The Suffolk Theater celebrated its one year anniversary Saturday night with a Roaring 20′s themed gala. See the photos at northforker.com
The Suffolk Theater celebrated its one year anniversary Saturday night with a Roaring 20′s themed gala. See the photos at northforker.com
Nine years ago today, current owners Bob and Dianne Castaldi purchased the Suffolk Theater. And close to a year ago, the East Main Street venue opened its doors to the public for the first time in over 20 years.
On Sunday night, the theater took another welcome step back in time as music legend Booker T. took the stage. Meanwhile, the theater as a whole has its sights set on a stronger sophomore year moving forward.
Read more about the event and changes at the theater on northforker.com.
Apparently, “Orange is the New Black” can’t get enough of the Riverhead area.
The Netflix series, which we previously reported had been seeking “scary-looking” extras for scenes at the Riverside jail, will likely be filming in downtown Riverhead later this week. (Read more on northforker.com)
A monumental hurdle was cleared in the effort to finally bring economic development to the Enterprise Park at Calverton. That hurdle came in the form of state legislation, passed in October, designed to fast-track development proposals for 600 subdivided acres of town land at the former Grumman site. Several EPCAL proposals have fallen apart in the past, usually because they found themselves in a jurisdictional purgatory among governments. This legislation should solve the problem. Though nothing was built this year, the work of state and local lawmakers, namely Sean Walter, Ken LaValle and Fred Thiele, should pay dividends later in the form of jobs and tax base.
Riverhead Town had set out to subdivide 800 acres of town-owned property at EPCAL, yet the subdivision map that’s been sketched out shows 600 acres that will be sold. The loss of 200 acres comes because the state Department of Environmental Conservation outlined land that could not be developed at EPCAL due to protected species. While we’re not about ruining sensitive habitats, the last we checked, preserving huge swaths of land usually involves some sort of financial transaction. If the state doesn’t want this acreage developed, it must compensate the town accordingly. The proceeds could help fund necessary sewer plant upgrades and other infrastructure improvements at the site.
Six years is an awfully long time for one community to house the county’s entire homeless sex offender population. In fact, it’s six years too long.
But we were happy to report this year that the homeless sex offender trailers in Riverside were finally moved and the sex offenders were placed in shelters across the county.
The trailer system was never a good idea and the county’s handling of the situation was appalling.
The only good that ever came of it was the day the trailers finally left.
The town gave away the store by granting developers of the Route 58 Costco project the OK to clear-cut an entire 41-acre property in 2013, including 11 acres in which there are no immediate plans to build. The measure saved the developers money but short-changed taxpayers $374,100 in fees on imported fill. The reason given by the developers was that they didn’t want to disturb neighbors twice (should they build more later). Somehow this argument held water with the Planning Board, which approved the site plan in 2012, and the Town Board, which granted an excavation permit this year. Neighbors in the Foxwood and Millbrook communities now enjoy views of sand pits and strings of small arborvitae.
The history of the Suffolk Theater is too long and fraught with ups and downs to fit into this space but in 2013, the art deco-style theater saw a big “up” as it reopened after years of effort from Bob and Dianne Castaldi.
In the wake of the opening of the theater, which has hosted events from concerts to comics to debates to psychics, a variety of other businesses have opened their doors in the area on Main Street — exactly the hope of many who awaited the theater’s return.
The Castaldis were named People of the Year by the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce for their efforts, with East End Arts executive director Pat Snyder calling the anchor site a “point of pride” for the town.
New York State has agreed to adopt high-stakes testing and controversial teacher evaluation systems tied to Common Core State Standards in exchange for a one-time installment of $700 million in federal Race to the Top grant money. That’s less than 3 percent of what the state spends in a single year on education, experts say. Hardly seems worth the money to tie ourselves to a system that, at best, may help already college-bound kids attend marginally better colleges but will likely cause at-risk youths, English language learners and students with disabilities to fail in school in even greater numbers. Since the overhaul wasn’t created by legislation, lawmakers can, and do, deflect blame.
The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce honored its 2013 “People of the Year” during its annual holiday party Thursday night. The event was held at the Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead.
Here’s what the chamber had to say about this year’s honorees and a remark from each of the winners:
Gold Key Award
Lisa and Richard Israel
Presenter Monique Gablenz: “All who know Richard know he is a very determined, straightforward, ‘Get it done’ kind of guy… and Lisa is a smart, personable, very hard-working woman with the same work ethic as Richard who happens to be married to him.”
Co-recipient Ike Israel: “I’ve been here for over 25 years. I’ve seen Riverhead grow to a great place, to where I think now we’ve become the center of commerce. I’ve met some great businesspeople all along the way who have always put their heart and soul into Riverhead.”
Business of the Year
Island International Industries
Presenter Tracy James: “In my position in the IDA and as president of the Chamber, I have a unique opportunity to get to know the many businesses in Riverhead in a more in-depth way. I’m proud to have these companies here putting Riverhead on the map across the world every day. Island Industries is one such company … we can only hope their continued success continues to put Riverhead on the map.”
Co-recipient Ed Harms: “We are thrilled to call the Town of Riverhead our partner. We’ve chosen to make you our partner. We feel that we actually truly do have one in the town of Riverhead. As such, we don’t plan on being shy on continuing to ask for continued support… we’re thrilled to be able to bring manufacturing back to Long Island, back to Calverton, and back to the Town of Riverhead where it once was and where Tim and I think it belongs.”
Co-recipient Timothy Stevens: “I think Ed summed it up pretty well but we are pretty grateful we found a lot here. What we have out here is every owner’s dream. Most of the large developers in the city were able to come out and actually witness their high-rise structures being fabricated in the Town of Riverhead and being locally shipped into the city and up north, to Boston.”
Persons of the Year
Dianne and Bob Castaldi
Presenter Pat Snyder: “Dianne and Bob Castaldi, thank you for bringing this extraordinary venue to downtown Riverhead. You have given downtown Riverhead a point of pride.”
Recipients Bob & Dianne Castaldi: “It was August of 2004 when Dianne saw a small ad in the Suffolk Times that the Suffolk Theater was for sale. I would never imagine that we would be standing here today. That one small ad has changed our lives forever. Downtown Riverhead has become our neighborhood, our hometown and our future. Standing here today, we see so many familiar faces that we can now call friends.”
Agricultural Achievement Award
Presenter Robert Bugdin: “I admire and respect John for having the fortitude to have started a venture like this. It’s interesting and satisfying to know that the whole craft beer process happens here on Long Island and, most importantly, in Riverhead.”
Recipient John Condzella: “I’d like to thank the Chamber of Commerce. There’s a lot of new and exciting things happening in agriculture here in Riverhead and I’m absolutely honored to have received this award. I’d like to thank my parents — my father for teaching me a lot about agriculture over the years. The brewing community out here has been extremely supportive of what I’ve been doing and I’m extremely happy to be part of that family now.”
Entrepreneurial Achievement Award
Stony Brook University Incubator at Calverton
Presenter Janine Nebons: “The Stony Brook Incubator is the hallmark of collaboration, and when businesses have an opportunity to participate and coordinating private and public partnership strategies their chance of long-term success is so greatly enhanced.”
Recipient Monique Gablenz: “Through the establishment of the Incubator with labs and equipment and now, most recently, the facilities and equipment for shared food processing, we are experiencing the birth and growth of many small businesses.”
Director of the Year
Presenter Carmela Ditalia: “While busy with her many roles as a farmer, educator and promoter, wife and mother, Debbie still found time to serve on the Board of Directors at the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce. Although soft spoken, she always offered her ideas and the board and the community benefited from those ideas.”
Recipient Deb Schmitt: “I would like to thank you for this award. It has been an honor being on the Chamber of Commerce and the people that worked with me and were on the board were exceptionally wonderful people. Like I said, it really was an honor to be a part of it and to learn.”
Presenter Angie Reese: “This year’s recipient started making a difference in 2011, when she started the organization ‘Riverhead, Move the Animal Shelter.’ She raised money with the goal of relocating the shelter from its current Youngs Avenue location. She has successfully and is still working toward establishing dog parks in Riverhead and in relocating the shelter.”
Recipient Denise Lucas: “Thank you everybody — my family, my friends, and the people that I roped into helping me… especially Fred McLaughlin, for the night I bothered you and knocked on your door and said ‘Would you please help me?’”
Spirit of Riverhead Award
Presenter Tom Lennon: “Several years ago, Denise and Peter went out on a big limb. They abandoned their professions and started what we now affectionately know as Riverhead Local with nothing more than an idea and a dream that they could bring out the best of Riverhead, whether it be with sports, news or photography. They have done a tremendous job doing that in three short years … they have shown what it means to bring out the best side of Riverhead.”
Recipient Denise Civiletti: “We talked about this before — how blessed are you when you can earn a living doing what you love? That’s what we’re doing and we want to say thank you very much for the kind words, thank you for the support, and thank you for the honor.”
The event was sponsored by:
Suffolk Primary Health
Stony Brook University
Skydive Long Island
Suffolk County National Bank
Email News-Review business reporter Rachel Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce will recognize select businesses, individuals and organizations that have made a considerable impact and notable contribution to the community throughout the year at its annual awards dinner on Thursday, Dec. 5.
The public is invited to attend the dinner, which will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. Tickets are $65 per person and can be obtained from Mary Hughes at (631) 727-7600 or by emailing email@example.com.
This year’s award recipients include:
• 2013 Persons of the Year: Dianne and Bob Castaldi of the Suffolk Theater
• 2013 Business of the Year: Island International Industries, Inc.
• 2013 Agricultural Achievement Award: John Condzella of Condzella Hops
• 2013 Gold Key Award: Lisa and Richard Israel of Richmond Realty
• 2013 Entrepreneurial Achievement Award: Stony Brook University’s Incubator at Calverton
• 2013 Spirit of Riverhead Award: Riverhead Local
• 2013 Community Appreciation Award: Denise Lucas of Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter
• 2013 Director of the Year: Debra Schmitt, member of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Roughly three months after Anna Maria Villa was hired as general manager of the Suffolk Theater, she and the theater have parted ways.
Bob Castaldi, who co-owns the theater with his wife, Dianne, said Ms. Villa, who was hired in July, no longer works at the theater as of today, Tuesday.
“We just have different visions of which direction this theater should move in,” Mr. Castaldi said of the split. “It was very amicable.”
Ms. Villa could not be immediately reached for comment.
When asked what direction the theater plans to move in, Mr. Castaldi said that was something he was evaluating “right now” and that theater officials are looking for a new general manager.
“We’ve got all our people and we’ve got a couple of meetings over the next few days,” Mr. Castaldi said. “We will find a new course if necessary.”
This is the second time in less than six months the Suffolk Theater has parted ways with a top executive. In August, after a year on the job, Bob Spiotto was released from his duties as the theater’s first executive director as part of a shift of focus from nightly events to larger, weekend events.
Prior to working at the theater, Ms. Villa was hired as the executive director of Riverhead’s Industrial Development Agency in August 2009, a position she held until September 2010, when the IDA board voted 4 — 1 to terminate her employment.
At the time, IDA chair Kathy Wojciechowski said the move was “not about Anna.”
“We decided to terminate the independent consultant agreement that we had with her and we’re going in another direction, which is to hire a full-time person,” Ms. Wojciechowski said in a 2010 interview.
The IDA offers a number of tax breaks and other incentives aimed at attracting businesses to the area. Its budget is entirely funded by feed paid by the businesses it assists.
Prior to working for the IDA, Ms. Villa, who was born in Italy and grew up in Rochester, N.Y., spent a few years running her own marketing and consulting firm, which developed marketing strategies and sales programs for small to mid-sized businesses and non-profit firms.
She has a degree in business and economics from Empire State College, and also worked as a disc jockey, a singer, a civil service investigator, as well as a television reporter in Italy.