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Huntington

Parking meters in Northport have been covered to provide free parking in Northport during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parking meter fees have also been waived in Huntington Village. Photo by Bruce Adams

Huntington officials have made some adjustments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Parking meter fees in Huntington village are being waived until further notice to assist the restaurant and business communities. The town will continue enforcement of handicap, fire zone and other safety-related parking violations that interfere with traffic patterns or line of sight.

Huntington Town Hall is closed to the public, and this week’s planning and zoning boarding meetings have been postponed, along with traffic court.

Residents are asked to use the white mailbox outside the main parking lot entrance to Town Hall labeled “Town Hall Mail Only” to drop off mail or paperwork. There is a black mailbox to the right of the main entrance to Town Hall labeled “Tax Payments Only” to drop off tax payments. 

All playgrounds and bathrooms at town parks and beaches are closed until further notice. Parks remain open but all permits for play on town fields are canceled through March 31. Crab Meadow Golf Course and Dix Hills Golf Course are closed until further notice. The town will reevaluate March 27.

The town Senior Center’s Home Delivered Meal Delivery program will change starting Tuesday, March 24. The last day for single hot and frozen meal delivery was Monday, March 23.  Starting March 24, five frozen meals will be delivered on Tuesdays only, and the Senior Center has stopped taking new signups for the program. 

The Senior Center’s Congregate Frozen Meal pickup program will change starting Tuesday, March 24. Five frozen meals will be available for collection at the Senior Center on Tuesdays only for registered seniors between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m. Employees will bring the frozen meals outside. There will be a car lineup for registered seniors to be checked in. 

All Huntington schools remain closed.

Northport

Parking meters in Northport have also been covered to provide free parking.

Town Hall is closed with only essential staff on-site. Much village paperwork can be found and completed online at www.northportny.gov.

The Northport-East Northport Public Library will remain closed until further notice. All late fees are suspended. Residents can return items using the outside book and media returns drop box. 

All Northport-East Northport schools are closed until further notice.

The Huntington-based Main St. Board Game Cafe has had to let staff go in the hopes of surviving. They are still selling board games to-go. Photo from Board Game Cafe Facebook

By Kyle Barr and Leah Chiappino

As Monday rolled around this week, and as local businesses were looking to find ways to attract customers during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, a new order handed down by New York State put most of those considerations on hold.

On Monday, March 16, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) ordered many nonessential businesses to shut down, or in the case of restaurants, to lessen foot traffic and only allow takeout orders and deliveries.

PJ Cinemas has closed due to the state’s coronavirus mandates. Photo from Google Maps

“Our primary goal right now is to slow the spread of this virus so that the wave of new infections doesn’t crash our health care system, and everyone agrees social distancing is the best way to do that,” Cuomo said. “I have called on the federal government to implement nationwide protocols, but in their absence, we are taking this on ourselves.”

New York State, Connecticut and New Jersey will all be limiting social meetings of any sort to 50 people. Movie theaters, gyms and casinos were closed starting at 8 p.m. Monday.

The governor also announced restaurants and bars will be closed to sit down service and would need to refocus on takeout.

PJ Cinemas already announced closure until they, “receive further guidance from state, local and federal authorities.” All ticket sales will stay valid until they reopen.

Local elected officials said the restrictions were due to people’s reports that numerous bars had high activity over the weekend, despite warnings.

“We are discussing ways to make sure that it is enforced,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). “We expect bars and restaurants will comply … by and large we’ve had great compliance from people.”

Businesses and local business groups took the news with a mix of understanding and worry. Most understood the reason why the state has taken such drastic measures but could hardly fathom how this might impact them long term. The change could not just mean shuttered businesses for the next few weeks, but permanent closures.

Jennifer Dzvonar, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, said local businesses are the “lifeblood of the community,” and times such as these require the community to come out in support, whether it’s ordering takeout from restaurants or buying vouchers or gift certificates.

The difficulties will be severe. As people are asked to stay home, some away from work, less will have money to spend. She said service businesses, including plumbers, carpenters and the like, will be hard hit since less have the money to spend.

Jennifer Dzvonar, the PJS/T Chamber president, said local businesses will be hit hard by the state mandates. File Photo

“Businesses need as much positive reinforcement as possible,” Dzvonar said.

She added businesses also often sponsor Little Leagues or other community events, so while the governor’s order is in effect such groups may have to go without for the time being.

Other chamber leaders in the area wrote quickly to members to try and offer assistance. 

Gary Pollakusky, the president of the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce, said he is especially worried about businesses shutting down permanently. 

“When we look at our small businesses as the lifeblood of our communities, we should be focused on our mom and pop shops, more than ever in this time of need,” he said.

Jane Taylor, the executive director of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said restaurants providing takeout meals is a good bridge until business returns to normal, but, “There is no question that our local businesses and restaurants are going to face challenges.” 

Northport Chamber of Commerce President James Izzo says the impact of the restrictions on the village could be devastating.

“Small businesses especially are trying to keep their [employees] paid, and it’s difficult to do that with no money coming in,” he said.

He added most village restaurants are trying to focus on takeout, removing or making their seating inaccessible. Most are trying to deliver food, which can be expensive.

“There’s two sides to this,” Izzo said. “You have some people who are afraid to come out who need food, need to eat and need supplies, and you have other people that want to come down, but everything is so limited. We have bars, but they don’t serve food, and you can’t have more than 10 people in a space, so that’s a done deal.”

Some boutique stores are open, but most are trying to supplement the lack of foot traffic with online shopping.

Izzo said that the village was quiet with minimal traffic Tuesday afternoon, while Sunday was busy with foot traffic.

“You can’t make a living one day a week,” he said. “We are a seasonal community and businesses depend on this time of the year after a long cold dark winter.”

He said the mood in the village is still hopeful, though uncertain.

“This is uncharted territory and everyone is trying to figure it out day by day,” he said.

Merchants are talking about using vehicles owned by the village to deliver meals to those in need. The chamber is working on providing advertising to businesses for free, to promote their delivery services or online products.

Izzo, a real estate broker, says the impact to his business has been minimal, stating most of his work is done online. Open houses have been slower than usual at this time of year, but not completely dead. However, he is anxious to see what this upcoming weekend will bring, in the wake of the new restrictions.

“This is uncharted territory and everyone is trying to figure it out day by day.”

— James Izzo

“A lot can change in six days, we will have to see what happens,” he said.

Copenhagen Bakery and Cafe has had to close its seating but is still open for takeout. The owner,  Flemming Hansen, says that most of the business is in takeout baked goods, and while the number of customers is down, there has been a steady flow of people purchasing breads and soups.

“So far we’re doing alright,” he said. “We’re taking it day by day.”

He added that cake sales have dropped, as people are not having gatherings.

Neil Goldberg, the owner of Main Street Board Game Café in Huntington, said the restrictions have forced him to lay off the entire staff in hopes of buying time.

“Nobody is going to make any money, it’s just about keeping the doors open,” he said.

The cafe’s purpose normally is to be a place where people can come in, socialize and play board games; however, they have had to eliminate all food services, besides prepackaged drinks and are only selling games.

“It’s not worth it for us to turn the ovens on,” he said.

He added the store had some purchases “from people who realize that they’re going to need more entertainment than just watching TV and watching the news.”

The cafe will offer curbside delivery of games and are looking to offer delivery services within a 15-mile radius in the coming days.

Goldberg said the local village businesses are checking in on each other and sharing advice and ideas.

“There’s no plan for this,” he said. “Nobody has insurance for this, because it doesn’t exist, and all you can do is lean on each other and hope things will improve.”

Despite all of this, Goldberg has seen moments of humanity. On Tuesday, former employees came in and bought games to help the shop stay afloat. Then, a mother, who has a son that plays in a game tournament at the shop, bought $1,000 worth of gift cards.

“That was really moving,” he said. 

Goldberg added the best way to support small businesses during this time is to patronize them as much as possible.

“Gift cards are good because, you will eventually use them and you are essentially providing a no-interest loan to the business that you like,” he said. “Honestly, the best thing that you can do is to stay socially distant so we can get through this quicker. Everything that everybody is doing is just Band-Aids at this point to a large problem, and the best thing for businesses is for things to go back to the way they were.”

Meanwhile, federal officials in the House and Senate are considering an aid bill to help workers. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide free testing, extend the unemployment payment period and offer paid sick leave and emergency leave for workers in companies with 500 or less employees. The latter could exempt companies with 50 or fewer employees if that measure would bankrupt the company.

President Donald Trump (R) has called for a $850 billion aid stimulus to major companies such as airlines impacted by the spread of the virus. The White House has also suggested deferring tax payments and even sending home checks to every American to cushion the blow of being out of work. As of press time, details have been sporadic, and the president’s office has flip-flopped on several initiatives already.

The Village of Port Jefferson declared a state of emergency March 16, after both the state and Suffolk County declared theirs. As of Tuesday, March 17, Village Hall and all village-owned facilities are closed to the public. Further board of trustee meetings will be held remotely, along with the budget presentation that was planned for March 30. The executive order only ends after a further order from the village mayor.

“The only thing we can do is ask residents to continue to support the local businesses.”

— Margot Garant

According to Mayor Margot Garant, the executive order allows code enforcement to enforce the new restrictions on businesses. 

“The only thing we can do is ask residents to continue to support the local businesses,” she said, adding those stores are “going to adapt, they will find means to keep those businesses viable.”

Barbara Ransome, the executive director of the PJ village chamber, said the chamber is working on a social media campaign encouraging takeout pickups and deliveries.

With nobody really able to say how long life will be disrupted because of COVID-19, the true consequences of this loss of business are still unknown. 

“My mother always used to say you can live with anything bad as long as you know it’s not long term, or you see it ending,” Ransome said.

Businesses, she said, are all hedging on when that end finally arrives.

By Julianne Mosher

On Sunday, March 8, hundreds of people lined the streets in Huntington Village for the 86th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Led by this year’s grand marshal, the Honorable Judge Jerry Asher, the Ancient Order of the Hibernians kicked off the parade starting on New York Avenue and heading down Main Street. 

The streets were lined with green, with parade watchers celebrating the festivities outside village restaurants and bars. Music played from nearby pipe bands and the marching bands from Huntington and Walt Whitman high schools. The local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops marched alongside a group of dog lovers, whose pups were dressed all in green. 

Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) waved to the crowd as he walked by along with other elected officials. Members of the Order of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia marched in old-fashioned costumes, as they fired shots to the excited crowd, and Irish step dancers performed in the middle of the street.

Along with the performers and politicians, the local fire and police departments marched along, showing off old-fashioned fire trucks and waving to the kids who watched in awe on the sidelines. 

Huntington’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place March 8 with the Honorable W. Gerard Asher leading the way as grand marshal. File photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Julianne Mosher

Decades after moving to Huntington with his family at 13, the Honorable W. Gerard Asher will lead the 86th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Main Street.

Huntington’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place March 8 with the Honorable W. Gerard Asher, above, leading the way as grand marshal.

“Huntington is a great community and it has been for many, many years,” he said.

Known locally as Jerry, the 78-year-old has been a proactive citizen in the town for more than six decades. A graduate of Huntington High School’s class of 1959, Asher was president of the senior class, captain of the championship football team and team captain of the basketball team — hobbies that still interest him today. 

“I like to attend the local high school sporting games,” he said. “I want to show my support because I played when I was a student there.”

Asher married his high school sweetheart, Sylvia, and they have been together for 56 years. He graduated from Princeton University in 1963, Cornell Law School in 1966 and then served two years in the U.S. Army as captain and commander of a Hawk missile battery in Korea.

When Asher came back to Long Island in 1969, he began practicing law with an emphasis in real estate, surrogate law, litigation and sports law for 36 years in Huntington.

“Huntington has great people,” he said. “All of my family still lives here. and I’ve made so many friends throughout the years.”

In 2004, Asher was elected to district court, where he tried numerous criminal matters and was the drug court judge for Suffolk County for two years. In 2010, he was elected justice of the state Supreme Court — a title he held up until he resigned in 2017 at age 76.

“I like to keep working,” he laughed. “I’m semiretired, but I like the idea of having something to do everyday.”

Asher said that throughout his time volunteering and working within Huntington, he was constantly told he should become grand marshal, but wasn’t able to as a sitting judge. 

Now it’s his time to shine. 

“I’m honored to have this bestowed onto me,” he said. “I’m moved by the whole thing, and I’m excited to be the Grand Marshal for the 86th Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

Greg Kennedy, his good friend and past president of Division IV of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, said that Asher was an immediate thought when the past grand marshals meet every year to decide who the next one will be.

“He’s a pillar to the community,” Kennedy said. “He’s someone that you would go to
for advice.”

While holding dozens of honors, titles and participating in plenty of philanthropy, Kennedy said that this is Asher’s time to represent Division IV. 

“It’s his time to lead us proudly down Main Street on March 8,” he said.

The Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade will begin at 2 p.m. in Huntington Village March 8, rain or shine. The parade runs along Route 110 beginning slightly north of Broadway and makes a left on Route 25A to end by St. Patrick’s R.C. Church.

The Bulls of Smithtown West were too much for Huntington to handle where the Bulls won the league III matchup 69-37 at home Jan. 3. Sam Frank led the way for Smithtown West, scoring 16 points followed by Matt Behrens who netted 13. Huntington sophomore topped the scoring chart for the Blue Devils with 11 points and Daniel Danziger banked nine.

The win lifts Smithtown West to 3-0 in league III, and 10-1 overall, while Huntington drops to 0-4.

The Bulls retake the court when they hit the road Jan. 8 to take on top seeded Northport for the league III leader-board. Tipoff is 6:15 p.m.

 

Huntington’s boys basketball team trailed by two after the first eight minutes of play but then the Bulls of Smithtown East dropped the hammer and outscored the Blue Devils by 28 points to put the game away 66-36 in a non-league matchup at home, Dec. 5. Zac Chandler had the hot hand for Smithtown East draining four triples, three field goals andthree3 points from the line to lead his team with 21 points. Jared Borner followed with 12 points and Nick Lardaro added 11.

Huntington seniors Omari Stephen and Daniel Danziger topped the scoring chart for the Blue Devils with 10 points apiece. Huntington has another non-league game at Cold Spring Harbor Dec. 10 before they open league Dec. 12 when they host Harbor Hills East. Game time is 5:45 p.m.

Smithtown East will host Roslyn Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. before their league opener Dec. 12 at home against East Islip. Tipoff is 4 p.m.

Community gathers at the Old First Church in Huntington to celebrate those who have conquered addiction and remembering those who have been lost.

The Town of Huntington Opioid and Addiction Task Force invited residents to join a special program Oct. 28 at the Old First Presbyterian Church in Huntington celebrating those who have conquered addiction and remembering those who have been lost.

 The program, “A Recovery Event: Celebrating Hope in Huntington,” featured first-hand accounts from those who have conquered addiction, information about local prevention, treatment and recovery programs, and a stirring performance by the Old First Church Sanctuary Choir.  Sharon Richmond shared her story about her son Vincent.  The ceremony was dedicated to his honor. (See page A5 for her story.)

 “Huntington, like every other community in America, has been hit hard by the opioid crisis,” said Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), who sponsored the program with the task force. “We created this event to show that there is a cause for hope and that in fact that there are thousands of local residents who have found a path to recovery,”

The event drew more than 100 people to the Old First Church. A highlight of the evening was a candlelight circle to celebrate, honor and remember those who were lost as a result of their addiction.

Created by a town board resolution in December 2017, the Opioid and Addiction Task Force includes local health care professionals, educators and community leaders. It works to unify, support and strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts within the town. Its goals include reducing the incidence of substance abuse, promoting timely access to care for consumers and their families, creating environments conducive to recovery and reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorders.

“Many of our families have been greatly affected — their lives changed forever after losing a loved one to addiction,” Cuthbertson said. “We know that substance abuse is preventable, addiction is treatable and recovery works.”

The town is hanging resource information posters around town.

“Somebody is waiting for you to come to them,” said Stephen Donnelly, who has sponsored different opioid services in the past. He encourages people to ask people impacted:  “How can I help you?”

For Treatment Referral List contact the 24/7 hotline 631-979-1700. Help is a phone call away.

Photo by Donna Deedy 

Huntington Co-Captain Holly Wright takes a shot on goal in a road game against Comsewogue Oct. 12. Photo by Bill Landon

The Comsewogue field hockey team’s game Oct. 12 was scoreless after 60 minutes of regulation, forcing the Warriors into a shootout against the visiting Blue Devils of Huntington. Lauren LoScalzo and teammate Anna Wickey settled it for the Blue Devils besting the Warriors 2-1 in the shootout to snatch the victory.

The win lifts Huntington to 5-7 in league with two games remaining before post season play begins.

Comsewogue drops to 4-7 and are back in action Oct. 15 on the road against Lindenhurst before their final game of the regular season at home two days later on senior night. Game time is 6 p.m.

Huntington set themselves up against Sachem East Oct. 15 at home game time at 4 p.m. They will be back at it hosting Riverhead Oct. 17 with game time set for 4 p.m.

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. 

Lupinacci and Sorrentino discuss vandal issue at Sunshine Acres.

On Tuesday, Sept. 3, Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) denounced the painted anti-Semitic graffiti vandals left at Sunshine Acres Park on Townline Road in Commack over the holiday weekend and urged residents to report suspicious activity and instances of hate to the Town.

 “The swastika is a symbol meant to threaten and intimidate and this demonstration of hate will not be tolerated in the Town of Huntington,” said Lupinacci, who visited the park on Monday, Sept. 2 to be briefed by Director of General Services Andre Sorrentino, whose staff temporarily painted over the graffiti with green paint on a paved path over the Labor Day holiday weekend until they would be able to permanently seal coat the area.

 They were joined by Public Safety security guard Dan Froehlich, who was patrolling the trail in the park and informed the supervisor that he has personally broken up groups of young people loitering in the park.

“Our Department of Public Safety is ramping up foot patrols at the park and I urge our residents to stay vigilant and report suspicious activity in our parks to the Department of Public Safety and suspected instances of hate to the town’s Anti-Bias Task Force,” said Lupinacci.

The Department of Public Safety reported the hate crime to the Suffolk County Police Department, which is standard protocol. Suspicious or illegal activity in town parks can be reported to the Department of Public Safety to investigate at www.huntingtonny.gov/public-safety or the 24-hour emergency hotline, 631-351-3234.

The Security Division of the Department of Public Safety is responsible for the daily patrol of 77 town facilities, consisting of buildings, properties, beaches and parks, as well as railroad stations and surrounding parking facilities located within the town. The town’s Park Rangers are New York State Certified Peace Officers tasked with keeping the general public order and protecting town parks, beaches and other facilities.

Residents can report instances of hate or bias to the town’s Anti-Bias Task Force through their Department of Human Services liaison, Director Carmen Kasper at humanservices@huntingtonny.gov or at 631-351-3304.