Update, 2.29.16: Police have reported that Lynn May, the 58-year-old Lake Grove resident who was standing by her parked car during the hit-and-run, has died of her injuries sustained in the crash.
Police said a woman drove away after fatally striking one man with her car and seriously injuring three others on Friday night.
The 61-year-old Medford resident, Kathy Horan, was allegedly driving east on Granny Road at about 8:20 p.m. and, shortly down the road from Brookhaven Town Hall, hit Peter Quoma, a 28-year-old from Selden who had gotten out of his own car because he had hit a parked vehicle.
According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the hit from Horan’s 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe was fatal for Quoma, and also injured the two passengers still inside his 1997 Nissan Maxima as well as the owner of the parked car, who was standing next to it.
Quoma was pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, police said, while the two passengers, one male and one female, were treated for minor injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital. Police said the parked car’s owner, 58-year-old Lynn May from Lake Grove, was being treated for serious injuries at Brookhaven Memorial.
Horan, who was not hurt, was charged with leaving the scene of an incident involving a fatality and with leaving the scene of one involving physical injury. She was arraigned on Saturday.
Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available.
Anyone with information is asked to call the SCPD’s Vehicular Crime Unit at 631-852-6555.
Marlene Wolke ready to leave her post serving town after decades of working in Supervisor Vecchio’s office
Anyone looking to get to Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) had to get through Smithtown’s Marlene Wolke first.
Wolke’s desk literally sat outside Vecchio’s office door and she spent the past three decades welcoming the town’s movers and shakers in and out of the supervisor’s headquarters. Wolke announced she would be retiring this year, and her last day on the job was pegged for Wednesday, Nov. 25.
It’s been a long road for Wolke, across two different political parties, but she remained beside the town’s longest-serving supervisor in its 350-year history.
“He’s still here because people didn’t want to lose him,” Wolke said of her boss’s successful 38-plus years at the helm of Smithtown. “I think he’s done a great job and been a wonderful steward of the town.”
Vecchio described Wolke as loyal, competent and trustworthy as she held in confidence some of the most sensitive discussions relating to the town.
“Marlene was more than a secretary,” Vecchio said. “She really was an assistant. She was invaluable on so many occasions and I don’t know how I would have done what I do without her.”
Her office was located directly outside Vecchio’s door, where she sat in front of a big window overlooking the town. Framed photos of loved ones decorated the interior alongside stacks of various Smithtown newspapers. But even in her last week as secretary, Wolke kept it professional during an interview with Times Beacon Record Newspapers, often stopping herself to act as gatekeeper to those entering the Supervisor’s room.
Wolke’s first day on the job was July 3, 1978. When she took the job, she said she thought she’d be there for only two years.
She recollected her beginnings working alongside Vecchio fondly. She met him through her husband at the time, who worked as a detective with the New York Police Department.
“I met Pat at a meet the candidates night. He was a Democrat at the time,” Wolke said. “I worked with the party and helped get out the vote. I was even there on election night when he won.”
The next thing Wolke knew, Vecchio was knocking on her front door in Smithtown.
“He asked if I was looking for a job,” she said. “I was so nervous.”
From there, it was history.
Wolke remained Vecchio’s secretary ever since, and even switched with him from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party several years into his run as supervisor.
The now-retired secretary described her role as Vecchio’s “complaint department,” handling quality-of-life issues alongside several others outside Vecchio’s office in the heart of town. She and her colleagues have been the front lines for all things Smithtown for decades, and looking back now, Wolke said she had a lot to be proud of.
Her retirement has opened up a new opportunity for Wolke, who said she looks forward to spending time with her four kids and eight grandkids. She also said she has plans to travel down to Florida, in a camper with her husband and dog, to enjoy retirement in style.
“It’s not easy to retire,” she said. “But I knew it was my time. It just felt right.”
State’s ‘longest-serving’ supervisor sees namesake forever ingrained into the facade of town building
By Susan Risoli
With laughter, a few tears, memories of the past and a nod to the future, Smithtown Town Hall was dedicated Sunday in honor of Patrick Vecchio (R) and his nearly 38 years as Smithtown supervisor.
The event fulfilled a resolution, passed by town council members in March, that the building at 99 W. Main St. be dedicated in recognition of Vecchio’s lifelong record of public service.
In an interview after the ceremony, Vecchio said he felt “overwhelmed and humbled” by the praise.
When asked if his job was still fun after almost four decades, the supervisor said, “Yes, it is. At the end of the day, I’ve done something for people. And that’s the guiding principle of my life.”
Vecchio shook hands and hugged those in attendance, urging them to get something to eat from the Italian buffet of mozzarella sandwiches and almond cookies set up after the formal dedication.
As passing motorists tooted their horns and a crowd lined the sidewalk, legislators spoke warmly about Vecchio, peppering their remarks with wisecracks. Drawing laughs and applause from the audience, state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) feigned surprise that Vecchio arranged for a reception after the ceremony, because “he’s cheap, he wears it like a badge of honor.”
But the supervisor’s thriftiness is a good thing, Flanagan pointed out, because it means he’s mindful of Smithtown taxpayers.
“He never forgot, never forgets, never will forget where the money is coming from,” Flanagan said.
On a more serious note, Flanagan said Vecchio has been an effective supervisor because “we need leaders, we need people who are not afraid to mix it up.”
State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) said Vecchio should be acknowledged for the advances Smithtown has made in protecting the environment.
“You have earned this honor. You have earned it,” he said, addressing Vecchio directly.
Smithtown historian, Brad Harris, called Vecchio “a feisty guy … ready to take on an issue or political opponent. He does battle for the people of Smithtown.”
He noted that Vecchio is the longest-serving town supervisor in the region, “and for all we know, the longest-serving supervisor in the state of New York and probably the nation.”
However, Harris said to laughter from the crowd, “It’s just not true that he was here when town hall was constructed in 1912.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) quoted legendary film siren Mae West, who said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
Vecchio, Bellone said, has served Smithtown the right way.
The town is “an amazing place — a place filled with incredible beauty, natural resources, wonderful people … the history of Smithtown is the stuff of legends,” Bellone said.
Looking over at Vecchio seated in the audience, Bellone said, “I’m excited to see the continuing story of this legend.”
Noting that Vecchio is a former boxer who stood up to opponents in the ring before he entered the political arena, Bellone said people have been trying to “knock the supervisor out ever since, but he’s still standing.”
Smithtown Deputy Supervisor and Councilman Tom McCarthy (R) and Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R) read the council’s resolution to dedicate the building in Vecchio’s honor.
Vecchio’s first word after hearing the tributes was “Wow.”
“My heart is overwhelmed with all of you folks,” Vecchio said, taking his turn at the microphone. “I’m going to cry.”
Vecchio praised the “unsung” heads of departments in town governments.
“You might not know who they are,” he said. “But they are the glue that holds this town together and makes it the best town in New York state.”
Smithtown officials will gather alongside the Smithtown 350 Foundation on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 1 p.m., to officially dedicate the town hall building to Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) — the longest serving supervisor in the history of the state. The dedication has been months in the making since the Town Board voted unanimously in March to dedicate the building in Vecchio’s honor after his nearly four decades of public service to the township.
As part of the town’s 350th birthday this year, Smithtown has been buzzing with activity since the beginning of 2015 with various events celebrating the town’s storied past. The town’s official 350th birthday was March 3, the same day the Town Board caught Vecchio off guard by voting to dedicate the building to him. The resolution that council members voted upon was signed and placed in a time capsule that will be buried near Town Hall this year.
Vecchio has served as supervisor since 1978 and also served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, before an honor-able discharge in 1954, when he joined the New York Police Department, where he remained for 20 years, the resolution said. His NYPD roles included detective sergeant, chief of security for former Mayor John Lindsay and a member of a special unit responsible for the protection of visiting dignitaries, including former presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.
A reception will also immediately follow the event inside Town Hall.
A vacant lot that used to be home to a lumberyard, across the street from Town Hall in Smithtown, is in the Town Board’s crosshairs.
A recent waiver request from the applicant in charge of the 102 W. Main Street property set off a somewhat heated debate at Town Hall, when Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) called out VEA 181st Realty Corp. for what he referred to as a lack of good faith in bettering the space. In the application, developer Salvatore DiCarlo requested the gigantic pile of concrete slabs at the site be ground on the premises in a move that Smithtown Planning Director David Flynn said could reduce truck traffic in the area.
At a work session earlier this month, Flynn told the board that DiCarlo needed to remove the concrete slabs from the property in order to grind them down and install a roughly 5-foot mound of vegetation in its place, as the property moves forward into development. Flynn said there was likely more material than necessary for future building on the property, thus making it difficult for the developer to have to truck materials back and forth between the property and an off-site location.
“Reducing truck traffic is in the public good,” Flynn said, while discussing the waiver request with the Town Board. “The applicant already agreed to abide to conditions beyond what the town code requires. He’s volunteering to slightly more stringent requirements as it is.”
Vecchio, however, was not impressed by the suggestion, and contended that the request to grind concrete on-site was nothing more than an attempt to save money.
“When is he going to build? What is his endeavor here?” Vecchio said. “When does he show some good faith?”
Vecchio said he would not vote in favor of a waiver request for DiCarlo, and instead said it was time for him “to put the pedal to the metal.”
DiCarlo could not be reached for comment.
Flynn said the applicant had received approval to build three-story apartments at the site, with retail space on the ground floors. He also said he was unaware of any specific target date in terms of construction at the property.
DiCarlo, who Flynn said took on the property about 10 years ago, was granted a special exception back in 2013 that allowed him to build apartments on the site, but he has yet to file an updated site plan for construction. The town approved a site plan for demolition in July 2014 and two vacant buildings on the site have been razed over the last several months.
Town Councilman Bob Creighton (R) said the applicant has been trying to build on the site for years, but has encountered countless obstacles preventing him from doing so on the town level. Vecchio, however, fired back that the town’s hands were clean when it came to the inactivity at the spot.
“He hasn’t done anything in good faith,” he said. “I find it horrible. I think that’s a no-no.”
The discussion was tabled upon request from Councilman Tom McCarthy (R) pending a meeting with the property owner, with Creighton ending the debate by calling on his fellow board members to give DiCarlo a chance.
Smithtown officials are taking another look at the way the town approves festivals, parades and similar events that close major roadways in different parts of the town. Before Tuesday’s special Smithtown Town Board meeting, Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) and Town Clerk Vincent Puleo discussed complaints both of their offices have received after recent events closed portions of Smithtown, citing negative effects on business and residential life.
“It discombobulates people,” Vecchio said, citing one recent grievance to his office about a town event putting a damper on business. “This is a beautiful town, but this is not the first complaint we have received. I think we need to revisit the process.”
St. James resident Scott Flugman prompted the discussion via a letter he penned to Vecchio’s office, citing traffic issues barring his ability to get around town during an outdoor race event in his town on May 31. He said it took him nearly an hour to drive his son home from a friend’s house, who lives roughly 10 minutes away.
“This is a dangerous and grave inconvenience and should not be allowed to happen again,” the letter said. “We could not pick up our children, we were late to their sports and other activities and we were put at risk for a potentially serious traffic accident. Please have more consideration for the impact on the community when planning these races in the future.”
Currently, the town lists a parade, a run or a similar event in the correspondence section of its Town Board meeting agenda. The events are read aloud at two consecutive meetings, and the public can weigh in. But Vecchio said that process only targets residents who actually tune in to each agenda item at any given meeting.
“We have two readings. But there is no time in between for anyone to say, ‘Wait a minute,’” Vecchio said.
Puleo echoed the supervisor’s sentiments on the limited avenue for residents to become aware of a given event being approved.
“If they’re not looking at the meeting, they’re not going to know there is an event,” Puleo said. “My office gets complaints all the time. If you’re the affected person, and that’s not your thing to look at what’s going on in town, you could be blindsided.”
In the last six Town Board meetings, there have been first or second readings for 12 separate events labeled as parades, runs, walks or festivals, according to agendas from those respective meetings.
Puleo said it was suggested that his office help install signs throughout town to alert business owners and residents of upcoming events, but he said it would be difficult to figure out where to put a sign and when.
A potential solution, Puleo said, could be to more frequently utilize areas of the town typically closed on the days these events often fall, like Saturdays and Sundays. The clerk recommended to the Town Board that future events be moved to spots like the Hauppauge Industrial Park, or the Kings Park Psychiatric Center.
But Tony Tanzi, president of the Kings Park Chamber of Commerce, said he disagreed with such a strategy, as various events are planned with the intent to bring more people to Smithtown’s downtown areas. He acknowledged that events in his neck of the woods, like Kings Park Day, might have a negative impact on business temporarily, but the purpose was greater than that day’s cash flow.
“I can see the point with some people that sometimes events can be disruptive. As a business owner, it really does have a big impact on sales,” Tanzi said. “But if the goal is to entice people to visit your downtown, I don’t see how [relocating] helps.”
As a possible solution, Vecchio said the town might want to consider limiting the kinds of events it approves to allow solely Smithtown-based organizations or town residents as hosts. He argued there would be a lesser impact if the events excluded non-residents.
“The squeaky wheel is getting the grease,” Puleo said at the meeting. “Whether it’s Smithtown or not, the impact on the residents is still the same.”