Editorial: Riverhead’s ups and downs in 2012

12/20/2012 6:00 AM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Town Board members, from left, John Dunleavy, Sean Walter and Jodi Giglio at a meeting in June.

THUMBS UP

First, an April wildfire burned more than 1,100 acres of Pine Barrens from Ridge to Calverton, keeping our emergency responders working day and night to keep us safe. Then, in late October, superstorm Sandy hit, ripping down trees and flooding streets, once again causing first responders to put our well-being ahead of their own.

2012 was certainly a showcase year for the men and women who are first on the scene when disaster strikes.

As we wrote in an April editorial: “Much of the time, we have the luxury of taking our fire departments and ambulance corps for granted … These are undoubtedly some of the most valuable people in any community.” Perhaps even more remarkable is the relief work of our local fire departments after the storm passed, raising funds and collecting goods for folks in areas hit hardest by Sandy.

THUMBS DOWN 

Nobody benefits from a Town Board that agrees on everything and passes resolutions with little or no discussion. A little debate and feistiness can go a long way. But we want our government officials to maintain professionalism when they do disagree.

There were times this year when we couldn’t help but feel embarrassed by the public conduct of the Riverhead Town Board, particularly in several incidents involving Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. We hope the behavior improves in 2013, should the Town Board members continue to serve together once this current game of political musical chairs ends.

THUMBS UP

From June through August of this year, Riverhead police reported 70 alleged incidents of people driving under the influence of alcohol within the town, nearly double last year’s summer total of 41 incidents, according to the reports.

The uptick in arrests was due largely to the work of the East End DWI Task Force, a partnership between the East End police forces and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

While we suspect many more folks drive drunk and don’t get caught, the work of the task force no doubt made a difference this year.

THUMBS DOWN 

Months after the YMCA announced plans to build a facility on town land at the Enterprise Park in Calverton, we learned the group was instead looking at a possible location near the Riverhead schools on Harrison Avenue. It seems the YMCA has no idea what it wants to do — and its leadership might have lost the trust of town officials, who thought the two entities were only weeks away from a lease agreement for the Calverton site.

One more year has passed and the people of Riverhead Town have no clear sense of where a YMCA might be built. Anyone who’d like to see just how great a YMCA could be for our community need look no further than Patchogue, a downtown in the midst of a full renaissance, where a new Y stands as a symbol of the rebirth. The YMCA needs to let us know it’s committed to Riverhead.

THUMBS UP 

It was a standout year for Riverhead High School athletes, highlighted by a state Final Four run from the girls basketball team and a county title in football. Sprinkle in the individual accomplishments — from long jumper Melodee Riley and the collegiate work of RHS graduate Miguel Maysonet, now a standout senior running back at Stony Brook University — and 2012 was an all-time year for local athletes.

They say school sports prepare teens to be the leaders of tomorrow. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this current crop of young men and women.

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