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Miller Avenue Elementary School

North Country Road in Shoreham will be getting repaved thanks to a New York State grant. Photo by Kyle Barr

Town workers will soon be taking hammers and dozers to a stretch of North Country Road in Shoreham, all thanks to a state grant.

Plans for the new sidewalks will connect to Brookhaven town owned Shoreham Beach. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Brookhaven announced it had received a $1.8 million grant from the New York State Department of Transportation, Transportation Alternatives Program and made available through the Federal Highway Administration with the intent to start construction in 2020. The plan calls for a revitalization of the well-worn pavement from Woodville Road to the entrance of Shoreham Beach. In addition, the town will construct new U.S. American Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks, curbs and ramps from Valentine Road down to the entrance of Shoreham Beach. 

Dan Losquadro (R), the town superintendent of highways, said they have had the road on their radar for the past three years, but new ADA compliance standards have mandated the town reconstruct all the sidewalks before they look at paving the road, as was the case when they repaved roads in Rocky Point last year. These new compliances include sensory pads on all ramps and a widening of the sidewalks.

“On North Country Road, there’s almost none of it that’s ADA compliant,” Losquadro said. “For our residents who are disabled, this is a very worthwhile project.”

In addition to the roadwork on North Country Road, the town has also received $50,000 in Multi Modal #4 funding from the state DOT to replace the sidewalk on Route 25A in Shoreham from Roswell Avenue to Woodville Avenue, which should start within the next two months.

The town boasted the new sidewalks will allow walkability from Shoreham Plaza on Route 25A, to Miller Avenue Elementary School all the way to the town-owned Shoreham Beach.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said local chambers of commerce, civics and the Shoreham-Wading River schools superintendent, Gerard Poole, wrote letters to the state to help in the grant effort. 

“Those sidewalks are crumbling, they’re narrow and they’re not ADA compliant,” she said.

Currently the sidewalk ends at Valentine Road, and the shoulders of the road, beyond a few residential homes, border sharp slopes and woods on both sides. This makes it hazardous for bikers and joggers who climb the hilly road north of North Country Road. Losquadro said the new sidewalk will be located on the north side of North Country Road and construction should start in spring of next year.

Along with road resurfacing, new sidewalks, curbs and ramps, plans include the construction of new retaining walls along grade changes and drainage installations plus upgrades. 

“This project will dramatically improve the road safety and access for our students and families as they travel to school and walk to bus stops,” Superintendent Poole said in a release. “We look forward to its implementation as it is an added level of protection for our school community.”

The highway superintendent said the new project has the potential to dovetail into Suffolk County’s upcoming Rails to Trails project, which looks to make a hiking and biking trail from Wading River to Mount Sinai along the PSEGLI/LIPA-owned right-of-way. County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) has told TBR News Media in previous interviews that project is expected to start construction in the fall, however there is no word where construction will begin.

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Last year, tragedy struck after 16-year-old Thomas Cutinella, a former Shoreham-Wading River High School football player, suffered a fatal head injury after colliding with another player during a football game on Oct. 1. Cutinella died later that day.

To honor his memory, community members from Shoreham-Wading River gathered on Sunday at Wildwood State Park in Wading River for the first Patriot Run. The event was sponsored by the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcat Athletic Club.

John Regazzi, a physical education teacher at Wading River Elementary School, created and organized the event to honor Cutinella. Alice Steinbrecher, a second grade elementary school teacher at Miller Avenue Elementary School also helped, and said the two decided to call the event the Patriot Run to honor Cutinella’s own patriotism.

“One of [Tom’s] biggest loves was his country, besides his family,” Steinbrecher said. “He cared so much about the men and women fighting for our country.”

According to Steinbrecher, more than 300 people attend the event to either show their support or run the race. Cutinella’s former football number, 54, was also considered when they determined the length of the race. The number was included as the race was made a 2.54 mile run.

Those who wanted to participate had to register to enter the race. The fee was $20 for adults and $15 for children if residents register before or by Sept. 4. Those who registered the day of the event paid an additional $5. Although everyone who registered for the event received a ticket for the barbecue that followed the race, only those who pre-registered received a T-Shirt in support of the event.

According to a friend of Cutinella who wanted to remain unidentified, the money is going toward the Tom Cutinella Scholarship fund.

“I knew him for a while… and he just, he’s the kind of kid you’d see in the hallway and no matter who you are… he’d say hi,” the friend said. “He didn’t see social barriers. He [was] just a friend to everybody. I think that’s why the whole community was united [after his death].”

A total of $70,545 has been raised for the scholarship before the event, but it is still unclear when Regazzi will know how much money they raised at the Patriot Run. The Cutinella family didn’t speak regarding the event or the loss of their son as the media was asked to respect the family’s privacy.

Jim Madden of Wading River is a parent of a student who went to school with Cutinella. Madden says the incident reminds people that unexpected events can happen.

“He was hurt on the football field and many of us have children that participate in sports whether it’s football, lacrosse, baseball,” he said. “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare when something like that happens. It’s chilling to all the other spectators and the other parents and it’s a reminder to everyone that things like this can happen. Life really is very fragile you have to cherish every day.”

The event is one of several scheduled for this year. The Thomas Cutinella Memorial foundation is also support Cutinella in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Run in New York City on Sunday Sept. 27 and the first golf tournament fundraiser in his name on Monday Oct. 12 at the Baiting Hollow Country Club in Baiting Hollow.

The hope is that these events, including the Patriot Run, will help those Cutinella cared about while keeping his memory alive.

“He was a great kid,” Steinbrecher said. “Last fall was a big tragedy for our community so this year we wanted a chance for the community to come together in a positive way. The Cutinella family [is] asking people to go out and do acts of kindness in his honor and so this was our way of getting the community together.”

 

Editor’s note: This online story was updated to name the correct title for John Regazzi.