07/21/14 2:00pm
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Refuse in woods along Oak Avenue in Flanders.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Refuse in woods along Oak Avenue in Flanders.

Having seen too much illegal dumping over the years in the hamlets of Flanders, Riverside and Northampton, a proposal to create a garbage collection district will go to a public vote this fall among residents in the area.

The idea has been discussed by civic leaders in those hamlets for several years, as they feel it would eliminate the need to drop off trash on vacant lots in the area — while saving locals garbage costs of their own — if carting can be obtained for a reasonable price.

“It is a community that has a large rental population — the homes are very tight together on small lots. But we also have a community in a socio-economic position where a lot of people are looking for alternative methods for disposing their waste, and that does not include taking it to the dump or having a private carter, but actually placing it somewhere that it doesn’t belong,” said Councilman Brad Bender, who lives in Northampton.

Mr. Bender, a former president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association was elected last fall in his second bid for Southampton Town Board.  The Town Board discussed the issue at its July 10 work session.

While the creation of a garbage district normally is subject to a permissive referendum, in which a petition signed by a certain percent of the voters could force a referendum, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the Town Board plans to have a mandatory referendum on the issue. The town offered residents the same option when it created beach erosion control districts in Bridghampton, Sagaponack and Hampton Bays.

“This way, there was no gray area in terms of people having the ability to be heard on this,” said Ms. Throne-Holst.

But before a vote, the town will first gather bids from commercial garbage carters in order to get an idea of what it will cost to have a garbage district in the three hamlets, according to assistant town attorney Kathleen Murray. They also will have a public hearing on the proposal before the fall vote.

Vince Taldone, the current president of FRNCA, said at the meeting that about 80 percent of residents in the hamlets currently pay for private carting, coming at a cost of about $40 per month.

By comparison, residents in Riverhead’s six different garbage districts pay on average about $250 per year, said Christine Fetten, Southampton’s director of facilities management.

The referendum for the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton garbage district would be a vote amongst residents in just those three hamlets — not from the entire town. The boundaries of the proposed district would be the same as those of the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance, which covers those three hamlets.

While neighboring Riverhead Town has had garbage districts for years, Southampton Town doesn’t have any garbage districts, in which residents pay a special tax and have their garbage and recyclables picked up at curbside.

Southampton Town currently requires residents to buy green town garbage bags that are required for self-haulers to dispose of their garbage at town transfer stations. Recyclable items can be disposed of for free at the transfer stations.

There are transfer stations in Hampton Bays, Westhampton, North Sea and Bridgehampton. Residents also can contract with private garbage carters.

Putting Flanders, Riverside and Northampton into a separate garbage district would reduce the amount of revenue the town receives from self-haulers in those areas by about $63,000 per year, officials said.

However Mr. Taldone pointed out that money would also be saved, though it would be tough to quantify — and savings wouldn’t necessarily come from the town’s facilities management department.

For instance, the town highway department last fall cleaned up piles of discarded televisions, yard waste, construction debris, clothing and other items from a lot in Riverside. Those clean-ups would be reduced, though not wiped out entirely.

“I believe this garbage district will greatly reduce the amount of illegal dumping there is, but to entirely eliminate it is a different story,” said Ms. Fetten.

The proposed Flanders, Riverside and Northampton district will likely be just for residential trash, officials said. Slightly over 2,000 homes would be affected.

Mr. Bender said the proposal would have a “single stream” recycling program, in which residents put all of their recyclable containers, paper and cardboard into one container at the curbside on designated recycling days, rather than putting each into separate containers.

07/17/14 9:37am
Sal St. George making his Edgar Allen Poe Festival pitch to business leaders in Riverhead Town Hall Wednesday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Sal St. George making his Edgar Allen Poe Festival pitch to business leaders in Riverhead Town Hall Wednesday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Port Jefferson has hosted a Charles Dickens Festival around Christmastime for the past 13 years. And now, the man who has been instrumental in the success of that event, wants to do something similar in downtown Riverhead: an Edgar Allan Poe Festival. (more…)

07/16/14 5:10pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (from left), Councilman John Dunleavy and Supervisor Sean Walter in Town Hall.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Councilman James Wooten (from left), Councilman John Dunleavy and Supervisor Sean Walter in Town Hall.

Riverhead Town Board members again debated the issue of political caucuses at Tuesday’s board meeting, when two council members thought the board was in agreement on three personnel moves — only to see them fall flat in a 2-2 vote.

Councilman George Gabrielsen was absent from Tuesday’s board meeting, and following the personnel votes, Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten said that the change came as a result of a closed door political caucus, something board members argued about earlier this year.

Mr. Walter said he stopped attending the meetings in January.

“I don’t know what transpired between executive session on Thursday and today, unless it was something I wasn’t at,” Mr. Wooten said on Tuesday. “You see, Jim, you and I did not attend (GOP chairman) Mason Haas’ caucus,” Mr. Walter said.

“It was not a caucus,” Ms. Giglio said. “There were only two board members there. And I was always a ‘no’ on this.”

Mr. Walter suggested that “Somebody politically is going to get a job” as a result of the votes.

But Councilman John Dunleavy had a change of heart on Wednesday.

Mr. Dunleavy said on Wednesday that he has since changed his vote, after discussing it after Tuesdays’s meeting, and now plans to vote in favor of the three personnel moves, which he now believes will save the town money.

The Town Board will be holding a special town board meeting on Thursday to “take up time sensitive employee resolutions.”

Ms. Giglio said on Tuesday that she first heard about the personnel moves at Thursday’s work session and wanted more information. The resolutions included a transfer of a highway employee to a janitor position in the senior center, a transfer of a cook in the senior center to a highway position and the hiring of a temporary cook in the senior center.

She said the main reason for the caucus was an unrelated issue: to discuss Mr. Walter’s refusal to sign a contract for a new building department software program that the rest of the board voted to authorize him to sign. Mr. Walter said that he believes this contract required a competitive bid.

Mr. Dunleavy said after Tuesday’s meeting that he voted no because by transferring a cook in the senior center to the highway department, the town would be short one cook.

07/15/14 7:00pm

liveblog

Riverhead Town Board members debated the issue of political caucuses at Tuesday’s board meeting, when three personnel items Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten thought the board had agreed to in executive session met with opposition from Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilman Jim Wooten when it came up for a vote. Councilman George Gabrielsen was absent, resulting in a 2-2 tie.

(more…)

07/12/14 2:00pm
The entrance to Calverton  Links Friday afternoon. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The entrance to Calverton Links, which was recently purchased by a new owner. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Calverton Links golf course, which has been closed since last October, has a new owner.

A group called Bashi Calverton Links LLC, headed by developer Parviz Farahzad, purchased the 126-acre property on Edwards Avenue on May 30 for $3.5 million, according to county records.  (more…)