Letters to the Editor

06/16/2011 5:29 AM |

Wading River  

There is an agenda at work

I was a bit surprised at a half page being allotted to Brian Mills’ guest spot (“In defense of development projects,” June 9), as it had very little substance and much of it read like a publicity piece for Kenney Barra and Keith Luce. Still, as the News-Review saw fit to publish it, I feel compelled to respond to what appeared to be an attack, albeit weak, on the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition.
The major premise of the piece seemed to be that if Mr. Mills thinks a project is lovely and would enjoy going there, then no one else should complain about it. Seriously? It is irrelevant how lovely a plan may be or how long a landowner spends touting his own plan if it violates the rules that are there to preserve the rights of neighbors and the community at large. Trump Tower may be lovely but I’m pretty sure the town wouldn’t consider letting me build something like it on my property, even if Mr. Mills would enjoy the elevator trip to the top floor.
And as to Mills’ statement that “there is some other agenda at hand.” Well, we’ve never hidden the RNPC’s agenda. It is, most simply put, to preserve the quality of life and rural character of Riverhead. We work towards improving public participation in government and we champion the often-forgotten property rights of homeowners. If that’s what you call an agenda, well, I guess you caught us.
One of the online comments to Mr. Mills’ piece criticized RNPC members for “open[ing] your mouths just to rock the boat.” This anonymous writer articulated a sense of discomfort we’ve been noticing for a while — from those who favor business as usual. So, yes, I guess if bucking the powers-that-be by speaking up for homeowners and fighting to preserve what’s special about Riverhead is rocking the boat, then we’ve been exposed again.

Dominique Mendez

president and co-founder

Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition


All things lovely

In response to the Guest Spot in last week’s paper (“In defense of development projects,” June 9), perhaps author Brian Mills would like to see assembled a town Committee of Lovely and Charming, with the ultimate power to decide all planning and zoning matters.

The committee would also have the authority to overrule decisions by the Town Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, building department and planning department, all of which, of course, would be disbanded when the committee is formed.  The committee would also be given the responsibility to correct any unforeseen consequences of its decisions, such as congested roadways, blighted neighborhoods devoid of peace and tranquility, vacant businesses due to excessive commercial development, disappearing agriculture and scenic vistas, higher property taxes (yes, just look to every town to our west), and loss of tourist dollars when Riverhead looks like everywhere else.

I also nominate you to serve as the chairman of the committee with the authority to appoint anyone else you would like, as long as you think they are lovely and charming.  Good luck.

Phil Barbato

co-founder, Riverhead Neighborhood

Preservation Coalition


Bring a YMCA to downtown

I drive about three times a week to the beautiful new YMCA in Patchogue or to Holtsville because swimming is the exercise that I enjoy most. The pool is shared at different times with children beginning at 4 years of age with families and with adults including a woman I met who is 94 years old. After I swim and workout I stay in the neighborhood to shop or dine, or see a movie, and that is why I am writing to you.

If you want to bring people to downtown Riverhead you need to build what people will be attracted to at or near downtown. Naturally I’m disappointed every year that the ground-breaking of the Y for Riverhead is postponed.

I’m also disappointed that the intended location for the Riverhead Y is now to be Calverton and not near Stotzky Park which I thought was ideal for the town’s future. If we have to donate to the Y town land it would be worth every dollar and if we have to give up a soccer field I feel the same way.

Does a soccer field employ residents full time? Is it being used every morning, afternoon, and night? Year round? And for all ages? I don’t think so. The location of the YMCA is important. It is an important opportunity to the revitalization of our downtown. Hopefully not a missed opportunity. I just want you to know.

Joanne Stravinski


One man’s break is another’s burden

I have to wonder just how the taxpayers of Riverhead can afford all this modernization that I read about in the News-Review. Between spending a half-million dollars for yet another EPCAL study, a large tax break for our new hotel, along with another 10 years of tax breaks for the aquarium, we can surely expect even further tax breaks for any and all future business that comes to downtown Riverhead.

Then let’s not forget that this town is home to 50 percent of all the group homes that are situated in the five East End townships, of which none pay one cent in property taxes, or any other taxes for that matter. Whose taxes make up for all these giveaways by our elected officials? None other than the taxpayers and homeowners of Riverhead.

So how much more modernization can we, the voters and taxpayers, afford? Only our “representatives” in Town Hall know for sure, and I really wonder if even they do.

Thomas W. Smith


Keeping it clean

We appreciate that the News-Review last week called attention to a very important issue — the quality of the groundwater Suffolk residents depend on for their drinking water.

We also appreciate the dedication of the advocates quoted in the story. There has indeed been an increase in levels of nitrogen and other chemicals in our aquifer system, as noted in the draft of the county’s comprehensive water resources management plan, and this should absolutely be addressed.

We will be at the table when potential solutions are discussed and we look forward to offering our thoughts on how best to protect our groundwater for current and future generations.

However, it’s also important for Suffolk residents to understand the distinction between groundwater and the water that comes out of your tap.

To be clear, the water provided to the Suffolk residents who receive water from the Suffolk County Water Authority is safe to drink now, will be safe in 10 years and will be safe in 2050. What may change if steps are not taken to address the issues highlighted by advocates last week is that it may cost more to ensure that your drinking water is as safe in 2050 as it is now.

But we will take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that the water we provide continues in the future to be what it is now, and that’s some of the best drinking water in the country.

James Gaughran

chairman, SCWA


Don’t forget Jim

Beth Young’s story on the June 17 gala for North Fork Community Theatre noted that 30 “theater legend” past presidents will be honored, but listed only 29. The omission was Jim Barney, who all local theatrical people knew to be a tireless creative force in our community.

At first glance I thought that Jim was not named because he left us last February, but I then noted that other “passed” presidents were listed, including Jim’s friend and colleague, Todd Bibey.

I know that Todd would have wanted Jim’s name on the list to expand the gala’s fundraising potential by attracting people who knew and appreciated Jim’s many contributions to the NFCT.

To all who are swayed to attending the gala by knowing that it will include a tribute to Jim, I offer more news: Jim’s and my daughter, Amanda Barney, will accept the honor on his behalf.

I hope that many who read this will attend, because the worthy cause of buying the theater’s building deserves support by all of us.

Pam Barney



4 Comment

  • I am a Wading River resident and long time retail executive and consultant. I’ve been a Vice President @ Limited Stores Inc, a President of a division of Liz Claiborne Inc, and Executive Vice President of Sun Glass Hut/Watch Station Int, where I ran the Merchandising and Planning for +2500 stores both in the US and abroad. I am now a retail consultant with a client list that has included Godiva, Yankee Candle, LuLu Lemon and Hallmark among many many others. I am paid by retail clients to evaluate and help structure their future and as such, I’m experienced enough, to refute Brian Mills claim that Wading RIver needs additional retail. It doesn’t. There are 3 big agreed upon industry problems impacting retail:
    1-The US has too many stores (at least 30-40%) with too few daily customers because the internet is flat out a more convenient method to shop.
    2-Consumers no longer have the time, interest or the gas to wander aimlessly around in search of goods. They don’t want too and they don’t have too, when they can get ANYTHING in the world on line and delivered to their front door.
    3- Leadership customers (the best customer, the one everybody else follows) and young people have philosophically decided to stop going to ‘manufactured’ shopping in typical malls( like Sunrise) or strip malls.It feels antiquated, fake and ecologically irresponsible. They prefer ‘natural’ shopping destinations that provide several AUTHENTIC reasons to visit: food, clothes, cleaners, local color, value and fashion. They still use select regional malls with huge overwhelming reasons to visit, such as Tanger Outlets in River Head (for overwhelming value) or Roosevelt Field (overwhelming fashion choice).
    On Long Island these trends are compounded because we have too little land with too many people . Long Island has a population density that is HIGHER then one of the MOST DENSELY populated countries in the world-The Netherlands. The Dutch have in-acted strict land use restrictions, not because they don’t believe in private property(their capitalist economy is currently far healthier then Americas), but because they have too little land with too many people. And after it’s gone , there is no more, so intelligent choices have to be made. They realize that taking the last, impossible to replace land, in order to sell more burgers, scented candles and t-shirts is an un needed an obviously foolish choice.
    I looked up Long Island on WIKIPEDIA while writing this and “ever increasing CONGESTION” is one of the hallmarks of the entry. They mention “pockets” of rural life left on the East End. “Pockets” does not mean large spaces. Dominique Mendez and the RNPC are trying to save these “pockets”. If it wasn’t so irrevocably serious it would be funny that they are working so hard to save a few “pockets”. But the RNPC knows that if these last few “pockets” are plowed up for more un needed retail, that will be the end.

  • Agreed! Some of the new malls in North Carolina are unbelievable. They resemble European towns. Squares, excellent restaurants, beautifully done. Looking still to NC, Riverhead ought to check out what the city of Durham has been able to do with all the old tobacco industry buildings, which were empty for years. When I visited, I thought “why can’t Riverhead do this?”

  • You bring up 2 more important points. The first is recycling old buildings
    and abandoned industrial or waste land to create new homes, retail and
    entertainment. This is the very heart of new retail. I moved to Brooklyn
    from Manhattan because it was just more interesting. Part of my interest was
    the amazing reinvention of miles and miles of interesting architectural old
    neighborhoods that citizens (many of them young) by the thousands, then tens
    of thousands, and now hundreds of thousands have refurbished and
    revitalized. Central to what’s happening is using what we have, before
    unnecessarily destroying what’s not really needed.
    The second point is related to the first, but I think that you are spot on
    in saying that central River Head has plenty of opportunity to revitalize
    the underused, abandoned or derelict land and structures at it’s core. This
    is particularly true on Long Island where we are land ‘short’ but history

  • Agree on your point of recycling old central riverhead the problem is in fact the owner of those main .st structures who has held downtown hostage for 35 years – govt . doesnt own those bldgs. a man named SHELLY GORDON does aka Riverhead enterprises the bldgs are “code nightmares” it takes a fortune for a renter to bring them up to code and then when they start to make a profit he jacks up the rent , and the ‘Code Nazi’s ” stop in everyday to see if they can get the business owner on something as stupid as re-arranging signage – just ask former CRAVE COMPUTERS, and MR.TUXEDO- both rented from this guy and both were driven out with help from town govt. both fit the clean and boutique like biz that is needed and wanted . it is to someone’s advantage somewhere in this town to keep main st empty.
    As for why the YMCA is treated like a “Pariah” instead of blessing for at least the last 10 years – it has to be by design someone/somebody sees it as a threat to their interests if downtown attracts people to a community center like a YMCA. Look at Huntingdon village their YMCA is a Hub LOVED by all !!!!
    but not in Riverhead ??????, its crazy