Articles by

Joseph Pinciaro

09/04/14 8:00am
Deer in the backyard of a Southold home. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Deer in the backyard of a Southold home. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Considering the disappointing numbers reported last week from the controversial deer cull that took place earlier this year, a call is going out to get all stakeholders — especially environmentalists — involved as state and regional authorities regroup and figure out a plan to tackle Suffolk County’s overpopulated deer herds.  (more…)

09/03/14 7:21pm
Town Board members Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy, left, and Supervisor Sean Walter at Wednesday night's Town Board meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Town Board members Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy, left, and Supervisor Sean Walter at Wednesday night’s Town Board meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The town won’t be taking out a $6 million line of credit to cover a $4 million structural hole in its general fund budget next year, nor will it be piercing a state-mandated tax cap to help plug the hole — meaning, cuts are on the way.

After a split Town Board tabled a measure in mid-August which would have permitted the town to borrow against future land sales at Enterprise Park at Calverton, Councilman Jim Wooten — the deciding vote on the bridge loan — said on Wednesday that the move doesn’t have his support, and voted against the measure at tonight’s meeting. (more…)

09/01/14 12:00pm
Laughing Waters resident Dennis Gallagher made this wooden sign in 2013. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Laughing Waters resident Dennis Gallagher made this wooden sign in 2013. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Of all the North Fork’s scenic and peaceful neighborhoods, there’s only one where the street names harken back to an 19th-century epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Laughing Water in Southold.

A small, private community along Corey Creek, Laughing Water was once the domain of Cedric Wickham, a former owner of Mattituck Airport and fan of Native American lore.  (more…)

08/28/14 8:00am
Siris Barrios, community liaison with Renaissance Downtowns, outside the company's office on Peconic Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Siris Barrios, community liaison with Renaissance Downtowns, outside the company’s office on Peconic Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Growing up in the 1980s and’90s in a racially divided part of Los Angeles, where drugs and gangs were prevalent, Siris Barrios remembers well the days of the 1992 L.A. riots and the civil unrest she saw.

(more…)

08/25/14 12:00pm
Elon Musk — show here at the Tesla Grand Opening in 2008 — has promised $1 million to a Shoreham-based group hoping to build a museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla. (Credit: Brian Solis, Creative Commons)

Elon Musk — show here at the Tesla Grand Opening in 2008 — has promised $1 million to a Shoreham-based group hoping to build a museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla. (Credit: Brian Solis, Creative Commons)

For most, it’s not easy to get the attention of the CEO of a publicly traded company.

But one Southold couple managed to do just that this week.  (more…)

08/21/14 2:12pm
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON  FILE PHOTO

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO

The New York State Department of Education has released the results of Common Core-aligned math and English Language Arts exams taken this spring by students statewide, and outcomes from local districts fall in line with wider trends.

Those trends pointed to improved scores in math overall, with ELA results generally falling or staying flat.

Statewide, proficiency rates (the number of students scoring at levels 3 and 4) increased more in math than in English. In 2013, 31.2 percent of students achieved proficiency on the math exam; that number jumped to 35.8 percent in 2014. In English, the proficiency rate ticked up one-tenth of a percent, to 31.4 percent.

The tests were — and remain — a source of conflict for many parents and teachers throughout the state. Part of New York’s Common Core State Standards, state legislators delayed some of the impacts the tests have in evaluating teacher performance in reaction to opposition from the public. The standards came after New York opted into the federal program, which supplies the state with education funds otherwise not available.

This year’s results provided the first opportunity to compare students’ test performance in consecutive years. Educators with the state’s Board of Regents, which has been implementing Common Core, said that despite what some may consider low proficiency levels – numbers that opponents say defeat the students taking the tests — long-term, the plan is going as scheduled.

“This is still a transition period,” said New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch. “It will take time before the changes taking place in our classrooms are fully reflected in the test scores.”

This year’s results are below:

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08/08/14 10:00am
An application by the Department of Environmental Conservation for a four-car parking lot at the end of Beach Way, a private road in Baiting Hollow, has prompted nearby homeowners to sue the state agency. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

An application by the Department of Environmental Conservation for a four-car parking lot at the end of Beach Way, a private road in Baiting Hollow, has prompted nearby homeowners to sue the state agency. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

In a town awash with thousands of parking spaces, an application for another four might not seem like that big of a deal.

But tucked away on the far side of a private road in Baiting Hollow, abutting land the New York State Department of State has labeled “irreplaceable,” four parking spaces the state Department of Environmental Conservation permitted itself last year are creating quite a stir.

A group of Baiting Hollow homeowners have taken the DEC to court over the proposed spaces, claiming the state regulatory authority went out of bounds in granting itself a tidal wetlands permit for the spots “in secret — free from any public awareness and scrutiny,” according to court filings.

“If I wanted to build on that DEC piece of property, they would make me go through a full environmental review of the impacts,” said Frank Isler, the Riverhead attorney representing the Baiting Hollow Beach Association. “It’s surprising to us that they didn’t do that themselves. And our argument is that they can’t benefit from mishandling a procedure incorrectly.”

Last summer, the DEC filed for — and approved — four parking spaces in a .2-acre lot at the west end of Beach Way, a private road at the end of Edwards Avenue overlooking the Long Island Sound. The application calls for the removal of approximately 100 cubic yards of sand to be replaced with pervious material to facilitate car use. In addition, it proposes removing an existing gate on the site and installing guard rails along the perimeter of the parking area.

The .2-acre site abuts a larger, 81-acre parcel also owned by the DEC — land the agency says it wants to open to the public. In 2005, those lands, called the Baiting Hollow Wetlands and Beach, were added to a list of “significant coastal fish and wildlife habitats” by New York State’s Department of State.

“Any activity that would disturb or eliminate marsh, natural beach, and duneland plant communities would result in a loss of valuable wildlife species,” the designation states. The 81-acre property — one of about 250 such areas statewide — is considered “an important nesting site” for the endangered piping plover and the threatened least tern, according to the DOS.

But members of the Baiting Hollow Beach Association argue that the DEC’s application ignored that designation. And because the application was deemed to have a minor impact on the environment, notification otherwise required was not given, and neighbors were unaware of the permit until weeks after it was filed. One homeowner, Roger Schilling, said he heard about the permit in passing as he tried to obtain repair permits for his own property.

But by then, it was too late to challenge the DEC’s permit, as a 30-day window had already passed by the time homeowners filed suit.

“As soon as we heard about it, we brought [the legal challenge,]” Mr. Isler said.

Mr. Schilling said the project would require some “major dune bulldozing” to clear land for the parking spaces.

“Part of that dune is what saves the back row of houses [on Beach Way] from flooding,” he said. “That’s why this is one of the things that infuriates us, by calling it a minor project. It’s a major project.”

08/02/14 8:00am
Wedel Signs workers installing the Veterans Memorial Park last April in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photo)

Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton serves as host for Riverhead softball games.
(Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Bobby Jones, the famous amateur golfer and co-founder of Augusta National Golf Club, once said, “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots. But you have to play the ball where it lies.”  (more…)