Steve Levy responds
You claim in your editorial “the first thing an editor might ask a reporter returning from an event might be ‘what’s the lead,’ in other words what’s the news hook?”
Had you sent a reporter to the event, instead of commenting on something you did not report on, perhaps you would have been aware that the rationale for holding the press conference was to rebut inaccurate information spewed by an organization claiming that the county has not been doing enough to preserve open space throughout Suffolk.
While virtually every environmental organization has praised our administration’s open space efforts, one never-satisfied critic stated that our open space program must be failing because we’re not buying as many acres as we did twenty years ago. This is a specious argument, however, since it is obvious that there is not the same amount of property available today for preservation as there was before major development took hold. In fact, in 1987 the average acreage per closing was 120 acres. Today that figure is down to 12 acres because so few larger parcels are still available.
Notwithstanding a smaller supply, the county in the last seven and a half years has preserved or is heading toward closing for over 8,000 acres. This is an amount equivalent to nine Central Parks.
It was also disingenuous for this critic to suggest that the county was lagging behind other levels of government when exactly the opposite is true. Over the last several years, there has been a basic shutdown of open space preservation efforts on the state and town levels due to a lack of revenues. For instance, the entire state of New York injected a mere $5 million into land preservation on Long Island in 2010 while all of the ten towns in Suffolk combined ponied up a mere $28 million.
On the other hand, Suffolk County put forth over $88 million in open space investments in 2010 alone. The $450 million invested during my tenure in open space is the largest of any similar period in the county’s history and perhaps in the entire nation for such a stretch.
Finally, I take umbrage with the fact that you quoted an inaccurate statement from a former opponent who claimed that, “as a Democratic County Legislator, Mr. Levy voted against every open space buy put before him.” This is emphatically false and could have been easily determined to be false had you taken the effort to substantiate this accusation you so cavalierly published.
In fact, I supported every major open space initiative that was presented before me as a county legislator, including the 1986 Open Space Bond Act, the 1987 Quarter Cent Clean Water Act, the 1988 up-front advancement of these monies, and the Green Ways Program. I would on occasion oppose a parcel if it was a purely political buy with no environmental significance.
Upon taking office, I embellished these programs by extending the Clean Water Act to 2030, promoting a Save Our Open Space Bond and created the award-winning Legacy Fund that seeks to partner with local municipalities in preserving open space. I received numerous awards from the Sierra Club, the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Long Island Farm Bureau and The National Land Trust for our environmental stewardship.
I certainly respect and appreciate your freedom to issue commentary on a particular subject, but perhaps in the future you could at least send a reporter to the press conference to first find out what it’s all about before issuing comments that are not based on fact.
Levy’s got some time to make good
Your editorial “Steve Levy should forego the victory laps” was right on, but there’s another, even more important reason why bragging is not in order.
The 58,000 acres of open space and farmland that Suffolk County has preserved were mostly saved by Mr. Levy’s predecessors, so a victory lap for Mr. Levy is hardly in order. At his dog and pony show last week, Mr. Levy kept saying “we saved,” and “we’ve preserved,” etc. It turns out that the Levy administration is responsible for only about 10 percent of preserved land. Patrick Halpin averaged 2,200 acres per year — Mr. Levy about a quarter of that. H. Lee Dennison, John Klein and Michael LoGrande championed the preservation of open space. Mr. Levy has been dragged, kicking and screaming, to his reluctant participation in a wildly popular public initiative.
It’s one thing to want credit for one’s accomplishments, but quite another to claim those of others as your own.
If Mr. Levy wants credit for buying land, he has six months left to earn it.
executive director, L.I. Pine Barrens Society
Moratorium must accompany study
The Riverhead Town Board should be commended for making the decision to officially hire a consultant to study the Wading River Route 25A corridor.
The study will take a look at the area’s current zoning and planning recommendations and the proposed large-scale commercial development applications while factoring in the wave of changes the corridor has experienced over the last decade. The goal is the creation of a long-term planning solution that will help to effectively balance the commercial needs of the area with the desire to see the environment, quality of life and rural character preserved.
However, it has been our position that alongside the necessary study, it is in everyone’s best interest for the town also to enact a short-term moratorium. This will ultimately ensure the integrity of the study and all that it recommends. Without a moratorium to temporarily halt the approval of any development proposals, the projects currently proposed within the study area could be approved, even if their design, size, scale and use end up being in direct conflict with what the study ultimately recommends.
There is still a lot at stake. Nearly 130,000 square feet of primarily retail development is proposed and the potential exists for another 100,000 square feet within the same small corridor. What is the point of engaging in a study if many of its recommendations are rendered too late to make a difference?
We urge all your readers not only to applaud the Town Board for committing to do the study but also to implore the board to take the next, necessary step and enact a short-term moratorium that would provide the time needed to come up with a well-thought-out and thorough plan for Wading River’s future.
Group for the East End
Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition
Wading River Civic Association
Sad state of affairs
Three things hit me last week as I read the news.
The first was a story about the $6.8 billion dollar replacement of the Oakland Bay Bridge that had been seriously damaged in the 1989 earthquake. The new bridge just arrived on barges from China and installation is underway.
Andrew Carnegie must be rolling over in his grave. He started the steel business in the United States in the 1800s and here we are importing an entire bridge from China.
Simultaneously, an article covered the Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, Iberdrola Renovables that is meeting our U.S demand for wind power generation. As a result of the United States determination to build wind energy generation, the Spanish company received over $1 billion dollars from the U.S. treasury to jump-start the program. This, incidentally, was the largest sum ever awarded to a renewable energy company anywhere.
The third thing that tweaked my interest was an analysis of corporate profits in the U.S. From 1973 to 1985 showing the financial sector earned about 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986 that number reached 19 percent. In the 1990s financial sector profit oscillated between 21 and 30 percent. In this decade the financial industry share reached 41 percent.
As corporate CEOs and their financial gurus determined that they could outsource almost anything and increase profits off the backs of cheap foreign labor, they did. The hysterical chase for ever-larger profits washed away any thoughts of modernization of American facilities and infrastructure or maintaining a balanced, full employment economy. They chose the quick buck and never looked back.
This recession demonstrates the stark reality that our reliance on greed and financial sleight of hand has seriously damaged the country. No longer do we build things. The working class now makes hamburgers and cleans bedpans or stands in unemployment lines. And worse, greed has so taken over our governmental system that lobbyists and special interests control the agenda and a return to common sense is seems unlikely.
Unfortunately, today’s America is no longer the one our forefathers founded and drove to greatness. It is time to get back to our roots.
Town should mimic state on disclosure
Now that New York State has adopted a tougher ethics and disclosure law, it’s an opportunity for the Town of Riverhead to take up the same spirit.
It is important for the Riverhead Town Board to close loopholes in its ethics and disclosure law.
Frankly, Supervisor Sean Walter has walked a fine line on obeying Riverhead’s own disclosure laws, by submitting a disclosure of his private business clients well past deadline and refusing to let taxpayers know who those clients are.
With so much riding on town activities in the future, such as development of EPCAL, we need to know that Mr. Walter’s lobbying for hyper-fast approval of development, and a short-circuiting of Pine Barrens regulations, is for the benefit of taxpayers and not his private law clients.
The new ethics law for New York State officials requires that legislators publicly name specific clients they represent. Riverhead should demand its elected officials provide no less disclosure — starting with Mr. Walter.
chairman, Riverhead Town
Why he’s running for assessor
My name is Robert Svoboda and I am running for assessor in the Town of Riverhead on the Democratic ticket. I was born and raised on Long Island. I have lived in Hampton Bays and for the past three years in Wading River.
My educational background includes a master’s degree from Hofstra University and I am currently working as a substitute teacher at Shoreham-Wading River Schools and at Riverhead High School. For 33 years, I was in education as a teacher, dean and assistant principal. I also served 28 years as officer in the U.S. Army Reserves and reached the rank of Lt. Colonel. I was a PSYOPS officer, marksmanship instructor and a command and general college instructor. I attend North Shore Methodist Church.
I have been active with the Riverhead American Legion, National Rifle Association, Riverhead Masons, New York State Retired Teacher’s Association and worked on local homeless programs.
My concern about the assessor position is that one political party domination is not healthy government. We need checks and balances. Last year there were over 1,900 assessment disputes filed with the assessor’s office. It seems that assessments in Riverhead are high and often unfair for both commercial and residential properties. As a former real estate agent, I have knowledge of property assessments and will examine all cases presented to me in a fair manner.
On Nov. 8, let your concerns about high property taxes be heard and vote for me as one of your assessors. Thank you.
A deserving couple
What a wonderful story on the wedding gift for the two soldiers Johnathan and Cathrine.
Who else would deserves that, except these brave soldiers doing service for our country?