Letters to the editor

12/08/2010 4:27 PM |

Russell on the green
I would like to address some issues that were raised by Jim Grathwohl in his letter regarding my proposal for a village green in Mattituck.
First, the recently adopted budget does not include $500,000 for this project. If that were the case, I would be the first to support its removal to provide much needed tax relief.
This project is actually part of the capital works budget and, like any capital works project, the cost would be bonded over several years. I placed $500,000 as an estimated cost to ensure all needs are met, but strongly believe that with much of the work being done “in house” and with community volunteers, the cost would be significantly lower.
Second, I believe that Mr. Grathwohl underestimated the role of the Southold Town Board in establishing the village green in Southold. Supervisor Frank Murphy, and Councilwoman Jean Cochran and the other board members, were a driving force in turning the unfortunate demolition of the Hartranft House into such a wonderful community asset.
Third, I proposed the village green in Mattituck not just to provide a focal point to Mattituck’s business district, but just as important, to bring traffic-calming measures to a very dangerous and chaotic intersection. Mr. Grathwohl suggests “waiting,” but issues of safety and traffic-calming in and around the commercial corridor of Mattituck need action now. This is particularly true with the new development taking place in that area.
Ultimately, the Mattituck village green is but one proposal of many that the Town Board will review in an effort to bring some attention to a hamlet that, in my view, has often been overlooked.
There are questions that need to be answered and impacts that need to be evaluated. However, I want to assure Mr. Grathwohl that he should have no doubts about my “fiscal philosophy” and I am quite confident that any investments made in the Mattituck community will maximize public benefits and at the same time, minimize any necessary costs.
Scott Russell
Southold Town supervisor

Better quality of life
In response to James Grathwohl’s opposition to a village green project (Dec. 2), I would like to express support for this project.
When economies are strapped, it’s important not to freeze planning efforts, but to define and enhance public space and amenities. A public project with visible impact can be a catalyst for private action. Also, the impact of construction on local businesses is better introduced at slow times when temporary disruptions have least effect.
A village green creates a sense of place and identity that anchors a community. The payback will be in an improved quality of life and a more vibrant neighborhood, evident in people’s choices of where they prefer to live, eat, and shop. With space for events, the business community should benefit.
If one looks at an aerial view of Mattituck, it’s clear that the hamlet is a vital link between the creeks. The hamlet’s close proximity to these marine assets also needs reinforcing, possibly with a green way linking the bay to the sound with connections to a village green.
I would even go two steps further. The intersection at Love Lane should be tightened, not widened, so that pedestrians do not feel intimidated crossing Route 25 to shops and library on the south side. Greenport’s “T” intersection slows traffic to a comfortable speed, defining the heart of the neighborhood. Mattituck could have a similar configuration.
Also, a village green could serve double duty in support of a small community sewer project (with user fees). Some low-impact solutions include having each property retain its own septic tank for solids, with the effluent running to a joint purification pod. The water can then be used for irrigation. Another system uses a greenhouse and plants to purify water.
If the town takes an integrated approach to the design of a village green, they could improve traffic safety, solve wastewater issues and leverage grant funding while strengthening the quality of life for Mattituck residents and businesses.
A village green might even help save farmland, as an attractive hamlet would be a likely receptor in the transfer of development rights.
Glynis Berry, AIA, LEED AP

It’s a great idea
I read the negative letter in last week’s paper [Dec. 2] about putting a village green at the end of Sound Avenue.
Mr. Russell should be applauded for such a great idea. It would give Mattituck a central meeting place and also correct an extremely dangerous intersection.
Anyone who exits Love lane onto the Main Road knows what a tricky maneuver that can be, especially for our senior population. We have corrected other traffic problem areas in Southold Town, unfortunately after a loss of life.
Why wait for it to happen in Mattituck?
Vincent Pisano

The same nonsense
It’s whack-a-mole on the North Fork when it comes to keeping livestock in residential areas.
No sooner did the Greenport Village Board consider and reject an ordinance “permitting the keeping of hens,” the Southold Town Board is entertaining the same nonsense.
But reporter Beth Young’s article [Town Hall Notes, Dec. 2] incorrectly states that “the only law on the town’s books relating to livestock is a … setback requirement for coops and pens.”  In fact, The Town permits any person to “raise or keep” up to 100 ducks “for personal or family use”  without Town permission.
See Southold Town Code, Chapter 83, Animals, § 83-2, Amended 7-31-1973. It can be reviewed on the town’s website.
Something’s gotta’ give.
Arthur Tasker

About the animals
According to The Suffolk Times (“Chicken plan just doesn’t hatch,” Dec. 2), “The board quickly tabled the discussion as Mr. Schwartz stormed out of the board room.”
Supervisor Russell began the discussion by saying that his office was receiving complaints about animals in residential districts and he did not know how to handle them. Councilwoman Evans said she thought animal owners are responsible for keeping their animals on their own properties. Councilman Ruland suggested that the town attorney look up laws from other places.
After listening for 20 minutes, I requested permission to speak. Supervisor Russell recognized me, and granted me the floor. I began talking about a ruling by the Supreme Court of Mississippi that was memorialized in a Johnny Cash song. Hearing the name Johnny Cash, Russell mistook my reading from an iPod for an intention to play country music. He interrupted me to prevent music from being played, which I never had any intention of doing.
When I objected to the abrupt termination of the discussion, Frank Wills, speaking out of turn, interrupted and declared that the public has no right to speak at work sessions.
The supervisor then instructed me to return for the formal session at 7:30 p.m., and the Town Board began to discuss the next agenda item. Only at that point, after the supervisor short-circuited my attempt to answer his question, did I leave the board room.
The decision in the case Johnny Cash sang about was that if a dog trespasses on private property, the property owner can kill the dog — but if, and only if, he first: “takes one or the other, and when necessary all, of the three following courses: He must use reasonable efforts to drive the dog away and in such appropriate manner as will probably cause him to stay away; or he must endeavor to catch the dog and confine him to be dealt with in a manner which we do not enter upon because not here before us; or he must make reasonable efforts to ascertain and notify the owner of the dog, so that the latter may have opportunity to take the necessary precautions by which to stop the depredations.”
The “Egg Sucking Dog” case, and a New York State law from 1641 that provides “No man shall exercise any Tirrany or Crueltie towards any bruite creature,” do not give animals rights to trespass, but they do give trespassing animals rights.
This issue is significant because how we relate to our domestic animals is a key to how we relate to nature.
Benja Schwartz

Congrats all around
This is in reference to the picture with the catchy caption, ‘Greenport gets its ribbon” in the Dec. 2 Suffolk Times.
Hats off to Greenport Superintendent Michael Comanda, the Greenport Board of Education, faculty and everyone honored with this prestigious award.
Students also deserve pats on the back for making a best use of the best facilities and excellent environment provided to them by the school.
Greenport School is doing a commendable job. Many students trained and educated there came forward to serve the nation in various capacities and this noble mission is carrying on with the same spirit and dedication. This award is a true reflection of that.
I wish everyone at Greenport School the very best of luck in their venture in making leaders of tomorrow.
Keep up the blue-ribbon effort.
Muneer Haleem

Too good to be true
So it’s the age of recycling. Or is it?
In recent weeks an ad has been placed in this newspaper by an out-of-town business offering cut-rate garbage pickup service without requiring customers to recycle or use the town garbage bags. While such “to good to be true” offers are nearly always temporary, they can be tempting.
However, there are several major problems with this service as described. First, it violates the town code, which requires use of the town bags for residential waste as well as “source-separated” recycling.
Once mixed with garbage, recyclables get removed only if sent to a sorting facility prior to disposal, an expense not all carters are willing to bear. For this reason, state law requires local ordinances that mandate residential recyclables to be separated before being thrown out.
Second, this service puts at a disadvantage our local carters who have provided reliable garbage and recycling services in compliance with the code for many years, but who now may be forced to offer similar service in order to compete.
Third, using this service runs the risk of causing a significant reduction in revenue to the Solid Waste District – the bags account for about 20% of the district’s income – which will have to be made up somewhere.
Fourth, and perhaps most important, the service goes against a generation of education and effort on the “reduction, reuse, recycling” hierarchy of modern waste management.
While not everyone loves the bag system, it preserves the element of choice in controlling one’s garbage costs (as opposed to a tax assessment) and gives a strong incentive to recycle what we can. Since 1993 it has had the desired effect, with less waste generated than before and dramatically higher recycling rates, up from 15 percent to about 35 percent of residential waste.
The bag system has also helped the town save a combined $6 million in avoided disposal costs (i.e., recyclables that would have gone into the trash) and in revenues generated from the sale of recyclables, costs that otherwise would have been met through fees or taxes.
In the case of the newly offered service, the town will do what it can to fulfill its responsibility to ensure a safe, environmentally sound waste management system for all residents. Aside from the legalities, however, “going green” with garbage has been a successful reality in Southold for years, not merely a slogan on a truck.
We should not be tempted to turn our backs on a record of achievement in favor of a system that promises savings yet actually promotes higher disposal rates. And we should remember something most of us learned around second grade: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Jim Bunchuck
Southold Town solid waste coordinator

Let them excel
I have read the article in the Nov. 25 edition of The Suffolk Times, “Rethinking the age for varsity.”   
Parents can be demanding of a child in athletics and academics. Over the past several years, Mattituck has had many athletes receive a full scholarship to play at some really good schools. Through hard work and determination, they have made it happen. Most of them moved up in junior high.
If students were not able to improve and play up to their ability, they might not have gotten their chance at a scholarship. Playing with better athletes at a younger age will make you better, if that is the goal. But the younger athlete cannot hold back the better athletes.
The same applies to students who want to be first in their class academically. Only the qualified students can take AP courses. The students in those classes want to excel in these subjects. They want to get into the best schools possible and/or receive a full academic scholarship. We have had students whose dream was to go to Harvard, Annapolis or Yale and they made it.   
If a student wants to take one of the AP courses but cannot because their grades do not qualify them, they should not be able to. That is the way that things work. We can not get everything we want. Only the best students should be in these classes. The AP students will not learn as much when there are more students in the class who should not be there academically.    
We need to remember that not all athletes or academic students can afford to go to college. By excelling in their talent, they may be able to save their parents or themselves the need to pay for the possible $160,000 education.  
There’s already a no-cut policy in junior high sports. By having this, there can be 18 to 20 kids wanting to play basketball. How much better can you get if you only play five minutes in a game. How much fun is that for anyone?
When I went to MHS, there were even tryouts for the variety show. The same should apply to the high school play or the band. Only the best person is the  No. 1 clarinet or the lead actor, not the oldest.  
This is not just about sports. A talent might not lead to a scholarship, but could help in getting that student into a school. You should not stop anyone from excelling in anything they are good at and love.   
John Stype

Let’s do it ourselves
This past November California’s ballot contained a proposition to cancel the state’s environmentally advanced “green” auto emission regulations.
A heavily funded group, the Valero oil company, and the Koch brothers, very wealthy oil barons, and others wanted to push California back into the world of smog and CO2 emissions. Californians rose up in the face of this extraordinary financial support and killed the proposition.
The people spoke and the environment won.
There’s a message here. With the federal government so tied up in nonproductive partisan bickering, we citizens need to look at other ways to get the important things done. Right here in Southold we have a comprehensive master plan in the works that can support the right thing in many areas. For example:
We can push solar and wind and other nonpolluting energy sources. We can achieve increased energy efficiency in both existing and new homes.
We can support efforts to stop damage to our drinking water aquifer.
We can stop polluting our creeks and estuaries and contribute to the return of scallops, weakfish and the health of the marine environment. Remember back when fish was cheaper than steak?
We can contribute to the fight against world hunger by protecting and supporting our agriculture industry.
We can develop more housing in hamlet and halo areas and keep farms in farming.
Rather than throw up our hands in discouragement at the federal government’s continued paralysis, we can rally our own and achieve something.
Let’s do it!
Howard Meinke

Fair & balanced
I was so relieved to read Jenny Feder’s letter in last week’s paper. (“Not him again.”)
One of the things that’s so great about the North Fork is that there’s plenty of room for people of all opinions. But when the Times prints one point of view from the same person over and over again, it truly misrepresents the community it serves.
Ms. Feder’s words balanced the scale — at least for this week.
Joan Greenberg

Give diverse views
Thank God Jenny Feder is not the editor of The Suffolk Times. If she were, only letters expressing her point of view would be published.
Ms. F’s rant defies one of the basic tenets of our constitutional core, and that’s freedom of the press. Despite its liberal bent, The Suffolk Times does inspire debate among its readers by deliberately publishing diverse views.
That’s still the American way.
Barbara McAdam

More light, please
Jenny Feder’s letter regarding the Suffolk Times’ letter policy as it relates to a specific contributor was refreshing to read.
Though I’m an unabashed liberal (who sometimes feels lonely out here), I like to listen to the “other side.” Passion and anger make good reading and can be motivating, but in the end, I’m more interested in reasoned and respectful argument.
I believe (naively?) that most of my neighbors would agree, whatever their politics.
Can we shed more light and a little less heat?
Jocelyn Ozolins

Ospreys say thanks
The 2010 ACBL champions, the North Fork Ospreys, would like to thank all the host families and area businesses for their support during the 2010 Hamptons Collegiate Baseball season. Without our host families and supporting businesses, this season wouldn’t have been possible.
If you would like information on becoming a host family or a supporting business for the 2011 season, please contact Brian Hansen, head of baseball operations (765-4709), Todd Newman, director of marketing (831-7045), Mary Charters, game day coordinator (477-9434) or Jeff Standish (765-3107).
Brian Hansen

It’s never enough
William Swiskey is Greenport’s “mother-in-law” since anything anyone accomplishes is never good enough for him.
Michael Edelson

One side effect
Divorce destroys children.
Read Princeton Professor Judith Silberstein’s 25-year study, “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce.”
Richard Brewster

He’s wrong again
I had written to The Suffolk Times in response to a prior letter, that as a Mattituck parks commissioner I was filling five-gallon cans of diesel so that Mr. Deegan and the other coaches could hold evening practices. By the way, I find it interesting that the lighting generators are still being used, after spending over $300,000 for new fixed lighting.
Also during that year I believe that the fuel usage of fuel totaled 86 five-gallon cans of diesel. I sincerely hope that we are not spending that amount in this economy, for additional accessory lighting.
As for the snack bar at Breakwater, Mr. Husak is incorrect again. No one commissioner, or as a group, did anything to change Andy “Pops’ ” position. It’s my understanding that Andy decided not to renew the lease for the next season in the ’90’s. The main issue with the yearly use of the snack bar was, and is, the escalating cost of liability insurance, which in early 2007 amounted to approximately $2,800-plus for the standard policy required by our insurance carriers.
As for the planned, but not funded, dredging at Mattituck Creek/Inlet, the notion of anything “illegal” going on is absolutely unfounded. I really don’t know where Mr. Husak’s ghost writer came up with this information. I did not see him present at the joint meeting with the DEC and Army Corps of Engineers at Mattituck-Laurel Library this fall.
If he were there, he would have witnessed my presence and my total acceptance of dredging this very important inlet.
One of the main reasons for running for parks district commissioner is to make sure that dredged sand gets placed in the areas that we agree on along the park district’s east beach and east jetty, just as the late Capt. Henry Drum, a wonderful town councilman, did in the mid-1980s.
Mr. Husak can continue to be critical of me and all the accomplishments that the past commissioners have achieved from 1941 to 2008. In reality, what one present commissioner wants you to believe, is that the past does not matter. That’s absolutely wrong. Anyone who attended the meeting at the library would have heard where the sand is to possibly be relocated.
The main reason why I continue to run is to protect the residents of Mattituck and Laurel, as I have done for 33-plus years.
Jerry Goehringer
P.S. I am going to enjoy Christmas with my family and I hope that a less-accusatory discussion could occur after the summer of 2011, before the election, not during this holy and happy season.

Tea Party, why are you so quiet?
How’s that corporate Republican Tea Party thing working out for ya? It didn’t take a week for the new class of corporate-backed, Tea Party-infused Republicans to arrive in Washington for them to show America their true colors. After screaming for two years that government-run health care was bad for the country, when it came time for signing up for their own government-run Congressional health care, only two of them turned it down in protest. In fact, incoming Maryland Tea Party Congressman Dr. Andy Harris had a fit when signing up for his government-controlled health care because it would not kick in until 28 days after he was sworn in to office. With over 40 million of his fellow Americans not having access to health care at all, Congressman Harris was incensed that he had to go less than one month without it. So, after insisting that government-run health care was “socialism” and “Obamacare” and no good for “We The People” it turns out that it’s perfectly fine for “They The Hypocrites.”
This would be enough, but the next order of business was for the new Republican congressman and senators to vote for their brand new party leadership. Sure enough, instead of voting for change, they chose Bush retreads Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. After screaming about how much they were all concerned about the deficit, the new leadership’s first line in the sand was restoring the unfunded Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Now, President Obama has proposed restoring those Bush tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income for all Americans, but somehow Republican deficit hawks want to lard an additional unfunded $700 billion onto the deficit on top of that over 10 years. Republicans immediately threatened to hold hostage the Democratic proposal of an average tax cut of $700 — $3000 for middle class Americans in order to defend Republican proposed additional tax cuts averaging $100,000 to $350,000 for millionaires and billionaires. Why aren’t Tea Party members screaming at Republicans that they’ve sold them out? Can they possibly want to add $700 billion unfunded dollars to the deficit as a gift for the top 2 percent of wage earners? It will be interesting to see whether members of the Tea Party will hold corporate Republican hypocrisy to task. So far their silence has been deafening.
Jerry Silverstein

Editorial was misleading
Your editorial (“Proposals merit more study,” Nov. 25) distorts some key points regarding the Long Island Power Authority’s efforts to develop a re-use plan for the shuttered Shoreham Nuclear Plant.
You incorrectly state that there are no wind generator blade-making plants in the U.S., only in Europe and Brazil. Actually there are wind blade-manufacturing plants in the U.S. One such is the huge Siemens’ facility located in Fort Madison, Iowa. What we don’t presently have is an operational blade-testing facility in North America to certify the newer, bigger 90-meter blades. There is one such facility that is under construction in Boston and will not be operational until March 2011. What is being proposed for the 61-acre LIPA parcel would be the second of its kind.
Your description of National Grid being LIPA’ s “operating partner” creates the erroneous impression that they are on the same page regarding the re-use of their respective Shoreham properties. The reality is that National Grid has made very clear to LIPA and the Shoreham Advisory Committee that it will cooperate with the re-use of the shuttered Shoreham plant but have no intention at this time to engage in a master plan for their 840 acres at Shoreham.
Your review of the three uses (scenarios) developed by LIPA’s consultants, VHB, is also misleading. Scenarios 2 and 3 were based on what might be possible only if National Grid changed its position and wanted to plan for development of its Shoreham property. It should be noted that Scenarios 2 and 3 were developed by the consultants in response to the requests of some members of the Shoreham Advisory Committee to look at all the possibilities.
To us, the best way to forge ahead at this time is to take a serious look at the wind generator blade-testing facility proposal. This proposal has certain advantages. It is located on LIPA-owned land, requires minimal modification of the existing infrastructure, requires minimal cooperation from National Grid, promotes renewable energy and might overcome any local concerns.
If the blade testing facility proves to be a reality, its success or failure might be the impetus for National Grid to begin planning for the future of its Shoreham holdings.
Hopefully, preservation of open space on this magnificent site will be given a high priority. It should be also noted that a recent report, The Economic Benefits and Fiscal Impact of Parks and Open Space in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, N.Y., finds that having parks, farms, and forests generates $2.74 billion per year for the Long Island economy.
Sid Bail
1st vice president, Wading River Civic Association
member, Shoreham Advisory Committee



7 Comment

  • As a frequent attendee of Greenport Village work sessions and board meetings, I can assure the above poster that Bill Swiskey does raise valid questions that should be the concern of the entire village, and a fair (depending on who you talk to) amount of the time, he does get it right. I do admit he has a “challenging” style of asking those questions, but that should not invalidate the content. If possible we should never get our information second hand, we should see and hear for ourselves the questions asked of and also the responses given by board members. To totally rely on what is posted on local blogs, in newspapers, and what you hear at coffee shops for information, is never in anyones best interest.

  • John Stype is on the mark. James Hoeg accurately set forth the issue last week and John has followed up very well. Why hold anyone back from achievement? I think the only caveat is that any opportunity given must be based upon merit. I have heard the complaints this year and would agree that there should be no “guarantees” for placement in any academic or extra-curricular program or activity.

    Given that consideration, if there is an exceptionally talented person, then age should not matter. If the student happens to be younger, so be it. Unfortunately, most of the focus turns to sports. However, there are other activities which require a tryout including the high school jazz band, plays (by the way there are parts awarded even in the elementary school play based upon ability) and other clubs including DECA which has competitions that are judged and graded for advancement.

    Are mistakes made at times? No doubt, but we do have established criteria placed in a state instituted and mandated policy for sports which is to be administered through each district. Moreover, there is an appeal policy in place as well. So, I ask, why”re-visit” something which has already been established, and, quite frankly, affects very few? Is it the squeaky wheel syndrome? This has already occurred somewhat at the jr high level with basketball this year as the two teams are generally forced to share a court for practice while an intramural program (which I applaud generally) with only a small number of participants (and I have seen it with my own two eyes) is provided with a full court. Imagine doing this in soccer, football or any other program. It just doesn’t work. As John noted, how to improve under the circumstances? The intramurals are a worthy program. There just has to be an equitable way to administer the use of the facility (which is difficult given the demands for gym time). Bottom line–putting two teams out there to practice on one court at the same time for junior high leaves them ill-prepared. This would apply to any other sport as well.

    The process which has been developed by the state with resect to sports should be followed. There is past practice which has occurred, and I heard no complaints when jr high students participated on the high school golf team. By the way, I understand they were promoted, by all acounts, due to their talent andwere absolutely desrving of the positions. Why deny this opportunity? Let the children excel no matter what the activity, either in the classroom, or the athletic field if they are able and meet the requirements.

  • It appears that Jim Bunchuck is very nervous and really concerned with JOB SECURITY!

  • Wether you like him or not or his style he (Bill Swiskey) knows what he’s talking about. I agree with John about first hand knowledge too. The other thing you need to realize is that newspapers are in business to make money and sell their papers, more valid conversations are held at public meetings that never make the paper and if more people were present they would have a better idea of what was really going on.

  • Gary M. Charters, why are you not concerned about sustainability?

    Sure you can save money by burying your garbage in your back yard, but someday someone will have to clean up the mess, and the cleanup costs will be far greater than your savings.

    If we humans continue filling the earth with garbage our children will certainly live in a polluted world.

  • Benja, I think you should call Jim and find out the choices people really have when it comes to trash and garbage, as long as you want to pay there are a lot of people that pay the higher price and don’t recycle anyway.

  • Jenny Feder, and those letter writers above who support her, are typical of today’s left. Despite their views dominating nearly all major media outlets as well as academia and careless of the potential backfire their desires entail, they will tirelessly agitate to silence those that they disagree with. We’ve already seen these efforts spread through the labelling of speech they disagree with as hate speech. Now, they hector newspapers to silence citizens who have a contrary viewpoint. She will claim that she is objecting to the tone and civility of Mr. Copertino’s letters, but that is not true. If it were, she’d complain just as vociferously about Mr. Silverstein’s incendiary letter above, but that won’t happen. You generally don’t see these attempts at silencing others emanating from the right, but if the right takes back power as now seems likely, it would be an easy step for it to simply continue these silencing efforts already underway at the FCC, FEC, DOJ and through the efforts of thousands of people like Ms. Feder, but of course with results she would not want. As far as I know, the Suffolk Times publishes nearly all letters it gets. Far better to keep it that way.