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Three Village Community Trust

The Three Village Community Trust, the Three Village Civic Association, the North Suffolk Garden Club, the Three Village Chamber of Commerce and students and faculty at the Stony Brook School have engaged in a Beautification Project at the Stony Brook Train Station over the past year.

Significant progress has been made removing debris, weeds, and invasive plants from the landscaped beds. And a wide variety of Long Island native plants have been added to the landscaped beds.

As part of their efforts, the Stony Brook Train Station Beautification Committee invites the community to
the opening reception of a very special art installation created by local artist Michael Rosengard at the Station titled ‘All Aboard – Home For The Holidays’ on Monday, Dec. 4 from noon to 1 p.m. Meet the artist, take photos and enjoy bagels, coffee and cookies.

This outdoor work of art, located outside the front entrance of the historic Stony Brook Station House, creates a sense of wonder and whimsy to those walking or driving past the Station, highlights the history and importance of the Long Island Rail Road, celebrates the accomplishments of the Beautification Project, and helps kick off the Holiday Season.

For more information, call 631-942-4558.

Norma Watson and Steve Englebright shake hands as Johanna Watson, John Cunniffe and Three Village Community Trust board member Robert Reuter look on. Photo by Herb Mones

Abraham Woodhull’s ancestral property to be preserved, showcased to the community

By Mallie Jane Kim

Several blue-and-yellow historical markers dot Setauket streets, and the hamlet can truly boast “George Washington slept here.”

But none of these signs feels more out of the way than the one on the road to Strong’s Neck, in a peaceful corner of town overlooking Little Bay. And yet this sign marks the ancestral property of an important player in the Revolutionary War: Abraham Woodhull, “chief of Long Island spies under Gen. Washington,” the sign reads. In coming years, the marker won’t be the only way history buffs can enjoy this important piece of the past, which was at the heart of the historic Culper Spy Ring.

Three Village Community Trust is in the process of purchasing this property, with plans to preserve and eventually use it as a setting for community historical events. In a press release about the purchase, TVCT President Herb Mones wrote that he wants to “have children walk in the very steps of the founders of our country.”

Woodhull, code name Samuel Culper Sr., was one of the primary members of the group that tracked British troops and provided key information to Gen. George Washington and the American forces during the Revolutionary War, using espionage tradecraft like secret codes, invisible ink and dead drop secure communications. An article on the Central Intelligence Agency’s website identifies the Culper ring among “the founding fathers” of intelligence gathering by Americans.

“It’s a tremendous win for the community to be able to protect it and preserve it going forward,” Mones added. 

The trust, a community organization focused on preserving local natural resources and historical properties, owns several Three Village spots with Revolutionary War-era significance, including Patriots Rock Historical Site and the Smith/de Zafra House, home of Timothy Smith who, according to the TVCT website, mounted a broken musket over his fireplace to divert attention of suspicious British soldiers from his real cache of weapons hidden nearby.

“We’ve had a collection of properties that represented the foundations of the American experience,” Mones said. Thanks in part to “Turn,” the AMC television series about the spy ring popularizing Setauket’s history, the Woodhull property has the potential to draw even more interest in local history. “It’s important — it’s a feather in the cap,” the trust president said.

TVCT confirmed in a press release that the sales contract has been signed. The trust is in the process of submitting other required documentation to the state to finalize the purchase, which was made possible by a $825,000 grant secured in 2022 by then-New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket).

Norma Watson, who currently owns and lives on the property, will have a life tenancy, according to Mones. Watson herself has a history of advocating for natural and historical preservation, and she was involved with the trust at its inception.

According to Mones, the Woodhull property currently houses a pond and a barn — with a history of its own — that was reclaimed and converted around the 1950s into the home where Watson now resides. Woodhull’s original 1660 house burned down in 1931.

By Sofia Levorchick

The 8th annual Chicken Hill Country Picnic and Barbecue, hosted by the Three Village Community Trust on Saturday, Aug. 19, gathered over 100 people on the grounds of the Bruce House at 148 Main St. in Setauket to celebrate the history of Chicken Hill and support TVCT.

Attendees enjoyed live music and the spread of barbecued food catered by Bagel Express, with opportunities to participate in raffles and learn about Chicken Hill’s history through TVCT’s videos.

The event began around 4 p.m., with TVCT president Herb Mones delivering a speech of gratitude, thanking the community members for their continual support. He awarded The Mr. and Mrs. De Zafra Scholarship and Dr. Watson Scholarship to two devoted teen volunteers: 15-year-old Lily Rosengard and 17-year-old Eve Rosengard, respectively.

“The organization has a large impact on our community, and I am beyond grateful to play a part in their events and help out my community,” Eve Rosengard said of this honor.

Eve and her sister Lily assisted in setting up this year’s Chicken Hill event as volunteers and the daughters of the trust’s artistic director, Michael Rosengard. Michael Rosengard featured prominently in organizing the event, enhancing the grounds with antiques, paintings, handmade decorations and photographs. 

Motivated by his ownership of two of the factory homes on his street and his membership in the TVCT, Michael Rosengard took it upon himself to research the historical background of the factory homes. He further coordinated that with articles that state when the houses were built, solidifying their origins.

“This event is aimed toward commemorating the history of Chicken Hill,” Michael Rosengard said. “Without that recognition of our history, people wouldn’t realize the importance of where they live.”

As Mones concluded his speech, he shifted his focus to commemorating the history of the Chicken Hill area, which was home to factory tenements that accommodated immigrants who worked at a five-story factory that was previously situated across from the Bruce House. 

That factory produced shoes, belts, baskets and hoses until it burnt down in the early 20th century. Chicken Hill was deemed its name as those who lived in the area began raising chickens that were often let out to run awry and came back home at night to be fed. 

Mones connected this history to the present-day community. “The three houses behind me were those provided to the immigrants by the factory, and they have been preserved by the Trust,” he said. “I think what’s important is that we come and celebrate Chicken Hill. We look back, but we also recognize with gratitude where we are today.”

Among the attendees present were numerous community leaders, including New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson), Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Setauket), former state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) — who is running against Anthony Figliola for the Suffolk County Legislature’s 5th District — and business leader Dave Calone, a Democrat running against Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) for Suffolk County executive.

Kornreich has been involved in this event for years, this time strumming the guitar and singing some tunes in the live band. He said the event has progressed significantly each year, particularly noting its emphasis on celebrating the land on which it is held. 

“I admire the opportunity to get together with the people who are the original inhabitants who grew up here, like Helen Sells,” president of the Setalcott Native American Council, Kornreich said. “It’s important to honor them and respect their continued residency in this area.”

Calone had attended the event in the past and said he had enjoyed it every time. “I think what’s great about the event is that it brings people of all different ages from all around this community to understand the history we have in our area,” he said. “It helps us remember where we came from as a community.”

While in office, Englebright helped secure funds to preserve the historical houses on Chicken Hill. Englebright’s successor Flood said he plans to continue this work, preserving the Chicken Hill houses and maintaining their historical significance within the Three Village community. 

“This area is rich in history, dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War,” Flood noted. “It’s highly important to maintain the history so that the future generations can continue to learn about the history of their neighborhoods.”

Sells, also known as Morning Star, took part in this event. She was raised on the lands of Chicken Hill, describing a sense of deep connection to the area.

“This is home,” the Setalcott leader said. “It will always be home. There are so many memories here,” adding, “I love it here. This event means a lot to me.”

Volunteers and trust members said the event has made notable progress over the past eight years. While raising money for the trust, the event has also fostered awareness about the value of the Three Village community’s local history.

“Throughout the years I’ve attended and volunteered, the event has grown and expanded,” Eve Rosengard said. “I’m ecstatic to see that growth, and I can’t wait for what next year has to bring.”

Kevin and Helen Sells, above, at the Setalcott Nation Corn Festival and Powwow. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

[email protected]

Two of the events which bring family members back to Setauket from all over the country are the Hart-Sells reunion, held during Labor Day weekend in September, and the Setalcott Nation PowWow and Corn Festival held this year on July 8 and 9 on the Setauket Elementary School field.

Kevin Sells pictured in front of the Three Village Community Trust’s restored rubber factory houses. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

Kevin Sells, now retired and living in Tucson, Arizona, made the trip east this year to renew his connection to Setauket and to be with the cousins and other relatives he usually communicates with from a distance. Kevin’s cousin, Helen Sells, who suggested Kevin come to this year’s powwow said he and I should meet as he is a fellow family historian who spent a lot of time in Setauket when he was growing up. Helen introduced me to Kevin, and we spent a few hours together around Setauket, in the Chicken Hill exhibit at the Three Village Historical Society History Center and at the Three Village Community Trust’s rubber factory houses.

Kevin commented while viewing the Chicken Hill exhibit, “The biggest part of it I remember is my great-aunt Mamie, my grandfather’s sister.” He remembered Mrs. Hart lived in a big old house just a few yards south of 25A along Old Town Road. “The place, it wasn’t as sturdy as it could have been but the place was full of love — of laughter … My mother used to tell me stories, my mother — all my aunts and uncles — used to tell me stories about how as soon as school let out over in [Bridgeport] Connecticut, all the parents got their kids together and marched them down to the ferry, which my great-grandfather worked on for many years. His name was John E. Sells, everyone around here knew him as Dass … He worked on the ferry for 25 or 30 years. So all the kids, they get shoved up the gangplank onto the ferry and great-grandpa was there to make sure they behaved and no one fell over the side and so on and so forth. And we had another family member … who had a cab company. They’d be two taxis to meet the kids when he herded them down the gangplank … we’re talking about 15-20 kids … everybody piled into that one little house … parents would come over on the weekend. That was always a great thing.”

Painting of Sarah Ann Sells by Ray Tyler in the Chicken Hill exhibit at the Three Village Historical Society.

He noted they would always come over for the Hart-Sells reunion as well. “We’d all meet at the hall. The hall was in pretty good shape at that time. There’d be just hundreds of us that would show up and all us kids would run around. Eventually we’d all end up running up and down the hill of Laurel Hill Cemetery.”

Kevin noted that when he came to Setauket as an adult the first thing he would do was to climb up Laurel Hill to talk to Sarah Ann. There was no stone for her for many years but he would find a place close to where he thought she was. He mentioned the lack of a stone. He continued, “It was years before Sarah Ann got a stone … She was the matriarch of the whole darn family … Last time I’d seen her I was probably five years old. She was living in the house on Gnarled Hollow … we didn’t know her that well because we were little kids.”

Looking at the painting of Sarah Ann in the exhibit, Kevin noted that the smell on her tobacco was one of his most vivid remembrances. “That memory sticks after all these years … That smell just permeated the air around her … any time I smell that particular type of pipe tobacco it snaps me right back. 

“She kind of doted on me and Mamie’s granddaughter. We were like the last of the great-grandchildren she got to cuddle and play with — spoil a bit … How many people did she deliver in this town as a midwife? She made sure they came into the world … She was a trusted individual.”

I truly appreciate that the historical society is putting this exhibit together … this is forgotten history … Chicken Hill is — most people who drive up and down the road have no idea whatsoever that all that existed — that all those lives were affected.”

At the rubber factory houses Kevin commented, “I’m really impressed with what’s being done around here, there seems to be like a critical mass of people who come together to say ‘well no — maybe we shouldn’t do that …’ A town that remembers its past is always going to have a good future.” 

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730.

Photo by Rob Pellegrino

Three Village Community Trust’s Friends of the Greenway will host its monthly cleanup of the Greenway Trail on Saturday, June 17 starting at 9 a.m. in the Port Jefferson Station trailhead parking lot off Route 112 next to Port Jeff Bowl.  Come help keep our community gem clean as we get ready for the summer. Questions? Email [email protected].

Volunteers gathered at the eastern trailhead of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway on Saturday, April 22. Photo by Gretchen Mones

At the eastern trailhead of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway trail, a group of volunteers and community members met on Earth Day, April 22, kicking off the first cleanup of the season.

The Friends of the Greenway, a subsidiary of the Three Village Community Trust, hosted the event, which featured volunteers from various community groups, including the Stony Brook-based Avalon Nature Preserve. The cleanup coincided with Earth Day, a global holiday that recognizes the achievements of the environmental movement and the need for sustainable planning.

Greenway: an environmental triumph

“We schedule this [cleanup] in April for Earth Day to celebrate the Earth,” Herb Mones, TVCT president, said during the event.

Mones first became involved with the trail in 1999, when former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) asked him to head a task force for its planning. The task force included educational programming and active community collaboration, followed by a planning phase, which took 10 years. 

The concept of a multipurpose trail was revolutionary for its time, Mones suggested.

“In Suffolk County in particular, there are very, very few greenways that are multimodality paths — paved paths for residents, pedestrians and bicyclists,” he said. “It was a process of getting people to understand what a bike path would look like.”

The task force’s vision was soon enacted, and the Greenway has been servicing locals since 2009. Mones described the trail as in “pretty good condition,” though regular pockets of litter have tended to stick around. The Friends of the Greenway organization targets those areas once per month, keeping its community trail tidy and clean.

Celebrating Mother Earth

Volunteer cleanup initiatives are putting the themes of Earth Day into practice at the community level. 

Englebright, for whom the trail was renamed in 2022, was present during the cleanup. For him, the convergence of local cleanup efforts with Earth Day reflect the environmental movement’s local and global momentum.

“The volunteerism was very heartening and very rewarding to me,” he said. “When people are volunteering their time and focusing their energies on Earth Day, it’s just a positive vibration and it speaks well for the role of the trail in the maturation of our communities.”

Throughout his time in public life, Englebright has been a vocal advocate for the environment, one of the earliest voices to ring the alarm on overdevelopment and sprawl, open space preservation and water quality protection in Suffolk County.

Over time, however, the former assemblyman said he had observed even greater attention for sustainability and environmental consciousness.

“I’m greatly encouraged to see people of all ages — there were people with white hair and people at various grade levels of our public schools — all working together with their enthusiasm reinforcing one another, reinforcing the premise that Earth Day should be special,” he said.

In Port Jefferson Station, there are several new development proposals, most notably at Jefferson Plaza, just a block from the trailhead. [See story, “Developers pitch plans for Jefferson Plaza,” June 24, TBR News Media website.] 

While Mones accepts new development projects as “inevitable,” he said those projects should be grounded by sound community plans, considering the interests of all concerned parties. 

“Development and the environment can work together, but it takes kind of a synergy between town planners, the developer and the community to work together to do a plan that works for everybody,” he said.

Englebright said the redevelopment plans for Jefferson Plaza and other projects have been, up to this point, guided by such concepts. He expressed optimism that the Port Jeff Station/Terryville community could hash out a workable compromise.

“When you say redevelopment, it’s also reinvestment into a community,” he said. “I hope that we can bring those projects forward that are being planned for the redevelopment of Port Jefferson Station in a way that lifts all of the boats in the harbor at the same time.”

The North Shore Rail Trail, which connects Mount Sinai to Wading River, was formally opened last summer. The two trailheads at Port Jefferson Station and Mount Sinai are about a mile apart. Englebright remains optimistic that the two may soon intersect, enabling a continuous bike ride from Setauket to Wading River.

“They should be linked up,” he said. “Look, if the Appalachian Trail can go the length of the Appalachians from Maine to Georgia, and they can link that together, then we can link our trails together here on Long Island.”

File photo by Raymond Janis

Support Healthy School Meals for All bill

Every child deserves to be fed, and in a nation as wealthy as ours, no child should go hungry. The April 20 editorial [“Food before football: Long Island’s uphill battle against childhood hunger”] correctly identifies the crisis of child hunger, and how our government is failing to adequately address the issue. There is a legislative answer to this crisis in New York, and it is the Healthy School Meals for All bill. Our state Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul [D] must pass it this year.

The bill ends the policy of means testing, and establishes permanent funding for every child to receive breakfast and lunch at school at no cost. This saves struggling families money on their grocery bills, and eliminates the stigma that may prevent children from utilizing the current program. The cost in New York would be less than 0.01% of the state budget, with $200 million of state dollars supplementing the federal assistance provided to New York. It is estimated that this will provide an additional 726,000 students in New York state access to two meals a day. Currently, one in seven of New York’s children are food insecure, and this disproportionately impacts students of color. 

Children are more than just a test score. If a child is hungry, it is difficult for them to learn, to play and to grow. The Healthy School Meals for All legislation addresses the needs of the whole child, and is economic justice for New York’s children and families. 

This bill is supported by many organizations across the state. Suffolk Progressives, the group I founded, is a proud supporter of the bill, and I encourage others to join the call to reduce child hunger by asking their lawmakers to sign on. I urge constituents to reach out to state Sens. Anthony Palumbo [R-New Suffolk], Dean Murray [R-East Patchogue] and Mario Mattera [R-St. James], and Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio [R-Riverhead], who are not currently listed as co-sponsors of the bill. 

Childhood hunger is not a partisan issue, and all of Long Island’s lawmakers should get behind this legislation. The Legislature must pass Healthy School Meals for All, and Hochul must sign it into law in the 2023 legislative session. New York’s children are depending on it.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

Let’s patronize our local restaurants

Why not patronize your neighborhood restaurants during Long Island Restaurant Week April 23-30 with a wide variety of both two-course lunch and three-course dinner specials all year long.

My wife and I don’t mind occasionally paying a little more to help our favorite restaurants survive. Don’t forget your cook and server. We try to tip 20 to 25 percent against the total bill including taxes. If it is an odd amount, we round up to the next dollar. If we can afford to eat out, we can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take out, we always leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook. It is appreciated. 

The restaurant industry employees include hosts, bartenders, waiters, bus boys, cooks, cashiers, parking valets, wholesale food sellers, distributors and linen suppliers. There are also construction contractors who renovate or build new restaurants.

Our local entrepreneurs work long hours, pay taxes and provide local employment especially to students during the summer. If we don’t patronize our local restaurants, they don’t eat either. Why travel into Manhattan when there are so many great neighborhood restaurants in Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Huntington, Mount Sinai, Northport, Port Jefferson, Selden, Smithtown and Stony Brook?

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Maria’s No Mow May campaign

Sadly, Maria Hoffman passed away in 2022. She was someone who was involved in everything and anything that touched our community — historical preservation, open space protection and environmental issues.

There was no issue too large, or too small, that Maria wasn’t part of — and always achieved with a smile on her face.

Her involvement was done with a quiet style and grace, and while her voice was soft and light, her influence was great.

Anyone who enjoys West Meadow Beach, the Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway, the cultural, historical and art institutions in the area — they all need to give special thanks to Maria’s legacy.

Maria was an avid beekeeper.

She loved her bees and maintained a number of hives.

Her eyes sparkled whenever she spoke about bees — she marveled at their unique abilities and intelligence.

And she was deeply concerned about the declining bee populations across the country.

To honor the legacy of Maria and to protect the bee, butterfly and bird populations, the Three Village Community Trust is kicking off its 1st annual Maria’s No Mow May campaign.

No Mow May is an international movement that first was popularized by Plantlife, an organization based in Salisbury, England. The simple goal of No Mow May is to allow grass to grow during the month of May, creating an important spring habitat for early season pollinators. No Mow May is really easy — do nothing!

Don’t apply any fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides.

While community residents might not want to leave their entire lawn unmown for the month of May, just allowing a small area to be part of No Mow May will make a difference to the environment.

You’re likely to see yard signs saying “ join Maria’s No Mow May campaign throughout the community.

Join the Three Village Community Trust, your friends and neighbors in Maria’s No Mow May. Just like Maria — bee special!

Herb Mones

President, Three Village Community Trust

Eliminating bail reduces recidivism

A recent letter by Jim Soviero [“Dem Albany County DA Soares criticizes bail reform,” April 6] essentially reprints a New York Post op-ed piece by Albany County DA David Soares deriding bail reform. Soviero takes great pains to emphasize Soares’ political affiliation (Democratic) and race (Black).

As I’m sure Soviero would agree, even Democrats can be wrong sometimes. And regardless of Soares’ race, neither he, nor Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, nor even Soviero himself are better equipped to decide what’s best for New York’s African-American community than that community itself. Polling shows that the overwhelming majority of Blacks support policies reducing incarceration. If bail reform is as terrible for the African-American community as Soviero’s crocodile tears seem to suggest, there’s a simple remedy — they can vote out of office their representatives who voted for it. That’s not about to happen. Instead, the voices most stridently denouncing reform are those exploiting the politics of fear and division.

If just jailing people made our streets and communities safer, the United States should be the safest country in the world. After all, we lead the world in incarceration, both absolutely and per capita.

As far as the cherry-picked statistics Soares relies on and Soviero repeats to denounce reform, they’re all wet. A study released this March by John Jay College, the preeminent criminal justice school in the state, shows that the 2020 bail reform law has actually reduced the likelihood of someone getting rearrested. “Fundamentally, we found that eliminating bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies reduced recidivism in New York City, while there was no clear effect in either direction for cases remaining bail eligible,” said Michael Rempel, director of John Jay College’s Data Collaborative for Justice.

All of this obscures the fact that the purpose of bail is for one thing only — to restrain those judged to be a flight risk. It is not to lock up people, sometimes for weeks or months in horrible conditions, who are legally innocent. Unless we are willing to drop the presumption of innocence from our legal system entirely. 

I’m sure that Soviero would agree with me that the recently indicted former president is legally entitled to the presumption of innocence. So why is it that he, who is rich and powerful, is entitled to this, but someone who is poor and powerless is not? I don’t know what to call that, but I certainly wouldn’t call it justice.

David Friedman 

St. James

Editor’s note: We are publishing this letter because it responds to an earlier letter. In the future, we ask that letters mainly speak to local issues.

Local residents toast George Washington’s visit

This past Saturday local residents gathered on the corner of Bayview Avenue, East Setauket, and Route 25A to commemorate the 233rd year of our first president George Washington’s visit to Setauket on April 22, 1790. Several in attendance read excerpts about Washington and his life, including a poem written by ChatGPT on Washington’s trip to the Roe Tavern in Setauket.

As many know, Washington came to Setauket during the first year of his presidency to meet with Capt. Austin Roe who ran a small tavern on what is now Route 25A near East Setauket Pond Park. Though the president’s diary was sparse about the true intentions for his five-day trip to Long Island, many believe it was to thank those who had been part of the Culper Spy Ring that was founded in Setauket and critical to Washington’s success against the British troops and mercenaries encamped in New York City.

This is the second year that local resident Rick McDowell and his brother Ken organized the gathering. They are already planning next year’s commemoration for another rousing cheer to our first president and to the Setauket spies who helped him win the War of Independence from Britain.

George Hoffman

Setauket

May 1 public hearing on Maryhaven is urgent

It’s concerning that a Village of Port Jefferson public hearing on changes to zoning for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property is still scheduled for May 1.

Especially since the follow-up work session on April 25 raised more questions than answers — even for some of the trustees. Further, from what we understand, the Board of Trustees has not even received a formal request from the developers, and the Building Department has no record of any application. So why the rush?

The village attorney argues that having the zoning hearing now allows the village to be proactive when the developers are ready to apply. But this remedy seems more preemptive than proactive because the residents don’t yet have enough information to make an informed decision.

Not only were we not included in any of the prior discussions, but it does not appear that a full due diligence was conducted.

It might be too late to call for the hearing to be postponed. But it’s not too late to request that no binding decisions on Maryhaven be made until residents have a chance to review the facts and, perhaps, propose other options for the property.

In order to get answers, we urge you to come to the public hearing at Village Hall on Monday, May 1, at 6 p.m.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Kathleen McLane, Outreach Officer

Port Jefferson Civic Association

No interest in changing Port Jeff Country Club to a public course

This is an open letter to the editor, to the members of the Port Jefferson Country Club and to the residents of the Village of Port Jefferson.

It has been brought to my attention by several members of the country club that inaccurate messaging is being shared around the course — that as part of my Port Jefferson mayoral campaign platform, I intend to convert the country club to a public municipal golf course, and make golf at the country club free for all residents. At first, I thought it was a joke. Because nothing could be further from the truth. Then when more people started asking me if it were true, I knew I had to address this publicly.

I have no interest or intent in changing the country club to a public course. I hope those who consider voting for me see through this political ruse and know I would never be so reckless or fiscally irresponsible. It will remain a private municipal course, as it always has been from the day Mayor Harold Sheprow acquired it, and as it was established when the decision to buy it was voted upon favorably in 1978 by the residents of Port Jefferson.

I will always support making the club and its restaurant facilities a welcoming and inclusive environment for all residents. Giving memberships away for free does not enter into that equation.

If PJCC members or village residents have questions and would like to personally discuss this or any information that has the appearance of being contrary to what I stand for — see my website www.sheprowformayor.com under the “platform” tab — I can be reached by email at [email protected].

Lauren Sheprow, Trustee

Village of Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is the daughter of former Port Jefferson Mayor Harold Sheprow.

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In celebration of Earth Day, community groups throughout the Three Village joined forces to clean up Stony Brook train station. Volunteers were armed with rakes, leaf blowers, pruning scissors and more on Saturday, April 22.

The North Suffolk Garden Club, along with Three Village Community Trust, Three Village Civic Association, Three Village Chamber of Commerce, The Stony Brook School, Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), Long Island Rail Road and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) have been working on cleaning up the station since last summer. 

 

Earlier this year, Hope Kinney, left, shown with Herb Mones, Three Village Community Trust president, was able to secure a $4,000 grant from her employer, Investors Bank, to help restore the immigrant factory houses in Setauket. Photo from Three Village Community Trust

Hope Kinney is a familiar face in the Three Village area.

Hope Kinney collecting donations for The Salvation Army. File photo

Whether at an event organized by the Rotary Club of Stony Brook, Three Village Community Trust, local chamber of commerce or working with students and businesses with the Three Village Industry Advisory Board, residents will see Kinney there with a smile on her face, scurrying around to help out.

For her dedication to her community, Kinney is one of TBR News Media’s People of the Year.

The admiration is mutual. Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) nominated Kinney for Suffolk County Woman of Distinction in the 5th Legislative District in 2020.

“Hope Kinney’s impact is ingrained within many of the layers that comprise our community,” the legislator wrote in an email. “From her highly visible leadership role with, and on behalf of, local business to her continual support of organizations committed to societal improvement, Hope is dedicated to serving neighbors and community with purpose. There is so much to honor Hope Kinney for, and I believe, this recognition translates our thankful community’s gratitude into celebration of her uplifting and selfless spirit.”

For years, Kinney has been involved with the now-defunct Three Village Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club of Stony Brook. She became the president of the latter in the summer of 2020 and took on the challenge of organizing club events while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. She scheduled Zoom meetings, and as more businesses were able to open up planned socially distanced lunches. She also put together a virtual online fundraiser for the Port Jefferson-based nonprofit Give Kids Hope, which provides food and clothing for local residents in need.

For the last three years, the rotary club has organized the Three Village Holiday Electric Parade. During the pandemic, due to COVID-19 restrictions, a drive-thru version of the event was held at Ward Melville High School. 

Judi Wallace, treasurer of the rotary club, credits Kinney for keeping the organization going during the pandemic. She described Kinney as “a wonderful person” and “super community oriented.”

“Three Village means everything to her,” Wallace said.

Kinney is always looking for ways the rotary can assist individuals or groups who have a need in the area, Wallace said.

She added, “Hope is always thinking and always coming up with great ideas in order to do things in the community.”

Wallace said it was Kinney who brought back the 5K race organized by rotary and The Bench in Stony Brook.

“She just comes up with an idea and follows through, and that’s the most important thing in the world,” Wallace said.

The same year Kinney became president of the rotary club, she joined the Three Village Community Trust board and is currently its treasurer.

Herb Mones, president of TVCT, said it’s refreshing and a big help to a volunteer-based organization such as TVCT to have someone such as Kinney who is always ready to chip in when asked.

“She is always the first to say, ‘I can do that,’ and helps and takes on different responsibilities when the need is there,” he said. “She does it in an upbeat, happy way of feeling that she is contributing and helping the community.”

Hope Kinney standing in front of the Rotary Club truck in Hicksville about to receive 4,000 masks in 2020. Photo from Hope Kinney

She was recently able to secure a $4,000 grant through her employer, Investors Bank, which will go toward the restoration of the immigrant factory houses in Setauket. Kinney has also spearheaded the trust’s gala in November, which Mones said is the most successful fundraiser for TVCT.

“She’s always got an ear to the community and understands things that are going on and that becomes very helpful in so many different ways,” Mones said.

Kinney juggles all her volunteer roles while working full-time as the branch manager at Investors Bank, formerly Gold Coast Bank, at its Setauket location on Route 25A.

Kinney started her banking career at Capital One in 2004. When the bank had layoffs in 2018, she was recruited by John Tsunis, Gold Coast’s founder, as branch manager.

In a 2020 interview with The Village Times Herald, Kinney talked about balancing her career and volunteerism with spending time with her husband, Joseph, and three children Justin, Michael and Rachel. To handle all her responsibilities, she said she tries to stay organized and not get overwhelmed.

“I take it day by day,” Kinney said. “I put it on the calendar, and I’m able to look at the calendar and then I go day by day … I guess that’s the secret — work with each day.”

New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) has held elective office continuously since 1983. Englebright’s long tenure now comes to a close. 

In a tight state election for District 4 last month, Englebright narrowly lost to his Republican Party challenger Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson). In an exit interview, the outgoing assemblyman reflected upon his pathway into government, the legislative victories throughout that time and the meaning of public service.

The road to politics

Growing up, the young Englebright spent much of his time in libraries. He found refuge in books, which satiated his curiosity and “compelling interest in how things worked.” He also nourished a lifelong fascination with history through those hours devoted to learning.

Leading up to his first run for office, Englebright said he was deeply disturbed by the environmental degradation characteristic of those times. The “almost daily reports” of overdevelopment and sprawl, oil spills and drinking water contamination, each had left a deep and abiding impression on him.

‘The proper role of government is to protect the people who sent you.’ — Steve Englebright

He was teaching geology at Stony Brook University when he began considering public life. “I realized that drinking water was the first limiting factor for the continued well-being of this Island, and I was not really seeing any meaningful public policy growing out of the reports of chaos,” he said.

The late professor Hugh Cleland, from the SBU Department of History, would prove to be the catalyst behind Englebright’s ascent to politics. Cleland sat down with him at the campus student union. For several hours, the two discussed a possible bid for a Suffolk County legislative seat.

“This was a really serious and credible and well thought-out request that he was making,” Englebright said. “So I didn’t just wave it off. I gave it some thought and, sure enough, I found myself saying, ‘What’s next?’” 

After that meeting, Englebright decided to run and was elected to the county Legislature in 1983. He won election after election for the next four decades.

County Legislature

Upon entering the county Legislature, Englebright simultaneously confronted an array of environmental dilemmas. He described the defunct Long Island Lighting Company, the precursor to today’s Long Island Power Authority, as “at that time wanting to build a small galaxy of nuclear power plants on Long Island.” He stressed that the utility company was favoring its shareholder interests at the residents’ expense. 

Englebright successfully championed, along with a grassroots movement of LILCO ratepayers, against the construction of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant and other nuclear plants to follow. Their resistance efforts were grounded primarily in the risks associated with evacuation.

Another major policy issue during his early political career was the protection of groundwater and surface waters in Suffolk County. “I pushed successfully for the largest county-level open space program in the nation,” he said. He was one of the earliest critics against sprawl. 

As a county legislator, he initiated the first plastics ban in the nation. Though ahead of his time on the issue, he admitted that not enough has been done elsewhere to counteract the problem, which he said “has exploded into a worldwide catastrophe.”

He sponsored legislation excising a small fee on hotel and motel rooms, considering the measure as a fee on tourists allowing for their continued enjoyment of the area through reinvestment into the county’s most attractive destinations.

“If you wonder why county Legislator [Kara] Hahn [D-Setauket] is able to have some discretion to provide funding to Gallery North or the Reboli Center, that funding is coming from the hotel/motel room fee,” he said.

State Assembly

New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket). Photo from North Island Photography and Films

As a state assemblyman, Englebright quickly picked up where he left off, building upon and expanding his county policies at the state level. Among his earliest actions was the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act, a state law ensuring the preservation of the Pine Barrens as open space.

He sponsored some of the original laws in New York state related to solar power and other renewables. “In my first year in the state Legislature, I was successfully pushing for legislation that had paved the way for the electronic age,” he said.

Englebright added that the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act was the most crucial legislation he ever sponsored. This ambitious law aims to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85% from 1990 levels by 2050.

Englebright also successfully led a statewide ban on purse seining, a highly efficient fishing technique responsible for the depletion of menhaden, or bunker, in New York’s surrounding waters.

“The marine world all depends on having this abundant fish at the base of the food chain,” the assemblyman said. Purse seining allowed large-scale fishing operations to collect “whole schools of menhaden, millions and millions of fish.”

One of the fondest moments throughout his tenure happened just last summer. On a boat trip off the coast of Montauk Point during early morning hours, the sun rising off the horizon line, he witnessed entire schools of menhaden beneath the water.

“The sea was boiling with fish,” he said. “Menhaden, they were back by the billions.”

Reminiscent of his earliest years in libraries, historic preservation would be a significant point of emphasis for Englebright. “I’m very proud of the many properties that are preserved, the historic sites.” Such sites either preserved or to be preserved include Patriots Rock and Roe Tavern in Setauket and William Tooker House in Port Jefferson, among many others.

Even in his final days in office, Englebright made historic breakthroughs. Though his reelection bid was unsuccessful, Englebright rejoiced in yet another major victory for environmental sustainability. Last month, New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved a recent $4.2 billion environmental bond act, a multiyear investment in clean water, air, wildlife and the environment.

Reflections from his community

During his extended time in political service, Englebright has worked alongside countless public representatives at all levels of government. He maintained “they’re not all scoundrels,” adding that many were “superb public servants.”

In a series of written statements and phone interviews, several public representatives and close Englebright associates and friends had an opportunity to weigh in on his legacy of service and commitment to his community. 

Englebright “proved himself to be an environmental pioneer, a champion for the causes and concerns of his constituents and an unflinching fighter for the communities he served,” Hahn said. “For those of us who served in elected office with him during his tenure, irrespective of political persuasion or level of government, Steve proved himself to be a friend and mentor who embodied the role of effective leadership in the lives of those we represent.”

 As recently as Dec. 6, the Three Village Community Trust honored the assemblyman by renaming the Greenway trail as The Steve Englebright Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant commented on the characteristics that set Englebright apart from other politicians. She said his scientific background and wide-ranging interests added depth to his political persona.

 “He’s a unique legislator in that he’s so well rounded in those other areas and that he’s not just focused on the hard line of the law,” she said. “He’s involved with his community, he’s approachable, he’s caring, he’s kind. He’s a very unique representative, and we’re going to miss him sorely.”

 Like Englebright, Port Jefferson village trustee Rebecca Kassay worked in environmental advocacy before entering government. She discussed Englebright’s ongoing extended producer responsibility legislation, which would require producers of packaging materials, rather than taxpayers, to be responsible for managing post-consumer packaging material waste.

 “This can be a step toward addressing a multitude of waste management, environmental and financial issues facing municipalities and individuals,” Kassay said. “I hope to see the assemblyman’s colleagues and successor continue advocating for policies with long-term solutions,” adding, “Englebright is the type of commonsense representative we’d like to see more of in government.”

 In a joint statement, George Hoffman and Laurie Vetere of the Setauket Harbor Task Force reflected upon Englebright’s importance to local harbors.

 “In his time as our state representative, Steve Englebright never forgot the importance of the harbor,” they said. “Assemblyman Englebright found ways to secure needed dollars from Albany to help the task force in its mission of protecting water quality and the sustainability of Setauket and Port Jefferson harbors.” 

Joan Nickeson, community liaison of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, credited Englebright for the continued flourishment of her area. She said the hotel/motel tax he sponsored had enabled the chamber to conduct its annual summer concert series at the Train Car Park.

 “Assemblyman Englebright has continued to be a friend of the chamber by supporting our local businesses and attending our ribbon-cutting ceremonies,” she said.

 Within those 40 years, countless other acts and initiatives have come to fruition with Englebright’s assistance. Reflecting on his time in public service, he outlined his political doctrine.

 “The proper role of government is to protect the people who sent you,” he said. “If you keep your eye on the prize, you can achieve things for the people who invested their trust in you.” 

 On the role of the public representative, he added, “Use the office as a bully pulpit, speak truth to power, identify things that are wrong and right them, and treat the office as an opportunity to do good.”

 For wielding his office as a force of good for four decades, TBR News Media dedicates Steve Englebright as honorary 2022 Person of the Year.