Letters to the Editor

04/08/2010 12:00 AM |


Flood victims need help now

I’m glad I didn’t eat my breakfast yet when I heard the latest news regarding the flooding on Horton Avenue in Riverhead.

A handful of houses are ruined, families have lost just about everything and have to live with relatives or in motels while FEMA and the rest of the government sit on their hands deciding what to do. The feds have spent billions of dollars to bail out the automobile industry and the banking industry, and helped other countries without a moment’s hesitation after a disaster, but have to “wait” to make a decision for a dozen homeowners who need an answer today. What is wrong with our government? There isn’t enough space in this paper to make a list.

Help our own people; it’s not going to cost billions to do so. Some of these citizens have spent most of their lives in their homes. They need assistance immediately, not when the politicians get around to it, have more meetings or wait for an election year to make points.

Doris Schneider


Together, we can make a difference

It was a Tuesday morning on my way to drop the kids off at school. There was definitely something different that day, unlike others, something about the rain. At 8 a.m. there was a clear road down Osborn Avenue from Sound Avenue all the way to Route 58. Just 15 minutes later, things were a little different. It was pouring buckets. At 9:30 a.m., on my way back out, Osborn was covered with water. In the distance I could see a payloader with a family of seven in the bucket. There was a Riverhead police officer awaiting their arrival to bring them to safety. They were covered with blankets and carrying plastic bags filled with clothes. They had climbed from a window and were seeking safety. Well, safety was there for them. The teamwork of the town highway department and the police department was like a reenactment of what one might have envisioned Katrina to be like. What a tragedy that affected so many people’s lives. Rushing waters, flooded basements, loss of electricity, fuel and other things we sometimes take for granted.

I am thankful for the efforts of the supervisor’s office, all of our town offices and employees, as well as town, county, state and federal officials — and all the volunteers who truly made the difference. Although we are a town facing serious financial challenges, we are rich with a common sense of community, helping one another in the most difficult of times with a true belief that we can make a difference.

Those who worked tirelessly, away from their families, doing humanitarian work assisting strangers, friends and anyone in need of assistance, my hat is off to you. A special thanks to you, our firefighters and volunteer workers, who so often go unmentioned. You are all heroes!

There is much work to be done. We, members of the Town Board, are committed to finding a solution. We have heard from several of you; your voices are heard! Collectively, with all concerned involved, we will find the answers.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio


Do right thing on inn

Our town’s Zoning Board of Appeals has now stretched the level of convoluted legal rationalization beyond all reason. In a case involving a so-called country inn, the ZBA granted Jedediah Hawkins Inn a one-year approval in 2008 for outside “catered events such as weddings, graduations and anniversaries.” But, the legal definition of country inn prohibits all accessory uses except restaurant or tavern use, recreational use, conference room or library within the principal building. Furthermore, the Town Board in 2003 deliberately removed the words “catering facility shall be permitted in the same building or on the same lot” from the definition.

But that didn’t stop our ZBA. Its members determined that catering is a type of restaurant use and granted an “area variance” to allow catering outside the building. Area variances are intended for relief to an applicant who needs to place a structure closer to a property boundary than the code permits; they are not intended to permit a use where it is not allowed. For that, an applicant would need to obtain what’s called a use variance. However, a use variance is very difficult to obtain, even in Riverhead. Instead, the ZBA seems to have fabricated a way to grant the use variance by way of an area variance. Clever, but certainly not within the intent of the country inn definition or the state law governing such variances. Nor is it in the best interests of the surrounding residential neighborhood. The residents here would like to see the inn succeed, but they have experienced unreasonable noise and traffic levels from this newly created catering use that they could not have foreseen when they supported the special permit granted by the Town Board in 2006 to allow the country inn to operate in the first place. They now risk a much-diminished quality of life and loss of property values.

We all know that a healthy local economy depends on businesses thriving. But we must also preserve our neighborhoods as our zoning laws intended. The ZBA should not give businesses precedence over homes and families, especially if legal reasoning must be stretched to the breaking point. This country inn now seeks permanent approval for outside catering. Will the ZBA do the right thing, this time, and deny the request? The hearing continues on April 22 at 7:15 p.m. Come and see for yourself.

Phil Barbato
Riverhead Neighborhood
Preservation Coalition


A shout-out to Jedediah Hawkins

As a neighbor of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn, I would just like to say thank you to its owners. Thank you for beautifully restoring a historic landmark. Thank you for the employment of our local people. Thank you for the taxes you pay toward our children’s education. Thank you for the patrons you attract who stop and purchase from our local business. Thank you for brightening my weekends with sounds of celebration and happiness.

Wendy Kukla


No reason to lie

I was dismayed to find that when one writes a letter to the editor supporting the health care bill, the response is a Tea Party tag team in the form of two letters filled with invective and inaccuracies. The first paragraph of a letter published last week entitled “No reason to trust gov’t on health” states that the bill will never have to be utilized by the “freebie-ridden oafs who passed this economic abortion who have health policies that make the best private insurance pale by comparison,” and reads that I’m “at best delusional, at worst ignorant” for supporting the legislation that won’t even apply to our congressman.

The problem with this logic is that the bill clearly states that all members of Congress and their staffs are mandated to participate in the same health insurance exchanges created by the new bill. Let me repeat: The law was specifically written to include members of Congress in the legislation. It’s sad that people would choose to clearly lie to their neighbors in an effort to rile them up and get them to become angry at their own government.

Jerry Silverstein


Cleaning up train station the right call

I believe the supervisor is correct to explore relocating the soup kitchen and other groups of people who hang out all day on Railroad Avenue. I challenge any councilperson who thinks the supervisor is mean-spirited for wanting to clean up the area to spend a week in my store and listen to comments from customers. The threatening appearance at the train station is detrimental to the image of Riverhead, as well as area businesses, schools, and the library.

Ninow’s Music has been a specialty destination business for 54 years and depends on customers from the North and South forks, as well as towns west of Riverhead. Many voice concern that the area appears unsafe and undesirable, especially if their drive brings them through Main Street. In fact, in the winter months after dark, we are often asked to escort women to their vehicle.

Our business depends on the parent or family driving from Southampton with their fifth-grader looking to rent or buy their first band instrument. I depend on the musician driving from Orient or Westhampton to buy a new instrument or a set of guitar or violin strings. How do I let them know the area is safe and they do not have to drive to a competitor?

Referring to John Stefans’ letter in the March 25 News-Review, Mr. Stefans, I do not believe one needs to be “embarrassed” by a supervisor who is willing to listen to problems and at least try to come up with suggestions and solutions. Yes, problems existed before the soup kitchen. I’ve lost count how many drug deals occur on the street and at the platform station. The Riverhead Police Department always responds to our calls and does a great job, but they cannot be here 24/7.

Everyone agrees that no one should deny help to the hungry and needy. The suggestion of using the County Center makes sense, as buses stop there and other health services are available. I do suggest that Railroad Avenue, which everyone envisions will become a transportation and court center, would be a great place to start a clean up Riverhead campaign, and show that the town can improve its image and quality-of-life issues, just as Patchogue, Bay Shore and other Long Island towns are successfully trying to do.

Ralph Vail
proprietor, Ninow’s Music