforts like this that remind us how important it is to protect our environment and work toward a more sustainable tomorrow. We thank our municipal leaders for being environmental stewards with us.” 

 Girl Scouts from Troop 239 in Service Unit 12 from South Huntington joined the ceremony to help plant the American Elm tree donated by Covanta to the Town of Huntington to commemorate Arbor Day; the Town Board accepted the donation at their April 13 meeting.  

 Participating in the Arbor Day ceremony were Girl Scout Cadettes Zahara Amorde, Julia Dean, Kate Sperduti, Lily Fleischer, Abbrianna Mandarino, Kate Adams, Morgan Franz, Ava Tulipano, and Allie Lynde, as well as Girl Scout Juniors Sophia Amorde, Nadia McKelvey, and Ava Rodriguez. The Scouts also helped plant additional bare root saplings at the park. Troop Co-Leaders Gina Barone and Christine Reilly attended the event. 

 Girl Scout Troop Co-Leader Gina Barone stated, “It was a privilege and pleasure for Troop 239 to participate in the Town of Huntington Arbor day tree planting event.  Girl Scouts have been passionate proponents of conservation throughout our organization’s 100-plus year history and our troop strives to embody the value of environmental stewardship in our Huntington community.  We are committed to continuing to live the Girl Scout law of “using resources wisely” and protecting the Earth both globally and locally.  Thank you for supporting our mission and for allowing us to be a part of such an inspiring program!” 

 Volunteer Park Steward Alvin White, who serves as the parks steward for Columbia Street Park, also attended the Arbor Day event. 

 The event also celebrated grant funding that allowed additional trees to be planted at the park in late 2020. The Town of Huntington has maintained its designation as a Tree City USA for over two decades. In September 2020, the Town applied for and received $1,000 in Tree City USA grant funding from the New York State Urban Forestry Council to plant five (5) trees at Columbia Street Park in Huntington Station, a site recommended in a Planting Location Evaluation from a tree inventory previously conducted with a Tree Inventory Grant funded by the NYSDEC Urban and Community Forestry Program.

A total of twelve (12) trees were planted under the project; seven (7) trees were funded by an EOSPA-recommended match of $1,900. Most of the trees were planted as street trees to provide shade and a welcoming park aesthetic in 2020, when an event could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci was cleared of any wrongdoing in a recent investigation of sexual harassment rumors. File photo by Lina Weingarten

Last week the Town of Huntington released a report that cleared town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) of any wrongdoing after an investigation that looked into allegations of sexual harassment by Lupinacci directed toward an unidentified lower-level town employee.

The investigation was conducted by the New York City-based Jackson Lewis law firm and a memo to the Town Board members came from Diane Krebs. In the report, Krebs said she was unable to substantiate the sexual harassment allegations.

“However, I believe that individuals were untruthful during the investigation process or refused to respond to my questions, which impeded my ability to obtain the whole story,” she wrote.

According to the report, the law firm was first contacted by an unidentified person that said Lupinacci invited a lower-level employee for drinks at his house at 2 a.m. When the employee declined, the supervisor said the person was “ungrateful.” The same account came to the law firm from members of the Town Board.

There were other text messages in the investigation discussed where Lupinacci allegedly would text in the middle of night asking to come over, but there were no sexual advances in the texts, according to the report.

Various people were interviewed during the law firm’s process, and names were blacked out in the redacted report.

Huntington Republican Committee chairman, Tom McNally, in a press release, accused town Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) of using “her position on the Town Board to instigate the investigation against a political adversary based on a fourth-hand rumor without a shred of evidence. Every person involved in the alleged behavior denied the events ever occurred, including the supposed ‘victim.’ No complaint was ever filed yet a year-long investigation into a rumor followed.”

The town was charged nearly $47,000 by the law firm who prepared the report for investigating the allegations.

“The best the lawyer can say is she thinks the people she interviewed are withholding information,” McNally wrote. “Perhaps that’s her perception but it’s also an old lawyers’ trick to keep an investigation open.”

McNally said the incident will have long-term effects, and he suggested Cergol reimburse the town for the $47,000 or resign.

Cergol said the Town Board initiated the investigation last year with a 5-0 vote, including two Republican councilmen.

Responding to the Huntington Republican Committee’s press release, Cergol said, “McNally has to be reading the Disney version of this investigative report because by anyone’s read and estimation of it, there is no fairytale ending.”

She added that the chair’s statement was “a paper-thin political ploy intended to distract from the investigator’s disturbing conclusion of being ‘stymied’ by uncooperative witnesses.”

Lupinacci is currently facing sexual harassment allegations in a separate civil case. Brian Finnegan, the supervisor’s former legislative aide and chief of staff, filed a lawsuit in 2018 with the Suffolk County Supreme Court.

File photo

A Town of Huntington official resigned over an alleged “vulgar” email sent to other staff members about another employee. This comes after board members questioned his two-week suspension last week.

The office of Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) confirmed that Public Safety Director Peter Sammis resigned from his position Feb. 10 in the middle of a two-week unpaid suspension.

In a Feb. 4 statement, Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) said she was contacted by members of the press who asked her to comment on “inappropriate and unacceptable behavior of a town department head.”

She said she was informed by a journalist that a department head sent an email to two male employees Nov. 26, 2019. The email, from his town account, contained “vulgar and sexual reference about a female town employee.”

“The town supervisor and town attorney subsequently confirmed the information was accurate but could do little to assuage my outrage over having learned about it in this manner and failed to provide satisfactory answers as to the many questions I have over its handling and eventual questionable disciplinary action,” she said.

In a statement last week, Lupinacci said the town could not comment on personnel matters.

“The town’s policy regarding not commenting on personnel matters is one that is very important and in place to respect the interests of all parties involved in any particular situation,” he said. “As a result, we intend to continue to honor that policy and not discuss the specifics of the matter referred to in recent media reports. That being said, we believe it is important to note that the matter at issue came to the town’s attention through its normal oversight procedures and not through a complaint from any employee. The matter was addressed with the employee involved in a manner consistent with town practice.”

In her statement last week, Cergol said she expected answers to various questions including why, as a Town Board member, she wasn’t notified of the incident and why wasn’t the department head suspended immediately after the discovery of the November email. She also questioned whether the employee’s email account was reviewed to see if there were any other emails that violated the town’s email policy.

“The manner in which this incident was handled, its lack of transparency and apparent departure from Town of Huntington protocol demand further investigation and satisfactory answers to the Town Board,” Cergol said at the end of the statement.

After Sammis’ resignation, Lupinacci said in a statement that the town takes such incidents “very seriously” and provides “mandatory training for all employees to address and help prevent these types of situations.”

“The employee was dealt with harshly, immediately, and in a manner consistent with the advice of our director of personnel and outside labor counsel, who also advised that the Town Board’s involvement in disciplinary action was not warranted,” he said. “I would remind my colleagues that outing the alleged subject of the email, and not respecting her privacy, was completely inappropriate and initiated the victimization of this employee, who was not aware of this incident before town officials ran to the press with it, which is exactly the reason why it is our policy not to comment on personnel matters.”

On Feb. 12, state Sen. Jim Gaughran’s (D-Northport) office announced in an email he would introduce state legislation “that will strengthen reporting requirements for sexual harassment complaints and violations of the Human Rights Law.”

Northport power plant. File photo

When the Town of Huntington’s planning board originally authorized in 1965 a site plan for the Northport power plant’s first generating unit on the shores of the Long Island Sound, the impact on the greater safety, health and general welfare of the community was an overarching concern. In fact, the town’s approval stipulated that plant operators were required to submit emissions reports to the town, which were subject to regular review by town officials. 

Today, the plant has expanded to four units, and while the town is still searching for records, officials do not know the last time the plant submitted an emission report from on-site monitors for a review. Town attorney Nick Ciappetta said the town is reviewing whether or not it has monitoring authority. The EPA and DEC, he said, have jurisdiction over plant emissions. 

Some lawmakers firmly disagree, and State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) is calling for action. 

“The town has had more power than it’s realized,” he said. “It should take whatever action it needs to take.”  

Gaughran said he regularly drives past the plant and smells foul odors. Last year, he requested a state health investigation after learning that graduates of Northport High School Class of 2016 were diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma, after community members said they want to know if the plant’s emissions are a factor. 

State health department investigators have now expanded their study to look at cancer rates in a broader population to look for patterns. (See story on Page A3) With that investigation underway, Gaughran finds it prudent to take steps to better protect the community. 

Town Council member Joan Cergol agrees. 

“If the Town, in its rezone of the property, or any of its agencies or boards in the 1960s imposed conditions on LILCO to protect the health and safety of Huntington residents, then it stands to reason that its successors should be bound by the same,” she said.

It is unclear what action if in any will be taken, but some are saying additional precautions would be prudent. 

Danielle DeSimone is one several young adults diagnosed with leukemia from the Northport High School Class of 2016, who received a bone marrow transplant and is now in remission. She said she would absolutely support any policies that would better protect the public’s health. 

“May no more families be faced with this burden unnecessarily,” she said in an email. 

As the state’s health investigation continues, and as the town bears the additional burden of fighting LIPA and National Grid, spending $4.2 million to date, many people are looking at the plant with a discerning eye. 

According to the DEC, the Northport Power Plant emissions are in severe violation of state and federal the air pollution standards for nitrous oxide and VOCs, which contribute to ozone. When inhaled, ozone chemicals react chemically with many biological molecules in the respiratory tract, the EPA reports, leading to adverse health effects.

It’s difficult to know whether or not a specific environmental toxin will cause a particular individual to develop cancer or other diseases, according to a 2003 report “Cancer and the Environment” published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

But significant sources of VOCs are chemical plants, gasoline pumps, oil-based paints, autobody shops, and print shops. Nitrogen oxides result primarily from high temperature combustion. Significant sources are power plants, industrial furnaces and boilers, and motor vehicles, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation Permit Review Report from February 2019.

In response to inquiries,  National Grid spokesperson Wendy Ladd said, “we submit our emissions report to the EPA and NY DEC.”

The DEC states that ozone is a regional air pollutant and most human and economic activity in the NYC metro area contribute in some way to ozone exceedences. 

“If the DEC finds any facility poses an imminent threat to public health or the environment, the agency works to address the situation immediately,” said DEC spokesman Kevin Frazier.  

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that the Town Attorney Nicholas Ciappetta said that the town had no authority over emissions monitoring.  The town is actually still reviewing the matter. (updated 1/29/2020)

Dogs will be permitted into Huntington’s Heckscher Park begining Jan. 1. Photo by Media Origins

On Jan. 1, the Town of Huntington will begin a three-month pilot program to allow leashed dogs in Heckscher Park, subject to certain limitations. If the trial period is successful, the pilot will extend in three-month increments to gather data from use of the park in different seasons.

The program is the result of a town board resolution, sponsored by Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D), developed in response to a petition that circulated this past summer calling for better access to the park for dogs and their owners.

Greenlawn resident Karen Thomas helped draft and circulate the successful petition campaign this past summer.

“Over 2,500 dog owners have spoken and the Huntington board listened,” said Thomas.

Cergol announced her position on opening up the park to dogs on a trial basis in a Sept. 5 Times of Huntington news article. The resolution she drafted was unanimously approved at the town’s Oct. 16 board meeting.

“The relationship between dogs and humans continues to evolve, and it is becoming increasingly common to see dog owners and their canine family members together in public places,” Cergol said. “I am excited that we are about to extend this option at Huntington’s downtown signature park and look forward to our partnership with [the nonprofit Long Island Dog Owners Group] in ensuring the pilot program’s success.”

LI-DOG is a nonprofit advocacy group looking to increase access for dog owners to public spaces. It’s president, Ginny Munger Kahn, was designated as the lead public education campaign coordinator.

“Our job is to make sure all the dog owners know that it’s in their best interest to follow the basic guidelines,” she said. “Overall, respect other park users. That’s the key.”

Specifically, this means keeping dogs on a leash less than 6-feet long and under control. No retractable leashes are allowed, and people are limited to no more than two dogs per individual. People are also expected to clean up after their dogs once they do their business. People, Kahn said, are good with this part.

“People have precedence over dogs on the path,” Kahn said. “Step off the path onto the grass as people pass by unimpeded.”

Heckscher Park’s trails, which are more narrow than other town pathways, suggest that this is an important part of the guidelines to remember.

Cergol formed an advisory committee that includes representatives of her staff, various town departments, LI-DOG and the town’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities to create the educational program. The group has met twice and has developed program guidelines from those gatherings and individual conversations.

The committee has so far planned to post signage at various spots in the park, including all the major entrances. A video to be aired on the town’s government access television channel and on its social media pages and LI-DOG’s pages will demonstrate what is allowed and what is not. They’ve also developed informational cards to hand out to dog owners in the park.

“We believe ultimately having leashed dogs in the park is a really good thing,” Kahn said. “For one thing, dogs influence socializing among people who don’t know each other.”

They also deter geese, which are fouling the parks pathways.