Tags Posts tagged with "Kathy Hochul"

Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul announces $479 million in grants for water infrastructure projects. Photo courtesy the Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

As on any other weekday, traffic buzzed along Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Hauppauge on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 12. Yet unknown to those in their vehicles, it was no ordinary weekday.

At the Suffolk County Water Authority’s Education Center and Laboratory, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) joined public officials, environmentalists and SCWA staff to launch $479 million in grants statewide to invest in clean water.

The program earmarks $30 million for the state’s clean water septic system replacements, directing $20 million of that sum into Suffolk County. Another $17 million will support protecting drinking water from emerging contaminants, Hochul added.

The governor projected the initiative would spur 24,000 new jobs statewide and save ratepayers $1.3 billion annually.

“This is a great day for the people of this county and the people of this state,” she said. “It’s an investment in our environment. It’s an investment in justice. And it’s an investment in our future for all of our children.”

From left, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone; Gov. Kathy Hochul; Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment; and Suffolk County Water Authority board chair Charlie Lefkowitz. Photo courtesy the Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Outgoing Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) reported that 360,000 homes and businesses within the county operate on aging septic systems and cesspools, contaminating the sole-source aquifer on Long Island. He said this stimulus, coupled with a $10 million investment by the county Legislature, would enable the county government to fund septic replacements in 2024 and 2025.

“This is an exciting moment because we can see the path to solving the crisis,” Bellone said, adding the funds would bolster the clean water septic industry in Suffolk while advancing the administration’s two primary objectives of establishing a countywide wastewater management district and the Clean Water Restoration Fund — blocked by the county Legislature earlier this year.

SCWA board chair Charlie Lefkowitz said the funds would assist the public utility in its mission of eliminating emerging contaminants from the drinking supply.

“This announcement today is historic,” he said. “It’s historic that the sewer projects, the septics that contaminate and get into our bays and streams and harbors — we can finally address it.”

He added, “We look at some of these large infrastructure projects that we’re working on — sewer projects, the electrification of the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Jeff Branch — these are projects that when you look back 100, 150 years and none of us are here, they’ll say, ‘That group of people really did it the right way.’”

Link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2sbdtzM4DGXutANVleYdS7?si=ai8VPxiXQ3G7e9E2YgLevQ

Join us as Governor Kathy Hochul brings big bucks for clean water initiatives, tackling outdated septic systems in Suffolk County. Port Jefferson celebrates 60 years as an incorporated village, and we explore the grand opening of a regional veterans museum in Rocky Point. Turn the page with us for a quick dive into the week’s top stories on The Pressroom Afterhour: Keeping it Local with TBR.

Visit tbrnewsmedia.com to read these stories and more. Follow us on:

Suffolk County Executive-elect Ed Romaine condemns the Clean Slate Act, which Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law last week. Photo by Raymond Janis

A new state law has public officials from Suffolk County up in arms.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed the Clean Slate Act on Thursday, Nov. 16, which allows certain criminal records to be sealed years after an individual is sentenced or released from incarceration. The law automatically seals certain criminal records after a required waiting period — three years after conviction or release from jail for a misdemeanor and eight years after conviction or release from prison for a felony — if the criminal has maintained a clean record, is no longer on probation or parole and has no other pending charges.

The legislation still provides access to sealed records “for certain necessary and relevant purposes,” such as law enforcement, licensing or employment for industries requiring a background check, employment in jobs interacting with children, the elderly or other vulnerable groups and application for a gun, commercial driver’s license and public housing.

The state Assembly passed the bill in June 83-64, with the Senate also upvoting the measure 38-25. In a signing ceremony, Hochul referred to the bill as a means for creating jobs and deterring recidivism among convicted felons.

“My number one job as the New York State governor is to keep people safe,” she said. “And I believe that the best anti-crime tool we have is a job.”

She added, “When people have steady work, they’re less likely to commit crimes and less likely to be homeless.”

New York becomes the 12th state to enact Clean State legislation, according to the governor’s website.

Homegrown opposition

State and local officials joined first responders and crime advocates outside the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association headquarters in Brentwood on Friday morning, Nov. 17, blasting the measure as out of touch with the needs of residents.

Suffolk County Executive-elect Ed Romaine (R) acknowledged that there are cases in which records should be sealed but suggested these matters should be considered on a case-by-case basis and determined through the court system instead of the legislative process.

“I think it should be up to the judges,” he said. “I don’t think [sealing criminal records] should be automatic. I think this bill is not the right thing to do, and I think it does weaken the criminal justice system.”

New York State Sen. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) reiterated Romaine’s sentiments: “A clean slate, carte blanche for everyone — that’s just plain dangerous.”

State Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) said that while he believes in second chances for convicted criminals, the bill exempts only a “small list” of criminal offenders.

“It doesn’t take into account nearly all the types of egregious crimes that impact so many victims, their families and our entire community,” he said. “Manslaughter, armed robbery, terrorism offenses, hate crimes … these are cases where there’s been due process, where there’s been convictions and sentencing.”

The state assemblyman added, “In these kinds of very troubling times, employers, employees, victims, families, neighbors and community members … all have the right to know.”

State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) said the bill would exacerbate the conditions of the opioid epidemic, expunging the criminal records of drug dealers who continue trafficking opioids throughout the county. He said financial criminals, such as Ponzi schemers and elder scammers, receive similar protections under the new law.

“People are entitled to a second chance, but it shouldn’t be us legislators doing this,” he said. “It should be through the judicial system.”

To learn more about the Clean Slate Act, please visit assembly.state.ny.us/cleanslate.

New York State Sen. Mario Mattera speaks out against the state’s ban on gas-powered stoves, furnaces and propane heating during a rally in Hauppauge Wednesday, Oct. 18. Photo by Raymond Janis

New York State’s ban on natural gas is coming under fire.

Dozens of public officials, union workers and policy advocates rallied outside the Perry B. Duryea Jr. State Office Building in Hauppauge Wednesday morning, Oct. 18, protesting the state’s recent ban on natural gas, slated to take effect on Dec. 31, 2025.

News Flash:

Generated by ChatGPT, edited by our staff

  • Protest against New York State’s natural gas ban: Public officials, union workers and policy advocates rally against New York State’s ban on natural gas, expressing concerns about its impact on jobs, energy prices and the economy.
  • Legal challenge to the ban: Plaintiffs in the Mulhern Gas Co. v. Rodriguez lawsuit argue that the ban violates federal law, specifically the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
  • Calls for realistic energy approaches: Opponents of the natural gas ban advocate for a balanced and diversified energy portfolio, highlighting the challenges of transitioning to an all-electric system.

During the rally, attendees chanted, “We need a plan, not a ban.”

This natural gas provision was included in this year’s fiscal year budget, passed by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in May.

The law bans gas-powered stoves, furnaces and propane heating, encouraging using climate-friendly appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves in new residential buildings. It also requires all-electric heating and cooking in new buildings shorter than seven stories by 2026 and for taller buildings by 2029.

New York State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James), ranking member on the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, offered several objections to the natural gas ban, fearing the measure would trigger layoffs and hiring freezes, spike energy prices and exacerbate the region’s unaffordability crisis and overtaxed electrical grid.

“We know that this is going to hurt not just our homeowners but our economy,” Mattera said. “We are here today to say stop with this unrealistic ban and come together to create a realistic plan.”

Those gathered Wednesday strongly supported the plaintiffs in Mulhern Gas Co. v. Rodriguez, who seek to invalidate the ban on the legal grounds that the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act preempts the state law.

“New York State’s law violates the United States Constitution,” said Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer (D), who is also affiliated with the Plumbing Contractors Association of Long Island, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “This law that was passed and signed is unconstitutional. So that means it’s an opportunity to go back to the drawing board.”

New York State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Smithtown) endorsed a more diversified energy portfolio for Long Island to meet the demands of today’s modern economy. While he expressed support for promoting alternative energy sources, he suggested these alternatives are still not yet economically viable to stand alone.

“Consumers are not ready for what the radical environmentalists have planned for us,” the assemblyman said. “People want to turn on the electricity or turn on that gas and cook a nice meal for their families. They can’t do it all-electric.”

State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) said Long Island’s electrical grid cannot handle an electric-only transition. He noted the potential dangers of an electric-only energy economy, pointing to frequent outages due to downed trees and storms. “If we don’t have an alternate means of powering our homes, people are going to get hurt,” he warned.

Union leaders from across industries spoke out in opposition to the natural gas ban. Richard Brooks, business manager for Plumbers Local 200, referred to natural gas as “an essential transitional fuel that will help our nation as we move to greener energy sources.”

“New York’s natural gas ban will unnecessarily hurt New York workers by removing our members’ jobs at a time when we are already leading the nation in the expansion of alternative energy for New York residents,” he added.

To view a recording of the entire rally, visit www.facebook.com/senatormariomattera.

File photo by Joseph Cali

News Flash

Generated by ChatGPT, edited by our staff 

•  MTA includes Port Jefferson Branch improvements in 20-year capital needs assessment.

•  Inclusion doesn’t guarantee pursuit, decisions hinge on future funding and other factors.

•   Local officials push for project, emphasizing economic benefits and improved transit.

The decades-old proposal to electrify the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Rail Road passed a significant hurdle last week, though uncertainty remains long-term.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns and operates LIRR, included capacity improvements for the Port Jeff Branch within its 2025-2044 20-Year Needs Assessment blueprint published last week. 

The document outlines MTA’s long-term vision for the region’s transit, describing some of the needed improvements for the local line, including electrification, double tracking, stations, a storage yard and associated infrastructure.

The report states some of the project’s objectives, such as increased travel speed and frequency while providing a one-seat ride to Penn Station and Grand Central Madison. It further acknowledges the need to reduce strain upon the Ronkonkoma Branch by North Shore riders driving inland.

In a Sept. 29 letter addressed to Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), over two dozen state, county and local public officials called for Port Jeff Branch modernization within the 20-year plan. Dave Steckel, an MTA media liaison, said the agency had complied with the core request of the letter.

“Regarding the letter on Port Jefferson Branch electrification, the MTA has satisfied the request laid out in that letter by including Port Jefferson Branch electrification in the 20-year needs assessment,” Steckel said.

But, he added, “Inclusion in this analysis does not mean that the MTA will be pursuing a project. Decisions about which of these projects, if any, will be included in subsequent MTA capital programs, will be made in the context of those future programs, including the amount of funding available to rebuild and improve the existing MTA system, which will need to be prioritized before any expansion projects can be considered.”

The report finds potential operational constraints for the electrification project, highlighting the need for additional capital improvements, space for a new terminal rail yard and planning studies. The plan suggests the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site in Port Jefferson Station as a potential site for the rail yard.

The 20-year plan also added some possible drawbacks for prioritizing the Port Jeff Branch. Electrification of the line rated average in cost-effectiveness “mainly due to the high cost and relatively low ridership.”

Continuing the fight

In separate statements to TBR News Media, public officials representing North Shore communities continued to call for the MTA to prioritize the project.

New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) emphasized the centrality of the Lawrence Aviation property in regional planning for the North Shore and beyond.

“Electrification of the Port Jefferson line and the establishment of the Lawrence Aviation site as a regional rail hub is a critically important component of our efforts to enhance mass transit service to North Shore residents,” he said. “Improving access and reliability to our mass transit system will increase ridership, alleviate traffic congestion and be an economic boost to the local economy.”

Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Lauren Sheprow expanded on the existing pressures upon Port Jeff Branch commuters to Manhattan, particularly in the context of the burden of transit by rail.

“For years, residents of Port Jeff and the surrounding communities have demonstrated by their actions how they feel about the Port Jefferson Branch — we drive to Ronkonkoma when seeking direct travel, a shorter commute, more frequent service options and less transfers,” she said. “Electrification and modernization of the Port Jefferson Branch will increase connectivity between stations. It will reduce travel time and transfers, and provide more frequent scheduling options, including express options.”

State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) emphasized the vast support for this effort among officials and community stakeholders, noting “everybody involved wants this.” He said generating the necessary public awareness and appealing to Hochul remain critical.

“We need to make sure that we convince the governor that this is important for Long Islanders,” he said, advocating for a grassroots, mobilized effort to bolster public support. “Strength with numbers wins,” he added.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) suggested electrification would help counteract some of the downward trends throughout the region, namely the loss of youth.

“Thousands of Brookhaven residents use the LIRR to commute to work every day, and thousands more ride the train for other reasons,” the town supervisor said. “Electrification would provide faster, more efficient service and attract people to live in the communities with close access to the railroad,” adding, “The economic upside would be felt throughout the town as more people choose to live here, and our young people decide to stay because of the improved LIRR service and easier access in and out of New York City.”

Though placement onto the 20-year plan could be considered a win, much work remains ahead. Larry Penner, a transit advocate and former director of Federal Transit Administration Region 2, called upon the various governmental bodies across the North Shore to begin laying down seed funds to signal their interest.

“Why don’t all these elected officials put up some money to at least keep the project alive?” he said. “Why are they waiting for the MTA to move the project forward?” He added, “Talk is cheap, but actions speak louder.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul updates New Yorkers on Saturday, Sept. 30, the day after declaring a state of emergency for Long Island. Photo courtesy the New York State Executive Chamber

Flash flooding leveled much of the tri-state area last Friday, Sept. 29, prompting a state of emergency declaration for Long Island while unleashing damage and halting some services.

The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood watch for Long Island Friday, which remained in effect into the night. Heavy rainfall and intense flooding throughout the region prompted Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to declare a state of emergency for Long Island, as well as for New York City and portions of the Hudson Valley.

Heavy flooding caused roadway closures at state Route 110 in Huntington between Mill Lane and Prime Avenue near Madison Street at Heckscher State Park, according to a NWS report. In Commack, a stranded motorist on Town Line Road required an emergency service response, the same report indicated.

In an emailed statement, Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) maintained that much of the town’s infrastructure and services remained undisturbed despite the heavy rainfall.

“Highway Superintendent Andre Sorrentino and the Highway Department, along with our Environmental Waste Management Department, were out in full force with pumps and tree crews clearing and cleaning,” Smyth said. “Our sewage treatment plants received more than double their normal water flow without any reported spillage.”

He added that garbage collection continued as scheduled, though the storm had disrupted and canceled numerous local events. “However, normal government operations continued without interruption. Although there were no significant issues, the town is currently assessing all departments to determine any and all issues relating to the storm.”

Joana Flores, media liaison for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, indicated that operations along the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Jefferson Branch were largely undeterred.

“Friday’s weather event did not have any impact on MTA infrastructure in the Port Jefferson area or to Port Jefferson train service,” Flores said. “With the exception of one train that was momentarily delayed due to a non-weather-related matter, the Port Jefferson Branch operated on or close to schedule.”

“Crews did perform periodic patrols of the Port Jefferson Branch to monitor conditions of the infrastructure,” she added.

Electrical infrastructure had similarly avoided major damages, according to Jeremy Walsh, a spokesperson for PSEG Long Island. “Friday’s flooding did not impact the electric infrastructure,” he said in an email. “Overall, the system performed well. While we did experience scattered outage activity, it was mainly as a result of the heavy rains and gusty conditions impacting trees and tree limbs, not flood damage.”

Given projections for more frequent and intense storm events over the coming years, Walsh added that the utility company is continuing efforts toward mitigating the associated risks to the electrical grid.

“PSEG Long Island has been storm-hardening the electric grid since 2014, including elevating equipment at some substations to protect against flooding, and this has helped reduce the impact of severe weather events,” he noted. “We continue to storm-harden the infrastructure using the best projections for future flooding and wind conditions that are available to us.”

The storm’s impacts were not limited to public infrastructure, however. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation temporarily closed much of the North Shore to shellfishing due to “extremely heavy rainfall and extraordinary amounts of stormwater runoff and localized street flooding … which may result in conditions causing shellfish to be hazardous for use as food,” a NYSDEC report said.

At a press conference the following day, Sept. 30, Hochul announced that there had been no recorded fatalities due to the flooding, thanking the public for heeding emergency warnings.

“What had been described by myself as a potentially life-threatening event ended up being a time when people listened, they reacted properly, they took precautions and no lives were lost,” the governor said.

State and local officials rally outside the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office in Port Jefferson Station on Tuesday, Aug. 22. From left, New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo, state Assemblyman Ed Flood, Town of Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico, Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner. Photos by Raymond Janis

State and local officials are letting out a collective uproar over the planned closure of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Port Jefferson Station branch later this week.

The Port Jeff Station office serves most of northern Brookhaven and parts of Smithtown. The three nearest alternatives are DMV offices in Medford, Hauppauge or Riverhead.

With foot traffic constantly moving in and out of the DMV on Tuesday morning, Aug. 22, New York State legislators joined Brookhaven Town Board members for a press conference calling upon Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to intervene.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), who is running for Suffolk County executive against business leader Dave Calone (D), noted that while Suffolk is the fourth largest county by population in New York State, it tops the list in registered licensed drivers and registered vehicles.

“Closing this DMV office, which is used by so many people, is not the way to go,” he said.

New York State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) highlighted the Town of Brookhaven’s considerable population, noting that the town has more residents than Miami, Florida.

“Could you imagine ignoring the residents of Miami when it comes to licensing drivers?” he asked. “Closing this DMV, unfortunately, is quite reckless, and I don’t think we’re really thinking about the citizens and the services they need.”

The state senator added that closing the Port Jefferson Station DMV would put greater strain on existing DMV locations in Suffolk County.

New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) referred to the announced closure as a “disservice to the residents of this area.”

“It’s not in any way good government to close buildings or close facilities that are necessary,” the assemblyman said. “Right now, we have a need to expand our DMV operations instead of contract.”

Brookhaven Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville), who is running for town supervisor against SUNY Old Westbury adjunct professor Lillian Clayman (D), attended Tuesday’s press event, condemning New York as “a state where people pay more and get less.”

“The overall theme and what we’re pointing out — what I’m pointing out — is that people on Long Island, specifically in Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town, are continually shortchanged by the State of New York,” he said.

Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), whose 1st District includes the hamlets and villages across northwestern Brookhaven, echoed Panico’s sentiments. He referred to the conflict over limited state resources as a “suburban versus urban dynamic,” with suburban areas often neglected.

“The closure of this office is going to add at a minimum 40 minutes of round-trip driving for our residents who use it,” he indicated. “This is something that impacts all our residents.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), whose 2nd District encompasses the northeastern reaches of the township, said existing employees at the Port Jeff Station location do not wish to relocate.

She also suggested that the closure contradicts the spirit of Hochul’s environmental agenda.

“Our governor has a very lofty environmental initiative,” Bonner stated. “Putting people in cars for longer on our state roads — that are not well maintained — and emitting fossil fuels doesn’t go along with her environmental initiative.”

Officials encouraged residents to weigh in on the DMV closure through an online petition created by the town. Scan the QR code to fill out the survey.

The New York State Capitol building, located in Albany. Photo by formulanone from Wikimedia Commons

Limited liability companies, or LLCs, in New York state are staring down new public disclosure requirements.

The proposed LLC Transparency Act “aims to modernize disclosure laws for” LLCs. Along with public disclosure of beneficial owners, the bill would create a public database that includes the names of beneficial owners of NYS LLCs.

Under the “justification” section, the bill states, “anonymous corporate ownership has proliferated since the 1990s,” presenting “numerous problems.” Among these, the legislation cites tax evasion, money laundering, organized crime and drug trafficking, among other social ills, as byproducts of the existing voluntary disclosure scheme.

The bill passed in the state Assembly and Senate earlier this year, and is awaiting Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) signature. It would take effect one year after the governor signs it.

Several members of the Long Island delegation, including state Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead), voted down the measure. 

In separate interviews with the two state legislators, they outlined their opposition.

Privacy

Giglio stated that her objections to the bill were grounded in privacy concerns for the LLC proprietors.

“As an owner of an LLC, I don’t think that your home address should be public, that your private information should be public,” she said.

Addressing the concerns outlined within the legislation, Giglio added that the state government maintains records on the personal information of LLC owners.

She suggested that LLC violations could be monitored and handled by the NYS Department of State instead of the public.

“The state should be doing that digging and not necessarily individual people who can find out somebody’s home address and camp out outside because they don’t like something,” the assemblywoman said.

Redundancy

Flood suggested the LLC Transparency Act was redundant, given that the federal Corporate Transparency Act — which includes similar provisions as the state statute — is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

“As a small business owner, I know it’s just more paperwork to do,” he said. “It just seemed unnecessary. I understand the purpose of it, but it’s duplicative of what they already do on a federal level.”

Enforcement

The LLC Transparency Act carries a $250 fine for those who fail to register with NYS Department of State. Flood suggested that this penalty isn’t nearly enough to incentivize LLC owners who wish to remain anonymous to disclose their ownership status.

“The bill itself doesn’t have any teeth to it,” Flood said, noting it would likely lead to a collection of fines from responsible business owners rather than rooting out irresponsible LLCs. 

“It’s not going to do anything for its proposed purpose,” he added.

On top of the relatively painless fine for violators, Flood noted that the filing deadline is two years and 60 days after the bill takes effect. 

“You get two years and two months before the state even steps in to do anything,” he said, adding, “It looks like this bill was done as a feel-good legislation that actually has no effect, which is not uncommon for what we do in Albany.”

Rather than placing public disclosure requirements upon existing LLC proprietors, Giglio recommended that the state conducts more thorough investigations of newly formed LLCs.

“Before the LLC is formed, the initial investigation should occur,” she advised. “And if someone has a history of illicit activities, then the LLC shouldn’t be allowed to be formed.”

Giglio contended that recent state laws have created an increasingly hostile regulatory environment for small businesses. She rooted her opposition to the proposed LLC legislation as countering these trends.

“It seems like it’s getting harder and harder to do business in New York state,” she said. “Any complaint can be investigated, and it’s New York State’s job to make sure that businesses, corporations and LLCs are keeping up to their promises.”

by -
0 101
John Turner, conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, delivers a guest presentation to the Port Jefferson Civic Association on Wednesday, July 12. Photo by Raymond Janis

On a hot summer evening, with others outside listening to live music, roughly three dozen Village of Port Jefferson residents filled the third floor of the Village Center on Wednesday, July 12, tackling a range of local matters at the Port Jefferson Civic Association meeting.

Members of the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees also made their presence felt, with Mayor Lauren Sheprow and trustees Bob Juliano and Drew Biondo in attendance. During the meeting, residents touched upon ongoing work within the village’s Election Committee, discussed water reuse opportunities at Port Jefferson Country Club and addressed possible uses for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property on Myrtle Avenue.

Election Committee

Kathleen McLane, PJCA outreach coordinator, updated the body on the ongoing work coming out of the village’s Election Committee. This advisory committee, McLane indicated, was formed after the village board approved — and subsequently rescinded — term extensions for village offices earlier this year.

Members of the Election Committee are exploring whether village offices require term extensions and limits and whether to alter the month the election is held. To provide input for ongoing Election Committee deliberations, email [email protected].

Maryhaven Center of Hope

Members weighed in on the Maryhaven Center of Hope property on Myrtle Avenue after the village board denied code changes for that property proposed during the spring. [See TBR News Media website for recent stories.] 

Civic president Ana Hozyainova suggested that the civic work “to develop a vision.”

“We, as a larger community, need to come up with a plan, develop a budget and draw up these plans at the local level and the higher levels” of government, she added.

Steve Velazquez proposed that the Maryhaven property could serve a variety of municipal functions, accommodating both relocated emergency service headquarters and a new Village Hall.

“There’s a lot of land,” he said. “And that type of land just doesn’t come available” very often. He added, “It would save the taxpayers a lot of money by using one facility for multiple uses.”

Water reuse 

Guest speaker John Turner, conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, returned to the civic body to inform them of an initiative for water reuse.

Reusing treated wastewater, according to him, could have several environmental benefits. He said reusing treated effluent water would help reduce nitrogen levels in local water bodies and ease the strain upon the area’s limited water supply. [See last week’s story, “SCWA ‘pleading with the public’ to conserve water.”]

“We have to begin to meaningfully reduce the amount of nitrogen we’re allowing into … the environment,” Turner said. “Places like Port Jeff, where there are sewers, there’s an additional opportunity to try to reduce the nitrogen going into Port Jeff Harbor.”

He encouraged the village officials in the room to write to Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to set aside funds from the recently approved $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act for water reuse purposes.

PJCA will not meet in August. The civic body will reconvene Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Port Jefferson Free Library.

Pictured above, from left to right: Simons Foundation President David Spergel, Jim and Marilyn Simon, Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis and Governor Kathy Hochul. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University’s former Math Department chair is making history.

Jim Simons, with his wife Marilyn and through the Simons Foundation, is giving the largest ever unrestricted gift of $500 million to the university’s endowment.

The donation, which the Simons Foundation will provide in installments over the next seven years, will more than double the endowment for the SUNY flagship school.

As a part of a program Governor Kathy Hochul (D) created last year, New York State will provide a one-to-two endowment match while the school, with support from the Simons Foundation, reaches out to other donors for additional support.

SBU expects the gift to total about $1 billion.

“Today is indeed a historic day for Stony Brook University,” President Maurie McInnis said during a press conference at the Simons Foundation headquarters in Manhattan on June 1. “I cannot overestimate the tremendous impact” the gift will have.

The university anticipates using the gift, named the Simons Infinity Investment, for student scholarships for a diverse student body, endowed professorships, research initiatives, development of new academic fields and clinical care.

McInnis, who is the sixth president of SBU, suggested this kind of support helped create and shape some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, including Harvard and Yale.

Looking at how they started, “you’ll find that they were bolstered by generous supporters who were ambitious and wise enough to see the potential of the institutions and invest in the future,” McInnis said at the press conference. “Because of those supporters, look where they are now. That is the trajectory we are on,” thanks to the support from Jim and Marilyn Simons and the foundation president, David Spergel.

McInnis believes the funds will help make the university a place where every student meets their potential, thanks to the support and the “deep sense of belonging in every corner of campus.”

The funds would also help ensure that researchers have access to the “best labs and equipment” so they can “chase the next discovery” and where learners will come to the university because they “know they have the resources they need to make a difference.”

History of giving

The Simons family has a long history of giving back to the university, which was so important in their lives.

Starting with a much more humble gift of $750 in 1983, the Simons family, with this gift and other recent commitments, have pledged $1.2 billion to a university that Gov. Hochul declared a flagship of the state university system in 2022.

“I’m so happy to be here today, to be able to give back to Stony Brook, which has given so much to me,” Marilyn Simons said at the press conference.

When she started as a student at Stony Brook, Marilyn said her father was a subcontractor who, along with her brother and cousin, did some of the brickwork at university buildings.

In addition to earning her bachelor’s at Stony Brook, Marilyn Simons also earned her Ph.D.

“I’m grateful to Stony Brook for all it’s given me,” she said. “I hope many others will invest along with us.”

Jim Simons became chairman of the Math Department when he was 30. He hired 10 faculty in his first year and the same number in his second.

When Hochul stood up to speak, Simons interrupted her.

“I’ve known” all six presidents of Stony Brook, the former Math Department chair said. McInnis “is the best.”

Hochul appreciated the direction and vision of SBU’s leadership, recognizing the sizeable financial commitment the state would now have to meet.

When she came up with the endowment idea, “I didn’t realize it was going to be so expensive for me,” Hochul laughed. If that inspired the Simons Foundation to come forward, “it was worth it.”

A public institution like Stony Brook “has no limits right now,” Hochul added. “I guarantee across the world, they’ve all heard of Stony Brook right now.”

A winning streak

The $500 million gift from the Simons Foundation continues a winning streak, making 2023 a memorable and landmark year for the university.

A few weeks ago, Stony Brook, with a $100 million commitment from the Simons Foundation, won the state’s contest to turn Governors Island into a center for climate science called the New York Climate Exchange. [See story, “SBU will develop $700M climate center on Governors Island,” April 26, TBR News Media website.]

The center, which will cost $700 million to construct and is expected to open in 2028, will house research laboratories, host community discussions and train 6,000 people per year to work in green energy jobs.

SBU has “shown that it has the knowledge, the authority and the boldness to bring together the most eminent institutions to address the world’s leading challenges,” McInnis said.