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Town of Brookhaven

Simple Good in Port Jefferson offers zero waste and sustainable products. Photo by David Luces

Millions of people around the world demanded action from world leaders on climate change as part of the Global Climate Strike Sept. 20. The protests have put the ongoing crisis back in the forefront. 

Recently, New York lawmakers aimed to tackle the climate change issue head on, as they passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a bill that will aggressively target greenhouse gas emissions in the state. On Long Island, there are plans for two offshore wind projects, located off the East End and South Shore. The wind farms will provide close to 1,700 megawatts of energy, and are expected to power more than 1 million homes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has mandated 9,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2035. 

 

Simple Good in Port Jefferson sells items made to be reusable or nontoxic to the environment. Photo from Melanie Gonzalez

While those goals are in the distant future, there are still things the average person can do on their own to help in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation. 

“It all comes to educating people and making sure they are aware of these issues,” said Melanie Gonzalez, owner of Simple Good at 35 Chandler Square in Port Jefferson which offers a number of sustainable and zero waste items. 

Gonzalez said the inspiration for the store came after buying plastic toys for years for her son, Julian, when she noticed the toys would break easily and she was left with tons of plastic packaging. 

“I was like, ‘What happens to all this plastic and where does it go?’” she said. “I was totally ignorant … but once I learned the facts [on plastic waste], it was life changing.”

Since then, Gonzalez has been an advocate of reducing plastic waste and protecting the environment. She believes Long Island has moved in the right direction on climate change and plastic reduction, but it may also come down to changing people’s habits and behaviors. 

The Rocky Point resident said it could be as simple as switching your plastic toothbrush with alternative that is made out of bamboo, which is more cost effective and in turn better for the environment. 

Gonzalez said everybody should avoid single-use plastic items and recommended using your own utensils when ordering takeout food. She also spoke on the importance of composting and recycling. 

“People are frustrated about recycling,” she said. “Long Island isn’t the easiest place to recycle.”

Last year, the towns of Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington had a rude awakening about their recycling practices when China announced it would cut its intake of U.S. recyclables by a huge margin. Municipalities across the nation were affected. In just one example, Brookhaven Town has moved back to asking residents to separate their garbage.

Gonzalez said she remains optimistic that the climate change movement on the Island is on the right track. 

A non toxic dishwashing bar that is sold at Simple Good in Port Jeff. Image from Melanie Gonzalez

Elisabeth Van Roijen, vice president of the Sierra Club at Stony Brook University, said Long Island is a much better place environmentally than it has been in the past. 

With about 60 other SBU students, she attended the Global Climate Strike rally in New York City. The Sierra Club at SBU helps students gain experience in political activism as well as experience the outdoors first hand.   

“The experience as a whole was incredible,” she said. 

The senior at SBU said the plans for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and offshore wind is something she is hopeful for. 

“The only problem is that it takes time, but having a goal is good because it pushes us to achieve results faster,” Van Roijen said. 

The chemical engineering major added that getting to those goals will need behavior and culture changes. 

“We have to start teaching these things at a younger age, as it is much harder to break out of habits when you get older,” she said. “It comes down to being more mindful.”

Sunrise Wind official speaks of ‘underutilized facilities’ in Port Jeff

Ken Bowes, a vice president at Eversource, talks of using Port Jeff as a headquarters. Photo by Kyle Barr

Imagine a field, not on land but on the open ocean — not of green plants topped with colorful flowers, but of huge, 800-foot towers topped with spinning, white wind blades.

That is what officials from two companies and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority asked Brookhaven Town residents to envision. At a public meeting hosted at Town Hall Sept. 17. Plans are for two offshore wind projects, located off the East End and South Shore of Long Island. Eventually, the wind farms will provide close to 1,700 megawatts of energy to Long Island, powering 1 million homes and generating up 30 percent of New York’s power capacity by 2035, according to NYSERDA officials.

One offshore wind project, Sunrise Wind, a combined venture with U.S.-based Eversource and Denmark-based Ørsted, is of special interest to Brookhaven Town and the Village of Port Jefferson. The companies have announced its intent to use Port Jefferson Harbor as a headquarters and base of operations for not only this upcoming project, but for offshore wind across the Eastern Seaboard.

Ken Bowes, the vice president of offshore wind siting and permitting at Eversource, said they are currently working with local realtors, as suggested to them by Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. The business is searching for warehouse and office space in the local area. He said they are looking for space in close proximity to the village, though finding a suitable location within the village boundaries will likely be difficult.

He said he expects around 50 full-time employees will work on the vessel the company uses to go out and provide maintenance and service the wind turbines, though they expect the project to supply 100 jobs over the planned 25-year lifespan of the turbines. These employees would stay on the vessel for weeks at a time before arriving back in Port Jeff, and he said the vessel should not interfere with the Port Jeff to Bridgeport ferry.

Representatives from Eversource and Orsted
presented plans for its offshore wind project at a Port Jeff Village meeting Sept. 17. Photo by Kyle Barr

If the plans pan out, Bowes said its ambitions are for Port Jefferson to be the headquarters for all work done for their company’s wind projects on the Eastern Seaboard, including current projects off Rhode Island and Massachusetts. 

“We may look to do this as a service for all of our projects and possibly for others as well,” he said. “We’ll see how that all unfolds.”

Sunrise Wind will encompass 110 wind turbines situated 30 miles off the coast of Montauk, and at full capacity will generate 880MW of electricity. Both projects, which include Empire Wind, are expected to be operational by 2024, according to current timelines. 

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said they are in support of renewable energy projects but said there are numerous questions that still need answered about how the projects will impact people, especially in terms of how it will affect fishing communities and in its cost to the surrounding communities.

“We all need to have clean renewable power — I think it’s more urgent than ever,” he said. “There’s a promise of not only clean power but also a little bit of economic opportunity.” 

Some major concerns have come from Long Island fishermen, who have said the planned wind projects could impact their business. Jennifer Garvey, the Long Island development manager at Ørsted, said there is no exclusion area for their project, and fishermen can get as close as they want to the turbines when fishing. Each turbine is planned to be spaced 1-mile apart east to west in a grid-like pattern, which, she said, will aid in navigation and in search and rescue operations.

In addition to the offshore wind projects, both Sunrise Wind and New York State say they plan to invest heavily in college-level training programs for people to work on offshore wind. Doreen Harris, vice president for large-scale renewables at NYSERDA, said the state has already invested around $20 million for an offshore wind training institute through the SUNY system. She described it as a hub-and-spokes model, where colleges and universities such as Stony Brook will contain centers for education and training in harnessing wind energy. For their part, Bowes said Sunrise Wind has already promised invested $10 million for a training program at Suffolk County Community College, though the college has not received any funds yet and details on the program remain sparse. The energy company vice president said they were still hashing out the details, adding more information will be available in the near future. 

Bowes said they chose Port Jefferson because of its deepwater harbor and its existing amenities. He also said they chose it due to its currently “underutilized infrastructure,” though when asked if that indicated the
LIPA-owned Port Jefferson Power Station, he declined to say. He did not wish to speak about Sunrise Wind.

The Sunrise Wind project is expected to be operational by 2024. Photo by Kyle Barr

“I can say we are looking at sites that would be natural for [the project,]” he said. 

The Port Jeff power plant, which recently settled in a tax certiorari agreement with the Town of Brookhaven over its tax assessments, has been running at low percentages for the past several years. It was only 11 percent in 2017, for example. In a previous Port Times article, LIPA said the reduction in taxes may help move the plant toward a clean energy recourse but has not provided more details on what that could entail.

The recently passed state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act calls for a transition to a carbon-free electric grid for New York by 2040. A LIPA spokesperson previously told TBR News Media the Port Jeff power plant will be more than 70 years old by 2030. LIPA has already decommissioned fossil-fuel power plants in Far Rockaway and Glenwood Landing. LIPA has also said Sunrise Wind is key to transitioning toward the state engineered clean energy milestones.

Adrienne Esposito, director of the environmental advocacy group Citizens Campaign for the Environment said the best-case scenario would be Ørsted and Eversource using the power plant.

“Think about the symbolism of repurposing a fossil fuel plant and transform it to something that will help wind power. How great would that be?”

This story has been amended Sept. 19 to say Sunrise Wind has promised $10 million for SCCC has been promised but not yet received.

The Walmart in East Setauket was cited for fire extinguisher and storage violations. File photo

*Click this link to see which stores in Brookhaven were cited for safety and storage violations.

Brookhaven Town has issued 22 summonses and 21 violations for numerous alleged safety violations of big box stores.

Town fire marshals visited 39 big box stores Aug. 30 to ensure they were in compliance with fire codes. The 22 summonses were for various infractions including blocked aisles and exits, and one for propane stored inside. 

“Our number one priority is the shoppers and employees who expect to be safe and able to exit the store in the event of an emergency,” said Brookhaven Town Chief Fire Marshal Christopher Mehrman. “Ensuring aisle widths are maintained and exits are not blocked by merchandise are just some of the things we are looking at. The town has a zero-tolerance approach to these violations.” 

Amongst multiple egress summons in some big box stores like the Kohls and Modells in Rocky Point, the Best Buy in Setauket was cited for an egress violation and the Kohls in Setauket was cited for a propane storage violation. Lowes in Stony Brook was cited for a Storage Violation and had two egress summons and one propane summons. The Walmart in East Setauket was cited for one fire extinguisher and one storage violation. The BJ’s in Setauket was also cited for one propane violation.

The fire marshals also issued 21 violations that did not warrant a summons and were not egress related. Each summons issued is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and/or up to six months in jail. 

“A blocked aisle or exit could mean the difference between life and death during a fire or other emergency,” town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said. “We will not tolerate any violation of our fire codes.”

People who suspect that any store or business is in violation of Brookhaven’s fire codes can call 631-451-TOWN (8696). 

VFW Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore salutes those soldiers lost through the years along with other veterans. Photo by Kyle Barr

A local town official is asking people to donate their unused phones for veterans.

Brookhaven town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) is teaming up with Cell Phones For Soldiers, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. Donations of devices allow the organization to fund its three programs, which include:

Minutes That Matter: Domestic air time that provides domestic wireless minutes and phones to veterans, military personal and military family members

Minutes That Matter: International calling cards that provide free calling cards to troops overseas to help connect to loved ones.

Helping Heroes Homes: Assists veterans with emergency funds to alleviate communication challenges, as well as physical, emotional and assimilation hardships.

“Our military men and women take extended time away from their families to ensure our safety,” Bonner said. “It is an honor to work with Cell Phones For Soldiers to provide them with a connection to their loved ones while they are serving and protecting our country.”

The drive will take place from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Residents can donate their cell phones at these four Brookhaven town locations:

Highway Department, 1140 Old Town Road, Coram

Rose Caracappa Senior Center, Route 25A in Mount Sinai

Henrietta Acampora Recreation Center, 39 Montauk Highway, Blue Point

Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville

For further information, call  631-451-6964.

The Mount Sinai Jetty will see reconstruction early September. Photo by Kyle Barr

After a decade delay and wringing of hands, the Mount Sinai Jetty project is going to start construction within a week as the end of summer closes in.

The ramp up East Beach in Port Jefferson is splashed with waves at high tide. Photo from Margot Garant

Ed Morris, the Brookhaven Town Parks & Recreation  commissioner, said construction is ready to start the project within the week. The contractor Bay Shore-based H&L Contracting is already in the process of gathering supplies. Materials will be stored at the Cedar West Beach Parking lot, which is down the road of the main town beach parking lot. 

“H&L will be starting up a staging area sometime in the next few days — [and will] be mobilizing everything,” he said.

H&L’s $7.4 million contract to rebuild the east and west jetties, which has been crumbled mess for close to a decade. The jetties rocks collapsed and submerged at the seaward ends during  high tide, and lower than 4 feet in some places. Holes in the jetty have also caused erosion to surrounding bluffs and beachfronts. The western jetty has been of particular concern to neighboring Port Jefferson village and its beaches.

Matt Miner, Brookhaven Town chief of operations, said an outside engineering firm did an underwater review of the jetties, which confirmed that sand is slipping through it. The rocks that will be placed in the jetties will match the size as the ones currently used and will restore the structure’s integrity.

In addition, Melville-based surveying and engineering firm Nelson & Pope is being paid $86,000 for full-time construction inspection services. 

The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with a finalization hopefully by spring, Morris said. Construction will be done on opposite sides of the inlet, which the commissioner noted, to allow boats through in both the on and off season.

The jetties are expected to increase in height and become slightly wider. The west jetty will extend slightly further south than the east jetty.

One element of the project that is still to be determined is the outcome of the sand sitting at the bottom of the inlet. Suffolk County has promised to dredge the sand from its bottom once the jetty project is concluded. Port Jefferson Village officials have been chomping at the bit looking to get sand back to repair its rapidly diminishing East Beach. Morris could not confirm where the sand would end up.

“Ideally, sand would be going on both sides of the jetty,” he said.

In the meantime, Port Jefferson officials have plans to piggyback the town’s contracts to aid their own beach restoration efforts.

Mayor Margot Garant said the village will be entering into contract with H&L to drop off materials at East Beach and to use the village’s East Beach parking as a staging area. She said it was still unclear how much of the parking lot they would be using. With the massive amount of rocks the company will be hauling, it could mean several trucks traveling down the steep driveway on a consistent basis. 

“I don’t know to what degree they’re going to be using the east end parking lot as a staging area for some heavy equipment, maybe not at all, but it’s mostly for access,” Garant said. 

As of Sept. 3, the village attorney was set to go over the details with the contractor.

Port Jefferson has plans of its own to revitalize its easternmost beachfront. The contract with H&L allowing them use of the beach will give them stone for use in rebuilding its cracked concrete access ramp. Plans are for a steel wall to cut back 200 feet tied into the hill along the country club property. The mayor said they originally looked at 356 linear feet to run along the tennis courts area, but New York State Department of Environmental Conservation restricted them to the 200.

However, the mayor said the state has promised to allow them to create a rock revetment wall around that tennis courts area to help offset erosion.

The village is still waiting on its permits from the DEC before going out to bid on those projects.

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Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, center, honors Black Women’s Equity Day Aug. 21 with local young women and officials. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

In honor of Black Women’s Equity Day Aug. 22, local women gathered together to raise awareness about the enduring problem of pay inequality and its effect on women of color.

Brookhaven town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), along with Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights), Babylon town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D-Copiague) and Victoria Gumbs Moore, Esq., spoke with children in the Keep Your Change program in North Amityville and other young women at Bethel AME Church in Setauket Aug. 21. The women led activities with the youth to illustrate pay disparities and discussed the effects on families and community. 

“Unequal pay and discrimination impact a woman of color as an individual, it impacts her family and the larger society,” Cartright said. “As the mother of a young Haitian-American girl, I want my daughter to know that her mother fought for equal rights and equal pay for women of color when I had the opportunity.”

Speaking at the meeting, the women spoke to the young people about the continuing culture surrounding issues of pay equity.

“I am proud to say that this experience has given me faith that these issues will not be allowed to endure another generation,” she said.

Moore, a past president of Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association and past president of Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association, said young black women need to know their inherent value.

“It’s important that young women know their value and learn that being paid anything less than their full value is unacceptable,” she said.

Jean-Pierre said the issue needs to be addressed in every instance. 

“We won’t achieve real economic justice unless we confront this issue head-on, and I was pleased to join some of my colleagues to help start and continue this much-needed conversation,” she said.

The Black Women’s Equity Day is Aug. 22 this year. It was commemorated by the National Bar Association, which asked its membership to participate nationwide.

Tracy Kosciuk is running against Valerie Cartright for Brookhaven Council District 1. Photo from Kosciuk for Brookhaven Facebook

By Leah Chiappino

Tracy Kosciuk, who identifies first as a wife, mother and nurse, is challenging town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) for Brookhaven Town Council in the first district. And Kosciuk lives right down the street from the incumbent.

Kosciuk said she has been drawn to political participation since childhood, as she watched her grandmother, an active Democrat, become president of her local Democratic club. 

“I got to see how politics ran,” she said.

Having once been a Democrat, she is now challenging Cartright on the Republican ticket. 

“I did not leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left me,” she said. “It’s just not the party I grew up with … I want to help make a difference and make things better and work across party lines.”

Still, she said her focus is on local issues.

Past legal history between candidates

Despite initial claims of a cordial relationship, when Cartright moved into her home in 2005, she inherited a lawsuit upon buying the property based on its property lines. The suit had been filed in the New York State Supreme Court, but ended in 2008 with the judge siding with Cartright.

Cartright had this to say about the lawsuit:

“My first interaction with my new neighbor Tracy was surrounding a baseless lawsuit over property boundaries. Having to deal with an inherited lawsuit commenced by my next-door neighbor was an unfortunate situation and I would not wish that experience on anyone moving into a new neighborhood,” she wrote via email. “I am thankful that the lawsuit was not representative of what I had to look forward to in my future years in Port Jefferson Station. Over the years, many of my other neighbors showed themselves to be welcoming, accepting and loving toward me and my family. The many positive interactions and relationships with other wonderful neighbors is what helped keep me here and led me to serve as councilperson of this amazing community.”

Kosciuk did not return multiple calls for comment.

“There are issues such as the opioid epidemic, tax increases and revitalizations that need to be done and have not been done, plaguing my area such as the opioid [crisis] that are not being addressed properly and resolved,” she said. “[Cartright] may have intentions to do things but they have not been done.” 

Given the fact Kosciuk grew up in Coram, and has lived in Port Jefferson Station for 25 years, the challenger says she has deep roots in the local community. She is an active member of the Comsewogue PTA, having had all of her three children attend Comsewogue schools, as well as the Drug Task Force Committee, Port Jeff Station/Terryville Civic Association and a self- initiated member of the neighborhood watch. 

Most notably, Kosciuk has been a registered nurse for over 30 years, after receiving her degree from Suffolk County Community College. She currently works in maternal care at St. Charles Hospital and has been a past representative for the New York State Nurses Association and the local union president for the last five years. She has traveled to Albany to lobby for improved working conditions. 

“I know how important it is to be someone who represents something and allows members of my union to have a voice, so I know how important it is for the council district to be able to have a voice,” the challenger said. “Our district has not gotten the accountability it deserves.”

Her main initiative is to increase the effectiveness and transparency of the town council. Though she plans to continue her current role as a nurse upon election, she promises the same 24/7 attention she gives to her nurses, even pausing in the interview saying she “doesn’t like to leave my nurses hanging if they need something.”

She said she plans to help streamline the tax grievance process and have elderly residents call her office to walk them through any questions they may have, as well as advocating to get them any tax relief to which they are entitled. 

As her husband is a Suffolk County police officer, she says she understands the impact of crime, especially in Port Jeff Station. Kosciuk feels that the drug epidemic is contributing to this, and that prevention education is one of the best ways to alleviate the issue. 

Kosciuk added that she believes she can help to make progress of revitalization projects throughout the district she said have been pushed aside, while remaining fiscally responsible.

She cites environmental preservation as an important issue for her and promises to ensure the maintenance of local parks as well as collaboration with the “experts’ such as Stony Brook University and Department of Environmental Conservation in order to help combat erosion as well as rust or “red” tide algae, which has appeared in Port Jefferson Harbor and Conscience Bay and is known to suffocate fish and shellfish.

Kosciuk says she faces few challenges in the race. 

“While campaigning, I have found that a lot of the same concerns that I had that caused me to want to run for town council are the same issues throughout the entire council district,” she said.

Richard DeBragga, Brookhaven town tax assessor, speaks to Sound Beach Civic about STAR rebate. Photo by Kyle Barr

Big changes have been made to the STAR rebate, and Richard DeBragga, Brookhaven town tax assessor, came to the Sound Beach Civic Association’s meeting Aug. 12 to explain what that means for North Shore residents.

The STAR rebate gives around 2.6 million homeowners in New York State the opportunity to get a rebate on their school taxes, which represent an average of 60 percent of a homeowner’s tax bill. Homeowners who qualify include those making under $500,000 annually and have their home as their primary residence. Those seniors, over 65 years of age, are able to get what is called the Enhanced STAR credit, and those must have an adjusted gross income below $86,300.

The state budget, approved back in April, made several changes to the program. Before, those that bought their homes starting Aug. 1, 2015, have been receiving checks in the mail instead of savings on their bills. 

In essence, the program now incentivizes a mail-in check instead of the usual savings in the school tax bill as has been normal since the program was implemented nearly 25 years ago. Now those making $250,000 and $500,000 a year will also receive checks. In addition, those enrolled in Enhanced STAR must enroll in an income verification program to verify they are making below the minimum. DeBragga said those who want to apply to have to verify their income every year through the program, unless they can sign a statement that they qualify so the program will automatically check it every year.

DeBragga said the state is incentivizing checks rather than the tax break, saying the state is only offering the 2 percent annual increase to those who receive checks.

Anthony Portesy is running again for highway superintendent. Photo from Portesy’s campaign

By Leah Chiappino

At his kickoff fundraiser, Anthony Portesy, the Democrat who is challenging incumbent Dan Losquadro (R) for Town of Brookhaven highway superintendent, held up a piece of asphalt he found while campaigning on Holbrook Road, he said, to symbolize the condition of Brookhaven’s streets. Having run in 2017 for the same position, Portesy said he looks to bring changes to what he calls “an infrastructure crisis” in Brookhaven.

Anthony Portesy is running again for highway superintendent. Photo from Portesy’s campaign website

“Since 2017, I’ve knocked on between 15,000 and 20,000 doors and I hear the same thing from people,” he said. “They want more information and to know when the plow and paving trucks are coming. They call seven times to get a street light fixed, and it still hasn’t gotten fixed.”

A native of Selden, later living in Centereach and now living in Port Jefferson Station, Portesy said he’s running because when he was growing up the roads were “atrocious,” and not much has changed. 

“The same potholes I went over as a kid, I go over now,” he said in his acceptance speech for the nomination.

 “I’ve seen my friends leave,” he said. “No one is going to want to buy a house if the streets are prone to flooding, and are pothole ridden. Brookhaven is looking more like Detroit, and less and less like a middle-class Long Island hamlet.”

Portesy, who is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Libertarian tickets, currently practices employment and commercial litigation for small-to-midsize businesses, largely in federal court. He feels this prepares him well for the position. Specifically, while studying at the New York Law School in Manhattan, he interned for city Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

He claims that after reviewing the contracts for projects the Losquadro has executed since he began his tenure as highway superintendent in 2013, residents deserve better.

“We can do things like potentially lowering the bonding requirements so small businesses can bid on projects and save the taxpayer money,” he said.

Portesy claims Losquadro has wasted $18 million doing “surface level mill-and-fill road resurfacing projects,” which the challenger said only work for about 30 percent of the roads that are “crumbling less than a year after the paving projects are completed.”

“I could very easily spend my free time going to Greece or Italy, but I chose to be involved because I care.”

— Anthony Portesy

“Doing 2 1/2 inches of topcoat as opposed to 1 1/2 inches may be more expensive, but it can give us 25 to 30 years, as opposed to two or three,” Portesy said. 

According to the highway superintendent’s office, the current backlog for town projects sits at around $80 million, compared to a $120 million backlog when Losquadro took office. The highway budget is expected to increase to$150 million over the next 10 years.

The challenger acknowledged there are issues with funding to pave properly. His solution is to work to increase funding through the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, a state program known as CHIPS that provides reimbursement to municipalities for highway-related capital projects, which he said will “take pressure off the local taxpayer.”

His main policy platform is his Brookhaven 2030 initiative, a series of changes he feels the township should complete within 10 years, much of which focuses on expanding information technology.

The first includes his “worst to first initiative,” a program he said would bring structural engineers in to evaluate the quality of every road, and rate them from the worst to the best. The town would then resurface them based on funding, and in order of highest priority, with rapid response to potholes near schools and main roads. 

He also admitted that while day paving may be inconvenient, it is more expensive to do at night, and is not financially feasible to do neighborhood roads after dark. He added there will be a public list available online so people know exactly when their roads are being paved.

In addition, the Democratic challenger said he would post the contracts and bids publicly on an online database, so “the public can be informed of who is getting the contracts and why,” as opposed to “hiding behind a cloud of secrecy that the Highway Department has done for decades.”

In response to Losquadro’s claims that posting the contracts is illegal, Portesy said that they are unfounded.

“I am a lawyer who has done my research, and if Mr. Losquadro can point out to me a statute that says it is illegal, I would love to see it,” he said. “I haven’t found one state or town ordinance that says so.”

Another initiative, Portesy said, is known as STAR, or snow tracking and removal, includes installing GPS in snowplows that cannot be unplugged, so constituents can track the plows online, and gain an estimate of when the plows will arrive. He said he will ensure that all plows have a rubber bumper to ensure the roads are not torn up. 

He pledges to do quality control inspections as well as bringing much of a work back to town employees, including hiring more workers and bringing back the “black top crews” — town workers who used to handle smaller projects. 

Portesy said he was a longtime member of the UFCW Local 1500 supermarket union, and supports union labor. He called the highways workers “some of the hardest working guys in the business. They are out at 4 in the morning plowing the roads for ‘48 hours’ at a time, and don’t see their families. They earn every dime and deserve an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

The final initiative is the tree removal interactive management, or TRIM initiative, which would create an interactive map of all drainage and recharge basins that have overgrown shrubbery. 

“The same potholes I went over as a kid, I go over now.”

— Anthony Portesy

“No one does this if they don’t care about the community. This has affected my personal relationship, and my personal life. I could very easily spend my free time going to Greece or Italy, but I chose to be involved because I care,” Portesy said. 

So far, he has a war chest in excess of $16,300. Losquadro has raised almost $400,000, according to the New York State Board of Elections. Portesy acknowledges Losquadro has more campaign contributions and name recognition, but also points out that increased political involvement regarding everything that is going on nationally could work in his favor.

“Regardless of how you feel about the president, which I take no qualms about and express no opinion on, local elections that people did not pay attention to before are now on the minds of the average Joe who did not pay attention before,” Portesy said. “It’s tough to beat an incumbent, but we can’t wait for an open seat.”

The article originally printed in TBR News Media papers said Portesy had worked in the highways department as a laborer. This has been corrected online to say he was a longtime member of a union.

Sections of roadway in Mount Sinai show heavy wear. Photos from Repave Mount Sinai Neighborhood Streets petition

“We just want our streets paved. We are not asking for much,” said Richard Colacino, who lives on Westcliff Drive in Mount Sinai. 

Sections of roadway in Mount Sinai show heavy wear. Photos from Repave Mount Sinai Neighborhood Streets petition

This past week, Colacino, along with several other Mount Sinai residents, sent a letter and petition signed by more than 160 other residents to Dan Losquadro, the Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent, stating that their streets are in dire need of repair and repaving and resurfacing. 

“It’s been 25+ years since our neighborhood streets have been repaved,” the letter reads. “In addition to being an embarrassing neighborhood eyesore, our streets have now deteriorated to the point of being a safety issue.” 

Two of those streets are Westcliff and Marcy Drive. Residents say many children in the neighborhood have gotten injured playing in the streets and riding down the slight hills due to uneven pothole repairs, loose asphalt pebbles, rough patch fixes and crumbling curbs. 

Residents also pointed out six other streets that have similar problems including Helen Street, Hartwell Drive, Rita Drive, Whitcomb Avenue, Walcott Court and Chestnut Street. 

Colacino said the conditions of their roads are laughable at this point. 

“The streets and the curbs are so bad,” he said. “It has gotten so bad that when it rains it just floods people’s driveways.”

Violet Baker, a fellow resident on Westcliff Drive, said within the past couple of years there have been some minor patch work and repairs down on some streets but argues the need for full resurfacing and repaving. 

“They have patched some of the potholes but that only works for a little bit,” she said. “It doesn’t last long, and it is only putting a Band-aid on this thing.”

In addition, Baker said residents have been waiting two years for the town to get rid of trees that have been troublesome and been breaking up curbs alongside their roads. During the winter months the roads have been prone to collapse and break up quicker from the adverse weather. “There are no sidewalks, so a lot of people use the streets to walk. Kids play here with their bikes and skateboards,” she said. “The [condition of] streets is devaluing the neighborhood.”

“We are not asking for much.”

— Richard Colacino

Colacino and others said they have been trying to get their streets repaved and repaired for the past four years, adding that in 2015 the highway department had sent an inspector to the neighborhood to survey the condition of the streets. After the inspection, their streets were put on Brookhaven’s 100 worst streets list. Colacino was hopeful at the time that the streets would get fixed quickly, but a year went by without any significant repairs done.

The Mount Sinai resident then sent a letter to Losquadro’s office the following year and again in 2018. On those two occasions, he was told that they weren’t on the department’s schedule for that year and that there was no need to continue to contact the office as they were already in the system. 

“They keep saying ‘next year, next year,’” the Mount Sinai resident said. “[It’s been] four years of not knowing when they are coming.”

In response, Losquadro said he appreciates the residents for the petition and it is a neighborhood they know needs to get work done.  

“We are not ignoring the community of Mount Sinai,” the highway superintendent said. 

Losquadro mentioned that they had done work this year nearby on Mount Sinai Avenue.  

Asked about the reason for the delay in long-awaited repairs in the neighborhood, the highway superintendent said he works with a finite budget each year and they do work based on the condition of the streets, not age. 

Losquadro said the work is not done arbitrarily, and some roads are worse
than others. 

“I can say this [neighborhood] will be part of our scope of work for next year,” he said. “Those streets have already been engineered and measured out.”

Sections of roadway in Mount Sinai show heavy wear. Photos from Repave Mount Sinai Neighborhood Streets petition

Besides the letter and petition sent to Losquadro’s office, residents sent packets to other local officials including Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner
(R-Rocky Point). 

Baker said it has been so long and all they want is a definite time frame of when the work on the streets will be done. 

The highway superintendent said with the town supervisor already promising to increase this budget for next year, he hopes he can get more work done. The department’s last year’s budget was $10 million, but in the previous State of the Town address by Romaine, Losquadro was told he will receive $12 million.

“It is getting through that backlog of streets, there is far more work that needs to be done,” he said. “We ask people to continue to be patient as we continue to work on that backlog.”

Baker was disappointed with the highway superintendent’s response. 

“I wish we had a more definitive answer. We have been waiting,” she said. “It’s not the best answer but not the worst [either]. I hope it is true this time and we’ll have to wait and hope for the best.”

Colacino wasn’t surprised with what Losquadro had to say.  

“I think it’s more of the same. It’s always next year,” he said. “At least we got an answer and people are going to hold him to it. We are not giving up on this fight. This is something we believe in.”