Letters to the Editor


Facts? Not quite

In a diatribe of 11 paragraphs excoriating the students, teachers, administrators and curricula of North Fork public schools for teaching “the prejudices of progressive socialist communist ideology” (sic), Mr. George Dengel commits six grammatical errors in the first four paragraphs, ignoring the rules for capitalization, noun/pronoun agreement and commas.

Then he wanders off to the world of undocumented “facts.”

“The fact is discipline begets productive citizens” and “90 percent of private high school students go on to college” do not become facts because the writer says so. My public school students know that they have to include reputable sources to support any factual statements they write, which I suppose is typical of a “progressive” education.

Alas, proper grammatical writing and confusing opinion with fact are but part of the problems in this guest spot. Misspelling jumps out at us too.

In a conspiracy theory offering that tenured teachers are anti-enthusiasm, Mr. Dengel tells of a “North Fork teacher who was asked to resign by the principle…” Does this mean teachers are quitting because they believe in their principles? Enough already!

When attacking public education in writing, the least the attack should be is credible intellectually with grammatical writing and supported with facts, not opinion.

Thomas Brennan

teacher, Mattituck High School


Change the code

Regarding the huge house being built on Hobart Road, this is the third house built on Founders Landing in the last two years that I find unsettling.

A very tall house was built at the end of Founders Path, blocking what had been a nice vista as one strolled down toward the beach. Another house was built with the front door facing the back yard, leaving the back of the house facing the street. Not attractive.

The Battaglia home is too big, but like the other two homes it is apparently legal.

What needs to be looked at are the zoning requirements that allow these structures to be legally built. I do not think height requirements should be uniform if a house is going to be a towering structure that blocks the views of preexisting homes.

One only needs to look at the McMansions being built on tiny plots in Brooklyn and Queens to see what could happen if these issues are not addressed.

John Sassone


Live and let live

I also was amazed while jogging down Hobart Road one day, gawking as my feet came to a full stop.

It definitely is a one-of-a-kind house — the copper roof line, the arches in the roof trusses and the French stone on the main entrance.

Not being at the Town Hall meeting, I didn’t know how others felt. I suppose my home on Hobart Road was the last to go up. I say that because I raised my 100-year-old house six feet up out of the muck.

I rebuilt structures in other parts of the country and have never felt as much animosity as here. I believe in the Declaration of Independence’s “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Maybe someone should ask Dr. Caroline Peabody, mentioned in The Suffolk Times’ front-page article about bullying, to start with the parents.

Robert Mosquera


In Mitchell Park? Yes

I admit that I am not native to this area. My childhood roots and fond memories were elsewhere.

I did, however, marry into a family with roots that date back about sixty years. I started coming out here to my husband’s family home in the 70s and by now I feel I have some right to voice an opinion.

When we first began our frequent visits there was no Tanger Center in Riverhead to greet us with all the other giant chains eager to take your money as admission to the quiet serenity of the awaiting countryside. It was a sleepy 30-mile ride past simple farms, often sadly neglected but peaceful and unaffected by the encroaching commercialism. I was young and admittedly would have preferred to be on Fire Island or the Jersey Shore.

Fast forward thirty-something years and we’ve invested time and money upgrading the family home, which I think at least qualifies me to have an opinion about the proposed farmer’s market in Mitchell Park.

In the past decade or so the sleepy, depressed North Fork started birthing its own identity. The rundown farmland was ripe for growing grapes which were ripe for bottling local wine which attracted a new crowd of visitors. They were often younger and happy to have an alternative to the over-the-top pretentious Hamptons. This also encouraged other artisanal products like cheese and chickens and oysters and lovely scones, an organic throwback to what country life was supposed to be.

What better way to honor this transition and encourage new artisans to come here than to do it in the center of the town on the waterfront that has drawn it’s visitors for years?

If the small shop keepers are threatened, they are sadly misinformed. They lost their serious business to Riverhead and the internet long ago. The greatest contribution to their future is a new crop of tourism that respects local food, local art, and local color.

Putting a green market anywhere but Mitchell Park is a dishonor to the very culture and uniqueness of the North Fork.

Susan Pomerantz


The correct numbers

Under errors and omissions: Vincent Cullen and Jennifer Ditta of Cullen and Danowski, CPAs, maintain The Oysterponds School Districts’s financial records.

The reporter’s greatest mistake was in the headline, “Spending Slashed by $100K” (April 14). The 2010-11 Budget was $5,546,865 and the 2011-12 Budget is $ 5,626,644. Spending will increase by $79,779 rather than be slashed by $100,000. The error is $180,000.

From one year to the next, the consequent increase in budget will be +1.44% and in levy to levy, -1.53%.

The fund balance appropriation was $500,000. Any lesser appropriation next year will produce an automatic increase in the tax rate.

The last two Oysterponds School budgets have been $5,663,286 and $5,546,865. The 2011-12 budget should not change.

Spending this year will be under-budget by $700,000 and nothing has been stinted. The classrooms are full of textbooks and readers and the school’s library has many new titles. There are new computers and smart boards. This has all been done with essentially flat budgets.

Since property taxes will be capped, pension contributions will sharply rise, non-paid taxes will be charged back to the schools and inflation will continue. The school board must plan during 2011-12 how to stay afloat in the future. It must continue to emphasize to all members of the staff the need to eliminate all frivolous (“I want it”) spending of the taxpayer’s dollar.

Most likely, the only possible alternatives are either to send more grades to Greenport or to combine class grades.

Instead of squandering money on professional development, educational improvement will be gained far more rapidly by assigning responsibility for all math, language arts and science to the best-qualified teachers by playing to their strengths.

It’s far better to ignore a few rules of the state education department to produce better educated and more competitive students.

Walter Strohmeyer

Editor’s note: Mr. Strohmeyer is a member of the Oysterponds school board and a former board president. He is not seeking re-election.


Many causes at play

I was glad to see Venetia Hands’ letter concerning the role cesspools and septic systems play in nitrogen loading of our bays and creeks.

Eutrophication — the process of consuming the oxygen in the water when algae bloom, die and decompose — kills other marine life and has certainly become more problematic with increased development in coastal regions.

According to Rowan Jacobsen of Popular Science (May 2011), “Human sewage is the top source of eutrophication in the developing world, but in the U.S., Europe and China, animal waste and fertilizer are the main culprits.”

Regardless, we in Southold Town live in a coastal area and we seem to be reaping the rewards of all three culprits — animals, fertilizer and humans.

It has always seemed to me to be a rather simple assumption that human waste from cesspools close to the wetlands would have an effect on the nitrogen load because of the cesspool’s very close proximity to groundwater and the fact that groundwater tends to flow toward the estuaries.

As town trustee, I have seen many applications that include multiple “shallow” leaching pools to accommodate a home’s sewerage needs. They must be shallow because they are being installed close enough to wetlands, with groundwater so close to the surface, regular depth pools would reach directly into groundwater rather than be set in sand.

The county health department requires the pools be set at least three feet above groundwater. In fact, many septic systems on the shoreline must be so called “raised septic systems,” actually built above ground in a containment system, in order to get health department approval.

When I see plans that include these raised systems, I bristle and try to see if it can be mitigated for the better. If not, I vote against approving the application.

I recall one raised septic system proposed for a property on Marion Lake that I was against because of the prospect of overflow or accidental discharge leading to the lake — a lake that is already being choked with phragmites.

I do want to point out, however, that seasonally, we find more creek closures due to animal and fertilizer runoff issues rather than human waste issues. But systematically and over the long haul, the recent findings about human urine and damage to Peconic Bay scallops doesn’t surprise me.

Frankly, with or without public water, residential density pressure will continue to rise. After all, humans like to procreate. And procreation leads to more housing needs. More housing leads to more waste to be processed.

I will continue to advocate for better septic systems, vote against those I think are a potential danger and continue to join other elected officials, such as County Legislator Ed Romaine, in calling for the county to prescribe better technologies in residential septic management.

Bob Ghosio

Editor’s note: Mr. Ghosio is running this year for a second term as town trustee.


Better bottom paint

It’s a fact that boats that remain immersed in our waters for more then a few weeks require bottom paint.

It’s also a fact that for many years now, the only bottom paints that were effective in battling harmful marine growth used copper as an active ingredient. These copper paints leached hard metals into our waters, metals thatwere dangerous to the marine ecosystem.

The Southold Town Trustees have been informed of a new bottom paint additive called Econea which is both safe and effective for use on all boats. Econea is the future of antifouling technology. This copper-free biocide offers unsurpassed protection at very low concentrations.

This is great news for boaters, and even greater news for the marine ecosystem found in our local bays. Econea’s copper-free composition breaks down quickly in the environment, producing totally biodegradable by-products. Econea is non-corrosive to metals and is safe to use on all underwater metals.

The Trustees are asking all boat owners to do their own research and consider having their boat bottoms painted with products that include Econea rather then traditional copper or hard metals. There are various manufacturers who currently offer these paints on the market. We encourage you to discuss this matter with your local boatyard managers as you select bottom paint for the coming season.

We appreciate your time and consideration related to this critical matter. We hope that you will continue to support our efforts in keeping our local bays, creeks and waters safe both now and for future generations to come.

Jill Doherty, Bob Ghosio, James King,
Dave Bergen, John Bredemeyer
Southold Town Trustees


Celebrate the Earth

People were put on this planet to make it a better place, not to destroy it.

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and let’s celebrate our beautiful planet. If you are looking for a miracle, open your eyes. There was one this morning just around sunrise.

Thank God and the universe that everyday on earth the sun comes up (or, technically, the earth rotates  so that here in Southold we see the sun again) and we have sunlight, warmth and another day.

I hear a lot of negativity in the news, but we are very lucky to have clean air to breath, clean water to drink, trees, Peconic Bay, Long Island Sound, farms and many big open, protected spaces. We have opportunities everyday to make our world cleaner and more peaceful and to help sustain life on earth.

Recently New York State changed its I love New York campaign from a red heart to a green heart to promote eco-friendly tourism and to teach people to appreciate the natural world of our state.

The first earth day was 41 years ago when 20 million people marched in cities all over our country to ask for clean air and clean water. Out of those rallies came many laws to protect the environment, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, and the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

So what can you do to reduce garbage and smog and cancer and disease and war? Plant a tree, walk or bicycle, buy and eat whole foods, buy nothing with plastic packaging, drink tap water, compost and use the compost in your garden or give it to a farm.

Help the town and the North Fork Audubon and the Peconic Land Trust maintain our parks and trails. Walk a dog at the shelter or pet the cats. Get chicks for your own eggs. Use a rake instead of a gas powered leaf blower. The emissions of a leaf blower running for one hour are the same as a car driving 200 miles.

Walk our beaches to protect endangered species like the piping plover and least tern during nesting season, and to count horseshoe crabs mating on these full moon spring nights.

The osprey are back, the forsythia is blooming, the crocus are up, the daffodils are showing their sunny faces. I know people were put on this earth to add culture and music and art and not destroy it with plastic and burning oil and gas.

Make everyday Earth Day. And this year Earth Day falls on Good Friday…

Love our Earth. It’s a great planet.

Heather Cusack


An Easter greeting

Early Palm Sunday morn, the first day of Holy Week, the prelude to Easter, the brilliant sun slowly rose over the majestic Peconic.

Across the placid waters, between the white sands of quiet New Suffolk and Robins Island, the unspoiled jewel of Peconic Bay, seals bask, a mother and her pup on a large boulder just off the shore.

The beauty of creation awakens to the warming, life-giving, rising sun. And nature whispers, all is well. Be at peace.

Off shore, a gentle breeze ripples the waters. Creation, in all its glory, sings out to the world:

Sing praise! The Son of God, the Christ, has risen from the dead. Give glory to God and peace to His people on earth.

Happy Easter.

Jack McGreevy