09/17/13 9:19am
09/17/2013 9:19 AM
JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | A detour is set up at Herricks Lane on Sound Avenue.

JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | A detour is set up at Herricks Lane on Sound Avenue.

Commuters backed up over the past couple of days on their way to work can breathe a sigh of relief on Wednesday morning, as Tuesday is expected to mark the end of a brief road resurfacing project on Sound Avenue.

Traffic was routed southbound on Herricks Lane this morning, down to Main Road where Riverhead police waved traffic through.

Drivers are suggested to use Main Road until the road opens back up. According to a Southold Highway Department deputy, the project – which included milling and repaving the road – has been running along as scheduled and the road should be back open on Wednesday.

08/27/13 10:00pm
08/27/2013 10:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police detectives outside the Koppert Cress greenhouse on Horton Avenue Tuesday afternoon.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police detectives outside the Koppert Cress greenhouse on Horton Avenue Tuesday afternoon.

A Laurel man was busted for growing marijuana at a Riverhead greenhouse Tuesday afternoon after Riverhead Town police and the East End Drug Task Force found more than 50 marijuana plants on the property, according to a Riverhead police statement.

Police searched the Koppert Cress greenhouse on the corner of Sound Avenue and Horton Avenue with a warrant and discovered 57 plants, as well as a box truck used to transport the plants, according to the statement. Some of the plants were discovered on the property, while others were found in the truck, police said.

All of the plants were in a “grown phase” and had not yet been harvested, police said.

Anton Van De Wetering, 43, of Laurel was arrested and charged with two counts of Unlicensed Growing of Canabis, a class “A” misdemeanor, according to the statement. Police said additional charges will be filed once the marijuana plants are analyzed and weighed by the Suffolk County Crime Lab.

Mr. Van de Wetering is the son of 82-year-old Peter Van de Wetering, who founded Van de Wetering Greenhouses in 1958. The greenhouses have produced the tulips that line Park Avenue for years, and the company was featured  in an April New York Times article.

The younger Van de Wetering, who was the longtime manager of Van de Wetering Greenhouses, is “no longer affiliated in any way with Van de Wetering Greenhouses,” said a company representative.

Anton Van de Wetering left the company over a year ago, the spokesman said.

While at the scene Tuesday afternoon, police Lt. David Lessard said authorities believed contraband was “brought onto the property.” Police later said the East End Drug Task Force received a tip from a confidential informant about the marijuana.

A man who answered the phone listed for the Koppert Cress company said he had “no idea what was going on” at the Sound Avenue greenhouse. Koppert Cress bought the property searched by police from the Talmage family in 2012.

The East End Drug Task Force is headed by the district attorney’s office and comprises law enforcement personnel from across the county’s five East End towns.

A Suffolk County police helicopter was called in to assist during the investigation and Riverhead police were seen walking through the parking lot of the greenhouse, with some patrol cars leaving and returning to the scene.

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08/20/13 5:00pm
08/20/2013 5:00 PM
COURTESY FILE PHOTO | Jerry and Fern Hill speaking to young women at the ranch named in honor of their son. The home will now house girls for the first time.

COURTESY FILE PHOTO | Jerry and Fern Hill speaking to young women at the ranch named in honor of their son. The ranch will now house girls for the first time.

More than 30 years after launching a program to house abused, neglected or otherwise troubled boys, Riverhead’s Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch opened its first home for girls Monday.

“From the very beginning we had hoped to have girls, but when we opened it was boys that we had and it didn’t seem like the right thing to do, to have the boys and girls on the same campus,” said Fern Hill, who founded the ranch with her husband, Jerry Hill, in 1980. “Through the years we’ve tried several different things and this one just kind of came to us.”

Located near Sound Avenue in Riverhead, the four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home is part of Timothy Hill’s new “Refine” program, which provides independent-style housing for young women between the ages of 17 and 21, said Kris Mannale, the house’s caretaker. Mr. Mannale lives in the house with his wife, Hannah, who is also a caretaker, and their 2-year-old daughter.

Yesterday two young women, ages 18 and 20, moved into the house, which the organization currently refers to as the “Sound Avenue Home,” Mr. Mannale said. Another young woman is expected to move in sometime next week.

“There’s been a need for a girls’ home for a long time and there definitely is a need for it right now,” Ms. Hill said.

Built in 1925, the former private residence was purchased in June and is surrounded by trees that appear to hide it from view. The bedrooms are designed to be shared and can accommodate up to four girls, Mr. Mannale said.

Similar to Timothy Hill’s independent living program for boys, girls at the Sound Avenue House are required to get a job, either on-campus or off, and must meet certain schooling requirements, Mr. Mannale said. They are permitted to have a car.

“I don’t know of any other girls’ programs being run the same way,” Mr. Mannale said. “I think when you look at the other independent living programs we have, the success rate is pretty phenomenal. When they leave, they’re people of character and able to hold down a job. They’ve been given vocational training and résumé building. It’s not just housing.”

Mr. Mannale said the young women at the Sound Avenue House are adjusting well to their new home.

“They’re great,” he said. “We love having them.”

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08/01/13 9:45am
08/01/2013 9:45 AM


The Riverhead Town Board met for a work session Thursday morning in Town Hall. Among other things, board members discussed ways to increase cell phone tower lease revenues.

The work session started at 10 a.m. and News-Review staff writer Tim Gannon reported live from the meeting.

Click below to see what transpired.


August_1,_2013_-_Agenda(1) by Riverhead News-Review

06/27/13 2:08pm
06/27/2013 2:08 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | This Ford pickup hit a pole and flipped on Sound Avenue in Wading River Thursday, just west of Hulse Landing Road.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | This Ford pickup hit a pole and flipped on Sound Avenue in Wading River Thursday, just west of Hulse Landing Road.

A portion of Sound Avenue in Wading River was closed to traffic about 1:30 p.m. Thursday after a pickup truck hit a pole and flipped just west of Hulse Landing Road.

A Suffolk County Police Department medevac helicopter was called to the scene, though it was determined the Ford pickup’s four occupants suffered only minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to Stony Brook Medical Center.

The crash happened in front of Lewin Farms, where firefighters used a Jaws of Life tool to extract the four victims.

Police at the scene said speed might have been a factor in the crash.

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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?”

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View Larger Map

06/08/13 1:00pm
06/08/2013 1:00 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.

A proposal to contribute $75,000 in Riverhead Town funding toward Suffolk County’s proposed acquisition of a 14-acre property on Park Road in the Reeves Park area does not have the support of at least three Town Board members, potentially jeopardizing the land deal.

The property in question is owned by Boom Development, headed by Ed Broidy of Southampton, and is located on the northwest corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road/Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive.

Mr. Broidy had proposed a commercial shopping center for the land back in 2003, at about the same time another commercial shopping center was proposed for the four-acre property on the northeast corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue.

Both proposals encountered community opposition, and the Town Board at the time voted to rezone to residential uses, which led to lawsuits from both property owners. Both lawsuits were decided in the property owners’ favor.

The land on the northeast corner, owned by Kenney Barra’s EMB Enterprises, eventually was purchased by Suffolk County last year for a Sept. 11 memorial park.

But Mr. Broidy instead proposed a settlement of his lawsuit and filed a 16-lot residential subdivision in place of the commercial development. One of the lots is a farm lot fronting Sound Avenue.

In the meantime, Suffolk County proposed purchasing Mr. Broidy’s land for use as a fitness trail. But the county requested that the town contribute about $75,000 for improvements and then maintain the fi tness trail.

Town Board members George Gabrielsen and Jodi Giglio opposed the purchase when the resolution to acquire the land was discussed at last Thursday’s work session.

Mr. Gabrielsen said he doesn’t think the town has enough money left in its Community Preservation Fund to pay for the park improvements, and said the town will also lose the tax revenue from the land if the county buys it. Ms. Giglio agreed, and said she’s concerned about taking more land off the tax rolls.

At a public work session last month, town tax assessor Paul Leszczynski told the board that if the farmed lot received an agricultural assessment abatement, the taxes it generated would drop from $6,710 to $536.

Supervisor Sean Walter represented Mr. Broidy as an attorney many years ago and recused himself from the vote and the discussion, meaning the measure lacked a three-vote majority needed to pass. Councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy supported the acquisition.

Mr. Wooten said town voters have supported land preservation.

“I think this will pay for itself in the long run,” he said.

“We’ve preserved a lot of land in this town but we’ve run out of money,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

“Then leave the resolution in and let it get voted down [on Tuesday],” Mr. Wooten said. “That way, the county won’t buy it.”

At Tuesday’s regular Town Board meeting, however, the resolution was not in the packet of resolutions slated for votes. Mr. Walter said there wasn’t support to put it in on the agenda and there wasn’t support to approve it. Mr. Broidy said Tuesday that he was not aware the Town Board didn’t support the purchase and was unsure what his next move would be.

He said he would call some town officials to talk more about the property.

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View Larger Map

04/29/13 12:24pm
04/29/2013 12:24 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Runners navigate the muddy Survival Race course last year.

Thousand of runners and “zombies” are expected to descend on the Dorothy P. Flint 4-H Camp in Baiting Hollow this coming weekend, May 4 and May 5.

But while Saturday’s Survival Race and Sunday’s Zombie Race appear to have the support of Riverhead Town Board members, race organizers still don’t have a Town Board resolution approving the two-day event.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said on Friday that town officials were still waiting on information from a town fire marshal.

Mr. Walter said he anticipates the events will be approved by the Town Board, but that approval might not happen until Thursday’s work session, which is just three days before the first race.

“This should have been submitted much earlier,” he said, indicating that the Town Board only first discussed the proposals two weeks ago, and the applications were only filed on March 1.

Both events are being organized by Dean Del Prete, who also owns Cousins Paintball centers in Medford and Riverhead, and race director James Villepigue.

The two organized a one-day Survivor Race at 4H last September, which attracted more than 4,000 runners and spectators.

This year, they plan to hold a May 4 Survival Race, the May 5 Zombie Race, and a second Survival Race on Sept. 7 — all at the 4H camp off Sound Avenue, according to Mr. Villepique.

The Survival Race is a 5K run in which participants will tackle a number of obstacles and mud puddles.

The Zombie Race is a 5K run in which participants must allude people dressed as zombies who will try to capture flags worn at the runners’ waists, said Mr. Villepique. Racers have a belt with four flags, like in flag football, and if the zombies capture all four flags, that runner is out of the race and turns into a zombie.

“The difference between the two is that the Survival Race is more of an athletic type event while the Zombie Race is more of an entertainment event,” Mr. Villepique said.

The zombies are given costumes and are screened, he said. The zombies cannot touch runners and are instructed not to scare people to the point they are actually frightened, especially children, he added.

“It’s not like we have zombies wandering in the forest,” Mr. Villepique said. “We have designated areas that we call a zombie hoard. And then there are managers of each hoard, so, say, there may be 10 zombies in a hoard, and then there is one manager in the hoard who oversees the conduct of each group of zombies, to make sure they follow our code of conduct.”

When the group appeared at the April 11 Town Board work session, board members initially said an event of this size should have been proposed much earlier, and Mr. Walter suggested it might need a mass gathering permit from the county, and that it had already been submitted too late for that.

But race organizers said they would keep the attendance below the 5,000 attendance figure for which a mass gathering permit would be required.

Riverhead Police Lieutenant Richard Boden also said that last year’s event did not cause traffic problems.

A main complaint last year was that the Survival Race used Terry Farm Road, which is a private road. The race organizers say they will not use that road this year.

While the Survival Race may have about 4,000 runners, the runners start in waves of about 100 each half hour, so there is never a point where all 4,000 runners are entering or leaving the site at the same time, Mr. Villepique said.

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