09/29/14 12:00pm
09/29/2014 12:00 PM
United Riverhead Terminal in Northville plans to convert two of the existing petroleum tanks on its property to gasoline storage tanks. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

United Riverhead Terminal in Northville plans to convert two of the existing petroleum tanks on its property to gasoline storage tanks. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Remember the gasoline shortage that followed Hurricane Sandy? Things like that could be less likely to happen after future storms, given a proposal to store more than 4.8 million gallons of gas in Northville holding tanks that now contain oil.

The plan for the 287-acre United Riverhead Terminals property on Sound Shore Road will be subject to a public hearing before the Riverhead Town Board. A hearing date of Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. has been discussed but not yet formally approved.

“The project was initiated after the response we received from government officials during Superstorm Sandy,” said Scott Kamm, general manager of United Riverhead Terminals.

When Long Island was crippled by a gasoline shortage during the power outage cause by Sandy, officials asked if URT had gasoline storage capability. But at the time, it stored only petroleum, Mr. Kamm said.

The company, which acquired the former Northville Industries property in 2012, now plans to convert two existing tanks to store gasoline. It also wants to build two additional 19,000-gallon tanks for blending 10 percent ethanol into the gasoline. There are currently 20 storage tanks at the facility.

The two tanks to be converted are on the north side of Sound Shore Road. One tank, with a capacity of 87,000 barrels of oil, will hold 2.7 million gallons of regular gasoline; the other, which can hold 67,000 barrels, will contain 2.1 million gallons of premium gasoline, according to URT. (One barrel equates to 31.5 gallons.) The project already has state Department of Environmental Conservation approval, according to Mr. Kamm.

The proposal doesn’t technically require a special permit, since it isn’t a 10 percent expansion, according to town environmental engineer Joe Hall. However, Town Board members decided to hold the hearing anyway, because Northville residents had inquired about the project.

Supervisor Sean Walter also suggested that URT do a traffic analysis for the intersection of Sound Avenue, Pennys Road and Northville Turnpike.

08/09/14 8:00am
08/09/2014 8:00 AM
(Credit: Barbarellen Koch_

(Credit: Barbarellen Koch)

When Tony Trubisz Jr. was a little boy, a North Fork summer meant wandering the fields and woods surrounding his family’s Sound Avenue homestead, traveling all the way to the Sound and exploring the 500 acres behind the property.

On Thursday, Mr. Trubisz — now 67 — returned from Richmond, Va. to the 19th century farmhouse of his youth, since relocated to the Hallockville Museum Farm property, to spruce up the old building which hasn’t had a paint job since its big move in 2010. (more…)

07/25/14 2:00pm
07/25/2014 2:00 PM

The North Fork Preserve in Northville has been called the county’s “last great park.” (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

With plans for Northville’s North Fork Preserve already taking shape, the county Legislature is set to vote Tuesday on the creation of an advisory committee to make recommendations for development and future use of the park.

Because of the park’s 314-acre scale and the number of proposed active uses — which include camping, hiking and horseback riding — the park stands to have “significant” impacts on nearby communities, according to the resolution introduced by Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue).

The proposed North Fork Preserve Advisory Committee would be made up of 10 members, including representatives from the county and Riverhead Town government, as well as members of local civic group, an environmental group and horseman’s organizations to gather input from the community and make use recommendations, according to Mr. Krupski’s proposal.

The county purchased of the final three acres of the Preserve in February 2013 with a price tag of $702,000, while the bulk of the property, two parcels totaling 314 acres, were purchased in 2011 for $18.3 million, according to prior News-Review coverage.

In an interview Friday morning, Mr. Krupski said he made the recommendation after hearing from residents neighboring the park, who had voiced concerns about use and infrastructure, including drainage for storm water runoff. Last winter, the county decided to borrow $850,000 to fix drainage problems coming from the property which have plagued an abutting Northville neighborhood for years.

He said Friday that the community is also interested in completing and inventory of natural resources on the parcel “to make sure that everything on the parcel is protected.”

Mr. Krupski said local input is very important, as the “people who live nearby, who are probably are going to use it the most, should have some input as to how it is developed.”

Current plans include leaving 133-acres of the northern section undeveloped for uses like hiking or horseback riding, while the southern portion will be used for more active recreation like camping, tennis and basketball.

The three acres most recently purchased contain existing structures on them which will be used by the Suffolk County Parks Department for a check-in station, parks maintenance equipment, a caretaker residence and include a small office area for parks personnel, Mr. Krupski said during prior to its purchase.

“The North Fork Preserve has been called ‘Suffolk’s last great park’ and I agree with that description,” Mr. Krupski said during the final acquisition. “The park, with fishing, hiking, camping and more, will be a highlight of the entire Suffolk County park system.”

Read more about the committee in the proposed legislation:

North Fork Preserve Advisory Committe

05/25/14 8:00am
05/25/2014 8:00 AM
A modern painting depicting the October 1814 military engagement off Northville. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Academy Collection)

A modern painting depicting the October 1814 military engagement off Northville. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Academy Collection)

It’s 1814, and the United States is at war.

British frigates and brigs clog the East Coast’s trade routes, preying on merchant vessels and shutting down commerce.

On an October morning, an American cutter called the Eagle finds itself face-to-face with a Royal Navy brig nearly twice its size off Northville.

Below is a detailed account of the encounter that followed.  (more…)

04/24/14 12:55pm
04/24/2014 12:55 PM
East End Livestock and Horsemen's Association members take trail rides in the spring and fall each year after getting permission from the state parks department. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

East End Livestock and Horsemen’s Association members take trail rides in the spring and fall each year after getting permission from the state parks department. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Nature buffs who’ve been waiting more than a decade for access to Northville’s Hallock State Park Preserve will soon have their chance — as work to create an access way, visitors center, and trails is scheduled to begin sometime this year, according to a release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Mr. Cuomo announced Tuesday that a total of $90 million in state budget funding had been secured for work at 53 parks and historic sites across the New York State — with $3 million going toward work at the 220-acre preserve.

The news comes some 14 years after the state purchased the park property and an adjoining 300 acres from KeySpan Energy for $16 million in 2002.

It’s also one of a handful of announcements during that time that work would start on the park. Meanwhile, no-trespassing signs had marked trees along the public parks perimeter, keeping it from being utilized, before the News-Review reported on the signs in 2008.

A view of the Long Island Sound to the east from the bluffs. (Credit: Richard Wines)

A view of the Sound looking east. (Credit: Richard Wines)

At that time, Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said he was confident work would start at the park later that year, and two years after he announced the project would be receiving a $1 million grant for an environmental educational center on its grounds.

In the meantime, however, Mr. LaValle said this week that money is no longer available, and had been redirected elsewhere into the state parks system since it was never used.

But his prospects for the park were buoyed by the new allocation of $3 million, which he helped secure.

“I think this is the beginning of opening up a great resource for the people of the East End to enjoy, and people visiting from across the state — because the environmental parts of nature there are very, very special,” he said.

The park property stretches from Sound Avenue to the Sound and includes open plains, a tidal pond, thick woods and a mile-long stretch of pristine beach.

The $3 million comes in addition to $3.9 million that had been raised from the sale of the adjoining 300 acres — which were sold as protected farmland to local farmers, said Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the state Department of Parks, Recreation and HIstoric Preservation.

The newly allotted $3 million and about $900,000 from the farmland sales will be used to construct an entrance route, visitor center, a “green” parking area, and trails to provide public access to undeveloped areas of the park, Mr. Keefe said.

“Right now there is no legal way to access that park,” said Richard Wines, president of the Hallockville Museum Farm that borders the property. “The additional $3 million is great news for the public who will finally have access to enjoy this incredibly beautiful resource.”

Mr. Wines said the current plan, which was developed in 2010, is to put the visitor center close to the Hallockville Museum on Sound Avenue.

Should that be the case, Mr. Wines said the museum stands to benefit greatly, and could possibly share services with the park at some point in the future.

The visitor center will house restrooms and a meeting room to gather for educational events and programs, Mr. Keefe said, adding that a finalized design plan is currently in the works, with construction to begin sometime in 2014.

“We have been waiting for years now for things to get going so the public would have assess,” said Joseph Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, which helped facilitate the sale of the protected farmland to raise funding for the park’s development. “It’s a beautiful piece of property. It was a major accomplishment for all of us that were involved in it.”

Many players took park in the conservation — and now the much-anticipated development plan for the park — a close to 50-year process that, were the land not protected, it could have been transformed to fit any number of different development projects, including nuclear power plants, said Herb Strobel, executive director of the Hallockville Farm Museum.

“Very few residents have any idea of what the land might have [otherwise] been,” Mr. Strobel said. “It could have been a major industrial seaport… [or a] site for several nuclear plants— but it is not. It could have been the site for major residential development—but it is not.”

“Each of these scenarios would have dramatically changed Riverhead, the entire North Fork, and probably the whole East End,” he said.

Long Island State Parks Commission member and Hallockville Museum Farm director, George Bartunek, said the pairing of the state park with the closeby Hallockville Museum and the Long Island Antique Power Association “creates a grouping of attractions on Sound Avenue that will reflect the connection between Long Island’s natural history and its agricultural heritage.”

See below for more information.

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Trails, starting from the visitors center, will lead north to the property’s sandy beaches, though there will be no actual beach usage permitted initially, Mr. LaValle said.

“This is the first step,” Mr. LaValle said. “That park, in terms of the future, will have a mirage of different uses. I think given the economy it’s always good that people have local options that they can do with their family.”

Funding has also been set aside for other local state parks, it was announced this week.

Orient State Park will also be receiving $200,000 to replace a failing drinking water line for a health and safety reasons, while Wildwood State Park will be receive unspecified funding for upgrades to non-compliant cesspools.

“As we celebrate Earth Day, we continue to invest in our parks and historic sites statewide,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “New York is proud to have the nation’s oldest State park system, and we will continue to do all that we can to preserve and guard these natural resources so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

According to Mr. Cuomo, a recent study by Parks & Trails New York found that state parks generate $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and support 20,000 jobs statewide.

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02/21/14 11:00am
02/21/2014 11:00 AM

First Parish Church is seeking tenants to renovate the historic Northville building. (Barbaraellen Koch photo)

In the course of its 182-year existence in Riverhead, Grange Hall on Sound Avenue has undergone various reincarnations: It’s been a place of worship, a school, a social hub for local farmers, and, most recently, a meetinghouse for several different groups.  (more…)

12/19/13 2:30pm
12/19/2013 2:30 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A drainage pipe from the preserve? in the front lawn of a home on Sound Shore Road in Northville.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A drainage pipe from the preserve in the front lawn of a home on Sound Shore Road in Northville.

After years of poking and prodding public officials to do something about periodic flooding on Sound Shore Road in Northville — flooding that includes contaminated water, tests have shown — residents in the area will get their wish for an overhaul of an outdated culvert system, courtesy of Suffolk County.

A series of underground pipes directs groundwater from the North Fork Preserve to Northville Beach and, for years, debate has raged over who — if anyone — would be responsible for updating the damaged system, which is believed to have been installed in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration. The damaged pipes run underneath Sound Shore Road and through properties on its north side before reaching the beach.

The 307-acre preserve, previously two separate lots, was purchased in 2011 for $18 million. Suffolk County chipped in the lion’s share of the cost to construct a park, with Riverhead Town using $500,000 in Community Preservation Fund money. Now, with the responsibility of owning the land, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said that updating the sub-par culverts falls to Suffolk, even if the cash-strapped county has to borrow $850,000 to do the work. County legislators approved a measure Tuesday to do just that.

“We’ve inherited quite a problem over there,” said Mr. Krupski. “But now it’s the county’s liability to fix.”

Mr. Krupski said that work to fix the problem, which started to emerge over a decade ago, could begin as soon as this winter, .

According to a 2009 Riverhead News-Review article, a November 2007 report from the Suffolk County Health Department found that during the summer months, fecal contamination was evident in the culvert system, which could be attributable to shallow groundwater, surface water runoff, animal waste “and, potentially, leaching from on-site disposal systems.”

That same county report recommended that people not swim near areas where culverts from the property discharge.

Independent testing completed a year later by the Northville Beach Civic Association, led by former civic president Kerry Moran, found extremely high counts of fecal matter in samples leaching from the culverts, some of which drain directly onto Long Island Sound beaches. One test revealed a fecal coliform number five times the level that would have closed a public beach. Mr. Moran died in 2011 of injuries sustained after being struck by an automobile the year before.

Mr. Krupski said the cost to construct a sump on the preserve originally came in at nearly $1.5 million. However, further discussion led to the current plan, which will still discharge groundwater into Long Island Sound, a plan for which, he said, the county had permission from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Mr. Krupski added that the only contaminants in the groundwater after the pipes are repaired should be animal waste.

John Cullen, president of the civic group for the past three years, said that Northville homeowners affected by the substandard pipe system “were hoping, and still are hoping, that things will be fixed with the water coming off the preserve.”

In recent months, Mr. Cullen said, several meetings with the county Department of Public Works have led to a sense of optimism in that regard.

“The DPW has been very helpful,” he said. “We’re just hoping this can be over and done with.”

08/15/13 7:27am
08/15/2013 7:27 AM
GOOGLE MAP | Farmland and woods stretch north of 5176 Sound Avenue in Northville.

GOOGLE MAP | Farmland and woods stretch north of 5176 Sound Avenue in Northville.

Two young men were arrested for shooting guns into a county preserve north of Sound Avenue in Northville Wednesday, “just missing” police officers who were called to the area to investigate, officials said.

Police were called to a Sound Avenue property just after 6 p.m. for reports of shots fired when they realized two men were shooting in the direction of the adjacent North Fork Preserve, Riverhead Town police said.

Cops said bullets were being fired into the park, narrowly missing the officers.

An investigation determined the men had been firing shotguns and a rifle behind the home at 5176 Sound Avenue.

Travis Albrecht, 22, of Aquebogue and Scott Willet Jr., 19, were each arrested on a second-degree reckless endangerment charge for firing a rifle in the direction of the county park, police said.

Police confiscated Saiga 7.62 X 39 MK Sportsman rifle, though no other weapons were listed in a police report.

An employee at a Sound Avenue equipment and mechanic’s shop just west of the property given by police said he heard close to 40 shots fired before police arrived to investigate.

“The majority I heard were shotgun,” said the worker, who did not give a name. “I’ve never heard nothing like that before.”

He said he about a dozen police cars responded to the scene.

Mr. Albrecht and Mr. Willet were both released on $500 bail and are due in court Aug. 28.

More charges are expected, police said.

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