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Mount Sinai

Peyton Buckholtz a senior challenges Mount Sinai 8th grader Taylor Pedra in a Div. II matchup Oct. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

It was all Harborfields in a Division II road game against Mount Sinai where the Tornadoes blew through the Mustangs, 5-0, Oct. 22. 

The juniors led the way for Harborfields when Katie Davis scored twice along with Kathryn Morgan and Taylor Sammis who both stretched the net. Ruby Sember, the freshman, also put one through to round out the scoring for the Tornadoes with one game remaining before postseason play.

Harborfields senior keeper Zoe Krief had three saves in net and teammate Kristina Hansen a freshman stopped two. Hailey Covington had eight saves for the Mustangs and teammate Alaina Riley stopped four.

Mount Sinai concludes their regular season with a senior night home game against West Babylon Oct. 24 in a must-win game for any hopes of postseason play. Game time is 6 p.m.

Harborfields also concludes their regular season needing a win on the road against Bayport-Blue Point Oct. 24, with a 4:30 p.m. start.

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File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a single-vehicle crash that killed a man in Mount Sinai on Oct. 20.

Ralph Maiello was driving a 2019 Chevrolet pickup truck southbound on County Road 83 when his vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree just south of Mount Sinai-Coram Road at approximately 9:05 a.m.

Maiello, 55, of Coram, was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where he was pronounced dead.

The pickup truck was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652.

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Usually the football team schedules its homecoming game against a lower seeded team to increase the likelihood of victory, but not Shoreham-Wading River. At 4-0 the Wildcats hosted the other Division IV powerhouse Oct. 12, the Mount Sinai Mustangs, also at 4-0. It was the battle of the unbeaten, but the Mustangs scored the first two touchdowns and never looked back out pacing the Wildcats, 35-21, for the division’s top spot.

Senior running back Matthew LoMonaco led the way for the Mustangs first with a pick-6, a 62-yard reception for the score and a short yardage catch for his third touchdown of the game. Derek Takacs hauled in a 31-yard pass for the score, and Joseph Spallina punched in from short yardage. Senior kicker Joseph Balzano was perfect on the day splitting the uprights all five times.

Shoreham-Wading River quarterback Xavier Arline did what he’s done all season scoring on a pair of rushing touchdowns, and teammate Max Barone, the sophomore, caught a 7-yard pass from Arline for the score.

Pictured clockwise from right, running back Barone dives up the middle for Shoreham-Wading River; Mustangs celebrate after taking a 28-7 lead over Shoreham-Wading River; Mount Sinai LoMonaco with a pass reception against the Wildcats; Mustangs celebrate after one of LoMonaco’s touchdowns; Arline lunges toward the end zone; and Shoreham-Wading River’s halftime entertainment.

The Mustangs stand alone atop the Division  IV leaderboard 5-0 while the Wildcats dip to 4-1.

Next up for the Mustangs is a road game Oct. 18 against Southampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Wildcats look to get back to their winning ways at home Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. for their senior game.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a single-vehicle crash that killed a woman in Port Jefferson Station Oct 15.

Kaitlyn Schaal was driving a 2001 Jeep Cherokee southbound on Old Town Road when the vehicle crossed the northbound lane and struck a tree on the east side of the road at Greenhaven Drive at 6:03 a.m.

Schaal, 19, of 60 Chestnut St., Mount Sinai, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652.

 

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A rendering of the proposed development in Mount Sinai. Image from Steven Losquadro

A Mount Sinai millennial housing project, located on Route 25A near Myrtle Street, dubbed Mount Sinai Meadows inches closer to breaking ground on construction. 

On July 19, Woodmere-based real estate developer Basser-Kaufman was approved of a change of zoning from J-Business 2 to Planned Development District. The application is currently being reviewed by the Town of Brookhaven Planning Board. 

Lori Murphy, legislative aide for Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the application is currently being looked at by the Planning Board and will have to be reviewed by multiple departments including the Highway Department. 

Asked if she knew how long the Planning Board would take to review the application, Murphy said it varies from a case by case basis and could only confirm that the zone change was approved by the town. 

Site plans for the project call for 140 housing units, including 106 two-bedroom apartments and 34 one-bedroom apartments. The complex will have bike racks, walkable grounds, communal barbecue areas, electric car charging stations, a large open lawn for the use of residents and four spaces toward the northern end of the property that will be used for large retail spaces, according to a March 2019 TBR News Media article. There will be 21.78 acres used for residential housing, while 8.3 acres will be retail. 

The mixed-use complex will be geared toward creating a living space for young adults and young professionals. According to the developers, they are catering toward the 20-34 age group. 

Ann Becker, president of the Mount Sinai Civic Association, reiterated that the civic supports the development and are awaiting to hear updates from the town once it goes through planning. 

“We want something for young people and professionals,” she said. “We were looking for flexible options for available housing for young people, the developer has assured us at this point that the number of children won’t burden the community.”

She brought up another point that approximately 20 percent of the housing stock in the hamlet is for those 55 and older. Becker said they didn’t want an overload of senior living facilities in the area. 

Construction is currently underway for two projects, a 120-unit Bristal assisted living community and a 225-unit senior rental complex for individuals 55 and over at the corner of Echo Avenue and Route 25A.

Becker said while some children could come out from the development, she said she believes it could aid the declining school enrollment in the Mount Sinai School District. 

Marc Kemp, a representative at Bassar-Kaufman, said once they can get site plan approval from the planning board they will move forward with the development.

“It [the review] could take eight to 10 months,” Kemp said. “Once we get the approval we want to break ground as soon as possible.”

Mount Sinai dominated their homecoming game through three quarters of play out scoring the visiting Royals 33-6 before Port Jeff rallied in the final quarter. Royals’ quarterback Luke Filippi (filling in for the injured Sam Florio) found senior Aidan Kaminska on a pair of short yardage pass plays for his 2nd and 3rd touchdown in the game where the senior set a Section XI record with 17 catches for 233 yards placing him 2nd in total receptions in a single game.

But despite Kaminska’s record the Royals fell to the Mustangs 39-20 Sept. 28.

Mount Sinai sophomore running back Joseph Spallina led the way with a16-yard run, a 23-yard pass reception and an 85-yard interception all finding the end-zone for the Mustangs. Senior quarterback Brandon Ventarola punched in from short yardage, while Matthew LoMonaco scored on a 14-yard pass play and Michael Trepeta found the end-zone on a 3-yard run.

Junior Alex Ledesma’s solid boot put up two PAT’s for the Royals in addition to Kaminska’s record making set of catches.

The win boosts the Mustangs to 4-0, tied with Shoreham Wading River in their division at the season’s halfway point.

The loss puts Port Jeff 1-3 in league. Their next game is set for Oct. 5 for homecoming weekend, where they expect to face Greenport at home with a 2 p.m. start time.

Mount Sinai looks to keep their perfect record intact when they hit the road Oct. 12 to face undefeated Shoreham-Wading River, for sole possession of first place in League IV. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.

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Security footage of man who allegedly broke into Mount Sinai home. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Police are looking to identify and locate two men who allegedly broke a door and illegally entered a Mount Sinai home at the end of August.

Police said two men broke a rear glass door to gain entry to a Liso Drive home Aug. 29 at around 8:40 p.m. The men fled the home without any proceeds.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 800-220-TIPS (8477) or texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637). All calls and text messages will be kept confidential.

The Mount Sinai Jetty will see reconstruction early September. Photo by Kyle Barr

After a decade delay and wringing of hands, the Mount Sinai Jetty project is going to start construction within a week as the end of summer closes in.

The ramp up East Beach in Port Jefferson is splashed with waves at high tide. Photo from Margot Garant

Ed Morris, the Brookhaven Town Parks & Recreation  commissioner, said construction is ready to start the project within the week. The contractor Bay Shore-based H&L Contracting is already in the process of gathering supplies. Materials will be stored at the Cedar West Beach Parking lot, which is down the road of the main town beach parking lot. 

“H&L will be starting up a staging area sometime in the next few days — [and will] be mobilizing everything,” he said.

H&L’s $7.4 million contract to rebuild the east and west jetties, which has been crumbled mess for close to a decade. The jetties rocks collapsed and submerged at the seaward ends during  high tide, and lower than 4 feet in some places. Holes in the jetty have also caused erosion to surrounding bluffs and beachfronts. The western jetty has been of particular concern to neighboring Port Jefferson village and its beaches.

Matt Miner, Brookhaven Town chief of operations, said an outside engineering firm did an underwater review of the jetties, which confirmed that sand is slipping through it. The rocks that will be placed in the jetties will match the size as the ones currently used and will restore the structure’s integrity.

In addition, Melville-based surveying and engineering firm Nelson & Pope is being paid $86,000 for full-time construction inspection services. 

The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with a finalization hopefully by spring, Morris said. Construction will be done on opposite sides of the inlet, which the commissioner noted, to allow boats through in both the on and off season.

The jetties are expected to increase in height and become slightly wider. The west jetty will extend slightly further south than the east jetty.

One element of the project that is still to be determined is the outcome of the sand sitting at the bottom of the inlet. Suffolk County has promised to dredge the sand from its bottom once the jetty project is concluded. Port Jefferson Village officials have been chomping at the bit looking to get sand back to repair its rapidly diminishing East Beach. Morris could not confirm where the sand would end up.

“Ideally, sand would be going on both sides of the jetty,” he said.

In the meantime, Port Jefferson officials have plans to piggyback the town’s contracts to aid their own beach restoration efforts.

Mayor Margot Garant said the village will be entering into contract with H&L to drop off materials at East Beach and to use the village’s East Beach parking as a staging area. She said it was still unclear how much of the parking lot they would be using. With the massive amount of rocks the company will be hauling, it could mean several trucks traveling down the steep driveway on a consistent basis. 

“I don’t know to what degree they’re going to be using the east end parking lot as a staging area for some heavy equipment, maybe not at all, but it’s mostly for access,” Garant said. 

As of Sept. 3, the village attorney was set to go over the details with the contractor.

Port Jefferson has plans of its own to revitalize its easternmost beachfront. The contract with H&L allowing them use of the beach will give them stone for use in rebuilding its cracked concrete access ramp. Plans are for a steel wall to cut back 200 feet tied into the hill along the country club property. The mayor said they originally looked at 356 linear feet to run along the tennis courts area, but New York State Department of Environmental Conservation restricted them to the 200.

However, the mayor said the state has promised to allow them to create a rock revetment wall around that tennis courts area to help offset erosion.

The village is still waiting on its permits from the DEC before going out to bid on those projects.

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People of all ages enjoy Heritage Park for its sizable number of amenities. Photo by Kyle Barr

A flash of green among the gray, the short hills that roll along the side of Route 25A in Mount Sinai are strewn with people. Men and women jog, kids scream and laugh playing baseball and soccer. Children run up those green hills, then fall and let themselves tumble down the gentle slopes. 

A mockup of what the park would look like upon completion. Image from Lori Baldassare

Some developers have talked about creating a “town square” for the hamlet of Mount Sinai, but for lovers of Heritage Park, there already is one.

“There it is, Heritage Park — it’s one of the most beautiful parks of its kind that I’ve ever seen,” said New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket). “It came together from the cooperation of so many wonderful people willing to pull together.”

Nearly 20 years ago, local residents became heated about plans to develop the site for the home improvement giant, Home Depot. The site, which was once a pumpkin farm, joined with other properties like the Davis Peach Farm in an agrarian setting. Decades of home development turned the area into small strips of business sandwiched in between residential neighborhoods.

Heritage Park went in the opposite direction. A successful agreement between Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven meant the county bought the site by using the Community Greenways Fund, while the town built the park amenities like the baseball and soccer fields. The nonprofit organization Heritage Trust continues to operate the park, along with Brookhaven town. The trust hosts multiple carnivals and other events throughout the year as a means of raising money. The trust also rents out the Heritage Center for public events. 

But more than that, the trust has become a lightning rod for Mount Sinai, and even well beyond. 

The history of Heritage

Very few dreams become reality, at least to specific designs.

But original plans for Heritage Park, known also as The Wedge, and mockups bear a striking resemblance to how the park has shaped up 20 years after those original designs. 

A contractor installs the irrigation system just north of where the playground is now located back in early 2003. Photo by Fred Drewes

Fred Drewes, a longtime park volunteer and Mount Sinai resident, originally came to the Mount Sinai Civic Association back in 1988 with the idea of a hamlet study, and the idea was resurrected in the late 1990s, co-chaired with then civic president Lori Baldassare. Within those designs, he proposed a park, one that would become the focal point for the North Shore that had once been McGovern Sod Farm. 

This was during a time when the rural past of the hamlet was being laid over with brick and concrete. One housing development after another changed the tenor of Mount Sinai. The last few farms on the south side of Route 25A started to close and look to sell their property, and a few big names started eyeing those parcels. 

“The development pattern of western Long Island was going to make it impossible for Mount Sinai to escape being visually damaged and swallowed up,” Englebright said.

Among the legal action taking place at the location of the Davis Peach Farm, one of those maligned developments was a potential Home Depot on a plot of land that had been a pumpkin and sod farm.

At the southern tip of The Wedge, a space of only about one acre that had commercial zoning, representatives of Home Depot approached the property owners who were looking to sell. The rest of the property was zoned residential.

Baldassare, who has spent the past 20 years as the on-and-off again Heritage Trust president, has long been in the trenches over the fate of The Wedge. Home Depot would end up the line in the sand for Mount Sinai residents. As civic president, she asked Drewes to revive his hamlet study and plan for a park. She also was a leader among residents campaigning against the home supply chain, getting people to tie green ribbons around their mailboxes all across the hamlet to show their support.

“We ended up competing for them with land,” Baldassare said. “We had thousands of ribbons up all over the place.”

The next task was to make sure, as Englebright put it, “the same thing didn’t come back in some virulent form.”

In 1999, the civic authored a proposal for Suffolk County to buy the parkland. Of course, in government, nothing is ever that simple.

A state, a county, a town, a civic

Rare is it that all levels of government from the top down work together on such a large project as was Heritage Park, and while it wasn’t all easy, the results stand.

Volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 004 help plant a garden in the fall of 2004 in what is now the Butterfly Triangle, though plantings later failed due to not breaking up the compacted soil. The same day, volunteers planted crocuses. Photo by Fred Drewes

Still, the process was grueling at times. Both Brookhaven town and the county wanted active recreation, namely baseball and soccer fields. The town, especially, wasn’t into designing passive space with ingredients of a walking path and playground, but mostly a space for, as Drewes called it, “free play.” He remembers the then town parks commissioner mentioning he would never use such a space for jogging, so close as it was to two major roads.

“The way the greenways program worked is they needed a partner to maintain it,” Baldassare said. “They weren’t willing to develop it, they needed a partner, and the county said they wanted a municipal partner, but the town was not willing to do all the things we wanted in the park.”

Before they were willing to sign on to the county, the town also wanted to have a civic partner.

The assemblyman came into the picture, agreeing with the civic about needing to maintain the heritage of the area. He said he reached out to his colleagues at the state, county and town levels to help open those conversations. 

One difficulty they encountered was finding funds to buy the particular section of The Wedge that was still zoned for commercial.

The property was owned by Vinny Bove, a local entrepreneur and developer. Englebright recalled him as a “rather rugged individual,” and didn’t expect that he would be such a kindred spirit. Speaking with him, he found Bove was more than willing to keep the property up for sale until the state could gather the funds for the civic to buy the property.

“His welcoming attitude and his willingness to embark on the journey of uncertainty that was worthy of the community’s heritage, made it possible,” Englebright said.

This first Smiley Face at Heritage Park was a display of 7,500 crocuses planted in the Fall of 2004. The present Smiley Face is a result of planting 2,250 daffodils in the fall of 2012 with the first daffodil Smiley Face blooming in spring of 2013. Photo by Fred Drewes

Of course, the next issue was that the civic had to be legally able to accept state funds, needing to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, categorized as a land trust. It was then the Heritage Trust was formed, which incorporated in 2000.

The past trust president and now treasurer recalls much haggling over which municipality would fork over the funds for which part of the project. After the section was designated for park, it would be years before the first shovels finally entered the ground in 2003 when it all started to come together.

The county would buy most of the land, with one section now owned by the trust. The town would build the walking paths and baseball and soccer fields, and town lawnmowers continue to maintain the space.

“All the voices were speaking of the green space,” Englebright said. “Just amazing loving work the parks department of the town invested itself into.”

20 years, 20 more

From a few baseball fields and passive green, the park grew. More state assembly grants and loads of private fundraising helped gather the money to build the barnlike structure that has become the Heritage Center, the main headquarters not just for the trust but also for  the civic groups and a gathering spot for other local groups and events.

Amy Satchell was a volunteer since almost the beginning, helping to fundraise for the center and installation of the playground, which went up years after the park was fully built. Every year around the holidays Satchell goes to help decorate the center and the large pine tree just outside its doors.

Heritage Center at Heritage Park is used by the trust for its events. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Many people had an idea that it would be the town center, the town square of Mount Sinai,” she said. “You can see now after all this time all the wonderful amenities that are provided.”

Drewes has seen more and more amenities come to the park, including his own idea for the now-annual parade of flags, a display of flags from nations across the world on the Avenue of America, a stretch of the walkway that encloses the park.

The longtime Mount Sinai resident, now 83, is retired. He can lean back on a park bench and look at all the work he and his civic compatriots have helped accomplish.

“I’m gratified and extremely happy that what we as citizens proposed and volunteers worked tirelessly to create is valued by so many people,” he said.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she has seen the effectiveness of the project and has proposed a similar agreement for a spot in Middle Island. The location is the site of a now-demolished K-Mart across from Artist Lake along Middle Country Road. 

“It has inspired me to take the model and replicate it,” Anker said.

Baldassare said that as the park reaches its 20th year, very few things remain as part of the original design, with only a splash pad and a few other odds and ends left. For the trust, it means the end of an era, and the start of a new one.

Fundraising has always been a difficulty, with the trust having an annual budget of around $300,000, the members have to fundraise what they don’t get through sponsorships and grants almost all by themselves. These funds also help to pay the several part-time staffers the trust needs for its ongoing efforts.

“People think it must be taxpayer dollars that take care of the center, and it’s not, we always have to raise money,” Satchell said.

They host events every year like the spring and summer carnivals, but those are dependent on weather. The trust treasurer recalled one year that was incredibly lean because of adverse weather conditions during one of its main fundraising events.

The park always requires more volunteers and is looking for more ideas to take the park through the next 20 years. 

Though many who visit the park assume that it must have always been there, for the trust and its volunteers, that can only be a good thing.

“When people say that, for them, the park has always been there, that’s fantastic,” Satchell said. “We want it to be that anchor in the community that people think it’s always been there. I do hope it always will be.”

This article was amended Oct. 2 to change the captions within the pictures to better reflect what they present. Several pictures were changed to say they were taken by Fred Drewes.

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School board officially renames high school in honor of Robert Grable

After the devastating loss of Mount Sinai High School principal Robert Grable in July, the school district is looking for ways to move forward.

Principal Robert Grable speaks at the 2019 high school graduation. Photo by Bob Savage

In a letter posted to the district website Superintendent Gordon Brosdal announced the appointment of Middle School Principal Peter Pramataris to the high school principal position. Middle School Assistant Principal Elizabeth Hine will assume his place, while Brian McCarthy, a retired administrator, will assume Hine’s previous position.

“I am very happy to report that all three buildings are going to be fully staffed and ready to greet our students on Wednesday, Sept. 4,” Brosdal wrote in the letter,

McCarthy has been an administrator at several districts including Miller Place and William Floyd. Brosdal said he specializes in elementary schools.

According to Brosdal, the district has conducted a search from an interim principal for the last four weeks, including candidates outside and inside the district.

“Peter Pramataris has been selected to serve as the interim high school principal while the district conducts a thorough search for the right person to permanently sit as high school principal.”

Maureen Poerio, the district clerk, said Mount Sinai will not be starting the process of looking for a permanent high school principal until January 2020.

The interim positions of the administrators will be held for a year, and they are on leave from their previous positions should any wish to return.

At its Aug. 28 meeting, Brosdal said while they looked for an outside interim replacement at the high school, districts have a hard time finding a replacement at such short notice for such an important position. Otherwise, having familiar faces move within the district can help aid the transition through what may be a difficult time for students.

“We feel good about this, we’re ready to go,” Brosdal said.

Pramataris said he spent a while thinking about whether to accept the position or not, but decided based on his desire to help the district in its time of need.

“Rob [Grable] was a great friend, mentor and colleague,” he said. “It’s just a way that I think I can help the community get through this difficult time.”

At the meeting, the board officially voted to rename the high school to the Robert M. Grable Jr. — Mount Sinai High School.