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Poquott

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Over the course of the last year, North Shore residents have gotten relaxed or forgetful when it comes to locking their car doors. 

For example, Fred Leute, chief of Port Jefferson’s code enforcement, said that over the past month, village code has been receiving calls about people rummaging through open vehicles.

He said that right now, thanks to Ring camera footage, they have seen three separate people on camera trying to open car doors. 

“They’re looking for loose change or cash,” he said. “They’re checking for open doors — not even looking inside.”

Leute said this can be prevented.

“Lock your doors,” he said. “Double check.”

And while the village experienced these incidents over the last few weeks, he said that this problem isn’t confined to just one area. 

“We’re aware of what’s going on,” Leute said. “It’s happening all over.”

A spokesperson from the Suffolk County Police Department said several North Shore hamlets have reported thefts from motor vehicles. These numbers cannot verify if a car was unlocked or not.

From January 2021 until this Jan. 22, there have been 111 reported thefts from a motor vehicle in Old Field, Poquott, Port Jefferson, Rocky Point, Selden, Setauket and Stony Brook.

Old Field and Poquott had the least amount, with just two each in the fall, while Selden experienced 46 thefts — the most happening in July, August and December of last year. 

Port Jefferson reported 10, 13 for Rocky Point, 17 for Setauket and 21 for Stony Brook.

These numbers also do not include thefts of parts from the vehicle like tires or catalytic converters. 

But along with small thefts from inside easy-to-reach cars, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said during a recent press conference that eight cars were stolen across Suffolk County in one week — Dec. 19 through Dec. 23.

“Many victims of vehicle theft not only leave their cars unlocked, but they leave key fobs in plain sight, either on the passenger seat, the driver’s seat or in the cup holder,” Bellone said during the Dec. 23 Hauppauge press event. “This allows car thieves to easily enter the vehicle and take off.”

Photo by Daniel Dunaief

POSING IN POQUOTT

Daniel Dunaief discovered this frog friend on an evening walk with the dog in Poquott last week. He writes, ‘The frog, and the dog, stayed still long enough to allow us to get a close up using a phone light on one side and a camera on the other. After the photo, the dog ambled home and the frog hopped away.

Send your Photo of the Week to [email protected]

 

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A pole that once hosted a dead wire was transformed into a place for ospreys to nest. Photo by Jeff Koppelson

Village of Poquott trustee Jeff Koppelson knew he wanted to get one more thing done before he stepped down from office.

A former leaning pole on Walnut Beach, left, in Poquott has been replaced. Photo by Jeff Koppelson

Koppelson, who decided not to run this year after six years in office, said since he began his first term as trustee, he has wanted to do some work at Walnut Beach. The task is almost completed and now ospreys have a potential new home at the top of a utility pole that once hosted a dead wire.

At the location, Koppelson said rising water levels were breaching the beach where a utility pole is located and leaning tremendously. He added that the pole has several wires on top for lights for the street and to face the water for boaters. There’s also a dead wire that is connected to a second pole in a marsh.

At first, when the trustee called PSEG Long Island two years ago, he said he was quoted $15,000 for the removal of the precarious pole because he was told it wasn’t leaning enough to be removed free of charge. This year when PSEGLI reassessed the pole, he was told it was leaning enough to be removed and replaced for free. While working with a representative, he mentioned how the pole in the marsh could be used as an osprey platform. The utility company has a program set up to install specifically made platforms for the birds to nest. 

After working with PSEGLI, the leaning pole has been replaced, and the second one now has a platform for ospreys to nest.

The trustee said they are still waiting for the dead wire to be cut and the leaning pole to be removed.

“I know that there are always construction delays, especially when there are multiple companies and contractors involved, so I’m just glad that, after two years of trying, the project has been started and will be completed shortly,” Koppelson said. “That part is rewarding to me in itself.”

He added he hasn’t seen any ospreys settle in yet, even though they can be seen flying in the vicinity of the beach.

“They are seasonal, so it’s likely that one of them has spotted it and has decided to settle there for next year’s summer residence,” he said. “It is really spectacular to see those birds flying over the beach with a fish in their claws as they head back to their nest, so I’m eager to see them return to the new platform someday to feed their young right there.”

According to the PSEGLI website, ospreys gravitate toward high utility poles and creating the platforms away from wires creates a safer nesting place for the birds.

In a statement, a PSEGLI representative said if an osprey is building a nest on electrical equipment, residents should contact PSEGLI by visiting www.psegliny.com/contactcustomerservice.

“PSEG Long Island is committed to our customers and the communities we serve,” the statement read.

“We invest in the economy, environment and infrastructure to make the places where we operate better places to live and work. This commitment includes protecting our equipment, wildlife and birds like
the osprey.”

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Election results were announced in both the villages of Old Field and Poquott after ballots were tallied Sept. 15

 Poquott

While only three names were officially on the ballot in the Village of Poquott — one for mayor and two for trustee — three additional residents garnered votes as a few dozen wrote in Dianna Padilla for mayor and Debbie Stevens and Felicia Chillak for trustee. All three have run unsuccessfully in the past.

At the end of the night, current trustee Chris Schleider won his quest for mayor with 237 votes, while Padilla garnered 54. Current mayor Dee Parrish and trustee Jacqueline Taylor won the two open trustee seats with 231 and 217, respectively. Stevens garnered 55 votes and Chillak received 61.

uOld Field

Trustee Bruce Feller is the new mayor of Old Field, garnering 80 votes the night of Sept. 15. Entering election day Tom Pirro was the only candidate on the ballot for trustee, even though two seats were open but residents wrote in former trustee and deputy mayor Thomas Gulbransen. Pirro regained his seat with 69 votes, and Gulbransen will be on the village board once again with 26 write-in votes.

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The Tinker home that once stood in Poquott. Photo from the Three Village Historical Society archives.

A suffragist and philanthropist, who summered in the Village of Poquott, continues to help women nearly 100 years after her death.

Annie Rensselaer Tinker was the daughter of banker Henry Tinker, who bought a mansion in the Village of Poquott in the late 1800s, according to the village’s historian Christoper Ryon. Despite her death in 1924, just short of her 40th birthday, Annie Tinker’s inheritance from her father in 1914 would go on to establish a charity to aid retired women who no longer had adequate means of support.

“She died early, but she had a very rich life,” Ryon said.

Annie Tinker, shown right with a friend, was an accomplished equestrian. Photo from the John and Betty Evans Collection

Tinker, who was born in 1884, spent her younger years in Poquott swimming, sailing and horseback riding and went on to be a champion for women. She became a suffragist, Ryon said, and Tinker, an accomplished equestrian, formed and trained a women’s cavalry in 1911 that protected other suffragists when they participated in parades.

Tinker enlisted in the British Red Cross during World War I, according to Ryon. During her time giving aid to soldiers on the front lines, her father died and left the Poquott home to her. After World War I, she decided to stay in Paris, and in 1924, died due to complications from tonsillitis surgery in London.

Catherine Tinker, who is not a descendant of the Poquott family, has done extensive research on Annie Tinker’s life. She believes the suffragist saw the horrors of World War I when she was a member of the Red Cross on the front lines in Belgium, France and Italy.

“I think she was truly independent and could have lived a life of luxury in any way she chose, but she put herself in service of others and had this compassion for the fight for women’s right to vote, to nurse the wounded during World War I in Europe and to leave her money to help older working women who could no longer work for a living,” Catherine Tinker said. “That’s kind of amazing.”

A charity first called the Annie R. Tinker Memorial Home was established in 1924 shortly after Tinker’s death following wishes detailed in her will. In later years the name was changed to the Annie Tinker Association for Women Inc., according to Tinker, a former president and CEO of the foundation. The charity operated out of an office in Manhattan until 2018 when it was dissolved.

The mission of the organization was to provide small monthly stipends to retired women who applied for grants so they could remain in their homes. In 2017, the foundation provided assistance to 25 women, according to Tinker.

The former foundation president said last year the board of trustees decided to dissolve the foundation, and the remaining assets were donated to similar charities while the bulk of the money was transferred to the New York Community Trust, which created a new fund named the Annie Rensselaer Tinker Fund. The intent of the new fund is to support projects and policies that maintain the independence and dignity of aging women in New York. Tinker said the hope is that the general projects through the trust will help more women.

“It should go on in perpetuity, so the legacy of Annie Tinker is there,”
she said.

Tinker said Annie Tinker had hoped the Poquott home would one day be a retreat for older women; however, it eventually was inherited by her brother after a long probate case. While Tinker had bequeathed her estate to her friend Kate Darling Nelson with the property being donated to the charity for retired women, her mother fought for half of her daughter’s money and won. However, her friend still inherited half of the fortune and established the charity as Annie Tinker wished.

Through the decades the foundation helped women who lived alone and may not have had the support of family, Catherine Tinker said. She said women who received funds from the foundation were encouraged to mingle with each other with book clubs, holiday and tea parties, which many times the board members would attend, and the get-togethers formed what she called a “Tinker family.” The former CEO said many of the women enjoyed careers as artists and didn’t have pensions or substantial Social Security payments. During her days as a suffragist, Annie Tinker had met many female artists from Gramercy Park.

“When the foundation really tried to reach out to women artists, I think that was natural, because I think they were women Annie herself would have liked to help,” Tinker said.

For more information about Annie Tinker, visit https://lihj.cc.stonybrook.edu/#articles_4692 for a Long Island History Journal article written by Catherine Tinker.

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Evelyn Berezin. Photo by Barbara Nelson

Evelyn Berezin, formerly of Poquott, died Dec. 8 at the Mary Manning Walsh Home in New York City. She was 93 years old.

She was a computer pioneer who built and marketed the first computerized word processor and the founder and president of the tech start-up Redactron Corporation, which manufactured and sold word processors.

Evelyn Berezin. File photo

Among the honors she received in her lifetime were inductions into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in Los Angeles in 2011 and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, in 2015.

In an interview with The Village Times Herald in 2015, Berezin said when she was younger she thought she would pursue a career in physics, not computer science.

“I got into it by accident,” Berezin said. “It was so early in the game, I didn’t know what it was.”

Berezin was born April 12, 1925, in the Bronx. She was 15 years old when she graduated from high school and went on to study at Hunter College where she developed an interest in physics. She said the day after Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, her high school physics teacher offered her a research job. Since she was 16, she had to lie about her age in order to get the position.

“Every boy in the country was given a number to be drafted,” Berezin said. “I happened to be there at the right time.”

Berezin worked in a lab while attending college at night and went on to study math at Brooklyn Polytech, physics and chemistry at New York University and English at Hunter. In the April 10, 2015, Village Times Herald article, Berezin said while talking to a recruiter about a government job she discovered that there weren’t many positions in physics, so she asked about computers, something she admitted she never heard of at the time.

Berezin went on to work for a few companies designing computers before opening Redactron.

“In 1969 I decided I would never get to be vice president because I was a woman,” Berezin said. “I decided to start my own company.”

From 1969 to 1975, Redactron grew to employ 500 workers. In 1976, she decided to sell the company to the Burroughs Corporation and joined the company as president of its Redactron division, a position she held until about 1980. After leaving Burroughs, Berezin became involved in a number of start-up companies and moved to Long Island.

Berezin became a member of the Stony Brook Foundation in 1985, according to the Stony Brook University website. She served on the investment committee and was a member of Brookhaven Science Associates, served on the board of overseers of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of New York University and held a board position with the Sion Power Corporation. She became a member of the John S. Toll Heritage Society at Stony Brook and established the Berezin-Wilenitz Endowment.

“I feel that Stony Brook has given and continues to give a great education to children from low income families and particularly to children of immigrants,” Berezin is quoted as saying on the SBU website. She and her husband of 51 years, Israel Wilenitz, a chemical engineer, also funded the Sam and Rose Berezin Endowed Scholarship, named after her parents.

“Evelyn Berezin spent a lifetime defying expectations and pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and her guidance and generosity have helped empower Stony Brook University and its students to do the same,” SBU President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in a statement. “Her friendship has made Stony Brook a stronger institution, and we will forever be grateful to her.”

Berezin’s husband predeceased her in 2003. Funeral services were held Dec. 11 at the Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York City.

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Volunteers with the Setauket Fire Department respond to a fire in Poquott Aug. 16. Photo by Bob O'Rourk

The Setauket Fire Department was called to a two-story home on Singingwood Lane in the Village of Poquott at 10:31 p.m Aug. 16, according to Setauket Fired Department public information officer Bob O’Rourk.

Half of the rear deck was fully involved and almost spread to the inside of the house, O’Rourk said. Quick action by the fire department kept flames from getting past several rafters and inside of the structure. As a result, any serious damage inside was prevented.

Firefighters checked the deck roof as well as the house roof for any fire extension. Interior walls were also checked to ascertain that no fire damage reached the interior.

The Stony Brook and Terryville fire departments also responded for mutual aid. Town of Brookhaven fire marshals were on scene to determine the cause of the fire. Results of that investigation are pending.

A stormwater retention pond on Route 25A east of Old Coach Road. Photo by Steve Antos

Sometimes what seems like a simple solution to an issue can lead to pesky problems.

New York State Department of Transportation workers were on the site of a stormwater retention pond, also known as a rain garden, on Route 25A in Setauket July 10 investigating reported problems. Richard Parrish, stormwater management officer for the Village of Poquott, sent a letter June 18 to follow up with a conversation he had with NYSDOT Regional Director Margaret Conklin, on issues with the newly installed rain garden that is causing problems for Poquott residents.

“The structure always contains standing water and attracts vectors such as rats and mosquitoes.”

— Richard Parrish

Among the issues Parrish cited is that after it rains the pond is filled up to 4 feet deep with standing water. He also said the structure is made of earthen walls and an earthen base and is not fenced in, which can present a danger to people and wildlife. In the letter, he provided the example of a deer stuck in the rain garden a few weeks ago, and residents needed to enter it to release the animal.

He also stated in his letter that he believed the retention pond is not compliant with stormwater regulations under the federal Clean Water Act as it has no controls for capturing sediment or preventing the distribution of sediment and contaminants such as nitrates, chlorides and pathogens.

“The structure always contains standing water and attracts vectors such as rats and mosquitoes,” Parrish wrote, adding this was the cause of most of the complaints village officials receive.

Parrish said Conklin was immediately responsive to the issue of mosquito control as a Suffolk County Department of Health Services vector control unit came the day he spoke with her. He said road and safety issues still remain.

George Hoffman, co-founder of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, said the organization advocates the use of small rain gardens at the ends of streets leading into the harbor to contain road runoff. It is one of the biggest challenges impacting water quality. However, he agreed the Setauket one is poorly designed, a safety hazard and is not compliant with the federal Clean Water Act.

“Right now, it seems to be a small basin to collect water and doesn’t have any aspects of a rain garden.”

— George Hoffman

The Route 25A rain garden had recently been installed as a temporary solution to deal with roadway flooding.

Hoffman said rain gardens are an environmentally friendly way of handling stormwater, replacing traditional recharge basins like sumps and storm drains. The retention ponds are more beneficial as they are built differently.

“They are generally constructed in a small depression composed of porous soils and planted with native shrubs, perennials and flowers and work by slowly filtering rainwater through the soils and plants and filtering out nitrogen and other pollutants,” he said.

Hoffman said the spot, off Route 25A east of Old Coach Road, is not ideal for a rain garden. The site directs water runoff onto the side of the roadway and is not conducive to natural drainage.

“Right now, it seems to be a small basin to collect water and doesn’t have any aspects of a rain garden,” Hoffman said.

Stephen Canzoneri, public information officer for NYSDOT, said workers were at the site in early May to remove invasive Japanese knotweed and other debris to improve the drainage.

“NYSDOT has cleaned invasive vegetation and other waste out of storm drains as well as diverted water off the road to the shoulder as part of a short-term plan to curb flooding along Route 25A,” Canzoneri said. “We continue to investigate options for a more permanent solution.”

Dee Parrish will begin her third term as Poquott mayor. Photo from Dee Parish

Voters in the Village of Poquott said yes to the future while keeping the status quo.

Chris Schleider. Photo from Chris Schleider

Incumbent mayor Dee Parrish and sitting trustees William Poupis and Chris Schleider, who ran on the Future ticket in the June 19 village election, retained their seats.

Parrish defeated challenger John Richardson 240 to 204, according to village Deputy Clerk Cindy Schleider. Richardson is a board trustee who is currently serving his first term.

Trustees Poupis and Schleider received 235 and 241 votes, respectively, beating challengers Felicia Chillak, who received 199 votes, and Dianna Padilla, who garnered 204, according to the deputy clerk.

An issue of contention in the village for the last few years has been the proposal of a community dock, which all Future candidates support despite tabling a vote on the dock earlier this year due to bids coming in at more than the $150,000 originally expected.

“We have to look at everything before we decide how this is going to impact residents in the future,” Parrish said in a previous interview with TBR News Media.

Poupis and Schleider, who were appointed to their positions by the mayor in 2017, said they felt it was important to get the stamp of approval from their fellow residents.

William Poupis. Photo from William Poupis

“One of the things about being appointed you don’t necessarily feel that you have the mandate of the people behind you,” Schleider said in a prior interview with TBR News Media. “I was honored by Dee asking, but I think it’s important to have the voice of the people to elect the official.”

The day after the election Poupis said he looked forward to getting back to work with his fellow village board members.

“There’s lots of work ahead,” Poupis said. “We got a village to bring together. We got a lot of great ideas about incorporating some things into our standard once-a-month village meetings, maybe having some town hall meetings every other month, so that people in an unofficial forum can come in, speak freely, voice concerns, with those concerns voice some solutions and as a group work together to find the common goals.”

On the Facebook page Poquott Life Matters, Richardson thanked those who supported him, Chillak and Padilla.

“The plans and ideas we spoke about on your doorstep, I truly hope will become a reality in the future of our village,” Richardson wrote. “As a trustee, I will continue to be your voice on the board. I welcome all concerns big or small.”

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Poquott's Village Hall. File photo

By Rita J. Egan

As the Village of Poquott board of trustees budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, the cost of a proposed dock is still at the forefront of a few residents’ minds.

At an April 12 village public hearing, board members approved the 2018-19 preliminary budget. The village plans to spend $533,839 in the upcoming fiscal year, about a $34,000 increase over the last period. The preliminary budget stays under the tax levy increase cap, with an anticipated tax rate of $15.41 per $100 of assessed property value.

Treasurer Ron Pulito said it is estimated about $34,000 of the budget will be to pay the first installment of a five-year note for the village’s proposed dock. This amount would be taken from the village’s fund balance. The dock was originally estimated at $150,000 but the board opened bids at the beginning of the April meeting and the proposals were higher than anticipated.

“We have a good budget next year with question marks next to what happens with the dock, and we’re staying under the cap.”

— Ron Pulito

Pulito said there will be an estimated $47,000 deficit the current fiscal year, which would leave approximately $55,000 in the village fund balance. He said he does not expect much change in costs like snow plowing and garbage collection, and he said not much would be needed from the fund balance in the future for those items. He said while the budget includes funding for the dock it didn’t include any work on village hall.

“We have a good budget next year with question marks next to what happens with the dock, and we’re staying under the cap,” Pulito said.

Resident Felicia Chillak said she was concerned that the fund balance isn’t as high as past years and asked what would happen if there was a microburst storm like the one that hit the village a few years ago. She said the first day of cleanup after the storm cost the village $30,000.

“I personally feel [it’s better] to leave the fund balance and raise the taxes a little bit, if that’s going to keep us on the safer side,” Chillak said.

If the board decides not to go ahead with building the dock, the treasurer said the budget would break even. Pulito said if the board does go forward with the construction and more funds are needed, the village may be able to apply for a loan with a longer payment period.

“If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it,” resident Cindy Davis said. “You don’t go ahead. You don’t bust your budget for something like this.”

A decision on dock bids was tabled until May. The board will vote on the final 2018-19 budget in an upcoming meeting.