07/31/11 6:01am
07/31/2011 6:01 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | The Woodhull House in Wading River is believed to be the oldest structure in the Shoreham-Wading River area.

The Woodhull House located in Wading River is one step closer to being designated as a national historic structure, Brookhaven Town officials announced Friday.

Second District Councilwoman Jane Bonner said the Josiah Woodhull House, which the town is in the process of restoring, has recently been listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and is currently under consideration for being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built around 1720, the North Country Road house was home to seven generations descended from Richard Woodhull, a Brookhaven Town founder. It is believed to be the oldest structure in the Shoreham-Wading River area.

Following the 2009 collapse of the historic Mott House in Coram, the town hired consultants to assess all of the town’s historic structures and found that the poor condition of the roof on the Woodhull House had contributed to its deterioration.

Roof work was finished in May and a schedule to restore the exterior of the houses is being finalized, town officials said.

jennifer@northshoresun.com

06/29/11 2:11pm
06/29/2011 2:11 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Assemblyman Dan Losquadro at his desk in Calverton. He will soon move his local office to downtown Riverhead.

As Assemblyman Dan Losquadro winds down from his first session in Albany, he told Times/Review Newsgroup he plans to turn his focus to local issues this summer, while still preparing to pick-up where he left off next year by pushing for school district relief from state mandates.

Mr. Losquadro (R-Shoreham) said in an interview that he had a “very productive” first session, because he believed Governor Andrew Cuomo “pushed the same agenda” as the freshman assemblyman and other representatives did in passing a balanced budget on-time and to control spending.

The final vote Mr. Losquadro cast after midnight Friday was in favor of a 2 percent property tax cap bill, which the governor proposed and passed in both houses. Included was about $125 million in mandate relief, a measure Mr. Losquadro described as “a good start.”

“I thought the governor gave in far too easily on the mandate relief issue,” Mr. Losquadro said. He believes key driving costs in school districts and local governments — Medicaid and pensions — will be more thoroughly addressed next year.

While Mr. Losquadro’s first session was consumed by hot-button issues such as tackling a $10 billion budget deficit and same-sex marriage legislation — which he said he voted in opposition because of his Catholic beliefs — Mr. Losquadro said he was pleased with his bills addressing local issues passed during his freshman year.

Some of those pieces of legislation include repealing the state’s saltwater fishing licence fee and restoring promotional funding to wineries.

“Tourism is such an important part of our economy,” he said. “Quality of life and the character of our communities is very important to keep.”

Mr. Losquadro, who defeated incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi in November, said that while he plans to meet with residents this summer to address their concerns and create a plan-of-action for next year, he believes some of his constituents won’t be in his district for long.

Redistricting occurs every decade following the completion of the U.S. Census. The 2010 census data shows Mr. Losquadro represents a population of nearly 149,000 residents, making his Assembly district the largest in the state.

“How that’s going to go is anyone’s guess, but it’s going to happen,” Mr. Losquadro said of redistricting process.

Another change for Mr. Losquadro will be his office, which he plans to move next week from Calverton to downtown Riverhead.

“It’s smaller, has greater access and it used to be Patty Acampora’s office,” he said, referring to the 400 West Main Street office of the former assemblywoman. Mr. Losquadro said he’ll move by Aug. 1.

While Mr. Losquadro said he’ll miss his long drives to Albany, during which he listened to Pulse on satellite radio, he’s looking forward to spending the summer with his 17-month-old son.

“That aspect of it is difficult, but the fact is everyone up there is in the same boat,” he said. “Everyone is stuck away from home. Everyone is stuck away families. So there’s a great camaraderie [and] a great friendship that you build with people.”

jennifer@northshoresun.com

06/25/11 12:30am
06/25/2011 12:30 AM

The state Senate approved a bill late Friday that makes New York the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. The Marriage Equality Act, championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, was approved 33-29 Friday in the GOP-led Senate.

The Democratic-led Assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill last week and earlier Friday they approved an amended version.

“New York has finally torn down the barrier that has prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement.

Each of Long Island’s nine Senators voted in opposition to the bill, making up nearly a third of the no votes. Locally, the bill was voted down by both Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham).

Neither legislator issued a public statement in the first few hours following the vote.

PROPERTY TAX CAP APPROVED

Local Republicans rejoiced Friday with the passage of a 2 percent cap on annual state property tax increases.

Assemblyman Dan Losquadro called the bill perhaps the most important of his first session in Albany.

“A tax cap will provide Long Island homeowners with important relief from some of the highest property taxes in the nation, and I am pleased that I helped to pass this important taxpayer-protection initiative,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Losquadro said the tax cap is an important first step toward true tax relief for local residents. He said the next step will be to expand on the unfunded mandate reforms also passed Friday, which he said in its current form won’t do enough to ease the burden on local school districts.

Assemblyman Dean Murray (R-Medford), who has cosponsored legislation for a three-year moratorium on unfunded mandates, called the mandate-relief component of the legislation a disappointment.

“Our work to eliminate all unfunded mandates needs to begin immediately,” he said in a statement.

06/15/11 11:33am
06/15/2011 11:33 AM

If the bill to legalize gay marriage in New York is voted on in the Senate this week it will not have local support.

Drew Biondo, a spokesperson for Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), said in an email Tuesday that the Senator has not changed his position on gay marriage. Mr. LaValle voted in opposition to a marriage equality bill that passed the Assembly, but was shot down in the Senate in December 2009.

“He fully supports equality and civil unions, though not gay marriage,” Mr. Biondo wrote.

Mr. LaValle was one of 38 Senators to vote in opposition to gay marriage in 2009, when no Republicans crossed party lines to support the bill.

This time around though, Republican Senator James Alessi of Western New York has stated publicly he will support the gay marriage bill when role is called, something that could happen before the legislative session ends this week. Several media outlets say there is already enough support for the bill, and Senator Alessi has been quoted as saying the bill could pass with 35 votes in the 62-member Senate.

At least one Democrat, Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, has publicly opposed the bill, sponsored by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Mr. LaValle, who represents the entire East End, told The News-Review in the days following the 2009 vote that he didn’t think his constituency was prepared to accept gay marriage.

“What I have heard from a lot of people is that we are just not ready for it,” he had said. “It could happen someday in the future, but just not right now.”

New Yorkers United for Marriage, a gay marriage advocacy group, recently launched an aggressive advertising campaign that included direct mailing to encourage constituents to call Senator LaValle to urge him to support gay marriage.

Mr. Biondo said that as of Tuesday morning about two-thirds of the phone calls the Senator’s district office has received have been opposed to the bill.

“The mail campaign from New Yorkers United for Marriage had an opposite, unintended result,” he wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon.

gparpan@northshoresun.com

02/23/11 12:34pm
02/23/2011 12:34 PM

Mobile home owner aren’t in the same situation as renters or even the owners of co-ops or condominiums. With only a limited number of mobile home parks in Suffolk County — and no more on the way — many don’t have a real option to pick up their homes and move, unless that means relocating far away from beloved friends and family.

That leaves them extremely vulnerable, and they need the government’s help.

Resist that knee-jerk reaction. A bill currently in the state Legislature that would enable mobile home owners to fight unjustifiable rent increases isn’t about government overextending its reach into private enterprise or otherwise stifling the free market.

It’s about justifiably protecting our friends, neighbors and relatives — many of them of advanced age — who have worked hard to stake a claim here on Long Island but, due no fault of their own, have found themselves at the sheer mercy of a landlord. Mobile home owners own their homes and get individual tax bills, but they rent the land on which those homes sit.

“Right now, if they increase your rent by 100 percent, you have no remedy but to pick up and leave,” Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), a co-sponsor of the Assembly bill along with Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) told the News-Review Saturday. “All the power is with the park owner.”

That’s a situation that screams for oversight.

The bill as written would give mobile home owners the right to challenge a rent increase in court if that increase is greater than the Consumer Price Index in New York State, and if the mobile home is the person’s primary residence. The challenge must be made within 90 days of the notice of increase and park owners have the right to make increases that reflect operating costs, taxes and debt service on capital improvements. If one person in a park successfully challenges an increase, all the residents of that park benefit, according to the proposal.

A similar measure passed in the state Assembly in 2009, but died in the Senate.

To avoid the same thing from happening again, our lawmakers must be able to pull themselves away from the state budget battle that is sure to consume Albany, and then take a minute to examine and consider the necessity of this proposed law on its individual merits — instead of dismissing it because of political ideals involving property rights.

A mobile home park is a business like any other.

Our state senator, Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), surely has a tough task ahead of him, but he has vowed to push as hard as he can to lobby his fellow senators to pass the measure through the Senate.  He explained to the editorial board that mobile home park owners lobbied hard to kill the bill two years ago, but this time should be different.

“I think the atmosphere has changed, because I believe the park owners have overreached and have climbed on the backs of people who are down and out in probably one of the worst economies,” he said, pointing to rent increases that will force many mobile home owners to find another $600 each year to pay their monthly rent. “There are a lot of seniors there, and they have not received increases in social security. People understand the park owners have a certain obligation, but when the increases exceed the cost of living, people don’t understand that.”

It takes just one greedy landlord to shatter hundreds of lives; that is what this bill will protect against.

All of our state lawmakers should support it.