07/30/10 12:00am
07/30/2010 12:00 AM

The Mattituck School Board will operate a member shy for the next year.
Although at least four people expressed an interest in the vacancy created by former vice president Debra Cahill’s recent resignation, the board voted 4 to 2 Thursday night to leave the seat open. Earlier, the board voted 5 to 1 against member Douglas Cooper’s resolution to hold a special election
Board members seemed surprised at the 4-2 vote in favor of leaving the post vacant after vice president Charles Anderson made the motion in the process of eliminating options other than appointing someone to the position. Board member Douglas Cooper made the first motion in favor of holding an election for the empty seat, but that motion was defeated in a 5-1 vote.
Since the last board meeting July 15, at least four people had expressed interest in the position They include Barbara Taylor, Rob DiGregorio and former members Joan Ferris and Lynne Krauza. Ms. Krauza lost her seat on the board in last May’s election.
President Gerard Diffley said that at least one other person had also expressed interest in the position, but had not committed to run.
Prior to deciding to leave the seat empty, the board was divided over the best method of selecting a candidate. Several members said that they were uncomfortable making a decision when they didn’t know all the candidates. Mr. Cooper adamantly proposed that an election would be the only democratic way.
“It’s the American way,” he said, but board member Janique Nine countered, “It’s a waste of money.”
Board members estimated that a special election could cost between $4,000 and $6,00. With the time constraints involved in gathering petitions and giving public notice, an election would be unlikely before late September or possibly October. The new member would only serve through June of 2011.
“Democracy is not cheap. I believe it is the right of the public to choose,” said Mr. Cooper.
The vote to leave the seat vacant garnered won with the support of Mr. Cooper, Ms. Nine, Mr. Diffley and William Gatz, who just began his term in the seat Ms. Krauza had held. Two weeks ago the board rejected a call to move Ms. Krauza into the open seat.
Mr. Diffley said that he is open to the possibility of revisiting whether it would be better to appoint someone, but only if that  did not obligate the board to fill the position.
“I still struggle with it,” said Mr. Gatz, who wavered several times before casting the deciding vote.
“I’m very surprised by this,” said Mr. Anderson, who added that he had brought the motion to the floor simply to weed through the board’s options for filling the vacant seat.
The board made their decision under the watchful eye of a half-dozen community members.
“Several of the candidates happen to be women,” said Lynn Summers, who has lived in Mattituck for 42 years. “I hope those who were thinking of making a commitment do so in the future.”
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07/30/10 12:00am

SUFFOLK TIMES FILE PHOTO
Former supervisor Josh Horton, with police Captain Martin Flatley and ZBA chairwoman Leslie Weisman, explaining the logistics of the NOFO concert to the Town Board earlier this month

This weekend’s NOFO Rock and Folk Fest will go on as originally planned, without the late restrictions, including putting a cap on parking and shutting down the music early, that the Town Board had attempted to impose, a State Supreme Court justice ruled Thursday.
In a victory for the two-day show’s organizers, Justice Jeffrey Spinner ruled that the Town Board lacks the authority to overturn the permits previously issued by Southold’s zoning appeals board for the weekend show at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue.
Supervisor Scott Russell said the town will not appeal. He called the ruling by Justice Jeffrey Spinner “fair,” but said it illustrates the flaws in the town’s permit review process. Town law allows the chair of the zoning board to issue a winery event permit without consulting with the other members, as was the case with the Peconic Bay application.
The Town Board attempted to add 21 new conditions to that permit after concluding that the application did not accurately reflect the event’s size. The organizers said they anticipated a crowd of about 800. But a letter from a NOFO staffer to potential vendors put that number at over 15,000. The Town Board demanded an end to the music an hour early at 6 p.m. and also sought a payment of about $6,500 to cover police costs.
The supervisor said he was dismayed by the legal challenge and contended that each of the new conditions was agreed upon by the organizers, former supervisor Josh Horton and vineyard manager Jim Silver.
“But at the last minute [Mr. Horton] runs to court because he doesn’t want to live with his own agreement, when they agreed to modest, reasonable restrictions to protect the health, safety and quality of life within the community,” said Mr. Russell. “When a judge tells us, too bad, your code doesn’t let you do that, it’s time to change the code.”
Mr. Horton said he understands the towns concerns and said the apparent disparity in crowd estimates stems from a misunderstanding. The 800 figure represents the number anticipated at any one time, not the total.
“1,200 to 1,600 is not unreasonable,” he said, adding, “Public safety is our number one priority.”
The supervisor maintains that the town was misled in a permit application “that contained so many misrepresentations that it’s almost fradulent.”
Still, he said he believes Mr. Horton will work to limit any potential negative impacts on the community.
“I look forward to the event going off as smoothly as possible,” he said.
Mr. Silver was not immediately available for comment.
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07/29/10 12:00am
07/29/2010 12:00 AM

The partners behind the upcoming NOFO Rock and Folk Festival in Cutchogue are seeking a court order to prevent Southold Town from placing new restrictions on the event, including a limit on on-site parking.

State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Spinner ordered a hearing for this morning, Thursday, in Riverhead on the promoters’ request for a temporary restraining order to bar the town from amending the public assembly permit issued in June by Southold’s Zoning Board of Appeals. That permit placed no limit on the number of vehicles that could be parked on site.

Former supervisor Josh Horton, who is working with Peconic Bay Winery to stage the two-day event there this coming Saturday and Sunday, said the Town Board overstepped its authority in seeking to impose 21 additional conditions, including restricting the number of vendors to 25 and cutting off the music at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than advertised. The promoters also object strenuously to the town’s placing a 400-vehicle limit on on-site parking.

Referring to the Town Board, Mr. Horton said, “A legislative body does not have any legal authority whatsoever to amend a decision or permit issued by a zoning board of appeals.”

The town says that the promoters provided misleading information in describing the event’s size and scope. The event layout map accompanying the ZBA permit application showed four vendors and estimated a crowd of about 800 per day.

But a copy of the organizers’ letter to prospective vendors eventually came to the Town Board’s attention. It said the crowd was expected to be “well over 15,000.”

During a recent appearance before the Town Board — which had considered, but decided against, revoking the permit after the letter surfaced — Mr. Horton called the letter a “clerical error.”

In their court case, the promoters also object to the town’s demand for payment of about $6,500 to cover police overtime costs, an amount they call excessive.

Supervisor Scott Russell said the town is simply trying to ensure public safety.

“We’re trying to have the event and at the same time safeguard the community from unwanted effects,” he said. “People aren’t the issue. It’s the cars and traffic that present the problems.”

The supervisor offered a particularly harsh assessment of the legal challenge.

“I think this is a transparent attempt by the former supervisor to draw attention to himself and the event,” said Mr. Russell. “Maybe ticket sales are lagging and this free press doesn’t hurt.”

Mr. Horton argued the parking limit itself has the potential to create traffic problems rather than solve them.

“We’ve got seven and a half acres for parking, but they tell us we can only use a small portion of that? It’s asinine,” he said. “They’re creating the potential for vehicles to try to park elsewhere, which is something none of us wants.”

He also questioned the town’s estimate for the cost of additional police services.

“We’ve expressed a willingness to pay for these services,” Mr. Horton said. “However, more police are being brought on to cover this event than are available to manage entire sections of the town on any given summer weekend.”

Mr. Russell maintained that the concert’s principals had agreed to all the new conditions during a July 20 meeting at Town Hall. Mr. Horton strongly disagreed.

The town will be marking the Cutchogue business district with “no concert parking” signs, said Mr. Russell. “We have a list of tow operators who will be ready and on call to go into action if people violate that,” said the supervisor.

When concert-goers arrive, they’ll be required to produce both an admission ticket and a second ticket showing that they parked on site, said the supervisor.

The stage was to face northwest but at the town’s insistence it instead must face southeast “so the music filters out over the farm field and not the homes and businesses in the area,” he added. That provides a 30-acre buffer, Mr. Russell said.

He doesn’t see the one-hour reduction in the concert duration, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., as a hardship.

“You’re talking about eight hours of continuous music,” he said. “Having it end at 6 p.m. is more than fair on our part.”

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07/29/10 12:00am

As with most major disputes in Southold, the tussle between the town and the promoters of this weekend’s North Fork Rock and Folk Fest has found its way to court.

The promoters, former supervisor Josh Horton and Peconic Bay Winery, which is to host the event, have asked the state Supreme Court to throw out the town’s revised set of event conditions, including a 400-vehicle parking limit and ending the concert an hour early, at 6 p.m.

The promoters say the supervisor and Town Board lack the authority to amend the permits issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which did not include those conditions. Meanwhile, the town counters that the information presented to the ZBA grossly underestimated the concert’s size and potential impacts.

Both sides were in state Supreme Court in Riverhead for an initial appearance Tuesday and are to return for a hearing this morning (Thursday).

The case seems to boil down to this: Do the supervisor and Town Board have the legal authority to, in essence, overrule the ZBA, a semi-judicial panel? Does concern for public safety — an issue that became acute when evidence emerged that the permit application may have been less than truthful in describing the event’s size — compel the town to impose those added restrictions?

Check our website, suffolktimes.com, for the next chapter.

07/29/10 12:00am

A spokesman for Regina Calcaterra’s campaign for the Democratic nomination to challenge Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) in the state Senate race this fall dismissed accusations this week that the candidate hasn’t been a New York state resident long enough to serve in the Legislature.

The accusations are based on documents showing Ms. Calcaterra owned a house in New Hope, Pa., appeared to have been registered to vote there and had a Pennsylvania driver’s license as of late as 2007.

Meanwhile, the Democrat who first raised the issue and sought to wrest the nomination away for himself through a party primary is, unless a court rules otherwise, out of the running. The Suffolk Board of Elections dismissed Calverton resident Gregory Fisher’s nominating petitons, ruling that they were submitted a day late.

Calcaterra campaign spokesman Andrew Moesel on Tuesday said that Ms. Calcaterra, a lawyer who grew up in Coram and lists New Suffolk as her residence, had bought the New Hope house because it was close to both New York and Philadelphia, where she was handling a lawsuit that required her to frequent both cities.

He said she had registered to drive there only out of necessity while she worked on the case and never considered it her permanent residence. She owned the New Hope house for only about a year and always maintained her permanent residence in New York state, he insisted.

“This is Republicans playing the same old political game that is so typical of the corruption culture of Albany,” Mr. Moesel said. “Ken LaValle and all opponents of reform are scared to death they will have to face an honest and motivated candidate this fall.”

Suffolk County Board of Election officials are expected to rule this week on whether formal objections challenging Ms. Calcaterra’s residency should be decided by the court system.

Regarding Mr. Fischer’s own petitions, the package received by the BOE was postmarked July 16 but the deadline was July 15, said Republican Commissioner Cathy Geier. The deadline for filing a court challenge to that decision passes today, Thursday.

Mr. Fischer wrote the board recently, claiming Ms. Calcaterra did not meet the five-year continuous residency requirement for state legislative candidates. He submitted to the BOE a copy of an April 2007 New York state voter registration application from Ms. Calcaterra, giving an address in New Hope, Pa. He also supplied a 2007 Pennsylvania driver’s license record.

Mr. Fischer sought the Democratic nomination to run against Mr. LaValle in 2008, but the party opted not to run a candidate that year. Mr. LaValle, first elected in 1976, garnered 81,062 votes that year.

According to Mr. Moesel, Republican and Independent party members have filed formal objections with the BOE, based on Mr. Fischer’s evidence. Filing the objections requires the board to make a decision on the matter.

Mr. LaValle declined to comment through a spokesperson.

Brookhaven Republican chairman Jesse Garcia scoffed at Mr. Moesel’s explanation. He saidthe real issue was that Ms. Calcaterra did not care about following the state constitution.

“It is clear that she has just become another cog in the Democratic dysfunction in Albany that gave us the Metropolitan Transportation Authority tax, ripped school aid away from us and took away our STAR rebate checks,” Mr. Garcia said.

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07/29/10 12:00am

A photo caption in last week’s paper incorrectly identified a North Fork Women’s Softball League player. The player pictured is Madison Wingate, not Evelyn Fischer.

07/29/10 12:00am

Richie Havens

The North Fork’s Woodstock moment is almost upon us, as the countdown begins to the NOFO Rock and Folk Fest, to be held over two days this weekend at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue.

The festival gates will open at 10 a.m. both Saturday, July 31, and Sunday, August 1. Music begins at 11 a.m. and runs through 7 p.m. One-day passes are $45 and two-day passes cost $80. Both are available at www.noforockandfolkfest.com, at 1-888-277-1905 or in advance at the winery. The event’s organizers advise that it is likely only a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

In a recent development, the promoters have taken the town to court seeking to prevent the imposition of certain restrictions on the event, including ending the music at 6 p.m. instead of 7. (See story page 1.)

From rock guitar icons Jorma Kaukonen and Leslie West to Richie Havens, Devon Allman and Pat Dinizio of the Smithereens, the bill is packed with talent. And Josh Horton, whose Big Suga Productions has partnered with the vineyard to produce the show, has also put together a smaller stage where local and acoustic musicians will play throughout the day.

“We will not have piped music between acts. There will be an acoustic tent where people can collaborate and play and write songs together. The whole spirit of this festival is about not only bringing great artists to the North Fork, but about celebrating local artists,” said Mr. Horton.

“We have Jorma Kaukonen, far and away the most renowned guitarist of our time, on stage at same time as much lesser-known acts,” he added. “We feel that’s important. We are very fortunate to have been able to book the top of our wish list, but the name acts that we have, they’re very down-to-earth people, which is why they’re agreeable to playing a small-scale festival like this.”

Mr. Horton’s band, Big Suga, will play on Saturday afternoon right before Richie Havens, who will be visiting Cutchogue on his way to the Newport Folk Festival, also this weekend.

“It is beyond my comprehension,” said Mr. Horton of the opportunity to open for Mr. Havens. “He’s an American folk hero and an international icon.”

Mr. Horton said a portion of the profits from the weekend’s events will benefit The East End Arts Council, which runs a community music and arts school in Riverhead and has recently begun classes at Brecknock Hall in Southold.

“I think that is something that is extremely important. It is something that I will, through my own personal means, support,” said Mr. Horton. “Music and art is part of what makes the world go round. It accentuates the lives of those who engage in it and it also brings texture to a community.”

The festival will include a farmer’s market with fresh local produce, food from the Maple Tree Deli in Riverhead and an oyster bar. In addition, vendors will hawk everything from sandwiches to hot dogs, sausages and Italian ices as well as a variety of wares, including homemade kites and guitars, antiques and movie posters.

There will be shade tents, including one where people can be misted with water to provide relief from the heat. Mr. Horton said that the festival has hired a private ambulance and two paramedics to keep any incidents of injury or illness from burdening the Cutchogue Fire Department.

“I hope people leave the festival saying ‘God, I love the North Fork,” said Mr. Horton. “I hope that’s a reinforcing statement in their minds if they live here or, if they’re not from here, I hope their next words will be ‘I will definitely return to the North Fork.’ I also hope they leave saying ‘It’s fantastic what the East End Arts Council provides, not only to the youth of our community, but to the arts and cultural aspect of our community.'”

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07/29/10 12:00am

The proverbial turning point for the Mattituck boys basketball team during the last high school season came after the Tuckers were blown out by Center Moriches. In that game, the Tuckers struggled to advance the ball past the midcourt line. The loss left the Tuckers with a 3-9 record. What was left for them to play for?

Everything.

“We got blown out in Center Moriches, and there were two ways we could go,” Mattituck Coach Paul Ellwood said. “These kids have a lot of character, and they stepped up.”

Something clicked after that game, and the Tuckers haven’t been the same since. Their fortunes turned for the better, dramatically.

The Tuckers played exceptionally well in the final six games of the school season, winning three and losing three, two of which were heartbreakers. They went on to go 8-1 in a spring league. Then they reached the final four of a camp that involved 20 teams at Stony Brook University.

In a continuation of that fine form, the Tuckers completed their regular season in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League with a 45-34 defeat of Miller Place on Tuesday night, leaving them with a 7-2 record.

On top of that, the Tuckers have been playing this summer without three key players. Twins Steve and Tom Ascher, as well as Yianni Rauseo, all of whom are seniors, are playing baseball. That has opened up doors for younger players, though, who should give Ellwood a deeper rotation to turn to.

“This team came a long way,” Ellwood said. “People say you don’t have any reason to play [when you have a losing record]. Well, they had a lot of reason to play. They wanted to do something for themselves. They had goals that they wanted to attain, and they started it in those six games” to close out the school season.

How far have the Tuckers come since last winter?

“It’s only been like half a year, and we really kind of like doubled where we were,” said Cody Huntley, Mattituck’s 6-foot-4 senior center.

How did they do it?

For one thing, they put in a lot of time. Ellwood said this is the most committed group of players he has coached. Also, the players have shown a determination to put a stop to a pattern of losing.

“Everybody on the team wants to be good, and we’re sick of losing,” senior point guard Connor Davis said. “We couldn’t take losing very well … We felt that these teams aren’t better than us, and we could play with them.”

The Tuckers have shown that this summer. Facing a good Miller Place team on Tuesday at Riverhead High School, the Tuckers pulled themselves out of a 9-2 hole, managed a four-point lead by halftime, and then expanded on that lead in the second half.

“They don’t get flustered,” Ellwood said. “They’ve learned to weather the droughts.”

Call it a sign of a mature team.

Another sign of a mature team is its ability to limit turnovers, and the Tuckers have done that as well. They had 13 turnovers on Tuesday.

The presence of Huntley and the 6-3 Thomas Sledjeski helped the Tuckers hold Mount Sinai (6-3) to only five offensive rebounds.

Sledjeski scored 16 points to go with nine rebounds. Mike Mangiamele added 11 points.

Jack Hepburn connected on three three-point shots and led the Mustangs with 11 points. His teammate Kevin Leyden had nine points.

The Tuckers have found that good defense can work wonders. Indeed, defense has been a big part of their revival. They can turn to three types of presses to keep opponents off-balance.

“We picked it up the second half of the [school] season, definitely, defensive-wise,” Huntley said. “The first half of the season we were giving up 60-point games. In the second half we were holding teams to like 30 points.”

Now Huntley said the Tuckers want to win a county title. It might be wise for opponents not to sell the Tuckers short.

“We’re looking forward to the season,” Davis said, “and people should look out for us.”

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07/29/10 12:00am

Financial problems continue to plague Bowl 58, the much-anticipated bowling center on Route 25 in Riverhead that has been sitting unfinished for months.

Developer Joe Albanese said the project, which was begun in 2008, is about 90 percent done but has run short of money.

“We’re putting together a new team of investors,” he said in a brief interview. “It’s a tough economy out there.”

Mr. Albanese said most of the interior work is done, as is the work required by the state Department of Transportation.

“Everybody said the town and the DOT would be problems, but the town and the DOT weren’t problems at all,” he said. “There’s about two months’ worth of work left, mostly finishing and furnishing.”

He said no work has been done at the site for some time due to the lack of financing, but he insists the project will continue.

“It’s still moving forward, but certainly not as fast as I would like,” he said.

Mr. Albanese has received significant assistance from the town on the Bowl 58 project.

The Planning Board, for example, allowed him to open before all the work required by the site plan approval was finished, and the Town Board allowed him to delay payment of a $48,000 water district bill through the posting of a letter of credit.

The town Industrial Development Agency also granted Bowl 58 a seven-year property tax abatement that gives the project a 50 percent exemption on the value of improvements to the property for each of the first three years, and then decreases that exemption by 5 percent a year for the next four years.

Bowl 58 also was involved in litigation when a group of contractors who had worked on the project reportedly filed mechanic’s liens totaling more than $550,000 against the premises and alleging breach of contract. Work on the project was stopped once before, in early 2009, due to financial problems.

When completed, Bowl 58 will have 28 lanes plus a lounge, restaurant, arcade and party rooms. It’s expected to cost a total of $10 million. There are currently no bowling alleys in Riverhead or neighboring Southold towns.

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07/29/10 12:00am

The name of their game is defense.

Skippers, sparked by the solid pitching of John Brush and an airtight defense, clinched the Greenport Men’s Softball League regular-season title this past week. It did so by topping Marcello Masonry, 17-7, on July 19, and then walloping Pool King, 25-0, on Monday night at the Polo Grounds in Greenport. The pair of wins improved Skippers’ record to 16-2. Marcello fell to 13-4, followed by Southold Fish Market at 12-5 and Founders Tavern 9-7.

The best-of-three semifinals begin on Monday night. Skippers will take on Founders Tavern, while Marcello Masonry faces Southold Fish Market. Games are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The best-of-five finals will be held Aug. 9 to 13.

Ev Corwin had a huge game in Skippers’ rout of Pool King as he homered and drove in six runs. Keith Sweat had three hits, including a pair of home runs.

In the showdown against Marcello Masonry, Skippers fell behind early, 3-0, but answered back with six runs in both the second and fourth innings to take command of the game. Sweat belted a two-run homer in the second and Bob Neese hit a two-run blast in the fourth. Pat Gagen gave Skippers some insurance in the seventh with a solo homer. Chris Lucarelli had a pair of doubles and scored twice for Skippers.

Bob Marcello, John Hansen and Scott Anderson all homered for Marcello Masonry.

Brush raved about the defensive support behind him.

“When we can shorten the innings,” he said, “it makes my job a lot easier.”

In other action, Claudio’s went into Friday night’s game against Founders Tavern with the belief it still had a shot at making the playoffs.

Early on, though, the game looked like it was going to belong to Founders, as it roared to an 8-0 lead in the top of the third inning. But Claudio’s (7-10) exploded for 16 — count them — runs in the fourth inning to win the game, 21-19. Founders had built its lead with the long ball as Carl Ruthinoski smacked a two-run homer while Billy Fulman and Pete Castillo belted solo homers. Jon Schlachter and Glenn Zaleski each had four hits, while Ruthinoski went 3 for 5.

Claudio’s started its comeback with five runs in the bottom of the third when Matt Wilsberg hit a two-run double and Ned Baker smacked a two-run homer. Claudio’s then strung together the 16-run explosion in the fourth. Mike O’Brien, Kevin Smith, Matt Vescovi, Greg Cochio, Baker, Brady Ulmet, O’Brien and Smith again all had run-scoring hits. Vescovi hit a sacrifice fly. Cochio singled home another run. Wilsberg ripped a two-run triple. Baker doubled home the final run.

“They hit the ball up the middle and we made a couple of errors,” Schlachter said. “We had one really bad inning.”

Vescovi was proud of the way his team responded. “This is a huge step for us,” he said. “We thought this was our shot. Everything was falling into place for us. Then we found out afterward that there was a mix-up with our record and that we didn’t have a chance for the playoffs.”