Letters

Letters to the Editor

MATTITUCK

Make yourself heard

Many residents of the North Fork were unsettled by a strange noise these past two weekends, an eerie yet familiar sound that seemed to repeat at set times.

No, it wasn’t the sonic boom of the long gone SST. It turned out to be the LIRR train horn on a weekend.

After another winter of no weekend train service, the LIRR has once again deemed it relevant to provide weekend train service on the Greenport line. How nice of them. We pay our share of taxes — with businesses having to fork over an additional commuter tax — all year long but only get weekend service half the year and weekday service that hardly serves the needs of commuters and those who work locally.

When will the madness stop? Who is the LIRR to say that business needs exist only Monday through Friday, once in the morning and once in the evening, and not at all on winter weekends?

They obviously haven’t witnessed the North Fork economy firsthand. Then again, they probably had trouble finding a train to get them here.

If they bothered to visit the North Fork, they’d see a vibrant mix of local businesses. Add to that the shops, the art galleries and events like Winter Fest and one can see that this is not the North Fork of our grandparents.

We are not a Memorial Day to Labor Day community and don’t deserve to be forced into that pigeonhole by the LIRR.

Legislator Ed Romaine along with Mayor Nyce and Supervisors Russell and Walter spoke often and loudly about this slight last winter when there was no train service for Winter Fest. But they also spoke of a region that is not just a summer destination and whose residents and workers could benefit from regular, reliable train service seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

But besides their voices and those of groups like Five Town Rural Transit, the North Fork Promotion Council and the North Fork Environmental Council, the outcry from people and businesses has been barely heard. And that is playing into the hands of the LIRR and MTA.

We applaud the efforts of state Senators Ken LaValle and Lee Zeldin to submit a bill to repeal the MTA small business payroll tax outside New York City. And while the lower tax burden will help local businesses’ bottom line, it still doesn’t address the issue of proper train service for the North Fork.

The LIRR has ignored solid plans and shouted pleas to revamp East End train service for years now. Their hope is that over time we won’t notice that we’re paying a great amount in taxes and ticket fees and getting less and less in return. Their plan is that we’ll get used to the status quo and just go quietly into the night. We cannot afford to do that.

The North Fork Environmental Council asks residents and businesses alike to let their voices be heard. We cannot let the LIRR tell us that our economy is a “summer fling” and only important to them six months a year.

If we are to have a viable business environment — one that not only supports our businesses 12 months a year but also gives reason for our youth to get an education and return to a viable and vibrant North Fork — we must demand that the LIRR either give us the service we pay for and need all year round, or give us our tax dollars and let us implement a train system of our own, like the one developed by Five Town Rural Transit.

Make your voice be heard. Some fights are worth fighting no matter the size and strength of the opponent — and this is one of them.

Bill Toedter
president, North Fork Environmental Council

MATTITUCK

This is protection?

As I finished reading the paper I came to my favorite part, the legal notices. (Yeah, there’s a couple of us “notice” geeks out here.)
The first one was appalling. Four pesticides being used in Orient to control mosquitoes. The altosid briquets are applied into the ground to kill larvae. Let me see … where are the mosquitoes? In the marshes. Where will these briquets be going? What’s one of the big cautions for this chemical?

To quote, “Do not contaminate water when disposing of unused product.” I guess the EPA doesn’t like it when you dispose the chemical in the water but it’s all right to use it in the water. Huh?

By the way, do they call them “briquets” so they become more socially acceptable? Ah, the power of words.

Another drug, resmethrin (Scourge) is a synthetic pyrethroid. These are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer. Also, people with asthma and pollen allergies (which I am one) should be “especially cautious.”

Concerning the bigger picture, the Town of Southold is preserving some prime acreage in Orient.

Oh man, as I’m writing this another loud helicopter is flying over. This one is rattling the windows.

Anyway, the land in Orient was picked because of its agricultural and scenic values and for the protection of fresh and salt water marshes and wetlands.

Now let me see if I got this straight. We’re protecting marshes and wetlands to load them up with a couple of nasty chemicals?

Huh?

If this use of chemicals has been going on for years, does it partially explain why there is no eelgrass in Hallocks Bay?
Inquiring minds want to know.

Dean Sambach

SOUTHOLD

Not in supermarkets

I would like to comment on the guest spot article by Marcia Bystryn in the June 2 issue about wine in stores (“Grocery store wine sales save farming”).

According to the Long Island Wine Council, there are 45 wineries on Long Island. If each winery sells 15 different wines, that would mean the store must accommodate 675 new items and over 2,000 shelf facings.

The store would have to install one new gondola or delete an equal number of items to find the space. Maybe a superstore like the Stop & Shop in Riverhead could do it, but not many others.

Have you ever seen the size of a Manhattan supermarket?

If the consumer is able to buy wine in the supermarket, do you think that the thousands of visitors that come to the vineyards will still come out? Most of them eat at the local restaurants, buy at the local farm stands and visit many retail shops along the way.

Would the supermarket have a knowledgeable person to suggest the appropriate wine for that special dinner you are having?
In order to sell the wine, new avenues of distribution must be established. The cost of this will have to be added on. Can the fledgling Long Island wineries afford this? This additional cost is only going to be tacked on to the wine’s retail price.

Are you aware that only King Kullen is headquartered on Long Island? Waldbaum’s is owned by A&P, which is owned by Tangelmann, a German company. They are locally headquartered in New Jersey. Stop & Shop is owned by a Dutch company named Ahold and headquartered in Massachusetts. The Southold and Greenport IGAs are owned by a Long Islander.

In the past, East End communities have tried to protect the local merchant. They have turned down the big box stores and additional expansion by the larger corporations. What’s the fate of the over 100 liquor stores that currently stock Long Island wine in Suffolk? Do you think that they would survive financially with wine sold in supermarkets?

The state currently collects sales tax on wine sold at the wineries. Why not use that money for the farmland protection backlog?

A better idea might be to have an incentive for the restaurants to stock and promote Long Island wines.

Harry Fiumaro

SOUTHOLD

Not a real problem

A toll free number hotline and a website! What’s next?

It seems to me some people have too much time on their hands that all they have to worry about is a helicopter flying by two days a week, two months out of the year with the noise lasting about 45 seconds. Life must be good.

I don’t think we’re living in Howard Beach, Queens, where you can see the people in the seats of the planes that take off every 10 minutes.

Put things in perspective and stop wasting our elected officials’ time with such an inconsequential issue.

I think there are other noteworthy issues, such as two endless wars with mounting casualties, high taxes and renewable energy, to name a few.

Maybe a trip to a VA hospital or a local hospital should be in order. That would show what real problems are.

Richard Conrardy

SOUTHOLD

Thanks for the story

Thank you for running the story about the community character chapter of the Town of Southold’s comprehensive plan update on the front page last week.

Our citizens’ involvement and input in the plan is of utmost importance. It’s also important to acknowledge the hard work of the entire team, including the town Planning Board, and in particular Planning Board member Don Wilcenski, as well as principal planner Mark Terry in preparing the initial draft of the community character chapter to be reviewed by the public at the end of June.

Heather Lanza
Southold Town planning director

LAUREL

Save the estuary

Southold’s upcoming master plan is a very important document.

One of the important initiatives in the plan should be to tailor the development of Southold Town to meet the goals of the Peconic Estuary Program. This federal program is one of only 28 in the country.

It is intended to bring our Peconic Estuary back to health and to aid in regaining the productivity and bounty of the sea. This is key to fighting world hunger and key to saving one of Southold’s major assets, our maritime activity and heritage.

While we work to support PEP, we will save our pure drinking water and we will save our glorious views and open space and the magical ambiance of Southold.

It is safe to say that when supporting world health and fighting world hunger and saving the productivity of the estuary aligns with our personal best interest here in Southold. There is no question that we should dig in and do it.

This PEP initiative is overdue in Southold. We have already lost some of our valuable assets with six now permanently closed creeks. The closing of Brushes Creek, Narrow River, Goldsmiths inlet, Mattituck Creek, Mud Creek and Wickhams Creek should be enough notice of the decline.

We must roll up our sleeves and take full advantage of the combined power of the master plan and the Peconic Estuary Program and get Southold back on the right track.

Howard Meinke

GREENPORT

Blatant disregard

I noted with interest your coverage of the Village Trustees’ meeting attended by neighbors who live in the area of Harbor Knoll Bed and Breakfast.

As you wrote, we raised our concerns that Harbor Knoll intends to book large weddings and other events. We became alarmed about this possibility when we read the extensive advertising on the Harbor Knoll website inviting couples to plan their weddings for up to 80 guests at the B&B. This advertising was removed after the trustees’ meeting.

After reading Ms. Miller’s letter to the editor denying her plans to book weddings, I downloaded a wedding advertisement brochure published by Harbor Knoll. It says: “We host private events, weddings, corporate events, lunches, dinners and receptions. In the summer months we can accommodate up to 80 guests for the ceremony, cocktails, dining and dancing. In the fall, winter and spring months, we host smaller weddings and events at Harbor Knoll, with a maximum of 30 guests. We can provide a lovely brunch or early-afternoon tea for as many as 40 guests the day after the wedding.”

Additionally, on June 2 the B&B was listed as a wedding location on numerous websites. They include the North Fork Bed and Breakfast Association, Trip Advisor, weddingbook.com, forabetterwedding.com, and iloveinns.com.

One comment on Trip Advisor from a Harbor Knoll guest stated that he was married there in June 2009. This may be the small wedding for family friends that Ms. Miller referred to at the Village Trustees’ meeting. The bridegroom, however, states that Harbor Knoll served a wedding brunch for 60 guests.

Harbor Knoll, as a Greenport B&B, is meant to offer three rooms for guests. A review on bedandbreakfast.com, posted Jan. 2, 2011, was from a guest who says she came in a party of four couples to stay for New Year’s Eve. Hosting eight guests would put Harbor Knoll in violation of the three-room rule.

I applaud Ms. Miller for her years of service to the village. She is clearly a citizen who has the best interests of the village at heart.

It is all the more surprising then that she would violate town codes, make plans to violate them further, and potentially endanger guests and neighbors by overcrowding a facility. A tragedy caused by carelessness and lawbreaking by a prominent B&B would badly impact businesses for all Greenport lodging facilities.

The lane we live on is a 15-foot-wide dead end. There is nowhere to turn around except in driveways. Firefighters and emergency responders would be greatly challenged to provide services to anyone on the lane if Harbor Knoll is overcrowded. A wedding or any event with 80 guests and staff means lots and lots of cars. Only one car can go in or out of the lane at a time.

Everyone wants to grow their business in these tough times. I wish Harbor Knoll continued success in managing their pristine and beautiful B&B. The reality is that by its very definition, a B&B is meant to serve a limited number of people with a limited range of services.

I hope that the village will enforce the bed-and-breakfast codes and enforce them equally. Whether the code ultimately allows three rooms or five, it is untenable to have B&Bs exceed their legal parameters.

Roz Calvert

GREENPORT

It’s certainly true

We were shocked by Leueen Miller’s letter to the editor.

Ms. Miller was advertising a “full blown wedding business” on the Harbor Knoll website. Coincidentally, the wedding portion of her website was removed this past week. Fortunately, a copy was handed to the Village Board at the May 23 meeting.

The police were called to the wedding of her “friend” as the music from the band was very loud and went late into the evening. To our knowledge, no police report was filed, but a letter of complaint was given to former Mayor David Kapell. Ms. Miller commented herself that the music got a little loud.

Ms. Miller is running a B&B currently in violation of at least three of the provisions of the village code. She is allowed only three bedrooms and the serving of breakfast, and she is currently renting six, therefore flouting the current village code. The meeting was to discuss increasing the number of rentable rooms to five.

With six rooms rented, she is even flouting the proposed new code. Her civic mindedness, as discussed in her letter, although admirable does not give her the right to violate the village code.

As per her website, she has five rooms booked for June 3, six for June 17 and six for June 24 and she has booked a wedding in July, according to her own statement at the May 23 Village Board meeting.

She also advertises on her website that for a fee, she can do lunches, dinners, serve alcohol and even offers a wellness retreat. We have also recently been advised that Ms. Miller and Harbor Knoll have applied for a liquor license to sell alcohol at the B&B, all in violation of the village code.

We would like to defend our right to enjoy the use of our properties as they were intended and not be inconvenienced by someone running a commercial inn and catering business in our residential neighborhood.

The Millers have had 30-plus years enjoying their fabulous waterfront home on a quiet country lane with no disruption from neighbors trying to run a business out of their homes. All we ask is that they give us the same courtesy.

Walter and Candace Tilford

SOUTHOLD

What kind of USA?

After reading the letters from John Copertino and George Dengel I had a clearer understanding of what kind of America we will be living in if the Tea Party and like-minded voters prevail in 2012.

It’s an America in which people of color and those who have the temerity to disagree with ultra conservatives will be regarded as “deadbeats and dregs of society” who are not deserving of the same entitlements enjoyed by our largest corporations and the billionaires who own them.

It is an America in which a president of mixed race can only be elected as a result of a calculated plot so that “the left can attack anyone that disagrees with his policies and performance as being based on racism.”

It’s an America in which a president who was voted in by a vast majority and enjoys a 53 percent approval rating still somehow represents “everything that most Americans abhor.”

It’s an America in which all those who support the president will be regarded as “deadbeats” because they clearly do not qualify as “taxpaying, hardworking Americans.”

There will certainly be no room in this America for anyone not smart enough to have been born a white Christian male who can trace his ancestry back to the Founding Fathers. Such individuals will be regarded as “slag” and periodically removed.

It is an America in which the only news source will be Fox, where profound thinkers like Glen Beck and Sarah Palin will hold forth in a totally objective fashion for our enlightenment.

I don’t expect to alter Mr. Copertino’s or Mr. Dengel’s views, nor do I wish to prevent them from expressing these views. Rather I wish to ask if it is possible to hold differing points of view without resorting to vicious name-calling and ad hominem attacks on the president regardless of his/her party affiliation?

I would like to live in an America in which it is possible, as conservative commentator Joe Scarborough says, to “disagree without being disagreeable.”

Jerry Barkan

MATTITUCK

Think for yourself

In your June 2 issue of Letters to the Editor, I was pleasantly surprised that two gentlemen were exercising their right to free speech.

It also seems that one of the gentlemen forgot that the framers believed fervently that the separation of church and state in all matters of legislation was essential, thereby giving them the freedom to call upon their personal intellect to ratify and debate the Constitution without having any sort of personal religious conflicts.

It is mentioned in one letter that there was not a Muslim who helped frame our country, but if one was there, he would have participated because that is the kind of tyrannical thinking they were fighting against.

I am an Irish Catholic and I am quite sure none of my ancestors had any part of ratifying the Constitution. Those men who wrote that wonderful document were mostly English subjects until the revolution ended.

End of history lesson 101.

Fast forwarding to the year 2000, President George W. Bush is elected president, even though he lost the popular vote. The unemployment rate was at 4.2%, the budget was a surplus of $281 billion, and our national debt was $5.7 trillion. Two wars were started after the horrible day of 9/11/2001. President Bush starts a huge bureaucracy called Homeland Security.

In the early fall of 2008, banks begin to free-fall into oblivion. President Bush bails out the banks in Sept. 2008, giving them $700 billion and then bails out AIG with another $85 billion dollars. Later that Sept., he’s forced to raise the debt ceiling $4 trillion.

Sound familiar?

In Jan. 2009, President Barack Hussein Obama is sworn in as president. Unemployment is now at 7.6%, the budget is now a $1.2 trillion deficit, the national debt has been doubled to $10.8 trillion, and we are fighting two wars. President Obama calls his bailout a stimulus package and another $787 billion is spent to try to stop the failing economy.

A year later, President Obama passes a weak and flawed health care law and is vilified for it, but in my opinion it was needed because the health care system does need some sort of fixing. He is called a socialist for this law, but was FDR called a socialist for the New Deal which included social security? Was LBJ called a communist when the Great Society laws came to pass in the 60s which included Medicare?

This is the time for new ideas and thoughtful debate, not name-calling. For the life of me, I can never understand why people vote for a party that doesn’t have their best interest at heart.

When it comes right down to it, we aren’t as different as the political parties make us out to be. But way too many people get caught up in the harsh rhetoric spewed on talk shows with agendas and newspapers with political ties. Use self-reliance and just think who you want to vote into the presidency using your own intellect just as the framers did.

Edward Donohue

GREENPORT

An indomitable spirit

This is a tribute to Viola Cross, a tiny lady with white hair, a hat and an indomitable spirit, who passed away last week.

She was the watchtower for her community, the one who ferreted out the indignities visited on people of color, the special dangers they lived, the necessity to face the powers that be, to speak out and to take action.

It was she who discovered that the houses at Church Lane had all been down-zoned to “commercial” without notification to the residents and without the protections that residential zoning provides.

She mounted an extraordinary campaign that alerted the whole community of Southold Town to the injustice that was being done to Church Lane residents. There were innumerable sessions at Town Hall, widespread interest, concern and compassion and eventually, against all odds, a successful rezoning.

Viola grew up in Southold Town. The family had stories of a grandmother, a slave, being beaten at the whipping post. Viola witnessed vigilantes coming to the house looking for her father.

She went to school with white children, who came to dinner at her house, but once they graduated, no longer acknowledged that they knew her.

Viola ministered to her people, spiritually as a minister and protectively as their guardian.

For me, she was a dear friend, a wise guide and an inspiration.

Merle Levine

MATTITUCK

A nicer gateway

Regarding Mattituck’s status as the gateway to Southold, a relatively easy and inexpensive way to rejuvenate, clean up and make the Main Road presentable to residents and tourists would be to get rid of the honky-tonk advertising on the LIRR trestle.

Next, beautify the road, starting at the trestle and proceeding east, by planting appropriate trees and installing attractive flower planters all along both sides of Southold’s gateway.

Doing this would be a good start. Also getting the Mattituck business community involved would be a big plus.

Jack McGreevy

MATTITUCK

Take the signs down

To the people of our community who choose to earn a little extra cash with their no longer wanted items, please do all of us a favor.

Take down your signs when your sale is over!

We enjoy yard sale-ing on the weekends just as much as the next guy. But it’s extremely frustrating when you’re driving around in circles following signs that have been sitting on poles for as much as a month. Having five or six signs on one pole that no longer need to be there is such an eyesore.

Oh, and one more tip; please put the date on the sign, not just “Yard Sale Today.”

Heidi Stigliano

SOUTHOLD

My real background

The recent article regarding my nomination by the Southold Democrats to run for town justice (“Democrats are in it to win it,” May 26) said:

“Mr. Hughes worked as a prosecutor in the City of New York’s fire marshal’s office and served as head of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s public corruption section.”

This is inaccurate in that I never held any of those positions. The fire marshal’s office has no prosecution function and I never served as head of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s public corruption section.

For the past 25 years I have been practicing law, doing trials and litigation work. I’ve done this in almost every courthouse between NYC and Orient Point, including all of the superior courts.

I started trial work immediately upon graduating law school in 1985 when my trial advocacy and criminal law professors recruited me to be an assistant attorney general for New York State. That began a rewarding five-year run of investigations and trials involving the prosecution of public corruption cases.

I was then invited to join the Kings County DA as chief of the economic crimes and arson bureau. Here I prosecuted cases involving arson, white collar crimes and fraud. I was subsequently promoted to executive assistant district attorney where I prosecuted trials involving high-profile and sensitive cases.

For the past 13 years I’ve been practicing in Southold, continuing my trial and litigation work, mostly in Suffolk County.
I understand trials. I know the rules. I have the experience and I’ve actually been in the courts for 25 years. I hope this clarifies my experience and qualifications for the office of town justice.

Your article was correct in that I was a member of the FDNY, where I proudly served as a firefighter and fire marshal. I held those positions prior to my admission to the bar.

Brian Hughes

GREENPORT

How blessed we are

When the siren goes off you know that someone is in trouble. This time it was us receiving the highly professional attention of the Greenport Fire Department Rescue Squad.

Assessing vitals, gently lifting her to the to the gurney and whisking Mrs. Burns to the ELIH ER, a task these wonderful volunteers perform so often on others, but this time the siren was for us. We called and minutes later they were at the door, did what they do so well and were off to the ER.

How blessed we are that they are ready. Money can’t buy the caring consideration of these volunteers.

The painstaking and professional folks in the ER found a dangerous infection. During her several days as a patient, under the care of a truly wonderful and caring staff, ELIH demonstrated its well deserved reputation as one of the best hospitals in the country. Again, we are blessed and thankful.

All was done under the careful, knowledgeable and personable supervision of Dr. Mel Kaplan. We need more doctors like him.

Money can’t buy the personal dedication given by the large number of folks who take care of us. We have to remember that when we are asked for support, they can’t do it without it.

We are deeply grateful to the health care folks and the community we live in that supports them.

Ben Burns

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