07/31/14 10:00am
07/31/2014 10:00 AM

Southold-Town-police-car4

With another police officer set to retire, the Southold Town Police Department will soon be down to just 43 members — its smallest squad in at least 10 years.

Although the department has been authorized by the Town Board to employ as many as 52 officers, no new hires have been made in the past two years while the town and the police union have struggled to hammer out a new contract for officers.  (more…)

07/31/14 8:00am
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Suffolk County officials have given up control of the Railroad Dock.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Suffolk County officials have given up control of the Railroad Dock.

The Railroad Dock on Third Street in Greenport is no longer under county control.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Suffolk County Legislature ended its lease with property owner Metropolitan Transit Authority. Greenport Village will now hold the lease directly with the MTA. (more…)

07/30/14 5:00pm
07/30/2014 5:00 PM
Southold junior Aidan Walker holds the distinction of having defeated the school's best player, his brother Liam, in one-on-one games. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Southold junior Aidan Walker holds the distinction of having defeated the school’s best player, his brother Liam, in one-on-one games. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Even at this stage in his young life, Aidan Walker can lay claim to a degree of fame: He has defeated Southold High School’s best basketball player in one-on-one competition. And more than once, too.

Not many people can say that. (more…)

07/30/14 4:00pm
(Credit: BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO) | County Executive Steve Bellone has proposed changes to the county's farmland preservation bill that would include more agritourism uses on preserved parcels. Pictured is Reeves Farm on Main Road in Aquebogue.

Farmland on the North Fork hasn’t seen an increase an value like the South Fork. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file).

The increase in the value of North Fork farmland pales in comparison to the rise in value of South Fork farmland over the past decade, according to a market study released by Farm Credit East, a local agricultural lender.  (more…)

07/30/14 2:24pm
Dave Colone, Chairman of Suffolk County Planning Commissioner; Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Bob Delucca, President and CEO of the Group for the East End, County Executive Steve Bellone, Dick Amper, Executive Director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and Deputy Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory. (Courtesy photo)

Dave Colone, Chairman of Suffolk County Planning Commissioner; Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Bob Delucca, President and CEO of the Group for the East End, County Executive Steve Bellone, Dick Amper, Executive Director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and Deputy Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory. (Courtesy photo)

The Suffolk County Legislature OK’d the deal Tuesday, but voters will have the final say on an agreement that would drop two pending lawsuits environmental groups have filed against the county alleging a misuse of funds they say are reserved for protecting the county’s drinking water aquifer.

County legislators passed support for most of the deal 14-4 at their general meeting. First announced in June by County Executive Steve Bellone and the parties who initiated the lawsuits, part of the agreement maintained that after legislative approval, a public referendum would ultimately determine if the deal would go through.

The accord stems from what environmental advocates have called a “raiding” of a portion of the Drinking Water Protection Program, a quarter-percent sales tax that Suffolk voters have chosen to levy upon themselves through the year 2030. It is intended to protect groundwater through several specific uses, such as open space purchases and a fund dedicated to stabilizing residents’ sewer rates.

In 2011, and again in 2014, the county dipped into the sewer stabilization fund, using the money to help plug budget gaps. Environmentalists say that violates the terms under which voters agreed to tax themselves and is therefore illegal.

Under the proposed settlement, the county could still dip into the fund — which had a balance of around $140 million last year — until 2018, in order to meet long-term financial needs. However, any money diverted would have to be paid back in full by 2029. No interest would be attached to the repayment.

While the announcement in June required voter approval for any future changes in the Drinking Water program, legislators withheld support of that part of the deal on Tuesday. Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) said that because negotiations are still technically ongoing — the lawsuit has not been officially dropped — the legislature was advised to table support for part of the agreement.

North Fork Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said he was at first “disturbed” by the agreement, since it contains no provisions guaranteeing the purchase of farmland in the future.

However, he said that Mr. Bellone and the Legislature’s willingness to preserve farmland on the East End in the past have eased his mind. And in the end, voters will still have the final say on whether or not this agreement suits their needs.

“I would have structured this a little differently, but I wasn’t at the table,” Mr. Krupski said Wednesday morning. “So I didn’t have that option … But I think if you look at this globally, this is the hand we were dealt. And past decisions have really made our options limited financially. This was, I felt, the best option to take.”

With county budget forecasts looking grim, Republican members of the Legislature — though split on the issue — expressed concern about the long-term viability of paying back the debt.

Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said he would rather see the dollars currently in the sewer stabilization fund — the section of the Drinking Water Protection Program that would be borrowed from — used to build sewers to revitalize the county’s downtown areas and update aging cesspool systems countywide.

“This is nothing more than kicking the can down the road with steel-tipped shoes,” Mr. Trotta said. “People are saying we cut a deal and fixed a problem. But we have beaches closing because cesspools are running into our water. Sewers would fix that.”

Legislator Ken Barraga (R-West Islip) voted in favor of moving the agreement to voters on the merits of giving the public the power to make its own decision. But he said paying the borrowed funds back by 2029 could end up being more trouble than it’s worth, a concern Mr. Krupski said the county would have to address before the payments come due.

Minority Leader John Kennedy (R-Smithtown), however, pointed out that if the lawsuits proceed, and the county prevails, it won’t have to replay the funds at all.

07/30/14 10:00am
The owner of Flowers' Edge says she likes to keep her flowers out front, instead of in a back cooler. (Credit: Claire Leaden)

The owner of Flowers’ Edge says she likes to keep her flowers out front, instead of in a back cooler. (Credit: Claire Leaden)

Did you know Ecuador has the best roses? Or that if you’re looking to “Buy USA,” California roses are the second-best choice? These are just a few pieces of flower trivia you can learn from Noa Rotem, owner of the North Fork’s newest floral shop, Flowers’ Edge in Cutchogue.

Ms. Rotem has managed several flower shops in Manhattan and western Long Island over the years.

This is her first time operating her own store.

“I’ve been a designer for a long time and I just decided that it was time for me to do it on my own,” she said. (more…)

Main Story
07/30/14 8:00am
The landmark Latham Farm Stand and its views of the bay. (Credit: Suffolk Times, file)

A Suffolk Times file photo of the landmark Latham Farm Stand and its views of the bay.

Ed Latham spent his last moments of life in the same place he spent his first moments of life, his home of Latham Farms in Orient.

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“He was born on the farm and wanted to die on the farm,” said his nephew, Dick Leslie, also of Orient. “He wanted to watch his crops grow… He spent his last few weeks watching the corn come up.”

Mr. Latham, who was a prominent figure in Orient and known for his family farm, died on Friday, July 25, after a long struggle with artery disease.

Ed Latham

Ed Latham

He had turned 92 on June 6. (more…)

Featured Story
07/30/14 12:28am
North Fork second baseman Brad Witkowski tags out Southampton's Donovan May, who tried to steal second base in the first inning. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

North Fork second baseman Brad Witkowski tags out Southampton’s Donovan May, who tried to steal second base in the first inning. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

HCBL SEMIFINALS, GAME 2 | BREAKERS 6, OSPREYS 4

The end is sudden.

A pitcher winds up, fires, the ball pops in the catcher’s mitt, and that’s it. A season is over. An intense run of 42 games in 59 days has ended for the North Fork Ospreys.

And with it came silence from the Ospreys’ dugout and a largely silent reaction from their fans. While the Southampton Breakers rejoiced and exchanged high-fives, the glum-looking Ospreys began the process of coming to terms with the notion that their summer is over. (more…)