12/28/10 7:37pm
12/28/2010 7:37 PM

Riverhead Town is on the verge of reaching another cash settlement with Young and Young, the Riverhead-based engineering firm that agreed recently to pay the town $1.2 million in settlement of a lawsuit in which the town blamed the engineers for letting the massive landfill reclamation project go millions of dollars over budget.

The Town Board last week voted to authorize its outside legal counsel to effect a settement with Young and Young over a dispute in which the engineers claimed the town owes them $80,000.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the disputed money stems from work on various other projects, including restoration of downtown’s Grangebel Park. The recent settlement calls for the town to pay Young and Young about $37,000, he said.

Asked if the two disputes are separate actions, Mr. Walter said, “It’s tied in because we haven’t seen the $1.2 million, so we’re not going to send them the $37,000 until we have a guarantee that we’re getting that money.”

In the landfill lawsuit, settled earlier this year, Young and Young agreed to pay the town $1.2 million, although the town will only receive $800,000 of that, with the rest going to its outside legal counsel.

The landfill project was begun as a state-of-the-art reclamation job, in which garbage and recyclables from the landfill would be excavated and removed, leaving “virgin sand,” as officials said at the time. But the project quickly exceeded its $40 million budget while it was only about one-third completed, and officials abandoned the job and capped the landfill instead.

Capping, in which a large plastic liner is placed over the landfill, is traditionally the method that the state permits for closing landfills.

The exact amount Riverhead overspent by reclaiming part of the landfill instead of capping right from the beginning is not easily determined since some of the landfill encroached on a neighboring project and would have had to be reclaimed anyway, but former Supervisor Phil Cardinale at one point estimated that the town had spent about $15 million more by launching the complete reclamation job.

12/28/10 7:32pm

A community garden proposed for downtown Riverhead could get a portion of a $1.2 million grant through the Cornell Cooperative Extension to promote healthy eating through farmer’s markets and community gardens, etc. it was revealed in Town Hall last week.

A nonprofit group called River and Roots Community Garden is hoping to build the garden on town-owned land just north of Grangebel Park and south of Griffing Avenue’s intersection with Route 25.

“The plan includes 36 garden beds, two herb decks to be shared by gardeners and a perimeter planted with berries and fruit trees, to be shared by gardeners and passersby,” Amy Davidson, who founded the group with Laurie Nigro, said at a hearing on the proposal at last Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

Under the plan, any Riverhead resident would be able to sign up for a plot in which to grow things.

Susan Wilk, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s project coordinator of creating healthy places in Suffolk County, announced at that public hearing that the Riverhead-based Cornell extension has received a $1.2 million grant that will focus on creating strategies aimed at preventing and reducing obesity-related health problems in Riverhead, Southampton and Babylon towns.

“One of the project’s objectives is supporting community gardens,” she said. “The state feels so strongly [about promoting] farmers markets and community gardens that they are investing in this.”

The grant also targets the creation of additional nutrition education, improved walking and biking trails and working with grocery stores and restaurants to promote healthier food options, Ms. Wilk said.

The proposed community garden mostly drew support during Tuesday’s hearing.

“We are ready to make the garden a reality and improve the health and quality of life of Riverhead residents,” Ms. Davidson said.
“This spot in particular is the perfect choice for our community,” Ms. Nigro said. “The location serves as a visual entry to downtown,  welcoming people to Main Street. And combined with the extensive renovation of Grangebel Park, the community garden would be a beautiful and welcoming destination.”

There has been some confusion over whether a prior Town Board in some way promised the land in question as a site for a veteran’s memorial.

“We are led to believe, as an organization, that a resolution had been passed several years ago allotting this piece of land as a war memorial, and that a sizable grant of about $50,000 was put aside for this purpose,” said John Newman of the Veterans of Foreign War Post 2476 in Riverhead.

“A couple of people have raised the issue that we may have dedicated this for a veteran’s memorial,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter responded. “We have done extensive research: we can’t find any dedication.”

Mr. Walter said he thinks the community garden is a “fantastic idea” for downtown.

Councilman John Dunleavy said he was told by employees with the town’s community development agency that the $50,000 grant was to renovate an old comfort station on the property.

The idea of using the site as a veterans memorial was brought up in February, 2004, by town assessor Paul Leszczynski, who is an American Legion member, according to a 2004 News-Review article.

The community garden proposal also met with some opposition Tuesday from resident Sandra Mott. She said the Peconic River floods and is filled with contaminants from Brookhaven National Lab, and that the vegetables and fruits grown in the garden would lure animals to the site, and those animals would then be hit by cars.

Ms. Mott said she supports a community garden, but not in this proposed location.

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12/28/10 10:42am

Farmers and other horticulturalists from across Long Island will meet in January to discuss the latest issues facing the agricultural industry here.

Those in attendance at the 30th annual Long Island Agricultural Forum will also discuss the latest environmental restrictions and guidelines — while accruing “important pesticide recertification credits,” said officials with the Long Island Farm Bureau, which is hosting the event.

New technology, changes in farmland preservation programs and solid waste management will also be topics of interest for local those in attendance.

The forum is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Jan. 13 and 14, at Suffolk County Community College’s Eastern Campus in Northampton.

Those looking to attend should register before Jan. 4, otherwise the $30 registration fee will increase to $45 per person.

For more information vicist www.ccesuffolk.org or call 727-7850, ext. 341.

12/28/10 8:01am

JENNETT MERIDEN RUSSELL PHOTO | Mary Langhorn of Riverhead at a ceremony on Monday dedicating the Riverhead Post Office in honor of her son, Private First Class Garfield M. Langhorn, a Medal of Honor recipient. The portrait of him is by artist Gerald Slater of New York City will hang in the Riverhead Post Office.

When an enemy hand grenade landed in the middle of his platoon, U.S. Army Private First Class Garfield M. Langhorn did not hesitate: The young man threw himself on the explosive device and sacrificed his own life to protect the lives of his fellow infantryman.

That heroic incident occurred more than four decades ago, and yet the quiet young man from Riverhead who gave up his life during the Vietnam War remains a legend among locals.

Some 500 people, including dignitaries, relatives, veterans and inspired residents, attended a September ceremony dedicating the Riverhead post office in honor of Pfc. Langhorn, a Medal of Honor recipient. The 20-year-old Riverhead native was killed in Vietnam in 1969.

Vietnam veteran Bob Elrose, who was at the event, called Pfc. Langhorn “the greatest hero to ever come out of Riverhead.” Gerald Slater of New York City painted a portrait of the young hero that now hangs in the post office. And Congressman Tim Bishop presented Pfc. Langhorn’s mother, Mary Langhorn, 86, of Riverhead, with a copy of the legislation bearing the signature of President Obama, as well as the pen Mr. Obama used to sign the legislation.

Pfc. Langhorn, who loved working on his car, playing guitar and being a part of his church, was remembered by many as a good Christian who regularly read the Bible and had a heart of gold.

According to a witness account, Pfc. Langhorn was standing between his platoon leader and wounded soldiers during an attack. Suddenly a ripping sound came out of the woods and a hand grenade landed next to him and the wounded.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Pfc. Langhorn threw his body onto the live explosive.

He was killed instantly.

Outside the post office, Ms. Langhorn said her son had not wanted to go to Vietnam but dutifully went into battle.
“If he were here, he would say, ‘I did what I had to do,’ ” she said.

12/28/10 7:59am

JANE STARWOOD PHOTO | The Old Field Vineyards' 2004 Blanc de Noir earned 90 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Long Island has always been known for its glitterati, but usually this refers to the socialites and celebrities hanging out in the Hamptons and sipping champagne. But today, the East End glitters with sparkling wines, many of them making headlines at international wine competitions. While all that glitters is not champagne — only wines from the Champagne region of France can rightly be called champagne — that’s just as well because these Long Island sparklers are making a name for themselves all on their own.

After toasting their first date with a glass of bubbly, Sparkling Pointe owners Tom and Cynthia Rosicki fell in love with champagne. Their choice to focus exclusively on sparkling wines and to grow all three of the traditional champagne grape varieties — Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier — was a natural outgrowth of that love. When their first wines debuted in 2008, Sparkling Pointe hit the ground running, making news in 2009 when its Brut Seduction took Best of Class as Sparkling Sweepstakes winner in the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. In 2010, the winery’s Brut was a gold medal winner and its Topaz Imperial Rosé placed with silver. Concurrent with this success, the Rosickis opened their spacious French manor house-style tasting room and winery on Route 48 in Southold in November 2009.

Sparkling Pointe’s winemaker, Gilles Martin, is no stranger to champagne either, hailing from Meaux, France, just outside the Champagne region. Before making his home on the North Fork, he served as assistant winemaker at California’s Roederer Estate and Louis Roederer’s Champagne house in Reims, France. Bringing this experience with him, Gilles first made a North Fork sparkling wine in 1997 at Macari Vineyards. He has also produced sparkling wines for Martha Clara and Sherwood House vineyards.

Following the same labor-intensive process as that used in Champagne, Gilles stresses that this traditional method of production “brings a lot of quality to the resulting wine.” Such sparkling wines undergo fermentation not just once, but twice, the second to harness the power of fizzy carbon dioxide created by the yeast as it “eats” the sugar and converts it into alcohol. After completing this task, the yeast dies off and eventually breaks down and settles within the bottle, providing yeasty, bready and toasty characteristics to the finished wine.

These characteristics are more pronounced the longer the wine is aged on the lees (yeast cells). And all of this happens within the same bottle in which the wine will ultimately be sold. The yeast cells are removed from the bottle through a process called disgorging and then topped up with wine and some sugar (known as the dosage), depending upon the level of sweetness desired.

When asked about Sparkling Pointe’s recent success, Gilles admitted, “You don’t ever expect to be No. 1 in the country, but I’m very happy. My belief that we can create quality wine on Long Island was confirmed by the competition in California. It was a pleasant surprise and a confirmation.”

Another “go to” guy for Long Island’s sparkling wines is Eric Fry, winemaker at the Lenz Winery. Eric has been a fixture on the North Fork since 1989, producing high-quality sparkling and still wines since his arrival. He observes that, “Some winemakers are afraid of making sparkling wine; it’s scary.” He’s referring to the need to rely on the yeast to do its work, while the winemaker waits a long time to see the results. However, Eric truly enjoys making sparkling wine and loves drinking it. He says the bright, fresh and crisp notes of sparkling wines are a great combination with local shellfish and seafood.

At Lenz, Eric crafts Cuvée, a sparkling wine produced from 100% Pinot Noir, which is aged on the lees for over five years, with the current vintage being 2004. With each release, the winery holds back 60 to 70 cases for an additional eight years of aging before disgorging the wine and selling it as Cuvée RD (Recently Disgorged). In addition to his Lenz sparklers, Eric works with Ros and Chris Baiz at The Old Field Vineyards to create a Blanc de Noirs, made from 100% Pinot Noir, which has received rave reviews from numerous wine professionals.

Eric makes a third Long Island sparkling wine with Lieb Cellars, where he produces a Blanc de Blanc from 100% Pinot Blanc grapes. Eric explained that Pinot Blanc is a nice, clean, fresh wine that makes a good bubbly, one that is pretty and delicate. This wine is aged for three years before disgorging and has garnered significant praise, having been hailed as the top American sparkling wine by Wine Spectator magazine and winning at the L.A .International Wine Competition. Even more telling, all 285 cases of the 2005 vintage have been sold.
While all of these sparkling wines have much in common, they remain unique from one another. As Eric explains, “What’s coming from the vineyard is all that matters.” He tastes the grapes and responds to the vineyard when creating his sparkling wines. “Each wine is totally different,” he says, “but, using the same process, you tweak it based upon what it tastes like.”

Miguel Martin, winemaker for Palmer Vineyards, is also a fan of sparkling wine. He previously produced sparklers at Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma, Calif., as well as cava, the sparkling wine of Spain. At Palmer, Miguel makes Sparkling Brut from 100% Chardonnay grapes. As with most traditional-method sparklers, the grapes are handpicked and whole-cluster pressed before being fermented cold. His wine spends two years on the lees prior to disgorging and has no residual sugar. Miguel feels that Long Island is a great place to make sparkling wines, noting that “the light alcohol, unique fruit flavors, lees contact and natural acidity blend nicely to create a really nice, well-balanced wine.” He admits to drinking sparkling wines throughout the year agrees with Eric that they are truly food wines.

Several other East End wineries produce sparkling wines; you’ll find current releases on the Wine List in this issue. Whichever Long Island sparkler you choose, it’s sure to glitter brightly in the glass.

Wine writer Tracy Ellen Kamens, Ed.D., DWS, CWE, holds a Certified Wine Educator credential from the Society of Wine Educators and a Diploma of Wine and Spirits, with merit, from Wine & Spirits Education Trust. She also holds the International Bordeaux Instructor title from L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux, and has completed both the Napa Valley Vintners’ Wine Educators Academy and Wine Australia USA AusWISE programs. With her husband, Jared Skolnick, Ms. Kamens runs Grand Cru Classes (GrandCruClasses.com), based in Mattituck.

12/27/10 10:00am
12/27/2010 10:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Ice forms on a living room window in Riverhead Tuesday morning.

While the storm that brought a foot of snow to the North Fork Sunday has stopped, the wind that is blowing it all around and making driving conditions particularly dangerous continues to roar.

Wind gusts are still being recorded at as much as 40 miles per hour in Riverhead Monday morning, where temperatures are in just the mid-20s. The windy conditions are expected to remain steady until tomorrow morning, where sunny weather is predicted and temperatures are expected to rise above freezing.

The snow fell for nearly 24 hours Sunday into Monday, eclipsing the 10-inch mark around 6 a.m. in Flanders, according to the National Weather Service.

Riverhead officials are urging drivers who do not have to leave their home to stay put today, as the plows continue to clear area streets. Town Supervisor Sean Walter even said Town Hall will be closed Monday.

Residents and vacationers looking to leave Riverhead today may need to make other plans. The Long Island Rail Road has suspended systemwide service indefinitely and all area airports are expected to remain closed until 4 p.m.

The storm also caused some power outages in Riverhead, where about 97 residents were still without power at 10 a.m., according to the Long Island Power Authority.