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Supervisor Ed Romaine

Supervisor Ed Romaine has announced that the Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau will hold its Annual Interface Coat Drive from January 10 to February 11 to help residents in need stay warm this winter. Donations of new or gently used clean coats, scarves, hats and gloves in infant to adult sizes can be dropped off at the following locations:

  1. Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville
  2. Rose Caracappa Senior Center, 739 Route 25A in Mount Sinai
  3. New Village Recreation Center, 20 Wireless Road in Centereach
  4. Brookhaven Town Highway Department, 1140 Old Town Road in Coram
  5. Henrietta Acampora Recreation Center, 39 Montauk Highway in Blue Point
  6. Moriches Bay Recreation Center, 313 Frowein Road, Center Moriches
  7. Brookhaven Town Parks and Recreation Department, 286 Hawkins Road, Centereach
  8. Brookhaven Town Vehicle Control Building, 550 North Ocean Avenue, Patchogue

“Many of our residents are going through hard times and may not have proper clothing to keep warm during the winter months,” said Supervisor Romaine. “I thank our Youth Bureau for organizing the Coat Drive and I encourage residents to make a donation to help their neighbors in need.”

For more information, please call the Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau at 631-451-8011.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

After months of waiting for its official unveiling, the Joseph P. Dwyer statue was celebrated by local, state and federal representatives in an emotional event to honor the man who lost his life for a serious cause. 

On Saturday, June 26, at 11 a.m., people gathered at Rocky Point Veterans Memorial Square on the corner of Route 25A and Broadway where a bronze memorial statue of the late combat medic now stands. 

Dwyer attended elementary school at Infant Jesus in Port Jefferson and graduated from Mount Sinai High School in 1994. As a young man, he enjoyed playing golf and going fishing with his friends and family. After he left high school, Dwyer moved to North Carolina with his parents and was employed at a local hospital where he transported people who needed medical treatment. 

Known by his family as a sensitive and caring person, he enlisted in the Army on Sept. 12, 2001, immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center.

After training in Georgia, and a stint at Fort Bliss, Texas, he was deployed to Iraq in 2003. He replaced a single mother, so that she was able to remain home with her child and was one of the first soldiers to enter Iraq during the war.

Dwyer became famous when a photo was published of him carrying a young, injured Iraqi boy during a battle on March 25, 2003. Army Times photographer Warren Zinn saw the situation unfold and clicked away as Dwyer met the boy’s father — who carried a white flag and his injured son to the soldier, eventually bringing the 4-year-old to safety.

His sister, Kristine Dwyer, said at Saturday’s event when the photo came out, he was modest about being in the center of it. 

“He was proud of what he did,” she said, “But he’d always say to give credit to Clark, the man who saved the little boy’s life.”

She added that she believes the notoriety was hard for her brother. 

“I think the attention was hard for him,” she said. “He would say, ‘We’re all doing the same thing over there.’”

When he came home, he began to struggle. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Dwyer became addicted to inhaling fumes from a computer cleaner aerosol. On June 28, 2008, at age 31, he overdosed accidentally, dying in North Carolina. 

Thirteen years from the date of his death, members from his family and officials honored Dwyer and the impact his death had on the veteran community. 

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) became instrumental in helping fund the Dwyer Program — a peer-to-peer support program for veterans suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury. The program has received bipartisan support and is looking to go national.

Kristine said her brother would have been proud to know that his name now helps veterans across the country today.

“Something good came out of it,” she said. “Something now is here that he didn’t have, that he most likely would have been a part of, where they can feel comfortable and talk about what they saw. That’s so important to have other people say, ‘You know, me too.” He knew he was loved. His family loved him … but if only love was enough.”

The statue took years to complete and, with the help of Town of Brookhaven officials, it was finally finished earlier this year. Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the patch of land, which was deemed an eyesore, now is the home of a place where families can come together.

“One of the interesting things about this square is that it has become a reverent place for people to come and reflect,” she said. “You’ll find a memento from a family or a loved one in front of the flag from that branch of service.”

Bonner said the park’s purpose is to honor and pay respect to veterans past, present and future. 

“It’s to acknowledge that our veterans sit at home now and may not have obvious war injuries,” she said. “They have other injuries that you can’t see. And the foundations and the organizations, that provide health, counseling and services to those veterans so they can lead a full and productive life, deserve the biggest hat tip possible because there’s no greater service than the service to our country.”

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) thanked the local VFW Post 6249 for their help in creating this sacred space. 

“Without their efforts, without their drive, the statute would not be standing here today,” he said. “Their vision has made this possible and, today, we honor the memory of man — we honor his service, we honor a program that helps our veterans that was named for him.”

Leg. Kara Hahn helps out in Port Jeff Station. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Town of Brookhaven came together last weekend to clean up its community.

For its 13th annual Great Brookhaven Cleanup on Saturday, May 15, people from the North Shore, South Shore and Middle Island gloved up and grabbed their garbage bags to help keep their town clean. 

In Port Jefferson Station, specifically, the train car located on the corner of Routes 112 and 347 had a large group of volunteers to help cleanup.

The Chamber of Commerce was joined by members of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, elected officials, community members and local Girl Scouts joined in picking up trash and brush to prepare the spot for its upcoming summer concert series. 

“I’m really excited to be here today,” said Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook). “This is a really important project for Port Jeff Station, and I’m really excited to see it start to take shape.”

Kornreich said there are “big plans for the area.”

“It’s exciting for the next few years to see it come to fruition,” he added. 

Last year, the Great Brookhaven Cleanup was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, approximately 1,600 Brookhaven residents helped tidy up their communities. This localized event is part of a greater cause, the Great American Cleanup — the nation’s largest organized cleanup, beautification and community improvement program. 

“The Brookhaven cleanup gives us townwide exposure, which helps our local community,” said Craig den Hartog, PJST chamber member and owner of Emerald Magic Lawn Care. “The more help the better, and it just starts with one person.”

On the Long Island Sound, town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) joined volunteers from Suffolk County Girl Scout troops 1522 and 2755 to clean Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai.

“Thank you to all of the volunteers who participated in this year’s Great Brookhaven Cleanup,” Romaine said. “The pandemic canceled last year’s event, but people came back enthusiastically and in large numbers. It was a success because of the community members who have dedicated themselves to keeping Brookhaven clean every day of the year.”

By Heidi Sutton

This past Saturday, members of the community gathered at St. George’s Manor Cemetery in Setauket to pay tribute to Judge Selah Strong with the unveiling of a commemorative graveside plaque. Margo Arceri, owner of Tri-Spy Tours, dedicated the bronze marker which honors the judge’s contributions to the local community, 205 years after his death.

“Strong was one of the first patriots in the community. He was best friends with Culper Spy Caleb Brewster … During the  Battle of Long Island, he was arrested by the British for assisting the Continental Army. After the war, he had a long and illustrious career in public service. The Strong family wanted him to be recognized for his efforts during the Revolutionary War and after. It was a great honor to place the marker for them,” said Arceri after the ceremony. “This is an important moment in our community’s history and for the Strong family.”

The event was attended by representatives of the Three Village Historical Society including President Steve Healy, Director of Education Donna Smith and historian Beverly C. Tyler; members of the Anna Smith Strong chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; and several descendants of Selah Strong. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, and Brookhaven Town Historian Barbara M. Russell were also in attendance.

Selah Strong is buried in a family plot next to his first wife, Anna Smith Strong, the only female member of George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, known for her famed clothesline.

“It’s always been a bit of a shame that not too many people payed attention to Selah because they were so interested in Anna and her story, but actually he did an awful lot,” said John (Jack) Temple Strong Jr., Selah Strong’s great-great-great grandson, who had the honor of unveiling the plaque.

Supervisor Romaine agreed. “Born on Christmas Day, 1737, died on the Fourth of July, 1815, he packed into his life things … we see of a man who was dedicated to his community, someone that at the tender age of 26 was elected Town Trustee and would wind up spending 35 years in office, most of them, certainly from 1780 on, as President of the Trustees, which is the equivalent of Supervisor,” he said.

Selah Strong also served as Suffolk County Treasurer, judge for the Court of Common Pleas, and was a New York State Senator for four years. “This is a man who served his community … I am here to pay my respects to someone that paved the way because as we look around today, a lot of what we have over the last 200 years would not be here if not for men of this caliber,” added Supervisor Romaine.

“When we think about patriotism we think about Selah Strong, Anna Smith Strong and the personal sacrifice, the amount of risks that they took for their country — true patriots,” said Raymond Brewster Strong III, Selah Strong’s 6th generation grandson who made the trip from Houston, Texas, to attend the ceremony. “[George] Washington’s motto was ‘deeds, not words’ and when you think about Selah Strong’s [accomplishments], those are true deeds, not words.”

“The Strong family continues as tradition bearers, and Tri-Spy Tours and the Three Village Historical Society are also important parts of passing to the next generation a sense of place and a sense of continuum,” said Assemblyman Englebright. “I am just honored to be here to bear witness to this wonderful occasion. This is altogether a respectful moment that should be remembered, as Selah Strong should be remembered.”

*Editors note — St. George’s Manor Cemetery is a private cemetery still owned by the Strong family.

All photos by Heidi Sutton

Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner joined members of the Relic team at Cedar Beach on Earth Day. Photo by Julianne Mosher

To celebrate Earth Day April 22, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced a new initiative that will keep local beaches clean.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

The elected officials gathered at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai that morning to unveil its new beach cleanup baskets, in which the town has partnered with Long Island-based nonprofit Relic Sustainability.

The group, from Remsenburg on the South Shore, collaborated with the town due to Relic’s Coastal Collaborative project, which encompasses seven preexisting stations across Long Island. 

“Our goal is to collaborate the town, businesses and community members to collaborate in combating beach pollution that is a growing issue on the coast line of Long Island,” said Alex Kravitz, COO of Relic.

The stations give beachgoers the opportunity to take a basket on the beach, pick up trash and deposit it into a trash receptacle.

“What better way to celebrate Earth Day?” Romaine said. “The baskets are 100% recycled plastics. You pick one up, walk along the beach, pick up some garbage and put the baskets back. … We want this in all of our town beaches and we want to keep them clean.”

While Relic Sustainability has seven stations, Cedar Beach is the first in the Town of Brookhaven to utilize its concept. 

Aiden Kravitz, CEO of the nonprofit, said the goal is to reach even more beaches.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner with the Relic crew. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“By the end of the summer, we’re hoping to have a bigger partnership with the county with 40 to 50 stations,” he said. “The goal of the program is to help relieve the pressure of trash on the beaches by stimulating voluntary trash pickup from the community. We view the heart of the program as a collaborative between the town, ourselves, local businesses and the community members — everybody plays a role.”

Bonner said she was excited for the new initiative because of the “tremendous garbage problem, not only on Long Island, but in the United States.”

“I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than to launch a program that addresses the litter that plagues all of our beaches,” she said. “I encourage people who come to Cedar Beach to use one of the baskets and pick up litter before they leave for home. It’s something we can all do to advocate for a better environment.”

Relic also sells organic apparel that gives back to local waters. For every T-shirt sold, they plant five oysters back into Moriches Bay. 

The clothing items are available at relic-design.com.

From left, Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Suffolk Legislator Sarah Anker and Town Supervisor Ed Romaine join together Nov. 23 announcing the purchase of property for open space in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kyle Barr

Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County officials are combining efforts and funds to protect 15 acres of wooded property in Mount Sinai. The land combines with previous purchases to save a total of nearly 60 acres of land from any potential development now or in the future.

The $1,653,300, 15 acres purchase, which was formerly owned by the Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai, is in addition to 44.3 acres that had been acquired by both parties in 2014. The purchase was made based on a county bill passed in 2017.

“My hope is that purchasing this parcel will help protect the environmental integrity of the area and provide our community residents with another county park to visit and enjoy the natural beauty of Long Island,” Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said at a Nov. 23 press conference announcing the purchase. “We’re happy to see government at different levels working together — this is how you get things done.”

The county is picking up 75%, or $1,239,975 of the cost, while the town is covering 25%, or $413,325 of the total. The money used to purchase the land was taken from accounts meant to preserve open space. Officials said the property was at risk of being bought and developed on.

Anker added that with the current pandemic, the county has seen a rise in the number of people visiting parks and adding more land will only increase residents’ options. 

The now fully acquired 59.3 wooded acre lies over a groundwater aquifer and is within the watershed of the Long Island Sound national estuary, serving as a source of freshwater for the estuary system. 

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said he was also happy to partner with Suffolk in such land preservation deals, as with the combined funds they have “the financial resources to ensure this happens.” The deal also means nobody can come in to develop on the property.

“We want Brookhaven town to look like Brookhaven town, and not like Queens,” he said. “The way we do that is by saving our groundwater, preserving our open spaces and having habitats for animals — along with all the things that are important to protecting our shoreline.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the land holds a unique significance to her family. Her husband, John Sandusky, grew up in Mount Sinai and traveled those woods as a young man.

“We’ve seen a whole lot of development,” Bonner said. “Some of it good — most of it bad … the last thing Long Island needs is another housing development and more traffic.”

The Little Portion Friary, bordering the new land purchase, was bought by Hope House Ministries back in 2015 and is now being used to help people fight addiction.

Both county and town reps touted open space purchased using joint ventures between the two municipalities, including Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. The county has recently purchased other parkland in the local area, including Pine Lake in Middle Island and Chandler Estate in Mount Sinai.

The next step, Anker said, is to clean up some of the trails in the newly purchased parkland. 

The Brookhaven Landfill is set to close in 2024, but while the town has put aside money towards that end, a concrete plan has yet to materialize. Photo from Google maps

Brookhaven Town is planning for a potentially long-term project that could have Islandwide impact on residents’ waste.

Advocates protested in front of the landfill Oct. 31. Photo from Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group

On Thursday, Nov. 19, the town announced it has issued a request for proposal for a regional ash processing and recycling facility. The town has two alternatives on the RFP, one that includes an ashfill component and the other a standalone ash-recycling facility without the ashfill. The site would be located just east of the current landfill site at 350 Horseblock Road in Yaphank.

Such a facility would not accept solid waste or construction debris. No full decision has technically been made on constructing any new ashfill, as the town is still awaiting the word on an environmental review.

The town has planned to close and cap the current landfill in 2024 and has been raising millions of dollars in a special fund for that date when it’s finally capped. Officials and experts have said the closing of the Island’s last landfill, combined with the potential closing of twin ashfills in the Town of Babylon, could create a garbage crisis on Long Island. The only options left for solid waste could be trucking it off Long Island, a costly proposition for towns that are likely to be suffering from pandemic-related expenses for years.

Currently, the Brookhaven landfill handles over 350,000 tons of ash annually from energy-from-waste facilities, in addition to handling 720,000 tons of solid waste. Each day 2,000 trucks transport waste off the Island. 

Still, murmurs of the prospective ashfill site have led to controversy over the past year. Some residents and advocates have petitioned and publicly protested against the creation of any new place to dump ash, saying it will cause health issues for residents who live near the landfill. 

On Oct. 31, residents and advocates protested in front of the landfill against such a new ashfill. Activists for the protest organizer, Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group, said the location of this new ashfill was especially concerning with more than half the residents of the surrounding community are Black or Latino, according to census data. Those residents have complained about odor and health issues, pointing to the landfill as the culprit.

The group called for a “regional solution” to the solid waste issue. 

“We stand with the African American, Latinx, Indigenous, and working-class communities of North Bellport who refuse to continue bearing the brunt of the Town of Brookhaven’s fiscal mismanagement and lack of environmental planning,” said Monique Fitzgerald, a Bellport activist and leader of the landfill action group, in a release. 

Still, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) has also sought such regional efforts, though there is not much in the way of any one person or group stepping up to the plate. 

At a Feb. 27 meeting of the Long Island Regional Planning Council about the impending solid waste crisis, business leaders, officials and regional leaders called for potentially finding other ways to ship trash off Long Island. Romaine suggested innovation in ways for residents to dispose of garbage rather than just burning or storing in landfills.

Supervisor Ed Romaine (right) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (left) met with Colleen Kelly on July 21 at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville to congratulate her for winning First Prize in the Connecticut Fund for the Environment’s Save the Sound photo contest.

The winning photo (on right) was taken at the Town of Brookhaven’s Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. A resident of Middle Island, Ms. Kelly is pictured with her son, Caedyn, who is her “photo assistant” and a frequent subject of his mother’s photographs. 

“Cedar Beach is a great location to shoot pictures and Colleen proved that with her stunning, prize winning photograph. It illustrates the need to do whatever we can to preserve and protect the Long Island Sound and our beautiful shoreline for everyone to enjoy,” said Councilwoman Bonner .

“I congratulate Colleen for her outstanding photograph and thank her for showing everyone just how beautiful our north shore landscape is. It also reinforces why we must take good care of the environment and encourage children like Caedyn to preserve our precious natural resources,” added Supervisor Romaine.

The mission of “Save the Sound” is to protect and improve the land, air and water of Connecticut and Long Island Sound. Visit www.savethesound.org for more info

The Miller Place Teachers Association along with Tuscany Gourmet Market organized a soup donation to Mather Hospital. Miller Place alumnae, Sammy Schaefer and Nicole Ellis, are among the people on the front lines. Photo from MPSD

By Rita J. Egan and Kyle Barr

With so much going on day to day, with people stuck at home and fearing for the future, there are consistent hopes provided by the men and women doing more to help the people most in need. Whether it’s people making masks for essential workers or meals for hospital employees on the front lines, we asked local officials, business and civic leaders who they would like to thank during this time of crisis.

New York State

State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) wanted to thank both those on the front lines and the “unsung heroes.”

“I want to thank each and every one in our community who has been on the front lines of this battle,” he said. “Doctors, nurses, first responders and all of our volunteer firefighters have been fighting a war that they never expected. Their efforts are truly heroic, and we owe them a debt we may never be able to repay. But equally as notable is the work of our unsung heroes — retail workers, postal employees, cleaners, truck drivers, restaurant employees, delivery people and every single person who continues to show up every day to help make sure we have food on our table, gas in our cars and electricity in our homes. This is an effort that requires so many to work together and these men and women are the ones who will lead us to victory over this virus. We say thank you for all you do for all of us.”

Rocky Point residents the Palifka family have been putting up signs saying “Rocky Point Strong” on people’s front lawns, as a simple way of keeping spirits high. Photo by Jane Bonner

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is thankful for several local residents.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the members of our community who, week after week, have shown up for their jobs — our health care workers, first responders, grocery workers and all the others who have provided the crucial services we need to get through this shutdown. Through their courageous commitment to service, essential workers have enabled the rest of us to do our part by staying home.”

Englebright was grateful also for those doing their part at home. 

“For those of us at home, it is hard to reconcile that staying put is actually doing something important,” he said. “But by working from home, helping our children with their schooling, social distancing and wearing masks when out in public, our responsible behavior has worked to flatten the curve and slow down the transmission of the coronavirus. So, my gratitude goes to everyone who responded so admirably to the challenge before us. Your collective actions combined with others around the state have literally helped save thousands of lives.”

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) said it’s difficult for him to just name one person or one group of workers.

“Everybody’s different and everybody, in different ways, has done so much incredible work,” he said.

He said in addition to medical and nursing home professionals, it’s important to remember the volunteer firefighters and EMS workers.

“They’re basically volunteering to put themselves in harm’s way,” he said.

He also credited police officers who have had to assist more so in ambulance calls during the pandemic.

“They are busier than they have ever been before, but it’s less with crime and more with dealing with so many health emergencies,” he said.

Gaughran added that medical calls are more involved than before as additional protocols need to be followed to protect first responders from COVID-19.

He said he has seen so many restaurant owners doing remarkable work too, donating food to nearby hospitals and firehouses.

“Some of these businesses are operating almost on their last dollars, just using it to help people,” he said.

Suffolk County

Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) had health care and front line workers as well as residents on her mind when giving thanks.

“I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, aides, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, techs, phlebotomists, dietary workers, custodians, mechanics, grocery workers, restaurant workers, car mechanics, moms, dads, grandparents and daycare teachers and aides who have sacrificed their personal health and safety during this time as essential workers,” she said. “I would also like to thank all of those that continue to wear masks, maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others, sneeze and cough into the crook of their arms and wash their hands frequently. These little efforts protect not only them and their families from COVID-19 and other viral and bacterial infections, but they protect us all! Stay strong, stay safe!”

Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) also had an array of people to thank.

Bagel Express employees custom made and donated 50 feet of hero sandwiches spelling out “thank you” to health care workers at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from David Prestia

“During this unprecedented pandemic, it has been wonderful to see our neighbors coming together to support and help one another,” he said. “All of our essential workers (first responders, health care providers, postal and delivery people, store clerks and many more) deserve our gratitude for the sacrifices they make each day to do their job to help keep us safe and healthy. It is important to recognize everyone stepping up to make a contribution, from students sending kind messages — to sewing groups and seamstresses making and donating face masks — to restaurants/food establishments donating meals — to the libraries and businesses making PPEs and hand sanitizers — to nurseries donating plants to residents and health workers — and to the newspapers and media outlets keeping us informed. The work of those on the front lines is truly heroic and I can’t thank them enough.”

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) wished to thank Heritage Trust and the Mount Sinai Congregational Church for their food drives, which each raised thousands of food and toiletries items that will go to those who need it. She also thanked essential workers including law enforcement, health department and Department of Social Services.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said she’s grateful for a range of people.

“Like so many others, my gratitude goes first to our health care and frontline workers,” she said. “Their courage and devotion is the brightest star in this dark time. I’m grateful that people in our community are staying home, following social distancing guidelines, and wearing face coverings in public so we can all help slow the advance of this invisible enemy. We all have that essential role to lower the toll COVID-19 takes by being responsible.”

Hahn also pointed out the importance of mental health professionals. 

“I am grateful too for the mental health professionals providing counseling, guidance and emotional support for domestic violence victims, as well as the many among us who are struggling to hold on to hope and the tattered shreds of what was a normal life just a few short months ago,” she said. “As someone with a social work background, I know for certain that these caring individuals are critical to the wellbeing of our community. We need their skills and their caring hearts now more than ever.”

Hahn added that the community has played an important role to help fight the pandemic. 

“From people making masks for others, delivering food to seniors and neighbors in need, to journalists bringing us the facts and stories or the lost and to the families teaching their kids at home, I see bravery and love everywhere,” she said. “It gives me hope that we will come through this stronger than ever.”

Children across the county have been writing and drawing encouraging messages in chalk. Photo by Stefanie Werner

Suffolk County Legislator Susan Berland (D- Dix Hills) thanked not only those on the front lines but also her staff members and many others. 

“During this most unprecedented time, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all essential workers,” she said. “You are on the front lines providing us the goods, services, care and protection we need to keep moving forward. A special thank you to the members of the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees who prove time and time again that their willingness to serve the residents of our county knows no bounds. I would also like to thank my staff for their hard work during long days that often become long nights. Their commitment to serving the constituents of the 16th Legislative District and all residents of Suffolk County is most admirable.”

She also had praise for the residents of the district.

“Thank you for demonstrating what makes Suffolk County the best place to live,” she said. “As a community we have shown that we are in this together, and surely, if we can get through this together, then we can get through anything together.”

Brookhaven Town

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said she has been holed up in her house since the start of the pandemic, only having one kidney and knowing it’s a potential comorbidity. Still, she said she has seen a tremendous amount of community support, such as from Rocky Point residents Quentin Palifka and his mother Alicia who have been putting up signs saying “Rocky Point Strong” on people’s front lawns, as a simple way of keeping spirits high.

Otherwise, both she and Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) pointed to Lighthouse Mission, which despite all the constant pressure and expanding need has kept up its mission to give food to those who need it. In April, the town gave Lighthouse Mission the green light to start delivering food and toiletries directly to homebound residents. With volunteers which has included a few elected town council members, they have been delivering upwards of 100s of meals a day, Romaine said.

Margaritas Cafe in Port Jefferson Station, along with the owners’ other franchise The Cuban in Patchogue, is just one of many examples of businesses supplying food to hospital workers during the ongoing crisis. Photo from Facebook

The supervisor also looked to thank the town personnel who are delivering close to 425 hot meals to seniors who were in the town’s congregate nutrition program. That is 425 meals each and every day.

“People feel like somebody still cares,” Romaine said.

Along with that, he also thanked all the people who are continuing to operate the many food pantries in the town of Brookhaven. 

“They are doing God’s work — they are helping people in desperate need,” he said. “Nobody should go hungry.”

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said she was thankful for many “hometown heroes.”

“I am incredibly thankful for the essential workers who are diligently providing support to individuals and families, including those most vulnerable, in our community during the COVID pandemic,” she said. “Without their commitment, none of us could be safe. In addition to our outstanding health care and medical professionals, I would like to highlight and thank the janitors, custodial, and maintenance staffs that are keeping our essential facilities and businesses running, as well as the grocery workers, the United States Postal Service and the many delivery drivers who continue to ensure that we receive the food, medicine and other supplies that we need during this time. A final thank you goes to all those hometown heroes in our community, too numerous to name, who have stepped up to fill a community need during this challenging time.”

Smithtown

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) had many to thank from restaurant owners to residents and community organizations that have taken the time to help out others to his fellow “partners in government” at the federal, state and county levels. Most of all, he wanted to show town employees his gratefulness.

“None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of the town’s department directors and our labor force who stepped up in every way, during this pandemic,” he said. “The department leadership has worked through this entire pandemic, without time at home to be with their families. Our Senior Citizens Department teams and volunteers have pushed through exhaustion to deliver weekly meals for over 200 homebound residents. Our parks department has worked tirelessly to keep town buildings and grounds sanitized, while helping us to deliver PPE supplies to local frontline workers and facilities. And most of all, the job that our Public Safety department has done over the last two months has been nothing short of extraordinary. They did not get to rotate out of the schedule and work from home like all other departments. Public Safety has managed our Emergency Response, patrolled our parks, assisted SCPD, enforced social distancing requirements and all executive orders from the state. They have done an exceptional job, in an impossible situation and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Huntington

Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinaci (R) also had a number of community members to thank.

Susie Owens of St. Charles Hospital delivered a special message to her colleagues in chalk. Photo from St. Charles Facebook

“While it goes without question that all frontline workers deserve our heartfelt thanks, special recognition is due to the volunteers who have come out of the safety of their own homes, out of retirement, or who have traveled to Long Island from less affected areas of our country to put their lives on the line to participate on our front lines,” Lupinaci said. “From fire, rescue and EMS volunteers, to retired volunteers serving alongside our doctors and nurses, and military service members who are supplementing the efforts of our local front lines — our thanks can never be expressed fully enough. As we plan to kick off National Nurses Week on May 6, I’d like to thank Theresa Sullivan, whose Huntington Hospital Meals initiative delivered thousands of meals and raised over $150,000 to thank medical professionals and staff at Huntington Hospital over the several initial weeks of the pandemic, giving a boost to our doctors and nurses, who have found themselves in the difficult position of filling in, bedside, for the families of isolated patients during overwhelming, non-stop shifts. I encourage everyone who is still working and collecting a paycheck to join me in donating to the Northwell Health COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support our amazing nurses!”

Three Village

Jonathan Kornreich, president of the Three Village Civic Association and a member of the district’s school board, said he would like to thank the teachers.

“These people have devoted years to learning their craft and developing the skills to be effective in the classroom, and they suddenly find themselves engaged in a practice very different from what any of us could have predicted,” he said. “And yet, they have risen to this challenge with compassion, with great effort and yes, with newly developed skills.”

Kornreich said that even though school is not in session in the usual ways, Three Village Central School District teachers are working harder and longer than usual “and in ways that have challenged them professionally and personally.”

“I think that many parents have a newfound appreciation for what’s involved in getting developing minds to focus on learning,” Kornreich said. “I’m thankful that the kids of Three Village have a warm, dedicated and professional teaching staff to keep the wheels on this thing as we head into an uncertain future.”

Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, said she is thankful for Three Village residents.

“They just keep giving and giving freely,” she said. “It’s just extraordinary.”

Rocky Point community members and the VFW Post 6249 arrive at the Long Island State Veterans Home to show support despite horrible losses suffered inside. Photo from Facebook

Rocchio said she has witnessed a huge number of philanthropic acts during the pandemic that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. The WMHO along with Stony Brook Village Center restaurants created a health care meal program and are currently donating meals to Stony Brook University Hospital. Rocchio has been touched by the number of residents who have been donating funds to help with the mission. More than 9,000 meals have been donated to health care workers.

“It’s such a wonderful place to live,” she said.

Port Jefferson/Port Jefferson Station

Barbara Ransome, executive director of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, thanked A Cake in Time and its owner Sherry Sobel, who after a donation to help her business, took that money and made cookies and then made arrangements to have them delivered to the underserved. She thanked other individual businesses including the Fifth Season Restaurant, with owners John and Deb Urbinati and Steam Room manager Vinnie Seiter who have been supplying lunches and dinners to the Welcome Friends Kitchen without any compensation.

Indu Kaur, who with The Curry Club’s Feed the #HealthCareHeroes Campaign has been raising money and donating meals since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis back in March. They have donated 2,000 meals thus far and hope to continue our work and feed the homeless shelters, and families that lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Carolyn Benson, a musician and singer, partnered in The Journey Home Project to support veterans through the pandemic. People can go to www.carolynbenson.us to buy a shirt which now through May 31 all proceeds are going to The Journey Home Project, which assists nonprofits aiding vets.

Front Porch Photographer Andrew Theodorakis of Yellow House Images has been taking front porch photos and setting up a Gofundme page to then donate that money for meals for the underserved through the PJ Chamber.

Rebecca Kassay of Suffolk County Creators of Covid-19 Medical Supplies and her team of volunteers have been making facial masks by the hundreds.

Debbie and Jerry Bowling, the owners of Pasta Pasta, have been cooking countless meals donated to charitable causes, hospitals, women shelters.

Legislator Sarah Anker joins the Island Heart Food Pantry, which operates out of the Mount Sinai Congregational Church, in a food drive. Photo from Anker’s office

Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce Community Liaison Joan Nickeson named several chamber and non-chamber community members alike, including Jennifer Dzvonar, owner of Bass Electric and president of the chamber who helped purchase nearly $700 in groceries for the needy in the community; Jackie Kirsch, of PJS, who has been making masks for a variety of organizations since March; and Toni St. John of PJS, who is sewing as part of Facebook page Operation Headband making the straps hospital workers use to hold masks to their face, taking the stress away from their ears. St. John is also one of the costume designers down at Theatre Three.

She also wished to thank Debra Quigley, a trained Literacy Suffolk volunteer — who while in-person Comsewogue Library ESL classes have been cancelled, she has managed to offer ESL classes virtually through the library. 

“Our parents in this community are diversified,” Nickeson said.

Smithtown

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) had many to thank from restaurant owners to residents and community organizations that have taken the time to help out others to his fellow “partners in government” at the federal, state and county levels. Most of all, he wanted to show town employees his gratefulness.

“None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of the town’s department directors and our labor force who stepped up in every way, during this pandemic,” he said. “The department leadership has worked through this entire pandemic, without time at home to be with their families. Our Senior Citizens Department teams and volunteers have pushed through exhaustion to deliver weekly meals for over 200 homebound residents. Our parks department has worked tirelessly to keep town buildings and grounds sanitized, while helping us to deliver PPE supplies to local frontline workers and facilities. And most of all, the job that our Public Safety department has done over the last two months has been nothing short of extraordinary. They did not get to rotate out of the schedule and work from home like all other departments. Public Safety has managed our Emergency Response, patrolled our parks, assisted SCPD, enforced social distancing requirements and all executive orders from the state. They have done an exceptional job, in an impossible situation and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Port Jefferson/Port Jefferson Station

Barbara Ransome, executive director of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, thanked A Cake in Time and its owner Sherry Sobel, who after a donation to help her business, took that money and made cookies and then made arrangements to have them delivered to the underserved. She thanked other individual businesses including the Fifth Season Restaurant, with owners John and Deb Urbinati and Steam Room manager Vinnie Seiter who have been supplying lunches and dinners to the Welcome Friends Kitchen without any compensation.

Indu Kaur, who with The Curry Club’s Feed the #HealthCareHeroes Campaign has been raising money and donating meals since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis back in March. They have donated 2,000 meals thus far and hope to continue our work and feed the homeless shelters, and families that lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Thank you signs outside Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson. Photo by Kyle Barr

Carolyn Benson, a musician and singer, partnered in The Journey Home Project to support veterans through the pandemic. People can go to www.carolynbenson.us to buy a shirt which now through May 31 all proceeds are going to The Journey Home Project, which assists nonprofits aiding vets.

Front Porch Photographer Andrew Theodorakis of Yellow House Images has been taking front porch photos and setting up a Gofundme page to then donate that money for meals for the underserved through the PJ Chamber.

Rebecca Kassay of Suffolk County Creators of Covid-19 Medical Supplies and her team of volunteers have been making facial masks by the hundreds.

Debbie and Jerry Bowling, the owners of Pasta Pasta, have been cooking countless meals donated to charitable causes, hospitals, women shelters.

Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce Community Liaison Joan Nickeson named several chamber and non-chamber community members alike, including Jennifer Dzvonar, owner of Bass Electric and president of the chamber who helped purchase nearly $700 in groceries for the needy in the community; Jackie Kirsch, of PJS, who has been making masks for a variety of organizations since March; and Toni St. John of PJS, who is sewing as part of Facebook page Operation Headband making the straps hospital workers use to hold masks to their face, taking the stress away from their ears. St. John is also one of the costume designers down at Theatre Three.

She also wished to thank Debra Quigley, a trained Literacy Suffolk volunteer — who while in-person Comsewogue Library ESL classes have been cancelled, she has managed to offer ESL classes virtually through the library. 

“Our parents in this community are diversified,” Nickeson said.

North Shore Brookhaven Civics/Chambers of Commerce

Civics have also noticed the massive amount of support generated by local residents. Bea Ruberto, the president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, thanked Rose Mayer and her daughter Lily, who as their own organization, The LilyRose Collective, are making masks along with Facebook group Long Island Love for police and other essential personnel. 

“We’re (the Civic) planning to donate to help her do this,” Ruberto said. “We’re also going to be asking the community at large to donate fabric, etc., and she will give us the masks to donate to whoever needs them.”

Health care workers at Stony Brook University Hospital crowd together after the flyover April 28. Photo by Kyle Barr

Chambers also wanted to respect the multiple strides businesses have made in the community despite the strains and stresses from lost business. The Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce thanked Dan Reinwald of Tilda’s Bake Shop who donated pastries, donuts, rolls and bread to Mather as well as Hope Academy at Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai in appreciation of medical professionals and security staff. 

Tom O’Grady of Tuscany Market, who partnered with the Miller Place Teachers Association and organized soup and food donations for Mather Hospital,wanted to recognize our medical professionals.

Roy Pelaez of Island Empanada donated empanadas to the Suffolk County Police Department to show appreciation for our law enforcement. 

Joe Cognitore and the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249, escorted by Peter Oleschuk, Rick Mees and the North Fork Cruisers, took to the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University to pay tribute to the staff and volunteers serving there as well as to remember and honor deceased heroes. 

Eufrasia Rodriguez of Justice 4 Autism has been donating masks to ambulance drivers, nurses at Stony Brook, Good Samaritan Hospital, Pilgrim State and Southside Hospitals along with local businesses like Spiro’s, Fantasia Bridal and Bakewicz Farms.

Tino Massotto of Cow Palace donated complete dinners to St. Charles Hospital’s ER Department and ICU as well as Good Shepherd Hospice.

Michelle LaManno of C.P. LaMannos Have a Pizza in Miller Place donated salads and pizza pies to Mather Hospital, and Michelle and Stelios Stylianou of Studio E hosted free virtual art classes for the community.

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Brookhaven Taps Lower Bid, Cites Environmental Concerns

The Mount Sinai Yacht Club has been around for close to half a century, and its lease has been renewed for another 20 years. Photo by Kyle Barr

A new lease agreement between the Town of Brookhaven and Mount Sinai Yacht Club sees its annual price increase by a factor of 10, and some bidders were left unhappy with the board’s final choice.

The Town Board voted unanimously to award the lease bid to the Mount Sinai Yacht Club for a term from Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2040, for a total of $302,500 annually. This amount will increase by 3 percent after the first 10-year period and every five years after. 

A score of yacht club members showed up at the Dec. 5 meeting for support. Photo by Kyle Barr

This is a hefty jump of what the yacht club is currently paying for the lease agreement, $29,109. Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said the site is assessed at around $110,000, but competitive bids upped that price.

Both Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) recused themselves from the discussion, with Bonner being a member and LaValle’s family having been past members.

The town acquired the property in 1975 through a condemnation process for “town purposes.” The town then leases the property to the yacht club, and the first term of the town lease that was set to expire in 2000 was extended until 2020. The yacht club operates the marina and ancillary facilities, with a yacht club commodore saying they currently operate over 100 boat slips. The lease agreement includes 2.4 acres of upland and 2.6 acres of underwater property. He said the yacht club currently has a $1.2 million gross yearly revenue through both its house and general funds.

The yacht club charges $1,000 as a first-time fee and $1,600 in annual fees after that. Some who spoke at the Dec. 5 meeting charged that it was unfair that taxpayers be restricted from entering town property based on being a member or paying for the privilege.

Jeffrey Hulse, a Sound Beach-based attorney representing the yacht club, said the yacht club considers itself a “public-oriented facility” that makes itself available for other organizations to meet or run events, including Boy Scout groups and Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“We are open on a nondiscriminatory basis for anyone who wants to apply — we bring in new members each and every year,” said the attorney, who is also a 30-year member of the club. “We consider ourselves a working man’s clubhouse … we maintain this club in a pristine condition.”

Several scores of yacht club members attended the Dec. 5 public hearing where trustees discussed the merits of the separate bids. By the end they clapped and cheered as the town announced its decision.

“We’ve had the honor of experiencing an environment that is very family oriented and community oriented,” yacht club member John Amato said to the board. “This organization has provided our family with the true experience of family and community when we lost our son almost 17 years ago.” He added the club has facilitated scholarships for high school students throughout the local area in the name of his son.

However, not all were happy with the board’s decision. 

“Sounds to me if I wanted to go there, I would have to come up with $2,600 before I step foot on the property.”

— Chris Abbot

Chris Abbot, of the Riverhead-based Smith, Finkelstein, Lundberg Isler and Yakaboski LLP, represents Russell Waller, the CFO of North Shore Enterprises, the operator of Old Man’s Boatyard along the same peninsula as the yacht club. That proposal came in at $327,600.

In its original proposal letter, then attorney for Waller, Dennis Collins, proposed creating a restaurant with bar service that is open to the public, also renovating the upstairs attic area into a large room with an outside deck that could be rented for parties or meetings. The proposal also spoke of securing the four docks and 100 boat slips with gates and cameras in the same way that Danfords in Port Jefferson secures its docks.

The attorney was miffed over the board’s decision, saying his client’s proposed bid was the highest out of the four submitted. The yacht club’s bid came third highest at a total of four other bids for the lease, the other amounts being $230,000 from Strong’s Marine in Mattituck and $317,000 from William Dick, a yacht club member and past commodore. 

“The yacht club was there when the town acquired the property through a condemnation proceeding — that’s when property is for public use and benefit,” Abbot said. “Sounds to me if I wanted to go there, I would have to come up with $2,600 before I step foot on the property.”

Members of the town board said the choice in lease agreement also came down to the use of the property, with Abbot’s client looking to add an additional story to the building, which a town review said would have increased traffic and parking issues, as well as environmental concerns. The yacht club, and other surrounding buildings are built on a sandbar, and Eaderesto said an analysis showed an intensified use would lead to more pollution into the Mount Sinai Harbor.

A report from the town’s Division of Land Management said they were concerned with the other proposals for adding to the footprint and height of the structure, saying it would increase the impact of nitrogen and traffic. The report acknowledged the Mount Sinai Management Plan, which looked to keep development of the sand bar down while looking to restore habitat and decrease pollution.

“We have a lot of issues in this town, but money is not always the paramount issue,” said Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville). “We always try to find the best fit, and in a town with over $300 million budget every dollar matters … to me on a sandbar, I don’t find the actions of this committee to be in any way arbitrary.”