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Town of Brookhaven

Feral cats in a wooded area in Mount Sinai eyes humans entering its habitat. Photo by Kyle Barr

With the growing issue of feral cats in Suffolk County, local animal rescue groups have told the Town of Brookhaven its current programs are not doing enough to stem the tide.

The rising population of feral cats on Long Island has been an ongoing issue for the past few years. In 2018, well over 300,000 cats lived in Suffolk County, including both feral and domesticated cats, according to data from the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

Erica Kutzing speaks on cats to the town board. Photo from TOB video

While trap, neuter and release programs have helped in combating the increasing population of feral cats, animal rescuer groups from the North Shore say the Town has not done enough to provide assistance in getting cats spayed and neutered.  

Erica Kutzing, vice president of North Shore-based Strong Island Animal Rescue League, asked town officials at a board meeting Nov. 19 to consider creating a trap, neuter and release task force to assist local rescue groups in the ongoing feral cat crisis. 

Kutzing said the rising population of feral cats has overwhelmed many animal groups’ resources, especially citing the lack of manpower and cost they themselves incur.

Since speaking at a previous board meeting, she posted a message on Facebook asking people who have unfixed feral cats to reply with the number of felines they need to get spayed and neutered. 

Within 24 hours, 23 individuals had contacted Kutzing and among them they had a total of 324 unfixed feral cats that could “breed over and over again.” 

She said if those 23 people got two free vouchers from the Town, as the current trap neuter return program allows, it would leave about 278 of those cats still untreated. A task force, she added, could be an effective partnership with the Town, adding they could bring in volunteer trappers to teach others and help facilitate the task force.  

“Now they’re [the cat’s treatment] on nonprofit organizations and homeowners’ dime — who don’t usually want to spend their money on situations like this,” Kutzing said. 

The vice president of the animal rescue group said the proposed task force would help bridge the gap between nonprofits and municipal shelters and cut feral cat numbers down.  

As of now, two vouchers can be issued at a time to a resident, which critics said are not enough to handle the influx of feral cats. 

The vouchers are redeemed at Integrative Veterinary Therapies in Ridge, though residents must first call the clinic to make an appointment at 631- 924-7700. That policy has been criticized by animal rescue groups. 

Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter Director Christina Tormey said she does not speak to press and referred all questions to the Town
of Brookhaven.

A Brookhaven spokesperson said town officials could consider some of the proposed ideas brought up by the animal rescue group members, but added that the Town already has its own trap, neuter, release voucher program in place and at the moment the town doesn’t foresee making any major changes to it. 

Kutzing said if half of the 278 cats are female, the current voucher program would do very little to stop the proliferation of feral felines. 

“Multiply that by the average amount of kittens in a litter — five, that brings us to 695 kittens that will be born by the end of kitten season that normally occurs around February and March,” she said. “We don’t have room for 600 kittens, does Brookhaven Animal Shelter have room for this amount? Or hundreds more?”

Sue Hansen, Rocky Point resident and former Smithtown Animal Shelter supervisor, said the problem with feral cats is a community problem in need of local government support. 

“We have and will continue to offer our time, experience and services but we need your assistance … an effective program that works with the volunteers is the solution,” she said.  

A Selden resident asked the board to reconsider changes to the town’s TNR program.   

“I have many kittens in my home because there is no place for them to go but I have to keep them isolated from my other animals, we need some help,” she said. 

The Selden resident also mentioned the out of pocket cost to take care of these animals. 

“I’m not a trapper, I’m able to reach out to see if I can get a trapper for those cats that are not chipped but who’s going to pay for that?” she said. “Who is going to take care of them when they recover? It is a serious problem … something has to get done.”

Brookhaven town hall. File photo

The Brookhaven Town board passed Nov. 19 its $312.9 million budget also establishing its capital budget plan for the next four years. 

The budget is a nearly $10 million increase from last year’s $302 million, but officials have said there would only be a small increase in property taxes.

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) praised the budget for not dipping into the town’s fund balance, or its rainy-day funds, and for staying under the 2 percent state tax cap.

The board unanimously voted to amend the two budgets at the Nov. 19 meeting. Town Chief of Operations Matt Miner said those amendments were cases of overestimating or underestimating revenues from specific items. Other areas were changed to make the final document budget neutral.

“There were no changes to the overall budget or the tax levy,” Miner said.

New budget capital projects comes in at $43.9 million, which is $14.6 million less than 2019. The town budget eliminates $15.8 million in pension debt and $30.1 million in “pipeline” debt, which is money left over from the closed bond projects, either unused or unappropriated.

“The budget meets my original three-point plan to reduce deficit spending,” Romaine said. “All funds are in compliance with the fund balance policy.”

The 2020-24 capital budget sets up public improvement projects established via bonds and reserves. This includes $26.4 million for the Highway Department, comprised of road repairs, drainage, traffic safety, facilities and machinery/equipment. This is in addition to a $5 million increase for road resurfacing in the operating budget from $10 million to $15 million.

Elected officials will also see a small raise in annual pay. Council members will receive a $1,446 increase to $73,762, while the supervisor will be bumped by $2,398 to $122,273. The highway superintendent salary is set at $121,515. Town clerk and tax receiver will each receive around $2,000 in increases. Elected officials have seen an approximate $2,000 pay increase over the past few years.

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On Oct. 29, 70 residents attended the Town of Brookhaven Youth Board’s first Brookhaven’s Got Talent student art show. 

Students enrolled in seventh through 12th grade were asked to submit summer-themed photos, paintings and/or drawings through the town’s website, and entries were accepted from late June through Sept. 27.

 In total, 19 submissions were received from 15 students. The event took place in the second-floor lobby at Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville where prints of the students’ artwork are currently displayed for residents to view. 

“The goal behind this initiative was to recognize and encourage young, talented artists in Brookhaven Town. We ended up having an intergenerational event where students were engaging with their peers, adults and seniors, sharing details about their art. It is gratifying to see so many residents coming out on a cold, rainy October night to view the students’ exceptional work and encourage their artistic talents,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine.

Councilman Michael Loguercio, Town Board liaison to the Brookhaven Youth Bureau agreed. “The Youth Board did a great job of bringing the Brookhaven community together to celebrate the students’ artwork. It is encouraging to see students from school districts throughout Brookhaven Town participate. The large turnout and positive feedback we received will certainly encourage these students to continue to pursue their artistic goals,” he said.

For more information about the Town of Brookhaven Youth Board and programs offered by the Youth Bureau, please call 631-451-8011 or visit www.brookhavenny.gov.

People go to vote at the Albert G. Prodell Middle School in Shoreham. Photo by Kyle Barr

Suffolk County Executive:

(WINNER) Steve Bellone (D) – 55.42% – 148,043 votes

John M. Kennedy Jr. (R) – 43.38% – 115,867 votes 

Gregory Fisher (L) – 1.18% – 3,147 votes 

 

Brookhaven Town Supervisor: 

(WINNER) Ed Romaine (R) – 61.52% – 51,155 votes 

Will Ferraro (D) – 37.42% – 31.113 votes 

Junie Legister (L) – 1.04% – 865 votes 

 

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent: 

(WINNER) Dan Losquadro (R) – 58.47% – 48, 624 votes 

Anthony Portesy (D) – 41.51% – 34,514 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 1st District: 

(WINNER) Valerie Catright (D) – 57.36% – 8,647 votes 

Tracy Kosciuk (R) – 42.59% – 6,421 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 2nd District: 

(WINNER) Jane Bonner (C) – 61.97% – 10,028 votes 

Sarah Deonarine (D) – 37.99% – 6,147 votes 

 

Brookhaven town council member, 3rd District:

(WINNER) Kevin LaValle (R) – 65.12% – 8,228 votes 

Talat Hamandi (D) – 34.85% – 4,404 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 6th District: 

(WINNER) Sarah Anker (D) – 54.32% – 9,715 votes 

Gary Pollakusky (R) – 41.05% – 7,342 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 5th District: 

(WINNER) Kara Hahn (D) – 63.1% – 9,763 votes 

John McCormack (R) – 36.88% – 5,706 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 4th District: 

(WINNER) Thomas Muratore (R) – 58.97% – 7,275 votes 

David T. Bligh (D) – 39.23% – 4,839 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 16th District

(WINNER) Susan Berland (D) – 53.89% – 6,501 votes 

Hector Gavilla (R) – 46.08% – 5,559 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 13th District: 

(WINNER) Rob Trotta (R) – 61.99% – 10,385 votes 

Janet Singer (D) – 38.01% – 6,367 votes

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 18th District:

(WINNER) William “Doc” Spencer (D) – 61.47% – 11,998 votes 

Garrett Chelius (R) – 33.81% – 6,599 votes 

Daniel West (C) – 4.71% – 919 votes 

 

Suffolk County Legislator, 15th District:

(WINNER) DuWayne Gregory (D) – 72.15% – 7,037 votes

Chrisopher G. Connors (R) – 27.68% – 2,700 votes 

 

Huntington town council member – two seats:

(WINNER) Joan Cergol (D) – 26% – 20,882 votes 

(WINNER) Eugene Cook (R) – 24.81%- 19,931 votes 

Andre Sorrentino Jr. (R) – 24.07% – 19,336 votes 

Kathleen Clearly (D) – 23.38% – 18,777 votes 

 

Huntington Town Clerk: 

(WINNER) Andrew Raia (R) – 57.71% – 23,804 votes 

Simon Saks (D) – 42.28% – 17,441 votes 

 

Smithtown town council member – two seats: 

(WINNER) Thomas Lohmann (R) – 32.35% – 14,076 votes

(WINNER) Lisa Inzerillo (R) – 32% – 13,925 votes 

Richard S Macellaro (D) – 17.36% – 7,556 votes

Richard Guttman (D) – 17.32% – 7,535 votes 

 

 

 

Ed Romaine the night of Nov. 5, 2019.

The race for Brookhaven town supervisor was called before the final votes were tallied, with the night ending with Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) racking up 51,155 votes to Democratic challenger Will Ferraro’s 31,113 votes.

Romaine went on stage to thank the town for an “overwhelming mandate,” of the town board.

Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) the night of Nov. 5. Photo by Kyle Barr

“We are going to go back to work tomorrow,” he said. “The reason we ran is so we can govern, to move Brookhaven forward so we can fix its finances, help its AAA bond rating, get rid of the zombie homes and do all the things that are necessary to build a better town.”

In a phone interview after the night was called, Ferraro congratulated Romaine on his election, but urged the incumbent to listen to resident’s criticisms of the town’s recycling policies and road infrastructure. He added he will continue to be a community organizer in the local area and plans to get involved with his local school board. He added he did not plan on running for another office at least until after next year.

“I ran on 100 percent what I believe in, with every fiber of my being,” he said. “I have no regrets.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) defeated her challenger, Coram Democrat Sarah Deonarine with around 62 percent of the vote to 38 percent.

Though last year’s referendum to give town councilmembers a four-year term, Bonner said it will mean elected officials can focus on long term projects, especially “environmental based projects.”

Deonarine said campaigning was strenuous and difficult.

“If I could pull it off anybody can,” she said. “So, I hope other people follow in the footsteps. I’ve met amazing people. We started something new and we’re really hoping for a better Brookhaven in the future.”

She doesn’t plan to run for office again but is interested in the behind the scenes work and helping future candidates, saying there’s no existing playbook.

“I learned so much that was not given to me when I started.”

Kevin LaValle the night of Nov. 5, 2019. Photo by Kyle Barr

In the battle of Port Jeff Station neighbors, with Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) against her challenger Tracy Kosciuk, a nurse running on the Republican ticket, the town board’s lone Democrat won with 57 percent of the vote.

Cartright said she plans to focus on completing land use plans in the Three Village area and Port Jefferson Station and working on the cottages at West Meadow Beach among other initiatives.

“I’m looking forward to completing the process on all of these initiatives that we’ve embarked upon in the community,” she said.

Kosciuk said that even with her loss, she “still won in many ways,” by “making my opponent more responsive to everyone in the council district, rather than specific pockets.” She added she hopes her opponent works toward revitalization efforts and on the zombie homes issue.

In the Middle Country area, incumbent Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) won with 65 percent of the vote against his Democratic challenger, social justice activist Talat Hamdani.

The incumbent thanked his constituents, and said he plans to continue bringing more business into the Middle Country area and finalize work on the Selden Park Complex.

Hamdani wasn’t available for comment.

In the race for town highway supervisor, Dan Losquadro (R) beat his Democratic challenger Anthony Portesy with 48,624 votes to the Democrat’s 34,514.

Losquadro thanked Garcia and said he was “overwhelmed by the mandate” of the voters.

“They see the progress we have made in Brookhaven,” he said. “They have seen the efforts and results that are possible when we work together. The results of this election will allow us to plan long term.”

Portesy said he ran a good race and thanked all his supporters who came out for him.

“Overall, we fought a good race … If anything, I’ve forced a level of accountable the highway department hasn’t seen in decades,” he said. “There was a level of energy in this cycle in 2019 that we didn’t see in 2017 and that’s really going to build going into 2020 as we go into the congressional and presidential races.”

Dom Pascual, a Democrat, took on Lou Marcoccia (R) for receiver of taxes, but voters went again for the incumbent with the Republican making near 60 percent of the vote.

“We cared, and we listened,” Marcoccia said.

Pascual said he thought they put on a strong campaign.

“I’m a [Democratic] district leader so I’m going to continue to recruit people,” he said. “We’re not going away no matter what. I ran in 2017, it was just me, and this time around we recruited over 50 people. Demographics are in our favor, there’s more Democrats moving into Brookhaven than Republicans, so I think eventually things will change.”

David Luces and Rita J. Egan contributed reporting.

Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. Photo by Phil Corso

The responsibilities of the Brookhaven highway superintendent prove to be a daunting task, as it is the third biggest highway department in the state. The position oversees thousands of miles of roads and we feel that Dan Losquadro (R) is still the right man for the role. He has done an admirable job with the budget given to him in fixing roads throughout the town. 

While some residents may not be fond of Losquadro, they do deserve a more transparent process and more communication on when work is being done. Putting a list of expected road work on the Town’s website as his challenger Anthony Portesy (D) proposed is a good idea to qualm residents’ questions and concerns. It would probably lessen the amount of calls and letters his office receives. 

We commend his challenger, Portesy, for deciding to run again for this position, as he brought in fresh ideas and enthusiasm. We believe with enough experience down the line Portesy could make himself an attractive candidate for other offices in the town or other municipalities. We hope he continues to stay involved in the local community and politics.  

Councilwoman Jane Bonner. File Photo by Giselle Barkley

It’s been 12 years since Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) first stepped into office, and we at TBR News Media say she richly deserves another term. 

Bonner has been a steadfast representative for her district, and despite her years on board she remains tireless in representing the people of her district. The Mount Sinai Jetty repairs are finally coming to fruition, much thanks to her advocacy. She is a consistent friend to local civic groups such as Mount Sinai’s in its advocacy for refocusing the Mount Sinai Meadows project toward millennial-geared apartments. Her work helping to remediate zombie homes cannot be understated. 

Sarah Deonarine has a good breadth of knowledge relating to environmental issues but lacks detail in her plans to deal with people leaving Long Island and addressing zombie homes. The liens placed on properties after they are demolished hinders new people buying the property, but in the end, someone has to pay for that remediation. 

Last year, the town included Proposition 1 on the ballot that restricted candidates to three terms but also increased the stint of those terms to four years. Our newspapers endorsed against the proposition, which allows incumbents like Bonner to continue in office for two extra years than they had for the past decade. We do hope that will allow candidates to focus more on issues and less on campaigning, but we also wish town reps listen to dissenting voices over Proposition 1 and take those complaints into account with any future referendums.

Ed Romaine. Photo by Kyle Barr

As the Town of Brookhaven is the closest level of government to residents, the supervisor position requires a person who can look at each hamlet as its own entity, while also looking at the whole.

We at TBR News Media believe Ed Romaine (R) has done that well, and for that reason TBR News Media is choosing to endorse Ed Romaine to continue his role as supervisor.

It’s a shame Will Ferraro (D) has chosen such a candidate like Romaine to run against. We enjoyed his energy and passion and believe his head and heart are in the right place. We sincerely hope he continues to run in local elections. We see him as another one to watch in the future.

We do like some of the Democratic challenger’s plans, especially concerning a capped pay-as-you-throw system toward trash. Romaine, however, has done a good degree of due diligence in banking $12 million for when the landfill finally closes in 2024. Garbage will become Long Island’s top issue in only a few years’ time, and officials should start getting a concrete plan now, rather than later, for what Brookhaven will do with residents’ trash. 

Romaine’s track record on environment and green energy issues has been commendable, and we hope his plans for the CCA program and any other future plans to reduce residents’ tax burdens will go a long way to keeping people in the Town of Brookhaven.

Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and Democrat Sarah Deonarine are asking for residents votes Nov. 5. Photos by David Luces

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), a longtime civic leader and six-term council member since 2007 is facing a challenge from Democratic Sarah Deonarine, a marine biologist out of Coram with years of working in state and local government.

In an October debate at the TBR News Media offices, candidates went back and forth over questions of development on the North Shore, clean energy initiatives and keeping young people on Long Island.

“What I’m hearing is that people want to stay in their homes — age in place.”

— Sarah Deonarine

Deonarine said she sees Brookhaven at “full carrying capacity” in terms of development and is calling for a study on capacity to see if the town is at “full build-out.” She added that another issue which leads to the Island’s brain drain is a lack of affordable or millennial housing, compared to states like Colorado.

“What I’m hearing is that people want to stay in their homes — age in place,” she said.

Other issues for her is the lien put on a property after a derelict house is removed, making redevelopment expensive. She asked that the list of zombie homes in town be made public, as well as refocus Brookhaven Code Enforcement Division which she called aggressive in “trying to make money for the town.”

Bonner instead cited the Route 25A corridor study, and which started in the first years of her first term, which she boasted has been picked up by the Town of Riverhead and continued by Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) in the Three Village area. The study led to “massive rezonings” which limited further build-out. She said all current large-scale developments were grandfathered in before the outcome of the study. 

One of those includes the senior living facility development going up along Route 25A in Mount Sinai, which came about after the Mount Sinai Civic sued the town to stop another “Ranches style” development. The Mount Sinai Meadows project was reconfigured from retail space into majority millennial-geared rental/part commercial.

“Mount Sinai Meadows is going to change the face of Mount Sinai,” Bonner said. “It’s also going to stimulate the [Mt. Sinai] shopping center that’s right next to it.”

She disagreed with Deonarine’s statement on code enforcement, saying the division was more focused on the well-being of people in their homes. She said Suffolk County police asked the town not to publicize the list of zombie homes.

The town has boasted of its clean energy initiatives, including solar farms and wind farms at Town Hall in Farmingdale. Bonner called the solar farm developments in Shoreham a way of reducing the impact of farms and grass products on the aquifer while growing green energy in the town. She mentioned the electric car charging stations at sites like Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. 

“We’re doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint.”

— Jane Bonner

“We’re doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint,” the incumbent said.

The Democratic challenger said she thinks it’s time Long Island as a whole moves away from being hesitant on new green energy initiatives, especially with complaints over aesthetics. 

“People are afraid of their views being blocked — it’s a time we need to move past that, and it’s time to think about the environment and move away from fossil fuels,” she said.

If elected, Deonarine said she would bring a different viewpoint to the board, six of whom are Republican with one lone Democrat. She also pushed her opponent on proposition 1, the referendum given the green light by voters last November, saying it had been poorly worded, giving town council members term limits while at the same time extending terms from two to four years. She said the Republican members of the board largely supported it, and though Cartright had at first supported it, she later pulled back her support.

“The current board makeup, and current Republican Party makeup, it is very biased,” she said. “With only one Democrat on the board, that’s not a representation of the Town of Brookhaven.”

Bonner said the board has been bipartisan in getting things done, with no lack of ability or willingness to cross party lines and help each other in daily duties. In terms of proposition 1, “we all supported to go to referendum for the four-year terms,” she said. “It was overwhelmingly supported by nearly 60 percent.”