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U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi

Gov. Kathy Hochul. File photo by Julianne Mosher

Local elected officials are joining forces to tell Albany that their towns and villages will not lose zoning control.

During her State of the State address, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) spoke of creating more affordable housing options. When the 2022 State of the State book was released, the proposed plan, found on pages 130 through 131, stated that it would require all towns and villages in New York state to allow accessory apartments, which in turn would effectively eliminate single-family zoning laws.

The proposed plan spurred Town of Brookhaven officials to call a press conference Feb. 3, while others have spoken out via statements. The proposed legislation would require municipalities to allow one accessory dwelling unit using backyard cottages, attics, garages and basements. The plan is one that the State of the State describes as providing “an affordable multigenerational housing option that helps families live closer together.”

While local municipalities would still have a say in minimum and maximum size requirements, local zoning authorities would not be able to prevent reasonable new construction, the governor said.


In the Town of Huntington, accessory apartments may be allowed when someone listed on the deed resides at the dwelling. The living space cannot be less than 300 square feet or more than 650 square feet and must have two bedrooms or less. The accessory apartment must be attached to the home.

Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) is against Hochul’s plan.

“This is an election year overreach by the governor that no one in their right mind should support,” Smyth said. “It has bipartisan opposition at all levels of government for good reason: It would eliminate local control of development and hand it off to extremists in Albany.”

At press time, Huntington announced they would be part of a county press conference on Feb. 10 to comment further on the issue.


In the Town of Smithtown legal accessory apartments with a valid mother/daughter permit from the Building Department are the only ones permitted with limited exceptions including older two-family homes that were grandfathered in. Rules differ in the town’s villages.

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said in a statement he fears stripping local zoning control “would only result in a mass exodus.”

“The harsh reality is that Long Island, especially Suffolk County, lacks the modern infrastructure to handle the population increase which this proposal would create,” the supervisor said. “The environmental impacts alone should terrify every Long Islander. We have outdated wastewater systems underground, roads in major need of repair, archaic stormwater infrastructure and in the near future will have nowhere to put our trash. These are the issues that require resolution from the state, not removing local zoning control. This proposal will create a strain on the school system, increased property taxes, amplify traffic and burden local resources which are already stressed. Furthermore, people move out to the suburbs because the perception of the American Dream is still that quaint neighborhood home, picket fence and all, where they can raise a family. As public servants, it’s our duty to preserve and protect that dream.”

In Head of the Harbor, Mayor Doug Dahlgard echoed the sentiments.

“Taking away local zoning control with a broad brush is not acceptable and will be met by opposition claiming the character of our communities will change for the worse,” the mayor said. “Starting a conversation about how to allow generations of a family to stay together on Long Island, on the other hand, makes sense.”

Wehrheim agreed that the issue of affordable housing needs to be discussed and would welcome a task force consisting of local, county and state officials using proven studies and incorporating successful methods that could create affordable housing options in appropriate areas such as a downtown business neighborhood near a train station.

Congressmen support local officials

Town officials have received moral support from their congressmen. U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) in a press release criticized Hochul. Suozzi will run in the Democratic primary for governor in June against Hochul

“Governor Hochul’s radical proposal would take away zoning control from municipal governments, erode local government authority and end single-family housing across New York,” Suozzi said. “Hochul’s plan to eliminate home rule is not what we need. I support affordable housing, building up around downtown train stations and helping the homeless. I oppose eliminating home rule and ending single-family housing.”

The presumptive Republican nominee for New York State governor, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) said in a joint statement with Brookhaven officials that Hochul “isn’t focused on real solutions.”

“This blatant attack on suburban communities will end single-family housing as we know it, strip local control away from the New Yorkers who live there, tank the value of their homes, overcrowd their previously quiet streets, and on top of it all, not do anything to solve our affordable housing problem,” Zeldin said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul. File photo by Julianne Mosher

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) delivered her first State of the State address on Jan. 5. The governor outlined nine key points as part of what she called her New Era for New York plan.

During the address, she said the focus was on rebuilding the state’s health care economy; protecting public safety and addressing gun violence; investing in New York’s people; investing in the state’s communities; making New York’s housing system more affordable, equitable and stable; making the state a national leader in climate action and green jobs; rebuilding New York’s teacher workforce and reimagining higher education; advancing the state’s place as a national equity model; and making critical reforms to restore New Yorkers’ faith in their government.

“As the first woman to present a State of the State address in New York, I want to make it clear I am not just here to make history — I am here to make a difference,” Hochul said. “The time has come for a new American Dream. Today, we start building a better, fairer, more inclusive version that I call the New York Dream. We will create a ‘new era for New York’ by embarking on a bold, far-reaching policy agenda that advances our recovery and restores New Yorkers’ trust in government. And through all of this, I will continue to collaborate with others and deliver results for New Yorkers.”


U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1), the presumptive Republican candidate in the 2022 governor’s race, posted a rebuttal on YouTube after Hochul’s address. Zeldin criticized “the Cuomo-Hochul administration” for “punishing taxes and a skyrocketing cost of living, out-of-control crime, suffocating attacks on our freedom and unending scandals” that he said “have resulted in New York leading the nation in residents fleeing.”

“Unfortunately, our current governor, Kathy Hochul, and one-party rule in Albany have continued the attacks on your wallets, safety, freedoms and kids’ education,” the congressman said.

Zeldin also asked why Hochul didn’t provide details about her plan to tackle rising crime. He criticized her talk about term limits that he said “were far behind the curve” and said she was following where the “political winds blow.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) posted remarks to YouTube before the address. Suozzi is set to run in the Democratic primaries for governor against Hochul. In the beginning of the video, he said, “The state of our state is dismal.”

In a statement after the address, Suozzi said, “The governor today said she wanted a ‘new era for New York,’ yet she ducked fixing the bail crisis that is helping fuel crime, failed to fix the chaos due to her lack of a COVID plan, and won’t stop the pay-to-play mess that corrupts Albany. New York needs a common sense governor who has executive experience to manage COVID, take on crime, reduce taxes and help troubled schools.”

New York State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) sent out a statement after Hochul’s address also criticizing the governor.

“New York must move forward with a plan of recovery from COVID-19,” Fitzpatrick said. “Gov. Hochul has been reluctant to make progress on this issue, despite broad access to vaccines for those who want it. New York must find a way to begin living with the ongoing reality of this virus without hampering the livelihoods of residents, the education of children and the overall health of our economy. Residents are counting on our leadership to forge a path forward.”

State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) issued a statement in response to the State of the State address. The senator complimented Hochul for the “welcomed change from the PowerPoint slides and oversized podiums of the previous administration. Her speech and its location were clearly meant to show a break from the past and a new leadership approach to meet New York’s myriad challenges.”

However, Palumbo said he was concerned that few of the positive proposals in the address “will create the systemic change needed to meet today’s challenges faced by my constituents in the 1st Senate District.”

“The hard fact is New York state continues to lead the nation in outmigration,” he said. “The cost of homes and property taxes in our region continue to rise. State and fuel taxes are up. The crime rate continues to grow and families I represent do not feel safe. Our electric rates are some of the highest in the country. The economy has been further crippled by the pandemic, and our hospitals and nursing homes are struggling. With record levels of state and federal spending, our region of the state is simply not seeing its fair share of funding allowing our economy to recover.”

Palumbo challenged Hochul and legislative majorities to revisit policies he called “unworkable and detrimental.”

Some highlights from the State of the State address:

Health care over the course of five years

  • Grow health care workforce by 20%
  • $10 billion invested in the sector
  • $4 billion of $10 billion to be used for wages and bonuses of health care workers

Preventing and reducing gun violence and violent crimes

  • Provide state and local law enforcement with tools necessary to keep residents safe from gun violence
  • Invest in public safety and fund state and local policing gun safety efforts
  • Create an interstate Gun Tracing Consortium
  • Invest in community-based gun violence response

Invest in residents

  • Accelerate the phase-in of $1.2 billion in middle-class tax cuts for 6 million New Yorkers by two years to 2023
  • Establish a $1 billion property tax rebate program
  • Tax rebate for 2 million New York families
  • Increase existing tax credits and create new ones to support food production
  • $100 million in tax relief for 195,000 small businesses across New York state

Develop job opportunities

  • Create the Office of Workforce and Economic Development and Jails to Jobs program

Boost investment in offshore wind infrastructure by $500 million

Limit governors,  lieutenant governors, attorney generals and comptrollers to two consecutive four-year terms.

Photo from past press conference from Suozzi’s office

On Dec. 7, in a virtual press conference, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) announced matching federal agency grants that will bring nearly $3 million in funds to the 3rd Congressional District to help to protect and preserve the Long Island Sound.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have all contributed funds to the grants. The organizations or agencies receiving the grants will need to match the funds.

Suozzi, who is the co-chair of the bipartisan Long Island Sound Caucus, said during the Dec. 7 press conference that the main problems environmentalists have encountered with the waterway through the years have been hypoxia, and nitrogen being released into the Sound from sewage treatment plants. He called the waterway “our national park” and said it has improved over the last few decades but still needs more care.

“If you look at the water, just look at it, it’s clearer than it used to be,” he said. “If you look at the wildlife, you see more osprey and more red-tailed hawks.”

He added there has also been more bunker fish in the water.

Also taking part in the virtual press conference were Curt Johnson, Save the Sound president; Cecilia Venosta-Wiygul, Udalls Cove Preservation Committee and Douglaston Civic Association board member; Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Vanessa Pino Lockel, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk; Eric Swenson, executive director of Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee; Carol DiPaolo from the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor; and Heather Johnson, executive director of Friends of the Bay located in Oyster Bay.

The groups will benefit from the grants, and Suozzi praised them for their efforts in protecting the Sound.

“It’s a constant effort by all the people on this call working together as a team,” he said.

Also, speaking during the virtual press conference, was Northport Mayor Damon McMullen. He said the village has been working on upgrading the sewer system, and doing so has made a “huge difference.” He said the village has been able to reduce its nitrogen output from 19 pounds a day to less than 2 pounds. The mayor said the village has put money in next year’s budget for stormwater control which will help to catch pollutants and pesticides before they enter Northport Harbor and ultimately wind up in the Sound.

There will be $105,001 made available in a program known as Green Infrastructure to Improve Water Quality in Northport Harbor and Long Island Sound. Grant money will go toward rain gardens to capture stormwater in the village which the mayor said he believes is the next step in achieving the goal of cleaner water.

The grants include $170,000 to develop a Long Island Sound Student Action Plan, and among the projects that will benefit from the funding is the Long Island Sound Summit for High School Students, Esposito said. The project included 125 students from four schools this year, and she said they are anticipating 250 students from eight schools in the upcoming year, including Northport, Smithtown and Rocky Point. Part of the project includes students taking water samples and looking at microplastic content of the Sound, studying the effects of nitrogen on the native cordgrass along the shore and more.

Among other grants, $729,606 is earmarked for new methods to enhance coastal restoration and resilience at Centerport Harbor; and $152,314 for expanding oyster sanctuaries in Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor.

When Suozzi first came into office in January of 2017, he said funding at the time for the Sound was about $4 million. This year it was more than $30 million, according to him.

While Suozzi was pleased his district will be granted money, he said any area along the Sound getting help is a plus.

“If we get money in Connecticut, if we get money for New York City’s combined sewer outfall, it helps all of us, because there’s no geographic boundaries,” he said. “There’s no congressional boundaries in the Long Island Sound. We’re all in this together.”

File photo

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) announce he will run for New York State governor in 2022.

The announcement came during a virtual press conference Nov. 29.

Suozzi at the beginning of November said he was seriously considering running in the Democrat primaries in June of 2022 and wanted to meet with political consultants before making his final decision.

File photo

During a virtual press conference Nov. 4, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) said he has a lot to think about before the end of the month.

Suozzi said he has been seriously considering running for New York governor in 2022, but he said he will not make a decision until the end of November.

“I’d love to be the governor of New York State, and I think I’ve got a great record of accomplishment,” he said. “I think I’d be great at the job. I have a vision for the state of New York. I know what needs to be done.”

Over the next few weeks he will meet with political consultants to determine if he has a good chance of winning. He added he believes he could win a general election but he wasn’t sure about a Democratic primary.

To date, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Attorney General Leticia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams have stated their intentions to run in the Democratic primary in June of 2022.

File photo

On a call with reporters Jan. 6, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) said he was in the chambers of the Capitol when it was breached by Trump supporters who stormed the building. He said he and others were ushered to a safe place.

The congressman said he was more saddened than scared by the siege.

Suozzi said there was a Republican congress member objecting to the certification of the electoral results, when the representatives were notified the building had been breached. They were told to reach under their chairs and get the gas masks that were under them. According to the congressman, tear gas at the point already had been used in areas of the building.

“And then there started to be some people banging at the doors,” he said. “Capitol Police drew their weapons.”

Suozzi added that something broke through the main door, and he heard a popping noise.

He said he was up in the gallery with other members of Congress. At one point, there were concerns they couldn’t exit and 30 were still remaining, waiting to see if protesters would break through the doors. After determining what door to use to leave, they finally were able to exit the chambers.

He said when he left the room, there were several protesters on the floor surrounded by Capitol Police.

“I feel very strongly that we have to get back to the chambers, and we have to certify this election,” he said. “And we have to deem Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, President, Vice President, of the United States of America.

Suozzi said he disagreed with his colleagues who are objecting.

“But it was a debate on the floor and that’s what we do in our country — we debate,” he said. “Outside there were protests and protests are okay, too, but not violent protests and this violence that we’re seeing is completely unacceptable.”

He said the president and others fomented the protests.

“This is completely lawless, irresponsible,” Suozzi said. “We must get back to the chambers, and we must certify this election as fast as possible, and show the country and the world that our democracy will continue to thrive and survive and thrive. Even in the midst of this lawlessness, we can always rely on our values, and we have to stick with our values.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) released a statement denouncing the protesters’ actions.

“This should never be the scene at the US Capitol,” Zeldin said in the statement. “This is not the America we all love. We can debate and we can disagree, even on a Jan. 6 following a presidential election. We can all passionately love our country, but in our republic we elect people to represent us to voice our objections in the House and Senate on this day. Additionally, there must be zero tolerance for violence in any form! It is very important now for everyone to please cooperate with Capitol Police who need to gain control of this situation immediately.”

Stock photo

Despite Election Day being Nov. 3, local races have a week or more to settle on the final count.

Suffolk County Republican Board of Elections commissioner, Nick LaLota, said via email they hope counting will be finished before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, though there is no way to know when everything will be finalized.

Republican candidates took leads in every local state and congressional race based on in-person ballots as the BOE started its absentee ballot count Nov. 16. Election experts have repeatedly said on average more Democrats used absentee ballots than Republicans did, though races will largely depend on unaffiliated voters. 

With that said, it will still be hard going for many Democrats in a few of the most hotly contested races. The U.S. Congressional District 1 race between U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) and his Democratic opponent Nancy Goroff still remains out, though Zeldin currently holds a 65,120-vote lead. There are still over 89,000 absentee ballots left in that race, but Goroff would need to reportedly take all non-GOP registered votes in order to gain the upper hand.

A similar challenge is there in the New York State Senate District 1 race for Democrat Laura Ahearn, who has a steep uphill climb against her challenger, current Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk). Ahearn is down by 18,736 from in-person polling, and there are over 42,000 absentee ballots left to count, and she will need many votes outside the two main parties to gain the seat.

The race for State Senate District 2 between Republican Mario Mattera and Democrat Mike Siderakis is heavily favoring red, as there is a 35,109 difference in votes favoring Mattera with less than 43,000 votes to count. 

The State Assembly District 2 race between Democrat Laura Jens-Smith and Republican Jodi Giglio is likely to go in favor of the GOP. With a 14,355 difference and just under 17,000 absentee ballots to count, Giglio has all but cinched her new position. Jens-Smith has previously told TBR News Media she knows she has very little chance of victory.

Some elections are closer than others, such as State Assembly District 4. Many residents reported surprise in messages to TBR News Media at longtime Assemblyman Steve Englebright’s (D-Setauket) deficit of votes compared to his Republican opponent Michael Ross of 1,966. That race currently has 17,909 absentee ballots left to count.

However, there are a few confirmed elections. State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), with his lead of 23,419 with in-person ballots, is so far ahead of his young Democratic opponent Dylan Rice even the over-17,000 absentee ballots could not make a dent in the District 8 race.

On Nov, 17, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) said his opponent George Santos called him to concede. In a statement, Santos credited grassroots supporters and donors for the close race.

“I am proud that we gained the support of every PBA and first responder organization that endorsed this cycle,” Santos said.

Santos said there may be more announcements in the near future regarding his next steps.

“I would like to congratulate Congressman Tom Suozzi,” Santos said. “We wish him well going forward for the benefit of our district and constituents.”

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) declared victory Nov. 18 against his Republican opponent Ed Smyth. This came after votes absentee votes already counted in both Nassau and Suffolk put him over the edge.

“I am humbled to be reelected by the residents of the 5th Senate District and I thank them for their support,” Gaughran said in a statement. “During my first term in office, I worked tirelessly on behalf of Long Islanders and I am proud to have delivered real results — from a permanent property tax cap to support for small businesses navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. I will keep fighting for my constituents, for Long Island, and for all of New York State and I thank the voters for giving me the opportunity to continue to serve them.”

Above, is a breakdown of where each race stands with in-person votes as at Nov. 18 plus the number of absentee ballots left as last reported on Nov. 16 (from the Suffolk County Board of Elections).

Current vote totals are as of the morning of Nov. 18



Lee Zeldin (R): 176,323 Votes – 61.31%

Nancy Goroff (D): 111,203 Votes – 38.67%

Absentee Ballots: 89,401


Tom Suozzi (D): 46,112 Votes – 46.65%

George Santos (R): 52,117 Votes – 52.72%

Absentee Ballots: 34,902

New York State Senate


Laura Ahearn (D): 55,557 Votes – 42.78%

Anthony Palumbo (R): 74,293 Votes – 57.20%

Absentee Ballots: 42,550


Mario Mattera (R): 79,762 Votes – 64.10%

Mike Siderakis (D): 44,653 Votes – 35.88%

Absentee Ballots: 42,781


Jim Gaughran (D): 27,132 Votes – 43.51%

Ed Smyth (R): 34,575 Votes – 55.44%

Absentee Ballots: 21,276

New York State Assembly


Jodi Giglio (R): 34,290 Votes – 62.39%

Laura Jens-Smith (D): 19,935 Votes – 36.27%

Absentee Ballots: 16,979


Michael Ross (R): 22,966 Votes – 51.88%

Steve Englebright (D): 21,000 Votes – 47.44%

Absentee Ballots: 17,909


Mike Fitzpatrick (R): 39,937 Votes – 70.73%

Dylan Rice (D): 16,518 Votes – 29.26%

Absentee Ballots: 17,227


Steve Stern (D): 24,141 Votes – 49.93%

Jamie Silvestri (R): 24,197 Votes – 50.05%

Absentee Ballots: 18,529


Keith Brown (R): 30,638 Votes – 57.20%

Michael Marcantonio (D): 22,908 Votes – 42.77%

Absentee Ballots: 15,906

Republican George Santos, left, and Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi, right, are asking for residents’ votes for the NY3 House seat. Left, photo from campaign; right, file photo

Longtime politician and two-term congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) is in the race against newcomer Queens Republican George Santos over the 3rd Congressional District seat. TBR News Media spoke with Santos about why he is running and what he can bring to the table. Suozzi did not respond to several requests for either an online debate or a phone interview. 

The second-term Democrat from Glen Cove has been in politics for almost three decades. From 1994 through 2001 he served as mayor of Glen Cove and was elected Nassau County Executive from 2002 to 2009. 

Suozzi, 58, is battling Santos, 32 from Whitestone, on the race to be the Western Long Island voice in Washington. This is Santos’ first run at office and he said he wants to bring his experience in the finance world to congress. 

Santos is a first-generation born to immigrant parents. Born and raised in Queens, he said he comes from a humble beginning. He started off as an entry-level asset manager and an associate at Citi Group, as well as worked with several fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs. He has worked in the private equity space for 11 years. 

“I’m very proud of the work I’ve accomplished in the private sector,” he said. “And I think it’s that kind of work ethic and knowledge that I want to bring into public service, especially now following a crisis, we’re going to need more people who understand business more so than lawyers.”

Santos said he wants to reduce unemployment numbers and bring them back to before the pandemic. 

“I’ve created north of 500 jobs myself, I know how to do it. I know the skills,” he said.

He added that he would work hard to change school funding to be derived from one’s income tax, not property tax. 

“That would solve a lot of the heartache for millions of Americans who are taxed with property taxes and feel unfair,” he said. Santos also noted that he does not support the Green New Deal and would look to restore respect for law enforcement while encouraging community cooperation to re-establish public safety. 

Suozzi’s record shows his investment in the environment. serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, is vice-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, co-chair of the bipartisan Long Island Sound Caucus, co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, and this Congress and was appointed by the Speaker of the House to the Congressional Executive Commission on China.

He has spoken on veteran care and rights, affordable healthcare and fiscal responsibility during his 25-year political tenure. 

Because TBR News Media was unable to contact Suozzi for an interview, we cannot choose to endorse a candidate for the third congressional district. 

Jamie Vaudrey, a professor of marine science at the University of Connecticut, detailed the issues with multiple Long Island bays across the North Shore. The main issues are nitrogen and how well a bay flushes. Photo by Kyle Barr

A new report by a regional environmental nonprofit says a little under half of all bays on either side of the Long Island Sound were given a poor-to-failing grade. It’s a continuing problem, but more and more local groups are stepping up to dedicate their time and energy to trying to maintain the water as a strong habitat.

At a press conference Tuesday, Oct. 6, Save the Sound, a Connecticut-based environmental nonprofit funded by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant, released its biennial 2020 Long Island Sound Report Card that described the general health of 50 bays from Long Island and Connecticut based on the previous year’s data. 

Click on the above link to see the grading of the entire Long Island Sound.

Officials and experts revealed that, of those monitored, Suffolk County North Shore harbors were largely better off than those in Connecticut, but several still had issues. Port Jefferson, at least the outer and middle portions of the harbor, was ranked in the top 10 most healthy, with experts saying it most likely has to do with how well the harbor flushes daily.

Meanwhile sites like Northport and Centerport harbors were ranked C- and C respectively. Northport Harbor received a F grade for its excess of chlorophyll, a measurement of how much microalgae is in the water, and its low level of dissolved oxygen, an important factor for the health of fish. Centerport had similar difficulties, but also had issues of excessive seaweed accumulation.

Perhaps the most concerning of North Shore Suffolk County’s waterways was the innermost part of Cold Spring Harbor which received F grades in chlorophyll, seaweed and dissolved oxygen. 

U.S. Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) were both present to offer their support of bipartisan funding for this and future studies as well as initiatives to keep local bays clean. Suozzi said in the past four years, the Long Island Sound Caucus has extended the EPA Long Island Sound program to 2023 and increased the $4 million appropriated to the Sound to $21 million. The House has already passed a bill to up that to $30 million, but has not yet been taken up by the Senate.

Zeldin said the low grades of so many bays only emphasizes the need for more federal funding for further studies and additional relief. 

“Working across the aisle and across the Sound, we’ve made great progress in preserving this critical waterway, but with nearly half of the waterways measured in this report as receiving a D grade or below, there’s still work to do,” he said. 

George Hoffman, a co-founder of the Setauket Harbor Task Force that monitors Port Jeff, also acknowledged a great deal of why the bay has done comparatively well is because of its flushing capacity. Another factor, he said, may be the hundreds of thousands of oysters and shellfish the Town of Brookhaven seeds into the bay. The shellfish do a great job of filtering organic particulates from the water.  

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi said the Long Island Sound Study needs more federal funding. Photo by Kyle Barr

Save The Sound’s Unified Water Study program includes 22 organizations covering 50 harbors on both sides of the waterway. Monitoring begins in May and ends in October. The study also looks at the general health state of the Sound itself. It’s long been clear that the closer one is to New York City, the less healthy the water is. The Western Narrows portion of the Sound received an F grade on all marks, while the Eastern Narrows, which runs from Northport to the edge of Hempstead Bay, received a C grade overall. Areas to the east were reported as much healthier in general.

Jamie Vaudrey, an assistant research professor of marine science at the University of Connecticut, said likely the biggest factor for the health of bays in a modern environment is how well the water flushes in and out of the harbor. Water like that trapped into the southernmost tip of Cold Spring Harbor is more impacted by any real increase in nitrogen.

“They just have this large nitrogen burden coming in that’s not being flushed out,” she said. “In systems like that, really pushing down that nitrogen load is important.”

Nitrogen has been called public enemy No. 1 for coastal waters as it’s the leading cause of hypoxia, namely low or depleted oxygen causing major problems for marine life. This can cause fish or other sea creatures to die off and lead to an excess of seaweed or algae. Some of these algal blooms have even been dangerous to animals or humans.

Though Port Jefferson Harbor’s general health was rated high, it too has experienced its share of dangerous algal blooms, including a so-called rust tide back in 2018. Though this specific bloom doesn’t present a threat to human beings, it kills fish quite rapidly. Those who study water quality have become very concerned with how often these blooms have appeared since the early 2000s.

For some of the struggling bays in the Town of Huntington, New York State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) called for a funding stream from the federal government on down that can really start to make a dent in Suffolk County’s lack of sewage treatment facilities and get the ball rolling on nitrogen-reducing septic systems, which individually can cost a homeowner $10,000 to $15,000 apiece without government funding. 

“People can’t do that on their own — we need tax credits, we need funding,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi speaks at an Oct. 3 press conference asking the federal government to pass the Heroes Act 2.0, which would provide direct relief to the live entertainment industry. Photo from Souzzi’s office

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) stood alongside owners and directors of some of Long Island’s live entertainment venues and restaurants, urging the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to vote on and pass the Heroes Act 2.0.

On Monday, Oct. 5, Suozzi visited The Paramount theater in Huntington begging the federal government to “Save Our Stages” with the new Heroes Act, which would provide billions in grants to save struggling industries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The Heroes Act 2.0 would also provide essential state and local aid, SALT deduction, testing, unemployment insurance, $1,200 stimulus checks and other provisions to move the country forward, according to the congressman. It would provide direct relief to the live entertainment industry, as well as the restaurant and catering hall industries.

“On March 22, nonessential businesses in New York shut down,” Suozzi said. “The reopening and recovery of businesses has been uneven. Independently owned live entertainment venues, as well as musicians, actors, comedians, promoters, stagehands and the local restaurants that count on the business that these venues bring in, have been financially devastated by the pandemic.”

The Democratic-controlled House has already passed the COVID-19 relief package, including two provisions that would provide direct relief to the hospitality industry. The first provision, the Save Our Stages Act, would provide $10 billion in assistance to live entertainment venues. The second provision, the Restaurants Act, would create a $120 billion grant program for the restaurant and service industry.

“We are urging the Senate to act on this legislation now,” Suozzi said. “If not, many of our beloved venues might not survive. We can’t let the music die.”

Kevin O’Neill, owner of the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, said his venue, like many others, had to close in March. But unlike other industries who were able to make some revenue during the shutdown, live entertainment venues were unable to make any profit since their doors had to shut.

“Our industry has been decremented,” he said. “A theater can’t do takeout. We’re hoping the Senate comes to a compromise for the stimulus package to provide relief to live venues.”

Everyone at Monday’s gathering agreed that theaters help bring money back into the community.

“Remember every $1 spent on a ticket is worth $12 to other businesses in the local community,” said Adam Ellis, director of marketing at The Paramount. “Music and entertainment can act as a beacon of light and hope during these tough times. Hesitating is not an option — without the legislation an entire American industry that benefits millions is in imminent jeopardy.”

The local hospitality and entertainment industry lost 82,000 jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study released in July by Nassau and Suffolk counties on the economic impacts of the virus.

This is more than any other industry on Long Island.To