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Paul Feinberg

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The former cottage two buildings over from the ranger’s house on West Meadow Beach has been demolished after snow earlier in the season caused the roof to cave in further than it had been. Photo by Herb Mones

While taking a walk along West Meadow Beach, something he does on a regular basis, Paul Feinberg noticed something different — one of the cottages by the ranger’s house was missing.

The Setauket resident said one day the cottage two buildings over from the ranger’s home was there, and by Feb. 16, it was gone. It’s something he is happy about. 

The only evidence was a work truck in the nearby vicinity with a sign that read: “We make things disappear.”

“That one they removed, that was just an accident waiting to happen,” Feinberg said. “When the roof caved in, that’s one thing for someone to get in there, but then the whole side of it caved in. It was just a mess.”

Town of Brookhaven attorney Annette Eaderesto said the town demolished the cottage. Snow earlier in the season further collapsed the roof, according to Eaderesto.

Feinberg said he believed Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright’s (D-Port Jefferson Station) office was instrumental in having the structure removed.

Two cottages formerly sat near the ranger’s station on West Meadow Beach. The cottage on the right was demolished Feb. 16. File photo

At a June 5 Three Village Civic Association Meeting, Cartright updated the civic association members about the town’s preliminary assessment of the four cottages at West Meadow Beach. The councilwoman said after an internal evaluation it appeared two of the cottages were dilapidated and structurally unsound, and possibly not salvageable. However, there was the potential to save a third structure and use another as an outdoor interpretive kiosk. Only four of the historic cottages that once lined the beach remained after 2004, when the town removed nearly 100 to make way for West Meadow Wetlands Reserve.

Cartright said she was following standard operating procedure and had asked for an independent engineer to assess the cottages, and the town had complied with her request.

“I wanted to make sure if these cottages are coming down that we have a report from someone outside of the town telling us that is necessary,” she said at the June 5 meeting.

At the meeting, Robert Reuter, a member of the town’s historic district advisory committee, asked that the committee be advised about any future plans regarding the cottages on the beach. Reuter said Feb. 20 he was saddened to learn about the demolition of the structure, and the committee was not notified about it.

Reuter said he wouldn’t recommend any remaining cottages be demolished, and he feels the beach structures can be preserved without spending a great deal of money. When the town renovated the ranger’s home, it cost approximately $500,000, according to Cartright. Reuter said the former summer homes were built with no basements or hard foundations, which allows water to easily wash through underneath. The structures were built to easily be closed up each year. To preserve such a home it has to be made as weather-tight as possible, according to Reuter, to keep rainwater from penetrating the structure. He would have suggested the roof be repaired and windows bordered up.

“It wouldn’t be hard if there was the commitment to do it, it wouldn’t be hard to keep them from falling down.” Reuter said. “It’s really demolition by neglect, pure and simple.”

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By Paul Feinberg

While walking near Central Park the other day, watching the construction of a massive skyscraper, a thought came to mind. On one hand, we as humans posses the brilliance to make this happen, and on the other hand, we have difficulty getting along in a humanistic manner.  Amazing, I say. Sad, I say. Unfortunate, upsetting and disturbing, I say.

In the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changin’.”  But for the better? Or for the worse?     

As I see it, the concept of abuse is out of control. Whether the form taken is physical, mental, sexual, drug, alcohol, eating, et al., it appears out of control.

How difficult it is for humans to fully embrace the concept of “things are the way they are, because we, together, allow it; because we choose to be disconnected.” We seem to struggle to think clearly and to stay united and connected. It takes a conscious level of awareness or mindfulness, or whichever terminology fits, to be developed and focused.

Again we are currently witnessing a high level of abuse in our society, in various forms: violence, terrorism, drug abuse, mental abuse, suffering, among others. We all play a part in allowing it to continue. We can all benefit by training our minds to be caring, respectful, gentle, kind, loving, understanding, tolerant, patient and sensitive with each other and also with ourselves.

We have collectively allowed ourselves to tolerate behaviors which have become the norm in today’s society; behaviors which are abusive, hurtful and disrespectful. Consider allowing ourselves to focus on the effect our behavior has on ourselves and on others — to create a healthier society.

Focus on the effect our behavior is having on the receiver, with regard to sincerity, honesty, caring, understanding, sensitivity, love, compassion and truthfulness — so that this new approach may become infectious and result in an epidemic — like a plague, or a disease which spreads rapidly through society.

Each of us has within us the potential to develop this new consciousness, with the proper training, guidance and support. Let us focus not solely on ourselves, but on others — and collectively work towards creating a healthy society for ourselves and future generations.

Let us allow ourselves to empower ourselves, to feel a greater energy in being part of building a consistently better place to live. Let us be constructors of the creation, rather than recipients of unhealthy circumstances created by individuals with, perhaps, unhealthy motivations.

We do not have to accept these changing times, if we learn how to empower ourselves. Let us collectively do this — in great numbers. Let us not just talk about it. Let us live it as part of our lifestyle on a daily basis.

In the words of Eli Wiesel, “We must always take sides, neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. We must interfere.”

Paul Feinberg lives in S. Setauket. He is a retired Three Village junior high school guidance counselor and acting administrator.