09/30/11 5:18pm
09/30/2011 5:18 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Sean Walter giving his 'State of the Town' at Calverton Links.

The town tax rate will increase by 2.36 percent under the tentative 2012 Riverhead Town Budget released by Supervisor Sean Walter on Friday.

The $51.6 million budget also raises spending by 3.3 percent and raises the tax levy by about $1 million or 2.86 percent.

The tax levy is permitted to exceed the new state-imposed 2 percent tax cap because of exemptions in the cap pertaining to pension cost increases and tax levy increases related to new development, Mr. Walter said.

“We were allowed under the cap to increase the tax levy by about 3.6 percent because of the exemptions and we only increased it by about 2.9 percent,” he said Friday. “We were $75,000 under what was authorized by the cap.”

He said pension costs alone made up about $1.4 million of the $1.66 million spending increase.

Someone with property assessed at $50,000, which equates to a real market value of about $326,157, would pay about $53 more in town taxes under the proposal.

Mr. Walter pointed out that he cut spending in the current year’s budget, and that in his two years as supervisor, spending would only increase by 1.75 percent if his proposed budget is adopted unchanged.

“We’re on the right course,” he said Friday.

As previously reported in The News-Review, Mr. Walter is not proposing any cuts in staffing at Town Hall in his 2012 budget, and he is proposing to offset taxes by using $2.6 million in reserve funds.

The town last year, in developing the 2011 budget, cut six full time positions and seven part-time positions. The 2011 budget also used $2.6 million in reserve funding to offset taxes.

Mr. Walter said the town used $5.2 million in reserve funds to offset taxes in the 2010 budget, the last one developed under the prior Town Board.

Mr. Walter said Riverhead will still have about $7.9 million left in reserves to start 2012, but he feels the town has to stop using reserves in future budgets.

Among some of the larger revenues in the budget, Mr. Walter’s proposal anticipates an increase in building department fees, from $1.16 million to $1.3 million. Justice court fees also are anticipated to increase, from $559,800 to $588,300.

Mortgage tax revenues are projected to remain at $900,000. Site plan fees are projected to increase from $75,000 to $130,000, but planning board fees are projected to drop from $150,000 to $20,000.

Mr. Walter said he plans to discuss the budget with the full Town Board at work session Thursday.

Under state law, the supervisor must released a tentative town budget before Oct. 1, and the full Town Board must hold a public hearing on the budget and adopt a final budget by Nov. 20.

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09/30/11 3:15pm

Harold J. Wulforst of Calverton died Sept. 30 at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. He was 91 years old.

He was born July 3, 1920, in Floral Park, N.Y., to Frank and Mary Wulforst and had been a farmer in Calverton.

According to family members, he enjoyed traveling, gardening and the beach.

Predeceased by his wife, Margaret, in 1991, Mr. Wulforst is survived by six children: William, of Los Angeles; John, of Calverton; Ellen Stone of White Plains, N.Y.; Sharon, of Lindenhurst; Paul, of Riverhead; and Catherine, of Manorville. Also surviving are his brother, George, of Oyster Bay; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Visiting hours will take place Saturday, Oct. 1, from 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 2, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead. Funeral services are set for 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, at St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Riverhead. Interment will follow at St. John’s Cemetery, Riverhead.

Memorial donations may be made to St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church, 546 St. Johns Place, Riverhead, NY 11901.

09/30/11 11:11am

A Riverhead bicyclist suffered serous injuries after he was hit by a truck while crossing Route 58 in Riverhead early Friday, authorities said.

The bicyclist, 35-year-old Encarnaciom Gregorio, was hit by an eastbound Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Peter DeBerardi, 75, of Calverton near Mill Road about 6:30 a.m., Riverhead Town Police said. Mr. Gregorio, surffering with broken ribs, was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for treatment by Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Company.

Riverhead Police Detective Dixon Palmer said Mr. DeBerardi told police he had been stopped for a red light at the intersection with Mill Road and when the light turned green, Mr. Gregorio rode in front of the truck.

Mr. DiBerardi “never saw him,” Det. Palmer said. “He told me he came out of nowhere.”

Mr. DiBerardi stopped and got out to help Mr. Gregorio.

Det. Palmer said the Mr. Gregorio, who had not yet been interviewed by police, suffered broken ribs during the accident.

Police were still investigating, though Det. Palmer said he did not expect charges to be filed. Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to call investigators at 727-4500 ex. 328.

The accident occurred one day after Riverhead Town announced plans to move forward on a bike path running from Calverton to Jamesport.

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09/30/11 10:33am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | David Lee Fulton of Riverhead helped organize the EPCAL hunt back in 2001.

There are still 210 out of 251 spots left for Riverhead hunters who want to take part in the seven-week-long bow hunt at Calverton Enterprise Park this fall, town officials said this week.

The hunt will be held for seven weeks from Oct. 10 until Nov. 27 at nine locations at EPCAL. Four hunters are assigned to each location for a one-week period. Only Riverhead residents may participate.

“There’s a lot of hunters in the Town of Riverhead, believe it or not,” said Town Board member and liaison to the town’s hunting committee, George Gabrielsen. But when a lottery was held on Tuesday for first choice on location and date, only about 38 hunters attended, he said. He speculated the lottery had not been well publicized and all 251 hunting spots will be booked by the start of the season.

Mr. Gabrielsen said the town decided to bring back bow hunting at EPCAL after a lapse of a decade because a shotgun hunting season last year had been so successful. Shotgun hunting season begins again in January.

Of the hunters, Mr. Gabrielson said, “They’re very responsible people.” Mr. Gabrielsen is a hunter himself.

Anyone interested in participating must bring his or her hunting and bow hunting licenses to Town Hall to apply for a spot. There is no fee.

09/30/11 9:42am

COURTESY PHOTO | Deacon Jeff Sykes, aided by altar servers, blesses News-Review columnist Eileen Benthal's dogs Taffy, Lorenz and Madias at a previous recent blessing of the animals at Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church in Mattituck.

Looking for something local to do this weekend? The Riverhead News-Review weekend guide has got you covered. Check out our listing of this weekend’s happenings. Or, you could visit our weekly calendar under the community tab on our homepage.

• If you’re looking to get your pet blessed, this is the weekend to do it. Three “blessing of the animals” ceremonies are planned for the North Fork this Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, a blessing and celebration of the animals will be held at Old Steeple Church at 656 Main Road, Aquebogue at 11 a.m. Optional donations will be given to a local animal shelter. A blessing will also be held Saturday at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church at 71305 Main Road in Greenport at 4 p.m. On Sunday, a blessing will be held on the front lawn of Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church on Main Road in Mattituck at 1:30 p.m.

• This Sunday also marks the 13th annual Antique Automobile Show at Hallockville Museum Farm. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., is sponsored by Peconic Bay Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America. Show car registration is $20 day of show, spectator admission is $5  and children under 12 are free with an adult.

• Riverhead Fire Department’s annual open house will be held at the Roanoke Avenue firehouse from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Activities include live fire and rescue operations, a fire prevention trailer, and a poster contest.

• New Suffolk Waterfront Fund will hold its Artsy-Crafty, Fun-Key Festival this weekend. The event runs Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m until 4 p.m. There will be unique items created by artisans near and far. Entrance is $5 and kids under 12 free. Visit newsuffolkwaterfront.org for more information.

• A ‘creating a memory book’ workshop with book artist Mare Dianora will be held at Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead Saturday at 11 a.m. The special program is presented by the SCHS in connection with its 9/11 Memorial Exhibit. Materials are $20 and preregistration is required. Call 727-2881, ext. 100.

09/30/11 9:30am

The New York Times published an article Friday on the recent buying frenzy of the Sept. 22 edition of The Suffolk Times and the Riverhead News-Review.

The article, on page A21 of Friday’s edition, states “It is possible there is some larger lesson for ailing newspaper sales in the sudden good fortune of The Suffolk Times and The Riverhead News-Review, two modest Long Island weeklies that saw an unprecedented sales spike last week as mysterious buyers swooped in to buy every copy they could.”

It goes on to mention parent company Times/Review’s owner Troy Gustavson’s column this week where he speculates who could have been behind the buying spree.

“‘In a column in the editions on Thursday, he speculated, tongue in cheek, that the sales spurt could have been the work of ‘someone involved in a truly monumental school project; someone really proud of their grandchild on the honor roll; someone with a great deal of precious glassware to pack; or, as I suspect, someone intent on suppressing the dissemination of a particular news story.'”

NY1 also mentioned the piece today.

09/30/11 7:01am

Three men are facing burglary charges after police found them with allegedly stolen cash, cigarettes, cigars and groceries taken from a closed Riverside gas station early Thursday, authorities said.

The men, Steven Willis, 20, of Calverton, Adam Shamulzai, 19, of Riverhead, and Jimmy R. Bridgewater, 20, of Riverhead were stopped while driving shortly after Southampton Town Police detectives wrapped up their crime scene investigation at Shamrock gas station on Flanders Road about 1:15 a.m. In addition to the stolen goods, the trio had burglar’s tool on them, police said.

A clerk at the gas station said the store was closed at the time of the theft, though he declined to comment further.

All three were charged with third-degree burglary, fifth-degree conspiracy, possession of burglar’s tools and third-degree criminal mischief.

Mr. Bridgewater was also charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of marijuana.

All three men were taken to the Suffolk County jail in Riverside.

09/30/11 6:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A sign on Route 25 in Calverton indicates that it is part of a bicycle path, but the town wants to establish a clearly marked bike lane that would extend all the way to Jamesport.

A bike path running from EPCAL all the way to Jamesport is set to move forward, as Riverhead Town prepares to submit its plans to the state.

The town received $3.16 million in federal stimulus money in 2009 for the creation of the path, which could be used for bicycles and pedestrians. It also can be used for sidewalk creation, as well as for widening and resurfacing roadways to allow for bike paths and sidewalks, officials said.

The path has been in the design stages for the past two years, but the town must now submit a plan for the path to the state Department of Transportation by the end of October, officials said.

Town engineer Ken Testa said the original plan the town had was for the path to begin at Grumman Boulevard and head west to Edwards Avenue in Calverton. However, there were concerns about putting it there because there are wetlands and a cemetery in the area, so the start of the path was moved to Route 25, by the new ball fields at EPCAL.

From there, it is now proposed to go east on Route 25, south on Edwards Avenue to West Main Street, then up Mill Road, over to Pulaski Street, where it would connect with existing state bike paths on Elton Street and Hubbard Avenue. From there, a new town bike path would link with that path and continue down Peconic Bay Boulevard,
and would then link either with existing state paths on Route 25, or new proposed bike paths on Manor Lane and Herricks Lane in Jamesport, culminating at Pier Avenue, which leads to the Iron Pier beach.

“What we were trying to do was tie in sites and destinations,” Mr. Testa told the Town Board at its work session Thursday.

“This would pass Martha Clara, Jamesport Manor Inn, the Hawkins Inn, Iron Pier Beach … there’s a lot of destinations for people to get to by bicycle,” Mr. Testa said.

The bike path also aims to reduce vehicle traffic and cut down on carbon dioxide pollution, he said. The state is hoping the path will be extended east across the North Fork.

“Some of these roads need to be widened,” Councilman John Dunleavy said. “I’m looking at Pier Avenue. Walkers are afraid to walk on that road, never mind bike riders.”

The project does involve widening some roads, while others that are sufficiently wide just involve striping and signage to indicate the bike path, Mr. Testa said.

The state Department of Transportation also did archaeological studies along Manor Lane, Pier Avenue, Herricks Lane and Peconic Bay Boulevard, and the town is awaiting the results of those studies, Mr. Testa said.

Manor Lane and Herricks Lane are areas that may have archaeological concerns, he said. In recent years, members of the Shinnecock Nation have said there were Native American burial grounds along Manor Lane.

The archaeological studies were only needed in areas where the town is proposing sidewalks or road widening, he said.

Town Board members say they’re not certain sidewalks will fit in on some of the roads where they are being proposed by the engineering department.

“I don’t know that Manor or Herricks Lane are really conducive to sidewalks,” Supervisor Sean Walter said, suggesting it could change the character of those areas.

Councilman George Gabrielsen said those streets also have farms, and the tractors would tear up the sidewalks.

Mr. Walter also questioned if residents would oppose sidewalks on Peconic Bay Boulevard. Mr. Testa said the proposal only calls for putting sidewalks on Peconic Bay Boulevard in the area between South Jamesport Avenue and the town’s South Jamesport Beach.

Mr. Testa said the town can submit the plans by the end of October and still make changes afterward. He suggested the town hold a public information meeting on the plan, an idea board members liked, although no meeting has been formally scheduled.

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