03/28/14 8:00am
03/28/2014 8:00 AM
Riverhead councilman John Dunleavy (second from left) argues with Supervisor Sean Walter (middle) during Thursday's work session.

Riverhead councilman John Dunleavy (second from left) argues with Supervisor Sean Walter (middle) during Thursday’s work session.

After explaining over the past week how closed-door political caucuses are necessary to prevent Riverhead Town Board members from fighting with each other in public, the members spent much of Thursday’s work session doing just that. (more…)

03/05/14 10:00am
03/05/2014 10:00 AM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The state Armory building on Route 58.

The state Armory building on Route 58. (Credit: file photo)

Renovating the former Armory building on Route 58 into a police headquarters and justice court will cost an estimated $11.3 million, according to an engineering report commissioned by Riverhead Town.  (more…)

11/21/13 2:16pm
11/21/2013 2:16 PM
An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

The proposed “Community Benefit” overlay zone needed for First Baptist Church’s Family Community Life Center will soon be revised since it doesn’t have the support of a majority of Riverhead Town Board members in its current form.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilmen George Gabrielsen and John Dunleavy said at Thursday’s Town Board work session that they could not support the proposed zoning as currently written.

Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten did support it at Thursday’s work session, where the proposed overlay zone was discussed with representatives of the church, which has proposed building 132 affordable apartment units intended as “work force housing” for the area.

RELATED STORIES

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Bellone pledges county support for Family Community Life Center

Mr. Gabrielsen opposed the requirement in the zoning that a project have 800 feet of road frontage on a state or county road in order to qualify for the overlay zone.

First Baptist’s Northville Turnpike property has 807 feet of frontage on a county road.

“That just seems like it was site specific,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

Check out our live blog coverage

Mr. Walter said the proposal will need to be revised to meet Mr. Gabrielsen’s concerns so that a new public hearing can be held in early January.

Another change Mr. Gabrielsen proposed is a requirement for a 50-foot vegetative buffer between the project and neighboring homes, instead of the 25 feet in the proposed code.

“When you have something this dense and this high, I think neighbors have the right to a 50-foot buffer,” he said.

Ms. Giglio said the proposed 10 units per acre of residential housing is too dense, and she also feels the project should not be exempt from taxes, and should pay either taxes or payments in lieu of taxes.

Mr. Dunleavy agreed with the concerns of his fellow council members.

Mr. Walter, who has consistently supported the project, said he thinks Mr. Gabrielsen’s requests “are reasonable and they are doable,” but the tax issues raised by Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy probably cannot be addressed.

Ms. Giglio also raised the question of what other properties in town would meet the criteria of the proposed zone.

A map produced by town planning and building administrator Jeff Murphree shows about five other properties.

“A couple are owned by the county, and one has an approved site plan on it, so the way I’m looking at this is that there is only one other piece of property in the town that could possibly benefit from this zoning,” Ms. Giglio said.

The proposed overlay zone, which will now be rewritten, would have allowed a community center and workforce housing on land that meets certain criteria, including having 10 or more acres of land with at least 800 feet of frontage on a county or state highway, as well as public water and sewer connections.

The proposed Family Community Life Center would include an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, a 25-seat theater and media center and 24-hour adult and child day care services. The proposal also includes an indoor walking track, gymnasium, fitness center and classroom space.

It would be located on the 12-acre church property on Northville Turnpike. The Rev. Charles Coverdale has said the income from the apartments is needed to subsidize the rest of the project, which would be open to the community.

The allowed number of housing units would be one per acre, but the proposed zone would allow additional units with the purchase or either transferred development rights from farms, or open space development credits from Suffolk County, which are dedicated for use in affordable housing and would be made available to such projects at no charge.

The church is hoping for the latter and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has publicly pledged support for the project.

The Family Community Life Center project, which has been in the works for more than 20 years, received overwhelming support from speakers at a Nov. 6 public hearing.

Reached for comment after the meeting, Mr. Coverdale said, “We have to go through the process. We want things to be right.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

08/06/13 5:00pm
08/06/2013 5:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Baxter, Misha and Sidney of Selden with their owner Irene Rabinowitz at last year’s dog park opening in Calverton. Riverhead’s own dog park at Stotzky Park will open Saturday.

Isn’t it about time you throw your dog a bone? Riverhead residents now have the opportunity to do just that.

The opening of the brand new Duke Dog Park is set to take place at 1 p.m. Saturday in the upper parking field at Stotzky Park. Councilman James Wooten and other elected officials will be on hand to usher in the latest addition to the Riverhead community.

The park gives residents a chance to let their dogs run free and play in a large, secure fenced-in area. The new park comes just a year after the long-awaited dog park at EPCAL in Calverton opened.

Councilman Wooten worked alongside Riverhead resident Denise Lucas, the founder of the non-profit “Move the Animal Shelter,” or M.T.A.S, who played a big role in raising enough funds to build the park and for supplies.

“I think there is a big advantage to having a dog park in our town,” Mr. Wooten said. “There are a lot of seniors who live in condos who don’t have that space.”

Mr. Wooten said he believes Riverhead was one of the last communities to get its own dog park.

“It gives people a place to go,” he said. “I think there is a real need for it and I see a desire for it.”

The park is free to the public.

05/23/13 9:29pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Republican nominees, from left, Mike Panchak, Laverne Tennenberg, John Dunleavy, Sean Walter, Anthony Palumbo and Jodi Giglio.

It’s Sean Walter vs. Angela DeVito for Riverhead Town Supervisor.

The incumbent Republican Mr. Walter and the Democrat and former school board president Ms. Devito received the nominations of their respective parties Thursday night.

Despite having twice won elections for Town Supervisor, Mr. Walter wasn’t a guaranteed nominee. Assessor Mason Haas and Councilman Jim Wooten had both screened with party officials, but come Thursday both had backed off plans to oppose the sitting supervisor.

Mr. Haas even went so far as to nominate Mr. Walter, who promised to “be a better supervisor.” When asked if he was surprised by the support shown to him Thursday, Mr. Walter admitted he hasn’t always been a friend to everyone in the party.

“I think it’s very easy to lose sight of the people that got you elected and by reconnecting with the committee and finding out what their needs and concerns are to get renominated brings you back to your roots,” Mr. Walter said.

“In my zeal to get things done I ran over a lot of people,” he added.

Mr Wooten said that’s just how things are.

“There are no friends in politics,” he said. “We can’t afford to look back. We have to look forward.”

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Town Democratic nominees, from left, Icilio ‘Bill’ Bianchi, Millie Thomas, Angela DeVito and Greg Fischer.

Ms. DeVito was nominated with the unanimous support of the Democratic screening committee, though current Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Greg Fischer of Calverton received support from the floor. Ms. DeVito easily won the nomination, though.

She said recent votes give her hope she can win the election.

“This is the year,” she said. “The thing I learned in the Obama campaign and the Krupski campaign is that we Democrats can win. I got three calls for Sean Walter this year. He is scared. He is worried about the Democratic slate … we are going to bring the people together.”

Ms. DeVito, 64, is a member and former president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association and is retired from her position as director of workforce development with the Long Island Building Trades Council.

Icilio “Bill” Bianchi and Millie Thomas received the Democratic nominations for Town Council. George “Gio” Woodson received the nomination for re-election as Highway Superintendent. Mr. Fischer later received the Democratic nomination for Assessor.

Mr. Bianchi, 82, is a former New York State Assemblyman who used to live in Bellport and now lives in Riverhead and owns a greenhouse on Doctors Path, where he grows orchids.

Ms. Thomas, 62,  is a real estate broker and owner of Landmark Realty in Wading River.

As expected, incumbent Republican council members Jodi Giglio and Jon Dunleavy were nominated for re-election. No other designations were made. Afterward Anthony Coates, who had screened with GOP officials, said he’s going to move forward with a primary campaign.

“I am running for the town board to propose new policy,” he said. “I am running to offer fresh ideas and to be a new voice.”

Laverne Tennenberg received the GOP nomination for re-election as assessor, while Mike Panchak was nominated to oppose incumbent Democrat George “Gio” Woodson for Highway Superintendent.

Riverhead Democrats voted to support John McManmon of Jamesport for the vacant state Assembly seat, though the move was met with controversy. While he’s registered to vote at his parents’ address in Jamesport, some Democrats, led by Greg Fischer of Calverton said he lives in New York City.

Mr. McManmon, an attorney in Manhattan, told the News-Review he does live in Brooklyn during the week for work purposes but has always voted here.

Brookhaven and Southold Democrats still have to choose a nominee for Assembly at their town conventions next week.

Republicans announced earlier Thursday that they will support New Suffolk attorney Anthony Palumbo for Assembly.

ORIGINAL STORY

Rootin’ for Wooten for Supervisor? Have a hankering for some Haas?

Sorry, this doesn’t appear to be your year after all.

GOP sources said Thursday that Riverhead Town Councilman Jim Wooten and Assessor Mason Haas have both backed down from their intent to run for Town Supervisor. Instead, sources have confirmed, incumbent Supervisor Sean Walter, 46, is expected to get the support of the Republican Committee at tonight’s nominating convention at Polish Hall.

The same sources said Thursday that incumbent council members Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy will also get nominations for re-election, as has been expected.

Mr. Wooten, 53, stopped short of saying he’s no longer interested in running for supervisor, but he did say he’s in favor of party unity.

“The convention is tonight, and you never know what will happen,” Mr. Wooten said. “But I think the Republican Party is poised to stand together and unify their choices, and as far as my pulling out, I’m going to do what’s best for the party.” He declined to say if that meant he would not challenge Mr. Walter in a primary.

Mr. Haas, 55, could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday. Riverhead GOP chairman John Galla declined comment.

Town Board hopeful Anthony Coates, 52, appears poised to wage a primary battle in the likely event he fails to earn a nomination over Ms. Giglio, 44, and Mr. Dunleavy, 72.

“It’s a decision I will make in the aftermath of the convention, but I am strongly leaning in that direction,” he said.

The GOP convention at Polish Hall is scheduled for 7 p.m., the same time Democrats will gather at the nearby VFW Hall.

The Riverhead Democratic screening committee is recommending Angela DeVito for Supervisor, and Icilio “Bill” Bianchi and Millie Thomas for council, according to Democratic chair Marge Acevedo. The screening process took more than 35 hours, and they screened four people for supervisor and seven for council, she said.

The screening committee recommendations don’t always get the support of the full committee, as was the case two years ago.

Ms. DeVito, 64, is a former Riverhead Board of Education president, a member and former president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association and is retired from her position as director of workforce development with the Long Island Building Trades Council.

Mr. Bianchi, 82, is a former New York State Assemblyman who used to live in Bellport and now lives in Riverhead and owns a greenhouse on Doctors Path, where he grows orchids.

Ms. Thomas, 62,  is a real estate broker and owner of Landmark Realty in Wading River.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/23/13 9:28pm

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members (from left) Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy, Supervisor Sean Walter, Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen.

Riverhead Town Republicans and Democrats both hosted their nominating conventions in Polish Thursday night. Read a recap of our live reports below:

05/11/13 2:00pm
05/11/2013 2:00 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members (from left) Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy, Supervisor Sean Walter, Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Board members (from left) Jim Wooten, John Dunleavy, Supervisor Sean Walter, Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen.

Riverhead Town’s Democrats and Republicans will host their candidate nominating conventions at the same time in Polish Town later this month.

The Republican convention will be held at 7 p.m. May 23 in Polish Hall on Marcy Avenue, according to committee chairman John Galla. The Democrats will be at the VFW hall on Parkway Street, where it intersects with Hamilton Avenue, according to Democratic chair Marge Acevedo.

“It’s like the Yankees and Mets having home games on the same night,” Mr. Galla said.

The Repubicans hold all five Town Board seats but those incumbents are being challenged from within. Councilman James Wooten and town assessor Mason Haas are both challenging incumbent Sean Walter for the supervisor nomination, and incumbent council members John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio are being challenged by Anthony Coates, who has been an advisor to Mr. Walter. Mr. Coates has publicly supported Mr. Dunleavy, while criticizing Ms. Giglio.

The Democrats, meanwhile, have not released the names of any of the people they’ve screened, although some names have leaked out. In the supervisor race, Ann Cotten-Degrasse, the current president of the Riverhead Board of Education and a retired teacher and union president, has confirmed that she has screened for the position. Former Riverhead school board president Angela DeVito has already set up a campaign committee for her supervisor run.

In other town races, incumbent Democratic Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson is up for reelection this fall, and the Republicans have screened Mike Panchak, who owns an asphalt company. He and Mr. Woodson are members of the Riverhead Fire Department.

The only other town seat up for reelection is the assessor seat currently held by Republican Laverne Tennenberg.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/01/13 4:00pm

JOHN NEELY FILE PHOTO | Sophia Parise (left) accepts her first place award last year from Rose Sanders in the Riverhead Idol contest, which will be held in June this year.

Riverhead Idol will be back this year, a little later than usual, and it will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary, said Riverhead Councilman Jim Wooten, who annually serves as the master of ceremony for the singing contest.

This year’s competition will be held at 2 p.m. June 9 at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, Mr. Wooten said.

“We normally have it in March, and we were going to do it in early May, but between the testing they were having at the schools, and the fact that they they had a play going on, we moved it back,” he said. “A lot of the kids in the contest are multi-talented — they are in the choir and in band and in plays and the Blue Masques — so we wanted to make sure they are all done with those things first.”

This year’s Idol will be held in the afternoon for the first time because that’s when the theater was available, Mr. Wooten said.

Auditions will be held May 15 at Riverhead High School and at the middle school the next day. May 17 may also be used for auditions, he said.

From there, the field will be narrowed down to about a dozen singers for the June 9 show.

“Last year, we had about 40 people audition,” Mr. Wooten said.

The fact that the town doesn’t have a Youth Bureau director this year also may have contributed to the show’s later date, Mr. Wooten said.

“I think there was some confusion as to who would be running this,” he said.

Longtime Youth Bureau director Donna Lyczkowski retired last August and her position was not filled. The recreation department took over those duties.

Mr. Wooten said recreation department superintendent Ray Coyne took the job along with volunteers who served on the Riverhead Youth Advisory Committee and set up the June 9 date. The youth bureau and the advisory committee had produced the event in years past, Mr. Wooten said.

tgannon@timesreview.com