02/21/12 7:00am
02/21/2012 7:00 AM

Thirty years ago this week the issue of Assembly redistricting was as big as it is today.

Excerpts from News-Review issues published between 30 and 100 years ago this week:

30 years ago …

Democratic plan would split Assembly district

“They’re trying to break up Peconic County.” That was the reaction in February 1982 from East End Assemblyman John Behan over a Democratic reapportionment plan to split the North and South Forks in the New York State Assembly.

East End Republicans were instead proposing that all five towns stay together in one Assembly district, but change the boundaries in Brookhaven Town to meet the criteria for number of residents.

“We might have found the real culprits who are behind the demise of Peconic County,” Mr. Behan (R-Montauk) said of the Democrats. “[They're] greatly diminishing the East End’s voice — and that’s what it’s all about.”

“The North Fork district would begin in Southold, take in Riverhead and go deep into Brookhaven and look like a hatchet,” he continued. The majority of residents in the North Fork district would be from Brookhaven, he said.

“We have a homogenous grouping with both forks,” he added. “Why split them up?”

Postscript: The district was split up that year and now a new proposal to join them again is on the table. We recently asked Mr. Behan about the current plan and 30 years later he’s done a complete 180. “To me, it’s like going backward to 1979,” he told us this month.

Bottle bill faces delay or defeat in final battle

Just weeks away from Suffolk’s bottle bill — which requires a five sent deposit on all cans of beer and soft drinks sold here — going into effect, lobbyists and lawmakers opposed to the bill were on the offensive, we reported in the Feb. 18, 1982 issue of the Suffolk Times.

County Executive Peter Cohalan was a fan of the bill, calling it a breakthrough for our “throw-away society.”

But Legislator Rose Caracappa said she took a trip to Connecticut to see how “the bill really works.”

She said most Connecticut residents said they didn’t bother to recycle their cans and bottles.

Postscript: The bottle bill later became state law. A push has been made in Albany for more than a decade to expand to a “bigger, better bottle bill.” A bill introduced last year includes fruit juices, ice tea beverages, milk, wine and liquor.

50 years ago …

LI Road and Rail Service to begin next Monday

The Long Island Railroad opened the 69-mile Huntington to Greenport line on Feb. 19, 1962, we reported in that week’s paper.

“At 6:15 a.m. on Monday, a shiny new air-conditioned, radio equipped bus, bearing the railroad’s name and carrying a pretty hostess, will leave Greenport and head west along Route 25, kicking off a coordinated rail-bus operation that will triple passenger service through the mid-island and North Fork areas,” we wrote.

“There will be six daily round trips through Huntington and Riverhead,” we continued. “Three of these will carry on to Greenport. Each will connect with a train in Huntington to or from New York.”

75 years ago …

Will talk ferries

A luncheon was held in the Gold Room of the Henry Perkins Hotel in Riverhead 75 years ago this week to discuss how Long Island Sound ferry operators can work with railroad and bus companies to encourage transporting people across Long Island for the 1939 World’s Fair, we wrote in the Feb. 12, 1937 paper.

“If people coming from the west and New England can be landed on the Island at Orient Point or Port Jefferson, more of them will see Suffolk County than if they came by car through the city,” we wrote.

100 years ago …

Calverton store destroyed in fire

“People here sympathize with H.W. Steighler in the loss of his store by fire early Saturday morning,” we wrote in the Feb. 16, 1912 paper. “The blaze was not discovered until too late to save anything, and the men summoned turned their attention to saving the surrounding property. It is said the damage is about $4,000 partially covered by insurance with John Bagshow, Riverhead.”


02/14/12 7:00am
02/14/2012 7:00 AM

The cover photo from the Feb. 13, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Excerpts from Riverhead News-Review stories published between five and 30 years ago this week:

15 years ago …

 A seven-second heartbreaker: Cheerleaders lose L.I. Championship on a technicality

For three minutes on Feb. 9, 1997, Riverhead was the best small varsity cheerleading team on Long Island, sports editor Bob Liepa wrote in that week’s News-Review cover story. For three magical minutes, the Blue Waves appeared to have a lock on a second straight Long Island Coaches Association Championship title. And they would have been the first to win the championship twice — if not for seven agonizing seconds.

Performing before a jubilant home crown in the Riverhead High School gym, Riverhead turned in a near-perfect performance only to see its championship foiled by a technicality.

Each team was allowed a maximum of three minutes to dance, but Riverhead’s routine lasted three minutes, seven seconds. As a result, the Blue Waves had to settle for third place.”We had it,” said coach Susan Ries. “They nailed it. They did everything they could to win the competition.”

Postscript: Riverhead would go on to win the title in each of the next five seasons, according to a Feb. 14, 2002 News-Review story.

30 years ago …

Survey: Court move from Riverhead would hurt

A town survey of Riverhead law firms, title and insurance companies, downtown businesses and government offices showed that up to 10 percent of Riverhead jobs would be lost if the county’s criminal and civil courts moved out of Riverhead, we reported in the Feb. 11, 1982 issue of the News-Review.

The study was organized by Riverhead Councilman Lou Boschetti after an announcement that County Executive Peter Cohalan wanted the county to look into the possibility of centralizing all county court locations to Hauppauge, though Mr. Cohalan said he was against moving the courts out of Riverhead.

Mr. Boschetti said the study found 490 jobs would be lost.

“That’s about 10 percent of the workforce her,” he said. “Unemployment is already a problem at 9 percent, that would raise it to 19 percent.”

25 years ago …

Caldor: We’re staying!

The rumor mill was grinding that the Riverhead Caldor store was going to close, we reported in the Feb. 12, 1987 issue of the News-Review.

“No, it’s not,” said Caldor senior vice president Al Buczka. “You have my word.”

The speculation grew out of Caldor promotions claiming “The Biggest Sale in our History!” and “Prices Slashed in All Departments,” we wrote.

The marketing directives came from parent company Mays, Mr. Buczka told us. the company’s $10 billion in assets made it the largest chain of retail stores in America, he said.

Postscript: Caldor’s lease in Riverhead was taken over by Walmart in 1999, according to The New York Times. Remember how everyone’s mom always called it Caldors, adding the ‘s’ for no apparent reason.

10 years ago …

Building still booming

Riverhead Town issued 217 building permits in 2002, after seeing 200 homes go up in the previous three years, Tim Gannon reported in the Feb. 14, 2002 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

It was close to a record of 258 residential building permits issued in 1998, we reported.

5 years ago …

Indoor ski slope proposed, but are these guys for real?

Indoor skiing at the tallest building in Suffolk County and the first “snow dome” in the United States was proposed for 755 acres at the Calverton Enterprise Park, we reported in the Feb. 15, 2007 issue of the News-Review.

The $750 million project would include a 425-foot indoor ski slope, an indoor water park, a 500-room hotel, a convention center and a sports academy centering on 28 different sports, we wrote.

Postscript: Five years later, the answer to our headline is “no.”


01/31/12 7:00am
01/31/2012 7:00 AM

The following stories were excerpted from Riverhead News-Review issues published 15, 20 and 30 and 100 years ago this week:

20 years ago …

Wading River man arrested after body found under garage

A woman’s guilty conscience reportedly led police to the grisly discovery of a dead body entombed under the cement garage floor of a Wading River home on Jan. 25, 1992, we reported in that week’s issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

And for five years, the man who was arrested, 42-year-old Roert Henry, continued to live in the very house that concealed the evidence of his alleged crime, we wrote.

Riverhead police said they received an anonymous call from a woman who said she watched Mr. Henry shoot Laurence Marrs during an argument on Christmas Eve 1986. After four hours of cutting through the floor and several iron posts that had apparently been used to reinforce the concrete, police found the body of Mr. Marrs, who died from a shotgun wound to the head.

A prosecutor said the fact that Mr. Henry had continued to live in the house for five years after the murder showed a “hardness of spirit and a singleness of purpose.”

The anonymous woman said she declined to come forward about the crime for so long because Mr. Henry had threatened to kill her.

Postscript: Mr. Henry served three years in prison on manslaughter charges, state records show. He was paroled in 1996.

Redistricting plan would merge forks

The North and South Forks would be merged into one State Assembly district instead of two under the new redistricting plan proposed by the Legislative Task Force on Demographic research and Reapportionment, we reported in the Jan. 30, 1992 issue of The Riverhead News-Review.

Assemblyman Joe Sawicki said that week he was against the plan.

“There’s no reason to combine the two of us other than politics,” he said. “The East End deserves nothing less than two representatives.”

Postscript: A similar proposal was announced last week. In 1992, Assembly districts were supposed to have about 120,000 residents. Today that number is over 129,000.

15 years ago …

Fast food cooking on 25A in Wading River?

Is McDonald’s coming to Wading River? That was the lead of one page 3 story in the Jan. 30, 1997 issue of the News-Review.

Postscript: Yes.

Multiplex on Main Street

A multiplex in the Rimland building? That was the lead of another page 3 story in the Jan. 30, 1997 issue of the News-Review.

Postscript: No.

30 years ago …

Flanders residents hit school board for tax relief

A boisterous overflow crowd of about 100 Riverhead School District residents this week presented the Board of Education with a stinging message to control tax increases, we reported in the Jan. 28, 1982 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

The residents were there to express concern over a 17.5 percent tax rate increase for district residents living in Southampton Town. Riverhead Town residents faced just a 2 percent increase in their tax rate.

“We are asking the board to consider our plight,” said Flanders resident Angela Serini. “We are asking that you make a conscientious effort in these critical times of economic depression to bring us a budget that we can approve.”

Postscript: Similar concerns exist today, with no clear path of resolution ahead.

100 years ago …

Papers were served Jan. 26, 1912 on 21 South Jamesport scallopers arrested for catching bug scallops, we reported in that week’s County Review.

They were to be sued in civil proceedings in the Supreme Court to recover a $60 penalty each, we reported.


01/23/12 3:49pm
01/23/2012 3:49 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Shane Daniels on the cover of the Jan. 23, 1997 Riverhead News-Review.

The following were excerpted from Riverhead News-Review issues published between five and 30 years ago this week:

15 years ago …

Shane Daniels has head surgery

Most of what Shane Daniels thinks about these days is “getting better,” and a large portion of the the 21-year-old Riverhead man’s time is spent pursuing that goal, we wrote in the Jan. 23, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Mr. Daniels had been severely beaten with a metal club by two men, including an off-duty New York City Police Officer, outside a Westhampton Beach night club just eight months earlier. The week our followup story about his health was published his family was honored at First Baptist Church’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast.

The week prior to the breakfast, Mr. Daniels had a metal plate installed in the back of his head to cover a hole left there by the assault, we wrote. He told us at the time he still had no recollection of the attack.

“I feel like a whole segment of my life is missing,” he said.

Postscript: Mr. Daniels, now 36, works as a security guard at the county center. His attackers both served time in prison, but have since been released.

Megan’s Law list makes debut

Seven men convicted of sex crimes are living on the North Fork, according to the recently released New York State Registry of sex offenders, we wrote in the Jan. 23, 1997 issue of the News-Review.

There were five level 2 and 3 sex offenders in Riverhead and two in Southold, police officials confirmed to us then.

“Megan’s Law is a good thing in my book and a long time coming,” said Riverhead Det. Sgt. David Cheshire.

Postscript: A search of the Parents for Megan’s Law website now shows more than 100 level 2 and 3 sex offenders living in Riverhead Town zip codes, though the vast majority reside at the county jail in Riverside.

25 years ago …

Kidnap victim is found safe in trunk

Suffolk Police found a Riverhead man in the trunk of his own car after he was kidnapped January 18, 1987, according to a story in that week’s Riverhead News-Review.

Melvin Anderson, 51 at the time, gave his abductors, two men who were waiting near the Riverhead LIRR station, $21 in cash before they drove him to an area elementary school.

The men then decided they couldn’t let him free since he might tell the police, we reported. So they forced him to get into his trunk.

“After they put me in the trunk I figured they weren’t done with me,” he told us. “I was just praying to God I’d get out.”

He remained in the trunk for more than two hours before the abductors abandoned the car after realizing police were on to them. Two cops on a drug stake out — all the way in North Amityville — spotted the two men turn the headlights off on the car while driving.

After he heard police, Mr. Robinson began banging on the trunk to alert them.

Police told the News-Review days later: “We haven’t the slightest idea who was involved.”

30 years ago …

Bike ordinance adopted

An ordinance governing the use of bicycles in Riverhead Town was adopted by the Town Board on Jan. 19, 1982. A major feature of the law banned the riding of bicycles on downtown sidewalks.

Another feature of the law requires all bike riders to keep both hands on the handlebars at all times, except for when making a hand signal.

Passengers are forbidden from riding on bikes not equipped with passenger seats, we wrote.

Bicyclists caught violating the law are subject to impoundment and must provide an affidavit of ownership to recover their bikes.

Postscript: The law remains in effect today. Whether or not it’s ever been enforced, we can’t say.

It’s a busy time for area oil dealers

Want to take a guess how much home heating oil cost on this date in 1982? According to a report in the Jan. 21, 1982 issue of the Riverhead News-Review local companies were charging about $1.24 per gallon, up from $1.15 the year before.

20 years ago …

Cuomo budget means good news and bad news

The good news: Governor Mario Cuomo’s proposed 1992-93 state budget released Jan. 20, 1992 provided $1 million in landfill-closure assistance to municipalities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, we reported.

The bad news: The proposal called for aid cuts of $73 million for Long Island schools. Most North Fork districts lost 20 percent in state aid, we reported. Riverhead was actually the only area district to receive an increase, receiving $19,000 more in aid over the previous year.

Postscript: Twenty years later, his governor son took a different approach, securing an increase in aid to most local districts.

5 years ago …

After 17 years, Madelyn to retire

Madelyn Sendlewski, a much-loved, gregarious figure, who has served Riverhead town for nearly 17 years as an assessor will leave her elected position at the end of the month, we reported in the Jan. 25, 2007 issue of The Suffolk Times.

A kidney transplant recipient, she said she stepped down due to the impact her health had on how she did her job.

“It’s been an honor winning four elections, and I can leave knowing that I served with honesty, dignity and a true concern for taxpayers,” she said.

Postscript: Ms. Sendlewski passed away in October 2008.



01/09/12 8:30am
01/09/2012 8:30 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Few sights on the East End are as identifiable as the statue outside Riverhead Raceway.

The following stories were excerpted from News-Review issues published 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years ago this week:

30 years ago …

Raceway sold, new owners plan improvements

Riverhead Raceway will become a cornucopia of family-oriented events under plans now being considered by its new owners Barbara and Jim Cromarty, we wrote in the Jan. 7, 1982 issue of the News-Review.

The new owners said they were looking to host Oktoberfests, ethnic festivals and family concerts on the 30-acre site.

“When we get through with it it will look like a totally new facility,” Ms. Cromarty said.

Said Mr. Cromarty: “We hope to make the raceway one of the biggest outdoor entertainment facilities on the East End.”

Postscript: Thirty years later, the Cromartys still own Long Island’s only raceway. While all the goals mentioned in the 1982 story might not have come to fruition, no one can argue that the Raceway, an iconic North Fork location, hasn’t long been a major outdoor recreational destination.

Janoski takes control with GOP majority

Republicans were in full control at a Riverhead Town Board meeting Jan. 5, 1982 for only the second time in a decade, we reported in that week’s issue of The Riverhead News-Review.

Lone Democrat John Lombardi and citizens in the audience offered verbal opposition to several moves the GOP made at its reorganizational meeting.

The resolution that received the most scrutiny was a move to appoint Richard Larsen of Wading River, a co-leader of the town’s Republican Party, to replace Democrat Robert Donnelly on the Planning Board.

25 years ago …

Blass shatters Glass in race for presiding officer

William Lindsay has been the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature and East End Legislator Ed Romaine has been in the minority for so long now it’s hard to remember a time when the North Fork representative was also the PO.

But 25 years ago that was the case … and it was unexpected.

Considered a maverick Republican, East End Legislator Gregory Blass of Jamesport was not expected to retain his role as Presiding Officer of the Legislature when the 1987 reorganizational meeting was held. GOP leaders made a play at instead having Gerard Glass of Lindenhurst take over the post.

When role was called, however, Blass managed to get 10 votes to Glass’ eight.

“Everyone here, I’m sure, will understand if I suddenly find myself identifying with the biblical miracle of Lazarus,” Mr. Blass said at the meeting. “Indeed, a resurrection has taken place.”

Postscript: Mr. Blass is now the commissioner of Social Services for Suffolk County.

20 years ago …

Hunting: Too close for comfort

One week after a Wading River woman was injured by a stray shotgun shell that entered her home, the Wading River Civic Association was calling on tighter regulation hunters in the second week of January 1992.

The group was asking Riverhead Town and the state DEC to post no hunting signs on certain parcels as a precautionary measure against illegal hunting.

“I’m sure most hunters are responsible,” said then-Wading River Civic Association president Sid Bail. “But, boy, there are some people I don’t like to see with a gun in their hands.”

15 years ago …

Development rights bank gets its first deposit

The first-ever sale of Pine Barrens development rights credits took place Jan. 8, 1997, according to the News-Review issue published the following day.

Olin Warner of Warner Duck Farms in Calverton was the seller.

The Pine Barrens Commission approved Mr. Warner’s application to redeem 48 development rights credits from his 30-acre property on River Road for $480,000.

At the time, the state’s land bank had $5 million earmarked for development rights purchased but not a single taker.

Postscript: The county purchased Mr. Warner’s property for preservation in 2009.

AMP Circuits to close

Some 450 jobs will be lost to the Riverhead area as one of the town’s biggest employers and taxpayers announced it is closing its Aquebogue facility, we wrote in the Jan. 9, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

AMP Circuits ran a 24-hour operation on West lane, where employees manufactured electronic circuit boards.

The news came as a particularly jarring surprise since the company had only recently added 100 jobs at the facility.

10 years ago …

100 wins and still counting

The Riverhead boys basketball team posted a 47-42 win over East Islip on Jan. 3, 2002 to notch head coach Jerry Wiesmann his 100th career victory.

“You don’t think about these things when you’re coaching,” he said after the game. “You’re concerned about your kids and clean uniforms and who’s going to class and who’s healthy.”

WRIV play-by-play announcer Pat Kelly, who broadcast all of Wiesmann’s first 100 wins presented him with a ball that was signed 100-51, the coach’s career record at the time.

Postscript: Wiesmann was replaced as Riverhead coach against his will in 2006. He finished his career with a 147-73 record.

Restaurateur Cliff Saunders Jr. dies at 74

Longtime North Fork restaurateur Cliff Saunders Jr. of Laurel died Jan. 3, 2002, we reported the following week. He was 74.

Mr. Saunders was the owner of several popular eateries, including the Rendezvous and the Elbow Room.

He purchased the Elbow Room property in Jamesport in 1958 after trying a variety of careers as a gas station owner, an ad salesman and a butcher. He also owned Jamesport Travel Agency for more than 25 years.

Postscript: His restaurants remain, in my opinion, the best place to get a steak on the North Fork.

 5 years ago …

Town dumps ZBA’s Keller; Rose Sanders named to seat

Former Councilwoman Rose Sanders was back in the public eye last week as a split Town Board appointed her to a seat on the Zoning Board of Appeals, replacing 20-year member Martin Kellr, read the lead of the Page 3 story in the Jan. 11, 2007 issue of the News-Review.

She was appointed with the support of Councilwoman Barbara Blass, who cast the swing vote after earlier that night voting against a measure to appoint civic activist Larry Williams to the post.

Mr. Keller said he first heard he might be replaced two days before the vote.

“It’s unfortunate what happened,” Mr. Keller said. “It just goes to show what type of government we have. It’s a shame.”

Postscript: The shoe was on the other foot when Ms. Sanders was voted off the ZBA last week.


01/02/12 4:37pm
01/02/2012 4:37 PM

FILE PHOTO | This photo ran on the Jan. 7, 1982 edition of the News-Review. Several speakers addressed the crowd at the Polish Town Civic Association about citizens in Poland living under martial law.

The following stories were excerpted from News-Review issues published 10, 15 and 30 years ago this week:

30 years ago …

Polish Town rallies against martial law

About 300 area residents braved the chilly drizzle on Dec. 27, 1981 to march in support of those living under martial law in Poland in an event sponsored by the Polish Town Civic Association, we reported in the following week’s News-Review.

Polish buglers sounded the Hejnal at the event, which for centuries has served as a reveille for the Polish Army and also as the warning signal for an impending attack.

Three polish emigrants, including a state senator from Brooklyn and the pastor at St. Isidore’s R.C. Church, spoke at the event. The three men sounded a common theme, we reported: that the support of the American people and government are essential efforts to free Poland from Soviet domination.

The event organizer, Irene Pendzick, told the crowd: “You may be standing here cold, but the people in Poland are colder. You may be hungry until you get home, but the people in Poland go home to no food.”

Postscript: The period of martial law in Poland ended 18 months later in July 1983.

15 years ago …

Who killed Susan Myer? Body found in Baiting Hollow

Police were hunting for the killer of a 49-year-old Riverhead woman, whose body was discovered on a Baiting Hollow roadside Dec. 23, 1996, we reported in the following week’s issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Susan Myer was last seen getting in a vehicle at the Riverhead Motel, where she had been living with her husband for several months.

The murder brought the number of killings in Riverhead in 1996 to four. That January, the body of 52-year-old William Lightner was found inside Danny’s Den on Railroad Avenue. The body of Riverhead High School student Curtisha Morning, 17, was found in a wooded area behind the school that March. James Riddick, 23, was killed in the Greens that August in what cops said was a drug-related murder.

Postscript: Fifteen years later, the Myer and Lightner murders remain unsolved.

Forbes calls for Speaker switch

Congressman Mike Forbes, who during his first term was one of Newt Gingrich’s most steadfast supporters, this week became the first to suggest that pending ethics charges have so seriously eroded the speaker’s standing that he should step down, we wrote in the Jan. 2, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

“We need leadership that will not be cowering, contrite or hiding from the media,” Mr. Forbes, a Republican from Quogue, told The New York Times that week.

Postscript: Mr. Gingrich, as I’m sure you know, will get a good feel for his chance to be the next president of The United States in the Iowa caucus Tuesday. Mr. Forbes, meanwhile, lost a Democratic primary in 2000 after a party switch, ending his three-term run in Congress.

Riverhead orthodontist wrote country music hit

Richard Bach may be America’s only orthodontist/country and western songwriter, we wrote in a 1997 profile on the Osborne Avenue doctor.

Dr. Bach wrote the song “She’s Taken a Shine,” a single performed by singer John Berry that had risen to as high as No. 41 on the Billboard country charts at the time of our story.

“I like having two separate lives,” he told us. “I can play golf with a country star like Marty Rowe [from Dimaond Rio] on Sunday and work on my 12-year-old patients on Monday.”

Postscript: The song would eventually reach No. 2 on the charts, but never did take the top spot. Dr. Bach still maintains his practice in Riverhead.

10 years ago …

Gunshot injures school worker

A Riverhead school employee was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital Jan. 2, 2002 after he accidentally shot himself  on school grounds, we reported in that week’s issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Shawn Cahill, a district janitor, was cleaning his gun in the boiler room of the middle school when it accidentally went off and injured him in the chest.

Mr. Cahill had a license to own the gun, we reported, but police were investigating why he had it with him on school grounds.

12/19/11 3:57pm
12/19/2011 3:57 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | We ran this picture a little more than a year ago with a headline a headline that read "Suffolk Theatre owner hopes to open next year."

The following stories were excerpted from News-Review issues published 5, 10, 15, and 25 years ago this week:

15 years ago …

Suffolk Theatre to open by fall

Interior restoration of the Suffolk Theatre is scheduled to begin in January and the Art-Deco movie house is expected to reopen within 7 1/2 months, we reported in the Dec. 19, 1996 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Those were the terms the Riverhead Town Board agreed to the previous Thursday with the New York City firm Van Nostrand Vascotto Associates.

In agreeing to pay Van Nostrand Vascotto $109,000 to act as the project’s construction manager, board members called for bids for all renovations and stage extension. All work is expected to be complete by fall 1997, we wrote.

According to our story, exterior renovations were completed on the $2.1 million project in 1995, and $800,000 was approved for the interior work in the spring of 1996.

“We’re going to have the biggest screen in Suffolk County and a state-of-the-art sound system designed by [Star Wars creator] George Lucas,” said then-Councilman Vic Prusinowski.

Regal Theatres, a firm proposing an 18-screen multiplex for Route 58, had volunteered to screen first-run films at Suffolk Theatre, we wrote.

Postscript: Keep reading, it gets better.

10 years ago …

Theater sale stopped

In his final meeting as a councilman, Phil Cardinale floated a bill to sell the Suffolk Theatre at an auction, we reported in the Dec. 20, 2001 News-Review.

Mr. Cardinale, who had lost his bid for reelection a month earlier, proposed selling the Suffolk Theatre at an “absolute auction” saying that the theater “continues to stand vacant, unused, removed from the tax rolls and in visibly deteriorating condition.”

The Town Board acquired the 70-year-old theater in 1994 for $400,000 and had spent $800,000 to renovate as of the publishing of our 2001 article. The theater was last opened for a movie screening in 1987.

The other four Town Board members voted against the auction since it would be “absolute,” meaning it would be sold to the highest bidder with no Town Board control over use, so long as it fit the existing zoning.

“Phil’s heart is in the right place trying to get this back on the tax rolls, but I can’t agree with an absolute auction,” said Councilman Ed Densieski.

Postscript: Nearly 25 years since the theater last screened a movie, current owner Bob Castaldi, who purchased the theater from the town for $700,000 in 2005, says the renovation is close to complete. A new lighted marquee was illuminated for the first time this fall.

World Trade Center victim’s body found

The waiting is over for the Washington family of Calverton, but the grieving begins anew, we wrote 10 years ago this week.

Keisha Washington returned home from Christmas shopping Dec. 18 when two Suffolk County homicide detectives knocked on her door to tell her the body of her husband was found at Ground Zero, more than three months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Washington worked at the World Trade Center.

“Now it’s like reliving it, which we knew we had to do,” Ms. Washington said.

Postscript: On the 10th anniversary of the attacks this past September, we updated the story of the Washington family.

Making Grangebel grand

Construction work began 10 years ago this week on repairing a bulkhead at Grangebel Park in Riverhead, “a riverfront attraction town officials and business owners view as an important part of the revitalization of the downtown area,” we reported.

The work involved replacing three footbridges and 800 linear feet of bulkheading, a $207,000 job financed with help from a $100,000 state parks grant.

Then-BID president Tim Yousik said a fully restored Grangebel Park could help bring people downtown, we wrote.

“People used to come out from all over Long Island just to look at it,” he said. “That park was fantastic. It should be that again, and this is a good start.”

Postscript: Nine years later, almost to the day, a renovated Grangebel Park reopened.

25 years ago …

Urban sprawl moves east to Wading River

Wading River is at a crossroads, we wrote in the page 4 story of the Dec. 25, 1986 issue of the Riverhead News-Review. Still marked by expanses of open space, the area is quickly being developed. With nearby Brookhaven Town serving as a reminder of what it could be, Riverhead Town officials and concerned residents now face the difficult task of adapting to and controlling the rapid growth.

At the time, we reported that more than 600 acres were slated for residential development, with more than 400 single-family homes slated for the area. This, in addition to four shopping centers slated for development in the area.

“For the last three years nothing much was happening and all of the sudden [developers] are coming out of the woodwork,” Miller Place developer Nicholas Aliano told us.

At the time our story was written, Wading River Square, across from King Kullen had just been built.

Postscript: Twenty-five years later it’s fair to say Wading River is far from “urban” as our headline suggested. But future development, and how to control it, is still a question many in the community are asking.

Five years ago …

Kent reunites man with dog lost during Hurricane Katrina

Two old pals — a 51-year-old disabled mechanic and a 6-year-old canine thought to be of boxer and Akita ancestry — were reunited at Kent Animal Shelter Dec. 14, 2006 after more than 16 months apart.

The last time dog Rocky and his owner, Steven Cure, had been together was in St. Bernard Parish on the morning Hurricane Katrina struck.

Mr. Cure had rushed his parents out of town, but had to leave Rocky behind since the car was packed. He planned to return to pick up the dog the next day, but couldn’t get back after the levees were breached.

Rocky was later taken to a shelter in Mississippi and shipped to Kent when the first shelter got too crowded.

He was reconnected with his owner after his microchip data was extracted from a computer damaged at a New Orleans shelter during the storm.

How’d they let it slip by?

The State DEC commenced an internal investigation of its failure to enforce a key permit condition on a controversial sand mine in Calverton, DEC regional director Pete Scully told the Riverhead News-Review in a statement published in the Dec. 21, 2006 issue of the paper.

Mr. Scully’s statement was in response to a report in the previous week’s News-Review that Mike Cholowsky of Calverton Industries had been operating in violation of a permit condition requiring him to stay out of the garbage business, we reported. The permit condition was a safeguard against illegal dumping at the Calverton site, put in place after Mr. Cholowsky’s admitted role in illegal dumping at the Brookhaven Town dump in the 1990s.

“We have an obligation to investigate these matters fully,” Mr. Scully wrote.


12/12/11 2:34pm
12/12/2011 2:34 PM
Route 58

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Lowe's is getting ready to open next month on Route 58 in Riverhead, but 10 years ago plans to build a Lowe's on the commercial corridor were rejected.

The following stories were excerpted from News-Review issues published 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years ago this week:

10 years ago …

A ‘no’ for Lowe’s

Headriver LLC’s application to build a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse on Route 58 in Riverhead got a thumbs down from the Suffolk County Planning Commission on Dec. 5, 2001, we wrote in the following week’s Riverhead News-Review.

The group was looking to build the store on a 21-acre parcel just north of Kroemer Avenue, we reported.

The planning commission ruled development of a Lowe’s at that time would “prematurely establish a prerogative for intensified commercial development within the Route 58 corridor prior to the enactment of the master plan update for the town.”

Postscript: Ten years later, Super Walmart is going into that same site just north of Kroemer Avenue and Lowe’s is opening up next month just down the street, on the former Suffolk Life parcel.

Feds say OK to save the bay

The Environmental Protection Agency approved the Peconic Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, according to a report in the Dec. 13, 2001 issue.

The plan featured more than 85 actions to the tune of $100 million over 10 years to improve the health of the Peconic estuary. Priority management topics included brown tide, nutrients, habitat and living resources, pathogens, toxic pollutants, and critical lands protection.

Postscript: Ten years later, Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister reported some positive news for the Peconic Estuary in his recently released annual report.

15 years ago …

Rite Aid lifts ban on teenagers

The kids are all right in Rite Aid, but The Wall still refuses to comment. The Route 58 pharmacy has changed its policy of barring Riverhead High School students during school hours, but limits the group to no more than 15 students in the store at the time, we wrote in the Dec. 12, 1996 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Two weeks back in “This week in Riverhead history” we wrote about the ban, which several Route 58 stores enacted due to concerns over shoplifting. Riverhead High School students, led by senior Rashad Robinson, had organized a boycott of the stores in response to the ban during school hours.

But the stores reversed the ban after a meeting between store managers, district officials and students.

Postscript: Check out Thursday’s News Review for a Q & A with Mr. Robinson, who 15 years later serves as the Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org.

20 years ago …

Janoski on Jetport: It’s war

If Riverhead Town Supervisor Joe Janoski has anything to say about it, there will be no new Jetport in Calverton, read the lead of the page 3 story in the Dec. 12, 1991 issue of The Riverhead News-Review.

At the time, the Federal Aviation Administration had authorized a feasibility study, exploring the possibility of expanding the Grumman airport in Calverton into an international jetport/cargoport.

Such a use of the facility would mean “20,000 jobs and a boost to a sagging Long Island economy,” Long island business officials argued.

Mr. Janoski said local business leaders should instead look to fix small problems in the local economy like mandates on Long Island landfill laws and the Peconic River moratorium that have “destroyed the town of Riverhead.”

Postscript: Twenty years later and the future use of the site, now known as EPCAL, is still a major issue. Just last week, representatives of firms now studying zoning and marketing at EPCAL said no airport, racetrack or casino should be built.

25 years ago …

Handicapped man gets support

Those who believe 21-year-old Peter Waskewicz should be admitted into the Riverhead Fire Department are not giving up the fight, we wrote in the Dec. 11, 1986 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Daniel White, a member of the Equal Hose Company of the RFD, had been circulating a petition around the firehouse urging fire commissioners to reverse their decision to keep the hearing impaired young man out of the department.

The district’s board of fire commissioners had earlier that year rejected Mr. Waskewicz’s application to serve in the department, saying his hearing loss would diminish his ability to operate safely in an emergency setting. There also was a question of whether the district could insure a deaf firefighter.

“I think the boy should be given a chance,” Mr. White said, adding that if insurance is the problem the district should get a special policy for him.

Postscript: After two years of battling to serve in the department, Mr. Waskewicz took his fight to the New York State Supreme Court in 1988. He won his case on the grounds that a fire district could not discriminate against certain deaf applicants. By July 1990, nearly five years after he first applied to be a Riverhead volunteer fireman, he was attending firefighter training. He has since left the department and today the 46-year-old Calverton native lives in Asheville, N.C.

30 years ago …

Wading River group fights for new boundary

A group called Citizens for a Unified Wading River is waging a legal battle to alter the school district boundary so the portion of Wading River closest to Wildwood State Park could also be part of the Shoreham-Wading River School District, we reported in the Dec. 10, 1981 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

That October the group filed briefs with both the Shoreham-Wading River and Riverhead School District requesting the boundary change. The group said that if the request was denied it would petition BOCES and the State Education Department to enact the change. Failing that, the group said it would take the matter to State Supreme Court.

Citizens for a Unified Wading River said the split in school districts had caused an identity crisis for some in the community, who couldn’t participate in all Wading River had to offer since they were residents of the Riverhead School District.

“My young son saw in the paper that they were having an Easter egg hunt in Wading River and he got excited and asked if he could go,” said group member Mrs. Ray Soto. “I had to say no because it was only open to Shoreham-Wading River school district residents. How do you explain that to a child?”

Postscript: Thirty years later, the Shoreham-Wading River School District boundaries remain unchanged near Wildwood.

Legislators nix Shoreham settlement

The county Legislature by a 12 to 5 vote Dec. 10, 1981 rejected a settlement between the county and the Long Island Lighting Company on LILCO’s Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant project, we reported in that week’s Suffolk Times.

In return for concessions by LILCO, the county under the agreement would have dropped most of the contentions it planned to raise on Shoreham safety concerns at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings on granting Shoreham an operating license.

The settlement included a provision that the county would only test two of the nuclear plant’s three safety systems in exchange for LILCO granting the county more local control over regulating the plant.

Critics of the plan said the settlement was just another way for LILCO to “railroad the project through,” while the utility argued the county would have no assurance of getting any of its concerns addressed through the NRC hearing process and would be better served by having more local control.

East End Legislator Greg Blass, normally an opponent of the plant, sided with LILCO’s stance on the issue and was one of the five legislators who voted in favor of the settlement.