Tags Posts tagged with "Three Village Civic Association"

Three Village Civic Association

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.

by -
0 408
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.”

by -
0 1225
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.”

by -
0 753
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.

 

File photo

With the departure of Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. as Stony Brook University president July 31 and the appointment of Michael Bernstein as interim president, the school and the State University of New York have begun the process of finding a new permanent president. Elected officials and community groups have called on SUNY to include local representatives in the search committee and selection process.

Supervisor Ed Romaine during his State of the Town address. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Stony Brook University is one of the crown jewels of the SUNY system,” said Ed Romaine (R), Town of Brookhaven supervisor, in an Aug. 26 letter sent to Kristina Johnson, SUNY chancellor. 

Citing SBU as being ranked one of the top 35 public universities in the nation and a major health care provider for the community, Romaine described SBU as “an integral part of our community as an educational resource, employer and economic driver.”

“Because of this, I urge you to include at least two representatives from the community on your search committee for a new university president,” Romaine said.

The supervisor recommended eight different community groups that he felt had qualified individuals that could serve on the search committee.

“The president of the university is a huge part of the community. I believe the community should be invited to the search committee for the new president,” Romaine reiterated in an interview. “We have a lot of local issues, and there needs to be better communication between the university and the community.”

The Brookhaven supervisor brought up the issue of off-campus housing, particularly illegal rooming homes, which he acknowledged the school has worked with the town to crack down on landlords.

Romaine brought up traffic, especially the issues on Stony Brook, Oxhead and Nicolls roads.  

“I proposed to the county they consider making three lanes north and south from 347 to the university because that’s where it really jams up,” he said. “… The university is already working with us, but the best way to confirm that is to make sure the local community is represented.”

The Three Village Civic Association also sent Johnson a letter.

“We appreciate the many benefits of being the home community of a large world class university,” the association stated in the letter. “However, with those benefits come many challenges for our small community. We think it would be beneficial for the search committee to include a civic perspective that can help bridge the specific needs of the university with those of the surrounding community.”

“We have a lot of local issues, and there needs to be better communication between the university and the community.”

– Ed Romaine

University officials, said in a statement that SUNY board of trustees sets the procedure for the search and determines the mix of committee members. Members of the Stony Brook Council will be included who are also community members.

SUNY Guidelines for Conducting Presidential Searches require that the local college council, the Stony Brook Council, follow a prescribed process and submit names to the SUNY board for consideration.

The search committee would consist of four members of the local council, including the chair, seven members of the full-time teaching faculty of the campus, one undergraduate student, one graduate student, one alumni representative, two campus-related foundation representatives, one academic dean, one professional or support staff member, one incumbent or retired SUNY president from another campus or a member of the chancellor’s senior staff designated by the chancellor.

SBU said members are nominated by faculty, staff and students. The faculty then vote via a secret ballot on the seven faculty positions, and the rest of the positions are selected by the council chair from the list of nominees. 

Nominations for the committee took place over the summer, according to university officials. Voting on faculty representatives began on Aug. 26 and runs until Sept. 6. Once the faculty results are in, the council chair, Kevin Law, will finalize his selections and will convene the first search committee meeting. The first meeting will likely be in late September.

SUNY could not be reached for comment before press time.

A rendering of the planned Heatherwood Golf & Villas in South Setauket. Rendering from Town of Brookhaven Planning Board

The proposed apartment complex project on the property of the Heatherwood Golf Course in South Setauket will not receive a tax benefits package after the Brookhaven Industrial Agency rejected a proposal that would cut property taxes on the land by $3.76 million over 13 years at a hearing Aug. 21.

Also included would be $2,854,000 in sales tax exemptions and $420,000 in mortgage recording tax exemptions. In total the developers would see savings of more than $7 million.

The decision proved to be a small victory for some area residents who have been against the project since its inception. They were concerned that the proposed tax breaks could negatively affect local school districts and development would increase traffic congestion at the intersection of Route 347 and Arrowhead Lane.

Representatives for Heatherwood said at the meeting that they could not move forward with development without the tax breaks.

Salvatore Pitti, president of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association, said the notion of developers abandoning the project was wishful thinking.

“We never wanted it from the beginning,” he said. “The entire community has been against it.”

The proposed project dates back to 2014 when it was brought up to the Town of Brookhaven zoning board and was approved of a crucial zone change that allowed for apartments on the property. As a part of the approval, the town board required the property owner to donate 40 acres of land to the Manorville Farm Protection Area, remove a billboard at the golf course and construct a sidewalk on the east side of Arrowhead Lane.

“The zone changes already occurred,” Pitti said. “We’ve already accepted the fact that it will be developed [eventually].

“Why do you need tax breaks if you don’t have the money to build it? It came off as them being more greedy.”

–Salvatore Pitti

In 2018, the Planning Board approved the proposed plans for the company to build on nearly 26 acres of its more than 70-acre property. The project, dubbed the Heatherwood Golf & Villas, will be a 200-unit senior apartment complex catering to individuals 55 and over.

The planned project would reduce the 18-hole golf course to nine holes to allow developers to build the apartments and would supposedly bring more revenue to the golf course.

IDA members questioned the reason Heatherwood needed tax breaks to move forward with the project. Heatherwood said that the project would create six permanent full-time jobs, though IDA members said it wasn’t enough jobs to grant it the benefits package.

Herb Mones, chair of the Three Village Civic Association land use committee, was shocked when he first heard that Heatherwood was looking for tax breaks.

“I was like ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” Mones said. “It wasn’t enough that they got the zoning approval, but now they need tax breaks — at some point enough is enough. It is corporate greed.”

Mones argued that the project would forever affect the surrounding communities.

“It adds to the over development, we lose open space and a golf course,” he said. “…We are happy the IDA turned them down.”

Mones along with Pitti wasn’t buying that the project would be abandoned if Heatherwood didn’t receive the tax benefits package.

“There is no possibility that they will not develop that land after they got the zone change, they are going ahead with the project,” Mones said. “It will yield a gold mine for the corporation. We believe this will bring no benefits to the community.”

Despite, the IDA rejecting the package, Pitti said he wouldn’t be surprised if Heatherwood broke ground on the project in the next few months.

A representative from Heatherwood did not return messages requesting a phone interview by press time.

 

Elected officials were on hand for a ribbon-cutting at Old Field Farm. The event marked the official opening of a nearly half-mile trail that can be used for walking, running, hiking and biking. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Elected officials have made it easier for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy a county property in East Setauket.

At a press conference Aug. 12, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D), county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), employees from the county’s parks department and residents were on hand for a ribbon-cutting at Old  Field Farm. The event marked the official opening of a nearly half-mile trail that can be used for walking, running, hiking and biking.

Bellone credited Hahn’s persistence for making the trail happen. The legislator secured $100,000 from the county’s 2018 Capital Budget and Program to fund the path. The trail starts at a pedestrian entrance on West Meadow Road on the eastern side of the farm, runs around the perimeter of the farm and ends on Trustees Road right before visitors enter the Town of Brookhaven’s West Meadow Beach pathway.

“What a wonderful gem this park is for our community and for the county, and what an incredible addition this is for people,” Bellone said. “You think, well is a path that significant, and the answer is yes. It literally changes the whole environment for people.”

Hahn said she knows that trails such as the Old Field Farm are important to the community, because it allows people to be physically active, while enjoying the outdoors without sharing the road with vehicles. 

The nearly half-mile trail can be used for walking, running, hiking and biking. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“I’m a runner, and I run often on West Meadow Road here,” she said. “There are some blind curves. And, this will also function to get people — walkers, runners, bikers — off the dangerous road and on to our public space. Having people have access to these public places is so important for us as elected officials to make sure that these spaces that we invest in — that we spend money to maintain — that people use them and appreciate them, and this is a way that many more people can take advantage.”

Hahn thanked community leaders for their support, including county parks department employees, Herb Mones of the Three Village Civic Association’s land use committee, Larry Swanson from Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Englebright, who secured the land for Suffolk in 1985 when he was a county legislator. She also thanked Sally Lynch, president of Old Field Farm, Ltd., who she called an advocate and steward of the property. Hahn said the nonprofit organization has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the years. The funds, in conjunction with county grants, have helped to restore and maintain the historic structures on the property. The farm is also home to horse shows, and the trail will be closed during those shows to avoid spooking the horses.

Old Field Farm consists of 13 acres that adjoin the 88 acres of protected wetlands and overlooks the Long Island Sound and West Meadow Creek. Long Island philanthropist Ward Melville built Old Field Farm in 1931, and it was initially called North Shore Horse Show Grounds. Melville commissioned architect Richard Haviland Smythe to create the equestrian facility, which includes a main barn and courtyard, freestanding stables and a wooden grandstand.

“This property is exquisite, spectacular as you can see,” Hahn said.

Englebright said the property could have been sold to a developer to build a waterfront housing development in 1985. The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, who owned it at the time, decided to sell it to the county. The land acquisition was an important one, he said, because it is located right next to West Meadow Beach. The assemblyman described the area as a mosaic of public lands forming a protective encirclement around West Meadow Creek. He called the addition of the trail extraordinary.

“With the access now of this trail, when you add this trail to Trustees Road, you have more than a mile of waterfront-exclusive, non-motorized access,” he said.

In the past, Hahn has spearheaded initiatives for a parking lot and walking path at Forsythe Meadow Woods County Park in Stony Brook and a parking lot at McAllister County Park in Belle Terre.