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George Hoffman

Proposed site plan. Photo courtesy R+M Engineering

By Mallie Jane Kim

South Setauket may see three mega-warehouses with 77 loading stalls for tractor trailers, if a site plan by Northville Industries goes through. The petroleum storage and distribution company sent a letter to neighbors explaining the plan and inviting comment at a public meeting in the Centereach Holiday Inn Express set for Monday, March 25.

“This is an area that’s underserved for warehouse uses,” Northville’s lawyer Tim Shea said. “Most of the warehouses are by the freeway or on the South Shore.”

But that’s not the only plan on the table.

Shea indicated the company would also present the option of multifamily housing: “We had discussed the alternative of doing multifamily, and we plan to offer that alternative to the neighbors at that meeting.” 

Town board approval required

The property, bordered by Upper Sheep Pasture Road and Belle Mead Road, is zoned for industrial use, and that zoning would need to be changed to add an apartment complex or townhome community, for example. 

But that suggestion has already faced pushback at the town level.

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) acknowledged Northville had approached him about rezoning for multifamily homes, something he is against. “I told them it’s not an appropriate site next to the gas tanks, and in the middle of this other neighborhood,” he said.

Shea contends any multifamily housing would meet setback requirements from the tanks, adding that he’s familiar with other areas of the country that have housing similarly situated near tanks like the ones in Setauket.

Kornreich, who deals closely with land use and zoning issues in his role on the town council, said he has seen developers in other situations use a “carrot and stick” method to rally community support: Asking for what they truly want but, in the face of resistance, offering something that might sound worse but is within their rights to build. Kornreich said he’d be curious to see if that is the strategy in this case. 

“Sometimes communities are given a false choice,” he said.

The potential “false choice” in this case is a proposed addition of a driveway onto Upper Sheep Pasture Road, where traffic is already tricky and not built for large trucks. At issue is a stipulation in a zoning lawsuit settlement from the 1990s, which contains a stipulation that, according to Shea, permits Northville to add a driveway north onto Sheep Pasture Road. According to Kornreich, the town’s legal department disagrees. 

In any case, Northville would still need town board approval. Kornreich said he would oppose a site plan if it includes that driveway, and he sees no reason his councilmember colleagues would break with him on this issue. 

“It would be extremely unlikely for them to override a decision in my district, especially over something as small as the position of a driveway,” he said, pointing to the respect among current board members.

Local reaction

George Hoffman, one of the Three Village Civic Association leaders who attended meetings between Kornreich and Northville, expressed grave concerns about adding that driveway on Upper Sheep Pasture. “It really jams up — it’s not a good corner,” Hoffman said. “This could be one of those last-mile warehouses where you have those trucks coming in and out, and the quality of life for people who live on those streets is really going to be impacted.”

Shea said Northville does not have a contract in place for use of the proposed warehouses, so it’s not decided who the final user would be and what the warehouses would be used for. 

He added that Northville sent its notification letter even more broadly than required by town code out of a desire to interact with the neighbors, and indicated the company has heard the concerns about a northern driveway. “When we did our traffic analysis,” he said, “it came out that having the entrance on Sheep Pasture Road would actually lessen the impact on traffic to the area, rather than pushing everything to Belle Mead Road.”

But Hoffman, who is also a water quality advocate and has raised concerns about Northville in the past, wishes the gas company would be more willing to work with community representatives, especially in light of its environmental record. In 1988, Northville revealed it had suffered a slow gas leak of about 1.2 million gallons of gasoline into the ground at the Setauket property, which, according to news articles at the time, led to years of remediation, $25 million in damages and repairs and a $7.2 million settlement with homeowners who said their property values had declined in the aftermath of the spill.

“They have a terrible environmental history,” Hoffman said. “Why do they want to be so confrontational to the community and to the town?”

For his part, Kornreich does not see a problem with new warehouses per se, as long as trucks are not funneled onto the residential Sheep Pasture Road. He said warehouses are within Northville’s industrial zoning rights, and they could help diversify the area’s economy while providing good-paying jobs. 

“You’ve got to have some industrial space around, and that’s the space for it,” Kornreich said. “You’re not cutting down trees, and it’s on land that’s not being used for anything else.”

Traffic disruption is only one of the concerns for nearby residents, though. Gillian Maser, who lives nearby on Upper Sheep Pasture Road and within sight distance of the large gas tanks, said she is also concerned about the environmental impact and noise pollution in a relatively quiet, family community. 

“I’m trying to stay as objective as possible, but there are definitely some red flags on this one,” Maser said. “With 77 tractor trailer bays, there could be a lot of noise in the middle of the night, with trucks loading and unloading.”

Maser said she and her husband are hoping to attend the March 25 meeting. 

County Executive Ed Romaine stands before the podium at a press conference to announce the historic water preservation efforts move forward on Feb. 5. Photo by Mallie Jane Kim

By Mallie Jane Kim

Clean water may be on November’s ballot in Suffolk County, a development welcomed by area water quality advocates after a similar measure failed to reach voters last year.

Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine (R) announced the plan at a Feb. 5 press conference, surrounded by a bipartisan coalition of legislators as well as representatives from environmental groups and the county water authority. The plan marks an agreement that, if approved in Albany, would give voters the choice to adopt a 0.125% sales tax increase toward curbing pollution of area drinking and swimming water through new sewers and replacement of aging cesspools with nitrogen-removing septic systems. 

“The future of this county depends on water, clean water,” Romaine said at the conference. “Let’s make sure that we will always have clean water, not only under our feet to drink, but clean water on our surfaces and our bays, our rivers, our creeks, our streams, our Sound.”

Romaine said he hopes to see, in addition to the tax revenue raised, some state funding from New York’s 2022 Environmental Bond Act as well as federal funds from President Joe Biden’s (D) infrastructure framework come into play for local sewer projects.

According to the bill sent to Albany for approval, there are 209,000 cesspools in “environmentally sensitive areas” of Suffolk County that need to be replaced. The nitrogen in the wastewater released from these systems impacts area waterways as well as the county’s sole drinking water source, the underground aquifer.

“I was really pleased everybody came together to make this happen,” said George Hoffman, who heads the water quality testing program for the Setauket Harbor Task Force. “It bodes well that the first major initiative of the new Legislature under Ed Romaine is a significant environmental initiative.”

According to Hoffman, high nitrogen levels in the Long Island Sound contribute to a chain reaction of algae blooms and low oxygen, which makes fish die off. The nitrogen also impacts shoreline vegetation and can increase erosion, he said.

Hoffman, whose group measures water quality in Setauket Harbor from May through October, said 75% of the nitrogen that enters the harbor is coming from cesspools, and he welcomes the coming help for homeowners who need to replace their waste systems — especially those with homes close to the water, where there is not enough distance between the cesspool and the shoreline to allow soil and bacteria to naturally filter out nitrogen from wastewater before it enters the Sound. 

“People tell us stories where at high tide in the harbor, the water in the toilet bowl goes up and down, which means the cesspool is in the water,” he explained. “For us in the harbor, we’ve been promoting the need to update these systems.”

The plan heading to Albany is a slightly altered version of the one that failed to pass the county Legislature last year — the new plan notably splits the funds evenly between installing sewers and replacing aging cesspools with smart septic systems. 

The plan that failed last year would have given about 75% of funds to septic systems, based on a Stony Brook University study on the proportion of pollution sources. 

That failure was a major election campaign point for county Legislator Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who said after the press conference that he welcomed the plan’s progress, despite the change in funding percentage — particularly since a “wise” provision in the bill allows for adjustments to the fund distribution in a planned 2030 reevaluation. 

“We broke the logjam,” he said, celebrating the collegiality and compromise on both sides of the political aisle. “This is something that really needs to happen in order to protect our largest industry, which is tourism, as well as the health and well-being of our families and neighbors and children. So, it’s an investment into the future.”

The Legislature and environmental groups all indicated they planned to launch a voter education campaign before the referendum goes to the ballot. 

At the press conference, Romaine urged anyone concerned about the 0.125% tax increase to “think of what the future is, and the cost of not doing this,” he said. “It’s time to step up to the plate because if we don’t, we won’t be able to drink our water.”

File photo by Raymond Janis

Hooray for Theatre Three

As a longtime season ticket holder of Port Jefferson’s Theatre Three, I certainly appreciate the fine job Bradlee and Marci Bing did with their performance of “The Gin Game.” They still have it! To all who read this, we are blessed with live theater in our village. It is difficult these days to compete with modern technology, but on the other hand up close and personal performances are something special. This is more than a plug for Theatre Three. It is a message of do not miss these opportunities for live entertainment in your local area

Harry Faulknor

Port Jefferson

Glad for Lawrence Aviation action and looking for more 

The The tentative Metropolitan Transportation Authority deal at the former Lawrence Aviation site in Port Jefferson Station is moving forward with positive reactions from the officials on this plan. It is a partnership with federal, state, county and town officials that is making this happen: 

Proposed MTA electric line trainyard with a county bridge constructed if New York State requires it. 

A passive solar farm that is proposed in the old buildings site, which is being cleared and the metals being recycled.

The much-needed open-forested space in our hamlet as a buffer. All this is still in the planning process with the Suffolk County Landbank Corporation working on the details of which some are time critical such as the federal Environmental Protection Agency lifting the Superfund designation by the end of this year and the New York State Department of Transportation working on any Greenway rerouting. 

We in the community are glad for the positive results we see with the removal of these eyesores and are now asking our officials to move on with the paperwork. Our Port Jefferson Station has been looking for years for this progress. Let’s make it happen.

 Charlie McAteer

Port Jefferson Station

Legal immigrants justifiably fearful

If true, it is commendable that George Altemose [“Legal talented scientists are welcomed,” Jan.18, TBR News Media] and Paul Mannix [“The illegal immigration issue,” Jan. 25, TBR News Media] harbor no animosity toward legal immigrants, and only object to illegal immigration. Perhaps 40 years ago one could have reasonably argued that most conservatives felt that way. But unfortunately, they are wildly out of touch with the attitudes that now prevail in the Republican Party.

A 2019 Pew poll found 57% of Republican voters fear “losing our identity as a nation” due to immigration, a 13% increase in just two years. That phrasing gives away the game, as equating our “identity” as Americans to ethnicity or race is inherently bigoted. The leading Republican presidential candidate recently said that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.” If they are really a threat to our “blood” it is clearly irrelevant whether they are documented or not. He gleefully separated children from their families and is now promising internment camps and mass deportation for 11 million people peacefully living, working and paying taxes in the U.S. His followers are loving it.

Prospective foreign Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory students and employees rightly recognize that such rhetoric wouldn’t exist if the MAGA faction of the Republican Party was making nuanced distinctions between legal and undocumented immigrants. They understand that this rhetoric, and the normalization of the hatred behind it, pose a real threat to their physical safety.

Let’s be frank: U.S. business loves illegal immigration because it gives a huge pool of vulnerable workers. The farming, meatpacking, construction, landscaping, hospitality, health care and food service industries all heavily exploit cheap, undocumented labor. Republican politicians refuse to effectively punish employers — the only way to actually reduce illegal immigration — because the issue lets them exploi their voters’ racial and ethnic fears in every election. Witness their blocking the recent bipartisan Senate border security bill. MAGA voters, currently driving the Republican Party, are virulently anti-immigrant because they believe the U.S. should be a white, traditional, Christian country.

By all means let’s implement a humane, legal immigration system that actually addresses the obvious workforce needs of the country, punishes illegal hiring, while addressing impacts on infrastructure and services. Let’s pursue a more enlightened foreign policy that helps stabilize and develop Mexico and Central America — by far the largest sources of illegal migration. But let’s not pretend that most Republicans are happy to welcome nonwhite legal immigrants.

John Hover

East Setauket

Wernher von Braun is considered a great American

I would like to respond to a recent commentary letter from Professor Lester G. Paldy regarding my characterization of Wernher von Braun as a great American, as a consequence of his enormous contributions to our space program [“Hardly an example of a great American,” Jan. 25, TBR News Media]. 

It is true that von Braun was instrumental in the development and use of the German V-2 rocket during World War II. He was forced to join the Nazi party in 1937, when he was 25 years of age, and the SS in 1940, when he was 28. He showed no enthusiasm for activities other than rocket development, and advocated for work on space travel. In 1944, von Braun was suspected of having a defeatist attitude, for which he was arrested by the Gestapo and held for two weeks, before being released because his contributions were deemed essential for the German war effort. 

Following the defeat of Germany, von Braun and more than 100 of his associates were brought to the United States, where they were attached to the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps for the purpose of developing advanced military rockets. This effort was enormously successful under von Braun’s leadership. They produced the Redstone and Jupiter-C missiles, leading to our entry into the space program with our first satellite in 1958, closely following the Soviet Union’s Sputnik a year earlier. This was followed by the Saturn V rocket, which took us to the moon in 1969, and is still the most powerful machine ever built by man. None of this would have been possible without von Braun, both for his technical leadership and for his popular promotion of the importance of sending people into space.

Today, von Braun remains a controversial figure, primarily as a result of the brutal use of Holocaust slave labor for the manufacture of the V-2 rockets. Research appears to show that he was aware of this situation, but was powerless to prevent it. Had he tried, he would have been immediately removed from the program, and almost certainly killed. As it turned out, he spent the first 33 years of his life in Germany, and his next — and last — 32 years as a model citizen of the United States. Was he a great American? I believe that he was.

George Altemose

Setauket

Need to reassess Hochul’s plan to decrease our school aid

As a lifelong member of the Three Village community, alumnus of Ward Melville High School and parent of a school-aged child, I am incensed by Gov. Hochul’s [D] plan to decrease our state aid by nearly $9 million. 

The recent proposal for the 2024-25 school year to cut nearly 18% of state aid to our district is quite plainly unjustifiable and contradictory to the current “hold harmless” policy. On Jan. 16, during the governor’s budget presentation, she touted “the highest level of education funding in state history,” yet she has chosen to penalize a district that was previously recognized by the State Comptroller’s Office as “susceptible to fiscal stress.” 

The decision to drastically cut aid to a high performing Long Island school district has the capacity to catastrophically fracture our incredible academic, arts, music, technology and extracurricular programs. We would also be vulnerable in areas concerning mental health and wellness, and physical safety and security at a time when these services are more essential than ever before.

Politicization of this situation would be a very easy sword to throw ourselves upon, but this is not the time to make this a “red-blue” issue. We need to stand together as it is truly incomprehensible to think that more consideration should not be given to all that would be lost by our district if these cuts were to happen. I, along with many other parents and community members, have reached out to the governor and other state officials in an attempt to urge a reassessment of the proposal. 

Our district simply cannot sustain the potential long-lasting damage that this proposed budget could cause, and our kids are worth the strength we can exude in our words and actions. 

Time is of the essence. Take a stand for our kids.

Stefanie Werner

East Setauket

Setauket Neighborhood House: a community gem

I recently attended a meeting of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce at the Setauket Neighborhood House and was intrigued on how our community came to own this wonderful place situated across from the lake leading into Frank Melville Park on Main Street.

The plaque in the house says the Neighborhood House was purchased by the 19th-century industrialist Eversley Childs and his wife Minnie and given to the Setauket community as a place for meetings and community gathering since 1918.

What a wonderful philanthropic gesture by the Childs couple to bequeath our community with a publicly-owned meeting house that in many ways is the center of community activity in the Three Villages. I know of few other places on Long Island that have such a community run and supported meeting house. 

Kudos to the members of the Setauket Neighborhood House’s board of directors and its manager for providing a special gathering place for civic, community and family events and for keeping it in such historic splendor. And a belated thank you to Eversley and Minnie Childs for their considerable community philanthropy and wisdom in providing a place for the Setauket community to meet and come together for more than 100 years.

George Hoffman

Setauket

Best person to serve as an MTA board member

Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine [R] now has an opportunity to appoint a representative to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority 15-member board. Allow me to offer my services. I’ve been a regular Long Island Rail Road commuter for decades and previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions of dollars in annual grants that supported capital projects and programs for the MTA including the LIRR, NYC Transit subway, bus and Staten Island Railway, Metro-North Rail Road and MTA Bus along with 30 other transit agencies in New York and New Jersey. I also assisted the MTA in winning a number of national competitive discretionary grants. 

I possess a detailed knowledge of all MTA operating agencies including the LIRR physical assets such as equipment, stations, yards, shops and maintenance as well as management of capital projects and programs. I gave emphasis to completing federally funded projects on time, within budget with a minimum number and dollar value for contract change orders. They had to be justified as fair and reasonable. This was my motto for the MTA and LIRR. 

There is no MTA board member today who has had firsthand experience in applying for and managing federal assistance from Washington. Federal dollars play a key role in the success of MTA’s capital program. My addition to the board could be a real asset. Having no driver’s license, I have always been transit dependent. Being retired, I could represent the interests of Long Island commuters, taxpayers and transit advocates as a full-time member on the MTA board at no expense.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Tell Hochul to keep the ‘hold harmless’ state school aid provision

I join fellow residents and school districts in shock and dismay after reviewing Gov. Hochul’s [D] proposed cuts to some local districts’ state education aid. There is no way to justify pulling the rug out from under our already strained school districts. This would only lead to hasty discussions about cuts to our children’s programming and staff, and likely increases to our already excessive property taxes. 

The proposed education aid reductions to 44% of New York state’s school districts — and increases in aid to the other 56% — result from the governor’s proposal to end the “hold harmless” provision. This provision has historically provided all districts with at least as much state education aid as they received in the previous fiscal year. 

Unfortunately, state Assemblyman Ed Flood’s [R-Port Jefferson] claim that “Hochul is dumping taxpayer dollars into New York City’s disastrous migrant crisis and leaving the priorities of New Yorkers behind” is either a misunderstanding of how the NYS budget works or a political attempt to pin our community’s upset on an unrelated issue. In the proposed budget, statewide education aid would actually increase by over 2% to a total of $35.3 billion, and our districts would lose funding only because this aid is being redistributed without the “hold harmless” provision.

Any attempt to tie this nonpartisan education policy issue to any partisan issues will weaken this urgent call to action. For the sake of our children’s quality of education and to avoid another burdensome tax hike, we must join in bipartisan opposition to this sudden abandoning of the “hold harmless” provision in the state’s foundation aid formula. We need all community leaders and residents to wholly engage in a clear message to Hochul: Reinstate the “hold harmless” provision for the 2024-25 state budget.

Rebecca Kassay

Port Jefferson

                                                               The writer has declared her candidacy for New York’s District 4 Assembly seat under the Democratic ticket.

The Brookhaven Town Board will consider a proposed change of zone for the Jefferson Plaza property on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m. File photo by Raymond Janis

Port Jefferson Station/Terryville is approaching a potentially community-defining transformation as the Brookhaven Town Board weighs the future redevelopment of the Jefferson Plaza shopping center, owned by Islandia-based Staller Associates.

Later this month, the board will consider rezoning the 10-acre parcel at the intersection of state Route 112 and Terryville Road to a Commercial Redevelopment District, or CRD, a new classification within the town’s Zoning Code. Jefferson Plaza would be the first property in town history to receive this designation if approved.

Enacted in 2020, the CRD enables mixed-use development along parcels of over 5 acres in size. According to the code, the CRD aims “to create the type of planning and zoning flexibility which is necessary to stimulate the revitalization of abandoned, vacant or underutilized commercial shopping center, bowling alley and health club properties.”

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) represents Port Jefferson Station on the Town Board. In an exclusive interview, he summarized the CRD’s purpose as “more housing, less commercial space, generally.”

“The local government has created an incentive to spur redevelopment,“ he said. “But it hasn’t been used yet, so we’re trying to use it now.”

Commercial decline

Kornreich said this new approach to commercial revitalization is guided by a sequence of “extinction events” occurring within the local retail market.

Since the establishment of these local downtowns in the previous century and even earlier, Kornreich identified the emergence of automobile culture and the growth of large box stores as the first threat to traditional mom-and-pop storefronts and downtown economies. In the wake of this first extinction event, “retail took a hit that it never really recovered from,” Kornreich said.

Retail’s downward trajectory was further exacerbated by e-commerce, which began to put even the big box stores and large retailers out of business. “And then, of course, COVID came, and that hit commercial real estate and retail,” the councilmember noted.

Confronting the many changes reshaping the commercial landscape, Kornreich said the CRD would help spur commercial redevelopment.

“This is our existential challenge: How do we help guide the redevelopment of our community so it can be healthy, so that it can thrive, and so that people can afford to live here and have a good quality of life,” he said.

Richard Murdocco is an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University, specializing in land use, real estate markets, economic development and environmental policy. Given the current pressures upon the commercial sector, Murdocco concluded that “these antiquated shopping centers need a redo.”

While redevelopment has traditionally elicited local opposition from nearby residents, Murdocco suggests that various projects throughout the region have gained traction among locals.

“It seems to me that a lot of these redevelopment projects are starting to gain momentum because the property and the blight are so large,” he said. “These are significant pieces of property,” adding, “Government responded to the need for adaptive reuse, and now there’s a legal mechanism through the zoning district on which to do that.”

Questions raised

The push for commercial redevelopment has met with scrutiny from some.

Ira Costell, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, raised several questions about the Jefferson Plaza proposal.

The CRD “hasn’t been used previously, and this does seem to be the test case,” he said. “In my estimation, it’s the lynchpin for further development in our community, so that’s why it’s essential that we get this right and not rush to judgment.”

“To address those things, I think we need better community input,” he added. To generate such input, he has asked residents to attend the civic’s upcoming meeting at Comsewogue Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m.

Local civic members are ringing the alarm over the CRD in the neighboring Three Village community. Herb Mones, land use chair of the Three Village Civic Association, highlighted the need to remediate commercial blight but suggested the CRD code is too developer-centric.

“On every level, the intention of redeveloping neglected or failing shopping centers is an admirable goal,” he said. “But the way that the code is written allows for really unprecedented development that has a tremendous negative effect on communities that are impacted by the density that results.”

Mones said the language of the CRD code is “so vague, so arbitrary and so capricious that it could be applied to virtually any shopping center in the Town of Brookhaven.”

Based on the statute, which incentivizes redevelopment of blighted properties through relaxed land use standards, Mones said the CRD code “encourages landowners to purposely neglect their properties in order to promote this eventual redevelopment.”

George Hoffman, also a member of TVCA, concurred with Mones, referring to the CRD code as “a very vague law that I think was done in haste.”

“It was really a code change that was done when we didn’t know what was going to happen with COVID,” Hoffman said. “I think it really has to be reevaluated, and I don’t think it works in this situation here” at Jefferson Plaza. 

Given that Jefferson Plaza would be the first parcel listed as a CRD, he added that this matter has implications for residents townwide.

“If they use this code to the maximum allowable density, I think it’s going to set the standard of a new suburban model for development,” he said.

The Town Board will consider the proposed change of zone for the Jefferson Plaza property on Thursday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m.

By Aidan Johnson

The Setauket Harbor Task Force held its annual Setauket Harbor Day under sunny skies last Sunday, Sept. 17, despite initial concerns over bad weather.

The event included live music, environmental lessons and free boat rides at the hamlet’s dock and beach on Shore Road.

“The purpose of the event is to show people how beautiful the harbor is and the different activities that can happen along the harbor,” said Laurie Vetere, a Setauket Harbor Task Force co-founder with George Hoffman. “We also have a lot of environmental groups, so it [has an] educational purpose as well — to try and get the kids involved and just make everybody aware of the natural beauty.”

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) attended the event, remarking upon Setauket Harbor Day as a way to help people learn how to preserve Long Island’s waterfronts.

“I think that for waterfront communities like ours, it’s one thing to enjoy it, and it’s another thing to be educated on how to preserve and improve it,” he said.

“This is basically an opportunity for us to get a lot of these educational groups out here and get them to interface with the public so that people … can get on board with some of the initiatives that we’re trying to do to protect the water quality,” he added.

Kornreich also doubled as one of the live music performers during the festivities.

WRITE TO US … AND KEEP IT LOCAL

We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected] or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

Credit where credit is due

We would like to thank the staff at The Port Times Record for their June 15 editorial [“Election Day is only the beginning”], in which they acknowledged some of the contributions the Port Jefferson Civic Association has made.

There was one item, however, that was incorrectly attributed to us: the formation of a tree committee.

While our membership fully supports the preservation of our village tree canopy, and several PJCA members volunteered to staff the committee, the primary credit for developing it belongs to Village of Port Jefferson trustee Rebecca Kassay.

PJCA member Kelly DeVine initially brought the idea to trustee Kassay, who followed up on it with extensive research on tree-related efforts in various villages within New York state and beyond. She discovered many municipalities have dedicated committees to assist staff and board members in managing a village’s canopy.

Trustee Kassay further consulted with chairs and founders of other tree committees to gather insights and information. These findings were presented to Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden, who expressed support for the creation and development of the Port Jefferson Village Tree Committee.

We just wanted to make sure to give credit where credit is due.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Kathleen McLane, Outreach Officer

Port Jefferson Civic Association

American dreams for some, not all

What a beautiful story in The Village Times Herald May 25 [“American Dream” series] on page A7 about the Huangs legal journey from China to the United States and how they worked hard and sent money home to bring other family members here.

Their hard work, sacrifice and ultimate success at their Kai Li Kitchen in East Setauket is a true American Dream story. I have many Chinese friends who did the same, as well as my four Italian grandparents. 

It’s too bad that the May 25 letter by Shoshana Hershkowitz [“Words matter in immigration dialogue”] could not have been on page A8. What a dichotomy. Almost every week she is complaining about something in this country. She belongs to Citizen Action of New York (website: citizenactionny.org), that is, progressives like AOC, Warren and Sanders. They bash Republicans, Conservatives and corporations. The problem with socialism is that it needs capitalism to survive. Thus, the ironic hypocrisy.

There is a legal way to become a citizen and an illegal way to play the system. The new “messaging” from the “left” is that “everyone” entering the country illegally is an asylum seeker (see Newsday, June 19). According to Ms. Hershkowitz’s statement, “Asylum seekers are fleeing their countries because of climate change, poverty and political violence.” If that’s true, the whole world can move here. We have the same issues: climate change, antifa (who the left were silent about as the group destroyed federal buildings and businesses in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington), Proud Boys and millions of our own citizens who live in poverty.

So when these “illegal asylum seekers” arrive we are supposed to just let them in, while the people who are legally emigrating from their countries wait to gain citizenship and get penalized by following the law? And I suppose it’s OK for the citizens in Texas, Arizona and California to bear the brunt of the huge, intentional failure at the border by Biden, Harris and Mayorkas. 

According to the House Committee on Homeland Security, as of Jan. 23 there have been over 4.5 million encounters at the Southwest border in addition to over 1.2 million “gotaways.” When the illegal immigrants were sent to Martha’s Vineyard, I don’t recall the vice president commenting on their next-day overnight extradition to mainland Massachusetts by the NIMBYs. 

The hypocrisy of these elites and socialists is obvious. It’s all about future voters and power at the expense of the citizens of this country. 

To the Huangs and Kai Li Kitchen (Chinese translation, “triumphant victory forever”), well done.

Rocky Graziano

Setauket

Two points of view

As an avid reader of the letters section of your paper, I felt compelled to write about the recent exchange of views on the issue of language and the words we use to describe the immigrants who are coming to the United States.

I know both writers personally and know them to be good people who are community-minded and who have worked to make our Three Villages a better place. I think both made good arguments about the current debate, and considering other points is what the American experiment in democracy requires its citizens to do in the pursuit of consensus.

We all know that our recent political discourse has changed, and not for the better. It seems now that we only want to hear one point of view, and criticize or discredit others whose points of view differ from our own.

Local newspapers play an important role in letting the community know about important issues and the various opinions of the people who live here, and I appreciate that.

We can learn a lot by being open to our differing views and maybe even find better solutions for the problems and challenges that we face as a community.

Thank you TBR News Media and to both writers for sharing your thoughts on a very heated and controversial subject.

George Hoffman

Setauket

Snaden is a vote for stability

On Monday, June 5, I ran my last public meeting as mayor of Port Jefferson Village. Over my 14-year tenure, I have run and attended well over 6,700 meetings and spent countless hours serving and representing this great village.

It has truly been my great honor to serve, protect and build our community, stabilizing the tax base, building our reserves now to well over $2 million, while improving our parks, paving our streets and reducing crime (as Suffolk County police reported at our last meeting).

It is hard work, committed work and work that doesn’t result from a crash course. It is work that comes from spending lots of time sitting in the seat, getting to know your partners, revenue streams, who to call and when to call. It takes thick skin, the ability to listen and most of all — the ability to know when it’s time.

I am endorsing Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden to be our next mayor — to be my mayor. Why? Because she is ready – she has trained for five years, is more than capable and she cares and has passion for this community.

I made the decision to retire because I knew my successor was ready, willing and able. You can’t learn this job in under a year — it’s not possible. And for goodness sake, why would we want a neophyte mayor when we can elect Kathianne and keep our trustees in place so they can continue to learn and serve? 

Doing otherwise would be so detrimental to the trajectory of this village — it would wreak havoc and result in a devastating, unstable and inexperienced board creating damage that might be irreparable for years to come. 

A vote for Deputy Mayor Snaden is a vote for stability and to keep your board intact so we can move onward and upward together. Please be responsible and get out to vote on June 20 at the Village Center. After our 14 years together, please help me in this one last request: To vote for Katharine Snaden to protect our beloved Port Jefferson and ensure it remains our very own beautiful destination — for a lifetime or a day.

Margot J. Garant

Mayor, Village of Port Jefferson

Sheprow will shake up status quo

As a lifelong resident and former trustee of Port Jeff, I am enthusiastically supporting Lauren Sheprow for village mayor. 

A vote for the opponent will maintain the status quo at Village Hall. We cannot afford to continue the fiscal and land-use policies of the current administration. 

In 2008, when I was a trustee, a significant and illegal situation in a residential area was brought to the board’s attention. Shockingly, 14 years later, the problem persists. We need a mayor who will be proactive, respond quickly to problems and represent all of us. That person is Lauren Sheprow. 

Sheprow will ensure land-use decisions are made with the advice of village professionals, taking into account the need to preserve the character of our cherished village while revitalizing certain areas. We can and must do better.

Please join me by writing in “Lauren Sheprow” in the write-in space for mayor on the ballot.

Virginia Capon

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is a former Port Jefferson Village trustee.

Snaden’s commitment to public safety

As someone with a career in law enforcement, I admit to being very impressed by Kathianne Snaden. 

Deputy Mayor Snaden’s ongoing dedication to public safety has truly been something to behold. Even as a new trustee, I often remember seeing her at the Suffolk County Police Department 6th Precinct monthly meetings, engaging with the department, taking notes and advocating for more involvement by SCPD within the village. This was going on since day one of her being an elected official.

 Her involvement with SCPD over the years — both at Village Hall and at the 6th Precinct — still continues to this very day. There have been ever evolving improvements with our own code officers, her many different initiatives such as having code officers on bicycles, code officers meeting every inbound train uptown and working with the schools to allow code officers to be a presence there, again to name a few. 

She is always interacting with the 6th Precinct Whiskey Unit every summer, always being on call and present whenever necessary at any time of day or night. She has even gone on a few ride-alongs to really dig deep and be involved in every aspect of public safety. It’s so refreshing to see.

It is true, the flowers in the village are beautiful. However, what is more beautiful is an elected official who has worked on improving the safety of our village for years since day one. I am confident Kathianne will use this experience and institutional knowledge as our mayor to continue making Port Jeff the best it can be.

Keith Ottendorfer

Port Jefferson

Sheprow will bring change

Experience counts, but wisdom counts more. Networks, contacts and vision count more.

Lauren Sheprow brings to our village a wide range of professional management experience, an extensive network of contacts in the village — including myself, Stony Brook University and beyond, and a tradition of resident enfranchisement. She will also bring integrity.

You will need to write in Lauren’s name on June 20, and you will need to write in exactly as prescribed. This, because your current establishment continues its tradition of unfair dealing; this, because your current establishment throws out petitions on technicalities — instead of saying, “Take this back, you forgot something.”

The opposition response? Getting a little scared? Eliminate the competition. We are seeing character assassination in the form of unsigned attacks.

Do you know your village history? Seems a lot like what happened to Mark Lyon when he was trustee. (Mark had made a negative comment on the Lombardi’s renovation to Port Jefferson Country Club, a last-minute leak that cost him his seat.)

I have a lot to say about Port Jefferson, but I say it in signed letters or in an open public forum.

There is much that is not being done and much that needs to change.

Remember our recent code enforcement scandal? It didn’t have to happen. I warned the board of trustees of this. 

We need to look to our future. We are losing 50% of our power plant revenue but we could lose the other 50% starting in 2027.

Decommissioning

It is time to attend to this. Lauren will reach out and bring in people with the networks to address these issues. Conversations with LIPA, PSEG, National Grid and the new public LIPA. Conversations about future technologies — here in Port Jefferson.

LIPA, LIRR, Lawrence Aviation, revenue from solar installation battery storage — here in Port Jefferson. We need to start attending to all of these big issues.

Lauren will bring in the people of Port Jefferson who can make it happen. Lauren will lead.

Bruce Miller 

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is a former Port Jefferson Village trustee.

Is this your village?

It is changing. Is it changing for the better? Behemoth apartments. A code enforcement group that seems out of control.

I put in much time and effort working with the Grassroots Committee to Repower Port Jefferson. The whole community was involved. What happened to that community effort? It seems like little is happening. It seems like it has all been pulled inside the village. All is secret.

The school district and the community are no longer involved. No efforts are being made for a positive economic future. Are we just awaiting taxes doubling? There are alternative sources of tax revenue but they are not being pursued. Ms. Snaden suggests “experience” in her campaign. Experience in what? Our planning department is just a rubber stamp for developers. Code enforcement?

Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency

This committee is giving your tax dollars and services away to multimillionaire developers. Apartment buildings are not “industrial.” Where are the long-term jobs the IDA was designed to create? The first village development on Texaco Avenue was well through the planning process as a private sector investment. The IDA board was scrambling to throw money at this development and win favor with this developer — and future developers — before time ran out and the plans approved.

Uptown is a mess. But why? We have ordinances to ensure decent commercial housing. Were these ordinances ever enforced? Or were these four blocks allowed to deteriorate to give developers greater leverage for more dense development through more dense zoning? (Speaking of dense zoning: Maryhaven? Really?)

Above-ground parking garages? We are looking more like Queens every year.

What’s your comfort level with our current Village Hall? Let us not be intimidated by one joker with an iPhone. Let’s reopen Village Hall to our villagers.

 Remember, Lauren is for the residents.

Molly Mason

Port Jefferson

AHEPA upholds American ideals

Almost exactly 100 years ago, in the summer of 1922, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association was established.

The organization was formed in response to attacks on Greek immigrants by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist and anti-immigrant groups operating across the country. Although now, several generations later, Greeks are successful and well established in American society, to this day AHEPA remains active and continues to promote the best qualities of Ancient Greek society, including philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, integrity, family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism. 

Always faithful to its history, AHEPA was instrumental in the restoration of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, through which millions of immigrants flowed, often with little more than one or two pieces of hand luggage and a dream.

This past weekend, I was invited by AHEPA and the local Greek-American community to be recognized for public service. To receive an award from an organization of this quality was truly humbling, and I am very thankful to the community for its kindness. 

Reflecting on the history of AHEPA, I was reminded that although Greek immigrants ultimately overcame their challenges, successive groups of immigrants continue to face the same fears, the same attacks and the same bigotry.

People rarely leave their native countries and immigrate to the United States because things are going great for them at home. The choice to leave behind their food, language and culture is a painful decision, never taken lightly, and very often in desperation. 

But Lady Liberty doesn’t just open her arms to the wealthy, the gainfully employed and the highly educated. Her invitation extends to “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me” [Emma Lazarus’ famous 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus”].

Fortunately, throughout history there have been those with compassion and courage who have stood up to defend true American ideals. Our nation is a nation of immigrants, and although immigrants sometimes arrive with empty pockets, they have that hustle which helped build America into the amazing land of opportunity it is today. 

I am so proud to know the good people of AHEPA and my many friends within the Greek community who have been a beacon of moral courage, compassionate leadership and democracy not just for 100 years, but for thousands.

Jonathan Kornreich

Councilmember, Town of Brookhaven

Stony Brook

Carlton “Hub” Edwards: an uplifting story

Congratulations to Rita J. Egan and The Village Times Herald for a wonderfully uplifting story on Carlton “Hub” Edwards [“Veteran Stories” series in Arts & Lifestyles section, also TBR News Media website, May 25]. 

A Korean War veteran, he’s been a knowledgeable, affable, active and patriotic fixture in our community for many, many decades.

One of Ms. Egan’s many interesting highlights features Hub unquestioningly trading his baseball glove and local team jersey for the uniform of our United States Army. What people may not know is he made that switch after being drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, who happened to be one of the top three or four Major League teams in 1951.

The pitcher of three no-hitters simply said, “Uncle Sam took first precedence,” feeling even today that the military can provide much-needed discipline for young people.

Whether it’s been Hub’s work at the American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766, his Bethel AME Church or our Three Village Historical Society, the post’s community liaison Joe Bova summed up things perfectly: “He really felt strongly about what his commitment to people should be and that just transferred over to the community he belongs to.”

Talking to Hub or his lovely wife, Nellie, whether it be at the Memorial Day ceremony or during a Frank Melville Memorial Park concert, is both a treat and an enriching experience. Here’s hoping those who haven’t read the article will now take the opportunity to do so.

Jim Soviero

East Setauket

Yes, words do matter

I found the title to Shoshana Hershkowitz’s recent letter on the immigration debacle taking place quite ironic [“Words matter in immigration dialogue,” May 25]. Let’s examine “words matter” for a moment, shall we? 

I wonder if anyone remembers when people were caught entering our country illegally, they were referred to as illegal aliens. That term was legally accurate, yet deemed offensive to progressives. The acceptable words to describe a person in our country illegally then became undocumented immigrant. 

Now, the words (that matter) have become “asylum seeker.” Asylum is defined as protection granted to a political refugee. It was not intended to bypass the legal immigration process for people that want to enjoy all of the benefits of living in the United States. I think honest people can agree that not everyone coming over our border illegally is a political refugee. 

I fully support legal immigration. No one is above the law in the U.S. Once again, the compassion and goodness of the people of this country is being taken advantage of by progressives that created this unprecedented and unsustainable surge. 

I read that Vice President Kamala Harris [D] was supposed to be figuring out the “root cause” of the surge at our border. I have not seen her give an explanation yet. Could it be progressive policies? For example, in New York, politicians declared a sanctuary state and gave out over $2 billion of taxpayer money to noncitizens through the Excluded Workers Fund. Is that an incentive to come here illegally?

Ms. Hershkowitz quoted Kevin McCaffrey [R-Lindenhurst], presiding officer of the county Legislature, stating, “We don’t know who’s coming over.” Is that not a true and fair statement? Ms. Hershkowitz says asking that question implies that asylum seekers are a danger to us. How extremely disingenuous of her. 

Our leaders cannot ask simple, reasonable questions about who enters our country now? Can Ms. Hershkowitz personally vouch for all of these people? In New York City, the mayor was housing some of these people in public school facilities. Our governor is considering using our taxpayer-funded universities to house these people in our neighborhoods, and our elected officials cannot ask any questions without being labeled xenophobic or accused of demonization? 

Seems like Ms. Hershkowitz’s rhetoric is a bit extreme to me. Does constantly labeling people who you don’t agree with politically as evil or dangerous, just for asking questions, bring us together or divide us?

Words matter … indeed.

Charles Tramontana

East Setauket

Open letter to Assemblyman Ed Flood

Dear Assemblyman,

I urge you to vote for the Birds and Bees Protection Act when it comes before you this week. The bill (A7640/S1856A) will protect honey bees and other pollinators from neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids which are having a devastating impact on bees.

You might not be aware, but the original bill was worked on by Maria Hoffman, my wife and longtime state Assembly staffer and local Setauket beekeeper, in response to the massive die-off of bees caused by these new genetically manufactured nerve agents that are coated on corn and soybean seeds and then spread by contact with bees as they forage for nectar and pollen.

You should also know that the bill is very specific and bans only neonic-coated corn and soy seeds and does allow farmers to use locally applied pesticides if their crops are threatened.

Beyond the partisan wrangling of our elected officials that seem to take up so much of government lately, you should know that your Assembly district has a strong environmental leaning by both Democrat and Republican residents of the district. The Birds and Bees Protection Act has strong support districtwide and your constituents will appreciate your leadership on this important bill.

George Hoffman

Setauket

Another Birds and Bees plea to Assemblyman Flood 

How disheartening to think the state environmental bill A7640/S1856A, the Birds and Bees Protection Act, that has the bipartisan support of Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine [R] and other local legislators, may not be supported by our new state legislator Assemblyman Ed Flood [R-Port Jefferson]. 

Maria Hoffman, a local Setauket beekeeper who originally helped formulate this bill, was a steadfast advocate for environmental protection and a dear friend who passed away last year. Many in the community knew and respected Maria.

We are very dedicated to protecting our waterways in this district and wholeheartedly support this bill. Its intent is to protect honey bees as well as all other pollinators from neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. 

These nerve agents are coated on corn, soy and other seeds prophylactically to avoid agricultural pests. They are now widely used by large nurseries as well to avoid pests during transport of stock to local stores. 

There is significant opportunity for misapplication by both farmers and homeowners which leads to residue of these toxins in field margins, local waterways and potentially the produce we eat. Integrated pest management, regulated by the EPA, would still permit farmers to treat threatened crops. 

I urge Mr. Flood to respect the strong environmental leaning of both Democrat and Republican residents of his district. These constituents will value leadership in passing this important bill.

Anne Chimelis

East Setauket

Boating safety is necessary

Thanks to TBR News Media for their timely editorial on boating safety [“Safety key to a successful summer,” May 25].

The sobering facts about boating safety should be of concern to everyone who enjoys the water this year. There is little doubt that the use of a personal flotation device, or life jacket, would have contributed to saving a number of lives lost due to drowning.

There are a number of organizations which offer short courses that provide a New York State boating safety certificate or its equivalent, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons — America’s Boating Club.

Just this past spring, the Mount Sinai Yacht Club, in association with the Suffolk County Police Department, ran a boating certificate course for the general public. These courses give you an opportunity to talk to instructors and get all your questions and concerns answered.

The requirement for all operators of a motorized vessel to have a boating safety certificate is being phased in by age. As of Jan. 1, 2025, every operator of a motorized vessel in New York state waters will be required to have a boating safety certificate or its equivalent.

Beverly Tyler

Certified instructor and past commander

Old Field Point Power Squadron

MTA’s continued staffing, safety failures

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority inspector general’s report on excess employee overtime and safety issues is nothing new for Port Jefferson Branch riders.

Every generation of MTA chairmen, agency presidents, board members, finance officers and executive management who manage agency budgets has made the wrong choice. They believed it would be cheaper to pay overtime than hire additional employees, whose critical specialized skills were necessary for maintaining functioning safe and reliable transportation operations.

They thought it would be less expensive by avoiding the costs of training, full-time salary plus fringe benefits, medical insurance and pensions by not increasing the headcounts of various departments. This has contributed to excessive overtime and potential safety issues.

The LIRR should have the ability to hire more full-time and part-time employees to deal with routine and emergency workloads. This would provide a larger pool of employees resulting in less overtime, excessive and unsafe work hours for employees.

Another option is upon reaching retirement eligibility, allow employees to collect 50% of their pensions while still being able to work part time. MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi should include both in the next round of contract negotiations with SMART Transportation Division 505 Union General Chairman Anthony Simon.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Severe lead poisoning of local swan

We live in Port Jefferson, close to Mount Sinai Harbor. Last Sunday, a swan came to visit us, which was most unusual because they never come up from the harbor. This juvenile looked really sick. We called Lisa Jaeger, who rescues animals, and she trapped the swan and brought him out to the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, where he was diagnosed with severe lead poisoning. The swan may not survive. He will be at the wildlife rescue center for a long time.

Severe lead poisoning? How did this happen? We have learned that duck hunters often use lead shot — even though it’s illegal — and it falls to the bottom of the harbor and gets ingested by swans.

How much lead is sitting at the bottom of the harbor? Are the clams, mussels and oysters that fishermen dig up from the harbor contaminated, too? People kayak and swim here and walk their dogs, and we worry that the dogs could also ingest the lead.

We want Port Jefferson residents to be aware of how our harbor is being polluted. Perhaps we can work together to ensure that no other swans suffer as this juvenile is suffering.

Cynthia Kravitz

Peter Boerboom

Port Jefferson

A sad episode for Smithtown

How ironic it is that those who ran Martine Francois-DePass out of town with their bigoted and hateful social media campaign are themselves Exhibit A for exactly that which they so passionately deny: Namely, that racist discrimination against Black people, far from being a thing of the past, is still very much with us. [See June 1 story, The Times of Smithtown.]

It’s yet another reminder that America in general and Smithtown in particular continue to be far from the ideal of a color-blind society to which we all aspire.

What a missed opportunity. An opportunity to expose Smithtown children to a positive authority figure from a minority background. An opportunity to move the needle on the perception of Smithtown as a community hostile to non-whites. An opportunity to stand up and defeat fear and bigotry. The decision of Ms. Francois-DePass to withdraw from consideration as principal of Smithtown Elementary in the face of a campaign of vilification and hate against her is our loss, not hers.

Does anybody seriously believe that if Ms. Francois-DePass was white, her every word on social media would have been subjected to the same kind of aggressive and invidious scrutiny? Not that there was anything troubling about her social media posts. She supports Black Lives Matter and racial justice. What a surprise. Is that the litmus test? If it is, it amounts to a frankly racist refusal to countenance the hiring of just about any Black person.

One Smithtown parent stood up at a school board meeting and proclaimed that Ms. Francois-DePass was unqualified. What nonsense. She has degrees from Boston University, SUNY Stony Brook and an advanced degree from Fordham. She also has an advanced certificate in educational leadership and administration from Long Island University, experience as a New York City school teacher for 18 years and as an assistant principal here in Suffolk in the Longwood school district for four years.

Another parent posted that he was going to tell his child not to recognize this “piece of trash” and to “disregard any guidance/direction given by this person.” What a great example for his child.

Is this how some parents want to be “involved” in their children’s education? Racism is still very much with us largely because it’s passed down from generation to generation. What a sad, sad episode this is for our Smithtown community.

David Friedman

St. James

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Work by East Setauket Pond Park is expected to be completed by the end of June, according to Brookhaven’s Highway Department.. Photo by Emma Gutmann

By Emma Gutmann

Construction on East Setauket Pond Park has spilled out onto Route 25A and into the town parking lot beside Se-Port Delicatessen.

On weekday mornings and afternoons, one lane at the intersection of Main Street and Gnarled Hollow Road is coned off to accommodate the first phase in the pond park project. 

The work has its roots in the Setauket Harbor Task Force, an environmental not-for-profit organization founded by George Hoffman and Laurie Vetere in 2014. The group’s board shared concern over the contaminated appearance of Setauket Harbor and gathered any information they could find on the historical body of water.

Since other governmental entities handled the greater Port Jefferson Harbor complex, tackled nonenvironmental issues and often worked independently, the task force narrowed its focus on environmental work to ensure Setauket Harbor received the attention it needed.

As a result, former New York State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured a $1 million NYS grant for the Town of Brookhaven “to fund projects aimed to improve water quality in Setauket Harbor and the surrounding watershed,” according to a town press release in 2016. Additional funds have since been acquired with the help of town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook). 

In a phone interview, Hoffman said the two town elected officials are very supportive of the task force and have been instrumental in advancing the pond park project. “Whatever we ask for, they find a way to help us,” he said.

Kornreich reported by email that the following components were recently installed: both water quality units, pipe connections to the units and culvert crossing under the road, the outfall that empties into the pond and three catch basins on Route 25A. Suffolk County Water Authority completed the water main offset necessary to the project’s new installations a month ago.

In an email, town Highway Department PR assistant, Kristen D’Andrea, said she expected an early conclusion to this stage of the work. “The water quality improvement project at East Setauket Pond Park is about 90 percent complete,” she said. “Crews hope to finish by the end of June.” 

In addition to Romaine and Kornreich, Hoffman also credited the project’s success to the support of town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R).

The town’s plans do not stop at clean water conducive to clamming. With each hurdle overcome, the park is a step closer to eventually becoming a centerpiece of the downtown area. 

 As for the work directly in the road, Kornreich said the team still needs to install the last catch basin and restore the sidewalk and road. Conversations with the state Department of Transportation are ongoing to coordinate night work and lane closures. The construction will pause from Friday, May 26, through Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day weekend and the local parade.

In response to drivers inconvenienced by the temporary traffic flow, Hoffman said, “Keep the faith. You’re going to see great improvement in the Setauket Harbor in terms of water quality and it will also help us move forward on a beautiful park that could be there in the next couple of years. If clamming comes back, we’ll have accomplished what we set out to do.”

File photo by Raymond Janis

Support Healthy School Meals for All bill

Every child deserves to be fed, and in a nation as wealthy as ours, no child should go hungry. The April 20 editorial [“Food before football: Long Island’s uphill battle against childhood hunger”] correctly identifies the crisis of child hunger, and how our government is failing to adequately address the issue. There is a legislative answer to this crisis in New York, and it is the Healthy School Meals for All bill. Our state Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul [D] must pass it this year.

The bill ends the policy of means testing, and establishes permanent funding for every child to receive breakfast and lunch at school at no cost. This saves struggling families money on their grocery bills, and eliminates the stigma that may prevent children from utilizing the current program. The cost in New York would be less than 0.01% of the state budget, with $200 million of state dollars supplementing the federal assistance provided to New York. It is estimated that this will provide an additional 726,000 students in New York state access to two meals a day. Currently, one in seven of New York’s children are food insecure, and this disproportionately impacts students of color. 

Children are more than just a test score. If a child is hungry, it is difficult for them to learn, to play and to grow. The Healthy School Meals for All legislation addresses the needs of the whole child, and is economic justice for New York’s children and families. 

This bill is supported by many organizations across the state. Suffolk Progressives, the group I founded, is a proud supporter of the bill, and I encourage others to join the call to reduce child hunger by asking their lawmakers to sign on. I urge constituents to reach out to state Sens. Anthony Palumbo [R-New Suffolk], Dean Murray [R-East Patchogue] and Mario Mattera [R-St. James], and Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio [R-Riverhead], who are not currently listed as co-sponsors of the bill. 

Childhood hunger is not a partisan issue, and all of Long Island’s lawmakers should get behind this legislation. The Legislature must pass Healthy School Meals for All, and Hochul must sign it into law in the 2023 legislative session. New York’s children are depending on it.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

Let’s patronize our local restaurants

Why not patronize your neighborhood restaurants during Long Island Restaurant Week April 23-30 with a wide variety of both two-course lunch and three-course dinner specials all year long.

My wife and I don’t mind occasionally paying a little more to help our favorite restaurants survive. Don’t forget your cook and server. We try to tip 20 to 25 percent against the total bill including taxes. If it is an odd amount, we round up to the next dollar. If we can afford to eat out, we can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take out, we always leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook. It is appreciated. 

The restaurant industry employees include hosts, bartenders, waiters, bus boys, cooks, cashiers, parking valets, wholesale food sellers, distributors and linen suppliers. There are also construction contractors who renovate or build new restaurants.

Our local entrepreneurs work long hours, pay taxes and provide local employment especially to students during the summer. If we don’t patronize our local restaurants, they don’t eat either. Why travel into Manhattan when there are so many great neighborhood restaurants in Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Huntington, Mount Sinai, Northport, Port Jefferson, Selden, Smithtown and Stony Brook?

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Maria’s No Mow May campaign

Sadly, Maria Hoffman passed away in 2022. She was someone who was involved in everything and anything that touched our community — historical preservation, open space protection and environmental issues.

There was no issue too large, or too small, that Maria wasn’t part of — and always achieved with a smile on her face.

Her involvement was done with a quiet style and grace, and while her voice was soft and light, her influence was great.

Anyone who enjoys West Meadow Beach, the Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway, the cultural, historical and art institutions in the area — they all need to give special thanks to Maria’s legacy.

Maria was an avid beekeeper.

She loved her bees and maintained a number of hives.

Her eyes sparkled whenever she spoke about bees — she marveled at their unique abilities and intelligence.

And she was deeply concerned about the declining bee populations across the country.

To honor the legacy of Maria and to protect the bee, butterfly and bird populations, the Three Village Community Trust is kicking off its 1st annual Maria’s No Mow May campaign.

No Mow May is an international movement that first was popularized by Plantlife, an organization based in Salisbury, England. The simple goal of No Mow May is to allow grass to grow during the month of May, creating an important spring habitat for early season pollinators. No Mow May is really easy — do nothing!

Don’t apply any fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides.

While community residents might not want to leave their entire lawn unmown for the month of May, just allowing a small area to be part of No Mow May will make a difference to the environment.

You’re likely to see yard signs saying “ join Maria’s No Mow May campaign throughout the community.

Join the Three Village Community Trust, your friends and neighbors in Maria’s No Mow May. Just like Maria — bee special!

Herb Mones

President, Three Village Community Trust

Eliminating bail reduces recidivism

A recent letter by Jim Soviero [“Dem Albany County DA Soares criticizes bail reform,” April 6] essentially reprints a New York Post op-ed piece by Albany County DA David Soares deriding bail reform. Soviero takes great pains to emphasize Soares’ political affiliation (Democratic) and race (Black).

As I’m sure Soviero would agree, even Democrats can be wrong sometimes. And regardless of Soares’ race, neither he, nor Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, nor even Soviero himself are better equipped to decide what’s best for New York’s African-American community than that community itself. Polling shows that the overwhelming majority of Blacks support policies reducing incarceration. If bail reform is as terrible for the African-American community as Soviero’s crocodile tears seem to suggest, there’s a simple remedy — they can vote out of office their representatives who voted for it. That’s not about to happen. Instead, the voices most stridently denouncing reform are those exploiting the politics of fear and division.

If just jailing people made our streets and communities safer, the United States should be the safest country in the world. After all, we lead the world in incarceration, both absolutely and per capita.

As far as the cherry-picked statistics Soares relies on and Soviero repeats to denounce reform, they’re all wet. A study released this March by John Jay College, the preeminent criminal justice school in the state, shows that the 2020 bail reform law has actually reduced the likelihood of someone getting rearrested. “Fundamentally, we found that eliminating bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies reduced recidivism in New York City, while there was no clear effect in either direction for cases remaining bail eligible,” said Michael Rempel, director of John Jay College’s Data Collaborative for Justice.

All of this obscures the fact that the purpose of bail is for one thing only — to restrain those judged to be a flight risk. It is not to lock up people, sometimes for weeks or months in horrible conditions, who are legally innocent. Unless we are willing to drop the presumption of innocence from our legal system entirely. 

I’m sure that Soviero would agree with me that the recently indicted former president is legally entitled to the presumption of innocence. So why is it that he, who is rich and powerful, is entitled to this, but someone who is poor and powerless is not? I don’t know what to call that, but I certainly wouldn’t call it justice.

David Friedman 

St. James

Editor’s note: We are publishing this letter because it responds to an earlier letter. In the future, we ask that letters mainly speak to local issues.

Local residents toast George Washington’s visit

This past Saturday local residents gathered on the corner of Bayview Avenue, East Setauket, and Route 25A to commemorate the 233rd year of our first president George Washington’s visit to Setauket on April 22, 1790. Several in attendance read excerpts about Washington and his life, including a poem written by ChatGPT on Washington’s trip to the Roe Tavern in Setauket.

As many know, Washington came to Setauket during the first year of his presidency to meet with Capt. Austin Roe who ran a small tavern on what is now Route 25A near East Setauket Pond Park. Though the president’s diary was sparse about the true intentions for his five-day trip to Long Island, many believe it was to thank those who had been part of the Culper Spy Ring that was founded in Setauket and critical to Washington’s success against the British troops and mercenaries encamped in New York City.

This is the second year that local resident Rick McDowell and his brother Ken organized the gathering. They are already planning next year’s commemoration for another rousing cheer to our first president and to the Setauket spies who helped him win the War of Independence from Britain.

George Hoffman

Setauket

May 1 public hearing on Maryhaven is urgent

It’s concerning that a Village of Port Jefferson public hearing on changes to zoning for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property is still scheduled for May 1.

Especially since the follow-up work session on April 25 raised more questions than answers — even for some of the trustees. Further, from what we understand, the Board of Trustees has not even received a formal request from the developers, and the Building Department has no record of any application. So why the rush?

The village attorney argues that having the zoning hearing now allows the village to be proactive when the developers are ready to apply. But this remedy seems more preemptive than proactive because the residents don’t yet have enough information to make an informed decision.

Not only were we not included in any of the prior discussions, but it does not appear that a full due diligence was conducted.

It might be too late to call for the hearing to be postponed. But it’s not too late to request that no binding decisions on Maryhaven be made until residents have a chance to review the facts and, perhaps, propose other options for the property.

In order to get answers, we urge you to come to the public hearing at Village Hall on Monday, May 1, at 6 p.m.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Kathleen McLane, Outreach Officer

Port Jefferson Civic Association

No interest in changing Port Jeff Country Club to a public course

This is an open letter to the editor, to the members of the Port Jefferson Country Club and to the residents of the Village of Port Jefferson.

It has been brought to my attention by several members of the country club that inaccurate messaging is being shared around the course — that as part of my Port Jefferson mayoral campaign platform, I intend to convert the country club to a public municipal golf course, and make golf at the country club free for all residents. At first, I thought it was a joke. Because nothing could be further from the truth. Then when more people started asking me if it were true, I knew I had to address this publicly.

I have no interest or intent in changing the country club to a public course. I hope those who consider voting for me see through this political ruse and know I would never be so reckless or fiscally irresponsible. It will remain a private municipal course, as it always has been from the day Mayor Harold Sheprow acquired it, and as it was established when the decision to buy it was voted upon favorably in 1978 by the residents of Port Jefferson.

I will always support making the club and its restaurant facilities a welcoming and inclusive environment for all residents. Giving memberships away for free does not enter into that equation.

If PJCC members or village residents have questions and would like to personally discuss this or any information that has the appearance of being contrary to what I stand for — see my website www.sheprowformayor.com under the “platform” tab — I can be reached by email at [email protected].

Lauren Sheprow, Trustee

Village of Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is the daughter of former Port Jefferson Mayor Harold Sheprow.

Workers install a water quality unit at East Setauket Pond Park. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Residents passing by East Setauket Pond Park have noticed the area has been fenced off recently.

At the March Three Village Civic Association meeting, Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) updated members on the work being done on the pond. Two water quality units are being installed to capture road runoff, such as sediment and floatables, from Route 25A and interconnected town roads before the debris goes into Setauket Harbor.

In an email, Veronica King, Brookhaven’s stormwater manager, said the project is expected to take approximately two months.

The current and past work at the park has been a result of a $1 million clean water grant for the Town of Brookhaven that former state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured in 2016.

George Hoffman, one of the founders of Setauket Harbor Task Force, said in a phone interview that he was pleased that the units would be finally installed.

“It’s critical to improving water quality in Setauket Harbor,” he said. “The harbor is struggling. We haven’t been able to clam there for 22 years. It’s unsafe to take clams from that harbor, and that’s based on bacteria in the area and a lot of the bacteria comes in through the stormwater.”

He added the filtering of road runoff would also lessen how often the pond has to be dredged.

At the civic meeting, Kornreich also told the attendees that the town recently purchased the property where East Setauket Automotive stands today with the hopes of building a larger park in the future. In a phone interview, Kornreich said the auto and truck repair shop will remain until 2025, and he said the town plans to be sensitive to the needs of businesses surrounding the park.