03/06/13 5:19pm

RENDERING COURTESY OF PECONIC LANDING | In the site plan for Peconic Landing’s proposed $40 million expansion, the dark sections on the left show the proposed additions.

Peconic Landing’s long-awaited expansion could begin by the end of the year, if the Greenport life care community can get all the approvals and financing in place.

The $45 million expansion would add 46 apartments, 16 new private skilled nursing accommodations and a 16-suite “memory care facility” for seniors with cognitive impairment. The facility said that could bring 40 new health care jobs to town.

Peconic Landing received ZBA approval late last year for the three-story apartment wing. The Town Code limits buildings to two-and-a-half stories. Town planning director Heather Lanza says she’s expecting to see Peconic Landing before the Planning Board for site plan review in upcoming weeks.

“This is something we started studying five years ago, and now it looks like a reality,” Peconic Landing president Robert Syron said in an interview this week. “We have a significant wait list, 134 people, for the independent side of it.”

Peconic Landing sales manager Laurelle Cassone said 28 people, some of them couples, have committed to move into the new apartments.”

“We had to show New York State that we had demand for our apartments,” she said. “We’re already 58 percent committed for our priority program. We’re considerably ahead of schedule for our goal.”

Peconic Landing residents have had a great deal of input in the design of the expansion, said Mr. Syron.

“We’ve been asking how residents see the utilization of space,” he said. “We’re just following our incredible population’s lead.”

The apartments range in size from 750 to 1,100 square feet. Peconic Landing is also planning to expand its fitness facilities and pool area and add new administrative support spaces and a technologically enhanced “smart classroom” where residents can take advantage of college-style classes.

The memory care facility was proposed after Peconic Landing conducted a survey of local health care market needs.

“It will be person-centered dementia care, the only one of its kind on eastern Long Island,” said vice president for administrative health services Greg Garrett. “It will focus on a person’s strengths and provide them with a sense of purpose and peace. We do have people living at Peconic Landing who would be eligible. We also would be looking to provide these services to the greater community. There is a need for this type of care.”

The 16-room private skilled nursing facility, also recommended by the market study, will be a “neighborhood model,” with a common area, country kitchen, dining area, great room and activity area, used for short-term rehabilitation for residents recovering from surgery or illness.

“This will be for our own residents who require care, and it will also serve the greater community on occasion,” said Mr. Garrett. “The focus is really on offering our residents two higher levels of care.”

Ms. Cassone said the jobs created by the project will be “mostly frontline,” health care positions. “We’re not adding more management,” she said.

Mr. Syron said the facility hopes the construction jobs will be kept local.

“We’ve instructed our construction manager to try to find as many subcontractors as possible from the East End and Suffolk County,” he said. He added that when construction is complete, the 40 new jobs will include resident care staff such as nurses and nurses aides, and there will be opportunities for current employees to advance.

“We have 215 employees now. We will have 255 to 260,” he said. “The majority of our employees are folks on the North Fork.”

[email protected]

03/06/13 12:00pm

KATIE COE COURTESY PHOTO | Veteran’s Memorial Beach in Mattituck at around 4 p.m. Oct. 29, the day Superstorm Sandy hit the North Fork.

Southold was spared from the worst of Superstorm Sandy’s damage, but the storm’s legacy is still shaking up Town Hall, Supervisor Scott Russell said in Tuesday’s State of the Town address.

There was plenty of good news to report for 2012: the town had an end-of-year fund balance of $8.2 million, $1.2 million more than anticipated; recycling revenue was up 30 percent; 28,500 meals were delivered to elderly residents’ homes; a new dynamic website was launched; an economic development committee was created to work with business owners to make Southold a better place to do business; the town had maintained an excellent bond rating and preserved 142 acres of land.

But the storm’s $2.6 million cost and the ongoing red tape of seeking reimbursement from FEMA, helping residents rebuild their damaged homes and preparing Southold for the next major storm have been Mr. Russell’s primary focus for the past four months.

“It was the first time I’ve had to declare a mandatory evacuation in my six years as supervisor,” said Mr. Russell of the storm, adding his thanks to fire department members who put themselves in harm’s way during the evacuation effort, deep water rescues and electrical fires.

Scott Russell

Mr. Russell said the cost of damage to Southold Town’s mainland infrastructure is expected to top $1.6 million, while damage on Fishers Island cost more than $440,000. Debris removal cost the town $446,000 and the activation of the town’s emergency response team cost more than $100,000.

“FEMA has assured us that most of these costs are reimbursable, but they take time,” he said. “We still haven’t received some reimbursement from Irene.”

Mr. Russell said town officials now know they need to do even more to prepare for the region’s next big storm.

The town is planning to develop a geographic information systems-based evacuation plan, which would allow fire departments and residents to determine if individual properties are in flood zones and need to be evacuated.

During Sandy, emergency officers used “tabular listings,” or street-by-street maps of areas that were at risk from flooding, the supervisor said.

“We mapped out where the storm surge was after the storm,” said Mr. Russell, adding that those maps can be used in the future to pinpoint more accurate flood risks.

Mr. Russell said the town also plans to purchase generators and work with volunteer groups to staff shelters the next time there’s a storm.

“We need to think about the two-to-three week challenges we face after a storm,” he said.

Mr. Russell praised the town’s solid waste management efforts, which brought in $2 million in revenue, “more than ever before,” he said. Recycling revenue was $154,000, he said, while the town’s new e-waste disposal program brought in $7,000. A free paper-shredding program for residents brought in 21,000 pounds of recyclable paper.

The town was also able to eliminate three full-time positions due to the retirement of staff members in 2012.

“When people leave, we don’t fill the positions,” he said. “It’s a very rare prospect that we would be laying someone off.”

Though Mr. Russell said he’d seen media reports of a big jump in Community Preservation Fund revenue from January of 2012 to January of this year, he cautioned that mortgage tax receipts, another indicator of the health of the real estate market, actually decreased in the same period.

“Times are still tough. The economy is still on very shaky ground,” he said. “Real estate is still not robust and prosperous.”

He also said the town is taking a very cautious approach to debt. The town is currently paying off $58 million in debt, $40 million of which is due to open space preservation. Though Mr. Russell said the debt is “well-managed,” he said he wants to ensure the town never makes a habit of using deficit financing to pay its bills.

He also praised the police department for working with local schools on updating safety measures in the wake of last year’s Newtown, Conn. shooting, and said the town is “doing everything we can” to find missing Southold teenager Ashley Murray.

“The police will have whatever resources they need. They’re doing everything they can to bring this young girl home safe,” he said.

Mr. Russell said this year his administration plans to adopt zoning for Plum Island, special events legislation and a leash law, continue to work on improving stormwater management and protection of the Goldsmith Inlet watershed in Peconic. He also plans to work with state legislators to give towns more home rule on deer hunt regulations and develop a consortium with park districts and schools to manage and provide public access to sports fields. He said the town is looking into the possibility of buying more fields for recreation.

Mr. Russell said the town plans to hold more meetings at libraries and community centers to engage the public in discussions of town affairs.

“We have large and hardworking work force in town government. They work very hard to do best job they can,” he said. “All the people who work here try very hard to always be open to suggestion and input.”

[email protected]

03/04/13 12:00pm

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | New York Agri-Women member Erica Leubner discusses her trip to Japan with the group’s members at the Hyatt Place in Riverhead in 2012.

New York Agri-Women, the state chapter of a national organization devoted to the interests of women farmers, is again returning to Riverhead Town this spring, after holding its annual meeting last year at the Hyatt Place on East Main Street.

The group will hold a forum titled “Women in the Business of Farming on Long Island” on March 21 from 8:30 a.m.to 3 p.m.at Stonewalls Restaurant on Reeves Avenue.

Attendees at the event will hear the personal experiences of women involved in orchards, organic vegetables, wine grapes, greenhouse products, agritainment and aquaculture on eastern Long Island.

The conference, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch, costs $40 for New York Agri-women members and $40 for non-membres.

For more information, contact Beck Wiseman at [email protected] or Debbie Schmitt at [email protected].

03/02/13 1:00pm

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of Rabbit Lane in East Marion following Hurricane Sandy.

Southold Town is considering signing a pledge to become a “Climate Smart Community,” a program sponsored by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that helps towns reduce carbon emissions, protect shorelines and provide flood insurance rate reductions for residents.

David Bert of Cameron Engineering was hired by the State Energy Research and Development Authority to help towns implement the program.

He told the Town Board at Tuesday’s work session that the state is making $30 million available to municipalities in each of the next three years to help combat climate change.

“There’s certainly more emphasis coming out of Albany on that these days,” Mr. Bert said, referring to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s strong stance on fighting climate change.

Mr. Bert said the competitive grant program will likely begin this summer and communities that sign on to the pledge will receive more points toward their grant applications.

In the pledge, the town would agree to prepare a climate action plan, which Cameron Engineering could help the town develop at NYSERDA’s expense. The firm also provides mapping assistance.

Program organizers are planning a workshop on alternative fuels for municipal vehicle fleets on the East End on April 25, which will include a discussion of potential charging and fueling stations.

One of the ancillary benefits of signing the pledge, Mr. Bert said, is that it enables the town to qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating Program, which can help property owners get discounts ranging from 5 to 45 percent.

“There are a few municipalities on the island that do participate,” he said, adding that some of Southold’s public awareness programs and new building codes already in place would make residents eligible for discounts.

“It’s quite a process, but it’s useful,” he said.

PRESERVE NAMED FOR STOUTENBURGH

Also on Tuesday, board members approved renaming Arshamomaque Pond Preserve on Route 25 in Southold as the Paul Stoutenburgh Preserve, after the longtime North Fork environmentalist.

After learning of the honor, Mr. Stoutenburgh and his wife, Barbara, suggested the following wording for a plaque to be placed on a rock at the entrance to the park:

“With knowledge and the will to do what’s right, our world will blossom and keep on returning to us the delicate fragrance of May pinks in the woods, a spring run of flounder for dinner and ospreys to delight our heart and spirit.”

A public ribbon-cutting will be scheduled for this spring.

[email protected]

03/01/13 3:00pm
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | The Intuition II, shown here in 2012, is one of the largest private yachts in the world, docked each summer across the bay in Sag Harbor.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | The Intuition II, shown here in 2012, is one of the largest private yachts in the world. It’s docked each summer across the bay in Sag Harbor.

The Greenport Village Board voted Monday night to approve on electrical upgrades to the east pier at Mitchell Park Marina, a project that could cost as much as $400,000.

The village will pay for the work by floating bonds, with the expectation that some of the expense will be recovered through increased revenue from the rental of docks with upgraded electrical connections, Mayor David Nyce said at Monday’s meeting.

The move is aimed at luring mega yachts, some of whose captains are in negotiations to help Greenport foot the bill for the electrical power, to the deepwater port, the mayor said.

Many of those mega yachts dock part-time in Sag Harbor, but when their owners aren’t on board, professional captains and crews have the option to dock where they please, said Mr. Nyce, adding that many captains prefer to be in Greenport.

“The owners don’t care but the crews would prefer to be here than Sag Harbor,” he said. “It’s easier to get in and out [of the port] and there’s more for them to do.

“We’re in a Catch 22 with mega yachts. They do bring in a lot of money,” said Mr. Nyce, adding that the yachts also require expanded services. “I’m comfortable we’ll realize a return on that investment.”

Also at Monday’s board meeting, fisherman Sidney Smith asked the board why they were allowing the New York City fireboat Fire Fighter to dock at the railroad dock, which he said is supposed to be reserved for commercial fishermen.

Mr. Smith said he believes there’s a severe problem with electrolysis in the water surrounding the pier, which causes premature rusting and deterioration of metal boat materials.

He said his own boat has 60 zincs on its keel, small detachable pieces of zinc attached to the hull to absorb the electrolysis. He said he has to replace them all each year at a cost of $75 apiece.

“You’ve got a lot of problems down there. There are live electrical wires everywhere, wires in the water,” he said. “There’s electrolysis down there to beat the band. I give it a year and a half [for the fireboat] and you’ve got a problem.

The fireboat is currently docked at Mitchell Park Marina pending a determination by Suffolk County on whether it can dock at the railroad pier instead.

“I’m not against any fireboat,” said Mr. Smith, “but it’s filled in there. I draw 11.5 feet in the middle of the dock and I churn up mud. That boat’s not going to fit in there. If it goes up there, it’ll never get out of there.”

Mr. Nyce said the village intends to work out the docking logistics with the owners of boats currently using the railroad dock.

[email protected]

03/01/13 11:58am
Scott Rusell

SUFFOLK TIMES FILE PHOTO | Southold Supervisor Scott Russell delivering his 2012 State of the Town address in the Town Hall meeting room.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell will hold his annual “State of the Town” address in the Town Hall meeting room this coming Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m.

Mr. Russell plans to speak about the impact of Hurricane Sandy, the town’s fiscal status and efforts to foster more community discussion and representation, and provide the public with reports from town departments, according to a press release from the town.
“I am very pleased to share with residents our many accomplishments, as well as the challenges that lie ahead,” said Mr. Russell.
For more information, contact the supervisor’s office at 765-1889.
02/28/13 12:00pm

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Superstorm Sandy caused significant damage to the parking area at Veterans Memorial Park in Mattituck.

The parking lot at Veterans Memorial Park beach in Mattituck took the pounding surf head-on all day and night when superstorm Sandy struck in October and the damage is still readily apparent to anyone who stops by the usually peaceful park on Peconic Bay.

A chain-link fence sprinkled with No Trespassing signs cuts across the parking lot. Beyond it, the asphalt is so heaved up and cracked it looks as if an earthquake hit instead of the remnants of a hurricane.

Down the beach, an entire section of bulkhead has washed out, leaving just the pilings, and metal tie rods that held them in place, exposed on the beach.

Mattituck Park District commissioner Nick Deegan said this week that he doubts the park will be ready to open in time for Memorial Day Weekend, since the district is currently awaiting engineering diagrams of how to repair the beach.

He said the park district expects FEMA will reimburse some of the cost of repairing the damage, which he estimated at upwards of $100,000.

FEMA has already paid $1,400 for the fence across the parking lot.

“The parking lot is under review as to whether we should resurface it as is or rebuild the end of it,” Mr. Deegan said. “We already had been in talks with an engineering firm on drainage in the parking lot. Now, of course, with the storm damage, it becomes even more urgent.”

Mr. Deegan said the bulkhead on the west side of the beach had been deteriorating for years, but during the hurricane it completely washed through.

“The storm got to it before we got to it,” he said.”

The park district had already paid a contractor to do an initial site cleanup, but Mr. Deegan said the landscaping and a small fence in front of the park building were torn out during the cleanup and must now be replaced.

A large cylindrical cement mooring found during the initial cleanup is also still sitting in the parking lot.

Mr. Deegan said he’s been in touch with Group for the East End about holding a beach grass replanting session later this spring.

“It was a nice growth, years of growth,” he said of the beach grass that had grown there. “It’s bare now.”

Mr. Deegan said the park district’s other beaches — Breakwater Beach and Bailie Beach on Long Island Sound — were not badly damaged by Sandy, though some debris did wash up. He expects they’ll both be open in time for the summer.

But for Veterans Memorial Park, “Memorial Day is going to be a stretch,” he said, adding that the best he can hope for is completion of repairs some time in June.

[email protected]

02/25/13 5:00pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO

The Greenport Village Board is expected to vote tonight on electrical upgrades to the Mitchell Park Marina, a project that could cost as much as $400,000. The village is bonding the cost of the project with the expectation that some of the costs will be recovered through increased revenue from rental of of the docks with upgraded electrical connections.

The village board is also expected to authorize a request for bids on sidewalk and curb repairs and to vote on penalties for unpaid parking fines.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Third Street firehouse. The full agenda is available below.

Greenport Village Board Agenda Feb. 25, 2013

02/25/13 2:00pm

The Southold Planning Board will review a revised site plan for a horse farm and riding arena on Ackerly Pond Road in Southold at its work session this afternoon.

The proposed riding academy has been criticized in the past by neighbors who shared a common driveway with the property, leading the new owners to propose a different access to the 10-acre site.

Also up for discussion is the proposed subdivision of the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund’s 3.4 acre site at the end of New Suffolk Avenue.

The Waterfront Fund is transferring 1.1 acres of the site to neighboring Robins Island Holding, LLC, the holding company for property neighboring the Waterfront Fund’s site that is owned by billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Moore Bacon III. Mr. Bacon helped pay off the Waterfront Fund’s mortgage last year in exchange for title to a portion of the site.

Also up for review are a proposed expansion and a new warehouse at Sparkling Pointe winery in Peconic.

The work session begins at 2:30 p.m. in the executive board room upstairs in the Southold Town Hall Annex on the corner of Youngs Avenue and Route 25 in Southold.

Southold Planning Board work session agenda, Feb. 28, 2013