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Jonathan Kornreich

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Three Village Civic Association president and school district board trustee Jonathan Kornreich announced he is running for Brookhaven Town Council in a special election in March. Photo from candidate

One of the names on the ballot for a special election in Brookhaven March 23 is a familiar one to many Three Village residents.

Kornreich, left, with former Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and town Supervisor Ed Romaine at a 2017 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

With the Town of Brookhaven Council District 1 seat vacant, after Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) won her run as a judge for the Supreme Court of the State of New York, the town called for a special election. While the Republican candidate has not yet been officially named, Jonathan Kornreich has been announced as the Democrat in the race. Kornreich has been a Three Village Central School District trustee for more than a dozen years and is president of the Three Village Civic Association.

When he first heard Cartright was vacating the seat, he said he didn’t even think of running.

“A few people contacted me, and they were like, ‘What are you doing?’ Kornreich said. “So, I agreed to think it over.”

He added the argument many made to him was that it would allow him to continue doing the work he has been doing through the years, but more effectively. Although he had considered a run for the seat in the past, it had been many years since he had considered entering politics.

“I just have been focused on doing the work,” he said.

Kornreich said he feels his experience as both a board of education trustee and a civic president will be an asset to the position as he regularly interacts with residents and listens to their concerns.

“Over the years, having been a civic president for so many years and being involved in the community as a school board member, I’ve just learned how to serve the public, and how to listen, so it’s not going to be a hard adjustment for me,” he said. “I’m used to hearing from people.”

The 51-year-old, who lives in Stony Brook with his wife, Linda, and his two daughters, first became involved with school boards when his children attended the North Shore Montessori School in Stony Brook.

“It was important for me to be involved in their education so I got very active in their school, and eventually I joined the board of the Montessori school,” he said. “Soon after that I became the president of that board, and that’s where I really got my start in civic involvement.”

When his children left to attend school in the Three Village district, Kornreich said he decided to run for its school board in 2008. While he will take a leave of absence from his role in the Three Village Civic Association, he plans to continue with the school board.

A lifetime Long Islander, he grew up in Hauppauge and graduated from the local high school in 1987. He went on to study at SUNY Albany where he majored in English and minored in philosophy. After graduating from college, he developed an entrepreneurial spirit and started up a pool business that he ran for 20 years before selling it. He then transitioned into construction and real estate. Through the years, in addition to the pool business, he has started a computer company, an importing company and has invested in a restaurant in Thailand and a farm in Cambodia.

Kornreich said during his years of community involvement he has worked with Cartright regularly.

“What I admire was her ability to bring stakeholders together, and just make sure that everyone was heard,” Kornreich said. “Even if she didn’t agree with them, she always made sure that everyone felt heard.”

He added he never wants constituents to be frustrated with their representation, and he feels it’s important for all residents to be given the opportunity to be heard as Cartright did.

“I think that a lot of the issues that we face in the town, there’s no Republican or Democrat way to conduct town business. And I think that a lot of those national issues don’t really come into play — they don’t apply.”

— Jonathan Kornreich

“It’s time consuming and it can be difficult, but you have to go slowly and give people a chance to weigh in on things,” he said.

Kornreich said it’s important to continue the work that Cartright started including making sure the ideas gathered from area residents a few years ago for the Route 25A Three Village Area Visioning Report are implemented, and a similar study for redeveloping Upper Port Jefferson is continued. He said planning is important for the future of the district, especially regarding keeping each area’s personality.

“To maintain that sense of place is a result of planning,” he said. “In the Three Village area, for example, the 25A area is clearly in need of redevelopment. It’s not all that it could be, and I think it doesn’t have the kind of amenities that people in this community expect.”

He gave the example of the East Setauket Pond Park area, which once was a traditional waterfront where residents could see boats.

“But now it’s all overgrown with weeds, and in that park, you can’t really see out,” he said. “There’s buildings there that are vacant and have been vacant for years, and that’s an area that really needs to be redeveloped. And, I don’t mean to build buildings, I mean that’s a good place for public spaces, for parks, for preservation.”

He said Upper Port, with access to Route 347 and having a Long Island Rail Road station, is an example of where a vibrant, walkable downtown area can be developed.

“That’s a place where it’s OK to build buildings and have a nice walkable downtown area with affordable housing,” he said. “A place where young people can live and seniors, and have shops and that feeling of being in a place. There’s a lot of opportunities for that in the Upper Port Jefferson Station area.”

If elected, Kornreich — as with Cartright — will be the only Democrat on the Town Board, but he said with his work with the civic and school district, he has worked with elected officials from different parties.

“I think that a lot of the issues that we face in the town, there’s no Republican or Democrat way to conduct town business,” he said. “And I think that a lot of those national issues don’t really come into play — they don’t apply.”

He said he’s worked frequently with town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), and he admires Romaine’s respect for the environment.

“From what I’ve seen of the other people on the Town Council, their hearts are in the right place,” the candidate said.

In addition to working with those on the town level through the years, Kornreich has worked with elected officials on the county, state and federal levels, and said he has a good working relationship with many of them. He said when residents come into an elected official’s office, many don’t know if the issue falls under town, county or state jurisdiction.

“They don’t need to, because as an elected official, if someone has a problem with their road or with this or that, they don’t care,” Kornreich said. … “They want to know: ‘Who do I talk to, how do I get this problem fixed?’ … So, having those relationships — I just want to be able to help people solve problems.”

Ward Melville High School. Photo by Greg Catalano

By Andrea Paldy

Three Village residents said “yes” to the proposed $215 million budget for the 2019-20 school year Tuesday.

The usually sparsely attended meeting to certify the budget vote drew a number of parents, students and community members who wanted to voice concerns about a possible staffing change in health and athletics.

As expected, incumbent Jonathan Kornreich and newcomer Vinny Vizzo, who ran uncontested for two school board seats, were elected for three-year terms. 

Of the 2,087 votes cast, 1,559 voted in favor of the budget and 528 voted against it. 

Next year’s budget stays within the 2.53 percent cap on the maximum allowable tax levy increase and requires no cuts to programs or staffing for budgetary reasons, district officials have said.

Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services, discusses the proposed 2019-20 school district budget at the April meeting. Photo by Andrea Paldy

The $158.9 million tax levy makes up the bulk of the district’s revenue. Funding from the state, which includes building aid, is $46.6 million. State aid, not including money for capital improvements, increased by $287,729. Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services, said this is consistent with the 0.8 percent average increase in aid since 2009. 

The district will earn about $6.2 million in revenue from other sources such as tuition from school districts whose students attend Three Village schools, school-age child care and other district-run programs and enrichment. A sum of $3 million from the district’s fund balance account has also been budgeted as revenue.  

A new source of revenue in the coming year will be Patriots Plus, a tuition-based, half-day enrichment program to extend the day for students who attend the district’s free prekindergarten — also half-day. With a fee of $500 a month, the program will be self-sustaining, Carlson said.  

The prekindergarten curriculum, currently offered at Nassakeag Elementary, will expand to all five of the district’s elementary schools in the fall, at no additional cost to the district.

Next year, Three Village will also add a sixth-grade guidance counselor to circulate among the five elementary schools, and the high school will offer a new musical theater class.

Potential changes to staffing are the result of enrollment and student requests, Carlson said. Even so, changes would be small — possibly a reduction of two full-time equivalents at the elementary level and two to three FTEs at the secondary level, he said.

School board

Kornreich, chair of the school board’s audit committee, has been a trustee since 2008. “I’m appreciative to have the opportunity to represent the community and am looking forward to working with a board that puts the needs of children first,” he said Tuesday night. 

Earlier this year Vizzo, after 34 years as a teacher and administrator in the district, retired from his position as principal of R.C. Murphy Junior High School. When he officially begins his term on the board this July, he will assume the seat vacated by Angelique Ragolia. 

“In my new role as board trustee, I look forward to working with my board colleagues to sustain the excellence of our district and will continue to advocate for all students,” he said in an email.

Administration

While attendees of Tuesday’s meeting awaited the election results, parents, coaches, students and alumni gathered to speak on behalf of Peter Melore, executive director health, physical education, recreation & athletics for the district. They expressed concern that he may not be returning to his position next year. 

Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said in a statement, “We certainly value and respect the feedback of our community. However, we are unable to comment on personnel issues.”

In other news, Karen Mizell was named the principal of Setauket Elementary School, and Deana Rinaldi Spanos was appointed as assistant principal of the school.

Three Village budget vote is May 21. File photo by Greg Catalano

When Three Village residents vote for the school budget next week, they will see a familiar name on the ballot for board of education trustee.

Vinny Vizzo

Vinny Vizzo, a 34-year veteran of the Three Village Central School District, is running for the first time for trustee alongside current board member Jonathan Kornreich. They are running unopposed for two three-year seats. Vizzo is vying for the seat left empty by Angelique Ragolia who decided not to run this year.

Vizzo, the recently retired R.C. Murphy Junior High School principal, said that running for school board is an opportunity to give back as a member of “the community that I’ve loved for so many years, that gave so much to my children and to me. This is my home.”

The 65-year-old father of two Ward Melville graduates and his wife of 41 years moved to the Three Village area in 1988.

“What we have in Three Village is very unique,” Vizzo said during a phone interview.

As a teacher and an administrator in the district, he said he valued the “excellent working relationship” between administrators, teachers and the school board whose number one goal was to provide the best education to Three Village students.

Now assistant superintendent for the Diocese of Rockville Centre department of education, Vizzo hopes to add an educator’s perspective to the Three Village school board and serve as another resource to clarify and answer questions about mandates, school programs, language study or testing, he said.

While many in the community know Vizzo in his most recent role at Murphy, he started in the district in 1985 as a Spanish teacher at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, where he built its theater program. He went on to serve as foreign language chair at both junior highs before becoming Murphy’s assistant principal and then principal.

A longtime Spanish teacher at Suffolk County Community College, Vizzo has also held positions as the president of the local administrators’ union and vice president of the Nassau and Suffolk County Administrators Association.

Jonathan Kornreich

Kornreich, 49, who is running to retain his seat, first joined the board in 2008. He is chair of the audit committee and has also served as board vice president.

“It’s been gratifying to serve alongside a cohesive group of men and women,” Kornreich wrote in an email.

He pointed to the development of district security protocols as an important example of fruitful collaboration between the board and the administration. In his coming term, he hopes to continue to investigate the possibility of later start times for secondary schools, continue the development of the district’s business and entrepreneurial training and see foreign language instruction begin in earlier grades.

Kornreich runs a property management and investment company and sits on the corporate board of a biotech device manufacturer.  He is president of the Three Village Civic Association and was also vice president of the Suffolk County Boys and Girls Club. Kornreich and his family have lived in the Three Village area since 2005. His two daughters attend Three Village schools.

2019-20 Budget

The district has proposed a $215 million budget for the 2019-20 school year. This is a 2.51 percent increase over last year’s budget — the result of contractual salary increases, utilities and a 2 percent hike in insurance costs, Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services, said last month.

Even so, the budget stays within the 2.53 percent cap on the tax levy increase without cuts to programs. State aid to the district increased by about 0.8 percent, or $287,729, for a total package of $34.7 million, Carlson said.

New initiatives for the fall include the addition of a sixth-grade guidance counselor to be shared at the five elementary schools and a musical theater class at Ward Melville.

Three Village will also introduce a fee-based, prekindergarten enrichment program, Patriots PLUS, to supplement the district’s free half-day prekindergarten curriculum. The tuition for the self-sustaining enrichment program is $500 a month. The prekindergarten curriculum, currently offered at Nassakeag, and the Patriots PLUS enrichment program will be available at each of the elementary schools in the fall.

An additional source of revenue comes in the form of tuition for the district’s special education programs. Due to declining enrollment, Three Village has been able to offer empty seats in special education classrooms and at the Three Village Academy to students from other districts. These districts pay tuition — about $80,000 per student, an amount set by the state — to Three Village. In the 2019-20 school year, the district will see about $3 million in revenue from prekindergarten enrichment and non-resident tuition, Carlson said.

The budget vote will take place at the district’s three secondary schools Tuesday, May 21, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Residents zoned for Arrowhead, Minnesauke and Nassakeag elementaries will vote at Ward Melville High School; residents zoned for W.S. Mount will vote at Murphy Junior High and those zoned for Setauket will vote at Gelinas Junior High.

Minnesauke principal

The board approved the appointment of Nancy Pickford, current Nassakeag Elementary School assistant principal and prekindergarten coordinator, to the post of Minnesauke Elementary School principal. Pickford, who joined the district in 2016, will take over for Brian Biscari, who will be the new principal at Murphy Junior High. Both begin their positions on July 1.

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Gene Mundie, president of the Kids Clubhouse of Suffolk, often joined the children for pizza parties. Photo from Julie Watterson

By Rita J. Egan

With the passing of Gene Mundie Feb. 21, the Three Village community has lost a generous resident who has helped countless students reach their highest potential, according to friends.

Mundie was an assistant dean at the Stony Brook School of Nursing at Stony Brook University as well as the president of the nonprofit organization Kids Clubhouse of Suffolk Inc. in Port Jefferson Station. He graduated from Hazleton Senior High School in Pennsylvania before beginning a career in nursing, according to the obituary on the O.B. Davis Funeral Home website. He earned degrees from Bellevue School of Nursing, Pennsylvania State University, Columbia University and Stony Brook University.

Lee Anne Xippolitos, dean of Stony Brook School of Nursing, said Mundie was the director of staff development when Stony Brook University Hospital first opened, and nearly 20 years ago, started working at the School of Nursing full time.

In 1980, Mundie became her mentor and friend when she was a student and he was her preceptor. Xippolitos described him as a generous person and humanitarian.

“He was a mentor. He was a leader. He was the nicest person you will ever meet.”

— Julie Watterson

“He was an individual who was constantly involved with furthering the — not just the education — but the livelihood if you will, the success of kids,” she said. “He was constantly involved with helping young people succeed. That was his theme.”

Xippolitos said she remembers when Mundie discovered an SBU student living out of a car and helped the student find a place to live.

He set up the Gene Mundie Endowment Fund for students of the School of Nursing. Xippolitos said in the past the interest on the principle of the endowment was awarded to a student to assist with tuition, but recently Mundie embellished the fund with the hopes that a full scholarship would be awarded each year.

Jonathan Kornreich, vice president of the Kids Clubhouse, formerly known as the Boys & Girls Club of Suffolk County, has been on the board with Mundie for eight years. He said 40 years ago Mundie was one of the founders of the organization, which provides an affordable after-school program in Port Jefferson Station for children in the Comsewogue School District and Setauket area as well as a summer camp. Kornreich said Mundie was a down-to-earth, dedicated, passionate individual.

“Caring for kids and trying to provide positive experiences — supportive kind of environments for them — especially after school has been a lifelong passion of his,” Kornreich said.

Julie Watterson, executive director of Kids Clubhouse of Suffolk, said when she started two years ago, Mundie took her under his wing.

“I don’t think there are enough synonyms in the thesaurus for kindness, generosity,” she said. “He was a mentor. He was a leader. He was the nicest person you will ever meet.”

“I’ve known Gene all these years, and I don’t think I ever once heard him say anything negative about a person or a place.”

— Lee Anne Xippolitos

Watterson said Mundie always attended the not-for-profit’s annual gala in April, golf outings, and would bring his friends to the fundraising events. She said when the clubhouse would have pizza parties with the kids, Mundie would sit and ask them what they liked and what they would like to see at the clubhouse.

“Without him I don’t think we would have survived as many years,” Watterson said. “Between his fundraising efforts and generous contributions, as well as his leadership, he’s really guided us into what we now have as Kids Clubhouse of Suffolk.”

Xippolitos said Mundie leaves behind a great legacy.

“I’ve known Gene all these years, and I don’t think I ever once heard him say anything negative about a person or a place,” she  said. “He always saw the silver lining in a situation. He always had five different ways to solve a problem. He was a real positive, upbeat kind of person.”

Mundie was also involved with The Ward Melville Heritage Organization and the Walk for Beauty for breast cancer research, according to his obituary.

Mundie was the son of the late James J. and Priscilla I. (née Smith). Mundie is survived by his siblings Carole Horlacher, Priscilla Mundie, Sally Russo, the Rev. Melvin Mundie, Maryellen Sims, Judith Mundie, Clare Rossi and David Mundie. His brother James Mundie Jr. and sister June Mundie Moylan predeceased him. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, family members and friends.

Services were held at O.B. Davis Funeral Home in Port Jefferson Station Feb. 24. Interment followed at St. John’s United Church of Christ Cemetery in Pennsylvania.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Mundie’s memory may be made to either the Kids Clubhouse of Suffolk Inc., 324 Jayne Blvd., Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776; or Stony Brook School of Nursing, Health Sciences Center, 101 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook, NY 11794.

Local community leaders joined Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright at a press conference Oct. 24 to announce the completion of a 25A visioning report. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Route 25A in the Three Village area is one step closer to getting a makeover thanks to the collaborative efforts of residents, business owners, civic leaders and local lawmakers.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) held a press conference at The Stony Brook School Oct. 24 to announce the completion of the Route 25A Three Village Area Visioning Report. The town board is expected to vote unanimously for the report at the Oct. 26 town board meeting. The next step for changes in the area will be land use studies followed by public hearings.

“The visioning document that we’re going to be putting forward at the town board meeting on Thursday offers thoughts and ideas for improving traffic and pedestrian safety, creating and maintaining a more cohesive architecture and visual aesthetic while enhancing the existing public open spaces,” Cartwright said. “It is this type of community-based planning that we need to continue to do, and it is that work product that will be presented on Thursday, and I’m proud to be the sponsor of that resolution.”

In 2016, Romaine and Cartright co-sponsored a land use resolution which led to the Brookhaven Town Department of Planning, Environment and Land Management authorizing the creation of a land use study and plan regarding the state highway.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine shows the Route 25A Three Village Area Visioning Report at an Oct. 21 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“This report is step one but it’s an important step,” Romaine said. “It lays out the future of the 25A corridor. From this step will come land use decisions that will be put before the entire town board regarding the future of 25A, and this could not have happened without the hard work of Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and the hard work of the citizens who participated starting with the two co-chairpersons Jane Taylor and George Hoffman.”

In addition to being co-chairs of the Citizens Advisory Committee, Hoffman is vice president of the Three Village Civic Association and Taylor is assistant head of The Stony Brook School. Romaine and Cartright also thanked the representatives from local community groups who attended the press conference and were involved in the visioning process.

The supervisor and councilwoman also thanked The Stony Brook School where community forums were held. The meetings gave residents and business owners the opportunity to discuss improvements they would like to see along the corridor from the Smithtown/Brookhaven town line to the Poquott Village line. Listening to constituents’ concerns about the area is something Cartright said she has done since she took office, and she is optimistic about the future of 25A in the Three Village area, where she said residents love the historic, main street feeling and charm.

Hoffman said after a shaky start in 2013 the councilwoman was “influential and instrumental in kind of jump starting the planning process for Route 25A again.”

Romaine asked the co-chairs to present the report at the Oct. 26 meeting. Taylor said she was pleased with the results of the report that will provide the town board with a “road map” for future planning along the state road.

Local community leaders joined Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright at a press conference Oct. 24 to announce the completion of a 25A visioning report. File photo

“I was absolutely overwhelmed, when we began this process, about the excitement of being able to vision ahead maybe 20 or 30 years, when many of us won’t be here anymore, and the participation of the committee members to make that happen and to share their thoughts,” Taylor said. “And, sometimes we had varying opinions but we would all come together and the purpose was the vision of what we want to see for our community.”

President of the Three Village Civic Association Jonathan Kornreich was in attendance at the press conference. He said like many group leaders and residents he appreciated the opportunity to contribute ideas at the meetings.

“Planning for the future of the community is one of the primary goals of the civic association and it’s really our main focus,” he said. “I’m very appreciative of the work that Jane and George did, and I am especially appreciative for the leadership of Valerie and Ed.”

Romaine put the lengthy 25A visioning process into perspective.

“Society grows great when old men plant trees,” Romaine said, quoting an ancient Greek proverb. “We planted some trees here, and not all of us may see it to fruition, but this is something that speaks to the quality of this community and the people that live in it and the desire to ensure that this community remains, not unchanged, but the same type of a community that it is now 20 or 30 years from now.”

Residents will be able to review the report on the town’s website after it is presented at www.brookhavenny.gov.