04/03/14 6:00am
04/03/2014 6:00 AM
A sandbar at the end of Pine Neck Road in Southold. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A sandbar at the end of Pine Neck Road in Southold. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

To the editor:

In his letter to the Suffolk Times last week, North Fork Environmental Council president Bill Toedter brought up significant points about nitrogen pollution and waste water treatment on the East End. I would like to add to the conversation. (more…)

03/13/14 6:00am
03/13/2014 6:00 AM
Southold Elementary School fifth graders  along with county Legislator Al Krupski and county Executive Steven Bellone taught Southold seniors Ana Balarezo, Judy Ollarty, Lena Raiser and Bill Faye how to use tablet computers Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Southold Elementary School fifth graders, along with county Legislator Al Krupski and county Executive Steven Bellone, taught Southold seniors Ana Balarezo, Judy Ollarty, Lena Raiser and Bill Faye how to use tablet computers Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Keeping up with ever-changing technology can be a challenge for most people, especially seniors. For kids, though, the technology often becomes second-nature.

So what better way for seniors to learn how to use a tablet computer than to ask a fifth grader? (more…)

01/29/14 12:01pm
01/29/2014 12:01 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Suffolk County officials have asked the fireboat Fire Fighter museum Greenport.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Village officials voted Monday to prevent fireboat Fire Fighter museum from docking in Greenport Village.

The Greenport Village Board is officially looking to bid farewell to the controversial Fire Fighter fireboat museum. (more…)

01/10/14 12:00pm
01/10/2014 12:00 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO  |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO |  The rise in deer population has become one of the biggest concerns for North Fork residents.

As a lifelong resident of the North Fork, I have witnessed the explosion of the deer population.

When I was growing up, it was rare to find deer tracks in fields or in the woods, but now it’s common to come across several deer in one’s backyard. Historically, populations of deer were dramatically lower than they are today, and we know that without natural predators and with plentiful food sources, deer populations can double in two to three years.

The agricultural industry, a critical part of the East End economy, has experienced millions of dollars of crop loss due to white-tailed deer. Farmers have spent thousands of dollars on deer fencing to protect crops; this is an expense most cannot afford. As a fourth generation farmer, I understand this all too well.

As a Suffolk County Legislator and a former Southold Town Councilman, I have spoken to hundreds of constituents whose lives have been seriously impacted by deer, whether it is by a tick-borne illness or a car accident or, as in some cases, both. I have walked through many acres of preserved open spaces and parks in my district and seen firsthand the destruction deer have done to the natural environment.

All efforts must be made to bring the population of white-tailed deer, which has reached crisis proportions in eastern Suffolk County, down to sustainable levels. The USDA sharpshooter program is one tool that can be employed to help achieve this goal and, at least in Southold Town, the community will utilize the program to decrease the herd size and protect human health, biodiversity and property.

This does not mean that there is unanimous support for culling the herd or that no controversy surrounds the program, but if the alternatives are considered objectively, the logical conclusion is that we need to act.

Tick-borne illnesses have cost millions of dollars in treatment and lost work and caused much pain and suffering. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported almost 3,000 cases of Lyme disease in New York State in 2012, but it is believed the actual number is much greater due to misdiagnosis, inconclusive testing and underreporting. New York State has one of the highest incidences of tick-borne illnesses in the country and Suffolk County has one of the highest infection rates in the state.

Lyme disease is not the only tick-borne illness associated with deer. Others, such as Babesiosis, can be particularly harmful to people with compromised immune systems. In addition, tick-borne disorders unfamiliar to scientists are emerging, such as a potentially life-threatening red meat allergy that develops in some people bitten by lone star ticks.

The Suffolk County Tick Management Task Force concluded that “the issue of tick-borne disease is inextricably linked to deer overpopulation … Any strategy for tick control must reduce the number of deer and/or the number of ticks on deer to have any chance of success.”

Unchecked growth of the white-tailed deer population has devastated the natural environment and this will continue until we act to reduce the population to a sustainable level.

Conservationists and those who advocate for the protection of wildlife alike should support policies that cull the herd to protect habitat and biodiversity. In many areas deer have destroyed the woodland understory. Invasive plant species, like mile-a-minute vine, have taken over because beneficial native plants have been gobbled up by deer.

The insects, birds and other animals these native plants and ecosystems support are now threatened and have decreased in numbers. Some forests are so stripped they may not be able to regenerate.

The problems caused by white-tailed deer overpopulation are multi-faceted and costly. As a community, we need to make the hard choices and manage the herd to lessen the occurrence of disease, habitat destruction and property loss.

If you are concerned about the well-being of individual deer, perhaps you should stop driving, because hundreds are killed or maimed in car accidents yearly. It is not a pretty sight to see an animal writhing in pain after being hit but not killed.

The USDA program is conducted safely, professionally and humanely. The meat harvested is a good source of protein and will not go to waste but will be donated to food pantries and homeless shelters feeding many people in need on Long Island.

Al Krupski is a Suffolk County legislator whose district encompasses the North Fork. He lives in Cutchogue.

12/19/13 2:30pm
12/19/2013 2:30 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A drainage pipe from the preserve? in the front lawn of a home on Sound Shore Road in Northville.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A drainage pipe from the preserve in the front lawn of a home on Sound Shore Road in Northville.

After years of poking and prodding public officials to do something about periodic flooding on Sound Shore Road in Northville — flooding that includes contaminated water, tests have shown — residents in the area will get their wish for an overhaul of an outdated culvert system, courtesy of Suffolk County.

A series of underground pipes directs groundwater from the North Fork Preserve to Northville Beach and, for years, debate has raged over who — if anyone — would be responsible for updating the damaged system, which is believed to have been installed in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration. The damaged pipes run underneath Sound Shore Road and through properties on its north side before reaching the beach.

The 307-acre preserve, previously two separate lots, was purchased in 2011 for $18 million. Suffolk County chipped in the lion’s share of the cost to construct a park, with Riverhead Town using $500,000 in Community Preservation Fund money. Now, with the responsibility of owning the land, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said that updating the sub-par culverts falls to Suffolk, even if the cash-strapped county has to borrow $850,000 to do the work. County legislators approved a measure Tuesday to do just that.

“We’ve inherited quite a problem over there,” said Mr. Krupski. “But now it’s the county’s liability to fix.”

Mr. Krupski said that work to fix the problem, which started to emerge over a decade ago, could begin as soon as this winter, .

According to a 2009 Riverhead News-Review article, a November 2007 report from the Suffolk County Health Department found that during the summer months, fecal contamination was evident in the culvert system, which could be attributable to shallow groundwater, surface water runoff, animal waste “and, potentially, leaching from on-site disposal systems.”

That same county report recommended that people not swim near areas where culverts from the property discharge.

Independent testing completed a year later by the Northville Beach Civic Association, led by former civic president Kerry Moran, found extremely high counts of fecal matter in samples leaching from the culverts, some of which drain directly onto Long Island Sound beaches. One test revealed a fecal coliform number five times the level that would have closed a public beach. Mr. Moran died in 2011 of injuries sustained after being struck by an automobile the year before.

Mr. Krupski said the cost to construct a sump on the preserve originally came in at nearly $1.5 million. However, further discussion led to the current plan, which will still discharge groundwater into Long Island Sound, a plan for which, he said, the county had permission from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Mr. Krupski added that the only contaminants in the groundwater after the pipes are repaired should be animal waste.

John Cullen, president of the civic group for the past three years, said that Northville homeowners affected by the substandard pipe system “were hoping, and still are hoping, that things will be fixed with the water coming off the preserve.”

In recent months, Mr. Cullen said, several meetings with the county Department of Public Works have led to a sense of optimism in that regard.

“The DPW has been very helpful,” he said. “We’re just hoping this can be over and done with.”

12/18/13 4:00pm
12/18/2013 4:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO

A measure by Legislator Al Krupski to amend how the county purchases farmland and open space failed to pass on Tuesday, even after the Cutchogue Democrat revised the proposed bill after it initially drew the ire of some environmentalists.

In June, Mr. Krupski proposed his original farmland preservation amendment, which suggested splitting the use of the county’s Drinking Water Protection Fund 50-50 between open space and farmland purchases. But dedicating a specific portion of the revenue stream to one use or the other proved too much to ask, and the legislator later altered his proposed amendment, pitching a watered-down version of the legislation in July.

Mr. Krupski’s amended bill made no mention of setting aside a certain percentage of land purchases for open space or farmland. It did, however, set a certain threshold that parcels must meet in order to be appraised by the county — a required step before legislators vote to purchase land.

“I find it surprising that in any way, we could find it controversial that we would spend our money more wisely,” he said before the vote at Tuesday’s general meeting.

But the added benchmarks concerned at least 13 legislators, who voted to table the bill in the final meeting of the year Tuesday, effectively killing it.

Attention to Suffolk’s land purchases through the Drinking Water Protection Fund have come to a fore in the past year after the county bonded out against future revenues and subsequently used nearly all of the funding. While land was able to be purchased for historically low dollar values, Suffolk County, Southampton and Riverhead towns were just a few municipalities that borrowed to buy now, rather than later.

Legislator Lou D’Amaro (D-North Babylon) said before the floor vote that he didn’t believe the appraisal rating system was designed to be considered a threshold for whether or not a particular parcel could ever be purchased.

Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport) said the new regulations would likely favor the first and second legislative districts — the North and South Forks — as it would codify the process in appraising land parcels, and most parcels available for open space and farmland preservation purchases are located out east.

“To set a rule that would cause me to put my constituents at a disadvantage permanently — I have a very difficult time doing that,” he said.

Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), chair of the county’s environment, planning and agriculture committee, said last week that those thresholds, in effect, favor purchasing farmland over open space, as the new standards are harder to meet for open space buys.

“It’s not treating them equally, and we have a preference for open space because this is drinking water protection money,” she said. “And a wooded parcel that’s open space is protecting drinking water more than preserving farmland would.”

While the bill wasn’t rejected, since it was tabled on Tuesday it would have to be re-introduced next year in order to be considered once again. Mr. Krupski said he doesn’t intend to bring it back up immediately, and will look to see how previously approved alterations in the land-buying process, which go into effect next year, work out.

jpinciaro@timesreview.com

11/03/13 8:01am
11/03/2013 8:01 AM
Albie DeKerillis and Al Krupski

Albie DeKerillis and Al Krupski

 COUNTY LEGISLATURE

Two-year term, part-time

Salary: $96,958

ALBIE DeKERILLIS

Hamlet: East Marion

Occupation: Maintenance

Party line: Republican

About him: Mr. DeKerillis, 46, graduated from culinary school and served in the U.S. Army before continuing to serve in various roles on the North Fork. He has served on the Orient/East Marion Parks District as commissioner, chairman and treasurer and currently volunteers as an EMT in Greenport. He ran unsuccessfully for Town Board in 2009.

His pitch: Mr. DeKerillis says he is running for office because he wants to help county government get a handle on taxes, create jobs and protect open space and farmland. Diverse opinions can lead to new ideas, he says, and a fresh look at what can be done.

In his words: “When you elect me to represent you, I will do the absolute best of my ability, and work day and night to prevent what is now happening in Washington from ever happening in Suffolk County.”

 

AL KRUPSKI

Hamlet: Cutchogue

Occupation: Farmer

Party lines: Democratic, Independence, Conservative

About him: Mr. Krupski, 53, is a fourth-generation farmer who was born and raised in Cutchogue. He was first elected to office in 1985 as a Southold Town Trustee, a position he held for 20 years, the last 14 as chairman. In 2005, he was elected to the Southold Town Board and served for seven years. He was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in January of this year in a special election.

His pitch: Thirty years ago, when he was first asked to run for Town Trustee, Mr. Krupski recalls having no experience at all politically, being born and raised on a farm. But that farm experience, he said taught him how to work hard until a job was done, make decisions under ever-changing circumstances and to work with people are all lessons that he says he learned from the family he worked with.

In his words: “As a Suffolk County legislator, I know about the quality-of-life issues that are important on the East End and I will continue to work hard to protect them.”

11/03/13 8:00am

Krupski-web-1

Incumbent county Legislator Al Krupski is running for his first full term on the county level after winning a special election earlier this year against Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter. After earning two-thirds of the vote over Mr. Walter, someone who has proven himself on the town level, Mr. Krupski now faces someone who has less experience in public office in Republican candidate Albie DeKerillis.

Mr. Krupski is the clear choice to earn a full term in office this fall.

Mr. DeKerillis faces a steep uphill battle against Mr. Krupski, who has 28 years in public office under his belt. While seemingly hard-working and community-oriented — Mr. DeKerillis holds down two jobs while volunteering as an EMT — the Republican offers no clear plan to implement his number one priority, which he says would be bringing high-paying jobs to Suffolk County’s 1st District.

With budget woes a constant conversation at the county level, Mr. Krupski — endorsed by the Conservative Party as well as Democratic and Independence parties — brings a track record of fiscal right-mindedness that benefits residents in the 1st District and throughout Suffolk. Mr. Krupski went so far earlier this year as to reject spending $200,000 of borrowed money for a study that would have looked into the economic impacts the Peconic Bay Estuary offers, something he called a waste of taxpayer money. Given the Peconic Estuary Program’s library of reports, it’s clear those studies have already been done, and borrowing funds to study the issue again offers a questionable return on investment.

Mr. Krupski – a farmer himself – has focused most publicly on farmland preservation during his first 10 months in office, at one point earning the public scorn of some longtime environmentalists. But Mr. Krupski went back to the drawing board on his original plan to meet critics in the middle and further hone the plan. In addition, he has helped guide changes to the county farmland preservation code that were crafted with the support of those most in favor of saving what’s left. This flexibility is admirable, as is the effort to preserve the county’s remaining undeveloped land with a limited bankroll.

But one thing we do hope Mr. Krupski takes with him back to the Legislature, should he earn the votes, would be Mr. DeKerillis’ zeal to create high-paying jobs in the district, particularly at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Farm-related jobs are a vital part of the North Fork economy, but the future of the district’s western portion will rely heavily on whether or not businesses are drawn to EPCAL. Having a legislator in the majority who will promote positive change there should help hasten that process, and we hope Mr. Krupski continues to work with his peers and colleagues at the town and state levels toward that end. Mr. Krupski has shown during his time in office he can respond to his constituents’ needs and deliver for them.

10/11/13 9:00am
10/11/2013 9:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Pumpkin pickers in a field at Harbes Family Farm on Sound Avenue in Mattituck.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Pumpkin pickers in a field at Harbes Family Farm on Sound Avenue in Mattituck.

After a farmland preservation bill that sounded the alarm of some environmental groups was pulled earlier this summer, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski believes he has the support for an altered version to help sustain the county’s depleted drinking water protection purse.

An original draft of the bill called for splitting the spending of drinking water protection funds 50-50 between farmland and open space, as the county’s land preservation purchases currently don’t distinguish between the buying of one or the other.

Farmland, Mr. Krupski (D-Cutchogue) stated in a News-Review opinion piece over the summer, is “critically important and food production must not be trivialized as so few things are produced in this country.”

At the time, he said, 95 percent of the county’s land preservation dollars spent through the Drinking Water Protection Fund -— a 0.25 percent sales tax that Suffolk County voters approved in 1987 to tax themselves — went toward open space preservation as opposed to farmland.

But environmentalists argued that pursuant to the original 1987 referendum, the proposed changes were out of line since voters OKd the original program firsthand, and amending it would require another vote.

Mr. Krupski’s amended bill — which was tabled at last week’s Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee meeting -— makes no mention of setting aside a certain percentage of land purchases for open space or farmland. It does, however, set a certain threshold that parcels must meet in order to be appraised by the county, a step necessary before legislators vote on buying them up.

“If [the land] doesn’t rate to a certain level, we shouldn’t even spend the money appraising it because it’s never going to get bought,” said Mr. Krupski, who also is a farmer. He added that the average appraisal — many of which the county contracts out — costs between $2,000 and $3,000. And those that aren’t contracted out, “jam up the whole system.”

Attention to Suffolk’s land purchases through the Drinking Water Protection Fund have come to a fore in the past year after the county bonded out against future revenues and subsequently used nearly all of the funding. While land was able to be purchased for historically low dollar values, Suffolk County, Southampton and Riverhead Towns were just a few municipalities that borrowed to buy now, rather than later.

Southold — where Mr. Krupski previously served as Town Councilman before running for legislator earlier this year — decided to forego such a program because “once you’ve used it up, you have no flexibility,” he said.

As of Oct. 7, 26 parcels were in contract, had accepted offers or were in negotiation, totaling $19.9 million in land preservation commitments using drinking water protection funding. Available for future negotiation was a balance of $365,010 — though EPA Chair Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) noted in an interview that $3.7 million in revenue from 2012 should be coming in before the end of the year.

Mr. Krupski believes he has support for the new bill and interviews with members of the EPA committee confirm it at least has the support to get out of committee. Legislators Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Tom Barraga (R-West Islip) and DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) all support the current measure.

“Obviously, it’s significantly different from the original bill, and those changes were appropriate given the historical interest in preserving the development rights of farmland in the past,” Mr. Gregory said.

Though Ms. Hahn said the proposed thresholds favor farmland more than open space — which are measured on two difference scales.

While Mr. Krupski disagreed, since the bill was tabled at last week’s committee meeting it remains to be seen what, if any, changes, remain to be made.

Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and one environmentalist who protested the original bill, said that while the new incarnation isn’t worth making a fuss over, he questions what it will do to help the county’s ability to purchase much more land.

“The amendments make it less offensive,” he said. “But we don’t see any need for the legislation. The county is cautiously buying open space and farmland, as it always has, applying the criteria environmentalists and farmers agreed upon.

“At the moment, he seems to want to improve the mechanisms for acquiring land — or protecting land we don’t have money to buy. Let’s work on funding those mechanisms.”

Mr. Krupski and Ms. Hahn both said discussions are being held to generate future revenue for open space purchases, though both were hesitant to release any details until proposals are finalized.

“Obviously, we need to go in a different direction,” Mr. Krupski said.

jpinciaro@timesreview.com

10/03/13 3:00pm
10/03/2013 3:00 PM
DANIEL GILREIN COURTESY PHOTO | An adult deer tick, which are known to  carry pathogens causing Lyme disease, babesiosis or anaplasmosis. Adult ticks are active in spring and late fall, according to Daniel Gilrein, entomologist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

DANIEL GILREIN COURTESY PHOTO | An adult deer tick, which are known to carry pathogens causing Lyme disease, babesiosis or anaplasmosis.

A proposed law introduced recently to aggressively address tick-borne illnesses was unanimously approved by the Suffolk County Legislature’s Public Works and Transportation Committee on Tuesday, and will go to the full legislature for a vote next Tuesday at its meeting in Riverhead.

The proposed law would require the Suffolk County Vector Control to submit an annual plan that indicates steps being taken to reduce the incidence of tick-borne illnesses — including work to be done, active measures being taken and an analysis to determine the effectiveness of the program.

Vector Control has focused mainly on mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus. However language in the bill itself states that “an individual is 300 times more likely to contract Lyme’s disease than mosquito-borne West Nile Virus.”

County Legislator Al Krupski, a co-sponsor of the bill, called Lyme disease an epidemic on the east end of Long Island. And at a deer forum held last week in Southold, leaders highlighted the fact that tickborne illnesses are an issue on the North Fork.

“Most of us have been impacted in some way by tick-borne disease,” he said in a recent release. “Suffolk County needs to play an active role to control this growing health problem.”