02/25/13 11:23am
MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | An FAA control tower currently at MacArthur Airport in Islip Town.

MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | An FAA control tower currently at MacArthur Airport in Islip Town.

Federal Aviation Administration officials are coming to Riverhead Town in mid-March to check out 50 acres at the town’s Enterprise Park in Calverton the FAA is considering for a new air traffic control complex, town officials said.

If the EPCAL land is selected for the complex, as many as 800 jobs could come to Riverhead, said Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who is coordinating the town’s effort to woo the FAA and announced the news through a press release Monday.

EPCAl in Riverhead, FAA

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A view of the EPCAL site from the sky.

The facility would replace the FAA’s current air traffic control facilities at Long Island, one at MacArthur Airport in Islip and another in Westbury, according to federal officials.

Editorial: FAA facility would be a welcome boost

Ms. Giglio said the town submitted its response to a request for information from the FAA by the Jan. 31 deadline, offering up 50 acres adjacent to the Stony Brook Business Incubator on Route 25, free of charge, to the FAA.

“The important thing is to keep the jobs on Long Island, getting them all to stay here,” said Ms. Giglio, who added that 800 skilled workers at EPCAL would bring more people to Riverhead’s restaurants, golf courses and other businesses.

“The secondary industries would be phenomenal, as well as secondary spending with this type of facility as an anchor,” she said.

On offering the land for free, she said, “I think [the free land] would act as a loss leader, so we can create secondary industries and spending.”

At its height, the Grumman Corporation that for decades ran a fighter jet testing and assembly facility at the site employed about 3,000 workers.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who was initially against trying to lure the FAA to town because he and other supervisors pledged to support Islip’s proposal, said he was glad federal officials would be touring the site.

“I think its wonderful…. It’s always positive when people are coming to look at property at EPCAL. I’m certainly interested in any leads for selling property there.”

He didn’t think the meeting would be open to the public, but added “all the details” have not been worked out yet.

Ms. Giglio said she was expecting a call later Monday to confirm when, exactly, FAA officials would be visiting, and whether they will just be viewing the site or spending the day in Riverhead to see what the town has to offer workers.

The new facility would incorporate state-of-the-art satellite air traffic equipment, replacing older, radar-based equipment now used at the Islip and Westbury facilities.

Ms. Giglio said the Islip facility, which currently has about 800 employees, is also used as a training area for air traffic controllers who are later sent to airports throughout the county.

“I think they’re looking for an easy commute for their employees at the Islip base,” she said.

Initial specs the town has received from the FAA say any towers to be installed would not have windows, and she believes none of them would be taller than the 75-foot height restriction currently at EPCAL, Ms. Giglio said.

FAA officials said last month they intended to locate the facility on between 34 and 49 acres within 150 miles of New York City, and in New York State.

The federal officials are planning to build a total of 250,000 square feet of buildings, towers and parking for the employees.

SEE PRIOR NEWS-REVIEW COVERAGE

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Check back at suffolktimes.com and see the Feb. 28 newspaper for more information.

02/24/13 10:00am

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | The house on Kimogenor Point in New Suffolk being replaced with new construction.

After several months in which the top floor and roof of a house on Kimogenor Point in New Suffolk stood on cribbing awaiting word on its fate from the Southold building department, workers have begun rebuilding the house in earnest.

The Kimogenor Point Company, a co-op that owns the private peninsula and the houses on it, submitted plans to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals last year to demolish the building and rebuild a new house meeting modern codes.

The ZBA said no to demolition but granted permission for an expansion and renovation of the existing structure. The ZBA last reviewed the project in November, when the property owners learned they would need to move it from its existing foundation and place it on pilings to meet new post-Hurricane Sandy FEMA regulations.

In the weeks following the ZBA’s review, the pilings were set and the bottom portion of the house mysteriously vanished, leaving just the top fl oor. It stayed that way for more than a month, while the building department was scheduled to determine whether 25 percent of the structure was remaining. If less than 25 percent was left, it would be considered non-conforming and could not be rebuilt.

All building inspectors in the building department were away at a New York State Association of Towns conference this week and were unavailable for comment.

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02/19/13 4:30pm
TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | A bird's eye view of Greenport Village.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | A bird’s eye view of Greenport Village.

Greenport Village’s waterfront sustained about $100,000 worth of damage from Hurricane Sandy, according to memos prepared for tonight’s village board work session, which will begin at 6 p.m. at the Third Street firehouse.

Though the village is expecting the cost of repairs to eventually be repaid by FEMA, Village Administrator David Abatelli recommends the work begin soon in order to have the docks in shape for visitors by Memorial Day.

The village is also close to adopting its updated Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, a blueprint for how village residents would like to see the waterfront look in the future. The village board will hold a special informational meeting on the final draft of the plan with consultant Dave Smith at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Front Street on Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m.

The draft is expected to include some proposed zoning changes, a proposal to build an aquaculture support facility, expanding McCann Campground on Moore’s Lane, enhancing Moore’s Woods and creating a trail from Long Island Sound to Peconic Bay.

More information on the LWRP is available here.

The village is also expected to finalize changes to its mass assembly permits for Mitchell Park in the near future and the village’s code committee is discussing changes to its wetland permit fee structure.

Greenport Village Board Work session agenda 2.19.13

02/19/13 3:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Canada geese in the Peconic River just south of Riverhead’s West Main Street.

Long Island environmental groups are planning a new campaign this spring with the slogan “It’s the water, stupid,” aimed at focusing on nitrogen, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other harmful substances making their way into the island’s ground and surface waters.

That’s according to Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, who was among more than 65 environmental group representatives who pitched ideas to state Senator Ken LaValle earlier this month, during his annual environmental round table at Suffolk County Community College’s culinary arts center in downtown Riverhead.

In addition to the increased frequency of algae blooms in the bays, linked to nitrogen from faulty septic systems, Ms. Esposito said 117 pesticides are found in Long Island’s drinking water.

Atrazine, the No. 1 weed-killer in America and one of the most common chemicals found in groundwater, has been banned in Europe because it is an endocrine disrupter.

But farmers and their advocates in attendance said some pesticides and fungicides are absolutely necessary on Long Island.

Deborah Schmitt, whose family owns Phillip A. Schmitt & Son Farm Inc. in Riverhead, made a tearful plea to environmentalists to back away from supporting a ban on all pesticides.

She said her family’s farm has participated in Cornell Cooperative Extension’s agricultural stewardship program, using compost and less synthetic fertilizer, but needs some chemicals to survive.

“We grow food for many people. This is how we make a living. We are in the business of farming,” she said. “We used to grow spinach, but we no longer have good weed control. We are losing our competitive edge as profitable agricultural businesses. We need pesticides, or plant protectors, whatever you want to call them, to grow food. We are almost at the point where we just might have to quit.”

She added that farmers must obtain licenses to ensure that they’re applying pesticides responsibly, while no such demand is placed on homeowners who use the same materials.

“I’m 55 years old. I have eaten conventional food all my life and I drink Long Island water,” she said. “My doctor says I’m healthy. I would never feed my family something that would make them sick.”

Ms. Esposito said she’s not requesting a ban on all pesticides, just the top three.

Ms. Schmitt responded, “Those are the ones we need most!”

Long Island Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela said his organization wants to find common ground with environmental groups on pesticide issues.

“We, too, as farmers, are concerned about pesticides,” he said, adding that 95 percent of pesticides in groundwater are “legacy” chemicals that are no longer in use.

“We need alternatives. We’re not going to ban medicine. We’re not going to ban cars and trucks on the highway,” he said. “We can’t ban pesticides. They have a place in our society.”

Also on the issue of groundwater pollution, Peconic baykeeper Kevin McAllister asked why the state DEC has not responded to a request he made last September that it review sewage treatment plants on Long Island that are not in compliance with their DEC permits.

“It’s poor regulatory policy,” he said. “There was not even a legal response to my request.”

Jeremy Samuelson of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk also implored Mr. LaValle to help waterfront communities put in place innovative coastal zone management plans in light of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy.

“The reality is, we need state leadership to ID appropriate funding sources,” he said. “It’s obvious to us in Montauk that we need to have these conversations in advance of the storm.”

Mr. LaValle said the federal government is just beginning to help communities do just that, and he urged leaders in all local towns to take advantage of the opportunity to plan for the future.

Mr. Samuelson also thanked Mr. LaValle for helping pass state law to protect sharks.

“Given what we do, it’s a professional courtesy,” quipped Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who was also in attendance.

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02/18/13 1:00pm

TIM GANNON PHOTO | U.S. Marine Captain James Byler of Huntington received a special hand-cranked bicycle from the Southold American Legion Auxillary in December. He’s shown with auxiliary co-presidents Florence Wagner (third from left) and Dot Charnews, with husband Fred. Cyndi Ventura (left) represented the Blue Star Mothers, who provided similar bicycles for wounded vets.

When the Southold American Legion Ladies Auxiliary decided last year to raise $3,500 to buy a hand-cranked bicycle for a Marine captain from Huntington who lost his legs in Afghanistan, they knew it was an ambitious task.

What they didn’t know, during the months last year that they spent holding poppy sales, yard sales and raffles to raise money for the bicycle, was that their good work would inspire philanthropy at a more grand scale than they could have imagined.

The Ladies Auxiliary gave Capt. James Byler his bicycle at a ceremony in December. The next week, when a part-time East Marion resident came out to check on his house, he read about the donation in the newspaper. He immediately called Dot Charnews, the co-president of the Ladies Auxiliary, and offered to donate the cost of a second bicycle. After they got to talking for a bit, Ms. Charnews said this week, he decided instead to give her group enough money to buy two or three bicycles.

“He wants to remain anonymous,” Ms. Charnews said of their benefactor. “He just said that he was amazed that a small post would do something like this. Most of the ladies in the auxiliary are older women. A handful of people are younger. He said, ‘for all your hard work, I’m going to make it easier for you.’ Two days later, I had a check.

“We were floored. Since that time, we’ve had other people send checks to go toward that fund,” she added. “They’re surprised that a little post out in Southold is able to do so much.”

The Southold ladies teamed up with Cynthia Ventura, a Holtsville resident and president of the Long Island chapter of Blue Star Mothers, a group of parents of soldiers who are serving overseas.

Ms. Ventura helped put the Southold volunteers in touch with Capt. Byler’s family, and she will be helping them to select the recipients of future donations as well.

Capt. Byler, who stepped on a roadside bomb while leading his platoon in northern Helmond Province, was overcome with emotion when he received his bicycle last December. It had been hand-detailed with an seat embroidered with the insignia of his battalion and hand-lettered paint to honor his service in the Marines.

“His mother said he rides it all the time in the park,” Ms. Charnews said.

Ms. Ventura is expected to let the Legion know who else could benefit from the bicycles later this week.

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02/15/13 11:27am

It’s likely to be a snowy and windy weekend, but the National Weather Service believes the East End will be spared a major snowfall because a coming nor’easter is expected to track to the east of Long Island in the Atlantic Ocean.

“We do expect to feel some impacts, although it does not appear to be a major impact at this time,” said Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service offices in Upton.

The first wave of the storm will pass from the southwest to the northeast over the North Fork tonight, possibly dropping as much as one inch of wet snow and rain, Mr. Morrin said.

But today’s weather, which is expected to be in the high 40s, will keep road surfaces warm enough to keep any major accumulation from happening tonight.

“It looks as though there may be a brief period of mixed precipitation later this evening, very light, probably no more than an inch,” he said.

The main portion of the storm is expected to develop Saturday afternoon, though “the storm track appears to be far enough off the coast out into the Atlantic not to give the local area major impact,” he said. “At this point we do not expect a major snowstorm. Eastern Long Island could see a few inches.

“It’s too early to pinpoint but it could be upwards of three and maybe four inches.”

Mr. Morrin said at 11 a.m. Friday that the NWS currently has “a fair amount of confidence” that the low pressure system will be far enough offshore that it will not have a major impact on Long Island.

“We’re in a position right now where we’re close enough to the event that we’re gaining confidence of that,” he said.

High winds will be an issue for the East End, though, he said, with winds that could be between 30 and 40 miles per hour Saturday night and all day Sunday.

“We’re looking at a likelihood that it will be breezy from the north-northwest, but we’re not confident enough to issue a statement [about the wind speed],” he said. “It’s going to be watched closely.”

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02/15/13 11:00am
BETH YOUNG PHOTO | William Swiskey outside Greenport Village Hall Monday.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | William Swiskey outside Greenport Village Hall Monday.

Greenport Village will have a field of three candidates for two Village Board seats to be decided in the March 19 elections.

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, who owns Alice’s Fish Market, is running again, as are Julia Robins, a carpenter and real estate agent, and William Swiskey, a former trustee who previously ran the village’s utilities department.

The three candidates all filed the required nominating petitions prior to Wednesday’s 5 p.m. submission deadline.

Ms. Robins, an agent with Albertson Realty and a member of Greenport’s Planning Board, is making her first bid for a Village Board seat. Mr. Swiskey was appointed to the board in 2008 following the death of George Hubbard Sr, but lost his seat in the 2009 elections.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Julia Robins, a carpenter and real estate agent, is one of three people running for the Greenport Village Board.

Ms. Phillips is finishing her first four-year term on the board. She said Wednesday that she wants to complete several major infrastructure projects at the village light plant and wastewater treatment plant in a second term. She also wants to put together a plan of action for improving sidewalks and lighting in residential areas.

“The biggest thing is working on the communication part of things,” she said. “We have a fair amount of critics. We’ve made a lot of upgrades that have helped communication, but some people are not pleased. We as a board have to work as a team to make things happen. The village is changing. Our community is changing. It’s exciting to see how the downtown district wants to reinvent itself.”

Ms. Robins was a contractor for 25 years before becoming a real estate agent four years ago. She was appointed to the Planning Board last fall.

“I’ve lived here for many years. I thought I might have something to bring to the board,” she said. “My son is grown and on his own and I’m making a second career for myself. I’m at the giveback time in my life.”

Ms. Robins said her career as a builder and real estate agent has made her keenly aware of the need for housing for local residents.

“Housing is a basic need. It’s a key issue,” she said. “It always has been, especially for local people and young people who provide the service economy and are part of the village. It’s very difficult for local people to get into the housing market. Even rentals are prohibitive now. I want to see that as part of the discussion on the board.”

Ms. Robins, who collected more than 100 signatures even though she needed only 50 to run, said people she’s spoken with are also concerned that civil discourse has eroded under the current administration.

“I really would hope that everyone is treated with civility and respect,” she said. “That’s very important these days. That issue seems to come up a lot.”

Mr. Swiskey turned in his petition Friday, Feb. 8. He said he’d been on the fence about running until he filed a Freedom of Information request for information on a special meeting held last week about a change order for the village light plant. He said the village told him they wouldn’t give him the information he requested until Feb. 27.

“This is a document they have readily available,” he said. “I don’t think people in the village have been given a fair shake or a voice.”

Mr. Swiskey said he believes the village has devoted too much of its energy in recent years to Mitchell Park and the downtown business community while giving short shrift to residential neighborhoods and outlying parks.

“Look at the condition of some of the side streets,” he said. “They’re just ignoring them.”

He added that the village had never before treated the public as badly as it does now, adding that when he was utilities director anyone could go to Village Hall to speak with him in his office. Now an appointment is needed, he said.

“If you call to complain about your light bill, no one calls back,” he said. “People have forgotten that government works for the people.”

Village residents can register to vote at Village Hall on Thursday, March 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, March 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Voting will take place Tuesday, March 19, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Third Street firehouse.

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02/13/13 10:15am

COURTESY PHOTO | The Town of Southold is considering an 80-foot cell tower behind Town Hall.

Southold Town’s cell tower consultant has suggested locating an 80-foot cell tower behind Town Hall.

Planning Director Heather Lanza told the board Tuesday that the town has been informed by its consultants that cell phone carriers rarely own the towers holding their transmitters and the town could benefit from the revenue generated by leasing tower space.

She said the carriers would be responsible for insurance on the poles. Ms. Lanza said at least three carriers would be interested in leasing space on a new monopole.

The project would require planning review and a public hearing to gauge the level of community support.

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02/12/13 7:30pm

liveblog

At this morning’s work session, the Southold Town Board will discuss the long-term recovery from Hurricane Sandy with Tom O’Hara of the National Disaster Recovery Framework and elected officials from Greenport Village.

Also on the schedule are a review of the town’s cell phone audit and a proposal for a dug-out from the North Fork Hampton Collegiate Baseball League.

The board will also discuss a proposed local law regarding dogs on beaches.

This morning’s work session begins at 9 a.m. and the evening meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. The Suffolk Times will be blogging live from both meetings. The agenda is available below.

Southold Town Board agenda February 12, 2013

02/12/13 11:32am

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Firefighter tied up at Mitchell Park Marina in Greenport.

The retired New York City fireboat “Firefighter” tied up in Mitchell Park Marina Sunday afternoon, after a successful nine-hour trip under fair skies through the Long Island Sound from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The 120-foot ship, now a non-profit floating museum, is expected to berth at Greenport’s commercial dock near the East End Seaport Museum for the summer season, where retired crew and volunteers will give tours explaining the ship’s history.

“Firefighter” was one of the first boats designed by famed naval architect William F. Gibbs.

It served the NYFD from 1938 to 2010, said Jeffrey Jonap, the museum’s director of operations, in a recent email.