08/14/13 11:30am
08/14/2013 11:30 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO  |  Weeping Willow Park will open Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The long planned Weeping Willow Park will officially open Friday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m., Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter announced.

The park sits on the site of the former Weeping Willow Motel on West Main Street, which had been there for 58 years until the town purchased the property in 2009 for $1.25 million to transform the half-acre site into a park. The demolition of the building was delayed until 2011 because asbestos had to be removed, and earlier this year, the opening was delayed further by vandals driving on the grass.

In addition to creating a park with a canoe and kayak launching area, the removal of the motel also had benefits, Mr. Walter said.

“The project has removed a blighting influence in the downtown Riverhead business district and eliminated the significant discharge of wastewater and runoff from the site into the Peconic River,” he said.

Cornell Cooperative Extension provided picnic tables, trash receptacles and signage to the park through its “Creating Healthy Places in Suffolk County” grant awarded by the New York State Department of Health, according to Susan Wilk, Cornell’s  Creating Healthy Places in Suffolk County Coordinator.

The town purchased the property using money from the Community Preservation Fund, which comes from a voter-approved two-percent real estate transfer tax.

The town also received a $500,000 state Environmental Protection Fund grant for the project in 2007.

tgannon@timesreview.com

08/13/13 5:24pm
08/13/2013 5:24 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is currently engaged in a bitter primary battle with Anthony Coates.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio has currently raised more money than primary challenger Anthony Coates.

Republican Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio is far ahead of running mate John Dunleavy and primary challenger Anthony Coates in terms of money raised and money spent in this year’s campaign, according to the latest Board of Elections disclosure reports.

The reports also show that Riverhead Town Democratic Committee has now raised more money than its Republican counterpart as of the latest filing period for this year.

Also, Democratic supervisor candidate Angela DeVito has raised nearly as much money as incumbent Republican Supervisor Sean Walter, despite the fact that Mr. Walter ran a separate campaign for Suffolk County legislator earlier in the year.

The Board of Elections requires all fundraising committees to file campaign disclosure reports in January and July, but also requires candidates involved in a primary or a general election to file additional reports, including a 32-day pre-primary report that was due Friday.

In Riverhead Town, there is a Democratic primary for supervisor between party nominee Angela DeVito and challenger Ann Cotten DeGrasse, as well as a Republican primary for two council seats that pits party nominees Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy against challenger Anthony Coates, who has specifically targeted Ms. Giglio in his campaign.

There’s also a council primary for the Independence party nominations in Riverhead, pitting Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy against Bill Bianchi, a Democratic nominee.

The other Democratic council candidate, Millie Thomas, is not running in the Independence Party primary.

In the Democratic race for supervisor, Ms. DeVito, to date, has raised $21,509 and spent $13,764, with $7,735 left on hand. Her biggest contribution was $1,000 from the Ironworkers Political Action League.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse has raised $6,588 and spent $3,920, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. For the year, she’s raised $8,353 and spent $6,422, and ended the most recent filing period with $3,929 on hand.

Mr. Walter didn’t have to submit a pre-primary report since he’s not involved in a primary, but he has raised a total of $26,452 and spent $19,964 so far this year, with much of that being raised when he was running a special election for county Legislature earlier this year.

The Riverhead Town Democratic Committee had not yet posted a pre-primary report on the state BOE website but, to date, per the July filing, the Democrats had raised a total of $25,686 and spent $15,344 this year. The committee shows a balance of $15,550.

By comparison, the Riverhead Republican Committee had raised $5,950 and spent $7,172 through the July filing and the end balance showed them in debt to the tune of $4,102. The Republicans filed a “no action” notice in the pre-primary report, indicating that they had neither raised nor spent any money since the July filing date.

“I think it’s obvious that people want to change this Town Board this year and are supporting us,” said Riverhead Democratic chair Marge Acevedo.

Neither Mr. Bianchi nor Ms. Thomas have set up campaign fundraising committees yet.

The primary vote date is Sept. 10.

In the Republican race for two town council seat nominations, Ms. Giglio’s latest reports show her raising $14,760 more and spending $12,780 more since the prior reports in July.

Adding up the totals from the January and July filings, she has raised a total of $54,824 and spent $49,317. She started in January with $6,066, giving her a closing balance of $11,571, according to the report.

Ms. Giglio reported $4,542 in unspecified contributions in her latest report. Contributions of less than $100, such as those from people who attend fundraisers with a ticket price under $100, do not have to be listed by name.

Her biggest contributors named in the latest report are Phyllis Chulpsa of Smithtown and Composite Technologies of Calverton, each of which contributed $1,000.

Ms. Giglio’s campaign expenses show payments for fundraising events of $900 and $5,740 to Strategic Maneuvers and $1,500 to Third Rock, both of which have the same address as the Outer Banks Restaurant, which Ms. Giglio’s husband runs at the county’s Indian Island Country Club.

Mr. Dunleavy’s 32-day pre-primary report lists only $2,683 in additional contributions and $6,572 in additional expenses. For the year, including numbers from the prior reports, Mr. Dunleavy has raised $38,613 and spent $25,187. His campaign still has a balance $9,647 on hand.

His biggest contribution in the recent report was $1,000 from Randy Altschuler of St. James, who twice ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Republican line against incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop.

Mr. Dunleavy also received $808 from Rudy Saviano Inc., of Ronkonkoma, which does fundraising auctions.

And Mr. Coates’ latest disclosure report shows only $1,000 more in contributions and $492 more in spending. The entire $1,000 came from Ron DeVito, who is seeking to build an assisted living facility on Mill Road.

Adding up all the reports, Mr. Coates has raised $6,275 and spent $5,336, although he started the year with $2,512, having raised $2,708 at fundraisers in late 2012. He still had $3,449 on hand at the end of the most recent filing period.

Mr. Coates’ expenses showed charges of $61 for “gas for petition travel” and $29 and $11 for “meal for petitioner.” In past reports, he has listed his cell phone costs as a campaign expense.

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/17/13 4:00pm
07/17/2013 4:00 PM
Sean Walter of Riverhead

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Sean Walter (right) says elected officials should not serve on political parties’ executive committees.

Riverhead Town has a law in place prohibiting appointed members of boards such as the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals from serving on political parties’ executive committees.

But Supervisor Sean Walter says he plans to introduce legislation expanding that prohibition to include elected officials as well.

The supervisor unveiled his proposal at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, when board members presented a plaque to Marge Acevedo for her 25 years on the Board of Assessment Review.

Ms. Acevedo stepped down from that board earlier this year after she was named chair of the Riverhead Democratic committee. Mr. Walter said Brookhaven Town already has a law prohibiting elected officials from holding positions on the executive boards of political party committees, such as committee chair or vice chair.

The only current elected official in Riverhead who would be affected by the proposal is assessor Mason Haas, who is vice chair of the town Republican committee and is expected to take over as chairman later this year.

Mr. Walter, also a Republican, said he plans to discuss his proposal with the Town Board at Thursday’s work session.

tgannon@timesreview.com

06/13/13 8:00am
06/13/2013 8:00 AM
GOOGLE MAPS | The land Suffolk County is looking to preserve is on the west side of Park Road and fronts Sound Avenue.

GOOGLE MAPS | The land Suffolk County is looking to preserve is on the west side of Park Road and fronts Sound Avenue, just south of the Reeves Park neighborhood.

Riverhead Town should not dare to scuttle Suffolk County’s plans to purchase 15 acres of farmland along Sound Avenue for preservation.

The property stretches north into the Reeves Park neighborhood, and Reeves Park residents — as well as others across the North Fork and all Suffolk County — have made it clear that developing the state-designated rural corridor is not in the best interest of the neighbors, or the region as a whole.

Yet town council members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen have said they don’t want the town to contribute the $75,000 that would allow the joint purchase to move forward. They argue the town shouldn’t be taking developable land off tax rolls and that Riverhead’s preservation funds are dwindling. But last we checked, housing developments weren’t exactly money-makers. And $75,000 for 15 acres is an excellent deal that won’t break the bank.

The two council members have the power to block the move. Supervisor Sean Walter has recused himself from a vote because he used to represent property owner Ed Broidy as a lawyer. If Ms. Giglio and Mr. Gabrielsen do kill the measure, they would not be acting as fiscal conservatives, as they might believe. They would instead be acting penny wise and pound foolish, as Councilman James Wooten has said.

Too much money and effort have been invested over decades into preserving Sound Avenue as a treasure for all Long Islanders, starting in earnest with the two-lane highway’s designation by the state as a historic rural corridor. There have been years of litigation between the town and Mr. Broidy since the town’s master plan rezoned the land (and other parcels on Sound Avenue). In the meantime, former county legislator Ed Romaine lobbied hard to get support for Suffolk County’s purchase of the Broidy property, with area civic leaders and other residents showing up in Hauppauge to support preservation efforts. This newspaper took the unusual step of running an opinion-based photo spread of rural Sound Avenue on its cover, urging the county to act to protect the corridor. Residents later displayed those photos to county lawmakers in Hauppauge to help win support for the cause.

Throw into the mix developer Kenn Barra, who has recently sold a 4.1-acre property on the east side of Park Road, also fronting Sound Avenue, to the county for parkland. That done, one might have thought preservation of the Broidy land was also nearing the finish line.

But now it seems the deal might be dead — and over a measly $75,000?

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski should step in and pressure Ms. Giglio and Mr. Gabrielsen to vote with their constituents. There may be no better example in this town of open space that should be preserved. It’s been 10 years since Mr. Broidy proposed a 22,000-square-foot shopping center for the site, causing great dismay among preservationists and everyday citizens. It’s now time to put this all behind us.

06/12/13 1:25pm
06/12/2013 1:25 PM
EPCAl in Riverhead, FAA

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A view of the EPCAL site from the sky.

With just a week left in the current New York State legislative session, an agreement appears to be have been reached on Riverhead Town’s efforts to get state support for a plan that would fast-track development proposals at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, according to Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter.

One major change in the proposed legislation would eliminate the creation of a commission comprising town, county and state representatives to review applications. Instead, the entire process would be left up to the Riverhead Town Board, Mr. Walter said.

The proposed state legislation still needs to be approved by the local government committees in both the state Senate and Assembly, then it needs to be approved by the full membership of both houses.

The Town Board also needs to approve a home rule message, which is scheduled for a vote at a special meeting on Thursday, Mr. Walter said. A home rule message means a locally affected government supports proposed state legislation.

The state Legislature’s current session is scheduled to end next Thursday, June 20, officials said.

“I’m shocked and amazed,” Mr. Walter, who has helped lobby in Albany for EPCAL legislation, said of the news Wednesday evening. “I’m so happy.”

He said he got word of the deal about 6 p.m. Tuesday, noting that numerous changes had been made to the proposed bill in the past two weeks.

The state Senate approved an EPCAL bill last year, but the Assembly never voted it out of committee.

Mr. Walter said the chairman of the Assembly’s committee on local government, Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) supports the current version of the bill.

The bill’s wording now requires the town to create an overall zoning plan for EPCAL; then, any development applications for the industrial park that conform to that plan would be approved within 90 days. After an application reaches the town, town officials would have 10 days to forward it to agencies that might be involved in the review process, Mr. Walter said.

Drew Biondo, an aide to state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, said the overall plan governing development at EPCAL would be crafted and approved jointly by town, state and county agencies. After the plan is agreed to, subsequent development applications that conform to it would be fast-tracked, under the proposal.

Normally, each individual application would need approvals from state, county and town agencies.

The town would still need to complete its environmental study, subdivision map and revised zoning at EPCAL before the proposed bill could take effect, the supervisor said. That’s all expected to take about a year to complete, he said.

Should the EPCAL bill take effect, Mr. Walter believes the town will need to hire a consultant to run the program.

“There’s no way the town staff can handle large applications in 90 days,” Mr. Walter said.

He hopes to visit upstate Genesee County, which has a successful economic development office that deals largely in marketing and obtaining grants.

tgannon@timesreview.com

05/24/13 8:00am
05/24/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Fresh Pond Landing Beach east from Edwards Avenue in Baiting Hollow last week.

People will be swimming at their own risk at Riverhead Town’s three Long Island Sound beaches until the end of June, according to recreation department superintendent Ray Coyne, who said the move is being done in part because of Hurricane Sandy damage, and to save money.

“Those beaches are not ready for swimming,” he said, though he said the beaches have improved in recent months compared to the condition they were in after Sandy.

 

The South Jamesport bay beach will have lifeguards on weekends starting Memorial Day, and swimming will be permitted there, he said. But Long Island Sound beaches at Iron Pier, Wading River and Reeves Park will not have lifeguards until June 24.

All four beaches will have attendants on weekends after Memorial Day, and town parking stickers will be required, Mr. Coyne said. People can go to the Sound beaches, but those who swim there without a lifeguard do so at their own risk, he said.

At Iron Pier, the town is replacing a sidewalk that was destroyed during Sandy, said Supervisor Sean Walter. That work is being paid for with Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, he said.

[Editorial: Town shouldn't scapegoat Sandy just to save a buck]

The supervisor said he supports the decision not to post lifeguards at Sound beaches until June 24.

As for the condition of Iron Pier beach, Mr. Coyne said, “We just needed to clean it, because there was a lot of debris that had washed ashore during the storm. We lost some of the beach, but I’d say we’re in fairly good shape at Iron Pier.”

In Wading River, Mr. Walter said the town dredged Wading River Creek over the winter and got permission from the state to deposit the dredged sand on the beach in front of the homes between the creek’s eastern jetty and the town beach. That sand was pushed up against what used to be the dune, he said, and helped cover up a lot bulkheads and cesspools that were exposed following Sandy.

As for the town beach there, “I don’t think we lost a lot of beach at Wading River,” Mr. Coyne said. “We are in pretty good shape over there.”

The town doesn’t operate Hulse Landing as a bathing beach with lifeguards, but people need parking stickers to park there, and the town also has a boat ramp there, Mr. Coyne said.

That beach has rebounded nicely since the storm, Mr. Walter said.

“It’s just a slightly different landscape this year at the beaches,” Mr. Walter said. “Overall, I don’t think it will be anything insurmountable.”

After June 24, all four beaches will be open — with lifeguards — seven days a week. Last year, the town opened all four beaches on weekends only after Memorial Day with lifeguards and attendants, switching them all to seven days a week at the end of June, Mr. Coyne said.

“It’s a combination of things,” Mr. Coyne said in explaining the staffing changes. “Because of Hurricane Sandy and the damage done on the Long Island Sound beaches, we wanted a little more time to clean them up. And in the case of Reeves Beach, we wanted more time for the beach to come back.”

The other reason, he said, is that studies his department has done show that not many people swim at this time of year, so the department can save money by not hiring the lifeguards.

“If people want to swim in June, they can still go to South Jamesport,” Mr. Coyne said.

Of the four town beaches, South Jamesport made out the best after the hurricane.

“South Jamesport was barely touched,” Mr. Coyne said. The bathroom was flooded by the stormwater, but the beach itself had no problems.

Reeves Park Beach fared the worst of the four.

“As of a few months ago, there was no [Reeves] beach, but it’s slowly coming back,” Mr. Coyne said. “So we’re not going to open it for swimming until the end of June, and we’re hoping there will be enough beach there to put a lifeguard stand.

“If we have to move the lifeguard stand at high tide, then we will not have it open. But I’m confident we will.”

At one point, Mr. Coyne said, the water at Reeves Park came all the way up to the staircase leading down to the beach at high tide, but the beach has been growing in the past six to eight weeks.

“If you had asked me two months ago, I would say we’re not opening it,” Mr. Coyne said.

Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association in Reeves Park, had warned town officials earlier this year about the poor condition of Reeves Beach, but he said Tuesday that it has recovered since then.

Mr. Biegler said the decision not to post lifeguards at Sound beaches before June 24 could be a liability issue if someone has an accident or drowns at a beach without a lifeguard.

“It’s Memorial Day weekend, everyone is thinking beaches, and to not have lifeguards on duty raises a concern,” he said. “But I’ll leave it up to their judgment.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

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

05/11/13 12:00pm
TIM KELLY PHOTO | Sean Walter 'surrenders' to Al Krupski at the Dark Horse on election night Tuesday.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter conceding the special county legislative election to Al Krupski (left) in January.

If the Republican Party puts up a challenger to County Legislator Al Krupski in November, chances are that person won’t live on the North Fork.

With the county GOP’s nominating convention only days away, the party’s Riverhead and Southold town leaders say they know of no one willing to stand against the popular Democrat, who in January handily beat Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter to fill the seat left vacant when Ed Romaine was elected Brookhaven town supervisor.

Mr. Krupski’s victory, 6,561 votes to 3,182, a margin of 67 percent to Mr. Walter’s 33 percent, prompted the supervisor in conceding to say, “You stomped me bad.” Prior to the vote, GOP leaders said they needed a candidate with significant name recognition, such as an elected official, to run a competitive campaign against Mr. Krupski, who had served in town government for 28 years.

In advance of the party’s May 14 county nominating convention, Republican leaders were scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider potential candidates for the legislative contests and the State Assembly seat left vacant when Dan Losquadro won a special election in March for the Brookhaven highway superintendent’s post.

Regarding the upcoming Krupski race, Brookhaven GOP leader Jesse Garcia deferred to Suffolk GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle, who said his party does not want to forgo the challenge.

“We do have a couple of people looking at it and we’re in discussions with them right now,” Mr. LaValle said on Monday. “We have to run a candidate. I feel pretty strong about that.”

Southold GOP leader Peter McGreevy said no thought was given to cross-endorsing Mr. Krupski, who ran with Republican support in one of his Town Trustee elections.

Suffolk Democrats will hold their convention on Monday, May 20.

Both parties have interviewed numerous potential candidates for the 2nd Assembly District seat, left vacant by Mr. Losquadro. The district covers Riverhead, Southold and a large section of northeastern Brookhaven.

Democrats under consideration include Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue and Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, who ran unsuccessfully against State Senator Ken LaValle in 2010.

The list of potential GOP candidates includes Southold Councilman Chris Talbot and former Romaine aide Bill Faulk of Manorville.

tkelly@timesreview.com