Tags Posts tagged with "Fort Salonga"

Fort Salonga

Marine Bravo tows a capsized boat to a ramp in Northport. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

Suffolk County Police Department Marine Bureau officers rescued five people from the Long Island Sound after their boat overturned the afternoon of July 7.

Marine Bureau officers, Dave Froehlich and Patrick Ennis, aboard Marine Bravo, responded to a 911 call for a capsized boat in the Long Island Sound just off the coast of Crab Meadow Beach at about 4:40 p.m. Upon arriving, the officers found five men standing on the underside of a recreational 21-foot Pro-Line vessel that overturned after being struck by a wave some 20 minutes earlier.

Three of the passengers, who were wearing life vests, were able to swim to Marine Bravo. Froehlich and Ennis threw a flotation device to the remaining two men, who were not wearing life jackets.

All five men were evaluated on the scene and were determined not to be injured, police said. The capsized vessel was towed to a boat ramp in Northport.

by -
0 238
Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives are investigating the drowning death of a woman in Fort Salonga.

Fourth Precinct officers responded to a Fort Salonga home June 24 at approximately 6:10 p.m. after a resident called 911 reporting a woman floating in his backyard pool. When officers arrived, they found Carol-Jean Werkstell unresponsive in the water.

Werkstell, 76, was transported to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown where she was pronounced dead.

Owl Hill estate is located south of Sunken Meadow State Park in Fort Salonga. Photo from Douglas Elliman Real Estate

A historic estate nestled in Fort Salonga for years has been drawing renewed interest from developers who want to build homes on the property.

The Owl Hill estate, located at 99 Sunken Meadow Road, spans 27.63 acres and is the largest parcel of 1-acre residential-zoned land in Suffolk County. In 2017, the property was up for sale for the first time in more than six decades at the price tag of $6.45 million. 

The estate, which is the most expensive property in the hamlet, is owned by Manhattan resident Maya Ryan. Her family has occupied and maintained the house for more than half a century and currently uses it as a summer and weekend residence. 

Peter Hans, planning board director for the Town of Smithtown, said in an email the Town currently does not have any type of application for the property but detailed that they have met with several different prospective developers in the past year about how the estate is permitted to be developed. 

“The property is zoned R-43 (single-family residential, 1 acre min. lot size),” Hans said in the email. “There are steep slopes on the property which would limit yield on future development. Additionally any developer that would like to subdivide the property would be required to cluster a large portion of the property, meaning that lot sizes would be made smaller than 1 acre so that the difference could be preserved as open space.” 

In 2017, the Town and the county raised a $1 million grant to be used to preserve a portion of the Owl Hill property for open space. 

Similarly, in an Oct. 2017 TBR News Media article, Owl Hill’s listing agent Kelley Taylor, of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, said she had seen a majority of interest from developers, including one evaluating the property as the site of a 55-and-older community.

Corey Geske, Smithtown resident and scholar, said Owl Hill is a great example of beautiful architecture in the town. 

“In my opinion the estate in terms of historical importance is on par with Sagamore Hill,” she said. 

Geske said Edmund Wetmore, the first patent lawyer in the U.S., commissioned architect Henry Killam Murphy to design the estate home in 1907. Murphy was renowned overseas for his work in China, Korea and Japan. Some notable work includes designing the campus of the University of Shanghai.

“Owl Hill is one of the finest rare examples of Henry Killam Murphy’s early work in the United States and has been a cornerstone of the community,” she said.

The Smithtown scholar said the estate’s history merits recognition to be established as a national historic landmark, as it’s linked to internationally and nationally known figures.

Residents are concerned about increased development in the area as 2 miles to the west sits Indian Hills Country Club, the site of a potential 55-and-over housing development. The proposed project would call for the construction of 98 town houses, a new fitness center and an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course.

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said he is worried about what the potential addition of close to 100 homes at Indian Hills and further loss of green space could do to the character of the area.

“[Indian Hills] would no doubt be the largest development in Fort Salonga history,” he said. “I feel like the rural feel of the hamlet won’t be around for much longer. Who knows what will happen but it would be a terrible shame.”

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Officials in the Town of Huntington have scheduled a special cluster development hearing for Nov. 20 on The Preserve at Indian Hills. The draft environmental impact statement hearing ended Nov. 5, but concerns continue.

The 55-and-over housing development is proposed to be built on the Indian Hills Golf Course in Northport and have 98 town houses, a new fitness center and an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course. 

The special subdivision hearing was scheduled due to the public’s high level of interest in the project. The draft environmental impact hearing was held in September, and typically that would have been the only hearing for the environmental impact report and its subdivision application. The planning board scheduled a separate public hearing in an effort to provide transparency and extend more time for the public to submit comments, according to town officials. 

Other project updates include the town voting to hire an outside consultant for the environmental review process on Oct. 10. Melville-based engineering firm AECOM will be tasked in assisting the planning board in evaluating the environmental impact statement. 

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said they are anxious for the next stage in Preserve’s development process. 

“We were glad the town extended the public comment period, the more input we can put in the better,” he said.

The association sent in 180 pages of input to the town planning board.

Critics of the development have pointed to environmental impacts and negative effects on property values, as well as concerns on watershed quality and the surrounding wetlands. 

“Not much has changed [since the last hearing]. It is still overwhelmingly opposed by residents,” Hayes said. “There are pollution and environmental issues from the DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Statement] that the developers need to understand.”

The president of the association also was concerned about the eroding bluffs near the proposed development. 

Previously, the group asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills. Others have urged the planning board to complete the Crab Meadow Watershed study before making any conclusions on the project.

“We’re hopeful that the planning board will listen to our concerns,” Hayes said. 

After the preliminary subdivision hearing, there will be a final environmental impact statement hearing and then a final subdivision hearing. The planning board cannot vote on the development until the environmental statement process is complete. The application review period will extend into 2020, according to town officials. 

Indian Hills Country Club. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

More than 60 residents voiced their opinions on the proposed Preserve at Indian Hills development in Fort Salonga at a Town of Huntington Planning Board public hearing Sept. 18 to discuss the draft environmental impact statement on the project. Critics pointed to environmental concerns and negative effects on property values, while supporters viewed the project as beneficial to the community.   

Tony Izzo of Fort Salonga, said the development would have lasting negative impacts on the community. 

“Mr. [Jim] Tsunis [of The Northwind Group] wants to increase the size of the clubhouse by 30 percent and staff by 40 percent to accommodate a large catering restaurant,” he said. “The condos would be incompatible with the character of the neighborhood, it would double the size of the neighborhood.”

Izzo said he bought his house with his wife in 1987 with the assurance that the zoning would be R-40, which allows for the building of 1-acre single family homes. 

“We expected to be living in suburbia, instead we are told to accept a certain lifestyle — I’m not going to accept that,” he said. “These condos will negatively affect property values. Protect the citizens of Fort Salonga, not the builder. This must be rejected.”

“We expected to be living in suburbia.”

—Tony Izzo

The Preserve at Indian Hills would be a 55-and-over clustered housing development. In addition to the 98 town houses, the project also would include a new fitness center with an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course.  

William Berg of the Crab Meadow Watershed Advisory Committee brought up concerns about the impact the development could have on the watershed quality and surrounding wetlands. 

“This study [the Crab Meadow Watershed plan] has not been completed or adopted by the Town Board,” he said. “Under land use the report states that the watershed is built out of its own density. I urge the Planning Board to call for the completion of the Crab Meadow Watershed study and thorough analysis of the information before making any conclusions on the project.”

Similarly, the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes the Indian Hills property. While most of the speakers opposed the development, a few residents were in favor of the project. William Muller, who is a member of the Indian Hills Country Club, said he was supportive of the Northwind project and pointed to the need for more senior living.  

“I have the belief that this plan will have less of an impact to the local community than the single-family alternative,” he said. “There is always a need for the 55-and-older community and this would provide a wonderful setting for that population.”

Other supporters mentioned the tax revenue school districts would be poised to receive from potential development and said the golf course and condos should be considered assets for the community.   

Barbara Duffy of Northport, had similar sentiments, stating she was supportive of the building of town houses. 

“Having lived near the 17th fairway for 40 years, I find it very exciting to see the possibility of protecting the golf course and making good use of the available open space,” she said. “As you all know condominiums are a dire need for the 55-and-over community.”

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said in an interview that he thought the hearing went well and hopes the Planning Board will listen to their concerns. 

“This development has been overwhelmingly opposed by residents,” Hayes said. “We continue to challenge them on the density issues … being too close to residents homes. There are still problematic environmental issues that were not really tackled by the developers [in the study].”

The town will be accepting public comments through Oct. 18 either online or letters can be mailed to Huntington Town Hall, Department of Planning & Environment (Room 212), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Following public comments, the next steps for the development would be a final environmental impact statement and a possible preliminary subdivision hearing that has yet to be scheduled. 

by -
0 903
Aerial view of Indian Hills Golf Course, where developers want to build 98 townhouses.

A proposed development at Indian Hills Golf Course in Fort Salonga is once again drawing criticism and the ire of a community. A public hearing scheduled for Sept. 18 will open discussions on the environmental impact statement for the construction of 98 town houses. 

In August of 2018, the Town of Huntington’s planning board issued a positive declaration to the developers, Hauppauge-based Northwind Group. The environmental impact statement review is the next step of the approval process. 

The upcoming presentation will focus on how potential development would impact water quality of local watersheds, the area’s steep slopes, coastal erosion zones, traffic and other issues.

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said the proposed development is massive and will negatively impact local roadways and surrounding wetlands, among other things. 

“We’ve been opposed to the development, it’s not something the community wants,” he said.

The project, dubbed the Preserve at Indian Hills, is a 55-and-over clustered housing development. In addition to the 98 town houses, the project also includes a new fitness center with an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course.  

Previously, the association asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills. It came after town officials released a draft of the Crab Meadow Watershed Plan, done by GEI Consultants. 

The study’s goal was developing a community-driven stewardship plan that highlights best practices in the future management of the watershed area, according to a March 2018 TBR News Media article. It also focused on evaluating the environmental conditions of the land around the Jerome A. Ambro Memorial Wetland Preserve in Fort Salonga.

“The study showed that the watershed area is built out to its zoned density, we believe there shouldn’t be close to 100 homes built there,” Hayes said. 

The proposed development has been a decisive topic in the Huntington community for close to three years. Over the years, the developers have tried to change zoning for the property from 1-acre single family to open space cluster district, in the hopes of building homes on the property. They also changed the initial plans from building 108 units to 98. 

“We expect public comment on our application which is permitted within our current zoning,”   Jim Tsunis, managing member of The Northwind Group said in a statement. “Our professionals will address all concerns during the hearing on Sept. 18 and the extended public comment period.”

The president of the association said they remain skeptical of the development and plan to attend the upcoming planning board hearing. 

“We will be there to challenge their findings and we’ll counter their points,” Hayes said. 

Residents can review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the town’s website under the Planning and Environment Department page: www.huntingtonny.gov/indian-hills-deis-july2019. 

After the public hearing, the town will be accepting public comments through Oct. 18 either online or letters can be mailed to: Huntington Town Hall, Department of Planning & Environment (Room 212), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Following public comments, the next steps for the development would be a final environmental impact statement and a possible preliminary subdivision hearing.

Kimberly Durham of the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society takes measurements of the deceased sea turtle July 24.

 A nearly 5 foot long rare leatherback sea turtle was found dead on Callhan’s Beach in Fort Salonga July 24.

The male sea turtle had multiple lacerations on its on top shell that were consistent with a vessel strike, according to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, an organization that promotes marine conservation. The animal otherwise appeared to be in good body condition.

AMCS has responded to 13 sea turtles so far this year, with this being the first leatherback. Of these 13 responses, 10 have evidence of human interaction – nine were deceased with evidence of vessel strike and one had been caught on a fishing hook, but freed itself.

 AMCS is encouraging the public to be aware that we share our waters with these animals and to give them at least 150 feet of space if sighted swimming. Strandings can be reported to the NYS Stranding Hotline at 631.369.9829.

 

A musketball found in Fort Salonga. Photo from Lamar Institute

Archaeologists from the Lamar Institute began a month-long search April 15 for local artifacts from the Revolutionary War. Their investigation covers three known battlefields in Fort Salonga, Setauket and Lloyd’s Neck and has so far turned up a musket ball.

Daniel Elliott, an archeologist from the Lamar Institute, uses ground-penetrating radar to see under the earth at Fort Slongo. Photo Lamar Institute

“All three battlefields are poorly understood in history,” said Daniel Elliott, president of the Lamar Institute. “This project seeks to locate and delineate the three battlefields and to interpret their findings, advancing our understanding of Long Island’s important role in the American Revolution.”

Their “dig” includes extensive research with ground-penetrating radar, systematic controlled metal detection survey, small excavations of key targets, laser transit mapping, drone-assisted aerial videography, laboratory analysis and public presentations.

The work is funded by a $60,000 grant from the National Park Services’ American Battlefield Protection Program and a $5,200 contribution from the Lamar Institute.

Local historian David M. Griffin, author of “Lost British Forts of Long Island,” is a major project collaborator.

The Lamar Institute is a nonprofit organization established in 1982 with the mission to conduct archaeological research and advance public archaeological education.

Barbara Russell, Town of Brookhaven historian, was involved in coordinating access to the Setauket site.

“This is quite exciting to have respected and qualified researchers from the Lamar Institute in and around our [Setauket] Green.”

The research team will be exploring the Lloyd Neck’s Fort Franklin April 29.

The public can see the resulting interpretations when completed by September 2020 on the Lamar Institute’s website at www.thelamarinstitute.org.

File photo

Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating an incident during which a man was found unresponsive in a pool at a Fort Salonga home this weekend.

Police officers responded to Marcelle Court after a 911 caller reported a man was found unresponsive in an in-ground pool Aug. 5 at approximately 1:10 p.m.

Northport Rescue performed CPR on the victim, Edwin Campos, 39, of Copiague. Campos was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was listed in critical condition as of Sunday night.

The investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252.

Callahans Beach in Fort Salonga. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr

News of plans to construct a cell tower on a town-owned Fort Salonga beach is getting a warm reception from first responders and rescue workers.

Plans for a new cell tower at Callahans Beach has public safety officials across the Town of Smithtown excited that it may increase response times and stop misplaced emergency calls to Connecticut.

“Say you’re down at the bluff, sometimes your 911 call would go across the Sound to Connecticut because it’s the easiest and quickest line of sight,” Chief John Valentine, director of Smithtown’s public safety department said. “Most of the departments [in Connecticut] know to transfer them to 911 in Suffolk County, but those time frames, although only miniscule, are valuable time to any 911 emergency.”

This thing is imperative because it’s going to complete communications we need for our public safety issues, which includes everything — fire, ambulance, police…”
– Ed Wehrheim

The new cell tower is to be built in a corner of theupper parking area, adjacent to the campground portion of the beach property, according to Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R). Every cell tower erected in the township has the Town of Smithtown’s public safety network built into it, and this new cell tower will complete the triangulation created by existing towers at the Landing Country Club in Smithtown and the Smithtown Public Safety building on Maple Avenue. 

Valentine said that there are dead zones in terms of public safety communications in the Kings Park Fire Department area, in Nissequogue and the Village of the Head of the Harbor hamlets.

Wehrheim said that completing this cell tower will enable first responders at all levels to better react to emergencies.

“This thing is imperative because it’s going to complete communications we need for our public safety issues, which includes everything — fire, ambulance, police — all our public safety people will all be on that tower,” the supervisor said.

The Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously at its June 12 meeting to sign the lease agreement between the town and Propagation Solutions Inc., for Site Tech Wireless  LLC to install the approximately 150-foot cell tower. Valentine said the planning department still has to go through procedures before installation can begin.

The town’s public safety director said the effort to build a third cell tower has been in the works for the past four years, and has been held up in the process of getting approval from both town and state entities as it is being built on parkland.

If the chief gets on scene to say there’s an issue like a cardiac arrest, and he can’t reach the dispatcher to relay that information, it might be life threatening.”
– Peter Laura Sr.

“We’re anxious to get it done, Valentine said. “The Kings Park Fire Department and all our other users on our network are anxious to get it in place.”

Kings Park Fire Commissioner Peter Laura Sr. said that the area of Fort Salonga is notoriously bad for radio reception because of its hilly landscape.

“It’s of great importance to us, we need to be able to talk,” Laura said. “If the chief gets on scene to say there’s an issue like a cardiac arrest, and he can’t reach the dispatcher to relay that information, it might be life threatening. This tower would hopefully solve the radio communication problem.”

Valentine said that he has not heard any concerns or complaints regarding the installation of a new cell phone tower. 

“We have been met with nothing but encouragement to get this done from both public safety interests and residents,” he said.

Pete Hans, the principle planner for the Town of Smithtown, said that the planning department must still complete a local waterfront revitalization program review, which if everything goes according to plan will be presented at the July 17 town board meeting. In the best case scenario the cell tower should be presented for approval to the board by September.