03/03/14 8:00am
03/03/2014 8:00 AM
CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | An audible street signal intended to help the blind cross the street is too loud for neighbors.

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | An audible street signal intended to help the blind cross the street is too loud for neighbors.

The constant beeping of an audible street signal installed to help  the visually impaired cross safely at the intersection of Youngs Avenue and Route 25 in Southold is causing headaches for neighbors and business owners. (more…)

10/16/13 4:19pm
10/16/2013 4:19 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Town board candidates debate winery regulation and deer management during Tuesday's forum.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Town board candidates debate winery regulation and deer management during Tuesday’s forum.

Town finances, winery regulations and deer management were among the issues discussed at a Southold Town Board candidates forum sponsored by The Suffolk Times and hosted at Peconic Landing in Greenport Tuesday night.

Democratic challengers Mary Eisenstein and Ron Rothman asked voters to elect a different voice to the all-Republican board, while incumbent Town Board member Jim Dinizio, a registered Conservative, and Republican challenger and current town Trustee Bob Ghosio touted their experience and working knowledge of the issues facing Southold.

Here’s what the candidates had to say about the issues:

DEER MANAGEMENT

When it comes to Southold Town’s current deer management plan, Democratic hopefuls said there is none.

Mary Eisenstein, who has been diagnosed with Lyme disease four times during her 21 years on the North Fork, said the Town Board hasn’t been working hard enough to lobby Albany for more effective means of controlling the deer population.

“If I’m on the board, the first thing I’m doing is getting a busload of people to go to Albany,” she said.

The Republican candidates agreed deer management is a major issue in Southold Town. Mr. Ghosio pointed to Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) for letting legislation that would relax hunting regulations in Suffolk County and across the state to stall in committee.

“The problem is we are ready to address it, but the state is not,” Mr. Ghosio said. He believes when the North Fork’s vacant state Assembly seat is filled in November, Southold’s deer management issue will be better represented and more progress will be made. All the candidates said they would support Republican Town Supervisor Scott Russell’s proposal to allocate $75,000 in the 2014 town budget toward deer management.

TOWN FINANCES

Every candidate spoke in favor of Mr. Russell’s proposed budget for 2013-14 and supported the way the town manages its finances.

The proposed $41.6 million 2014 spending plan includes a 1 percent spending increase over the current year and would result in a 1.17 percent tax hike.

Mr. Dinizio said the town does a good job of limiting expenses and spending wisely, citing the Town Board’s recent authorization of a $3.5 million bond for construction improvements to the town’s highway facility. The proposed upgrades include demolition of existing fuel storage tanks and construction of a consolidated fueling station, he said.The consolidation would allow the town to store more fuel in the event of a natural disaster like superstorm Sandy.

“There are places were you can spend money to gain efficiency,” Mr. Dinizio said.

Democrats agreed the current Town Board handles its finances well.

“It is a well-managed town,” said Democrat Ron Rothman. “We are fiscally in good shape.”

Ms. Eisenstein said, “As I’m out speaking with people, they say how they like how Scott Russell manages our town and I concur with that.”

She agreed with Mr. Dinizio’s suggestion that the town could gain efficiency.

WINERY REGULATIONS

Any discussion on how to strike a balance between meeting the needs of agricultural businesses and maintaining the rural character of Southold Town will eventually turn to Vineyard 48’s controversial business practices. Tuesday’s debate was no exception.

The Cutchogue vineyard’s business practices have prompted investigations by both the town and the State Liquor Authority following a host of complaints, including reports of loud music and patrons allegedly wandering onto neighboring properties and engaging in illicit behavior.

While board members have traditionally taken a strong stance against the vineyard, Democratic hopeful Mr. Rothman said the winery is being stifled by the town’s excessive legislation, pointing specifically to the newly enacted special events law.The law and the winery use review were a response to residents’ complaints about such events — most notably at Vineyard 48 — and concern about the town’s options in addressing code violations.

Mr. Rothman, owner of Rothman’s Department Store in Southold, said the town should have enforced the laws already on the books rather then passing new regulations to restrict all of the town’s agricultural businesses.

“It’s overkill for the problem,” Mr. Rothman said. “I’m for agriculture and promoting the businesses that are zoned for these area. It is a good-neighbor policy.”

Mr. Dinizo said the need for the legislation stems from some operations not following a “good-neighbor policy.”

“If you mention [Vineyard] 48 you have to mention what goes on there; this establishment breaks the law every week,” he said. “That is a safety problem and a police problem.”

Mr. Dinizio, who has served for more than two decades on various Southold Town boards, said he’s seen the town’s need for more extensive regulations grow.

“In 1988 it was cheese and crackers and sipping wine and it was fine, but things are changing and that’s why we have a Town Board so we can all sleep at night,” he said.

Viewing the issue on a broader scale, Mr. Ghosio said his priority was to maintain the rural charm of the town.

“Riverhead used to be a rural town and we all see what’s happening out west and we don’t want that to happen here,” he said. “If we need to create laws to maintain that from time to time, so be it.”

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05/30/13 1:45pm
05/30/2013 1:45 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTOS | Southold Democratic Town Board candidates Mary Eisenstein and Ron Rothman.

Giving Republican Town Justice William Price the Democratic nomination after the GOP dropped him from its ticket was a headline maker, but it wasn’t the only decision made during the town Democrats’ nominating convention Wednesday night.

The party also selected a third-generation Southold store owner and a communications specialist and mediator from Mattituck to top the Southold Democratic Party’s ticket in the fall elections.

The supervisor’s position, which has a four-year term, is not on this year’s ballot.

The party also selected three Town Trustee candidates and one town assessor hopeful, but left open two assessors positions, Fishers Island justice, highway superintendent and town clerk.

The Town Board candidates are Ron Rothman of Rothman’s Department Store on Main Road in Southold and Mary Eisenstein, the operator of Melmar Enterprises, which offers workshops in corporate and individual communications. She’s also a mediator who has worked to resolve civil cases before the Town Justice Court.

For Trustee, the Democrats chose South African native Geoffery Well, a retired corporate IT officer; Joe Finora Jr, one of the organizers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League and Bill Funke, who prior to his retirement worked in the marine insurance industry.

Although three Trustee positions will be on this year’s ballot, the party selected just one candidate. Southold resident Jason Petrucci, who earned a master’s in government and politics from the University of Maryland, will run to fill the 26 months left in Assessor Darline Duffy’s term. Ms. Duffy is retiring this week.

The party left it to Chairman Art Tillman to continue the search for candidates for the other positions.

The Democrats were thrown a curve Wednesday morning when Highway Superintendent Pete Harris, the party’s only representative in local elected office, announced he will retire at the end of his term.

Mr. Tillman said he has “feelers out” for potential highway candidates.

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