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Tesla Science Center

PSEG employees volunteered time to help clean up the grounds of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham Dec. 10. Photo by Kevin Redding

Long Island PSEG employee Meredith Lewis wanted to help clean up the grounds of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, so she organized volunteer efforts to do just that.

The cleanup was part of PSEG’s Community Partnership Program, which provides sponsorship to any employees passionate about contributing within their community.

PSEG volunteers rake leaves at the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham Dec. 10. Photo by Kevin Redding
PSEG volunteers rake leaves at the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham Dec. 10. Photo by Kevin Redding

As a Shoreham resident, Lewis said she wanted to help make Wardenclyffe – which has become something of an eyesore the past few decades – a place the community can go to and be proud of, especially the area that will become the center’s welcome site.

The location where Serbian-born inventor Nikola Tesla’s last remaining laboratory in the world stands was designated as a world historic site the following day, so timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Lewis and her merry band of helpers – made up of about 25 people between those from PSEG and the Tesla Science Center.

“It feels really great that people want to take time out of their personal schedules and give back to the community,” Lewis said. “We want a nice place for people to go and honor Tesla. It’s very exciting to have somebody who has such a historical significance be in our community and to be able to clean up the site, which really was a dumb beforehand, and make it what it is today. It’s nice and helps the community.”

Her volunteers rakes leaves, trimmed low brush and shrubs, cleared out vines attached to the fence that separates the grounds and the road, and got the area ready for planned irrigation in the spring.

PSEG volunteers rake leaves at the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham Dec. 10. Photo by Kevin Redding
PSEG volunteers rake leaves at the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham Dec. 10. Photo by Kevin Redding

Even her kids Brayden, 7, and Brooke, 5, were taking part.

Karl Sidenius, a longtime volunteer for the center, said he got involved in the effort because he was sick of seeing what had become of the property.

“I knew this had been Tesla’s lab and to drive by here every day or so and see the mess really disturbed me,” he said. “If we can get this cleaned up today, it would be a big help in maintaining the property.”

Gene Genova, vice president of the Tesla Science Center, said the help was great. Ever since the property was bought in 2013, he said, hundreds of volunteers come out to the site and help clean up.

He said there are big plans to turn the abandoned house and building on the property into a visitor’s center and a community events center, respectively.

“When we get volunteers who are passionate about helping us,” Genova said, “it furthers our cause to make things happen faster.”

 

California-based Northern Imagination to contribute portion of Tesla statue sales to the Wardenclyffe site

Replicas of the Nikola Tesla statue in Silicon Valley were given to those who donated to the Kickstarter fund. A portion of the proceeds are being donated to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham. Photo by Terry Guyer

A love of science and invention has brought together two small startups from across the country.

Dorrian Porter learned of Nikola Tesla eight years ago, and said he was surprised by how under-recognized the inventor was. Porter, the creator of Northern Imagination — a California holding company formed in 2013 to support creative ideas, entrepreneurs and companies — had some interest in the Kickstarter platform, and decided to use it to educate others on the founder of alternating currents.

The Nikola Tesla statue funded by Northern Imagination through a Kickstarter campaign is constructed. Photo by Terry Guyer
The Nikola Tesla statue funded by Northern Imagination through a Kickstarter campaign is constructed. Photo by Terry Guyer

“Elementary school children should know about him just as they learn about [Thomas] Edison or [Alexander Graham] Bell,” he said. “Along with others in his time, Nikola Tesla worked on a range of theories and inventions that helped form the basis of our world today, including computers, x-rays, wireless communications and solar. Most people don’t realize that the transfer of power across any kind of distance over wires via alternating current is the direct work of Nikola Tesla.”

While he prepared for the project, he paid a visit to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, where he met board president Jane Alcorn.

“Dorrian Porter heard what we were doing here and came to volunteer some time and visit us one weekend,” Alcorn said. “He was inspired by what we were doing.”

And he was motivated by how the organization was able to raise more than $1 million to purchase the property.

“He’s a Tesla fan and thought it was fascinating what we were able to do,” she said. “He wanted to be helpful, like many other people across the world.”

So in 2013, Porter raised $127,000 to build a statue of Tesla in Silicon Valley in California. The campaign lasted just 30 days, and was supported by more than 700 backers, with Alcorn being one of them. The figure was sculpted by Terry Guyer, and works as a free wifi spot, while also housing a time capsule scheduled to be opened January 7, 2043. The landlord of the property where the statue now stands, Harold Hohbach, agreed to put the statue there. Hohbach began his career in the 1940s as an electrical engineer at Westinghouse, a company that was a major beneficiary and benefactor of Tesla, according to Porter.

A gift for donating was a replica of the statue, showing Tesla holding a large light bulb.

Northern Imagination founder Dorrian Porter stands with the Nikola Tesla statue he crowdfunded to build, at its permanent place in Silicon Valley, California. Photo by Terry Guyer
Northern Imagination founder Dorrian Porter stands with the Nikola Tesla statue he crowdfunded to build, at its permanent place in Silicon Valley, California. Photo by Terry Guyer

“He could [generate] power wirelessly in 1895 — so we put the magnet in the mini-replica inside the light as a random idea that we thought would be nifty, and since magnetism and electricity go together, it seemed to fit,” Porter said. “It’s hard to imagine the last 100 years without power being transported from Niagara Falls, and every other power generating plant now, to other parts of the country.”

The company held a few hundred in stock for the last few years, selling them closer to the original price of $90, which was used to raise the funds for the project. To sell the rest of the line, he lowered the price, and decided he wanted to give back in support of Tesla, by donating $3 of each sale to the science center in Shoreham.

Porter said Northern Imagination anticipates donating around $2,000.

“I am an enthusiastic supporter for seeing a permanent place of recognition established for Nikola Tesla,” he said. “By showcasing the wide range of areas Tesla worked on 100 years ago, the center will without question spark the imagination of a young girl or boy, and take our world forward the next 100 years. I hope the Tesla Science Center can be a place of recognition for Tesla and his inventions, a gathering place for people and a spot for children to learn and experiment.”

Alcorn said no matter what the science center receives, she is happy to have Northern Imagination be a part of the science center’s network. She said she also received a matching time capsule that will be placed on the grounds.

“We’re pleased that people think of us and consider us in any kind of giving,” she said. “Whether it’s their time or money or skills or connections, all of that is helpful and it’s welcomed. We appreciate it.”

The Rocky Point GearHeadz with coach Chris Pinkenburg, a physicist at Brookhaven National Lab. File photo by Desirée Keegan

“It’s finally happening,” award-winning Rocky Point-area robotics coach Chris Pinkenburg said. “After six years in the making we will have a FIRST Robotics Competition team.”

This was the goal for him and his GearHeadz since day one. The team competed in lower divisions in the FIRST LEGO League to build experience and grow to be able to compete in the higher-level league.

In February, the team was crowned Second Place Champions in the FLL Long Island Championship Tournament and went on to represent the area in the North American Open Invitational Championship Tournament in May. The GearHeadz competed against 74 teams — all regional and state champions from the U.S. and Canada, as well as international guests from Germany and South Korea.

The team’s hard work paid off, as the GearHeadz claimed second place in programming in its final year as an FLL team. This award recognizes a team that utilizes outstanding programming principles, including clear, concise and reusable code that allows their robot to perform challenge missions autonomously and consistently. The team also placed in fifth place overall.

“It’s very heartening to see kids involved in this kind of work. We’re proud of what they have been able to accomplish and we wish them more success in the future.”

— Jane Alcorn

It is the second championship win in a row for two members, and the third championship win for two of the founding members.

As a result of its continued growth, the GearHeadz gained a new science connection.

The GearHeadz now have affiliation with the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, and the future collaboration will help the team as it ventures into the FRC.

A more advanced team needs more space than the Pinkenburgs’ basement, which is where the team currently practices and builds.

“Space is the biggest problem, so I approached the Tesla Science Center in April or May to see if they would be interested to host a robotics team,’ Pinkenburg said. “They are absolutely in favor of this. It also fits well into their plans for the science center.”

The Tesla Science Center, while currently working on turning some of the lab into a museum, is also working on hosting space for local community groups and an incubator where scientists can conduct experiments, build and share ideas. While the space is not going to be ready for this upcoming season, which begins in January, the plan is to move to permanent housing next season.

“With the Tesla Science Center we have a long-term future,” Pinkenburg said.

The center’s president, Jane Alcorn, hopes the partnership will give the team more visibility and  said it’s exactly the kind of thing the site wants to foster and work with and would like the team to one day be Tesla’s GearHeadz.

“Since Tesla is one of the fathers of robotics it seems very appropriate,” she said. Nikola Tesla also invented the first remote control. “Part of our mission is to have groups like this.”

The Rocky Point-based robotics team, GearHeadz, after competing in the North American Open Invitational Tournament. File photo from Chris Pinkenburg
The Rocky Point-based robotics team, GearHeadz, after competing in the North American Open Invitational Tournament. File photo from Chris Pinkenburg

But besides space, an FRC team needs more money. That’s where Bohemia-based North Atlantic Industries came in. The organization contacted Pinkenburg after FIRST pointed it in Rocky Point’s direction. The company offered to sponsor the GearHeadz with up to $6,000 dollars in matching funds.

“This was really great news,” Pinkenburg said. “It was the breakthrough we needed.”

In order to compete in 2017, the GearHeadz must raise at least $15,000 to purchase equipment and pay the FRC fees. The six-week season begins in January, but the team must come up with the funding by mid-November. So far, the group has raised close to $3,000, and the matching grant enables the team to pay for the $6,000 registration fee that is due this month.

The registration comes with a robot base kit and one competition, which will take place from the end of March to the beginning of April at Hofstra University.

“We still need additional material for the robot — you are allowed to spend $4,000 but my guess is that it’ll be around $1,500,” Pinkenburg said. “We need tools — we have some promises for donations in that department already — and we would like to participate in a second competition, which is another $4,000. That’s where the $15,000 comes from. If we match the money from North Atlantic Industries we’ll be close to this.”

Pinkenburg said from his team’s past experience he believes the GearHeadz are well-prepared to have a good start in its new division. Since it’s a community-based team — not limited by school district boundaries when accepting new members — he hopes that the team can continue to grow.

“I hope that this will turn into something where many kids from the North Shore communities profit from,” he said.

Information about the team and a sponsor form may be found on the GearHeadz’ website at www.rockypointroboticsclub.com. The group also set up a GoFundMe site: www.gofundme.com/Gearheadz. 

“We’re excited to see what this robotics club can do, especially since they’re doing so well,” Alcorn said. “It’s very heartening to see kids involved in this kind of work. We’re proud of what they have been able to accomplish and we wish them more success in the future.”

The Noah Hallock House will undergo renovations with Rocky Point Historical Society’s newly received grant money. File photo by Erin Duenas

By Desirée Keegan

Thousands of dollars have made their way to North Shore historical nonprofits, which will help continue to preserve Long Island’s rich history and educate others on it.

The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation funds Long Island’s history-based 501(c)(3)s, museums and universities to help with object conservation, historical preservation, education programs and exhibits. The organization was established in memory of Gardiner’s Island, a part of East Hampton town.

“The foundation grants have become highly completive,” Executive Director Kathryn Curran said. “For this round, the board reviewed 43 applicants that covered every form of historic outreach. Projects included restorations, exhibitions, programs and collection digitization.”

Most recently, local historical societies, Friends of Science East Inc., Suffolk County Historical Society, The Nature Conservancy, 3rd NY Regiment Long Island Companies and Stony Brook Foundation, among others, were the 2016 first round recipients.

A volunteer and child practice on a loom at an event at the Huntington Historical Society. File photo
A volunteer and child practice on a loom at an event at the Huntington Historical Society. File photo

Joseph Attonito, chairman of the board of directors, said there were many great groups to choose from.

“It is very gratifying to have so many worthwhile organizations overseeing our local heritage and preserving our history,” he said. “Bob Gardiner would be very pleased.”

Rocky Point Historical Society received $7,500 for restoration use and, according to historical society President Natalie Aurucci Stiefel, the funds are being used for repairs and restoration of The Noah Hallock House, built in 1721.

“We feel very privileged to have the foundation choose us for that grant,” she said. “It is important to keep this historic house in good shape. We would’ve had a hard time fundraising that money.”

According to Stiefel, the house, which holds tours on Saturdays between 1 and 3 p.m., was the birthplace of revolutionary soldiers, and had the possibility of being torn down several years ago before Mark Baisch, owner of Landmark Properties in Rocky Point, stepped in to help.

“We still have staircases that the servants and slaves used,” Stiefel said. “It’s filled with artifacts and photographs from the 18th and 19th century, and there’s even a 20th century room dedicated to the radio history of Rocky Point.”

The Port Jefferson Harbor Educational and Arts Conservancy received $16,354.09 for it’s annual Heritage Weekend festivities.

Port Jefferson Harbor Educational and Arts Conservancy used it's funds from the grant to host a larger and more in-depth Heritage Weekend celebration. Photo by Alex Petroski
Port Jefferson Harbor Educational and Arts Conservancy used it’s funds from the grant to host a larger and more in-depth Heritage Weekend celebration. Photo by Alex Petroski

According to Nicole Christian, a consultant for grant writing for Port Jefferson Village, about 50 percent of the funding from the weekend came from the grant.

“The larger, more impactful exhibits and reenactments that would have lasting public benefit, that’s what they supported,” she said.

“We made sure that we tailored a lot of the activities that you see with the cars and the beach scene — we made sure that it all weaves together to celebrate the history of Long Island, particularly the 18th century.”

All 19 locations around the village that hosted the event covered a particular time period in Long Island’s history. According to Christian, the funding helped Port Jefferson be able to create a larger and grander event than would have originally been possible.

“We had all levels of recreational activities here,” she said. “We’re hoping that [visitors took] away a greater appreciation for Long Island’s role in 18th century history, the colonial period, the Revolutionary War, a recreational pastime. People don’t know that [Port Jefferson was] a magnet of recreation for all families.”

The Historical Society of Greater Port Jefferson also received grant money, totaling $22,000 for restoration purposes.

The 3rd NY Regiment Long Island Companies was awarded $12,000 to substitute payment customarily made by collaborators, host sites and venues during the campaign season, allowing those organization to apply those resources to other priorities associated with their missions. The Regiment partakes in re-enactments to educate Long Islanders on the Revolutionary War.

“They are quite an extraordinary group of volunteers who perform a vital role in helping our county’s residents and visitors get a very personal education about colonial life and the role Long Island played in the Revolutionary War,” Richard Barons, the executive director of the East Hampton Historical Society, said.

Smithtown 350 Foundation volunteers walk in a parade celebrating the town. File photo
Smithtown 350 Foundation volunteers walk in a parade celebrating the town. File photo

The Smithtown 350 Foundation received a $5,000 grant toward anniversary events, as the town celebrated its 350th anniversary this year. The Walter S. Commerdinger Jr. County Park Preservation Society in Nesconset received $100,000 for restoration and preservation purposes.

The Huntington Historical Society received a $12,728 grant that Executive Director Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano said will be used to purchase new technology products and technical support.

“With the new technology and updated software that [the] funding will provide for, the society can continue to stay relevant in the 21st century,” Fortunato-Napolitano said in an email. “We will be able to stay better connected with our members and donors, while increasing the number of people who we can help with their research… [It] will lead directly to the growth of the organization as the goal is for the society to successfully engage more members of the public and the community. For small not-for-profits like ours with a limited budget, vital technology updates is often an item that can seem too costly to afford.”

The Old First Presbyterian Church in Huntington received $50,000 for restoration and conservation of the steeple.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization was awarded $22,500 for an educational program called Distance Learning.

According to Gloria Rocchio, president of the organization, an instructor will give a lesson, in say, the Bewster House, and it would be filmed and broadcasted onto the Distance Learning website.

The Tesla Science Center in Shoreham is looking to get on the National Register of Historic Places with help from the grant funds. File photo by Wenhao Ma
The Tesla Science Center in Shoreham is looking to get on the National Register of Historic Places with help from the grant funds. File photo by Wenhao Ma

“People from around the world could learn about the rich history we have here,” she said. “We already have the cameras installed in the Thompson House and the Brewster House, and we’re developing programs for them. Once program should be ready this fall, and the other should be ready next spring. It’s very exciting.”

Friends of Science East Inc., more commonly known as Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, received $17,500 for capacity-building technology and $3,800 for collections care.

According to board of directors President Jane Alcorn, the funding will be used to survey the property, especially the lab building and power base, to study its historic nature — identify which parts are historic, have architectural drawings done, and figure out which parts are critical to preserve and protect, and how to do it.

“The funding will help as we continue to protect the site as we work toward getting it on the National Register of Historic Places,” Alcorn said. “We know the history of the project is historic. It has significance because of Tesla’s work there    it’s a scientific site. Its architectural origins, in inspiration of Stanford White, an important architect at his time, [are also significant].”

Alcorn said that every dollar is significant, as the nonprofit looks toward the future of turning part of the site into a museum — and the funding makes the creation of a museum more exciting, if the organization can get the property on the national list.

“We believe in preserving and making the best possible choice in how we use that space,” she said. “Having the grant enables us to develop ideas that bring together the past and the future. We have far more fundraising to do moving forward, so the contribution really helps us realize and achieve the steps necessary to move forward. The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation has been magnificent, and we applaud their foresight into giving to organizations such as ours, who want to preserve the best of the past.”

Victoria Espinoza and Alex Petroski contributed reporting.

Marty Buchman, a cyclist for over 40 years, and owner of Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, rides down a path at Sylvan Avenue Park in Miller Place. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

It has been more than 30 years in the making, but by 2018, cyclists in the Town of Brookhaven may finally have a new 10-mile route to ride from Port Jefferson to Wading River.

The Rails to Trails Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to preserve land strictly for recreation and transportation, proposed to use old North Shore railroad track locations and pave the way, literally, for a bike path.

Railroad tracks used to lay behind Sylvan Avenue Park in Miller Place, which is where the proposed trail will run through. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Railroad tracks used to lay behind Sylvan Avenue Park in Miller Place, which is where the proposed trail will run through. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Marty Buchman, who lives in Stony Brook and opened the new Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, has been a member of Rails to Trails for 20 years and cycling for over 40.

“It means everything for us cyclists,” Buchman said of the project. “There is no joy like riding on a bicycle trail. The trail will bring economic development, health, jobs — I can’t understand why it took so long to get this started, but I’m absolutely overjoyed. I can’t wait. I’ll be here the first day.”

He has frequently rode along the Greenway Trail, which connects Setauket and Port Jefferson Station, and said that the usage and the joy people get out of the trail is exciting to see. He added that he knows the new trail, which will connect Port Jefferson Station, Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Sound Beach, Rocky Point, Shoreham and Wading River, will have the same impact.

“If you build it, people will come,” he said. “I’ve been cycling since I was 16, and when I ride, I feel like I’m 16 again. I feel like I’m connected to the world around me. I sometimes ride 30 miles to work.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (R-NY), Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) all helped give the proposal life, advocating for the project over the years in an effort to secure funding.

According to Zeldin, converting the rails into a bike trail had been discussed in 2001 when North Shore advocate Mike Cosel spoke to then-legislator Martin Healy about the idea, which has long been stalled since then. Though the projects roots date back much further than that. The previous allocated funding for the project sat for over five years, and was in danger of being cancelled and repurposed, so local officials worked over the past 19 months across party lines to restore the funding so the project could move forward.

Cyclists would no longer have to share the road with cars once the Rails to Trails project is completed. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Cyclists would no longer have to share the road with cars once the Rails to Trails project is completed. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Living on Long Island we are blessed with so many natural treasures, including our renowned parks and beaches, many of which are connected through our scenic biking and hiking trails,” Zeldin said. “Long Island’s trails are an important part of our local community and economy, connecting our residents and visitors to our beaches, parks, local farms, festivals, wineries, restaurants and other destinations, while providing an option of healthy recreational activity and transportation. In addition to improving quality of life and livability, trails help to protect our environment through conservation and by reducing traffic and pollution on our roads.”

The $9.51 million project, according to the congressman, will be 80 percent federally funded, with Brookhaven Town covering the remaining 20 percent.

“We’re going to take this and make this something that people can enjoy,” Romaine said. “This will be a great addition to what we have to offer for recreation in the Town of Brookhaven.”

For experienced cyclists, skateboarders, walkers or even first-time riders, safety was a main concern for all parties involved in approving the trails.

“Unfortunately Suffolk has the very dubious honor of having the highest fatality rates of cyclists on the road,” said Robert DeVito, president of the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association and director of the Nassau-Suffolk Bicycle Coalition. “We constantly go out riding, whether in a group or alone, always concerned [about safety]. With people today utilizing their phones more and more in their car, it’s really become an issue. We need safer areas to ride.”

The project will also provide an economic boost, as shops could set up along the trail. Anker said the goal is to create ecotourism where along the trail, community members and visitors can stop at the various hamlets, whether it be just to buy a bottle of water, to sit and eat dinner or even visit the Tesla Science Center.

Ashley Hunt-Martorano, director of marketing and events for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, talks about her excitement for the Rails to Trails project. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Ashley Hunt-Martorano, director of marketing and events for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, talks about her excitement for the Rails to Trails project. Photo by Desirée Keegan

According to Ashley Hunt-Martorano, director of marketing and events for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-profit organization focused on national policies to address climate change, it will also help create a safer place for cyclists to travel during ozone days, when county or state officials determine it’s not safe for bike riders to be out on their bikes.

“The more people get outdoors and engage in their community, the more they’re paying attention to the changes we’re seeing in our planet,” she said. “I have really fallen in love with riding my bike, and I love riding my bike on Long Island. I visit places I’ve never went before in my car. There are certain areas where it’s just gorgeous.”

Although there’s still more time to wait and see if the plan will come to fruition, for now, many locals are excited to hear there may be a plan in place.

“This project has always had tremendous support from all of the surrounding communities,” said Rock Point resident Jeff Carlson, who is president of the Rocky Point Civic Association. “We’re really happy that this is finally getting somewhere.”

Board hires first executive director to help facility grow

The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is located at 5 Randall Road in Shoreham. File photo by Wenhao Ma

By Desirée Keegan

Marc Alessi lives just houses down from where inventor Nikola Tesla stayed when he was in Shoreham.

When Alessi held public office as a New York State assemblyman, he worked to secure state funding to purchase the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, to ensure it would be preserved and remain in the right hands.

Years later, he’s getting even more involved.

“I would drive past the site and look at the statue and think, I could be doing more,” Alessi said.

Now, he’s the executive director for the center’s board and is responsible for planning, administration and management, while also helping the science center develop and grow during its critical period of renovation, historic restoration and construction on the grounds of the former laboratory of Nikola Tesla.

Marc Alessi will help the Tesla Science Center become an incubator for innovation. Photo from Marc Alessi
Marc Alessi will help the Tesla Science Center become an incubator for innovation. Photo from Marc Alessi

“Marc has a lot of energy, enthusiasm and he’s got a lot of spirit, and I think those are qualities that will help to bring attention and help us to move forward in our efforts to make the science center more well known,” board of directors President Jane Alcorn said. “He’s been part of our past and has always shown an interest, so he’s knowledgeable about what we’re doing.”

Alessi, an entrepreneur, brings a lot of knowledge in areas that no other board member has, Alcorn said.

The Shoreham resident is an attorney with Campolo, Middleton, and McCormick LLP, is a former executive director for the Long Island Angel Network, helped establish Accelerate Long Island and currently serves as chairman and founding CEO of one of their portfolio companies, SynchoPET. He also serves on the board of directors of the Peconic Bay Medical Center and the Advisory Council for East End Arts.

“I believe I work for Nikola Tesla as much as I work for the board,” he said. “It’s my mission in life, whether I work as their executive director or not, to make sure he has his place in history. People were just floored by just what he was trying to accomplish, but if you just look at what he did accomplish, like remote control and x-ray and neon, and the alternating current electricity, [you could see] all that he did for humanity.”

One thing he would like to emphasize, that many may not know about Tesla, was how he tore up his royalty contract in an effort to ensure all people, not just the wealthy, would have electricity.

“Invention, technology and innovation doesn’t always have to be about personal enrichment,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just about improving the world around us.”

First for the center is turning the laboratory into a museum and preserving the site as a national historic landmark, which would be a tremendous tourism draw. Aside from the museum, a cinder-block building will add community space where civics and other local groups and robotics clubs can meet and utilize the space, which will also house educational opportunities.

“I would drive past the site and look at the statue and think, I could be doing more.” — Marc Alessi

Alessi was recently named executive director of the Business Incubator Association of New York State Inc., a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the growth and development of startup and incubator-based enterprises throughout the state.

Which is exactly what the Tesla Science Center is working toward.

“I can’t walk around my community without feeling a bit of his presence and a bit of a responsibility to make sure this site is preserved in perpetuity, and educates people about him, what he’s about and what is possible,” he said. “The whole board and the community is interested in seeing the Tesla’s of tomorrow have a place to come and be able to create. To try to invent.”

Alcorn believes that with Alessi’s help all of their ideas can come to fruition.

“He has a wealth of knowledge and connections with many people and many areas of business and government and incubators that will be of great help in sharing our goals and encouraging others in making this happen,” she said. “He does definitely share many of our ideas, but he also has plenty of ideas of his own.”

Alessi said he specializes in taking an idea and making it a reality, but with this site it means more than that to him.

“By celebrating Tesla you’re celebrating innovation, that’s at my core and DNA,” he said. “We’d love to see a maker space or an incubator where other folks in the community, not just students, can come in and have access to the tools that are necessary to make high-tech inventions. That will be great for our community. It’s about the Tesla’s of tomorrow. We want to empower that.”

By Wenhao Ma

The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe celebrated Nikola Tesla’s 160th birthday Sunday outside his only remaining laboratory in Shoreham. Hundreds of people joined the celebration to honor the inventor of alternating current electricity and neon lighting.

The center has been holding Tesla’s birthday celebrations since 2013, when it completed its purchasing of the lab. Jane Alcorn, the president of the board of directors, said she believed that it’s important for people to remember Tesla.

“He has contributed so much to modern society,” she said. “Every time you turn on an electrical light or any kind of electrical appliance, it’s because Nikolas Tesla developed the alternating current system that we use today.”

The center also connected online with another Tesla birthday celebration that was taking place in Serbia, at the same time, and the parties greeted one other.

Alcorn and other board members are looking to build a museum on the site that would be dedicated to inventions and new technologies.

According to its website, the museum would complement the educational efforts of the schools within this region, as well as the community outreach activities of other prominent science institutions.

“He’s a visionary,” Alcorn said. “His ideas and what he saw coming in the future and the way he inspires people today to be visionary are all testaments to how important he is.”