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editorial

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Over the summer, dozens of nonprofits and organizations hosted beach and park cleanups across Long Island. 

People came together with their trash bags in hand to pick up debris and trash. Families made days out of it, grabbing dinner afterward with the kids. Couples turned it into a bonding experience. 

While it’s inspirational and helpful for members of the community to work together to clean up the communities in which we live, shouldn’t the town government take the lead with these efforts?

To that end, the road along Route 25A in Setauket has eyesores that detract from the beauty and safety of our community, including several dead trees, overgrown gardens, leaves and debris. Street lights that protect pedestrians and help drivers navigate the area are dimming, making them less useful as we approach days with less sunlight.

Long Islanders receive and appreciate the return on investment from their taxes, particularly when roads are cleared after a storm or when children receive excellent educations from public schools. Given the tax bill, however, shouldn’t the town be able to use some of that money for upkeep?

The community doesn’t police itself and shouldn’t need to clean up accumulating messes or detritus from trees or other vegetative growth. Residents can, and should, dispose of their own trash. Landlords should also take responsibility for the space outside their residences.

As for those public places the village, town or county oversees, those responsible for upkeep on those properties should step up their game. 

We appreciate the work the municipalities do, particularly under difficult circumstances and, at times, with limited resources. We are also grateful to the go-getters whose efforts enhance the beauty of the communities we share.

At the same time, we need our elected officials and people with authority to take action to remove these dead trees, fix dim lights and remove garbage by the side of the road. The effort they put in now will save money and aggravation later, as well as improve the local environment.

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TBR News Media is preparing for our special election coverage editions that will be out Oct. 28. Our articles are based on debates with candidates to help voters make informed decisions when they choose their representatives.

With everyone’s busy lives, it’s difficult to find a mutual day and time for competing candidates to sit down and discuss the issues and challenges that affect the office they seek. What’s even more frustrating is when we discover a candidate is just a placeholder, in other words, they’re not actively campaigning. Too many times in the past, we’ve spoken with a candidate for a one-on-one interview instead of in a debate, and it will happen again this year.

Both political parties have been guilty of nominating someone to run for office and putting their name on the ballot, even though the person has no intention of knocking on doors or engaging in the democratic process to discuss their ideas.

This happens often when the office has a strong incumbent where a party has a feeling their candidate has no chance of winning. However, at the same time, they know the person will get a good number of votes because they understand some people just vote down their party line.

During divisive times, the Democrat and Republican committees owe the public much more. Whether an election involves federal, state, county, town or village levels, it is important for the entire process to be credible. Some may say our local elections are even more important as the decisions made by elected officials have more of an impact on our everyday lives, such as how often our garbage is picked up and whether or not our roads will be repaired.  

We suggest both parties take every election seriously and produce candidates who will actively campaign instead of providing a random name for those voting for a D or an R. One of the most important things an elected official can do is show up for the election from start to finish.

Anyone whose name goes on a ballot should be a bona fide candidate seeking office, and not merely a token way for a party to remain visible. Before checking off whom you want to represent you for any office, do your research. Find out the races that affect your area. Read up on the candidates, and don’t vote for any candidate who places so little value on your vote and can’t bother to campaign. When you are at the polls, you don’t have to choose someone in every race. If you are not familiar with the candidates, or if you don’t like them for whatever reason, you can skip that row.

Simply voting for someone just because they belong to the same political party as you is a reflection on your belief in a party or even a machine — and not in the individual. That’s like choosing a partner based on his or her last name or heritage without considering whether that person is right for you. We need candidates who are ready to represent us and our districts, and who are willing to listen to our concerns, values and priorities. Choose wisely, and in doing so, you’ll send a message that people count more than parties.

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With the ending of daylight saving time around the corner and the fall season officially here, it’s beginning to get dark earlier. 

While cool autumn nights are a nice break from the hot and wet summer we’ve just had, what comes with the pleasant weather is also nighttime appearing closer to 6 p.m. 

The worst part about the darkness creeping up is that many people still act as though the sun is still out during the late evening. It’s not, and we all need to be careful. 

When the sun is shining, drivers are able to see pedestrians walking, biking, skating — but not so much anymore with the season change. Dog walkers are normally good about bringing a flashlight, and cyclists almost always have reflectors on their bikes — but a few do not, and they can get seriously hurt if both parties are not paying attention. 

But it isn’t just the people outside getting their exercise and enjoying the fresh air who are at fault. Drivers need to slow down. 

The combination of darkness plus speeding can cause a catastrophe. Both parties would be at fault. 

And then there are the deer and the other woodland critters that live in our backyards. Unfortunately, they don’t own a flashlight, so it’s our responsibility as good humans to keep an eye out for the animals who dart into the street. 

If we are driving slowly and cautiously, there’s a good chance we can avoid them and let them be on their merry way. If we don’t, not only could we kill the poor animal, but they can cause serious damage to the car and to us.

While we appreciate the lights we have on our local streets, it’s not enough. Please, don’t wear all-dark colors while out during an evening stroll. Do bring a flashlight or indicator that you are there. Be aware of your surroundings — if you want to listen to music on your earphones, keep it down so you can hear if a car is heading your way. Remember to walk against the traffic. If you’re a cyclist, go in the same direction as the vehicles. 

And drivers, as we said, be mindful of our neighbors taking advantage of our beautiful North Shore. Slow down and enjoy the ride, too. 

Pentimento Restaurant

This week a Stony Brook Village Center icon closed its doors for the last time after 27 years in business, and residents wonder how it will ever be replaced.

At the end of July, the owner of Pentimento Restaurant, Dennis Young, began informing customers that his lease wasn’t being renewed. Frequent visitors to his establishment started a Facebook page and petition on Change.org to save the restaurant and show their support. Many even protested in front of the business and throughout the shopping center. They also rallied in front of Gloria Rocchio’s house, the president of Eagle Realty Holdings and The Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

Unfortunately, the owner and the board of Eagle Realty, the landlord, couldn’t come to an agreement after Young forgot to give notice about his intent to renew last year, 365 days before his lease expired as specified in the agreement.

The Village Times Herald and the TBR News Media website featured five articles within the past two months on the closing and protests, and some of the stories also appeared in The Times of Smithtown. Talking to all parties involved, hearing the different sides of the issue, it was apparent there was more to the impasse than forgetting to renew a lease. A couple of matters couldn’t even be discussed because lease negotiations between private businesses are private matters.

We are saddened that something couldn’t be worked out. Especially since Young was hoping to retire in the near future and extending the lease and being able to sell the business to someone else would have meant he could have walked away with something more in his pockets.

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about the closing of Book Revue in Huntington village. Just like the iconic bookstore drew people to Huntington with its eclectic selection of books and celebrity author signings, the restaurant has done the same in the Three Village community by serving up its delicious meals and more.

As one reader wrote in a letter to the editor last week, in the last 27 years the restaurant served as the place “where we have celebrated birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and religious milestones. It’s where we have had our first dates and our first jobs.”

Regular visitors to Stony Brook Village Center would find that on the nights the restaurant was closed, the parking lot in the section of the shopping center it is located on was practically empty. When it was open, it could be difficult to find a spot.

When people come to eat in a restaurant, especially if they have to wait for a table, they’ll visit nearby stores. And, Pentimento has been a big attraction for both locals and residents from surrounding towns. As we mentioned in our editorial about Book Revue, sometimes the closing of a popular establishment can have a domino effect. We hope this won’t be the case with the village center.

We’re not quite sure what will replace Pentimento, but it will take a long time for residents to create new memories in whatever business goes into the empty space.

We thank Young, restaurant manager Lisa Cusumano and the staff for their service to the community, and we wish them all the happiness in the world.

Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo

Last week, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) formally announced that he is now in remission from leukemia. 

The Shirley native said that back in November 2020, he was diagnosed with the illness and after nine long months he’s now cancer-free.

It’s impressive. Zeldin has done quite a lot while battling cancer — and keeping it quiet from the public. 

He won his reelection the same month he was diagnosed; he was in Congress when the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol happened in January; he announced his run for governor and has been campaigning for that office since.

While he has been busy at work throughout his treatment, he also has done some things that a typical cancer patient would absolutely steer away from.

We’re happy to hear that he’s healthy again and he has beaten a disease that has taken thousands of lives. But what’s most concerning is that while going through chemotherapy, he chose not to wear a mask and, in fact, has taken a strong stance against them. 

Masks are protecting others — such as Zeldin now — who have compromised immune systems, and who are most at risk. 

It was discouraging to know now that the congressman has held several anti-mask and Unmask Our Kids rallies, where people were in close proximity to each other. 

Zeldin was the lucky one — other people are not always so lucky and with new variants spreading, immunocompromised people could be hit harder.

According to a new study published by University College London, cancer has become an increasing public health priority in the U.K. after vaccines and other measures continued to contain the spread of COVID-19. Findings from the study showed 40,000 late diagnoses of cancer due to a lack of emergency referrals by general doctors and fewer face-to-face appointments. Delays caused by lockdown could result in 10,000 people dying of cancer “significantly earlier” than would otherwise have been the case.

Could the U.S. follow suit? 

We hope that representatives such as Zeldin, who now has personal experience to relate to, will reconsider their stances on anti-masking, vaccinations and general public health. 

The cold months are coming, and germs will be everywhere — we need to keep each other safe. 

Holly Signoretti picks out a book at the Book Revue in Huntington village. Photo by Kimberly Brown

People are continuously told that change is inevitable but sometimes those changes can hit a human right in the heart, especially if it involves a goodbye.

Many residents along the North Shore of Suffolk County and surrounding areas were saddened to hear of the closing of Book Revue in Huntington Sept. 10. After more than 40 years of being the go-to place for book lovers, like many other businesses, the owner struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The store had to shut down for three months during the pandemic, and once the owner reopened the doors, the Book Revue struggled to get back on its feet.

Despite talking with the building landlord to come to a compromise, in the end the back rent was impossible to pay back, and it was initially announced last month that the store would close Sept. 30.

With inventory starting to thin out, the store was closed Sept. 9 for employees to organize the shelves, and on Sept. 10 people were invited to come in and take books for free. By the afternoon, the store was cleaned out and Book Revue doors were closed for business permanently.

Its owner Richard Klein posted on Facebook that while the store was now closed to the public, he would be in touch soon. Customers hope so.

Not only was Book Revue the place to go to pick up some literature, but it was also a social center. Many residents remember going to the store as a child or a parent to enjoy Toddler Time with stories, live music and dancing. There were groups to discuss favorite reads, and celebrity book signings with authors such as Alan Alda, Hillary Clinton, Whoopi Goldberg, Clinton Kelly and more.

The store also offered a diverse selection of books with extensive arts and music sections as well as a section dedicated to local subjects written by Long Island authors. 

More than a place to shop or socialize, the Book Revue also drew people to Huntington village. When people come to shop at an iconic store, they usually will stay a while in the area and stop by other shops or get a bite to eat. The closing of such a business could lead to a domino effect in the village.

Our communities need more independent book stores like this former Huntington staple, ones that flourish and elevate the quality of life in a village. It’s a shame that the landlord and Klein couldn’t come to an agreement. However, the community will be forever grateful to Richard and his brother Bob, who retired from the business earlier last year, for their service to the community and providing years of happiness to Long Islanders.

Here’s hoping that another vibrant business that hosts events will come into the building to keep one of our bustling villages alive with the excitement Book Revue once did.

Cars try to navigate through flooding on Reynolds Street in Huntington Station. Photo from Town of Huntington

When the remnants of Hurricane Ida made her way last Wednesday to the North Shore of Long Island, residents weren’t prepared for what was coming. 

Two weeks ago, meteorologists got everyone ready for Henri. Gas stations were empty, the supermarket lines went out the door and stores in villages on the water boarded up their windows. 

But nothing happened. It was ultimately a light rain. 

So, when Ida made her way up the coast, we all thought nothing of it. Boy, we were wrong. 

There was flooding all across the North Shore, and people didn’t think to prepare the same way they were going to be for the previous storm.

Port Jefferson village was a muddy mess. Northport was practically under water. Stony Brook University had students sleeping inside the Student Activities Center because dorms became pools. 

According to the United Nations’ latest climate report published recently in The Washington Post, warming from fossil fuels is most likely behind the increase in the number of high intensity hurricanes over the last 40 years. 

Long Island has seen quite a few of those storms, including Sandy, Irene and Isaias. According to the Post, five more tropical systems are currently sweeping over the Atlantic so the hurricane season has only just begun. Will they be just as bad?

What will happen if we keep making poor choices when it comes to the environment? If burning fossil fuels is one of the biggest influencers in climate change, then what can we do to alleviate that stress? We need to collectively do better to eliminate waste and save energy. Consider an eco-friendly vehicle, energy-saving lightbulbs and using more sustainable household products.

But it isn’t just the increases in sustainable living that are important. 

Long Islanders need to ask their elected officials for help. For communities across the North Shore, we need to invest in ways to prevent damage to homes and businesses that sit by the water.

We need to ask PSEG Long Island to consider and create ways to move power lines underground, so when high winds attack we won’t lose power for days.

These are tall orders, but while the rest of us work toward doing better on a smaller level, we hope that Ida showed us all that we need to treat Mother Earth the way she should be treated — if we don’t, the flooding on Main Street will be the new normal.

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It’s been a difficult 18 months, especially when we think back to the early days of the pandemic as we watched businesses across our communities adjust to state mandates after COVID-19 raged through our area. From limiting capacity to some businesses not being able to operate at all, many owners had difficulty adjusting.

Despite the lifting of state mandates a few months ago, many are still suffering.

As we look around more and more, places are closing or are in jeopardy of shutting down. In the last two weeks, we have heard the news of the Book Revue in Huntington set to close by Sept. 30. After 44 years of business, the village staple is in a financial hole.

The store had been shut down for three months during the pandemic. Once it was reopen, the business struggled to get back on its feet, and the owner fell behind on the rent.

To the east, Smithtown Performing Arts Center is having trouble holding on to its lease of the old theater. The nonprofit is also behind in its rent and has been unable to make a deal with the landlord, which led him to put the theater up for sale two weeks ago.

Both businesses received assistance during the pandemic. The Book Revue, like many others, was fortunate to receive loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program to pay employees’ salaries and keep the lights on. For SPAC, the nonprofit received a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant but needs to have a full account of debts to be able to reconcile grant monies.

With the pandemic lingering, what many people are discovering is that the assistance just artificially propped them up for a short while. Now more than ever, local businesses and nonprofits need the help of community members to enter their storefronts and buy their products. When a consumer chooses between shopping or eating locally instead of online or going to a big chain, it makes a difference.

If one looks for a silver lining in all this, it may be that many business owners have come up with innovative ways to stay open, while others have embraced curbside pickup and created websites and social media accounts that will be an asset in the future.

And while it’s sad to see so many favorite businesses closing their doors, it also paves the way for new stores with fresh ideas to come in with items such as different types of ice cream or creative giftware or clothing.

Many of our main streets need revitalization and the arrival of new businesses or current ones reinventing themselves can be just what our communities need to reimagine themselves — and not only survive but thrive in the future.

We can all help small local businesses stay afloat, whether it’s an old staple or a new place. Because at the end of the day, if a store or restaurant has been empty and the cash register reflects that, we’ll see more and more empty storefronts in our future.

Spend your money wisely — shop and eat locally.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul poses for a portrait and headshot in her office at the state Senate. Photo from Hochul's office

Nineteen states have never had a female governor and, up until this week, neither did New York. That’s progress. 

When former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) resigned amongst nearly a dozen sexual harassment allegations, and after a thorough, months-long investigation, his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul (D), was given the opportunity to make history. The mother of two from Buffalo has had a long career in politics and advocacy. She even sat in Congress.

New York now joins eight other states — Oregon, Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico, South Dako-ta, Iowa, Michigan and Maine — who have lady leaders as heads of their state. 

And practically minutes after she took her oath early Tuesday morning, she said during a short press conference that she wants her constituents to “believe in their government again.”

But that’s going to be hard for many New Yorkers — especially the ones who lost their faith in government throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately for Hochul, she had barely been in office for even a full day when commenters online began to bash her for her mask-mandating policy. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, she said all school districts in the state of New York must require masks for their students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated or tested weekly.

People are furious, according to the online comment threads. They’re not necessarily mad about the mandate — although that’s become a debate within itself. They are mad she hasn’t addressed all the other issues that are impacting New Yorkers — homelessness, food insecurity, the nursing home deaths during COVID and high taxes. 

When reading through the comments on a story that was published by The New York Times, New York Post and locally, Newsday, readers are finding issues already with our new leader. 

Can we just give her a second to settle in? It was barely 24 hours before she even set foot in the governor’s mansion in Albany, and people were already assuming she’s failing us. 

People might be upset by the mask mandate, but we’ve been through this before. Remember, the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting its year-and-a-half mark. That means we have been wearing masks, social distancing, hand sanitizing and Zooming for almost two years. We’re used to these policies. 

No one wants to wear masks, especially if they’ve been vaccinated. But right now, with the Delta variant — and whatever other mutations are out there coming soon — we need to be safe. 

This summer, we had a taste of freedom again. We were allowed to see friends and families, weddings were back on and kids were able to attend their graduations in person — and that’s all because we wore masks for practically a year before that. When the vaccine came out, that helped us all, too.

Let’s just listen to Hochul. Let’s not complain. 

The sooner we tackle this problem, the sooner we can get back to whatever normal is the new normal. 

Don’t judge her policies just yet — she’s had a lot of experience and whoever jumped into Cuomo’s seat was in for it. 

She was handed a pile of dirt and now needs to make it beautiful. 

Trust her actions, give her a chance. Embrace the fact that someone new is in office and remember: A mother always knows best.

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Many have asked what has happened to us as a society.

As we prepare to remember the victims of 9/11 in just a few weeks, we are reminded of a time 20 years ago when our communities came together to help each other. We applauded our first responders, offered our shoulders to those who were crying and all of us came together as one. The amount of empathy Americans, as well as those around the world, showed for the victims and their families was awe-inspiring. While 9/11 was a day to remember, 9/12 was just as important because it showed that we could be unified. 

However, the tragedies and issues caused by COVID-19 have left us more divided than ever. Many scratch their heads wondering why people won’t follow the guidance of medical professionals, who last year simply asked us to wear masks and social distance while they figured out the best line of defense against the virus. Despite the significant strides made in medicine over the last few decades, a new form of a virus can still take time to figure out. And then this year, finally the vaccine that we all were waiting for was released, but yet many have refused to get it to help the common good and themselves.

It seems at times we have become selfish and self-absorbed, not worrying about anyone but ourselves. Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised. Look at our roads. More and more drivers engage in reckless driving, whether speeding down the road, weaving in and out of traffic, not pulling over for emergency vehicles or blowing through red lights and stop signs.

In the days of social media, we see too many people believing that their way is the only way and that those who think differently to them are evil or stupid to a point where we don’t respect our fellow citizens.

We have become so selfish and judgmental at times that we forget when we step out our door it’s no longer about us. The world does not revolve around one person, not even one family or social circle. As we navigate through the day, while our feelings and beliefs are valid and should be respected, the same goes for respecting others. We should also listen to each other. Really listen. It can be difficult at times to balance our wants and needs with the desires of others, but it’s the only way we can live together in peace.

Many have said they don’t want a new normal — they just want normal. Yet, it seems as if a new normal is needed, one where people’s actions show that they care about those around them.

It’s been said that learning about our history is important, so we don’t repeat the mistakes of past generations and benefit from the good elements, too. Now, let’s remember the tragic event of 9/11 and its aftermath in order to be reminded of how we united and moved forward during one of the most difficult times in American history.

We did it then and we can do it again — together.