06/27/13 6:00am
06/27/2013 6:00 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Environmental activists gathered in front of the Riverhead County Center to protest a bill proposed by Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) to revise the county’s land preservation program last Tuesday afternoon.

Two weeks ago, freshman Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski introduced legislation to alter Suffolk’s Drinking Water Protection Program to favor farmland preservation over open space.

It was a dumb-headed rookie error that threatens both. Here’s why.

1. For the past 25 years the Drinking Water Protection Program has been protecting both farmland and open space. Environmentalists and farmers have worked together to assure public support to fund these worthy goals with the result that we have protected more than 30,000 acres to benefit everyone. This bill pointlessly pits one objective against the other for no purpose.

2. What makes the Krupski proposal even worse is that the DWPP is nearly out of money, so his proposed legislation would create two sides scrambling for the leftover crumbs when they should be maintaining a productive alliance by seeking a new funding stream to keep protection of both farmland and open space moving forward in the region.

3. Worst of all, the Krupski measure seeks to change the DWPP by an act of politicians, when the existing DWPP was created through a public referendum which promised that any changes in the law could only be made by a new public referendum. So Krupski is undermining the whole democratic process that was designed and intended to put the public in control of the preservation program — not the politicians. Mr. Krupski has been in office for only a few months and already he’s running roughshod over the people who elected him. If he wants to subordinate drinking water protection to subsidizing agriculture, he and his friends in the county Legislature should put the matter to a vote. That’s what democracy is all about.

Mr. Krupski, a farmer himself, is also working on legislation that would permit more activities on land from which the public has purchased the development rights. He wouldn’t even talk to us when we asked about this. He claims that 95 percent of land purchases over the years have been for open space purchases and not for farmland. That’s just false. We’re seeing farms stripped of their productive soils, replaced by concrete and glass structures — not to produce food, but rather plants for Walmart. Then there are the wedding factories, and on and on. If the legislator wanted to run for president of the farm lobby, he shouldn’t have run for county Legislature. Maybe we should call him “Korruptski.”

Then, as the TV ads say, “But wait! There’s more!” The Long Island Farm Bureau — the agriculture lobbying group that says it told Mr. Krupski the DWPP legislation was a bad idea — flip-flopped and played politics by coming out in favor of the bill they say they discouraged him from introducing! They needlessly entered a fight they didn’t need. Almost all the farms that have sought county protection have received it. So now, Long Island’s leading environmentalists have come out against Mr. Krupski and the agriculture lobby to demand rejection of the bill and restoration of public control over the Drinking Water Protection Program. And more than 80 percent of Long Islanders consider themselves environmentalists.

As the name suggests, the Drinking Water Protection Program was created to buy open space that sits atop Long Island’s underground drinking water supply. That water supply was the first to be designated a sole source aquifer by the federal government, meaning that there is no other viable source of drinking water for the Island’s three million people except for groundwater. That groundwater also feeds our rivers, lakes, bays and harbors. By protecting open space, our water is not polluted by sewage, pesticides, fertilizer or toxic chemicals. On the other hand, farming is contaminating our drinking water and surface waters with fertilizers, pesticides and more. And we can’t seem to get the agriculture lobby to change its ways. Nobody wants the Drinking Water Protection Program to become the Drinking Water Pollution Program. So what’s to be done?

I suggest the following:

First, the Suffolk County Legislature should kill the Krupski bill.

Second, we should all sit down and decide on a new source of funding for land preservation, to be voted on by residents and taxpayers.

Third, we should insist on alternatives to the pesticides and fertilizers that scientists have shown are poisoning Long Island’s water.

Legislator Krupski and the agriculture lobby need to join with the rest of Long Island to find the way to productive farming AND clean water.

Mr. Amper is executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, an environmental education and advocacy organization.

06/26/13 10:00am
06/26/2013 10:00 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | EPA environmental scientist Bernward Hay listens to the concerns of audience members Tuesday.

Local government officials blasted members of the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday for failing to properly notify them about a public meeting regarding the agency’s intentions to designate dredged spoil dumping sites in the eastern Long Island Sound.

The meeting, held at Suffolk Community College’s culinary center in Riverhead, outlined the EPA’s plans to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study evaluating potential dumping sites in the eastern portion of the Sound.

Four dredging sites currently exist in the Sound. Cornfield Shoals is the closest to the North Fork, located north of Greenport. The New London site is just west of Fishers Island. The other two sites are the western Suffolk site, south of Stamford, Conn. and the central Sound site, south of New Haven.

For the past 30 years dredged material from the eastern Long Island Sound has been disposed of primarily at the New London and Cornfield Shoals sites. Both are scheduled to close in 2016, prompting the EPA to seek out new dredge spoil disposal locations.

Alternative areas being considered are located off of Southold and Greenport.

“One of the things you said is if you want to get the public involved in this process, well, you first have to invited the public,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, who told EPA members he was first notified of the meeting just 24 hours earlier.

Furthermore, Mr. Russell said he has not received answers to questions previously submitted to the agency on the issue.

“As supervisor of Southold Town I certainly should be involved in this process,” he said. “You need to make sure we are at the table for this discussion.”

Approximately 20 people attended the meeting, many echoing Mr. Russell’s statement about the short notice.

During the hour-long presentation representatives from EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, who helps designate and monitor the sites, outlined the process of choosing a new dumping area.

“This is a work in progress we are narrowing down locations that could work as a potential site,” said Bernward Hay, an EPA environmental scientist. Mr. Hay noted the environmental impact statement would not guarantee the approval of any proposed dumping site.

The new impact study will build on an evaluation conducted in 2005 when the agency established dumping sites in the western and central portion of the Sound, according to the presentation.

The study would analyze sediment, geographical position, depth of water, distance from the coastline and the history of dumping in the proposed areas, Mr. Hay said. The study would also take into account impacts on shellfish beds, fishing areas, shipping lanes and recreation areas.

But local lawmakers expressed frustration over the presentation.

“Suffolk County has an agriculture leasing program that’s not mentioned at all,” Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said.

Citizens agreed the proposal wasn’t comprehensive.

While the dredge material from Long Island is mostly sand that can be used for beach restoration, Connecticut dredge spoil is fine-grain silt or clay that’s not suitable for beach repairs. Because of that most of what is deposited in these sites comes from Connecticut, according to the EPA.

“Anything that comes from Connecticut ends up on Long Island’s beaches,” Mattituck resident Ron McGreevy said. “I think you need to collect more information from the Long Island side of the Sound.”

The Farmingdale-based nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment doesn’t believe any dredge spoil should be dumped in the Sound, according to its executive programs manager, Maureen Dolan Murphy.

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers agreed in 2005 to phase out open water dumping and to develop a dredged material management plan before deciding to move forward with this step, however that plan was never developed, Ms. Murphy said.

Elected officials also questioned the continued use of underwater dumping sites.

“It’s well documented that there is a high incidence of shell disease in crabs and lobster in the waters around these dump sites,” said James King, Southold Town Trustee and commercial lobster fisherman. “I think the bottom line here is that water disposal is the cheapest, easiest way to get rid of dredge spoil. There is a lot of game playing.”

The EPA said it would continue to assess the proposed sites in more detail and include more data.

Additional public meetings on the issue will be held in the winter.

A dredge spoil disposal map showing current dumping sites.

06/19/13 11:33am
06/19/2013 11:33 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Environmental activists gathered in front of the Riverhead County Center to protest a bill proposed by Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) to revise the county’s land preservation program Tuesday afternoon.

Environmental advocates lined up Tuesday to speak out against a bill proposed in the Suffolk County Legislature that’s designed to revise the county’s land preservation program.

The bill, proposed by Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), would ensure that half of Drinking Water Protection Program funds, which must be used for land preservation, would be designated for purchasing farmland development rights.

With funding for the program dwindling, the environmental activists believe legislators should focus on securing future land preservation funds “rather than declaring one land type is more superior to all others,” said Kevin McDonald of the Nature Conservancy, during the public hearing portion of Tuesday’s Legislature meeting at the County Center in Riverside.

“We should in fact be arguing for additional funding for a wildly popular program that helps both the environment and the economy,” said Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, who also spoke during the hearing.

According to a press release from Mr. Krupski promoting his proposed bill, 95 percent of program funding currently goes to open space purchases, which include wetlands, Pine Barrens, woodlands and hamlet parks. The remaining five percent is allocated for farmland preservation, the release states.

Joe Gergela, director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, said he applauds Mr. Krupski’s efforts in taking on the “sensitive” issue.

“It is a balancing act,” Mr. Gergela said at the hearing. “He has raised awareness of the importance of farmland in the program.”

Since the Drinking Water Protection Program started in 1988, about 12,000 acres of farmland have been preserved, leaving 23,000 acres to be protected, Mr. Gergela said.

Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment also took to the podium. She said that, according to the county charter, the Legislature does not have the last say on changing the voter-approved law, which directs a quarter penny sales tax on every dollar to the Drinking Water Protection Program.

A mandatory referendum is needed to make any amendments to the program, she said.

“You can’t do this legally,” she said.

“When the voters of Suffolk County approved this overwhelmingly important environmental program, they approved very specific wording and provisions and had an expectation that land preservation would proceeded accordingly,” Tom Casey, vice president of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference, told legislators.

The program has secured more than a billion dollars for land preservation throughout the county, Mr. Amper said.

In 2007 the county accelerated the program, bonding purchases against future sales tax revenue through November 2011. But now the county must purchase land on a pay-as-you-go basis, significantly reducing available funds, according to previous Times/Review coverage.

Currently, the county has $25.1 million in program funds to spend on acquisition, but it already has 43 properties, totaling 420 acres, in various stages of purchase, together costing $23.9 million, according to an April 29 press release from Suffolk County executive Steven Bellone.

For future purchases, the county anticipates receiving $5 million from this years sales tax, along with $1.14 million that’s available from leftover program funds. Moving forward, it must rely solely on the yearly sales tax revenue to fund the program, according to the release.

During the hearing, Mr. Amper asked that legislators not lose sight of the program’s goal.

“This is for drinking water protection,” he said. “When you buy open space above important aquifer sources, the water below stays clean.”

cmiller@timesreiew.com

06/13/13 6:13pm
06/13/2013 6:13 PM
Broidy in Reeves Park

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The land just west of Park Road/Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive that nearby Reeves Park residents have wanted to see preserved.

Two Riverhead Town Board members who oppose a plan by Suffolk County to purchase 15 acres of land on Sound Avenue as open space now say they would support  a move by the county to preserve the property as farmland instead.

But county officials say such a move would require the entire potential acquisition process to start again, with no guarantees the county will be making any offers on the land.

Council members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen sent a letter to county Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) Thursday voicing their support for preservation of the land as farmland, rather than open space.

Under the county’s farmland preservation program,  the county would buy what’s called development rights and the land could only be used for agriculture in the future.

“The property being preserved as parkland would require taking the entire property out of farming permanently and would not only require use of town Community Preservation Fund funds, which have been depleted in recent years, but also ongoing maintenance of the park with town resources, on behalf of all Suffolk County residents,” reads the letter, which was also sent to the News-Review.

The councilpeople say it is more desirable to preserve the land as farmland, which would be “in keeping with the rural character of Sound Avenue and would support the Scenic Rural Historic Corridor.”

The land in question is just shy of 15 acres of farmland stretching north from the northwest corner of Park Road (also called Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive) and Sound Avenue.

[See interactive map below]

It is owned by Ed Broidy, a developer whose Boom Development company first proposed a commercial shopping center at the site in 2003, a plan that met with community opposition.

When the town rezoned the property to residential uses in the mid-2000s, Mr. Broidy sued, but later offered a settlement in which he would develop the land residentially, with one seven-acre farm and 16 residential lots on the remainder of the land.

The county later proposed to acquire the land as open space under the “active recreation” section of the voter-approved drinking water protection program, for use as a fitness trail. However, that section of the program requires that a town or private entity act as a partner to manage the recreation use, and submit a plan to do so beforehand.

Riverhead Town officials estimated the cost of creating the fitness trail at about $70,000, and council members Gabrielsen and Giglio opposed doing so, saying at a recent public Town Board work session the town doesn’t have the money.

Without the support of Ms. Giglio or Mr. Gabrielsen, and since Supervisor Sean Walter once represented Mr. Broidy as his attorney and recused himself from the discussion, the Town Board wouldn’t have three votes to support of the acquisition.

That would mean the county could not proceed in purchasing the parcel.

Mr. Krupski, whose district spans the North Fork, said Friday that he plans to speak with Mr. Broidy next week, but he said preserving the land as farmland would require a whole new process be started at the county level.

On the other hand, he said, the alternative could be that the land isn’t preserved at all.

The acquisition of the farmland development rights also would require that the land be farmed, and Mr. Broidy has indicated in the past that he is not interested in doing that.

There currently is no application with the county for the purchase of the farmland development rights on the Broidy parcel, officials say.

Mr. Broidy could not immediately be reached for comment.

Long Island Pine Barrens Society executive director Richard Amper has been critical of the two council member’s opposition to the park purchase.

“It’s properly purchased as open space,” he said Friday. “The county approved the purchase on the basis of its suitability for trails and recreation. The county got it right, Gabrielsen and Giglio have it wrong. Development rights are purchased only with the expectation that the land owner is going to continue to farm the land.

“That’s not going to happen here.”

Mr. Amper said the purchase would be “a gift from the county…why don’t they just say ‘thank you?”

tgannon@timesreview.com


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05/11/13 12:00pm
05/11/2013 12:00 PM
TIM KELLY PHOTO | Sean Walter 'surrenders' to Al Krupski at the Dark Horse on election night Tuesday.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter conceding the special county legislative election to Al Krupski (left) in January.

If the Republican Party puts up a challenger to County Legislator Al Krupski in November, chances are that person won’t live on the North Fork.

With the county GOP’s nominating convention only days away, the party’s Riverhead and Southold town leaders say they know of no one willing to stand against the popular Democrat, who in January handily beat Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter to fill the seat left vacant when Ed Romaine was elected Brookhaven town supervisor.

Mr. Krupski’s victory, 6,561 votes to 3,182, a margin of 67 percent to Mr. Walter’s 33 percent, prompted the supervisor in conceding to say, “You stomped me bad.” Prior to the vote, GOP leaders said they needed a candidate with significant name recognition, such as an elected official, to run a competitive campaign against Mr. Krupski, who had served in town government for 28 years.

In advance of the party’s May 14 county nominating convention, Republican leaders were scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider potential candidates for the legislative contests and the State Assembly seat left vacant when Dan Losquadro won a special election in March for the Brookhaven highway superintendent’s post.

Regarding the upcoming Krupski race, Brookhaven GOP leader Jesse Garcia deferred to Suffolk GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle, who said his party does not want to forgo the challenge.

“We do have a couple of people looking at it and we’re in discussions with them right now,” Mr. LaValle said on Monday. “We have to run a candidate. I feel pretty strong about that.”

Southold GOP leader Peter McGreevy said no thought was given to cross-endorsing Mr. Krupski, who ran with Republican support in one of his Town Trustee elections.

Suffolk Democrats will hold their convention on Monday, May 20.

Both parties have interviewed numerous potential candidates for the 2nd Assembly District seat, left vacant by Mr. Losquadro. The district covers Riverhead, Southold and a large section of northeastern Brookhaven.

Democrats under consideration include Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue and Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, who ran unsuccessfully against State Senator Ken LaValle in 2010.

The list of potential GOP candidates includes Southold Councilman Chris Talbot and former Romaine aide Bill Faulk of Manorville.

tkelly@timesreview.com

05/06/13 6:00am
05/06/2013 6:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A vote to expand Sunday bus service is expected to take place at the County Legislature’s general meeting May 7 in Hauppauge.

Suffolk Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone are rolling out new legislation aimed at bringing year-round Sunday bus service to the East End. The measure would extend service for the S92 and 10C routes.

The proposed expansion comes on the heels of a pilot program launched two years ago that introduced Sunday and holiday service from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, according to Mr. Schneiderman.

New York State recently increased funding for Suffolk transit, giving the county the opportunity to provide Sunday bus service year-round, officials said. The legislation allocates $1.1 million additional state funding toward expanding the service.

In addition to the state-provided funds, the legislation would also direct the county Department of Public Works to apply for federal matching grant funding through the Job Access Reverse Commute program, with the goal of receiving more than $2 million to cover the cost of the expansion.

The measure is co-sponsored by Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue).

“Many businesses on the East End, including in my North Fork legislative district, rely on public transportation to get workers to their jobs, especially during the summer season,” Mr. Krupski said in a press release issued this week.

Aside from the benefits the additional service could provide residents, officials say the new legislation could potentially bring environmental and economic improvements to the county.

“This resolution is a step forward to expand bus service while cutting our deficit,” Mr. Bellone said in a statement. “Expanding bus service helps take cars off the road and provides opportunity and access for thousands of Suffolk County residents.”

The bill, which has already passed the Legislature’s public works and transportation committee, will be voted on Tuesday during the county Legislature’s general meeting in Hauppauge.

If approved, the plan would be continued as a pilot program for one year. The Department of Public Works would then be required to report on the success of the pilot program to base the feasibility of continuing the program beyond the one-year pilot period.

cmurray@timesreview.com

01/29/13 3:52pm
01/29/2013 3:52 PM

The first person Legislator Al Krupski placed on his staff since taking office last week may be new to the intricacies of county government, but he’s no stranger to public service or the business world.

Mr. Krupski chose John Stype, a senior partner in the Neefus Stype Agency, an insurance and financial planning company, as his legislative aide.

“The reason I asked him to help me is I needed someone who knows the district and someone I can trust completely,” Mr. Krupski said.

The two have been friends for years. During the busy harvest season, Mr. Stype has helped out at the Krupski family pumpkin farm in Peconic by driving the hayride tractor.

“I have confidence that I could send John anywhere and he could represent the district well,” Mr. Krupski said. “With me just starting out, that’s important.

Mr. Stype is a member of Southold Town’s Economic Advisory Council, created to strengthen the sometimes strained relations between the town and area merchants. That’s based largely on a perception held by some that town building codes and the permit review process is often lengthy and cumbersome and so anti-business.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell believes the new legislator made a good choice in hiring Mr. Stype, but fears the town could lose the benefits of his experience and business acumen.

“John is a key part of my Economic Advisory Council and I certainly hope he stays in some capacity,” the supervisor said. “If he has to curtail his role to some extent given his new responsibilities I would understand that. He’s been an absolutely outstanding member.”

tkelly@timesreview.com

01/28/13 5:48pm
01/28/2013 5:48 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County envisions turning the North Fork Preserve in Northville into Suffolk’s last great county park.

The Suffolk County Legislature will take up the purchase of the final three acres of the North Fork Preserve at its Feb. 5 meeting,  where newly elected North Fork Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) has submitted a bill to acquire the land for $702,000.

The bulk of the property, two parcels totaling 314 acres, were purchased by the county in 2011 for $18.3 million. The county plans to create a public park on the land, with the 133-acre northern section being left undeveloped for use as passive recreation like hiking or horseback riding, and the southern portion being used for more active recreation like camping, tennis and basketball.

The three acres still to be acquired contain three existing structures on them, which will be used by the Suffolk County Parks Department for a caretaker residence and check-in station, a barn for parks maintenance equipment and a garage for park maintenance equipment and a with a small office area for parks personnel, according to Mr. Krupski, who co-sponsoring the bill with County Executive Steve Bellone (D-Babylon).

“The North Fork Preserve property is a critical open space acquisition for Riverhead, the North Fork and all of Suffolk County,” Mr. Krupski said in a press release. “The North Fork Preserve has been called ‘Suffolk’s last great park’ and I agree with that description. The park, with fishing, hiking, camping and more, will be a highlight of the entire Suffolk County park system.”

tgannon@timesreview.com