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Rocky Point

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A local nonprofit that supports the needy on Long Island is anticipating record breaking need come Thanksgiving time.

Lighthouse Mission, a mobile food pantry that services several communities across Long Island, including on weekends in Rocky Point, Centereach and Port Jefferson Station, has come out strong during the pandemic, seeing a huge increase in the number of people seeking aid. Their numbers spiked from around 22 to 2,400 people a week to over 3,000 individuals once COVID-19 hit.

Pastor Jim Ryan, the president of Lighthouse Mission, said this Thanksgiving they could see somewhere around 10,000 Suffolk families coming to them for their annual Thanksgiving food distribution where the donate an entire holiday meal for those unable to purchase one.

“Some of them are just regular people living paycheck to paycheck,” Ryan said.

The nonprofit has seen the number of people looking for help rise while the number of donations go down, and Ryan said they are in need of food, clothing and monetary donations before the large November blitz. Specifically, they are looking for any Thanksgiving food one might find around the family table.

“COVID has been blasting people this year,” Ryan said. “As we start getting closer to the holidays, the concerns for this year is if we can meet need for Thanksgiving.”

The pastor said they have been practicing social distancing at each of their outreach locations, such that it has actually meant a surprisingly better organized day. Volunteers stand masked and gloved behind the food. People are invited forward to select what they need while people are kept separate. Anybody who shows up without a mask is offered one for free.

For more information or on how to donate, visit www.lighthousemission.com.

People take pictures and point to names of family members on Rocky Point HS Wall of Honor back in 2019. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Rocky Point High School is looking for graduates of the school district and any employees who have served in the armed forces to be recognized on their Wall of Honor.

The Wall of Honor was created in 2018 to recognize the many people and their families who have served their country. In 2019, the district added 50 names to the wall in a ceremony held in November. There are now over 110 honorees displayed near the front entrance to the high school. Funding for the wall is provided by local sponsors, but all work is done by school district employees and students.

Rocky Point history teacher Rich Acritelli asked interested persons to send a military picture, the year they graduated and, if necessary, the job title they held in the Rocky Point School District by Nov. 11. People can send all information to [email protected]

Young Rocky Point resident Geoffrey Psillos said he is brining mobile fitness to the local area in a new way to exercise post-pandemic. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s time to lose the “quarantine 15” — and it can be done outside. 

Geoffrey Psillos, a 22-year-old Rocky Point resident, recently became the first AWATfit (All Weather All Terrain Fitness) franchisee. The Hamptons-based mobile fitness concept uses equipment entirely out of a 20-foot truck, and allows people to exercise in a park, parking lot or outside their home in the driveway. 

“Working out outdoors is a natural mood booster,” Psillos said. “And to have the means to open this franchise is a really big goal I never knew I had.”

The AWATfit vehicle can help people with more than 800 different exercises. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Back in September, he met with the founder of AWATfit, Rich Decker, who encouraged him to become part of the new concept. On the truck itself are 25 pieces of exercise equipment and, by using them, a person can do between 800 and 900 different workouts, according to the new francisee. 

“At the end of the day you are the machine,” Psillos said. “As soon as someone tries it once, they love it. I’m a bodybuilder and I get a better workout on the vehicle than I do at the gym.”

Before getting involved with AWATfit, Psillos was a project engineer but lost his job during the height of COVID-19. Fitness has always been important to him, especially as a former competing bodybuilder. By bringing this franchise to the North Shore, he said he wanted other people to experience its benefits — especially during a time when people might not be entirely comfortable working out in an indoor gym. 

“I think it’s going to change the persona of fitness,” he said. “You don’t get the results you want from a cycle class or a Pilates class. This is different.”

Right now, for a few days during the week, he partnered with Miller Place’s Body Source store on Route 25A where he parks the truck in the parking lot, so clients can work out. 

Elizabeth Sagarin, co-owner of the vitamin supplement store, said that because of the COVID-19 crisis, her shop has seen a decline in customers, but by collaborating with Psillos, she hopes to bring more people in and help everyone get healthy.

“We paired with these guys in the hopes of just giving people a space to work out, feel good, get healthy and just build community,” Sagarin said. “He approached us, and it is a great fit.”

Sagarin, who often participates in the class, said she appreciates the facility. 

“It’s a great workout,” she said. “And it’s all ages, you don’t have to be at any level. It’s fun, you’re outside and he’s a great trainer.”

AWATfit’s workout stations attached to the truck address strength, flexibility, core, agility and cardiovascular matters, as well as the mind-body-spirit connection. 

Now that Psillos has been in business for about a month, he said his clientele is beginning to grow mostly by word of mouth. 

“It’s hard to get people since it’s a new concept,” he said. “But once anyone tries it, they’re hooked.”

He’s planning on bringing a workout truck to communities from Smithtown to Shoreham-Wading River. He’s also looking to bring the truck to retirement homes and senior centers so people can get fit safely.

“Gym facilities in senior citizen community centers are fully closed right now,” Psillos said. “We would love for us to come and provide them with an outdoor answer to meet their needs and by engaging them to be healthy.”

Emily Sugarman and Sean Ryan celebrated the birth of their new baby girl Lily. Behind them stands Dr. Gus San Roman, who helped deliver both Lily and Ryan, separated by 26 years. Photo from St. Charles
Emily Sugarman and Sean Ryan celebrated the birth of their new baby girl Lily. Behind them stands Dr. Gus San Roman, who helped deliver both Lily and Ryan, separated by 26 years. Photo from St. Charles

The same hospital, the same doctor, the same day and month. With all that, there’s very little separating this father and baby girl, save a few years.

Sean Ryan and Emily Sugarman, of Rocky Point, are the new parents of little baby girl, Lily Sugarman-Ryan, who was born Oct. 6 at St. Charles Hospital. Funnily enough, that is the same date and the same place where Ryan was born 26 years ago. Young Lily was also delivered by the same doctor, Dr. Gus San Roman, who delivered her father.

Ryan, a construction superintendent, and Sugarman, a nurse at Peconic Bay Medical Center, were originally anticipating the birth of their first child Sept 23. Though Ryan, who, as a kind of joke, told his wife throughout the pregnancy he knew the baby would be born on his birthday. She wasn’t buying it, knowing it was rare she would deliver her baby so long after the due date.

St. Charles Hospital officials said that after September came and went, doctors decided it was time “to give the baby an eviction notice.” Ryan said his first thought wasn’t hinging on the date, but instead about his girlfriend’s and unborn child’s health.

Though indeed, in the weeks before going to the hospital, Ryan said in chatting with his mother and describing where and with what doctor their daughter would be born.

San Roman did not know it was the husband’s birthday, but they scheduled Sugarman to arrive at the hospital that Tuesday evening. She was originally set to be induced then give birth the following day. At the last minute, the time was moved to that morning, but still there was no given she would be born on that day either.

As the soon-to-be mother was going into labor, just minutes before the new daughter was set to be born, San Roman was told he was the same doctor who delivered Ryan.

Lily was born at 6:26 p.m. Oct. 6, weighing 8 pounds and 3 ounces. 

Sean said the doctor was astonished and asked, “Are you sure it wasn’t my brother?” Dr. Gerardo San Roman, Gus’ brother, is also an obstetrician. When hospital records were checked, the proof was there. Dr. Gus San Roman delivered Sean Ryan Oct. 6, 1994, at St. Charles Hospital. As Sean and Emily prepared to bring their baby girl home a few days later, they said it would be a joy to have a dual birthday celebration in all the years to come. 

Now that Ryan and Sugarman have returned to their Rocky Point home, the husband said his daughter has been “an angel,” and that “she just eats and sleeps and goes to the bathroom.” He added that he appreciates everything St. Charles did to help them, and that they’ll likely be back in the future for the next
little one.

San Roman, himself the father of six daughters, reportedly beamed as he gave parenting advice to the proud new parents. 

“A new addition to one’s family is always a wonderful event but, to have your daughter’s arrival as your birthday present is utterly amazing,” he said. “I am honored that the generation of babies whose births I assisted now trust me to assist at their own. Lily’s birth will be one that I will always remember.”

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Rocky Point Fire District residents file into the district offices in Shoreham to cast their votes. Photo by Kyle Barr

RPFD is going ahead with a new $1 million bond after a community vote Tuesday, Oct. 13, with a narrow margin of just 18 votes. 

The community in the Rocky Point Fire District, which covers the Rocky Point and Shoreham hamlets, voted 271 to 253 on new funds to finish the Station 2 firehouse construction project on King Road.

Officials have previously said that because of a delayed start, expanding construction costs and the pandemic they do not have the funds to complete the original $7.25 million project. District officials cited the projects late start, as well as increased costs due to the ongoing pandemic for why they needed these new funds. 

“We are all very pleased that a majority of our residents came out and supported the project,” David Brewer, vice chairman of the board of fire commissioners, said in a statement. “We are equally pleased that some of the misinformation and inaccuracies posted on some social media sites didn’t adversely affect the outcome of the vote. From the beginning, the board of fire commissioners has been committed to providing our members and residents with a safe and modern firehouse. Our goal remains unchanged and that is to complete this building despite many financial setbacks and delays, and we thank all of our supporters.”

Social distancing and mask wearing rules were enforced, though the district did not allow people to cast absentee ballots, citing the extra time it would take to count those ballots as well.

In a Zoom call last week relating to this vote, officials said the new bond will cost residents an average of $18 more per year on their fire district taxes, though they could not relate how many years it may take to pay off the new bond.

Officials expect the project to be finished around the end of the year.

More Details on the Station 2 Firehouse Project

The district originally asked the community to support a $8.5 million bond in 2017, where $7.25 million would go to the construction of the new firehouse. Fire District Chairman Anthony Gallino said they originally included about 7% contingency of over $500,000. This new $1 million bond is looking at a 25% contingency of about $250,000. Gallino added that any unused funds of the new bond will be put to paying down the bond.

“We realized that [the original contingency] was not enough to cover obstacles, so we put a little more in there for this building,” Gallino said. 

On Saturday, Oct. 10, district officials made a full breakdown of the project budget available. Documents show the district lacked $752,310 to complete the firehouse. That number is out of a remaining $1.5 million on a firehouse that is 75% complete. The district still has $500,000 in contingency bond funds and $293,814 left in money taken from the general fund.

There were issues on the project from the start, officials said during the call. The project manager they originally hired put out bids which were routinely around $1 million over budget. In August 2018, the district terminated its contract with its original construction manager. In February 2019, they hired a new project manager, Devin Kulka, the CEO of Hauppauge-based Kulka Group, and were able to get started with asbestos abatement in May 2019 and demolition followed in June. Materials and labor costs, especially with New York’s prevailing wage, also increased from when the bond vote was passed. The pandemic made things even more complicated. 

Documents show there were items that came in way over what they were originally budgeted for several years ago, resulting in the $752,310 shortfall. HVAC, for example, was slated for $600,000, but is now awarded at $925,000. While a few items came slightly under budget, those overages make up the total of the project’s $1.5 million excess.

Kulka said during the Zoom call there was one contractor company that went under during construction due to COVID-19. He confirmed a surety company would be cutting a check for the cost between the work the contractor already did and what it wasn’t able to complete.

Gallino said materials costs increased by 10%. Some community members questioned what the cost could be on what has already been constructed, which now resembles a cinder block exterior, but officials said the price of prevailing wages kept costs high.

Currently the station 2 company is housed in the old Thurber Lumber property on King Road, which is owned by local developer Mark Baisch. The developer allowed the company into the property free of charge but plans to turn that property into a slate of 55-and-older rental pieces and would need the fire company to be out by the end of the year.

This article was updated Oct. 15 to include extra information and a quote from the fire district.

Highway Super Dan Losquadro and Councilwoman Jane Bonner on North Country Road in Miller Place. North Country Road has been repaved from Honey Lane to the entrance of the Miller Place elementary school. Photo from TOB highways

The Town of Brookhaven’s plan to redo the well-tread North Country Road is coming close to completion, with only a stretch in Sound Beach left for 2021. Officials said the last bit of work will depend on an extra $600K as part of this year’s proposed capital budget.

Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced the completion of three separate capital improvement projects, totaling more than $3.425 million on North Country Road from Miller Place to Rocky Point.

The initial phase of this project took place in 2019 when sidewalk, curbing and crosswalk improvements were constructed on North Country Road and Miller Place Road from the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School to Echo Avenue. This phase was funded in part by a Multi-Modal grant secured by State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) in the amount of $500,000, with the Town of Brookhaven contributing the $345,418 match. Also in 2019 and part of this project, crews worked to dredge the bottom of the Miller Place Duck Pond, lowering its level and improving its drainage and water quality, at a cost of $125,629.

The second phase of this infrastructure improvement project included the construction of new sidewalk, curbing, bike lanes, ADA-compliant handicap ramps, driveway aprons, drainage infrastructure, pedestrian crosswalks, benches, bike racks, and the resurfacing of North Country Road from Honey Lane to the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School. This phase was funded in part by a New York State Department of Transportation “Transportation Alternatives Grant” for $1.159 million, with the Town of Brookhaven contributing the $751,580 match.

It’s not just the road surface, but all the other improvements that make their work so important for the people who use it every day, especially when school is in session,” Bonner said. 

The third phase of this project included the milling and paving of North Country Road from Washington Avenue in Sound Beach to NYS 25-A at the Miller Place/Rocky Point border which totaled $555,411.

To complete the North Country Road reconstruction project in Miller Place, Losquadro said he has included 600,000 in his proposed 2021 capital budget to install over 3,000 linear feet of drainage pipe and 14 drainage basins on North Country Road from Honey Lane to Pipe Stave Hollow Road to solve the significant water problems experienced along this stretch. Once the drainage infrastructure work is complete, the entire roadway from Pipe Stave Hollow Road to Honey Lane will be resurfaced, completing the three-year capital project.

“The capital improvement projects completed on North Country Road over the last two years have created safer pedestrian access for the students who walk to the middle and elementary schools; residents who walk, bike and jog in the area; and motorists,” Losquadro said in a release. “Once the final phase of drainage infrastructure work and resurfacing is complete next year, we will have resurfaced North Country Road from the Village of Port Jefferson border to Route 25A at the Rocky Point/Miller Place border.”

Local civic leaders have noticed the difference from before to where it is now.

“All the improvements that have been done so far have made the area safer and more aesthetically pleasing, especially given all the kids that do walk there,” Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto said. “I know that the town is strapped now because of COVID-19, but I do hope that they are able to secure the funding needed to complete this really worthwhile project.”

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The Rocky Point Starbucks is up and running, though one local business owner said the drive through line can be a little much. Photo by Kyle Barr

After more than a year of planning, Starbucks has officially opened in Rocky Point. 

Last year, architects and lawyers presented to the Town of Brookhaven a plan to turn the former KFC at 25A and Hallock Landing Road into a Starbucks. 

After it closed earlier this year, construction began on the space, renovating it from a former fried chicken eatery into a coffee serving powerhouse. The building’s footprint hasn’t changed, though the inside and outside exhibit the typical Starbucks look.

And what hasn’t changed is this new Starbucks’ neighbors — which includes two bagel stores minutes away. 

Although the new edition to the community can be considered competition to the mom and pop bagel shops, Jennifer Bell, manager at Fresh & Hot Bagels, said that they haven’t seen too much of a change. 

“It got a little bit slower, but it hasn’t affected us too much,” she said. “We’re different … we sell egg sandwiches and bigger breakfasts — things they don’t sell.”

Anthony Post, the owner Brooklyn Bagels & Café Inc. in Rocky Point just across from the new Starbucks, said they are doing just fine even with the early morning giant on their doorstep.

“I mean, if they want to go in there and spend $7, $8, $9 bucks on a cup of coffee that’s what they’re going to do,” Post said. “They know when they come here, they can get something else.”

The only complaint he has is with the traffic in the parking lot, especially line that now forms in the early morning at the Starbucks drive-thru. That line, he said, can sometimes wrap around in front of his shop, with cars backed up almost into Hallock Landing Road.

Additional reporting by Kyle Barr

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Rotarian Glenn Frost loading donations into George Dubato’s truck. Photo by Kevin Mann

The Rocky Point Rotary Club recently held a “foodraiser” food drive at the Miller Place Stop and Shop to benefit of the food pantry at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rocky Point. The group managed to fill up the back of a pickup truck, an estimated 1,600 pounds of groceries.

“The community was very generous with its donations of non-perishable food,” wrote Kevin Mann, of the Rocky Point Rotary. “Food insecurity is a major issue for local families particularly due to COVID issues.”

Rocky Point Rotary, “the lil’ club that does,” meets every Tuesday via zoom. For further information about Rocky Point Rotary contact Kevin Mann at 631-470-6351 or [email protected]

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The new firehouse along King Road in Rocky Point has been in construction since May of last year, but fire district officials said they need more funds in order to fully complete the project. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Rocky Point Fire District is asking residents for an additional $1 million bond on top of existing money to help finish up the Station 2 firehouse construction project.

In 2017, 204 residents voted “yes” and 197 voted “no” for the new building to replace the original firehouse built in the 1950s, alongside the purchase of a new ladder truck. Costs for the building were estimated to be $7,250,000. On Sept. 1, Rocky Point fire commissioners voted to establish a new $1 million bond vote set for Oct. 13.

Rocky Point vice chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners, David Brewer, said it is unfortunate but they lack much other choice than asking the community to go out for more project funding. 

“We’re not happy about this, but in order to complete this project we were forced to go out to the public for another bond,” he said. “I understand people are tight right now, but we have no choice because by law we are prohibited from spending any more for that building other than what was authorized by the bond.”

Officials said this new bond would result in an annual increase of $17 to $18 for the average household in the district. 

There were issues from the start of the project, Brewer said, with them having to break ties with the first project manager they hired for construction, which set them back on their timetable. Officials have previously said the first bids for construction companies came in too high, and then after putting the project out for bid again, they received too few. Construction of the project fully started in May 2019. 

“When we originally worked with the first project manager, after reviewing some information we were given, we felt that the projected costs and completion date were somewhat unrealistic,” Brewer said. “Because of the delays and because we started so far back, there have been increases for construction.”

The commissioner cited an increase in labor costs as much as 4.5%, an increase of materials from 4.5 to 5%. Then with the arrival of the pandemic and the subsequent shutdown of all construction projects until the first phase of reopening in May, commissioners were told they were required to “tack on” another 1% toward labor costs.

Without the additional funding, Brewer said they would have to make a drastic decision, which could mean even delaying the firehouse construction until they could go to a revote. The issue with any delay is that currently the Station 2 Black Sheep Company has relocated all its trucks, equipment and other apparatus to the warehouses of what was once the Thurber Lumber Company property. That site was loaned free of charge by developer Mark Baisch of Landmark Properties, though only temporarily as Baisch has slated the site for a new set of 40 one-bedroom apartments for seniors inside 10 buildings located along Prince Road and King Road. 

Brewer said Baisch is currently building on the other side of the road, and would need the company to be out of the lumber warehouse by the end of the year if that project is to keep on schedule. 

“If that happened, I don’t know what we’d do,” Brewer added. “We just wouldn’t have anyone else who would be able to house our apparatus.”

Otherwise, without a vote, the commissioner’s vice chairman said they would need to cut away from the project, but he did not know what could possibly be removed or slimmed down, as the site was planned to be a no-frills firehouse.

“The building was proposed and designed very conservatively from the get-go,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of amenities and fluff we could cut, especially to reach the amount of money we need. We are really between a rock and a hard place here.”

The fire district is hosting the vote Oct. 13 at the Shoreham firehouse located at 49 Route 25A from 3 to 9 p.m. While district officials said they would not be offering absentee ballots, they would be ensuring people wear masks and socially distance while conducting polling. 

Brookhaven intends on completing the North Country Road repaving, having recently come close to finishing a section in Miller Place. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Brookhaven has come close to  finishing a single section of a much larger project along North Country Road.

This past weekend, Brookhaven finished paving and painting the lines along North Country Road in Miller Place from Honey Lane to the Miller Place Duck Pond, over to the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker School on Lower Rocky Point Road. The new resurfacing includes fixing the drainage along the side of the road and the installation of sidewalk and curbing. The new road and sidewalks pass in front of several area staples like the Town & Country Market, McNulty’s Ice Cream Parlor and the William Miller House.

According to the town Highway Department and Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), the North Country Road Highway project is actually a combination of three separate capital improvement projects. 

The New York State Department of Transportation grant received by the Highway Department funded 60% of the “complete streets” portion of this project, which is the new paving in Miller Place. The contractor responsible for this section of the project should complete their work within the next few weeks. This part of the project came now in order to finish before schools reopened in September.

The second section of this project was the sidewalk and curb installation on North Country Road that was completed in 2019 from the entrance to the Laddie Decker School to Echo Avenue. The Highway Department resurfaced that section of North Country Road Aug. 6.

The final section of this project is North Country Road from Washington Avenue to Route 25A in Sound Beach. Highway crews are completing the preparation work on this stretch of road this week, with the milling and resurfacing of this section to be completed within the next few weeks.

The Brookhaven Highway Department has included in its 2021 budget request to install a significant amount of drainage infrastructure on North Country Road from Pipe Stave Hollow Road to Honey Lane to remove the water from the roadway. Once the drainage work is complete, that final section of roadway will be resurfaced.

This will complete the paving of North Country Road from the Village of Port Jefferson border to Route 25A at the Rocky Point/Miller Place border.

In July, the town announced the finalized resurfacing of Lower Rocky Point Road from Woodhull Landing Road to Rocky Point Landing Road, as well as Hagerman Landing Road. The town is also currently active milling 37 roadways all over Sound Beach. Once milling is complete at a near future date, weather permitting, all roads will be resurfaced. 

Final details about the North Country Road project, including the total cost, grant funding and photos will be available when the project comes to completion in the next few months.