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Setauket Fire District

Remembrances and memorials were held across the North Shore Monday to honor those lost as a result of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

The Port Jefferson Fire Department held its annual 9/11 ceremony on the grounds of the department. The department’s flag was raised to half mast, a bell was rung to remember each of the Brookhaven Town residents who died that day and the Port Jefferson Middle School Orchestra accompanied the event with performances.

The Setauket Fire District held its annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the district’s Memorial Park on Nicolls Road in Stony Brook.

Residents, elected officials and firefighters from Rocky Point, Shoreham, Miller Place and beyond gathered at the Rocky Point Fire Department 9/11 Memorial Ceremony to honor those who lost their lives.

Hundreds of Huntington residents attended “We Stand United In Love,” a multi-faith candlelight prayer service remembering 9/11 and its victims in Heckscher Park.

This version will be updated with photos from more events.

The Setauket Fire District’s 9/11 Memorial Park includes a monument with all the victims’ names.

The Setauket Fire District will hold its annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony Monday, Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The event will take place at the district’s 9/11 Memorial Park, adjacent to the firehouse located at 394 Nicolls Road in Stony Brook.

All are welcome to join the members of the Setauket and Stony Brook fire districts, local legislators and Boy Scout troops at the event.

The park was described as a “solemn park made by mortals to remember angels” during a speech given by Department Chief William Rohr last year. It features two trees planted in 2016 that were seeded from the 9/11 survivor tree located at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. The park also includes a stone monument inscribed with the names of those lost on 9/11 and a patriotic water display.

Among those who will be remembered are Thomas Dennis of Setauket, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald; New York City firefighters Frank Bonomo and John Tipping both from Port Jefferson; Patrick Lyons of Setauket; and New York City firefighter Captain Thomas Moody of Stony Brook.

Setauket firefighters battle a 2010 Old Field barn fire. Photo by Dennis Whittam

Residents of Old Field Village will see a new line on their Brookhaven tax bill for 2018.

At a July 20 Brookhaven Town public hearing, the town council unanimously approved a motion to extend the boundaries of the Setauket Fire District to include Old Field. The change means that instead of paying for contractual services through the village budget, residents will pay taxes for fire, rescue and emergency services to the town when the new tax billing period begins Dec. 1.

Towards the end of last year, Old Field Mayor Michael Levine and the village board of trustees requested the expansion after the village received fire and emergency protection services from the district on a contractual basis for decades. The village includes approximately 400 homes and no commercial properties, and while residents received the same services from Setauket fire departments as residents in the district, they were unable to vote in district elections or run for a position on the board.

Marie Michel, assistant town attorney, said the hearing was required by the state.

“While a fire district is its own municipal entity, New York State town law requires that the town in which the fire district is situated conduct a public hearing to consider the proposed fire district extension,” Michel said.

According to the plan prepared by Hauppauge-based law firm Farrell Fritz, P.C. and posted on the Brookhaven Town website, the cost of the one-year contract for Old Field in 2017 was $515,000 with the right to renew in 2018 at the same rate. From 2012 to 2016, the village paid a contractual rate, which increased slightly each year. The cost of the contract ranged from $340,000 in 2012 to $382,673 in 2016.

The increase in the cost of the contract was attributed to the fire district’s plans to expand and refurbish the existing Main Street Fire Station at a cost of approximately $14 million dollars.

Both Stephen Shybunko, Old Field deputy mayor, and Jay Gardiner, vice chairman of fire commissioners, were in attendance at the July 20 public hearing.

Shybunko said the village’s reasons to be included in the fire district were monetary.

“The amount of payment proposed in the most recent contract would be equal to what the tax rate was so in fairness and equity we have been going through the steps to be included in the fire district as we will be paying a rate equal to all other members of the fire district,” Shybunko said.

Gardiner said the board of fire commissioners was in favor of the resolution.

“We have been providing fire and emergency services to Old Field for over 50 years, and we intend to continue to provide excellent fire, rescue and emergency services,” the commissioner said.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said residents who spoke at a previous town board meeting asked if taxes would increase for residents within the fire district’s current boundaries.

“Their taxes will not be raised as a matter of this extension,” Michel said.

Setauket firefighters, above, fighting a 2010 stable fire in Old Field. File photo by Dennis Whittam

Old Field Village residents may have input in official matters of the Setauket Fire District in the near future depending on the outcome of a July 20 public hearing in Brookhaven Town.

Village Mayor Michael Levine said Old Field currently receives contractual services from the Setauket Fire District and is now looking to become an official part of it. The inclusion of Old Field will require the district to expand its boundaries, which needs town approval.

While nothing would change regarding fire and emergency medical services for the village, Old Field residents would have an official say in what goes on in the district if the motion passes — including voting on budgets, referendums, fire commissioners or running themselves. Village residents currently receive fire services and can volunteer as a firefighter, though they cannot vote in fire district elections.

The mayor said for approximately 30 years Old Field has received emergency services on a contractual basis from the Setauket Fire District. In September, when the five-year contract was up for renewal, the village board members unanimously decided to become part of the fire district and received a one-year extension of their contract to start the process.

The first step of the possible expansion of the fire district was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signing a bill Sept. 29, 2016 that permitted the Brookhaven Town board to proceed with the process.

The mayor said if the village had simply renewed the contract this year, it would have been significantly more than in previous years — from $385,000 to more than $500,000. Fire services currently make up 40 percent of the village’s budget.

If the town approves the expansion of the fire district, Levine said the current amount for contractual services will come off the village’s $1,115,500 budget, and residents will see a 40 percent reduction in their village taxes. The taxes for the fire district will then be line listed in residents’ Brookhaven tax bills as it is for all residents of the Three Village area.

Levine said he hopes the upcoming town resolution will be approved.

“[The Setauket Fire District has] always provided wonderful fire services to the village,” Levine said. “Nothing will change in that respect.”

Dave Sterne, district manager of the Setauket Fire District, said the district is happy to continue their relationship with Old Field and looks forward to village members becoming more involved.

Sterne said for the fire department there isn’t much of a difference between serving a community within the district or one that happens to have a contract with them.

“We respond exactly the same way,” Sterne said.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said in an email that the proposed expansion would have no fiscal impact on the town.

“The Setauket Fire District is not a town-wide fire district,” she said. “Therefore any potential impact will be limited to the geographic boundaries covered by the Setauket Fire District.”

Cartright also said after discussions with the town’s law department there will be no impact to current fire district residents if the expansion is approved.

However, she said there is a possibility that Old Field residents may see a slight increase to their fire taxes compared to what they are paying the village now.

“If the Village of Old Field residents are included in the Setauket Fire District boundaries, village property owners will pay the exact same tax rate for fire protection services that existing fire district property owners pay,” she said.

Sterne said the change will not affect the fire district’s budget as it’s based on needs, and they already serve Old Field.   

A map, plan and report of the proposed extension prepared by Farrell Fritz, P.C. will be available for review in the town clerk’s office Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at least 10 days before the public hearing.

The hearing will be held July 20 at 6 p.m. at Brookhaven Town Hall. Anyone with an interest in the proposal will be given the opportunity to speak on the record.