04/09/15 10:00am
04/09/2015 10:00 AM

Thumbs upFARMLAND PRESERVATION

A big thumbs up to the state’s decision to give its Farmland Protection Program a $35 million boost, bringing the program’s budget up to $177 million for 2015-16. Like repairs to roads, bridges and other infrastructure, preserving farms is a sound investment — and much less speculative than pricey economic development “pet” projects. The farmland program, which was understandably slashed in half during the recession in 2008, is now back to full health and monies will continue to be available for towns to use to protect farms. Although most of the money will go upstate, it’s in the interest of agricultural communities statewide to remain healthy, forward-thinking and, most of all, intact for generations down the road.

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04/03/15 10:00am
04/03/2015 10:00 AM
Leaders with PBMC Health note that a decade ago the organization would not have been quite as attractive a candidate to merge with a larger health system. But improvements such as the Kanas Center for Advanced Surgery, a $35 million project completed in 2009, have made it a 'juicy piece of fruit,' according to board member George Summers. (Credit: PBMC)

Leaders with PBMC Health note that a decade ago the organization would not have been quite as attractive a candidate to merge with a larger health system. But improvements such as the Kanas Center for Advanced Surgery, a $35 million project completed in 2009, have made it a ‘juicy piece of fruit,’ according to board member George Summers. (Credit: PBMC)

Don’t be alarmed. That’s some sound health advice for anyone concerned about Peconic Bay Medical Center’s pending merger with North Shore-LIJ Health System, one of the country’s largest integrated health care systems and the biggest in New York.  (more…)

03/27/15 11:00am
03/27/2015 11:00 AM

The Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund has never been just about protecting agriculture, farms and open space. At its heart, the program, which took effect in 1999, has always been about protecting a way of life the rest of Long Island lost long ago to intense — and ongoing — suburban sprawl that began after World War II.  (more…)

03/17/15 6:00am
03/17/2015 6:00 AM
Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is a House Foreign Affairs Committee member. (Courtesy file photo)

Congressman Lee Zeldin is a House Foreign Affairs Committee member. (Courtesy file photo)

Freshman Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has had a good few weeks.

We’ll hold our fire — for now — about his joining forces with reactionary U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, spouting conspiracy theories about American foreign policy.

But we commend him for supporting local educators fighting the Common Core system by introducing legislation and also for standing with opponents of ear-splitting helicopter traffic over the East End.

Mr. Zeldin has weighed in on Common Core by writing an amendment to an education bill that ensures school districts won’t be penalized by a denial of federal funds if they opt out of using the “teach the test”-heavy form of education overhaul.

While you’d be hard-pressed to find many people who are against challenging our students to rely less on memorization when it comes to math -— or think more critically when it comes to English — the sweeping, comprehensive rollout of the Common Core standards itself has been a disaster.

Mr. Zeldin is correct in seeking to allow districts to bail on Common Core as it stands. (more…)

03/15/15 7:00am
03/15/2015 7:00 AM

Administrators with the Riverhead Central School District and Eastern Suffolk BOCES should be commended for putting together a creative, pragmatic approach to a unique problem precipitated by last summer’s influx of young people fleeing violence-torn regions of Central America.

And they did it on relatively short notice.  (more…)

03/06/15 12:00pm
03/06/2015 12:00 PM

At face value, Supervisor Sean Walter’s effort to save taxpayers money by consolidating town government offices seems to be a good idea — and it’s good that he’s pursuing such good ideas. Trimming the number of town employees by 12 percent over the last five years has surely saved taxpayers money — and will continue to down the road. However, the need for the town to trim even more personnel to balance its budget next year and beyond is a real problem — one that’s largely of his and this Town’s Board’s own creation. (more…)

02/27/15 1:50pm
02/27/2015 1:50 PM
Sidewalk2

Dallas Wiese walks up Route 58 about once a week to meet his mother after her shift at Stop & Shop ends. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Many Riverhead taxpayers have made clear from time to time — whether it’s at public meetings, through correspondence or conversations with newspaper staff or even in our online comments section — that they think lots of big businesses in town have it too easy.

Whether the reason is the tax breaks given by the Industrial Development Agency, the terms of a final site plan approval by the Planning Board or — most recently and quite obviously — lax code enforcement over shoveling sidewalks on Route 58, the public’s perception sometimes is that the town overlooks average taxpayers in favor of of business owners.

Related: Riverhead issues $10K in tickets for uncleared Route 58 sidewalks

Those perceptions could be argued: The town’s code enforcement resources are limited and businesses do generate jobs and tax dollars. If they don’t get some kind of breaks here, they will just get them elsewhere.

But for a family earning the town’s median household income of $62,144 — or the 43 percent of families bringing in less than $50,000 — those arguments can understandably fall on deaf ears. And frequently the people walking up and down Route 58 in need of sidewalks are earning on the lower end of the income scale and rely on public transit to get from place to place.

It should go without saying that enforcing the town’s code is the right thing to do. Unfortunately it took nearly until March for tickets to be issued — far too long for those forced to walk along a busy thoroughfare in below-freezing weather, not to mention the drivers who nearly hit defenseless pedestrians.

The fine for failing to clear sidewalks — $250 — is rather paltry in relation to the size of the town’s budget, but the rules are the rules. Hopefully, the town will keep up with enforcement and will press the issue harder next winter should similar circumstances arise.

If businesses continue to choose not to comply, perhaps the fine should be increased.

02/27/15 9:59am

Words such as “crisis” and “urgent” often lose their currency when public officials spend them as freely as sailors on sprees.

But credit Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty — chairman of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association — for pursuing an end to a fully realized crisis confronting the region’s future in the form of polluted groundwater and the waters that surround us(more…)