04/05/14 4:57pm
04/05/2014 4:57 PM

Game-of-Hamlets-Vertical-copyThe Game of Hamlets is down to a battle between two closely related hamlets. Orient vs. Greenport.

The two Southold Town communities won in landslides this past week, with underdog Orient shocking Riverhead with 71 percent of the vote. Greenport knocked off Mattituck 67 to 33 percent.

Come Tuesday at 5 p.m., we’ll find out which local hamlet people like the most.

VOTE NOW!

Northforker.com has been hosting the 16-hamlet bracket tournament, sponsored by Corcoran Group, since March 13.

On the weekend of April 12-13, we will host an open photo shoot, inviting anyone who lives or works in the winning hamlet, for a large group photo to appear on the cover of the April 17 edition of The Suffolk Times. The photo shoot will take place in a public location in that community. We’re looking for as many people to show up as possible for the photo. Full details will be announced after the winner is chosen.

The April 17 issue will be dubbed either the Orient or Greenport issue, with sections featuring coverage about the winning hamlet.

To vote, simply click on the Birds Eye View or Vote Now icons below and cast a vote on each of the two matchups.

11/25/13 10:00am
11/25/2013 10:00 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Southold Supervisor Scott Russell addresses the crowd at Saturday's deer management meeting in Orient.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Southold Supervisor Scott Russell addresses the crowd at Saturday’s deer management meeting in Orient.

A sharpshooting program is in the works to cull the North Fork’s rising deer population, town officials and volunteers said at a deer management forum in Orient Saturday morning.

Don Stewart with the North Fork Deer Management Alliance volunteer group said he is hopeful the program — which uses teams of skilled marksmen to eliminate dozens of deer at a time — will begin next month.

The sharp shooter program is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services department, and will be paid for in part by a $200,000 grant secured by the Long Island Farm Bureau. The five East End Towns will have an opportunity to pay their own funds into the program, Mr. Stewart said.

About 50 people attended the forum held at Poquatuck Hall in Orient, the second Town meeting on deer control this fall after more than 200 people crowded into a forum in Peconic in September.

By aggressively cutting down the deer population, Mr. Stewart said, the North Fork will see less environmental damage from deer grazing, fewer tick-borne illnesses and will reduce deer-related car accidents.

While hunting by locals is a valuable part of deer management, it would not cause the “radical reduction” necessary on its own to bring the deer to manageable levels, Mr. Stewart said.

Other so-called humane approaches, like sterilization or contraception techniques, are more complex than they seem and would not do enough to limit the deer population, he added.

“At best its only going to keep an unacceptably high level of deer from expanding further,” Mr. Stewart said. “You’re not going to bring these levels down to where you need it.”

Having sharpshooters pick off dozens of deer seems cruel, he said, but it’s better than having hunters who might miss their shots do the bulk of the culling.

“You [won't] have animals that are wounded walking around the countryside,” he said.

The Town of Southold has taken steps to make it easier for hunters to tag deer, like waiving fees on carcasses and opening up town land to hunters. But town officials said private land owners need to open up their properties to hunters. Otherwise the deer will simply move to safer areas and continue to reproduce.

Supervisor Scott Russell had said state regulations on hunting have limited the town’s efforts so far. Hunters are not allowed to hunt within 500 feet of structures, including sheds.

Mr. Russell said the law is designed for rural areas like upstate New York, but doesn’t account for the denser population on the North Fork.

Speaker Sherry Thomas said the deer population will reach catastrophic levels soon if proactive steps are not taken. While deer management officials say there should be no more than 15 deer per square mile, the North Fork has about 65 per square mile, she said.

If nothing is done to stop the deer population explosion, there could be an estimated 400 deer per square mile in the next 10 years, Ms. Thomas said.

“It’s only going to go from unsustainable to disastrous,” she said.

psquire@timesreview.com

10/20/13 10:00am
10/20/2013 10:00 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Local realtors Jerry Cibulski (left) and Thomas McCarthy are members of the North Fork chapter of the Long Island Real Estate Group helping to transform this blighted Orient property into a new Habitat for Humanity house.

Real estate agents don’t typically find themselves on the construction side of the housing trade but members of the North Fork chapter of the Long Island Real Estate Group are feeling right at home helping with construction of a new Habitat for Humanity home in Orient.

It may not look like much now but the blighted property on Greenway East will soon be the site of a modern residence for a needy family in Southold Town.

From the moment chapter president and local realtor Thomas McCarthy first posed the idea of helping to fund and build the Habitat home early this summer, all 200 North Fork members were on board, he said.

“As a group of professionals we wanted to get together and give something back to our community,” he said. “It is a great cause. As brokers, we know that it’s a struggle for many working families to afford a home. We figured, what better way to help a local family in our own backyard?”

The group recently held a fundraiser at the Soundview Restaurant in Greenport, raising more than $2,500 toward demolition of the existing structure and construction of a brand-new home. Once the abandoned home has been razed and it’s time to start building, the realtors plan to get their hands dirty, Mr. McCarthy said.

The new Orient home will be the first Habitat property in Southold Town, according to Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk president and CEO Diane Burke.

The journey began earlier this year when the site was identified through Suffolk County’s 72H affordable housing program, which is designed to turn repossessed properties over to local communities that, in turn, offer homes to low-income families.

Suffolk County offered the property to the town in March and has since provided $10,000 in funding for the project through a community block grant.

The town recently allocated the grant money to assist Habitat for Humanity with demolition and cleanup of the blighted property. It also waived fees for disposal of demolished materials at the town transfer station.

Phillip Beltz, the town’s special projects coordinator, welcomed the prospect of bringing more affordable housing to Southold.

“We are in dire need of affordable housing,” he said in July. “When I first started here the lack of perpetual affordability was one of the greatest oversights I noticed.”

At present, Southold Town has only 22 affordable housing units that are covered by restrictions regulating the resale price — all of them at The Cottages in Mattituck, Mr. Beltz said.

Town officials also put out a request for proposals for 40 affordable apartment rentals spread out across the town, but no specific plan is currently in place, Mr. Beltz said.

The added bonus of working with Habitat for Humanity, he said, is that the organization ensures that the property will remain affordable. Habitat retains a stake in the property so that if the home is sold, it can use much of the appreciation to continue its programs.

Habitat will also write a covenant into the deed requiring that house be sold at an affordable price to another eligible family.

Pending the closing of the Orient property within the next couple of weeks, Habitat officials hope construction can begin by early November and that the house will be ready by spring 2014.

Mr. McCarthy said he is currently soliciting donations of time and materials for the project from local contractors.

“I believe as a community this is something we can do ourselves,” he said. “Something for the locals by the locals.”

Habitat’s director of development, Les Scheinfeld, said support from the realtors has gone a long way toward getting the project on track.

“We are so excited they want to work with us,” he said. “They have raised money and gained the support of local contractors. It’s a great partnership.”

Habitat will work with the town to develop a strategic construction plan tailored for the site.

Southold’s housing department will begin accepting and screening applications for the property after the closing.

Candidates must meet structured town and Habitat income guidelines and, if selected, must agree to contribute hands-on build time, or “sweat equity.” They would also need to complete classes and perform community service as part of the down payment on their new home.

cmurray@timesreview.com

07/16/13 3:16pm
07/16/2013 3:16 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop announces his new bill to lift the congressional mandate to sell Plum Island.

Congressman Tim Bishop (D- Southampton) Tuesday announced the introduction of “Save, don’t sell Plum Island,” a bill designed to overturn the 2008 congressional mandate for the federal government to sell the island, for decades the home of an animal disease research laboratory, at public auction.

The bipartisan legislation would help prevent non-research development on the 840-acre island, preserving what Mr. Bishop called a biodiversity “treasure.”

The federal General Services Administration recently released an environmental impact statement supporting construction of up to 500 dwellings on the island, which in addition to animal disease center is home to an abandoned military installation.

The congressman was joined at a morning press conference on the beach in Orient by state Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Southold Supervisor Scott Russell and representatives of several environmental groups, including the Group for the East End, the Nature Conservancy and Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Connecticut Democratic Congressmen Joe Courtney and Rep. Michael Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, have signed on as cosponsors. Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Democrat Richard Blumenthal.

Its purpose is to reverse the 2008 bill requiring the island’s sale to help finance a new $1.2 billion animal disease research center in Manhattan, Kan.

Mr. Bishop’s bill contends cleanup costs from past island activities, including the operation of Fort Terry, a WWI-era Army base, coupled with Southold’s pending island zoning prohibiting new development, would dramatically reduce the island’s commercial value.

Mr. Bishop said the Kansas research facility would “duplicate many of the research functions currently served well by other research facilities, including Plum Island,” and would be unaffordable given the nation’s budget constraints.

According to Mr. Bishop’s bill, the Plum Island facility has been well maintained.

He added that more than $23 million in federal funds have been invested in laboratory upgrades since January 2012, with additional significant expenditures likely in the future.

“If the federal government did not already own Plum Island, it would be seeking to purchase it for conservation,” Mr. Bishop said.

cmiller@timesreview.com

07/01/13 8:00am
07/01/2013 8:00 AM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | The Orient Point Lighthouse in Plum Gut is once again being auctioned off by the federal General Services Administration.

Orient Point Lighthouse is on the auction block … again.

Following a failed attempted by the U.S. General Service Agency to sell the historic lighthouse last year the department has once again opened the property for bidding.

Built in 1899, the cast iron lighthouse, also known as the “Coffee Pot” lighthouse, is located just off the tip of the North Fork in Plum Gut. The building stands 45 feet tall and boasts three stories of living quarters and two watch decks, according to the GSA listing.

The agency first attempted to auction off the lighthouse last summer, with plans to sell the property to the highest bidder within two months. The closing date was later postponed to September of that year. Despite the extended deadline, the auction did not result in a sale.

“It’s not uncommon,” said GSA spokesman Patrick Sclafani. “People say, ‘Wow. I can buy a lighthouse!’ But once they inspect it, they realize they may not have the resources to maintain the property.”

Such was the case with the East End Seaport Museum, which was considering purchasing the lighthouse before determining it did not have the financial resources to back the deal.

Nine parties bid in last year’s Orient Point Lighthouse auction, with the highest bid coming in at $100,000.

Comparatively, the offer was well below the sale price of Little Gull Island, which sold for $381,000 last October. Connecticut resident and businessman Fred Plumb bought the one-acre island in the Long Island Sound, which is one of home to an historic lighthouse. Mr. Plumb has yet to announce plans for the property.

The second round of bidding on the Orient Point Lighthouse opened on June 1. So far the highest bid is $10,000, according to GovSales.com. Bids are being accepted in $5,000 increments.

Under the National Lighthouse Preservation Act, the would-be-owners would not be permitted to tear down or make any major changes to the structure. They would also be required to allow the U.S. Coast Guard access to maintain the light.

“Our hope is that if a private owner gets it, they will reach out to conservation groups and maintain it the right way,” Mr. Sclafani said.

The GSA has not yet set a closing date for the bidding.

cmurray@timesreview.com

06/08/13 3:00pm
06/08/2013 3:00 PM
North Fork Wine Trail sign in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A North Fork Wine Trail sign at the intersection of the Main Road and County Road 105 in Aquebogue.

The North Fork ‍Wine ‍Trail might be getting longer.

Last Wednesday the New York State Senate passed a bill sponsored by Senator Ken LaValle that proposes extending the North Fork ‍Wine ‍Trail about nine miles to Orient Point.

If the legislation passes in the Assembly, the ‍wine ‍trail will continue to the end of Route 25 in Orient. The official ‍trail currently begins at Edwards Avenue in Calverton and ends at the junction of Routes 48 and 25 in Greenport.

“North Fork wineries are an economic engine for our region,” Mr. LaValle said. “Extending the North Fork ‍Wine ‍Trail will help boost agritourism, which will benefit our farmers and wineries.”

The bill also calls for the creation of a road sign at exit 73 of the Long Island Expressway notifying drivers that the ‍wine‍trail is accessible from that exit. A sign is already in place at exit 71.

Ron Goerler Jr., president of the Long Island ‍Wine Council, said not placing a sign at exit 73 was an “oversight.”

“If you take exit 73, you’re right at Tanger Outlets,” Mr. Goerler said. “It’s a straight shot onto the North Fork. Tanger brings 13 or 14 million people a year and to have a sign stating the ‍wine industry is just ahead brings more awareness to the region.”

Steve Bate, executive director of the ‍wine council, said the organization doesn’t have revenue fi gures for North Fork wineries but estimates that the region’s more than 50 wineries attract 1.2 million visitors a year — a number that proponents of the bill hope will only increase.

“Senator LaValle has always been a huge supporter of the local ‍wine industry,” Mr. Bate said. “He has helped us with many important pieces of state legislation over the years. This new ‍wine ‍trail bill is just the latest example of how he helps enhance our wineries’ contribution to the local economy.”

ryoung@timesreview.com

04/29/13 6:30pm
04/29/2013 6:30 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | From left: John Turner from Huntington/Oyster Bay Audubon, Randy Parsons from The Nature Conservancy, Congressman Tim Bishop, Charles Rothenberger from Save the Sound.

Environmental groups from both sides of the Long Island Sound  hosted a public meeting in Orient Monday on protecting Plum Island’s undeveloped areas.

Group for the East End and the Save the Sound organization from Connecticut were  joined by Congressman Tim Bishop and dozens of concerned community members at Poquatuck Hall to address the future of the island.

Reporter Cyndi Murray blogged from the meeting. For a recap click on the link below.

04/29/13 8:00am

Environmental groups from both sides of Long Island Sound will host a public meeting on protecting Plum Island’s undeveloped areas in Orient tonight.

The Group for the East End and the Save the Sound organization from Connecticut will be joined by Congressman Tim Bishop at Poquatuck Hall on Skippers Lane for the session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The fate of the 840-acre island off the North Fork’s eastern tip has been in question for several years as federal authorities consider the construction of a replacement animal disease research facility in Manhattan, Kan. That project, which Congress has yet to fully fund, calls for closing the Plum Island lab and selling the property.

The public forum comes just one week before Southold Town will hold a public hearing on the proposal would divide Plum Island into three zoning districts.

cmurray@timesreview.com