11/29/12 12:51pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Giovanni Aliotta, 5, of Wading River, on the line to be served.

More than 200 people turned out for the Riverhead High School varsity cheerleaders’ spaghetti dinner fundraiser Wednesday evening at the Polish Town Civic Association’s chalet headquarters on Lincoln Avenue.

The civic and its members covered all the costs for the event, which will help the cheerleaders pay for a trip to Florida in February to go to nationals.

PTCA members did the shopping, paid for the food and prepared it — all the girls had to do was to show up and help serve.

They cooked up 20 pounds of spaghetti, 20 pounds of baked ziti, 50 pounds of sausage, 40 pounds of meatballs, salads, and 40 loaves of garlic bread. Parents of the cheerleaders prepared the desserts.

Riverhead Middle School and PAL cheerleaders turned out to show their support as did the Riverhead varsity football team. They also held a 50/50 raffle and handed out two $50 lotto scratch off tickets.

Riverhead Varsity Cheerleading coach Stephanie Piriano said she was overwhelmed by the support the team received from the community.

“It was quite an amazing thing to see so many people come together for my girls,” she said in an email. “I know how hard they work and how much dedication they have, but it was truly gratifying to see that others share in my passion for the kids as well as support them.”

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Riverhead Middle School cheerleaders came to dine and show their support.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Mary Jo Gottschalk of Wading River adds some more sauce to the pasta.

11/29/12 11:29am

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTOS | Two new businesses have recently signed leases for property on East Main Street.

Two new East Main Street stores, a ballet studio and fashion shop, will join a growing group of businesses in downtown Riverhead after signing leases this month.

The businesses both signed lease agreements in November, an unusual time of year for new businesses to be seeking space, said Shelly Gordon, who owns many of the vacant buildings on the south side of Main Street, including the space for two new stores.

“One would think that’s the last time people would be optimistic enough to sign leases,” he said. “It’s like a rebirth.”

The first new business is Peconic Ballet Theater, a dance studio that will open at 71 East Main St., Mr. Gordon said. The studio will be neighbors with 73 Main, a fashion boutique that opened this spring.

Christiana Bitonti, owner of the new studio, said the school will be run by DanceCore Performing Arts, a non-profit dance group that performs primarily at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. The studio will be the group’s first after they decided Riverhead would be the best location.

“We have yet to get a home base, so now we’re sticking with the East End,” Ms. Bitonti said.

It was the artistic appeal of Riverhead, with East End Arts and the under-renovation Suffolk Theater in the downtown area, that brought the company to town, she said.

“I just feel that Riverhead is one of those areas that’s ready to go,” she said. “It’s ready to take it to the next level … It houses so much creativity and so many creative outlets.”

The new studio will be used by members of the performing group to teach ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz and hip-hop dancing.

“It’s really one-on-one training with dancers in the business,” Ms. Bitonti said. The group will be doing construction to transform the space into a “New York industrial”-style studio, with one large dance floor and high ceilings, she said.

The studio is expected to open in early January, and the group is planning a grand opening performance for members of the community in February.

The second new business will be Chic Creations, a clothing, jewelry and fashion accessories shop located next to the Robert James Salon on East Main Street.

The owners of Chic Creations were unable to be reached for comment Thursday morning.

“It’s the kind of niche tenant that downtown needs desperately,” Mr. Gordon said. “These are the kind of tenants that can put us back on the map.”

The store owners are set to take occupancy in early December, he said, though he was unsure of when Chic Creations would open.

He said he believes the new Summerwind apartment complex, Hyatt hotel near the Long Island Aquarium and a series of new restaurants has triggered a “renaissance” for the area after years of stagnant or little growth.

The new businesses, Mr. Gordon said, may entice other entrepreneurs to try downtown Riverhead, saying that he is open to working on deals with business owners to fill the additional vacant properties downtown.

“It’s kind of an infectious-type situation,” he said.

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11/29/12 9:25am
Calverton Manor, Riverhead Town, Calverton, Splish Splash, mixed-use

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members speak with Calverton Manor LLC co-owner Charles Mancini (right) and a lawyer for the group Thursday.

The Riverhead Town Board on Thursday struck a second deal with IAA — an auto auction company storing storm-damaged cars on town land at EPCAL — to store more cars at the Calverton property.

The cars will be stored on about 40 acres of town-owned land on the runway at the Calverton Enteprise Park currently used by Sky Dive Long Island for a maximum four months. The town will receive $680,000 in return. In the meantime Sky Dive would stop using the runway.

“I think it was originally $680,000 based on 50 acres, but it looks like the area is actually closer to 40 acres,” Supervisor Sean Walter said after the work session. “We’re consenting for a one-time [payment] to consent for Sky Dive to lease the property for four months max.”

He said he didn’t expect the $680,000 figure to change, even with the earlier confusion on acreage.

The deal beween Sky Dive and IAA was described as private and was not disclosed.

Through another discussion, four of the five Town Board members said they would be in favor of voting to settle a lawsuit with developers looking to build a mixed-use project across the road from Splish Splash in Calverton, on 41 acres of land, called Calverton Manor.

One of the two Calverton Manor LLC owners, developer Charles Mancini, and an attorney for Calverton Manor were present for the public discussion, as were the town’s outside attorneys — though Mr. Walter stressed the attorneys could not give legal advice publicly.

Half the land would be built upon under the agreement, as opposed to the original application that called for an almost 100 percent buildout.

The proposed complex would consist of 40 apartments and campus-style shops and courtyards, Mr. Mancini told the board.

The board took a break about 10:30 a.m. and returned to discuss the Peconic YMCA group now eyeing school district land instead of a parcel off Route 25  the town was set to give the Y, at the EPCAL site.

Mr. Walter said he was “shocked” to learn Friday the Y didn’t want to work with the town on the EPCAL site.

He also lamenting having spent time and money trying to work out an agreement with the Y, only to have the group turn its backs on the plan.

“It’s a little disheartening,” he said in an interview, adding he had expected the town and YMCA to enter a lease agreement as soon as the end of this year.

The Town Board also discussed a pending request for proposals (RFP) involving work at the now town-owned Riverhead Armory, among other items.

Click the blog box below to see details on what happened.

11/29/12 8:00am

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Charlie Manwaring of Southold Fish Market with a fresh batch of Peconic Bay scallops.

Scallop season didn’t begin with its usual bang the first Monday in November thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but fish markets and restaurant menus are stocked with the cold-weather shellfish in time for the holidays.

Before the hurricane, scientists who study bay scallops had been finding many empty shells, known as “cluckers,” in scallop grounds that had promised a bumper crop.

Then, when the hurricane hit, the state DEC pushed off opening day to Nov. 13 due to potential water contamination because of the storm’s flood tide. Many areas in the eastern Peconics were opened sooner after the DEC determined that the water was clean, and the few scallopers who ventured out found plenty of live scallops among the empty shells.

But Phillip Tocci, Riverhead’s “Clam Man” who runs a shellfish stand on the north side of Route 58, said many baymen have told him they’re having trouble selling the scallops they have, because of public concern over whether they’re safe to eat.

“The water is fine. The scallops are fine,” he said this week. “I have people asking constantly ‘Is the water all right? Are the scallops all right?’ The public is not after them like they usually are.”

Mr. Tocci added that many seafood restaurants were damaged in the storm, putting a dent in the wholesale accounts baymen rely on.

He said he hasn’t been catching his limit of 10 bushels of scallops per day, but he has been pulling in enough to meet the market demand.

Southold Fish Market owner Charlie Manwaring said Tuesday that, while there was a big scallop die-off due to unknown causes earlier this year, there are plenty of scallops still in the water.

“Certain areas were closed after the hurricane, so not everyone was in one area opening week,” he said. “They’re doing really well in certain areas. It’s just hit or miss. I think we’ll have them right through to March 31,” the official end of the season.

Mr. Manwaring said baymen are seeing “tons of bugs,” or baby scallops, which will reach harvest size next year.

He said the retail price this week is about $17 per pound, down from $19 when the season opened, although he expects the price to rise again as the supply thins out later in the season.

“Some areas just opened up, so we have a little more product,” he said.

Mr. Manwaring said baymen were lucky that many of this year’s scallops were in deep water, since they are often thrown up on shore by hurricane surges if they are in shallow water.

He said the boats belonging to the 15 to 20 baymen he buys scallops from were also safe during the storm.

“We really got lucky out here,” he said.

Recreational scalloper Ed Densieski of Riverhead missed the first few days of the season, which opened in some local waters on the day of the nor’easter that hit shortly after the hurricane.

“It was nasty,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t go opening day.”

Mr. Densieski said it appears there was a scallop die-off in Cutchogue Harbor and that by the time he got to the scalloping grounds off the Orient Causeway on Nov. 10, “a lot of it was picked through” and he didn’t find any.

“There was definitely some die-off this year, but in some spots they were huge. They were the size of marshmallows,” he said, declining to disclose where he found them.

“If you want to put the time in, you’ll get some,” he said.

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11/29/12 6:00am


Thanksgiving is in the past and Christmas and Hanukkah are in the near future, so why are local politicos charged up these days?

It’s simple: There’s a one-of-a-kind election coming in January to fill the county Legislature seat Ed Romaine left following his election last month as Brookhaven’s new town supervisor.

The election is one-of-a-kind in more than just the unusual timing. It appears that Southold Democratic Councilman Al Krupski will go head to head with Riverhead Republican Supervisor Sean Walter. This may be the first time an elected official from one North Fork town has run against one from the other.

But even before the campaigning begins, there’s a dispute brewing over the election’s timing.

Democrats, who control the county executive’s office and the Legislature, are expected to move next week to schedule the vote for Jan. 15. Republicans question the rush and note that, by law, the county has 90 days from the time of Mr. Romaine’s departure to schedule the vote, which could push it back into February.

The GOP says voters should be given as much time as is available to get to know the candidates. But there’s also the concern that the North Fork is left without representation at the county level every day the seat is empty.

As is often the case, there’s more to this than meets the eye. Democrats, still basking in the glow of President Obama’s and Congressman Tim Bishop’s winning campaigns, and flush with cash, would like to get voters to the polls as soon as possible. Then again, the GOP could use more time to campaign against Mr. Krupski, who seems to have developed no political enemies in 28 years in office. A farmer of Polish lineage, the councilman also hopes to tap into both constituencies in Riverhead.

Does an earlier election give the Democrats a competitive advantage? Perhaps. But the GOP faces a greater concern in the fractious nature of the Riverhead party. Mr. Walter’s party controls the Town Board, but peace rarely seems to hold among board members. Will the GOP support him fully — a Walter victory would open Riverhead’s top spot for someone else — or will they leave him on his own?

It doesn’t seem that a month’s difference in the vote would affect that either way.

11/29/12 4:00am

To the Editor:

Now that Hampton Jitney has received such generous tax breaks from the IDA to support their building project on Edwards Avenue, it would be a nice gesture on the part of the Jitney to create equity in their fare structure for Riverhead riders.

Say I’m a Riverhead student and, going west, I board the Jitney on Route 58 in Riverhead. I will pay the same fare as any rider who boarded the bus in Orient, Greenport or any other stop on the North Fork. Something’s wrong with that picture.

It’s especially outrageous given the negative impact of the IDA tax breaks on the Riverhead School District.

What would motivate our Riverhead politicians to actually insist on just treatment for its own citizens?

Catherine McKeen, Riverhead

Read more Letters to the Editor in this week’s Riverhead News-Review available on newsstands or by clicking for the E-Paper.

11/28/12 6:27pm
11/28/2012 6:27 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Southampton police divers search the Peconic River, but were unable to find the possible weapon used in a recent armed robbery.

Southampton police have identified three Riverhead youths, including two teenagers, arrested and charged in connection with an armed robbery at a Valero gas station in Riverside on Halloween night.

Larry Moore, 17, Erick Darden, 19, and Arnell Nash, 21, were apprehended by Southampton cops Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The youths were each charged with first-degree robbery, a class B felony, police said.

The arrests came after an investigation conducted by Southampton, Riverhead, Suffolk County and Southold police departments, as well as the county sheriff’s office and East End Drug Task Force members, authorities said.

The three suspects also may have been involved in a series of armed robberies across the North Fork over the past month that are still under investigation, police said.

Southampton police said they would provide updates on those additional robberies as the investigation continues.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Southampton police divers search the Peconic River Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday morning, divers with Southampton police searched the Peconic River for a handgun they believe was used in the crimes.

Members of the Southampton Town Dive Recovery Unit started scouring the river behind McDonald’s in Riverside about 10:30 a.m. after receiving information that the handgun used in the robberies was dumped in the water, Southampton police Sgt. Lewis Scott said from the scene.

The gun was not recovered by police, according to a statement issued later Wednesday. Police will conduct future searches to find the possible weapon and proceeds from the robbery.

Riverhead police Lt. Rick Boden said the department was aware of the arrests made by Southampton police and was working on connecting the men with the armed robberies within its jurisdiction, one at a Halloween store on Oct. 20 and the second at Barth’s Pharmacy on Nov. 7.

There was a fourth holdup last Monday at a Mattituck gas station.

Anyone with information on the robberies is encouraged to contact Southampton Town Police Detectives at 631-728-2230.

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Additional reporting by Gianna Volpe

Read: String of stickups have cops on high alert

11/28/12 2:09pm

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Miguel Maysonet rushed for two touchdowns last weekend against Villanova.

The accolades for Miguel Maysonet continued to pour in Wednesday when he was named one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision. The other finalists include Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke and Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein. The finalists had originally been narrowed down to 20 players earlier this month.

Maysonet, a 2009 Riverhead graduate, will attend a ceremony in Philadelphia Dec. 17 where the winner will be announced along with several other major awards from the college football season. The Walter Payton Award is considered the Heisman Trophy of the FCS.

Maysonet leads Stony Brook University against Montana State Saturday night in the second round of the FCS playoffs. The Seawolves won 20-10 last weekend against Villanova.

Maysonet was already honored as the Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

j[email protected]