09/17/14 3:09pm
09/17/2014 3:09 PM
The view from Route 105 bridge at Indian Island golf course as the Peconic River leads into the Bay. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

The view from Route 105 bridge at Indian Island golf course as the Peconic River leads into the Bay. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

County legislators voted overwhelmingly last week to let Suffolk voters decide the fate of a plan that would eventually replenish the Drinking Water Protection Program, which has so far been tapped twice for money to balance the county budget. If approved by voters, the plan would also allow the county to continue dipping into that program for several more years.  (more…)

07/11/14 8:00am
07/11/2014 8:00 AM
Aquaculturist Bren Smith of Thimble Island Oyster Company in Connecticut is the first sugar kelp grower to cultivate the sea vegetable from Long Island Sound waters. He is working with food industry insiders, including expert chefs from New York City, and international supermarket chains to help drive market demand for domestically grown kelp products. (Credit: Bren Smith)

Aquaculturist Bren Smith of Thimble Island Oyster Company in Connecticut is the first sugar kelp grower to cultivate the sea vegetable from Long Island Sound waters. He is working with food industry insiders, including expert chefs from New York City, and international supermarket chains to help drive market demand for domestically grown kelp products. (Credit: Bren Smith)

It’s a delicacy Asian cultures have enjoyed for centuries but is more commonly thought of as the slippery — and sometimes slimy — brown stuff that grows naturally in area waters and then washes up on beaches.

And one day, it could be a major moneymaker for the North Fork.  (more…)

05/10/14 4:00pm
05/10/2014 4:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO A view of Peonic Bay from Mattituck beach

A view of Peonic Bay from Mattituck beach. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

County officials will be joining local farmers and environmentalists in Cutchogue Monday morning to urge the federal government to help fund projects aimed at restoring Long Island Sound and the Peconic Estuary. (more…)

05/09/14 8:00am
05/09/2014 8:00 AM
County Executive Steve Bellone, second from right, discusses Southampton Town's Riverside plans with, from left, Councilwoman Christine Scalera, Councilman Brad Benter, Sean McLean of Renaissance Downtowns, and Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

County Executive Steve Bellone, second from right, discusses Southampton Town’s Riverside plans with, from left, Councilwoman Christine Scalera, Councilman Brad Benter, Sean McLean of Renaissance Downtowns, and Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

How refreshing it was to see the county executive touring Riverside last week, a place many elected leaders have long avoided lest they have to confront firsthand the harsh realities that exist there: unpaved roads, long-abandoned stores, boarded-up shacks, drugs, crime. And this just a few miles from — and in the same town as — some of the wealthiest Zip codes in Suffolk County and the entire country.  (more…)

04/23/14 12:48pm
04/23/2014 12:48 PM
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Riverhead Police Officer Timothy Murphy and Chief David Hegermiller (Credit: Courtesy photo)

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Riverhead Police Officer Timothy Murphy and Chief David Hegermiller (Credit: Courtesy photo)

How many driving while intoxicated arrests does it take to be the “top cop” in Suffolk County? Riverhead police officer Timothy Murphy can tell you: exactly 118.

Mr. Murphy, who was named one of the top DWI officers in 2012, was again honored as the county’s top DWI cop during a ceremony that recognized 23 officers from across the county for their arrests.  (more…)

09/13/13 3:30pm
09/13/2013 3:30 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | County Executive Steve Bellone (center) with Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen (from left); Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski; Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment; and town Councilman John Dunleavy at the town’s sewer plant Monday.

Riverhead Town is in line to receive $8.09 million from Suffolk County to help ease the pain of funding state and federally mandated upgrades to its main sewer treatment plant near Indian Island County Park, which are expected to cost up to $22 million.

The plant, built in 1937, has already been upgraded twice, most recently in 2000, to meet previous state Department of Environmental Conservation requirements, said Supervisor Sean Walter.

The deadline for completing these additional required upgrades is January 2014 but the town is expected to apply for an extension.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced at a press conference Monday that Riverhead Town — which must now upgrade both the level of treatment it provides and the capacity the plant can handle — had been unanimously recommended by the county’s sewer infrastructure committee to receive the award.

About $28 million in grants and loans were announced Monday, with Riverhead grabbing the lion’s share. The money comes from the county’s voter-approved 1/4 percent sales tax, which is used for environmental programs.

“These are projects that have gone though the process and have been approved, the engineering is done. They are ready to go,” Mr. Bellone said, describing Riverhead’s project and others slated to receive grant money as “shovel-ready.”

In addition to the grant, Riverhead’s sewer upgrade also qualified for $4 million in county loans.

Mr. Bellone also said that the privately developed 19-unit apartment project at downtown Riverhead’s former Woolworth building had qualified for $800,000 in grants.

The county had about $33 million left over in the sewer stabilization portion of its voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax program, which is used for drinking and surface water protection. County officials decided to use that money on sewer upgrade projects, Mr. Bellone said. Only about $8 million will remain in the fund, Mr. Bellone said.

“That’s why it was important for Riverhead to get in on this, because it’s not going to be available next year,” said Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), whose district spans the North Fork.

The awards still need to be approved by the county Legislature, Mr. Bellone said, and a bill that would allocate the money is being introduced today, Thursday. The Legislature will then vote at its Oct. 8 meeting.

Riverhead is seeking to upgrade the capacity of its sewer plant on Riverside Drive from 1.2 million gallons per day to 1.4 million.

The town is also looking to upgrade its ability to remove nitrogen from the treated effluent that is discharged into the bay by about 75 percent, officials said.

Riverhead sewer district superintendent Michael Reichel said the Town has about $10 million available through the district’s remaining fund balance and state grants. The county’s $8 million grant would leave the town about $4 million short of the total it needs to upgrade the facility.

Mr. Reichel said the town has submitted to take out a $4 million low-interest loan through the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation.

“We’ve made applications to them,” he said. “We’ve cleared their hurdles for financing.”

Mr. Walter — who did not attend Monday’s event due to a family emergency — later said he was “grateful” to the county executive for clearing the funding.

“You’re going to see us move very quickly now,” Mr. Walter said. “We hope to have the bid specifications issued by the next [Town Board] meeting or the first meeting in October and we hope to award a contract for this job early next year.”

Mr. Krupski noted that the town has all its permits in place to start the work.

“This is shovel-ready money,” he said. “It’s brick and mortar, it’s not for planning or ‘Someday I’d like to do something; I have a dream.’ This is real money that’s going to have a real impact today. And that’s important.”

The town also has approval to use the effluent from its sewage treatment plant as fertilizer for the county golf course next door, Mr. Krupski added.

“They just have to hook into the existing irrigation system,” he said.

Riverhead also will be looking for grant money to offset the cost of upgrading its Calverton sewer plant, which expected to cost another $20 million, Mr. Walter said.

For that project, the town has applied for grants from a different program, the state’s Regional Economic Development Council.

“We didn’t want to be competing with ourselves,” Mr. Walter said.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/24/13 4:18pm
05/24/2013 4:18 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | County Executive Steve Bellone announces the homeless sex offender trailers will close within the next three days.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | County Executive Steve Bellone announces the homeless sex offender trailers will close within the next three days.

The Suffolk County trailers in Riverside and Westhampton that housed homeless sex offenders for the past six years will be shut down by the end of Memorial Day weekend, government officials and civic leaders from Suffolk County, Riverhead and Southampton announced Friday afternoon.

“It may be Memorial Day, but it feels like Christmas,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at a press conference in Riverhead Town Hall.

County Supervisor Steve Bellone said Suffolk County police now have the resources available to speed up clearing out the trailers. About a dozen sex offenders have been removed over the past few months, while the remaining 26 sex offenders left in the trailers will be moved to government-run shelters across the county by the end of the weekend, he said.

No shelter will hold more than one sex offender, and none of the sex offenders will be placed into shelters with children, Mr. Bellone said.

“This six-year nightmare in these communities is finally coming to an end,” said County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who had long been an opponent of the trailers

The sex offender trailers were first brought to Riverside and Westhampton in 2007, and were originally supposed to rotate through the Suffolk County towns every three weeks. But the trailers never moved, causing residents and government officials alike near the trailers to protest.

The plan to shut down the shelters is part of the Community Protection Act passed by the county legislature earlier this year. Mr. Bellone said the plan represents “the toughest monitoring and enforcement program in the country,” adding that Suffolk County police, who will monitor the sex offenders using GPS technology and daily reports, will hold discussions with town police departments on the East End to determine how they will keep track of the offenders.

Riverhead police chief David Hegermiller could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Bellone said the county may use a voucher system to keep track of some of the sex offenders, depending on how much of a threat the police department thinks they represent. But he said the increased monitoring of the county’s other sex offenders — which number over 1,000 — will make the entire county safer.

Eight sex offenders have already been arrested for violations, he said.

“We saw that this act, which has been implemented now over the past couple of weeks, has already borne fruit,” Mr. Bellone said. “This is the kind of thing you’ll see more frequently.”

Brad Bender, the former president of the Flanders, Riverside, Northampton Community Association, said the trailers were moved thanks to the support from the community and from town and county politicians who pushed for the trailers to be closed.

“It’s finally, finally come to an end,” he said. “We’ll know it’s over when we see their taillights in the dark. [The trailers] came in under the cover of darkness and now we’ll see them leave under the cover of darkness. It’s great.”

psquire@timesreview.com