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Three Village Civic Association

The property in question, outlined in blue, sits behind Village Automotive Service on North Country Road, 250 feet north of Route 25A. Image by Town of Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals

At the April 27 Town of Brookhaven Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing, a decision about property at 63 N. Country Road, Setauket, was put on hold until its next meeting, May 25.

Known by many in the area as the former Caropelo property, the current applicant, listed as 63 N. Country Road LLC, c/o Jennifer Leeds with a P.O. box in Coram, is seeking several variances on the 3.3-acre property on the east side of North Country Road and north of Route 25A.

The owner is seeking approval to subdivide the 144,452 square-foot parcel into four lots. The proposal is to build single-family residences on each plot after the division of the property. The smaller parcels of land will range from 32,648 square feet to 40,000 square feet. A shared driveway for lots 1 through 3 would exit onto North Country Road and a second driveway for lot 4 would be from the town arterial.

The Three Village Civic Association recently sent to members a copy of a letter, written by Land Use Chairman Herb Mones and addressed to Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), to notify them of the variance application.

According to the civic association, the wooded property adjacent to the Thompson-Detmer Farm and behind Village Automotive Center and the old phone company building is one of the few remaining open parcels of land along the Route 25A corridor.

In his letter, Mones summarized other points why the parcel “bears an ‘outsized’ significance”:

  • It is highly visible due to it bordering “our busiest roadway” — Route 25A.
  • It is part of the Old Setauket Historic District.
  • It has a natural grade/slope to the existing farmland that needs to be protected.
  • Any exit from this property is onto Brookhaven’s historic “first road” — North Country Road.

According to BZA planner, Christopher Wrede, during the April 27 meeting prior applications included lot divisions and a change of zone application to provide for J Business throughout the parcel in 2013. The current applicant purchased the property in 2021 and was not part of prior applications.

Wrede said 77.4% of the property is zoned for A-1 residence and the remaining is J Business. The most restrictive zoning classification, A-1 residence, would apply. Residence zoning requires lots of at least 40,000 square feet and three of the four lots do not meet the requirement.

The town’s Historic District Advisory Committee had an opportunity to review the application, and one of the recommendations was a cluster plan to help prevent “suburban sprawl.” Such a plan means building homes closer together to preserve more open space.

At the BZA meeting, attorney Larry Davis represented Leeds and answered some concerns and board members’ questions. Wrede said during the meeting the Environmental Assessment Form had inaccuracies regarding wetlands near the property. Davis said the owner reached out to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and it is believed that nearby wetlands do not affect the property.

Davis said the three lots that do not meet the square-footage criteria do not have a detrimental effect on the nearby neighborhood. He said there is more than sufficient frontage on Route 25A, and the owner doesn’t want to access the state road, which the NYS Department of Transportation will not allow.

Davis also said regarding an alternative plan that Wrede created, the owner wasn’t opposed to the property being divided into three lots and moving two houses closer.

Mones, in a phone interview, said civic association members are concerned because, despite prior development proposals by previous owners being brought to the attention of the civic association or Brookhaven Planning Board, this one wasn’t. While it is not required, it gives either the civic association or Planning Board an opportunity to weigh in and provide better options if necessary. Mones said, currently, proposals such as this one that involves four houses or less “jumps right from a developer’s sketch pad right to the board of zoning appeals for approval” in Brookhaven.

Mones said the civic association would like to see the best use of the property with the least impact to the 25A corridor.

“We see over and over again developers looking to build what is a traditional suburban sprawl or footprint on parcels of land that are better served if the houses were placed a little bit closer together and most of the land left open,” Mones said, adding the best resolution would be to preserve and protect it as part of the Thompson legacy.

By Chris Mellides

[email protected]

Concerned local property owners were joined by members of Saint James-Head of the Harbor Neighborhood Preservation Coalition and other representatives to block the planned subdivision by Gyrodyne to repurpose the 63-acre Flowerfield site. A legal challenge was filed April 26 to overturn the March 30 preliminary subdivision approval by the Town of Smithtown Planning Board.

The application proposal from Gyrodyne included a multistory 125-room hotel along with 250 assisted living housing units, 175,000 square feet of office space, parking to accommodate over 2,000 cars and a 7-acre sewage plant. 

Among those who spoke at Tuesday’s press conference on the corner of Mills Pond Road and Route 25A outside of Flowerfield were local attorney Joseph Bollhofer; Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook); legal counselor E. Christopher Murray; and Judy Ogden, Head of the Harbor village trustee and neighborhood preservation coalition spokesperson. 

“Our lawsuit has been filed and the decision to file this litigation against the Smithtown government was not made lightly,” Bollhofer said. “Like many of you, I love this town. I grew up here, my wife was born in St. James. In the 1970s, I did my Eagle Scout project for the benefit of the people in this town.”

Bollhofer went on to say that the “Smithtown government is doing a very good job” yet its handling of the Gyrodyne application has been bungled. “It’s been our hope that we are able to preserve this property,” he added. “We’ve been doing our best to get the people involved with this to come together to try and find a way to get the money to pay Gyrodyne fair compensation for this open space.”

Representing Three Village Civic Association was Herb Mones. “Smithtown has to go back and review its determinations on this property,” he said, while also saying that in the opinion of many in the civic association, the Town of Smithtown did not pay close enough attention to the law that required them to “carefully review what the buildout would mean to the surrounding community.”

Living just 600 feet up the road from Flowerfield, Ogden spoke on behalf of residents in the communities of both St. James and Head of the Harbor. Together, Ogden said community members have been speaking publicly against the Gyrodyne subdivision application for the past two years.

“We’ve been speaking at public forums, at Zoom meetings, writing letters and sending emails at every opportunity that has been provided to express our concerns with the proposed Gyrodyne megadevelopment,” she said. “But no matter what we say or how many people show up, our voices have been ignored.”

For more than a year, opponents to the subdivision application have said that the environmental impacts of changes Gyrodyne made to its original plan after the initial environmental review was completed have not been evaluated and “did not comply with state law,” according to a press release issued on the day of the event.

“The role of government is to show leadership, which represents all people of the community and follows a comprehensive plan steering development in the right direction, while preserving and enhancing the nature of our community and natural resources,” said Ogden.

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Herb Mones, of the Three Village Civic Association, presents Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro with a certificate of community appreciation. Photo from George Hoffman

Attendees of the Dec. 6 Three Village Civic Association had local roads on their minds.

Town of Brookhaven Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro (R) was on hand for the meeting at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library to talk about what was going on with Brookhaven roads and answered a few questions from attendees and those who sent in inquiries before the meeting.

The job is one that he described as “the best job I’ve ever had” as well as the hardest. Regarding making decisions about what gets done, he said it’s all about funding availability and prioritizing.

“I steal Supervisor [Ed] Romaine’s [R] line every chance that I get when he says every issue of government is an issue of budget,” he said. “It’s just that simple. If I had unlimited funds, I would do all the work. This year, we all know that’s not the case.”

Losquadro said deciding what needs to be done is a mixture of listening to the community and balancing it against engineering assessments and needs.

“What may not seem obvious to the average resident, when we select a road or a neighborhood or a project to complete, it usually serves a greater purpose,” he said. “If we don’t do that, we may suffer deterioration … that might cause us to have to spend more money if we waited another couple of years to do it.”

Streetlights

Losquadro said recently he has worked with The Ward Melville Heritage Organization in Stony Brook which has brought a lot of concerns to his attention, including problems with streetlights. WMHO is currently working with state-elected representatives to see if there is funding to restore the sidewalks that need to be disrupted to fix underground wiring.

He said one thing residents need to know is that when post top streetlights go out, it’s not as simple as changing a bulb.

“In a lot of older communities, we get a lot of underground breaks,” he said. “When these areas were put in, they just did direct burial cables. They didn’t put any conduit in the ground. This wire is aging out.”

He said with supply chain disruptions this year, the department has not been able to get enough poles and streetlights needed to accelerate the town’s LED replacement program. However, because money wasn’t spent in that area, he was able to repurpose the money to replace a lot of underground wiring next year.

“I’d more than double our budget from $150,000 to $300,000 for next year to replace underground wiring,” he said, adding the wiring problem is significant and townwide.

Stony Brook Road and 347

Nelson + Pope, a Melville engineering firm, has been brought “on board to begin the engineering process for the improvements at Stony Brook Road and 347,” Losquadro said.

“It’s a very important project,” he added. “One that obviously we’re going to have to coordinate with New York State, because we’re just talking about the improvements on the Stony Brook Road side, but with the businesses there, especially the expansion of the medical park to the west side of the road there, you get a lot of cross traffic.”

The highway superintendent said there have been a large number of collisions at the intersection and the goal is to make it safer and more efficient. He added there will be traffic studies conducted in the area.

“We’re going to measure all the turning movements, in and out, of those businesses and see how we can best improve again the efficiency and the safety of moving vehicles through that confined and heavily traveled space,” he said.

Losquadro added that a physical barrier between the north and southbound traffic on Stony Brook Road could also be possible, hopefully something stone stamped like the barriers on 347 which are more aesthetically pleasing.

Sidewalks

Losquadro said there isn’t room in the budget for new sidewalks in the town. He said when sidewalks are added, it’s usually due to federal, county or state grants.

“We’ll certainly work with the councilman [Jonathan Kornreich (D)] to identify them and find funding sources,” he said. “I assure you, whenever I get the money for something, I build it.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn speaks at a May 13 press conference while George Hoffman and Herb Mones from the Three Village Civic Association and Judith Ogden, spokesperson for Saint James-Head of the Harbor Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, look on. Photo by Rita J. Egan

On a bright spring day May 13, community advocates were joined by a Suffolk legislator in St. James to shine some light on one county commission’s procedures.

At the Suffolk County Planning Commission’s May 5 meeting, the commission members reviewed revisions to a proposal to subdivide the 75-acre Flowerfield property in St. James owned by Gyrodyne LLC for development. Despite residents from Brookhaven and Head of the Harbor, which is a village in the Town of Smithtown, submitting letters and speaking during the public session, remarks from people in those areas were discarded according to the committee’s guidelines.

The county commission ultimately didn’t pass the resolution, 5-4, and the decision goes back to Smithtown’s Planning Board without a recommendation from the county.

Suffolk County legislator and deputy presiding officer, Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), and community advocates called for reforms at the May 13 press conference.

Hahn exploring options

“As chair of the Legislature’s Economic Development, Planning and Housing committee, I was deeply disappointed in the planning that has been on display during the review of this proposed project,” Hahn said. “I am exploring options as to what can be done legislatively to fix the key problem identified during the Gyrodyne planning debacle.”

Hahn said she believes conditions need to be broadened so neighboring municipalities can object to a project being reviewed. She also suggested that the distance from 500 feet of a proposed development should be changed regarding those whose comments could be considered.

“I would imagine there could be a size and scope scale that would be maybe up to a 2-mile radius of important projects,” she said. “If I can run it in less than a couple of minutes, you can travel in the car in a split second, and it will impact neighboring communities.”

She added that rules need to be changed as far as public participation, which she said may involve a change to state law.

“Right now, my understanding is that only paperwork from the referring municipalities can be considered, and this is ridiculous,” the legislator said. “I am calling for a full review of the rules to maximize community input, and opportunity for neighboring municipalities to have their concerns addressed for the benefit of the planning process.”

Community groups speak out

George Hoffman, president of the Three Village Civic Association, said people made the effort to speak to the commissioners at the meeting only to find that their concerns were disregarded.

“We just couldn’t believe the rules they claimed bound them to discount everything that the public said during the hearing,” Hoffman said.

He added concerns range from the failure to consider the county’s new subwatershed plan; whether the proposed sewage treatment plant would release nitrogen into Stony Brook Harbor; and traffic increases on the Route 25A corridor that both towns share.

Hoffman called it a bad day in Suffolk planning and that concerns from Brookhaven and Head of the Harbor should have been considered.

Judith Ogden, Head of the Harbor trustee and spokesperson for the Saint James-Head of the Harbor Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, said she lives right down the street from the proposed development. Ogden was one of the people who wrote a letter to the town Planning Board stating Head of the Harbor’s concerns about the proposed development, which it feels doesn’t fit Smithtown’s current development plan.

“I’m currently standing in the historic district, Mills Pond Historic District,” she said. “My property is included in part of that and part of the Gyrodyne application, one-third of it, is in the historic district, and it includes putting a hotel and parking lot in the historic district.”

Cindy Smith, of United Communities Against Gyrodyne, said when she was in high school in 1976 she worked on a project asking residents what they wanted to see in their town. She said community members listed more parks and open spaces, more arts and culture that families could participate in. On the top of the list, they wanted residents to be heard by their elected officials.

“Flash forward to today and what happened last week at the Suffolk County Planning Commission, right up front, we were told, your voices would not be heard,” she said.

Herb Mones, head of the Three Village Civic Association land committee, said it felt as if they were told to sit down and shut up, and when a project is so vital such as Gyrodyne, he said he feels all concerns should be considered.

“You would think everyone would want to hear the voices of concern about the specifics as to how it impacts the community — not Suffolk County Planning Commission,” he said.

James Bouklas, president of We Are Smithtown said the various concerns need to be heard by Suffolk planning.

“That means a collaborative process where town officials, residents and civic leaders, environmental groups and others are brought to the table with developers to make sure proposals are vetted through a citizens advisory board — as part of the commission’s process — and that means real public hearings that have real impacts on projects and not kangaroo courts where the fix is in before the hearing even starts,” he said.

Current plan changes

Recently, Gyrodyne’s plans were changed to include the preservation of slightly more than 15 acres to be a separate lot, and a proposed sewage treatment plant to be on a separate lot of more than 7 acres instead of on the open space lot. While a proposed medical building will take up more square feet, and there will be an increase of units for an assisted living building, the revised plan also includes a reduction of rooms in a hotel structure.

Gyrodyne has also eliminated from the plan a proposed 150-seat restaurant, a foot day spa and a 500-seat conference center for the hotel from the plan. Instead, the hotel will include a 133-seat, 4,000-square-foot multipurpose room.

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Photo from Deposit Photos

By Chris Cumella

Three Village Civic Association hosted an online informational meeting Feb. 1, designed to address details about the COVID-19 vaccine with current and future plans for distribution and administration for the general public. There were over 40 participants Monday evening.

“We recognize that there is a lot of frustration from people trying to obtain vaccines,” said George Hoffman, acting TVCA president. “This is an opportunity to hear from Suffolk County. They’ll explain what the plans are for the distribution.”

First, a representative from Stony Brook Children’s Hospital gave details of the vaccine, including dismissing preconceived notions about its effects and clarifying plans for major distribution moving forward.

Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at SBCH and director of the office of clinical trials at Renaissance School of Medicine, offered her expertise on infectious diseases, immunizations and the coronavirus by highlighting the efficacy of three different types of vaccines.

“There have been no deaths from the COVID treatment arms,” she explained to the virtual audience, about the lack of fatalities from the group of vaccine participants. She noted that there were deaths recorded of those that were treated with a placebo.

Nachman illustrated the details of three different types of vaccines being implemented in clinical trials of treatment for COVID-19. Among them were the mRNA vaccine being utilized and distributed by pharmaceutical giants Moderna and Pfizer; the nonreplicating viral vector vaccine created by the English-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca; and the protein plus vaccine developed by Novavax — an American vaccine development corporation.

With each explanation, she walked the listeners through the process of how the vaccines are administered, their chemical components and any complications or potential side effects.

According to SBU, the most common symptoms shown in those who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccines were fatigue and headache.

“Information is available on the Stony Brook website if anyone is interested in enrolling,” Nachman said. “However, the clock is ticking. We’re enrolling about 5,000 patients per week.”

The sense of urgency comes following the New York State mandate of vaccine distribution, which according to Assistant Deputy County Executive Vanessa Baird-Streeter, has caused a flagging distribution rate toward those in need of the vaccine in Long Island.

She said about 90,000 Suffolk County residents eligible in the “essential” 1a group received their vaccines in late December. Plans are in progress to distribute 600,000 more to the 1b group, including those 65 and over.

“We do believe that as time continues, we will see an expedited rate of distribution of doses,” she said. “New York State is only receiving 250,000 vaccines per week, and that is for the entire state.”

Jay Gardiner award

Jay Gardiner File photo by Phil Corso

TVCA took the opportunity to recognize one of its longtime members, Jay Gardiner — former Setauket fire commissioner and chairman of the board, who is set to retire this month after 50 years of service.

During his years with the fire department, Gardiner amassed an impressive résumé of reputable deeds. These included teaching medical professionalism at Stony Brook Hospital, carrying out emergency medical services throughout the Long Island area and delivering eight newborn babies.

“To everybody I ever taught, and more importantly from everyone I ever learned from, I want to thank you,” Gardiner said to the virtual audience. “There is an excitement to be in emergency services. I’m confident that my brothers and sisters in the department are out there doing the job tonight helping those who need medical attention.”

TVCA awarded Gardiner a plaque for his services throughout the years which his wife presented to him in a surprise during the call. He said that with his newfound free time, he will be getting back to his passions of “Scotch, cigars and golf.”

The meeting was described as a “very timely and important forum” by Hoffman.

He is currently heading the TVCA in place of president Jonathan Kornreich, who is running for Brookhaven Town Council in a special election in March.

Recording secretary Charles Tramontano said now is the time to be involved with the civic association.

“If anyone is interested in becoming a board member, all you have to do is reach out and send us your contact information on our website,” he said. “We welcome all people who want to get involved with our association.”

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Former Three Village Civic Association president and school district board trustee Jonathan Kornreich announced earlier this year he was running for Brookhaven Town Council in a special election March 23. Photo from candidate

One of the names on the ballot for a special election in Brookhaven March 23 is a familiar one to many Three Village residents.

Kornreich, left, with former Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and town Supervisor Ed Romaine at a 2017 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

With the Town of Brookhaven Council District 1 seat vacant, after Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) won her run as a judge for the Supreme Court of the State of New York, the town called for a special election. While the Republican candidate has not yet been officially named, Jonathan Kornreich has been announced as the Democrat in the race. Kornreich has been a Three Village Central School District trustee for more than a dozen years and is president of the Three Village Civic Association.

When he first heard Cartright was vacating the seat, he said he didn’t even think of running.

“A few people contacted me, and they were like, ‘What are you doing?’ Kornreich said. “So, I agreed to think it over.”

He added the argument many made to him was that it would allow him to continue doing the work he has been doing through the years, but more effectively. Although he had considered a run for the seat in the past, it had been many years since he had considered entering politics.

“I just have been focused on doing the work,” he said.

Kornreich said he feels his experience as both a board of education trustee and a civic president will be an asset to the position as he regularly interacts with residents and listens to their concerns.

“Over the years, having been a civic president for so many years and being involved in the community as a school board member, I’ve just learned how to serve the public, and how to listen, so it’s not going to be a hard adjustment for me,” he said. “I’m used to hearing from people.”

The 51-year-old, who lives in Stony Brook with his wife, Linda, and his two daughters, first became involved with school boards when his children attended the North Shore Montessori School in Stony Brook.

“It was important for me to be involved in their education so I got very active in their school, and eventually I joined the board of the Montessori school,” he said. “Soon after that I became the president of that board, and that’s where I really got my start in civic involvement.”

When his children left to attend school in the Three Village district, Kornreich said he decided to run for its school board in 2008. While he will take a leave of absence from his role in the Three Village Civic Association, he plans to continue with the school board.

A lifetime Long Islander, he grew up in Hauppauge and graduated from the local high school in 1987. He went on to study at SUNY Albany where he majored in English and minored in philosophy. After graduating from college, he developed an entrepreneurial spirit and started up a pool business that he ran for 20 years before selling it. He then transitioned into construction and real estate. Through the years, in addition to the pool business, he has started a computer company, an importing company and has invested in a restaurant in Thailand and a farm in Cambodia.

Kornreich said during his years of community involvement he has worked with Cartright regularly.

“What I admire was her ability to bring stakeholders together, and just make sure that everyone was heard,” Kornreich said. “Even if she didn’t agree with them, she always made sure that everyone felt heard.”

He added he never wants constituents to be frustrated with their representation, and he feels it’s important for all residents to be given the opportunity to be heard as Cartright did.

“I think that a lot of the issues that we face in the town, there’s no Republican or Democrat way to conduct town business. And I think that a lot of those national issues don’t really come into play — they don’t apply.”

— Jonathan Kornreich

“It’s time consuming and it can be difficult, but you have to go slowly and give people a chance to weigh in on things,” he said.

Kornreich said it’s important to continue the work that Cartright started including making sure the ideas gathered from area residents a few years ago for the Route 25A Three Village Area Visioning Report are implemented, and a similar study for redeveloping Upper Port Jefferson is continued. He said planning is important for the future of the district, especially regarding keeping each area’s personality.

“To maintain that sense of place is a result of planning,” he said. “In the Three Village area, for example, the 25A area is clearly in need of redevelopment. It’s not all that it could be, and I think it doesn’t have the kind of amenities that people in this community expect.”

He gave the example of the East Setauket Pond Park area, which once was a traditional waterfront where residents could see boats.

“But now it’s all overgrown with weeds, and in that park, you can’t really see out,” he said. “There’s buildings there that are vacant and have been vacant for years, and that’s an area that really needs to be redeveloped. And, I don’t mean to build buildings, I mean that’s a good place for public spaces, for parks, for preservation.”

He said Upper Port, with access to Route 347 and having a Long Island Rail Road station, is an example of where a vibrant, walkable downtown area can be developed.

“That’s a place where it’s OK to build buildings and have a nice walkable downtown area with affordable housing,” he said. “A place where young people can live and seniors, and have shops and that feeling of being in a place. There’s a lot of opportunities for that in the Upper Port Jefferson Station area.”

If elected, Kornreich — as with Cartright — will be the only Democrat on the Town Board, but he said with his work with the civic and school district, he has worked with elected officials from different parties.

“I think that a lot of the issues that we face in the town, there’s no Republican or Democrat way to conduct town business,” he said. “And I think that a lot of those national issues don’t really come into play — they don’t apply.”

He said he’s worked frequently with town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), and he admires Romaine’s respect for the environment.

“From what I’ve seen of the other people on the Town Council, their hearts are in the right place,” the candidate said.

In addition to working with those on the town level through the years, Kornreich has worked with elected officials on the county, state and federal levels, and said he has a good working relationship with many of them. He said when residents come into an elected official’s office, many don’t know if the issue falls under town, county or state jurisdiction.

“They don’t need to, because as an elected official, if someone has a problem with their road or with this or that, they don’t care,” Kornreich said. … “They want to know: ‘Who do I talk to, how do I get this problem fixed?’ … So, having those relationships — I just want to be able to help people solve problems.”

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In March Three Village Civic Association volunteers, including board member Sotiria Tzakas, delivered food to the Three Village Central School District food pantry. Photo from Three Village Civic Association

The Three Village Civic Association is doing its part to help the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The civic association sent an email April 10 to inform members that the group established a Helping Hands program with the aim to deliver up to $100 groceries per week to anyone who needs them.

Those who are unable to leave the house because they may be infected, are one of the people at high risk or are having financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, can reach out to the civic association for help. Volunteers will shop, pay for and deliver the groceries. Residents who receive assistance are asked to contribute to the program if they can do so.

TVCA President Jonathan Kornreich said more than a dozen people asked for assistance during the first week of the program. He said that more than 20 people have offered to volunteer to help.

“The community is so amazing and ready to help,” Kornreich said, adding that local residents have sent in donations totaling $2,500 so far.

In March the civic association also picked up bags of donated items from residents’ curbs for the Three Village Central School District food pantry.

For more information, visit www.threevillagecivics.org.

Stony Brook Trauma Center staff member Colby Rowe and Wang Center Building Manager Scott LaMarsh accept donations for the COVID-19 Donation Center. Photo from SBU

Grateful for donations ranging from chapstick to gum to tissues and coveted personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks and goggles, Stony Brook University is asking for residents to donate iPads, which they plan to repurpose to provide more telehealth services to the community.

Stony Brook Trauma Center staff member Colby Rowe and Wang Center Building Manager Scott LaMarsh accept donations for the COVID-19 Donation Center. Photo from SBU

The university asked for donations starting on Sunday and has received a constant stream of email requests to deliver goods to help the medical staff that are offering vital comfort and care during the coronavirus crisis. Interested donors can contact Joan Dickinson, the Stony Brook University Community Relations Director at [email protected]stonybrookmedicine.edu or call (631) 219-0603.

Stony Brook is asking donors to clean the device, reset it and place it in a ziplock bag with a usable power chord.

Telehealth medical services will “reduce the need for personal protective equipment,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson has requested that interested donors make an appointment before bringing any items to support the busy medical community. Community members can make donations between 10 am and 1 pm.

“Even though we’re asking the public to respond, we are very diligent about social distancing and everyone’s safety,” Dickinson said.

For anyone who might get the urge to make a home cooked meal or bring in cookies made from scratch, Dickinson said the school appreciates the gesture but can’t accept any such personalized dishes, as they seek to protect staff. The school can is accepting pre-packaged food.

People who don’t have access to medical supplies or comfort items they can donate can send in video messages. Indeed, numerous community members have shared messages of thanks.

The variety of home-made donations has delighted and surprised Dickinson. People have sent in knitted stress balls and crocheted blankets, as well as hand-made masks.

“All the donations are evaluated by folks from environmental health and safety,” Dickinson said. A mask that’s “not surgical grade wouldn’t make it into an operating room, but there are other uses.”

The donation channel started because community leaders eager to help reached out to Dickinson, whose job in community relations has put her in touch with these groups over the years.

“We decided we better put a process in place so everybody stays safe and we know what’s coming in,” Dickinson said.

Donors can bring their contributions into the assigned building or can leave it in the parking lot if they want to minimize contact or don’t want to enter a building.

When Dickinson logs off each night, she comes back to her computer the next morning to find over 100 requests for donation times in her email.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

The Three Village Civic Association and numerous Facebook groups have reached out to her on a regular basis to see what else she might need.

Dickinson said one of the many people who reached out to her expressed her appreciation for how Stony Brook reacted when she had an issue with the university. The resident was frustrated with equipment on campus that was causing a humming noise in her house.

“We were able to modify how much sound came out” of the equipment, Dickinson said. As the university manages through a crisis that strains their staff and resources, the resident said she wanted to return the favor.

The resident told Dickinson, “you were so helpful to me. Now, we want to help you,” Dickinson said.

Heatherwood developers are asking the Brookhaven IDA to reconsider its revised tax benefits package. Photo by David Luces

After being rejected for a tax benefits package from the Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency in August, the developer for the Heatherwood Golf Club has now proposed to the agency a revised payment in lieu of taxes package.

Under the revised 13-year package presented to the IDA board Nov. 19, the assessed value of the development would be phased in at a faster rate during years 4-13, according to the developer. In turn, the PlLOT payments would come out to more than $9.8 million, an increase of over $1.4 million compared to the initial tax benefit package they proposed.

In a Sept. 16 letter sent to the Brookhaven IDA, Peter Curry, a Uniondale-based lawyer representing Heatherwood Golf & Villas LLC, reiterated Heatherwood can’t finance and develop the project without the assistance of the agency.

Due to the significant increase in construction costs from $46.6 million to about $55 million, Curry said the developer is willing to decrease the amount of financial assistance required and pay the additional $1.4 million-plus in PILOT payments in hopes that the IDA would reconsider accepting the application.

Community members and civic groups present at the Nov. 19 public hearing argued that even despite the revised PILOT package, the developer’s application for the project was virtually the same as it was in August, and wondered how it could be up for reconsideration again without any major changes.

“Are you kidding me?” said an exasperated Herb Mones, chair of the Three Village Civic Association land use committee. “If anything, this is a self-inflicted wound by a private corporation, but now it is trying its very best to saddle the taxpayers with some type of remedy.”

Mones said Heatherwood wants the taxpayers to foot the bill of paying the future of their taxes and mortgage fees on the project.

“It’s pig feeding at the trough. For a corporation to try to do this is an outrage to the public,” he said.

“It’s pig feeding at the trough. For a corporation to try to do this is an outrage to the public.”

– Herb Mones

He added that Heatherwood has reaped millions when the Town of Brookhaven zoning board approved a crucial zone change in 2014 that allowed for apartments on the golf course property despite overwhelming community opposition.

“But that’s not enough, now they’ve come back for more,” Mones said. “Do I blame them? No, I don’t blame then, but I will blame you if you give them relief this way.”

Other concerns brought up previously have been the negative impacts the tax breaks could have on local school districts as well as increase traffic congestion at the intersection of Route 347 and Arrowhead Lane in South Setauket.

Sal Pitti, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, said nothing has changed since the August rejection.

“The only thing that changed is that it is going to cost more to build the project,” he said. “There’s no reason that the IDA with six jobs being offered [for the project] should even allow [the developer] to come back within two months of their turndown. It’s a joke.”

IDA board members back in August said six jobs wasn’t enough to grant the benefits packages.

Pitti said unless the application showed that the project would bring a substantial number of jobs into the community added on to the people that already work there, the developer shouldn’t be allowed to go forward.

“I do a lot of things at Town Hall and two words I hear a lot are ‘precedent and perception,’” he said to the IDA board. “The precedent you guys are setting here is sad because if a company can come back two months later and present the same exact thing and hope it can get it by the board — that’s where the perception comes in. What has changed in two months that the vote should change from negative to positive?”

IDA officials stated they would not comment to the public nor reporters after the public hearing.

At the conclusion of the hearing, IDA officials said the application could be brought up at its board meeting Dec. 2. It would be up to the board members to decide if they want to vote on the application at that time or they could push the vote into 2020.

 

County Executive Steve Bellone, Legis. Sarah Anker and Assemblyman Steve Englebright were on hand for the ground-breaking ceremony of the North Shore Rail Trail project Oct. 25. Photos by Kyle Barr

On the freshly mowed grass of a right of way in Miller Place, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) held up a yellowing booklet and from it unfurled a map of Long Island. The booklet was from 1972, and the map showed plans for a trail along the North Shore from Wading River to Mount Sinai.

On Oct. 25, little less than 50 years since the first county planner, Lee Koppelman, drew up those plans, officials finally put the first ceremonial shovel in the ground for the 10-mile rails-to-trails project, now dubbed North Shore Rail Trail.

Construction is set to begin in early November.

“This site will become a premier destination for hiking and biking,” the county exec said.

County officials were joined by town, state and town representatives, various civic leaders, along with hiking and biking enthusiasts to dig the first ceremonial dirt piles and pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. 

Officials said construction will start in Mount Sinai and continue through to Wading River. County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said building it could take close to two years to complete. Officials had an expected finish date for fall 2021. The trail will not officially open until the entire project is completed, Anker said.

Local and state officials break ground on the North Shore Rail Trail project Oct.25. Photos by Kyle Barr

Some area residents are unhappy with the new trail, including several whose homes abut the right of way where the trail will extend through. Rocky Point resident Gary Savickas, who has long been a vocal opponent of the new trail, said his property currently overlooks the fence in his backyard which borders the right of way, and walkers will be able to look directly into his yard.

Anker said the county is planning to work with Rocky Point Civic Association in gathering together funds to address barriers and other measures to help with privacy concerns, but there is no word of when that funding will come. 

The current 3-mile Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail has entered its 10th year, and Herb Mones, Three Village Civic Association trustee and active member of the Friends of the Greenway, said many of the complaints he has heard with the new trail are ones he heard during the Setauket trail’s development.

“Now when I walk on the greenway, those very same people will walk up to me and shake my hand,” he said. “The attitude changes, but the attitudes are a result of not having enough of these recreation corridors for people to appreciate.”

For those who enjoy hiking and biking, the tune is much different. Elyse Buchman, who owns Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn in Stony Brook along with husband Marty, said she knows many who will use the trail. On Oct. 13, she and several hundred people from all over the Northeast raised money for the New York Bicycling Coalition, but some who wanted to come to that event didn’t, with many bikers having qualms about riding on roads as congested as some on the North Shore.

“This is a destination, this is for our long-distance riders who want to get to the North Fork, and get there safely,” Elyse Buchman added.

The $8.82 million trail is being funded through federal and state grants, along with Suffolk County funds. The trail was finally confirmed with Bellone signing legislation last year.

Though there are likely people who will want to use both the North Shore Rail Trail and Greenway Trail, they will have a 1-mile stretch between their two end points with several roads in between. The county exec said they are currently creating an interconnected hiking and biking plan, with a general idea to make Suffolk a regional destination for hiking and biking. Included in that plan is a scheme to connect the two ends of the separate trails, though he added there is no definite plan to do so. 

“The connection is a priority,” Bellone said.