01/28/15 12:00pm
01/28/2015 12:00 PM
Ethan Sisson, a junior at Southold High School, demonstrates with other students from Project Bus Stop earlier this month. One proposed bus shelter would be built at the intersection where the students demonstrated. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Ethan Sisson, a junior at Southold High School, demonstrates with other students from Project Bus Stop earlier this month. One proposed bus shelter would be built at the intersection where the students demonstrated. (Credit: Paul Squire)

This month, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski’s office submitted a request to build six new bus shelters in the county, including two by Calverton National Cemetery.

He has said Suffolk County stands at the ready to fund such shelter requests. (more…)

12/18/14 11:45am
12/18/2014 11:45 AM
Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone speaks during the press conference at Southampton Town Hall Wednesday afternoon.  (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone speaks during the press conference at Southampton Town Hall Wednesday afternoon. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

East End police departments and villages across Suffolk County will benefit from a collective $6 million in sales tax revenue over the next three years, thanks to a new agreement announced by County Executive Steven Bellone during a press conference at Southampton Town Hall Wednesday afternoon.

The deal is one step in the right direction for securing a fair split in sales tax revenue for the twin forks — which aren’t policed by Suffolk County Police Department — a budgeting issue Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montuak) said he had been working on for more than a decade.

(more…)

12/16/14 12:00pm
12/16/2014 12:00 PM
The unfinished bike path at EPCAL. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

The unfinished bike path at EPCAL. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

After town board members appeared to oppose completing a bike and recreational path at the Enterprise Park at Calverton over the summer, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved allocating $200,000 to complete the path on Monday.

Riverhead Town and New York State have already contributed $100,000 each toward the path, though three miles of the 8.9-mile path remain unpaved.

The bike path will get walkers and bikers off the dangerous public road, as it is located inside the fence around EPCAL, officials say.

Initially, it appeared part of the southern portion of the trail would be on the public street on River Road, but that will now be inside the fence as well, according to North Fork county legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who sponsored the funding bill.

“It will be an off-road, non-motorized trail of over eight miles long for use by all county residents,” Mr. Krupski told legislators Tuesday, adding that the county won’t have to pay anything else, since the maintenance will be handled by Riverhead Town.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who spoke before the legislature Monday, said the town is planning on holding events on the trail, such as fundraisers for the Wounded Warriors, and a Halloween Walk.

“We just think it’s a great project,” she told legislators.

Ms. Giglio was peppered with a slew of questions from western Suffolk legislators, who asked about things like whether the trail would impede economic development at EPCAL or use of the runway there.

She said the trail is not on part of the property where the town plans to see land for economic development.

“I’m comfortable with it,” said Legislator Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue). “I think bike paths are important.”

“I think it’s a reasonable investment,” said Legislator Tom Barraga (R-West Islip), who said it cost $1.7 million for a pedestrian-friendly trail in his district that only covered 8/10ths of a mile.

Riverhead Town’s alternative transportation advisory committee, to which Ms. Giglio is the liaison, has been championing the bike for the several years.

Supervisor Sean Walter said work on the extension of the bike path can’t commence until the environmental studies of the EPCAL site are completed and the town Planning Board approves the EPCAL subdivision which will show exactly where the bike path will go.

“We’re in the end stages of the study at this point,” Mr. Walter said. He thinks the subdivision could be approved some time in early 2015.

He added that he’s not sure if the $200,000 will be enough to complete the bike path.

12/03/14 12:00pm
12/03/2014 12:00 PM
The area that will be restored at Indian Island County Park. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

The area that will be restored at Indian Island County Park. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Suffolk County is moving forward with a million-dollar plan to restore seven acres of land at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead that once served as a dumping ground for the county’s dredging projects. The measure is expected to improve the surrounding ecosystem by re-opening proper tidal flow to the area.  (more…)

09/24/14 8:00am
09/24/2014 8:00 AM
The Suffolk County Soil and Water District celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event last week. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The Suffolk County Soil and Water District celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event last week. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Before there was a state Department of Environmental Conservation tasked with protecting local soil and water resources, there was the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District. (more…)

05/12/14 3:00pm
05/12/2014 3:00 PM
Congressman Tim Bishop  (left) and County Executive Steve Bellone urged the federal government to designate the Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary as   (Credit: Paul Squire)

Congressman Tim Bishop (left) and County Executive Steve Bellone urge the federal government to designate the Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary as “critical conservation” areas during a press conference Monday afternoon. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Turn the Peconic Estuary and Long Island Sound into a “critical conservation” area and free up federal funds for local farmers to protect water quality?

It’s a “no-brainer,” North Fork politicians say. (more…)

01/12/14 10:00am
01/12/2014 10:00 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO  |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO |  The rise in deer population has become one of the biggest concerns for North Fork residents.

As a lifelong resident of the North Fork, I have witnessed the explosion of the deer population.

When I was growing up, it was rare to find deer tracks in fields or in the woods, but now it’s common to come across several deer in one’s backyard. Historically, populations of deer were dramatically lower than they are today, and we know that without natural predators and with plentiful food sources, deer populations can double in two to three years.

The agricultural industry, a critical part of the East End economy, has experienced millions of dollars of crop loss due to white-tailed deer. Farmers have spent thousands of dollars on deer fencing to protect crops; this is an expense most cannot afford. As a fourth generation farmer, I understand this all too well.

As a Suffolk County Legislator and a former Southold Town Councilman, I have spoken to hundreds of constituents whose lives have been seriously impacted by deer, whether it is by a tick-borne illness or a car accident or, as in some cases, both. I have walked through many acres of preserved open spaces and parks in my district and seen firsthand the destruction deer have done to the natural environment.

All efforts must be made to bring the population of white-tailed deer, which has reached crisis proportions in eastern Suffolk County, down to sustainable levels. The USDA sharpshooter program is one tool that can be employed to help achieve this goal and, at least in Southold Town, the community will utilize the program to decrease the herd size and protect human health, biodiversity and property.

This does not mean that there is unanimous support for culling the herd or that no controversy surrounds the program, but if the alternatives are considered objectively, the logical conclusion is that we need to act.

Tick-borne illnesses have cost millions of dollars in treatment and lost work and caused much pain and suffering. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported almost 3,000 cases of Lyme disease in New York State in 2012, but it is believed the actual number is much greater due to misdiagnosis, inconclusive testing and underreporting. New York State has one of the highest incidences of tick-borne illnesses in the country and Suffolk County has one of the highest infection rates in the state.

Lyme disease is not the only tick-borne illness associated with deer. Others, such as Babesiosis, can be particularly harmful to people with compromised immune systems. In addition, tick-borne disorders unfamiliar to scientists are emerging, such as a potentially life-threatening red meat allergy that develops in some people bitten by lone star ticks.

The Suffolk County Tick Management Task Force concluded that “the issue of tick-borne disease is inextricably linked to deer overpopulation … Any strategy for tick control must reduce the number of deer and/or the number of ticks on deer to have any chance of success.”

Unchecked growth of the white-tailed deer population has devastated the natural environment and this will continue until we act to reduce the population to a sustainable level.

Conservationists and those who advocate for the protection of wildlife alike should support policies that cull the herd to protect habitat and biodiversity. In many areas deer have destroyed the woodland understory. Invasive plant species, like mile-a-minute vine, have taken over because beneficial native plants have been gobbled up by deer.

The insects, birds and other animals these native plants and ecosystems support are now threatened and have decreased in numbers. Some forests are so stripped they may not be able to regenerate.

The problems caused by white-tailed deer overpopulation are multi-faceted and costly. As a community, we need to make the hard choices and manage the herd to lessen the occurrence of disease, habitat destruction and property loss.

If you are concerned about the well-being of individual deer, perhaps you should stop driving, because hundreds are killed or maimed in car accidents yearly. It is not a pretty sight to see an animal writhing in pain after being hit but not killed.

The USDA program is conducted safely, professionally and humanely. The meat harvested is a good source of protein and will not go to waste but will be donated to food pantries and homeless shelters feeding many people in need on Long Island.

Al Krupski is a Suffolk County legislator whose district encompasses the North Fork. He lives in Cutchogue.