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letters to the editor

File photo by Raymond Janis

LIRR train car procurement debacle

The MTA announcement that the LIRR $734 million procurement of 202 new M9 train cars awarded to Kawasaki Rail Car in 2013 is finally complete is disappointing to the Port Jefferson Branch and other commuters. It is not the end of this story.  

All of this new equipment was supposed to be delivered prior to initiation of new LIRR East Side Access service to Grand Central Madison. Delivery and acceptance of the last car almost five years late leaves a number of unanswered questions.

What was the cost for the LIRR to return 100 M3 cars previously mothballed several years ago back into service? What about daily maintenance and operating costs in keeping this retired equipment returned to passenger service? How many 10-car trains had to be run with eight cars due to a shortage of equipment resulting in periodic overcrowding?

The LIRR has had to keep its own engineering, procurement and other employees on the payroll assigned to this project for five years beyond the originally forecasted project completion date. What has this cost the LIRR? Has the LIRR submitted delay claims to Kawasaki Rail Car, for reimbursement of these costs? Why should commuters and taxpayers be stuck with the tab?  What is the current status for purchase of additional new LIRR cars? Will the LIRR do a “lessons learned” from this car procurement? Perhaps this will benefit the upcoming M9A car procurement. The LIRR 1960s motto “Line of the Dashing Dan” in 2023 continues to be “Line of the Slow Moving Sloth” when it comes to purchasing new rail cars.

   

Larry Penner

Great Neck

File photo by Raymond Janis

Green energy update

Last Friday, May 10, Xena Ugrinsky, Port Jefferson energy committee chairperson and I visited with Peter St. Germain, general manager, Terminalling, at Northville Industries on Belle Mead Road, East Setauket. Northville has proposed building warehouses or apartments on this site and Xena and I wanted to speak with St. Germain regarding its potential for future hydrogen storage. Northville Industries has a strategic importance for energy and the Long Island economy.

We discussed the economic demand for hydrogen, its fast-growing use in the new economy, the need to switch to green energy in the power generation and rail industries, and discussed, also, the speed of worldwide adoption of this fuel to reduce climate change.

St. Germain supports these green goals and reports that Gene Bernstein, Northville’s chairman, is already planning for a “4 Gen” green future. We can hope this site remains an energy site and is not intensely developed.

On Tuesday, April 30, I went into Manhattan to address the MTA board of directors. My request was simple — to have a meeting on green energy with Long Island Rail Road president Robert Free, a Port Jefferson Station resident. My time to speak was short. Janno Lieber, MTA’s chairman, was polite and did not yawn. The MTA is coming to an end of its 20-year planning for LIRR. I see no evidence of any desire of LIRR to accommodate state law or reduce carbon emissions.

I will be addressing the Three Village Civic Association and its president, Charles Tramontana, on this topic on Monday, June 3. I am discussing this issue with Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association president, Ira Costell; Port Jefferson Civic Association president, Ana Hozyainova; and county Legislator Steve Englebright [D-Setauket], sponsor of the New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act when he was an assemblyman. We would hope to petition Gov. Kathy Hochul [D] to support her own law for climate and green energy use.

We have proposals for Mr. Free for new technologies that make this transition far more feasible and economical — even beneficial to the New York state economy. 

Green transportation: “A better ride” — a “one-seat ride” to Manhattan is critical to our North Shore environment and economy.

Contact your elected representatives. The MTA is getting $10 billion from the federal government to transition to green energy. I see no benefit to the North Shore from these funds. “We pay taxes, too.”

RSVP Mr. Free.

Bruce Miller

Port Jefferson

Celebrate your favorite waitstaff

Tuesday, May 21, is National Waitstaff Day. Your neighborhood restaurant waiters are on their feet all day working long hours. They take and deliver meal orders, follow up to make sure your meal is up to expectations, refill your coffee, tea or water glass, box any leftovers you want to take home and prepare the check — all with a smile and friendly disposition. 

On this day, why not show your appreciation and honor your favorite waiter? Leave a 25 percent tip against the total bill including taxes. Remember that they usually have to share the tips with the busboys. Drop off some flowers, a box of candy or some cookies as well.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Ceasefires do not work

In recent weeks, colleges and universities across the country have been visited by large groups of antisemitic activists, known as Palestine protesters, whose stated goal is the abolition of the state of Israel. Although it might be only partially accurate to describe these visitors as guest lecturers, they do share many of the same qualifications, as they teach students various things they need to know, including how to recite catchy slogans, the proper wearing of masks to avoid being identified and how to live in a tent.

Here in Stony Brook, the SUNY protesters seem to be doing well, and have branched out to beyond the confines of the university, with a few of them joining the ranks of the North Country Peace Group, which congregates on North Country Road in Setauket every Saturday morning from around 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and has been doing so for many years. 

On the opposite side of the street, the Stony Brook Patriots meet at the same time, for the purpose of countering most of the positions advocated by NCPG. For motorists passing by, the two sides are easily distinguished: NCPG displays three flags: a Black Lives Matter flag, a U.N. flag and, most recently, a Palestine flag. The Patriots, on the other hand, display only two types of flags: about a dozen examples of the American stars and stripes, and a single flag of the nation of Israel. 

The members of the Patriots believe that advocating for peace, while at the same time supporting Palestine — which implies support for Hamas — is inconsistent and hypocritical. 

Last Oct. 7, Hamas perpetrated a murderous, unprovoked attack on the civilian citizens of Israel, an atrocity unmatched since the Holocaust and World War II. After the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States, we had no viable option other than to wage war against Japan and achieve an unconditional surrender. If Japan had requested a ceasefire a few months after Pearl Harbor, it would not have been considered. As it turned out, the United States and the Allies decisively defeated both Japan and Germany, and prosecuted and punished the criminal leaders of both countries. 

“Peace Through Strength” is a concept that has been espoused by many of our great leaders, from George Washington through Ronald Reagan, and the leaders of Israel know that it applies today. As British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain showed us in 1938, appeasement and ceasefires do not work.

George Altemose

Setauket

Photo by Raymond Janis

At SBU’s Staller Center on protest night

Last Wednesday evening, May 1, my wife and I, along with our teenage grandson, went to the campus of Stony Brook University to enjoy a wonderful concert given by the Stony Brook Wind Ensemble of the Department of Music. 

Imagine our surprise, as we walked to the front door of the Staller Center and found the adjacent grassy area to be hosting a large group of pro-Palestine protesters. We had no problem telling who they were, because they were echoing chants provided by a person wielding a megaphone, most were wearing masks, the grass was covered with small tents and sheets of blue plastic, and many were holding poles flying the flags of Palestine. There were also quite a few signs and posters, carrying messages such as “From the River to the Sea,” “Globalize the Intifada” and “By Any Means Necessary.” We found the whole operation to be interesting and educational, and we approached the assemblage to observe and take pictures with our cellphone cameras. If we had any thoughts that we might be welcome, these were quickly dispelled by a young lady in the group who told us where to go (not to the Staller Center), and provided visible reinforcement by flipping us the bird, which we dutifully recorded on my grandson’s camera.

The concert featured around 65 wonderfully talented musicians, all of them students at the university, one of whom happens to be another grandson — and we enjoyed it immensely. The concert ended around 9:30 p.m., and we went outside to find the protesters still in place, practicing their chants and carrying their Palestine flags. By this time, however, they had been joined by two dozen or so uniformed members of the New York State Police, who were standing in a group and watching them. 

Everything appeared to be under control, so my grandson and I went over to the officers and started a conversation with one of them, who happened to be a sergeant. He was very pleasant and accommodating, told us who they were and why they were there, and seemed to really enjoy talking with my grandson, who is a big fan of the police. The sergeant told us that there was a deadline of 11 p.m., and the protesters would be vacating around then. That was a little late for us, since the next day was a school day, so we wished them luck and went home.

The next day, we tuned in to News 12, and we learned that the protesters were indeed gone, with 29 of them having been arrested. I was thinking about revisiting the grassy area, to see if the protesters have returned, like the swallows in Capistrano. If they have, I was thinking of giving them a few tubes of Super Glue, so that they could glue themselves together, as other protesters have found helpful. This would present a more challenging dilemma for the police officers, but I think they could figure it out.

George Altemose

Setauket

File photo by Raymond Janis

Stony Brook, world-class medicine 

There are many benefits to living in the Three Village area, and access to world-class medicine is one of them. I learned that when I made an unplanned trip to Stony Brook University Hospital via the emergency room. Being in the hospital is no picnic but what I encountered at Stony Brook was overwhelming and mind-boggling, in a very good way.

From the moment I arrived in ER, I knew I was in right place. Comprehensive care was administered immediately, and this continued throughout my stay. Every member of the health care team, from doctors, nurses, nursing supervisors, aides, technicians and staff who performed diagnostic tests, treated me with the utmost kindness and compassion, even though I may have been a train wreck at times.

Stony Brook’s advanced infrastructure and specialized capabilities are legendary, and I experienced firsthand that the level of expertise of their doctors and staff is on par with those standards of excellence. Specifically, I must commend the physicians of the Stony Brook Heart Institute and North Suffolk Cardiology, who worked collaboratively to deliver cutting-edge medicine. 

The entire operation at Stony Brook was first rate and reached the heights of optimal patient care. Everyone I encountered was exceptionally polite, and even the food was good. We are certainly fortunate to have several excellent area hospitals to choose from. In this case, I’m glad I headed to Stony Brook.

Alan Golnick

Stony Brook

Please don’t be late to the East Beach bluff ball again

I have been privy to the changes of Port Jefferson’s East Beach bluff health over four-and-a-half decades that have not previously received emphasis. Initially, the bluff was stable with healthy vegetation to absorb storm runoff from the blacktop, tennis courts and clubhouse. The western jetty entering Mount Sinai Harbor prevented beach sand from washing into the harbor. 

After a number of storms 15-20 years ago, the jetty was destroyed and we watched the beach sand progressively wash into the harbor, taking the bluff with it. It took until 2020 to reconstruct part of the jetty. This delay led to the loss of much of our beach, an undermining of the bluff at its base and loss of its erosion-protecting vegetation. This was caused more by negligence than the 15 years (0.27 inches) of tide rise. 

To make matters worse, deforestation for future pickleball courts at the west end of the parking lot destroyed the vegetation that gave protection from parking runoff during storms and led to additional bluff erosion. Since the jetty’s reconstruction — and after subsequent replacement of beach sand from inlet dredging — our beach is continually restoring itself with accumulation of new sand.

Phase 1 constructed a seawall on half of the eroding bluff and was highly successful in preventing undermining, but it can’t prevent ongoing undermining along the now-unvegetated bluff where no seawall was constructed, nor prevent unprotected drainage erosion from above.

I believe insufficient attention has been given to the latter, which was responsible for the recent storm damage in two areas. It is apparent that we need to quickly remediate the huge nonabsorbent parking lots and tennis court surfaces that surround the clubhouse. With neither huge grants nor the need for extensive approvals, I wonder why we cannot emergently mitigate by converting blacktop parking to absorbent gravel surfaces, redirecting stormwater inland into storm drains, vegetating where tennis courts now exist, and giving serious thought to the village trustee Stan Loucks’ “retreat plan.”

Let there be no doubt, this problem was initiated by not tending to prompt reconstruction of the fallen jetty and subsequent loss of bluff protection from poorly-managed storm drainage above. Now that the ongoing loss of the beach has been reversed with jetty reconstruction, we need to save the bluff with completion of the seawall below, mitigate the nonabsorbent surfaces above — and stop ignoring reality.

Al Cossari

Port Jefferson

Advocating local Recycle and Save programs

As we look at our high rates of waste generation — close to 5 pounds per day per person on Long Island — it is good to explore ways to bring this number down. One of the alternatives that many communities have adopted is Recycle and Save programs which used to be called Pay As You Throw. The advantage of this approach is that it has greatly reduced the rate of individual waste disposal.

Since this would be a radical change in our area, it is best for us to plan over a three-year period in multiple stages.

First stage is training: This would involve training for the waste management staffs, the various town councils, and committees that would be established in each town and village.

Second stage is special topics and challenges: This would involve research on specific issues of concern to our communities, such as which items can be recycled and how and where they are to be recycled.

Third stage is data collection: This would involve surveys of our citizens to reveal their attitudes, behaviors and acceptability.

Fourth stage is behavior change: This is accomplished through publicity and the creation of a comprehensive and explicit website. I would recommend the one that was created by the Alameda County Department of Waste Management in California. The county has decreased its rate to 1.6 pounds of waste per day per person.

This approach moves us in the direction of zero waste and is long overdue in our area. Many communities in the United States have been embracing this policy since the 1980s.

John J. McNamara

Rocky Point

RIP

It’s time “Lady Justice” removes her blindfold, as our nation perishes. “God bless America,” from a veteran of World War 2 and the Greatest Generation.

Leonard J. Henderson

Port Jefferson

File photo by Raymond Janis

Tag and bake sale at historic Stony Brook Community Church

Deborah Davis invited two preachers 215 years ago to come to Stony Brook and establish a new church which would meet in her home. This was the start of the Stony Brook Community Church., and its first offering collected a then-impressive $1.31. Unfortunately this rate of contributions did not continue as the collection for the entire first year was $2.56. 

In 1817, several denominations joined together to stop worshiping in Mrs. Davis’ house — which still stands across the street from the church — and to build a simple church building. This was replaced by the current structure in 1860, at 216 Christian Ave., that Stony Brook Community Church still occupies. The church steeple, held together with pegs instead of nails, became a landmark for sailors, helping to guide them into the harbor. When in 1908, the building was in serious need of repairs, the job was done with volunteer labor for $800 for materials. Unfortunately, by the time the steeple was struck by lightning in 1982, repairs had become distinctly more expensive.

On Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. — rain date May 5, 12 to 4 p.m. — the church is hosting a tag and bake sale to help make up for the way prices have increased since that first offering in 1809. The historic church building and the equally historic cemetery — the oldest grave dating to 1813 — will be open to visitors during the sale. 

Tag and Bake Sale Committee

Stony Brook Community Church

Happy 190th anniversary to Long Island Rail Road 

Let us all wish a happy 190th anniversary to the Long Island Rail Road. On April 24, 1834, the Long Island Rail Road was officially chartered by the State of New York to run from the Brooklyn waterfront 95 miles east to Greenport. In 1900, the Pennsylvania Railroad bought a controlling interest as part of its plan for direct access to Manhattan which began on September 8, 1910. The Pennsylvania Railroad subsidized the LIRR into the late 1940s. This provided the financial basis for support of expansion and upgrades to service and infrastructure.

 At the end of World War II, there began a decline of our LIRR with a corresponding loss of farebox revenues. The Pennsylvania Railroad began to reduce financial support as well. This played a part in the LIRR going into receivership in 1949. In recognition of the role the LIRR played in the economy of both Long Island and NYC, New York State began providing financial assistance to the LIRR in the 1950s and 1960s. 

The “Line of the Dashing Dan” was officially chartered on April 24, 1965, by the State of New York. In 1966, NYS bought the railroad’s controlling stock from the Pennsylvania Railroad and put it under the newly-formed Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority. The MCTA changed its name to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968 when it took over operations of the NYC Transit Authority.

 With MTA subsidies, the LIRR modernized further and grew into the busiest commuter railroad in the United States. Over the past 50 years, several billion dollars in combined county, city, state and federal taxpayer-generated dollars have subsidized both the capital and operating costs for the LIRR. 

Riders must remember that fare hikes are periodically required if the MTA is to provide the services millions of New Yorkers use daily.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

File photo by Raymond Janis

A heartfelt thank you to SBU Hospital

May you never have to deal with a life-threatening health issue of a loved one. However, should such a situation arise, be extremely thankful that we all live in the shadow of one of the best Level 1 Trauma Center hospitals in New York. 

Without going into detail, our 38-year-old daughter was in the Cardiac ICU at Stony Brook University Hospital for 32 days due to severe complications from the flu. Words will never adequately express our deepest gratitude for the unbelievable lifesaving machines available (ECMO to name just one) at the hospital. If this had not been the case, we do believe the outcome would have been much different. While the machinery was an absolute necessity, without the amazing surgical skills of Dr. Jonathan Price, the machines would never have become part of the equation. Surgical skills were required, but the compassion and constant attentive care shown by this very special surgeon, can never be quantified. We will forever be indebted to this man. Dr. Price along with a number of outstanding cardiologists, the Emergency Room team, the perfusionist, intensivist, nephrology and heart-failure teams at Stony Brook University Hospital, all played a pivotal role in her success and recovery.

In addition, we have always held the nursing profession in the highest esteem. The entire nursing staff on 7W (Cardiac ICU) were truly angels throughout. Each and every medical professional that contributed to our daughter’s care, while extremely capable, also showed so much compassion and concern every step of the way. (We would like to list every single person, but fear we may forget someone and not one of these amazing professionals should be forgotten.) They will all be held close to our hearts forever.

Our daughter faces some challenges ahead, but she is so strong and the love and support shown by so many will continue to help her every step of the way. 

Two Very Thankful Parents in the Three Village Community

Linda Contino, inspiring generations

As we approach the end of another school year, our community faces a bittersweet moment — the retirement of Mrs. Linda Contino, choral director at Ward Melville High School. For 40 years, Mrs. Contino has been a cornerstone of the music program in the Three Village community.

Mrs. Contino has not just taught her students, but truly inspired them. Her unwavering dedication and passion and her ability to make every student feel valued will be sorely missed.

As Mrs. Contino embarks on this new chapter of her life, it is our hope that her legacy of patience, kindness and music education excellence will continue to inspire those who had the privilege to learn from her but also future generations of teachers who strive to make a difference in the same indelible way.

On Friday, May 3, more than 200 music program alumni will join her for the last time on stage at Ward Melville High School for one final performance. If you were involved in the choral program at Ward Melville during Mrs. Contino’s tenure, please consider joining us.

More information about the event, as well as details on the Linda Contino Legacy Fund that is currently being established, please visit continoretirement.com.

 

Michael Buckley

Class of 1998

Ward Melville High School

Neighborhood hazards

My family and I take lots of walks around our neighborhood. During these walks we see the pride our neighbors take in their properties. Unfortunately, we also notice the lack of consideration placed by workers from utility workers, whether PSEGLI, Cablevision, Verizon or others. They sometimes arrive in vans with no ID or official signage and set up next to a pole to work. Anyone could be up that pole. But what is really of concern is when they complete their work, the mess they leave behind. Nuts, bolts, screws, pieces of wire are left on the road. Wires are left hanging, swaying in the breeze or left in a tangled pile at the base of the pole. Thankfully our neighbors will clean up what’s left on the road, but what about the hanging wires? Are they live? Left to be connected another day? They can be seen hanging for over a year. I ask that our lawmakers require these utility companies to have their employees have clear identification on their vehicles, teach them to clean up when they finish a job, and not to leave dangerous, long cables hanging around our lawns and roads.

Enough with your sloppy job!  

Ronnie Kreitzer

  Setauket     

Squatting is illegal trespassing

As a Long Island resident and a homeowner, I am deeply concerned about the alarming rise in squatting instances across our state. This not only poses significant risks to property owners but also threatens the well-being of our neighborhoods. From vacant homes to commercial buildings, squatters are taking advantage of loopholes in our laws and exploiting the rights of property owners. This cannot continue.

Homeowners should reserve the ability to remove squatters from their property swiftly and efficiently. It’s a matter of common sense and fundamental property rights. Every homeowner deserves to feel safe and secure in their own home, without the fear of unauthorized individuals trespassing and occupying their space.

That’s why I support the proposed legislation in the state Senate sponsored by NYS Sen. John Liu [D-Flushing]. His bill will strengthen protections for property owners and streamline the process for removing squatters from their premises. Perhaps most importantly, this proposal will redefine squatting for what it really is: illegal trespassing. 

This issue demands bipartisan cooperation and decisive action. Together, we can make our communities safer and stronger. 

 Sarah S. Anker

Former Suffolk County Legislator

NYS Senate Democratic Candidate

File photo by Raymond Janis

Port Jeff Branch LIRR riders still waiting for basic amenities at Grand Central Madison

It has been 14 months since the Long Island Rail Road began full-time East Side Access service to the $11.6 billion Grand Central Madison terminal in the Midtown East neighborhood of Manhattan, with the prospect of benefits for Port Jefferson Branch riders. So it is disappointing that MTA Chairman Janno Lieber just announced the release of a request for proposals for a master developer to manage and operate all 32 vacant storefronts at GCM. Responses are due by June with a contract award in summer 2024. MTA anticipates that all 32 storefronts should be open for business by 2026.

In the meantime, only one storefront will be occupied later this year. This is a sad commentary on MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, MTA Office of Capital Construction and MTA Real Estate in management of the LIRR ESA GCM project. The original completion date was 2011. Full-time service began in February 2023. MTA Real Estate had years to find tenants for the vacant storefronts. They should have completed the process to hire a master developer to manage the storefronts years ago. This would have given the master developer plenty of time to find tenants for the vacant storefronts and give tenants adequate time to coordinate the opening of their stores.

Waiting three years until 2026 before all 32 storefronts are open for business is a failure. Given the physical layout, it is also not credible to believe that you can replicate the Metro-North Grand Central Madison Dining Concourse. There is no central location for significant seating. MTA clearly dropped the ball for planning retail openings. It also represents a loss of three years’ worth of tenant revenue. Riders will continue looking at the artwork covering up the vacant storefronts. Commuters and taxpayers have to also ask when will the other vacant storefronts at NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro-North Railroad stations be leased. Why was MTA Real Estate unable to lease all vacant assets in a timely manner? It would have generated badly-needed revenue and provided riders with the basic amenities they are still looking for. 

Larry Penner 

Great Neck

File photo by Raymond Janis

A new Easter tradition

Thank you, Arts & Lifestyles Editor Heidi Sutton, for sharing the wonderful recipe for Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole (TBR News Media, “Let’s Eat,” Feb. 22). Every year for decades we have had ham, turkey or lamb for Easter. This year we decided to try something new. The Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole was the centerpiece of our first Easter brunch and it was fabulous. The recipe was easy to follow and the flavor was amazing. We have a new tradition!

 Joan Dickinson

Lake Grove

Clarifying on climate, renewables and electric vehicles

In a letter appearing in the March 28 editions of TBR News Media, Mark Sertoff makes a number of highly dubious assertions.

To begin with he claims “there is no climate crisis” and that “thousands of scientists around the world concur.” Sounds impressive, but really it isn’t. There are well over 8 million scientists worldwide. In addition, scientists are not equal climate experts. What a geologist, astronomer or nuclear physicist thinks about global warming has little more weight than what you or I think. What does matter is what actively publishing climate scientists think. The answer is that close to 100 percent agree that human-caused global warming is occurring.

He claims Germany is backing off renewables because of “massive problems in reliability and cost.” This is simply untrue. On Jan. 3, Reuters reported that Germany’s power grid reached 55% renewable power last year, a rise of 6.6%. It’s aiming for 80% by 2030.

He’s worried about birds killed by wind turbines, as well as whales. I share his concern, but the fact is that by far the biggest human-related cause of bird mortality is collisions with buildings (Flaco the Owl being a recent sad example). As far as whales, entanglements in fishing gear and strikes by large ships are the leading human-related causes of whale deaths. And there’s no observational evidence linking whale deaths to offshore wind turbines, either in construction or operation. 

Getting to the subject of electric buses he plays on fear. The fear of getting stuck in cold weather. The fear of explosions. Kings Park school district is currently purchasing propane-fueled buses. Propane can explode if not handled properly. As for diesel, studies have linked breathing diesel fumes to harmful effects on student respiratory and brain health, also decreased performance at school. And the range of electric school buses is more than adequate for our suburban Long Island districts, even in the dead of winter.

As far as the depreciation of electric vs. standard vehicles, the claim that “you can’t give away a used EV” is misleading, to say the least. The reason for higher depreciation is currently EVs cost more than standard vehicles to begin with. That’s likely to change in the near future. He omits to mention that electric school buses are significantly cheaper to operate.

It’s perfectly valid to disagree on the pace of transforming school bus fleets to electric. What’s not valid is climate change denialism and spreading misinformation about renewables.

David Friedman

St. James

The U.S. government needs to better protect its citizens

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently finalized the Comprehensive Asbestos Reporting Rule, and we must ask the question: Why has it taken so long? We know there are hundreds of toxic chemicals that lead to disease in this country, yet why is the U.S. one of the last to protect its own citizens? 

Asbestos has been a known carcinogen for decades, causing over 40,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, and now our government is finally banning it. In 2016, during the Obama administration, the federal government passed legislation to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. However, why did it take 40 years to update a bill on toxic substances? 

Twenty-two years ago, after my grandmother died from breast cancer, I founded the Community Health and Environment Coalition to address the high rate of cancer in the area. I wanted to know why it was happening and how to prevent it. Community members, elected officials and health professionals challenged the NYS Department of Health to do more. The Health Department did this by launching an investigation that left us with more questions than answers. During the investigation, most residents expressed concerns about our environment, particularly our water. Today we have identified toxic chemicals in our water including PFAS “forever chemicals” and 1,4-dioxane. 

Decades of illegal dumping, military and industrial use of toxic chemicals dumped in the ground and now-banned pesticides have contributed to our long toxic chemical legacy. We are finally seeing some progress after years of grassroots environmental advocacy and government policy proactively holding those responsible, but more must be done. 

As the chemical industry continues to exert power over the government, we must understand that cheap utilitarian toxic chemicals may seem helpful at first, but the long-term health effects may negate any cost savings and may put our lives at risk.

It’s been over 20 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed thousands of people. Since then, many first responders have suffered delayed symptoms and continue to lose their lives due to exposure to toxic chemicals. Now that we better understand the long-term health effects of toxic exposure, we must hold those responsible and insist that they do more to protect lives.

Sarah Anker 

Sarah Anker (D) is a former Suffolk County legislator and is running for New York State Senate in District 1.

Northville is potentially a local treasure

Monday evening, March 25, I attended a gathering. 

It was not intended to be a gathering. It was intended to be a hearing, and the hearing was about Northville Industries proposal to put either warehouses (plan A) or apartments (plan B) on its Belle Mead Road property. 

Only local residents were notified of this “hearing” but apparently these residents felt strongly enough to enlist friends and relatives from Northern Brookhaven to attend. The “hearing” was so well attended that it had to be postponed and relocated.

Let me state that both options are terrible choices. Plan A comes with immense truck traffic, while plan B comes with dense-pack zoning and IDA funding. 

What is IDA funding you might ask? That’s when the town gives away taxpayer money to subsidize private development. This means incredibly low taxes for the developer for up to 15 years and then a gradual increase thereafter. All the services that you and I receive for our taxes will be rendered, but at your and my expense. 

But here’s the thing. The Northville property is potentially a local treasure — this is not hyperbole. The future of transportation, including railroad, and electrical generation is with hydrogen.

We cannot go green enough without it. Foreign countries are building hydrogen trains and are putting them on the rails. Hydrogen is a solution to our truly poor-quality railroad transportation. The European market is investing $5 billion in a Swedish steel plant. The electricity for the plant will come from hydrogen.

But where do you store the hydrogen?

Well, the pipeline rights-of-way are already in place for Northville. This can be done safely and it can be an enormous boon to our Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County and even New York State economies (Alstom, a subsidiary of GE, manufactures hydrogen trains in Plattsburgh). The alternative is that we purchase trains in America from foreign countries.

The vacant and underused parts of the Northville property must be protected for future use to meet New York’s climate standards.

Please come to the new hearing and tell your representatives that both plan A and plan B are unacceptable. 

Bruce Miller

Port Jefferson

Embracing 3V schools reconfiguration

The Three Village Central School District has finally made the decision to move into the 21st century and reconfigure our schools to a middle school model. This is a move that is decades overdue and was overwhelmingly supported by students, staff and the community at large.

An Opinion piece published in the March 14 edition [“Preserving what works in 3V school district”] is a direct contradiction to all that this long-awaited, and very necessary, reconfiguration represents. Anthony Dattero, a district guidance counselor and author of this piece, has stated his dissent regarding this move citing the “history” and “uniqueness” of the district. To that I must say that there is a stark difference between one of a kind and one left behind. 

As a dual certified teacher, licensed social worker and former guidance counselor, I simply cannot fathom why the benefits of this monumental change are not obvious to everyone who is committed to the growth and success of all of our students. And as a Ward Melville alumni and parent of a Three Village student I am thrilled for the students that will bask in the new opportunities that the reconfiguration will offer.  

Sixth graders will now have access to the study of a foreign language as well as an array of academics that peers in every other district in New York — except for one —- have. Ninth graders will finally, finally be housed in a high school as high schoolers. No longer will they be subjected to bus rides for upper-level courses and JV athletics. 

Gone will be the limited elective choices in art, music, technology, etc., as well as sacrificing these opportunities due to scheduling conflicts. This reconfiguration is akin to hitting the refresh button on a page long left with the cursor blinking.  

In Dattero’s Opinion piece and his many public comments at Board of Education meetings, he has claimed that the district did not do its due diligence and that the 100-or-so people that he has spoken to are now questioning the changes that are indeed coming. He doesn’t understand why the district is in such a hurry to reconfigure something that “isn’t broken.”

I counter his position with my own experiences speaking to those in Three Village and several other districts. Fellow 3V members are excited for their children’s new opportunities and cannot believe it has taken so long. Those outside of our community are stunned that our antiquated system still exists as no other ninth graders on Long Island are considered “junior high school” students. If we are hurrying this through, then it’s the quickest two-decade race I have ever observed at a sloth-like pace.

I am not always a fan of the decisions in this district, just ask Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, but my family has been a part of Three Village my whole life. My mother spent nearly three decades teaching at Ward Melville, my sister and I are graduates, and my daughter will be too. I have seen this place ebb and flow through good and bad, and we have been calling for this change for way too long. The community has spoken, and the time has finally arrived. Middle school here we come!

Stefanie Werner

East Setauket

Setbacks and uncertainty for Port Jeff LIRR electrification

There is even more bad news for those who support the $3.5 billion MTA Port Jefferson Branch Long Island Rail Road electrification project. 

It is clear that the MTA for decades has never been serious about supporting this project. The project was not included in the March 11 announcement from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg [D] concerning President Joe Biden’s [D] FY25 budget request under the Annual Report on Funding Recommendations Fiscal Year 2025 Capital Investment Grants New Starts Core Capacity Program and Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program for the Federal Transit Administration. This would have been the federal funding source to finance these projects.  

To date, neither MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, NYC Transit President Richard Davey, New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams, have never been on board for electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch line. You will know within nine months if the MTA is serious about advancing this project. Funding would have to be included in the next MTA $51 billion or more 2025-2029 Five Year Capital Plan. It has to be adopted by Jan. 1, 2025.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

 

File photo by Raymond Janis

No to electric school buses

With Gov. Kathy Hochul’s [D] order that all school buses must be battery powered by 2035, New York State tries to walk the walk to cut accursed global warming, melting glaciers, extinction of species and rising sea levels eventually submerging Long Island. But really?

 The defective initiative to wind and solar generation will leave the Island with seriously unreliable and costly power. If NYS were to have zero emissions tomorrow, it would be globally undetectable. 

There is no climate crisis. This “crisis” is based on defective U.N. climate computer models. Thousands of scientists around the world concur. We experience cyclical weather in decadal, century and millennial cycles.

Europe and especially Germany, the former industrial powerhouse of Europe, tried wind and solar with massive problems in reliability and cost by reopening fossil generation plants, namely coal, natural gas and oil. 

Wind turbines in the marine environment have drastically shorter lives and kill land and sea birds, also whales. Solar panels are negligibly recyclable and also require rare earth metals sourced from unfriendly foreign countries via child labor and create copious pollution in fabrication while being barely recyclable. There are mountains of scrapped wind turbine blades now that can’t be recycled.

When buses are recharged at night, there is no “clean” solar power, and the wind may not blow. They will be charged by fossil fuel power plants — batteries are too expensive and last just a few hours. Where is the pollution reduction?

An electric school bus can cost $300,000-$400,000. A diesel bus costs less than $60,000. The governor is offering to subsidize electric buses up to $30,000 each, plus thousands for charging stations. What will that do to our taxes? What happens when the taxpayer subsidies end?

 Electric buses weigh thousands of pounds more than diesel buses. Tires and roads wear more. More rubber nanoparticles and brake dust pollute the air. The operating system of an electric vehicle can be maliciously hacked shutting it down. Then what?

 Electric vehicles, including buses, lose significant range when it’s cold. Can we leave stranded kids in a dead electric bus in the winter?

 Electric buses unexpectedly fail. With a load of kids? In the winter? Buses, like other EVs, catch on unexpected fires that are inextinguishable and emit toxic gasses. Do we want that risk?

 Electric vehicles suffer from the lowest resale rates. That will increase our cost and taxes when the bus company tries to recover expenses. The public is smart — you can’t give away a used EV (with a replacement battery costing more than the price of the vehicle). Hertz took almost a $250 million hit dumping its EV fleet that no one wants to rent and is excessively expensive to maintain.

 Hochul’s attempts at greenwashing with electric school buses have significantly more downsides than the few, if any, benefits. She has already allotted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for this fiasco. Let’s hope our kids aren’t endangered..

Mark Sertoff  

Science/Technology Teacher

East Northport

Northville development proposals explained by town councilmember

The recently announced development proposals for the Northville site on Belle Mead Road in East Setauket have caused great alarm within the community about the impact they could have. The company has offered two proposals for residents to consider a 140-unit multifamily rental project built around the existing gas tanks, or a large warehouse and distribution center. It’s important for residents to understand the factors that must be considered as we search for a solution to this challenge, so I would like to share some facts and opinions about the matter: 

• Some people have asked why the Town of Brookhaven would allow Northville to build any of this in the first place. A key point to keep in mind is that they are currently zoned industrial and have the legal right to develop the site. This property right is inviolable as long as they meet zoning — including clearing limits, site plan approval and an environmental review — and is the result of a court ordered stipulation.

• What the company really wants is the multifamily project, as that is going to be the most profitable option for them. However, many people think that placing a dense multifamily housing project among the tanks is a bad idea. Northville has come to the town and the Three Village Civic Association more than once asking for the required zoning change to allow for this and was told we would not support it.

• It seems to some people that what they are now doing with their public outreach campaign is to bypass the town’s planning process and the civic association. By taking their argument to the general public, perhaps the industrial proposal will be seen as so unappealing that the multifamily will seem like the better of the two options.

We have to keep in mind that except for the protected woodlands, the rest of Belle Mead Road is also zoned L-1 industrial and there are many businesses there that the community would not find objectionable, such as medical office, commercial space and all the other low intensity uses you find along that corridor.

Islandaire, for example, is a current industrial occupant in that area. Their company has grown into a national powerhouse and provides great jobs as well as a boost to our local economy. They are good neighbors and present a fine example of what good industrial development can look like. Responsible development is important for the overall health of our local economy, and there are very few places we can attract and host these types of businesses. 

Northville is trying to move past their reputation and past association as a polluter that poisoned our land with nearly a million gallons of leaded gasoline. If they really want to be the good neighbor they claim to be, they should listen to the clear will of the community and develop the land in a way that will allow them to take advantage of their own rights without trampling on our quality of life.  

 Jonathan Kornreich

District 1 Town Councilmember

Selden Post Office celebrates Women’s History Month and more

Since the first Selden Post Office opened in 1852, the United States Postal Service has been committed to delivering top-notch service to Suffolk County residents.

 In addition to celebrating our 172 years in Selden, we are entering our fourth year of the Delivering for America plan. It is a 10-year focus to transform the Postal Service that is self-sustaining and high performing. In the first three years since, the Postal Service has aggressively advanced core DFA strategies and initiatives. One of those initiatives is investing in our diverse workforce.

With March being Women’s History Month, I am proud to be serving as Selden’s postmaster for the last two years. 

 The Postal Service workforce is one of the most diverse in the nation. We look like America. That is our strength. Did you know women make up 46% of our workforce and we employ nearly 63,000 veterans? These are just two unique postal facts that can be found at www.usps.com/postalfacts.

I know our most valued assets are our employees and the goal of the DFA plan is to be an employer of choice. Born in 

Selden Post Office celebrates Women’s History Month and more

Since the first Selden Post Office opened in 1852, the United States Postal Service has been committed to delivering top-notch service to Suffolk County residents.

 In addition to celebrating our 172 years in Selden, we are entering our fourth year of the Delivering for America plan. It is a 10-year focus to transform the Postal Service that is self-sustaining and high performing. In the first three years since, the Postal Service has aggressively advanced core DFA strategies and initiatives. One of those initiatives is investing in our diverse workforce.

With March being Women’s History Month, I am proud to be serving as Selden’s postmaster for the last two years. 

 The Postal Service workforce is one of the most diverse in the nation. We look like America. That is our strength. Did you know women make up 46% of our workforce and we employ nearly 63,000 veterans? These are just two unique postal facts that can be found at www.usps.com/postalfacts.

I know our most valued assets are our employees and the goal of the DFA plan is to be an employer of choice. Born in Brooklyn and residing in Seldon, I can personally attest to the opportunities the Postal Service offers.

 We are currently hiring city and rural carrier associates. I encourage anyone interested to stop in or visit and apply on our website, www.usps.com/careers. Who knows, you may become the future postmaster of Selden.

 On behalf of the entire team, thanks for your continued support and we look forward to delivering for Selden and America in 2024 and beyond.

Valarie Faria

Selden Postmaste

Meals on Wheels thanks the community 

The Three Village Meals on Wheels Organization is just completing its annual fund drive. The operating expenses and donations for this program come from individuals, civic, business, religious organizations, foundations, trusts and our local schools. This fund drive is necessary since the organization receives no recurring local, state or federal funding and is not government subsidized. Reaching out to the community for assistance has been ongoing for almost 40 years. 

We are continually elated to see the overwhelming generosity shown during our annual fund drive and we are extremely grateful each year to receive such assistance. 

We will be celebrating our 40th anniversary later this year. In the meantime, we continue to deliver two meals a day, five days a week to our clients. A huge “thank you” to all our donors and to all our volunteers. We could not exist without you all. 

Diane Melidosian 

Board Member, Three Village MOW

 

Photo by Raymond Janis

The majority wins in a democracy

We are about to vote to confirm or change the people who comprise the majority of state and federal elected officials. Unfortunately, most of our information about the people who are running for office we get from the television news media, which is motivated by building an audience that they can sell to advertisers. This is true for virtually all news media outlets.

he owners and senior management of the news media know that “hate and discontent” builds the largest audience so they emphasize “hate and discontent” in their reporting. These people don’t want their audience to be reasonable and rational — they want you to be angry. They want you to march on the Capitol when the vote doesn’t come out your way. Don’t give them what they want.

We live in a democracy so, right or wrong, the majority wins. If you don’t like the rules, get off your butt and engage in the hard work that it takes to change them. That requires ignoring the media and learning how to change the state and federal rules. The most important of these rules are called the constitutions. It requires getting involved, at the grassroots level, in picking who will ultimately run for office. Accept that in this endeavor, as I said before, in a democracy, the majority wins.

Francis G. Gibbons Sr.

Terryville

Quality education is the answer, not grade reorganization

Anthony Dattero in his Opinion piece entitled ”Preserving what works in 3V school district” [The Village Times Herald, March 14] finds that “the notion of transitioning to a common middle school model is, frankly, mind-boggling and irresponsible.” I do not.

Preserving what works in the Three Village school district is no different from what works in any school district and has no relation to grade organization. What works well begins with a capable teacher with every student. Add capable support staff, effective administrators, budget support and an engaged community providing safe learning places — they make quality education possible.

I was with Commack school district from 1973-88 during which time the pupil enrollment fell from 15,000 students to 6,000. Thirteen of 21 schools were closed and the grade organization changed from K-6, 7-9, 10-12 to its current K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 organization. There were hostile public meetings, threatened lawsuits and negative press. There also was a resolute board of education that made wise decisions about present and future space needs. 

The change in grade organization did not change the quality of education in Commack. It would not do so in Three Village either.

Forrest McMullen

South Setauket

Supporting local journalism

The New York Local Journalism Sustainability Act would provide tax credits to local community based newspapers for hiring local news reporters. It is important to lobby Gov. Kathy Hochul [D], state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins [D], Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie [D], along with your local state senator and assemblymember to support this critical legislation. Most communities are down to one local daily or weekly newspaper. Newspapers have to deal with increasing costs for newsprint, delivery and distribution as well as reduced advertising revenues and competition from the internet and other news information sources.

Daily newspapers concentrate on international, Washington, Albany, business and sports stories. They have few reporters covering local neighborhood news. Weekly newspapers fill the void for coverage of local community news. 

I’m grateful that you have afforded me the opportunity to express my views via Letters to the Editor, along with others who may have different opinions on the issues of the day. 

 Albany needs to join us in supporting weekly community newspapers. Readers patronize advertisers, who provide the revenues to help keep the papers in business. Let us hope there continues to be room for everyone, including the Times of Huntington-Northport, Times of Smithtown, Times of Middle Country, Port Times Record, Village Times Herald and Village Beacon Record.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Try to be more responsible

In regard to the letter, “Women are not cattle,” published on March 14. Being a woman, I wholeheartedly agree with this. Yet, regardless where anyone stands on abortion, the last sentence totally lost me by quoting lesson No. 1: “Try not to be born with a uterus.” Heavy subjects regarding pro-life, anti-choice, etc., should not be taken in jest. Due diligence should have been taken into consideration before blatant sarcasm was quoted with lesson No. 1. 

It would have been more admirable and respectful to have simply stated, “Try to be more responsible” — and not get into the program “Financial Literacy for Women” sponsored by Assemblyman Ed Flood [R-Port Jefferson] at the Comsewogue Library by using the venue as a prop or to get an agenda and/or point of view across. 

Rhoda Angelier

Coram

Potential impact of school enrollment decline

The article, “Residents debate future of Port Jefferson School District at civic meeting,” in Port Times Record March 14 gives the incorrect impression that resident Gail Sternberg delivered a presentation at a Port Jefferson Civic Association meeting “advocating drastic measures such as closing the school district.”

 We attended that meeting and Ms. Sternberg never advocated closing or defunding the school district. Nor did anyone else present. There is an audio recording of the entire meeting that confirms this.

 In discussing ways to address declining district enrollment, Ms. Sternberg suggested retaining the elementary school and hopefully the middle school, while exploring sending the high school students to a neighboring district on a tuition basis should enrollment fall to such a low level that the high school would be unable to offer a viable academic, athletic and social experience. The current district enrollment in the Port Jefferson elementary grades suggests the real possibility of this, with eventual high school graduating classes of less than 50 students. 

It is important that all Port Jefferson School District residents be aware of the potential impact of the enrollment decline in this district as it is also adversely affecting most of Suffolk County school districts — including all of our neighboring ones — as Newsday recently reported and updated Feb. 12. The Board of Education should be proactive in examining ways to address this. Hopefully, this meeting will motivate the school board to begin this necessary dialogue with everyone in the community. be.

Robert Nicols, Darcel Weldon, Holly W. Fils-Aime, Molly Mason, April Quiggle

(all Port Jefferson)

A correction — and the challenges faced by Port Jeff school district

I am writing to correct the record, as an article in this paper misrepresented a report I gave at a recent Port Jefferson Civic Association meeting [“Residents debate future of Port Jefferson School District at civic meeting,” Port Times Record, March 14]. The article claimed I was “advocating for drastic measures such as closing the school district.” That is patently false. I never said a word about closing the district, nor did anyone else at that meeting.

My presentation was primarily focused on the alarmingly low student enrollment projected for the high school in coming years, and the fact that the district has yet to address this with residents — despite repeated calls to do so. I also suggested that while we should keep both the elementary and middle schools here, we might explore the possibility of tuitioning out only our high school students to a neighboring district, in the event that these enrollment projections prove true. I did not advocate for a merger, which could be more costly and complicated.

The reporter asserted that the information I cited was from documents I “allegedly” received from the Freedom of Information Act. I actually had those documents with me but she didn’t request to view them before reporting this story.

From the FOIA data, as of October 2023, present class sizes from pre-K to fourth grade reveal the projected size of each future graduating class: pre-K: 35 students; kindergarten: 49; first grade: 39; second grade: 49; third grade: 50; fourth grade: 55.

Based on these figures, projected total high school enrollment is also concerning: fall 2031: 193 students; fall 2032: 187; fall 2033: 172.

 I understand there is a great sentimentality for the high school. However, many alumni that speak so fondly of their experience attended when there were 250 or more students in their graduating class. We are now facing a situation where there likely won’t be that number in the entire school. The vitality of the school will not be the same — and neither will the number of academic, club and athletic offerings. I believe most Port Jefferson teenagers are ready by high school to attend a larger academic environment, especially one close to home and with their Port Jefferson pals coming with them.

Our school district faces many unprecedented challenges and only by the school board and community working together cooperatively will we find solutions that best serve our students and residents.

Gail Sternberg

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: 

We have now seen the FOIA data and can remove the word alleged with relation to Gail Sternberg. The recording of the meeting indicates remarks to another attendee suggesting some aspects of the district can be mitigated without advocating such. We express our apologies for any misunderstanding or discomfort our words may have caused.

School district should be more forthcoming

We were pleasantly surprised to see so many fellow residents with diverse viewpoints at the Port Jeff Civic Association’s March 11 meeting about the school district. Did the conversation get heated at times? Yes. But while there was passionate disagreement on how to achieve what’s best for our students, there was no conflict about the vital importance of the goal itself.

That said, we were disappointed by the paper’s coverage of the event. The article wrongly claimed that Gail Sternberg was advocating for “drastic measures” like closing the school district. Neither Sternberg nor anyone else at the meeting ever said that. It also cast doubt on the validity of the declining student enrollment numbers Sternberg presented. A follow-up call from the reporter could have verified the numbers.

The article omitted to mention Bob Nicols’ presentation regarding the potential impact of declining revenue from LIPA on our school taxes. His research indicates that every $100 paid in school taxes this year could escalate to $126 by the end of the glide path in 2027-28, with a worst-case scenario reaching $195 if LIPA successfully grieves its taxes. Nicols based his numbers on data sourced from four documents, including the glide path agreement and three reports by LIPA. He also prefaced his work with the urgent call for further research from the school board to prepare for various scenarios. Despite this, his numbers were dismissed as “scaremongering” during a school board meeting.

While our role as a civic association is to provide a forum to discuss issues of importance to the community, as a volunteer board we need our members to bring their research, viewpoints and vision to the discussion, as Sternberg and Nicols did.

To address school district challenges effectively, we need accurate, accessible data. Yet, obtaining essential documents like expenditure reports and enrollment figures often require FOIA requests and waiting, thereby hindering public debate.

Therefore, we urge the school district to be more forthcoming with the entire community, not just those with children in the district. If we work together and continue to engage in open and honest debate, we will find solutions that best serve our students and residents.

Our next meeting, which will focus on the future of the LIPA power plant, will be April 11, 6:30 p.m., at the Port Jeff Library. All are welcome.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Kathleen Mc Lane, Outreach Officer

Port Jefferson Civic Association