08/31/10 12:00am
08/31/2010 12:00 AM

Long Island University has granted Peconic Public Broadcasting Inc.,
the group that currently runs Long Island’s only National Public Radio
affiliate, a three-day extension on the Aug. 31 deadline to make the
final $637,000 payment on the station.
LIU released a statement Tuesday evening saying that if the group
cannot meet that deadline, the university will offer 88.3 FM’s license
and equipment to “several other public radio organizations that have
expressed an interest in acquiring WLIU.”
Peconic Public Broadcasting, which was formed last year, beat out two
other suitors and signed a $2.4 million deal in October to purchase the
station from LIU. At that time, the group signed a letter of intent
with the university to purchase the station for about $850,000 in cash,
with the rest coming in services.
The group, headed by current staffers at the Southampton-based public
radio station, has been operating under the call letters WPPB since
then. Station manager Wally Smith did not immediately return calls for

08/31/10 12:00am

Local school districts learned this week they will receive just over $235,000 from the federal education jobs bill.

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District will receive the largest sum of any Southold district with more than $80,000 coming its way. The Greenport School District will receive just under $73,000, Southold will be awarded $59,000 and Oysterponds will get just under $25,000.

New York’s total share of the
federal funds is almost $608 million. The money is intended to create or
maintain 8,200 jobs across the U.S. The money will be distributed using
the state aid formula and is expected to start flowing next month.

funds can be spent on compensation including bonuses, pay raises,
in-service days, pensions, student loan repayment assistance,
transportation subsidies and childcare expenses.

Districts have until September 2012 to use up the entire fund.


08/31/10 12:00am

NOFO Rock and Folk Fest producer Joshua Y. Horton (center) joined Peconic Bay Winery’s Chief Financial Officer Cynthia Caprise and Retail Operations Manager Pascal Zugmeyer to present East End Arts Council Executive Director Patricia Snyder (left) with a $5,000 donation to be used toward establishing youth music programs at Brecknock Hall in Greenport. The NOFO Rock and Folk Fest was held at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue on July 31 and August 1.

The East End Arts Council was presented with a $5,000 check Monday for proceeds from the NOFO Rock and Folk Fest.
The money will be used toward establishing youth music programs at Brecknock Hall in Greenport.
The two-day Festival was held at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue on July 31 and August 1.

08/30/10 12:00am
08/30/2010 12:00 AM

A graphic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration shows the path of destruction Hurrican Earl
appears headed on.

Hurricane Earl, the second major Atlantic hurricane of the season, is still way down by the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands, but it could hit here in a matter of days and that has Southold’s emergency management team on alert.
“We’re mobilizing now,” said Supervisor Scott Russell. “We’re certainly concerned every time the word hurricane is used.”
Earl could swing north east and miss the coast, but there’s also a chance it could make landfall somewhere in the Northeast, including Long Island.
By Tuesday afternoon the hurricane was moving away from Puerto Rico and had strengthened to a Category 4 storm. It was  moving west-northwest at 14 mph with top winds of 135 mph.
Should the need arise, the town would open emergency shelters in the Mattituck, Southold, Greenport and Oysterponds schools. The town’s Human Resources Center in Mattituck and the Peconic Landing facility in Greenport would be open for those with medical issues.
Depending on the storm’s track, a decision on the shelters could be made as soon as Wednesday, said Lt. William Sawicki of the Southold town police. the town’s deputy emergency manager.
The town conducted a hurricane “table top” drill at the Southold firehouse just a few weeks ago, the supervisor said. That involved police, local fire departments and ambulance corps and the town’s highway department.
“It was a good exercise and we think we’re in good shape,” Mr. Russell said. “Our first responders are very well trained, but you can never be too prepared for these things.”
Lt. Sawicki and the supervisor both stress that emergency preparedness begins in the home. During hurricane season people should stock their shelves with staples such as canned goods, bottled water, flashlights and batteries, and battery-operated radios.
[email protected]

08/30/10 12:00am

Southold’s unemployment figures in recent years show a far more bleak picture than its sunny vacation shores reveal, and Riverhead is still struggling with high unemployment rates.
The Suffolk County Department of Labor is launching a pilot program in Mattituck in late September to help North Forkers who are out of work but can’t get to Hauppauge to visit the county’s One-Stop Employment Center. Another small satellite office of the One-Stop center is located at the County Center in Riverhead.
Labor statistics in Southold are sketchy, because New York State does not keep records on unemployment rates in towns with fewer than 25,000 residents, but Deputy Town Supervisor Phillip Beltz has received information from census analysts that shows 9.8 percent of Southold residents were unemployed in 2009, more than double the unemployment rate shown by the 2000 census.
The New York State Department of Labor’s most recent statistics show that 7.4 percent of Suffolk County residents and 6.8 percent of Riverhead residents were unemployed in July, when the national unemployment rate was 9.5 percent.  The unemployment rate in Riverhead has declined since a high of 8.9 percent in March 2010.
Mr. Beltz and Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell recently took a tour of the county One-Stop Employment Center to see what kind of services it could supply in Southold.
“That center is one of the best-kept secrets. It’s a hidden jewel,” said Mr. Russell at a recent town board meeting. “The whole facility is set up for training, for resume writing and computer skills. A lot of the problem is not just with the bad economy, it’s with jobs you’re not getting back. You need to refit a work force.”
The county plans initially to offer services one day per month at the town’s Human Resource Center on Pacific Avenue in Mattituck, beginning September 27 from 1 to 4 p.m.
“We’ll send one of our best counselors out here, someone who’s cross-trained,” said the program’s director, Marc Bossert, at a town board work session August 24. “It will be a person who can get them going in the right direction if they’re stuck with unemployment claims, food stamps. We’ll help them with a comprehensive job search strategy. Unemployment is a very lonely situation. People don’t turn to friends because of the stigma. Being able to talk to a professional is one of the first big steps.”
[email protected]

08/27/10 12:00am
08/27/2010 12:00 AM

The decaying scavenger waste treatment plant on Moore’s Lane in Greenport will likely be demolished within months, after years of squabbling between Southold Town and Greenport Village over who is responsible for the fact that the plant never worked the way they had hoped.
Southold Town built the facility on Greenport Village land in the late 1990s to allow cesspool trucks from throughout town to unload waste into the village’s sewage treatment plant.
In the ensuing years, the facility was plagued with operational problems and was cited by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation because of the high level of nitrogen in outflow from the connected sewage treatment plant. The village claimed the town constructed the facility incorrectly, while the town claimed the village was not operating it correctly. The plant was closed in phases over the past several years and the village has implored the town to remove the plant from its land.
The Town Board is expected on Sept. 7 to approve a resolution accepting the bid of the Medford firm D. F. Stone Contracting to demolish the plant, at a cost to the town of $673,498.
Town Engineer James Richter said Friday that, if contract negotiations with D. F. Stone go smoothly, work could begin as soon as three or four weeks after the bid is awarded. He said the demolition will be a straightforward operation that will not require oversight from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
“It’s a shame that a reasonably new building of this type is being demolished so soon,” he said.
[email protected]

08/27/10 12:00am

Greenport Mayor David Nyce disputed claims Thursday that the current Village Board squandered so much money on engineering fees for rehabilitating the Greenport Electric Plant that it does not have enough borrowing capacity to complete the $5 million upgrade.
Former trustee Bill Swiskey is claiming the board has spent at least $750,000 so far on the project.
But Mr. Nyce says that figure includes not only money the current board authorized, but money spent by the previous administration.  And not all the money went to pay engineering fees, according to Mr. Nyce. There was an upgrade to the electric distribution system approved by the previous administration in 2004 that ate up about $400,000, Mr. Nyce said.
Mr. Swiskey says at least 50 percent of the money planned for the initial phase of the electric plant upgrade was for engineering fees that shouldn’t account for more than 10 percent of the total cost.
Mr. Nyce’s numbers reveal that engineering expenses will average about 20 percent of the overall cost for the first phase of the project. He said that’s because engineering fees are higher when retrofitting changes to an existing system than they would be for a totally new system.
For complete coverage, see the Sept. 2 edition of The Suffolk Times. 

08/26/10 12:00am
08/26/2010 12:00 AM

The Suffolk County Democratic Party has selected Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point (right) to take on incumbent GOP state Senator Kenneth LaValle in the fall. Ms. Maertz had been a campaign worker for Regina Calcaterra (left) the party’s original choice, who was knocked off the ballot for failing to meet state residency requirement.

Democrat Regina Calcaterra’s state Senate candidacy has come to an end, but the legal squabbling over whether her party can field an alternate candidate against GOP incumbent Ken LaValle has just begun.

A hearing is to take place in state Supreme Court today (Thursday) on whether Democrats can replace Ms. Calcaterra with Jennifer Maertz, a Rocky Point attorney who worked on Ms. Calcaterra’s campaign staff. The Democrats and the Working Families Party made the switch last Friday after a state appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that found Ms. Calcaterra ineligible to run. The courts agreed with a claim filed by two Brookhaven Republicans who said Ms. Calcaterra cannot take on Mr. LaValle because she has not lived within the state for the last five consecutive years. Ms. Calcaterra, an attorney who lives in New Suffolk, had a home in Pennsylvania several years ago.

The county GOP now claims the two Calcaterra rulings preclude the Democrats from fielding any candidate. In seeking to have Ms. Maertz tossed off the ballot, too, the GOP claim the courts have invalidated Ms. Calcaterra’s nominating petitions, the legal foundation of every run for political office. Without valid petitions, no one can secure a ballot position, according to Republicans.

Democrats counter that the courts ruled on Ms. Calcaterra’s eligibility, not on her petitions, and so that party can follow standard election procedure by filling the vacancy.

The case will be heard before Justice Thomas Whelan in Riverhead.

In a separate move, the Democrats have asked for a clarification from the appellate division of the Second Department regarding its decision against Ms. Calcaterra. The appeals court ruled that the lower court made the correct decision when it invalidated “the designating petitions.” But Democrats argue that the original Aug. 9 decision by Justice John Bivona centered on Ms. Calcaterra’s residency and made no mention of her nominating petitions. (See Ms. Calcaterra’s letter to the editor on page 8.)

The first press release issued by the Maertz campaign called on Mr. LaValle to tell his supporters to end the “sure-to-fail legal action aimed at preventing voters from having a choice this year.”

Suffolk GOP chairman John Jay LaValle said Democrats “are talking out of both sides of their mouths,” given that Ms. Maertz unsuccessfully challenged Mr. LaValle’s petitions earlier this summer. In addition to being active in civic groups, Ms. Maertz serves as vice chair of the Brookhaven Democratic Committee.

“The law is the law,” said Mr. LaValle, who is the senator’s cousin. He added that he has known Ms. Calcaterra since the seventh grade and went to high school with her. “They screwed up. It’s their error. We didn’t bring up the issue, [Calverton Democrat] Greg Fischer did, although I’m glad he did.”

The Republicans’ challenge “shows they will do anything to knock her out,” said Suffolk Democratic chairman Rich Schaffer.

“If they think Ken LaValle is so great, why are they working so hard to see that he is unopposed?” Mr. Schaffer said.

He conceded that by entering the race so late and lacking a campaign war chest, Ms. Maertz is definitely the underdog. “But this is a year any incumbent needs to worry,” Mr. Schaffer said. “There’s a very strong feeling out there that people are looking for a change, no matter who the incumbent is. I wouldn’t count anybody out this year.

With control of the state Senate up for grabs, both major parties are fighting particularly hard this year for the Suffolk seats held by Mr. LaValle and Democrat Brian Foley of Blue Point. The Democrats currently hold a slim majority, 32 to 30. Last year the GOP temporarily gained control when two Democrats joined Republicans in a leadership coup.

The GOP controlled the Senate for decades before losing the majority in 2008. Democrats hold a super-majority in the Assembly and that is not expected to change this year. In the gubernatorial contest, Democratic state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo appears to lead Republican Rick Lazio of Nassau, who faces a September primary.

Should the Democrats hold on to the governor’s seat, whoever controls the Senate will either advance or limit the next governor’s agenda.

[email protected]

08/26/10 12:00am

There’s a lot of suspect legislation introduced in the county Legislature, as with all lawmaking bodies, drawn up for no other purposes than to grab headlines or pander to voters.

A bill crafted by Legislator Jon Cooper of Lloyd Harbor that would create a countywide public registry of convicted animal abusers doesn’t fall into that category. While it may please plenty of constituents, the potential outcomes of such a law would help better our communities in Suffolk County, where each month it seems a resident is hauled away in cuffs for gross abuse or neglect of animals — be it dogs, horses or exotic pets.

Under the proposal, the names of those found guilty of abuse would forever be listed on a public registry, much like the state’s sex offender registry, along with the offenders’ photos and addresses.

However, unlike the popular sex offender registry — the effectiveness of which is still being debated, as the vast majority of sex abuse victims are targeted by people they know — the lives of animal abusers won’t be utterly ruined if their names are listed publicly. Unless a convicted offender were going to adopt a pet or, say, work with animals, he or she would likely still be able to find a job or housing in Suffolk while trying to move on after serving time.

But the risk of ongoing public shame might give potential animal abusers pause before starting or continuing abusive actions toward a cat, dog or any creature. And that could help the potential abuser, as well as other members of our communities. Consider what we’ve reported this week: that a 2005 study in the Journal of Community Health found that pet abuse was one of five factors that predicted other abusive behaviors.

Provided the Suffolk County SPCA can fund the program, with help from fees paid by convicted abusers, our county lawmakers and executive should approve this bill, which could be voted on as soon as this fall. Such a measure would be the first in any municipality in the U.S. That’s a distinction Suffolk County should be known for.

08/26/10 12:00am


Voters need a choice

I decided to run for state Senate after I went to vote in November 2008 and saw that no one was running against our long-term state Senator Ken Lavalle, who has held the job since 1976. Since Albany’s dysfunction is due to long-term incumbents’ failure to act responsibly, I believe that the long-term incumbents’ not being challenged is what prevents true reform and fiscal housecleaning.

Since the beginning of the campaign, I have been incredibly transparent about my personal life. One aspect of it I shared is that I was honored to be recruited by a firm representing the state of New York Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF) when it had lost over $300 million in its investment in WorldCom due to the fraud that WorldCom executives perpetrated on the markets. However, the challenge in participating in litigating this suit is that although the clients and courts in this matter were in New York, my firm was based in Philadelphia. Thus that is where the documents and litigation team were, so I had to manage a life between both states, which required me to have dual residencies at times.

I am very proud of the work that I did on the WorldCom case, however the opposing party saw my work in Pennsylvania on that case as a way to prevent me from running against him.

Once the litigation aspect of the case was completed, and I realize that my marriage was irreconcilable, I left my husband and the house we co-owned in Pennsylvania to be in New York full-time in the late fall of 2005.

Decades of case law in New York allow candidates to run for state office if they have dual residences, even if their domicile is in another state, as long as the candidate can show a constructive residency in New York for five years preceding election. So in question were only six months between November 2005 and the early spring of 2006, six months where I was transitioning back to New York full-time after representing the state pension funds and taxpayers on a substantial matter. When I sought legal counsel on this matter I was advised that decades of precedent are on my side regarding dual residency for state candidates. If I had been told otherwise, I would not have pursued this race.

The stakes in the state Senate races are high. At stake is reforming Albany. If just a handful of outsider candidates were to beat long-term Albany insider incumbents, this would force change in Albany. Those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo are worried. So rather than my former opponent’s battling it out with me at the ballot box, Lavalle and his cohorts took me to court and spent quite a substantial sum of money and resources to prevent voters from having a choice and ultimately prevent a reform candidate from being elected.

One needs to ask: Who hired the attorneys and paid the legal bills and expenses incurred in this expensive litigation?

The first two courts did not rely upon decades of legal precedence in my favor but rather changed the rules in the middle of the game. Within 12 hours of the decision I had to choose whether to appeal or assign my ballot lines to another worthy candidate. I chose the latter. I had to be true to my convictions and the reason I chose to run for state Senate.

Democracy only works when voters have a choice.

Regina Calcaterra


Candidate to blame?

I am a member of the Southold Town Democratic Committee, but I am speaking solely for myself when I say that I am extremely disappointed, even angry, that I won’t be able to vote for Regina Calcaterra for state senator this fall.

But my feelings do not center on the rogue Democrat and two Republican women who raised questions about Ms. Calcaterra’s New York residency. Instead, my distress is with the ousted candidate and her staff.

It is the candidate’s responsibility, and that of her advisers, to know and understand the election laws and be sure nothing in the candidate’s background violates them. Ms. Calcaterra is a lawyer, and by all accounts a good and intelligent one. I would have expected her to recognize the potential problem posed by her Pennsylvania residency and be completely certain that those months away from New York could not be used to derail her candidacy.

Some of the blame may also lie with the county Democratic committee that selected her to run. A thorough vetting process should have turned up the Pennsylvania sojourn and prompted some investigation into its implications. I don’t know whether the committee brought up the issue and accepted Ms. Calcaterra’s dismissal of it, but I hope they will be more careful in the future.

As for the cries of “foul play” I’ve heard some fellow Democrats make toward those who brought up the residency problem, my reaction is, basically, “Poppycock.”

This is politics. It is not as if the Republicans made bogus accusations that Ms. Calcaterra was hiding a felony conviction or running an illegitimate business or, heaven forbid, had been born in another country or practiced a politically unpopular religion. The Republicans brought up a legitimate issue and won, fairly I think.

Let’s be frank — the Democrats wouldn’t hesitate a second to exploit a similar situation affecting a Republican opponent. Or at least I hope they wouldn’t.

Carol Lew Simons

Ms. Simons works as a copy editor for Times/Review Newspapers.


It’s about the wine

Ron Goerler and Steve Bates made an appropriate case for the wineries to be able to continue/resume events to promote the wines of Long Island.

Two other points are worth considering: What the wineries should do to win this battle and for wineries to be successful in the long term, they need to get past this model and work on the image of the wine we produce.

Indeed, while we may win the argument, we may also lose the battle. In order to prevail we need public opinion to be on our side as well. We can far better influence town governments when the community is pulling with us.

The corollary is also true. While we may be right, as detailed by Ron and Steve, if the community is against us the politicians will farm that negativity better than we can argue the merits of our case. Similarly, we should evaluate whether there may be any other solution to activities that may affect the quality of life of our neighbors. Some of this applies to all farms, not just vineyards.

The industry can play a positive role in encouraging a dialogue with the community and another role in working with town governments in helping design practical solutions to real or perceived problems. It is far better to be part of the solution than to be part of the problem.

As to the current wave of events at wineries that are triggering much of the negative responses that Ron and Steve are properly challenging, the question to be asked has to do with the effectiveness of such events and their residual impact on the image of Long Island wine.

Where wineries have used their creativity at orchestrating interesting events that in reality have little to do with wine and more to do with increasing traffic at the winery, there is a strong chance that the residual is negative regarding its impact on the image of LI wine. In the long term, if we end up getting more known for our events rather than for the quality of our wine, then we only will have ourselves to blame for having lacked the foresight to have anticipated the consequences of our actions.

In fact, the case for a positive image for LI wine is perhaps the most important issue that I invite Steve and Ron to exercise their leadership on. The stronger the image of our wines, the better it will sell and the more likely it will command the price it deserves. The road to profitability is, after all, in seeing that our principal product, wine, sells as well as it can at the highest price possible.

For that we need to grow demand. And to grow demand we need to improve our image. An image that LI wine is about quality and as delicious as they come. No circus required.

Charles Massoud

Mr. Massoud and his wife, Ursula, own Paumanok Vineyards.


It’s about alcohol

With respect to Ron Goerler Jr. and Steve Bate, representatives of the Wine Council requesting a break from the town (“Towns, don’t crush the grape growers,” Aug. 19), I think I understand their perspective of the world from their side of the vineyard. Collectively, millions of your dollars have purchased the vineyards and millions are required for the wine-making process. In addition more millions are spent in a variety of venues to promote the wine product in order to receive millions more in revenue that help to maintain the million-dollar lifestyles.

I live on the other side of the vineyard, with a different perspective.

My simple mind sees the vineyard farmer appropriately categorized under the agriculture status because of the grape crop. If you were to market and sell the grapes, the designation would remain the same. However, once the grape is turned into wine, the designation changes. No longer is it in the agriculture classification because it no longer is a crop. It is an alcoholic beverage. The wine region’s marketing strategies promote the alcoholic beverage and ought to be dealt with accordingly.

Not placing restrictions on the type or the amount of marketing activity is irresponsible. No other bar or saloon is granted exemption from restrictions and neither should be the wineries.

MaryAnn Fleischman


A wasted effort

I think it is sad to hear that someone who has a personal agenda that is against our local high school has been voted into the position of president of the Board of Education of our local elementary school.

As a parent of a child who attended both the Oysterponds and Greenport schools and received a very fine education from both, I feel sad for the children and parents of these schools. I know what it feels like to be thought of as a “less than,” or unsure of the future of your education.

Two years ago Ms. Dumont was a part of a task force that tried to find another high school for our children to attend. After working on a report that was around 300 pages long that tried to find something to complain about, the school board found little to back up a school change. At that time the parents and students came out in force to plead their case for keeping things as they are because they all felt that our public school system is more than fine the way it is. You get out of it what you put into it.

I pray that Ms. Dumont will find time to participate in the education of our children rather than waste so much time trying to find an alternative. The children would be much better served. I truly hope that all this negative energy can and will be turned into positive thinking toward our children and their schools.

Oysterponds school should finally be more supportive of the Greenport school and really become a part of it. When the children know that we are behind them and their school they sense that the work and play that they do there is important.

I guess the debate about test scores is for the future, but for now I wish Ms. Dumont would stop wasting so much time on her personal agenda and start thinking of how to make our school system better. Simply moving to a new location, cost what it may, is not the solution, supporting our schools is.

Gary Parker


It’s a great school

I have long been frustrated with the ongoing talks about sending Oysterponds’ secondary students to schools other than Greenport.

I decided to speak out after reading last week’s article, “Teacher decries state tests.” Greenport High School gave me a solid education, in part because of great teachers such as Mr. McEvoy.

More importantly, Greenport’s unique environment gave me a great perspective on life and prepared me for the “real world.” I’d be very surprised if you could find a school or community with more spirit, camaraderie and compassion.

I’m sick and tired of hearing people who did not attend Greenport bash its students and teachers. I speak for myself as well as for many other recent graduates when I say that we wouldn’t have wanted to attend any other high school.

We never considered ourselves as “Oysterponds kids” attending Greenport. Greenport is not perfect, but it’s where I call home.

Jordon Bogden

Editor’s note: Mr. Bogden is a 2008 graduate of Greenport High School and is currently a U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet.


A rare institution

Why line Jeff Bezos’ pockets at the expense of a local library that offers much more than e-books?

Carla Rosen’s narrow view on the library’s role would have us all buying Kindles. She assumes everyone not only owns an Internet-ready home computer, but that it is the entire community’s choice to use said computer exclusively rather than avail themselves of public library offerings — the greener, more sustainable choice.

“Underused?” Check the availability of the community room. If you are looking to book a program, you need to plan months in advance, as demand exceeds available time and space. If you’re tutoring either as a literacy volunteer or privately, same problem, little or no space to reserve. I know because I’ve personally experienced this several times. The staff bends over backwards to accommodate everyone, but they cannot create space.

A $300 to $600 per year price tag? That may be the price for those whose properties are assessed at a value of $1.8 million and up, not the average resident’s home. For those whose homes are assessed at $600,000, the annual price is $115 for 20 years at current rates.

“Don’t let our town be the laughing stock of this quiet, rural farm community,” Ms. Rosen implores. It seems refusing to recognize a community need and attempting to satisfy that need at an opportune time would be shortsighted and foolish. Using the bequests to simply renovate existing physical space would be the height of foolishness.

The people who are regular and even occasional library users and the staff would agree that the Southold community would benefit from an expansion. Libraries are the rare institution that provide for all ages groups and do so regardless of economic means. Libraries also serve as a barometer of the community’s values.

You may choose to read books on a Kindle, but don’t assume everyone wants to do that. If you do not take advantage of public library offerings, so be it, but don’t assume no one else does.

Those who support the library expansion proposal should turn out for a future public presentation, or the rest of the North Fork who read the Times will be led to think there is no public support and I suspect that this is not the case.

Does Ms. Rosen also encourage Southolders not to shop locally?

Mary Charters


The heart and soul

We read Carla Rosen’s “I vote no!” letter with great puzzlement. Is it possible that there are two Southold libraries – the one whose reasonable expansion she disparages and the one we go to several times each week?

The one we go to hums with activity. There are young children emerging from the children’s room clutching books to borrow and proud of crafts they have made. There are teens who (believe it or not, Ms. Rosen) may well not have computers at home surfing the Web. Older Southolders are checking the selection of large-type books and locals are reading the community bulletin board and helping themselves to two-fers. The book group is having a lively discussion.

At the desk, Southolders are betting on the monthly raffle, reserving and checking out books and DVDs, ordering books from the amazing inter-library system and signing up for an affordable trip to New York City.

Upstairs, in the bright, sunny reading room, our neighbors are reading newspapers and magazines. There are meetings in the Whittaker room and down in the basement. Underused? Certainly not the Southold Library we go to.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the cottage is the go-to place, representing the ultimate in recycling, with people donating and buying books and vinyl, magazines and CDs, all day long.

Ms. Rosen observes that in the age of the Kindle, board-and-paper books are increasingly irrelevant and less than cost-effective. We beg to differ. In the age of the virtual book, of the Kindle, the Nook and the iPad, libraries are increasingly important. Each of those electronic devices provides a useful, but essentially solitary, experience.

The Southold Library is the heart and soul of our community, a place that draws us together. And as such, it deserves the greatest support we as a community can give it.

David and Sara Evans


Hardly underused

Regrettably, Carla Rosen’s thoughtful letter opposing Southold Free Library’s expansion contained some factual errors that need to be corrected.

The library is hardly underused. To the contrary, it is bursting at the seams. Use is up substantially, the collection overflows and computers have become a routine part of the library’s offerings.

In particular, the library is unable to accommodate properly all the teenagers who show up – the fastest growing segment of patrons. The expansion will provide the space (and computers) needed to serve these bright young people at a formative stage of their lives.

The Kindle will not put the library out of business. It will become part of its offerings, as have computers before it. Unlike the library’s services, the Kindle isn’t free. Not everyone can afford $150 or more for a Kindle and up to $10 every time you want to read a book. Think what that would cost a family of readers every year.

‘Tis true, attendance at library events is sometimes poor. That says more about the present meeting room, a cramped and dingy space, than it does about the quality of those events. The expansion will add a spacious, first-rate mini-auditorium, not only for library events but also for those of other community groups. Except for the high school, no such facility now exists in Southold.

‘Tis also true that four other libraries exist within 20 miles. But why should one have to drive up to 40 miles round trip to hear a lecture or see a film? And why should we in Southold rely on other communities to bear the costs and work required to produce such offerings?

We take Carla Rosen at her word that she loves the library. We ask her to consider that the expansion is meant not only to serve today’s needs, which it will do in fine fashion, but to provide what is needed for the next twenty years. And given the fall in interest rates and construction costs, there could be no more economical time to build.

Vote yes on October 16.

Jane and Fred Andrews


Count on Scott

Supervisor Russell seems to be the only one of the Town Board who actually listens to the concerns of the town’s west end.

The other board members seem to remain quiet and apathetic on issues that concern the residents of Mattituck. Although I’m sure the others will suddenly get vocal and come up with their big plans when election time comes around.

Jon Ferris


Don’t blame teachers

Every few months a letter from a member of the community is printed on these pages suggesting that North Fork teachers are responsible for school tax increases, including last week’s letter from Frank Genovese lauding the William Floyd teachers who accepted a pay cut in exchange for a contract extension.

Mr. Genovese and others concerned about school spending might have more success in keeping tax hikes at bay if they encouraged their local boards of education to think creatively about how to not just spend less, but to spend smarter. For example, we have five school districts in the town of Southold, each of which must support an entire cadre of district-level staff and administrators and must fulfill expensive state-mandated requirements.

The one thing we can’t afford to do is to start cutting teachers’ pay. Any chief executive, including our local superintendents, would likely agree that one of the greatest challenges in running an efficient and successful organization is finding and retaining talent. If anything, we should be looking for ways to save in other areas of district operations so we can ensure that our teachers get, at a bare minimum, cost-of-living salary increases each year.

The U.S. Department of Education is in the process of awarding millions of grant dollars as part of its “Race to the Top” competition, rewarding states based on their commitment to school reform, including the exploration of increased compensation for successful teachers (New York is a finalist for this grant).

There seems to be national consensus that teachers are underpaid relative to the value they add to our society, our communities and our lives. Many adults can look back and point to specific teachers who either helped turn their around their academic careers or, in some cases, maybe even saved their lives.

If Mr. Genovese and others demand that teachers accept a pay cut, they should also demand the same of our police officers, our doctors and health professionals, our elected officials, our judges, our librarians as well as demanding a reduction in the budgets for our volunteer fire departments. They also might ask themselves if they and their families would happily accept a pay cut?

Singling out our teachers to bear the brunt of your frustration with high taxes is unfair and flies in the face of one of the most important of American ideals and rights, that of a free, high-quality public education for all.

Let’s work together to find ways to spend smarter in our schools and keep tax increases reasonable and leave out the cheap attacks on our teachers and their families.

Doug Roberts

Mr. Roberts is the president of a Greenport education consulting company


A bad example

The New York Times published a scary article about serious pollution in Cape Cod’s salt ponds and inlets. The Cape is a pile of sand, surrounded by salt water and partially covered with houses. Sounds like a description of the North Fork.

The substance of the article was the damaging effect of residential septic run off. The sand base allows the effluent to flow through and pollute the ponds and inlets with nitrogen. What to do? Well, the article speaks of large sums of money required for sewer systems and the citizens’ understandable objections to the expenditures.

And that’s it. Period.

Here on the North Fork we are not quite as far down that path as the Cape, but we are within worrying distance.

Let’s attack this budding problem from today’s hot topic – taxes. Here are two proven statements:

First, increasing residential development brings higher taxes. Second, more residential development will bring us closer to the unavoidable Cape Cod problem of financing sewer systems, a serious round of tax increases and money spent there simply enables more development. A vicious cycle.

There is an optimistic view for the North Fork, however. Enact a well thought-out comprehensive master plan that sets up real growth controls and open space preservation. Thus we support tourism and our agricultural and vineyard and maritime industries and we dodge the bullet. We can save the rural ambiance, which is the tourism magnet. We can stop the damage and start to restore our creeks and estuaries.

We need to rally behind what is good for this magical place and put personal and selfish arguments behind us.

Now is the time.

Howard Meinke


Unhealthy obsession

I had occasion to drive a friend toJFK International Airport on Thursday, arriving at the airport at 4:00 p.m.

While driving along JFK Expressway, a huge fixed-wing plane flew over our car at about 100 feet directly above us. The noise generated by this large aircraft was less annoying when compared to the noise of low-flying helicopters invading the airspace above my North Fork home.

Counting helicopters to be reported to the new quietskiesli.com website is fast becoming an unhealthy obsession.

Joanne McGill


Geese are a problem

Mattituck is suffering from an infestation of Canada geese in our community.

Laurel Lake, Marratooka Lake and many of our ball fields, parks, farm fields and picnic areas suffer from these birds. Canada geese are not only unbelievably noisy, they soil our playing fields, grounds and water. We are especially concerned that the enormous amount of defecation harms the water quality our few freshwater ponds. We take pride that Laurel Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in New York State and would like to keep it that way. But the geese are harming the lake’s vegetation and wildlife, producing bacteria that chokes flora and fauna.

We know that other towns and cities, including New York City and Oyster Bay, have taken measures to address the excess Canada geese population. These birds, which are not native to our area, are a town-wide threat to our beautiful environment. In ever-growing numbers, they create noise and environmental pollution.

We urge the Town of Southold to research this matter and take action. Perhaps the county could be called on for help with solutions.

Winifred Jacoby Breines


Geese by the pound

Think about this when your hearts go out to the geese: I read an article the other day that told me Canada geese poop a pound a day. Ugh.

Stephen Cornelius


Create a bike trail

Regarding your Aug. 19 front page article, “Southold not so safe for cyclists,” I would like to suggest an engaging yet practical solution to this very real problem.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a bike path between villages for our visitors and ourselves? Why not create a hiker-biker trail alongside the already existing railroad right of way between Riverhead and Greenport?

It would be both safe and green and, with a little imagination in the way of bike rentals, gift shops, ice cream stands, restaurants and more along the way, the North Fork could simultaneously become both a unique and more attractive tourist destination and a less traffic-congested area.

What’s not to like about that?

Mary Lou Wickham


Shameful groveling

It is discouraging to realize that there are small, dedicated minds out there enforcing linguist political correctness – the word police.

The Suffolk Times’ shameful groveling apology for the use of the word “fair” undermines the American tradition of free speech and freedom of the press.

Brian Kelly


An outrageous claim

If you accept the claim of al-Qaida to speak for all of Islam, then of course you should be offended by the thought of an Islamic center a few blocks from Ground Zero.

But if you don’t accept this outrageous and false claim, why should you object to the Islamic center?

So why are so many Americans implicitly supporting al-Qaida’s claim?

Stanley Brown