11/06/13 11:28am
11/06/2013 11:28 AM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Brad Bender in April 2011, when he was forced to step aside as FRNCA president so he could run for Town Council.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Brad Bender in April 2011, when he was forced to step aside as FRNCA president so he could run for Town Council.

After finding himself just barely on the losing side of the coin in 2011, Northampton resident Brad Bender appears poised to win a Southampton Town Council seat this time around, marking the first time in recent memory that a resident from one of the town’s northwest hamlets could hold a seat on the town board.

Mr. Bender, who came up just 92 votes short two years ago, holds an unofficial 143-vote lead after Eleciton night in a four-way race for two seats, just ahead of Republican Jeff Mansfield.

Nearly 900 absentee ballots remain to be counted – 879 to be exact – until the Suffolk County Board of Elections officially calls the race.

Mr. Bender said on Wednesday morning he’s confident the way things stand currently, though he isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch.

“Two years ago, I waited to concede until all of the votes were in,” Mr. Bender said. “Not everybody was finished speaking. So I’m still hesitant to be celebratory. I’d like to wait until we hear what the people have to say.”

Southampton Town Democratic Committee Chairman Gordon Herr didn’t have an exact breakdown of the absentee ballots by party, though estimated that “there are about 300 Democrats, 300 Republicans, a couple Conservatives, a couple Independence ballots, and some blanks.” A request for an exact breakdown from the Suffolk County BOE was not immediately available.

Both Mr. Herr and Mr. Bender could not recall the last time – if ever – that a resident of Flanders, Riverside or Northampton had sat on the Southampton Town Board.

Absentee ballots had to be postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 5, and must be in the hands of BOE officials by Nov. 12 in order to be tallied. Mr. Herr estimated all the votes would be counted by sometime next week.

Mr. Bender, meanwhile, attributed his better fortune this time around to a higher visibility town-wide after his 2011 run. And both he and Mr. Herr noted that since Bender barely lost to current Councilwoman Christine Preston-Scalera in 2011, he’s been educating himself further on the issues to make his case better to the voters.

Mr. Bender, 52, said that “maybe my message wasn’t refined enough” last time around, saying he focused more narrowly on improving septic systems.

“I said we need a more regional approach” to improving water quality this time, he said. “Not just septic systems, but stormwater runoff, pesticides, and working with the state and county.”

The Northampton resident took ads out with incumbent Suffolk Legislator Jay Schneiderman to tout the experience he’s had working with officials on various levels of government, dating back to his days as president of the Flanders, Riverside, Northampton Civic Association. Schneiderman (I-Montuak) defeated Republican challenger Chris Nuzzi – who termed out of his time on Southampton town board – on Tuesday night.

05/20/13 2:00pm
05/20/2013 2:00 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The sign that went missing in Northampton earlier this month.

A sign welcoming people to Northampton on the west side of Lake Avenue has been stolen.

The sign theft was reported on Sunday, May 12 , and is believed to have taken place sometime between May 9 and May 12, Southampton Town police said.

[Related: Northampton, has it ever truly existed?]

It was reported to police by Brad Bender, who, at the time, was the president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, which purchased the sign, along with other hamlet signs in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton.

Mr. Bender briefly mentioned the theft at FRNCA’s meeting on May 13, when he stepped down as president and Vince Taldone was elected to replace him.

FRNCA paid about $2,500 for this particular sign, and the organization received county grant money to pay for this sign and another one on County Road 51 to the south, as well as signs in neighboring Flanders and Riverside, Mr. Bender said.

Northampton was founded in 1951 and has a population of 458, according to the now-missing sign.

While there are no formal boundaries for the hamlet, which has a Riverhead zip code and is in the Riverhead school district and fire district, the name Northampton is generally used to describe the area located in the vicinity of Wildwood Lake.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/14/13 1:00pm

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Brad Bender, right, encouraged Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association members to call school district voters and tell them to oppose the Riverhead School District’s plan to put a bus barn in Riverside. Vince Taldone, center, was elected FRNCA’s president Monday, replacing Mr. Bender. Steve Schreiber, left, is the board’s new vice president.

Residents in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton communities can expect a call soon asking them to vote against Riverhead School District’s plan to relocate the district’s bus maintenance and storage facilities to an industrial area in Riverside.

The Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association established plans Monday to have its members call as many of the registered voters living in their hamlets as possible to ask them to vote against the upcoming proposition to buy land near the Phillips Avenue Elementary School for a bus garage.

The purchase price is $480,000, according to officials.

Brad Bender, the group’s outgoing president (Vince Taldone was elected its new president Monday, as Mr. Bender plans to run for town office) handed out sheets with the phone numbers of registered voters in the Southampton Town portion of the school district that have voted in recent elections. Each sheet contained about 15 numbers. The names of those people were not on the sheets, he said.

“We want you to call them and ask them to vote no,” Mr. Bender told the group. “There are about 1,600 numbers here. We can sway this vote. If we can convince about 200 people to vote no, we can sway this vote.”

FRNCA also handed out a sheet with some “suggested talking points” for callers to bring up.

The association feels the bus barn, with 100 buses, drivers and attendants, will add traffic to the already congested Flanders Roads and should not be located next to an elementary school. The group also feels it will be too close to residences on Old Quogue Road and it should not be in the enterprise park. The school land would be tax exempt and the enterprise park was meant to create jobs and bring tax generating businesses into an area where much of the land is already tax-exempt, the group said.

FRNCA also feels the existing bus barn can be repaired and suggests putting new athletic fields at Phillips Avenue instead.

“Phillips Avenue children deserve playing fields just as much as any other kids in the district,” one of the talking points reads. “They don’t deserve to choke on bus fumes.”

Riverhead Board of Education president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse said in an interview Tuesday that the propositions are not cast in stone.

“It’s merely authorizing us to start the savings account,” she said, “and authorizing the board to buy the property if we chose to proceed. It doesn’t mean that if you vote yes on either of those propositions that we’re moving forward. We were serious when we told the people we are willing to go back and take a look at this and discuss it. We’re not dictators.

She said the board thought it could get the bus garage without going back to the community for additional money.

“Yes, we probably should have sat down and discussed it, but it seems like you can’t win whichever way you go,” she said. “If you go back to the community and say we need another bond for the bus barn, they are going to be ticked, and rightly so, and if you try to use the funds you already have, some people are ticked. So, either way, it seems you’re going to offend some people.”

The May 21 school ballot also will include a proposition to authorize the district to set up a savings account of up to $10 million to fund the new bus garage. Money for the fund will come from unspent funds at the end of each budget year and from the sale of district-owned land on Tuthills Lane.

The district says its current bus garage on Osborn Avenue is old and falling apart, and school officials want to build new sports fields at that location.

tgannon@timesreview.com

04/16/13 10:00am
04/16/2013 10:00 AM
Brad Bender of FRNCA

FILE PHOTO | Brad Bender announced last month he would run for Town Council.

Would-be civic leaders have a bit more time to think about whether or not to help lead the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association (FRNCA) through 2013.

Incumbent president Brad Bender has made it clear he is stepping down from that position in order to take another run at a Southampton Town Council seat in this fall’s elections.

The group was supposed to have elections for its board members and officer positions  — president, vice president and secretary — at a meeting last Monday, April 8, but had to postpone the vote to May 13 because a mailer went out too late for members to have sent in their dues.

In order to run for any seat on the FRNCA board, you must have your membership dues paid, explained current treasurer Vince Taldone.

Mr. Bender stepped down two years ago to run for a Southampton Town Council seat as well, and, since he didn’t win, assumed the FRNCA presidency again afterward.

During that ime, Mr. Taldone, who lives in Riverhead but owns property in Flanders, filled in. But Mr. Taldone was elected, the FRNCA board had to first change its rules to allow property owners who don’t live in one of the three Southampton Town hamlets to run.

At the time, nobody else wanted the position.

Terms run for one year, officials said.

tgannon@timesreview.com

03/13/13 10:00am
03/13/2013 10:00 AM
Brad Bender of FRNCA

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Brad Bender at a civic meeting in Flanders in 2011.

The head of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association is stepping down.

Brad Bender, who has served as the civic group’s president for four of the past five years, said at Monday’s meeting he is stepping down to run for a Southampton Town Council seat in the fall.

The group’s elections will be held at its April 8 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the David Crohan Community Center in Flanders.

“All positions are open,” Mr. Bender said at Monday’s meeting. “We’ve had the same people switching hats the last few years. I will step down as president, and more than likely I will be running for Town Council again this year.”

He will stay on the board as a general board member, he said.

Though, he reminded, there is no guarantee he will be nominated by a political party for a November run.

Mr. Bender ran for Town Council on the Democratic slate in 2011 and came up 92 votes short, finishing third in a four-way race for two seats. In 2011, some Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association members argued that Mr. Bender should resign the presidency if he was running for town office, so as not to politicize the organization.

But when Mr. Bender did step down, no one else wanted to fill the post.

The board then ended up changing its bylaws so that Vince Taldone could be its new president, because he was the only person who would take the job. Mr. Taldone lives in Riverhead Town but owns property in Flanders. The board eventually changed their bylaws to allow people who own property in Flanders, Riverside or Northhampton but don’t live there, to run for its board.

Mr. Taldone served as president for one year, but Mr. Bender returned to the post shortly after the election.

tgannon@timesreview.com