05/15/14 6:00am
05/15/2014 6:00 AM
The former Long Island Beagle Club off Edwards Avenue in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The former Long Island Beagle Club off Edwards Avenue in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

On Tuesday, Suffolk County legislators gave a nonprofit organization approval to use the vacant Long Island Beagle Club on Edwards Avenue, which the county purchased in 2012 for nearly $9 million. At first glance, it It seems to be a logical, mutually beneficial agreement — making use of vacant buildings and giving space to a nonprofit that needs it.

Questions remain, however, about whether it’s the best deal for the county and community.

Long Island ABATE — American Bikers for Awareness, Training & Education — approached the county directly for permission to operate at the property. And under the agreement, the property will be improved and maintained by the nonprofit, and be made open to the public. While members of the county and ABATE are both on board, it’s hard to tell if anyone else is.

Nobody else was ever brought into the loop.

Motorcycle noise can be a serious quality-of-life problem. And although Edwards Avenue is well-known as a busy road, the fact that no one reached out to the Greater Calverton Civic Association indicates a lack of consideration for the nearby Village Green neighborhoods, which will be affected. The fact that environmental groups that lobbied the county to preserve the parcel — using reserved Drinking Water Protection Program money — were not informed doesn’t seem right either. If they hadn’t banged the drum to buy the land in the first place, it wouldn’t be available today for anyone to lease. And while it’s nearly impossible to make everyone aware of everything that’s going on at the county level, the courtesy of a simple phone call or email to individuals who are sure to have a vested interest in certain matters should be expected.

It appears that ABATE has done everything by the book in getting the proper approvals to lease the former Beagle Club property. It’s the book itself — or the lack thereof — that’s troubling.

Nothing appears to have been done behind closed doors; the Suffolk County Parks Board of Trustees, the Legislature’s parks and recreation committee and the Legislature itself all voted on the measure, and the county executive still must sign it. But why wasn’t there some sort of request for proposals or bidding process? The county studies enough concepts to determine what is best for taxpayers. It should examine more thoroughly the question of whether a certain organization looking to lease county lands or buildings is best suited for the space.

If an open RFP to lease the former Beagle Club had been advertised, any number of other worthy organizations looking for space might at least have known the property was available.

05/11/14 10:00am
05/11/2014 10:00 AM
The Riverhead varsity cheerleaders placed 20th at Nationals today in Orlando, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

The Riverhead varsity cheerleaders placed 20th at Nationals earlier this year. (Credit: courtesy)

It’s an activity in which strained tendons, split lips and the occasional concussion are expected — and your safety relies wholly on trusting your teammates to back you up and catch you when you fall.

It’s cheerleading — which last week was unanimously recognized as a sport by the New York State Board of Regents. To this I say, it’s about time.

Here’s why, based on my firsthand experience.  (more…)

05/09/14 8:00am
05/09/2014 8:00 AM
County Executive Steve Bellone, second from right, discusses Southampton Town's Riverside plans with, from left, Councilwoman Christine Scalera, Councilman Brad Benter, Sean McLean of Renaissance Downtowns, and Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

County Executive Steve Bellone, second from right, discusses Southampton Town’s Riverside plans with, from left, Councilwoman Christine Scalera, Councilman Brad Benter, Sean McLean of Renaissance Downtowns, and Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

How refreshing it was to see the county executive touring Riverside last week, a place many elected leaders have long avoided lest they have to confront firsthand the harsh realities that exist there: unpaved roads, long-abandoned stores, boarded-up shacks, drugs, crime. And this just a few miles from — and in the same town as — some of the wealthiest Zip codes in Suffolk County and the entire country.  (more…)

04/25/14 6:00am
04/25/2014 6:00 AM

tax

Legislation signed in December by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that made school tax exemptions for available to certain veterans took effect with little advance notice, making it difficult for school boards tasked with deciding whether their districts would participate in the program to make well-researched and educated decisions.  (more…)