Letters to the Editor

06/17/2010 12:00 AM |


We must speak up over helicopter noise

Senator Schumer’s success in getting the Federal Aviation Administration to acknowledge its responsibility to regulate helicopters is a good first step, but it will not solve the problem, as anyone who has dealt with the federal agency can tell you. I have been trying to get the FAA to respond to my concerns regarding low-flying aircraft for almost a year and have had no success. In reality, there exists no supervision or regulation of privately owned aircraft.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter’s stance against transit point flights over land is a refreshing alternative to the present ambiguous voluntary agreement that allows pilots to come and go over the island at their discretion. This hasn’t worked because there are too many rogue pilots who ignore this by flying at low altitudes over residential neighborhoods.

Why are helicopters from New York City even flying over the Long Island Sound when both major airports used are on the South Shore? Flying north to south over the island to get to destinations so close to the ocean makes no sense. It wastes fuel and causes unnecessary disturbance to anyone below a flight path.

If mandated routes do materialize, they will be meaningless without supervision and enforcement. That’s where our elected officials come in. They must be strong advocates for the rights of their constituents to be unencumbered by excessive noise and potential danger.

If this dreadful situation continues unabated, our quality of life will be severely and permanently compromised.

We must also speak up for ourselves. There is still time to submit comments on the proposed ruling, Docket Number FAA-2010-0302, online at http://www.regulations.gov. Or, submit comments in writing to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The deadline is June 25.

Stephanie Bail


There is no ‘water war’ in Calverton

I would like to thank Tim Gannon for his informative, well- written piece in the June 10 News-Review. While the article clearly laid out the facts, the headline, “Water war at EPCAL will continue under new boss” was misleading.

There is no water war at EPCAL, or the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

EPCAL does not fall within the Riverhead Water District. As such the Suffolk County Water Authority has asked the Department of Environmental Conservation to decide whether or not the Riverhead Water District has the authority and ability to extend service to EPCAL. The Water Authority’s position is that EPCAL is part of its distribution territory because in 1949 the New York Water Power and Control Commission decided that [areas] of Suffolk County not served by another legally established water provider fall under the jurisdiction of the SCWA.

Unfortunately, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter has stated that the Water Authority is seeking a “hostile takeover” of the Riverhead Water District. Nothing could be further from the truth. In January, I met with Mr. Walter and broached the idea of the SCWA taking over the Riverhead Water District. Mr. Walter indicated the town had no interest. Taking Mr. Walter’s opposition into account, the SCWA is no longer pursuing an acquisition of the Riverhead Water District.

In closing, there is no water war. I have reached out to Mr. Walter seeking to sit down and discuss this important issue in detail, yet I have not heard back from him. The Water Authority believes in cooperation because all the residents of Suffolk County deserve access to a clean, safe and reliable supply of drinking water.

Jeffrey Szabo

CEO, Suffolk County Water Authority


Messy attempt at privatizing dog shelter

Just to update you on the status of the privatization of the Riverhead Animal Shelter. It is a tad behind schedule, considering Riverhead Councilman Jim Wooten was elected in November 2007 and it was on his to do-list. The time frame was supposed to be six months. That was 2 1/2 years ago. At a Town Hall meeting on March 6, he indicated that the RFP (request for proposals) would be ready within two weeks. But in “Riverhead-speak” that translates into two months (just remember to multiply time estimates by 4 or 5). The RFP was finally posted on May 13. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been without additional complications. RSVP, Inc. was the only organization to submit a proposal. Why? First, there was only a one-week window in which to respond to a 25+ page RFP. Second, it was only posted in one local newspaper. Third, no other organization within a 50-mile radius is interested. Last, all of the above. Incredibly, Mr. Wooten was quoted as saying he was “a little disappointed that we only got one response.” What did he expect? What was he thinking? Since there was no reply to RSVP from Mr. Wooten or the town after two weeks, I attempted to contact him on the status. I finally received a response on June 4, in which he wrote, “…it is the town’s policy to reject single bids.” So, adding insult to injury, the proposal that RSVP submitted was opened, read, made public and rejected because of this so-called policy. Just an aside, proposals are supposed to be confidential, but since the RFP is being re-issued, so much for that best practice. Very disingenuous. And typical Riverhead. So, what now, Jim? And when?

Sue Hansen

Editor’s note: Ms. Hansen has volunteered with the RSVP group at the Riverhead dog shelter for the past five years.


Why even have lighting codes?

I was deeply annoyed when I read in your paper last week that the Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals allowed the upcoming Lowe’s to exceed the illumination levels outlined in the town’s “dark skies” ordinance. I do not know how Lowe’s justified the need for lighting levels that exceed the town’s code. The light levels in the code conform to professional recommendations of the Illuminating Engineering Society for safety.

Riverhead has a volunteer committee, the Dark Skies Advisory Committee, that sponsored the original and later modified exterior lighting code that is on the books. The ZBA does not report to the committee but it would have been considerate for the ZBA to involve the committee in this matter. I seriously doubt that the advisory committee would have been inclined to support Lowe’s noncompliance with the lighting code.

It is decisions like this, with their attendant consequences, that gradually and irrevocably diminish the rural nature of our night sky. Why bother to have an exterior lighting code and then not require compliance?

James Slezak

chairman, Riverhead Dark Skies Advisory Committee


Kids weren’t the problem at the park

Yes, ‘It’s a shame about some people.’

That was the title of a letter to the editor by Riverhead Middle School teacher Darren Dunn published in last week’s newspaper. Unfortunately, it refers to him more than the people he wrote about. His letter is filled with such mischaracterizations, that I don’t know where to start.

He said his “body language” told him what had happened at Bayberry Park in Wading River, that the adult tennis players there “were none too pleased to see the kids” arrive for a field trip. Well, his reading was way off that day; the players knew the students were coming and just wanted to finish their game and leave. One of the women is a retired teacher. (Hate kids? Wrong.)

A group of kids came running down the hill and spilled onto both courts. No one in charge of the kids said a word. (Later that day, my husband even had to go over and tell the staff that three kids should not be sitting or bouncing on the nets.) One woman held up her hand to ask them to go around or wait. When the big, burly security guard shouted at her to stop touching “his kids” more than once, she became nervous and upset. That’s what caused the whole problem; it was that he insisted she touched them.

Having been a teacher, she knew how serious that charge could be. After a lengthy discussion with all parties, the staff did finally see and admit that she did not touch anyone, but when she asked them to put that in writing, they said they could not do that, and that is why the police had to be called. If the staff had signed a statement that said that, they would not have needed the police. When the officer questioned the guard, he finally admitted that she just held up her hand, and did not touch anyone.

The children were never the problem, and no one ever accused them of being unruly, and there was no “elitism mixed with undertones of racial intolerance.” That’s Mr. Dunn grandstanding.

Again, no one was seething because the children came to the park. We all love to see happy children. Yes, the security guard should protect the kids, but not shout at, or intimidate other residents. It was that guard who was out of line and overzealous. Someone should have spoken to him.

Helga Guthy


‘New’ Rt. 58 deficient in many ways

It hurts to live amongst you; four more years and I’ll be out of here; roundabouts stink. They are too small. The Route 58 hospital traffic circle we had was already two lanes wide completely around it, now north-south Roanoke Avenue is only one lane wide. The county has practically made a straightaway out of our circle and we are stuck with those ugly massive behemoth metal signs depicting lane usage and arrows and Roanoke Avenue is diminished and stupid Route 73 is made prominent. Who in heaven calls Roanoke Avenue Route 73? None of the locals; we call it Roanoke Avenue.

This isn’t government by the people for the people. Crap has been foisted upon us. A widened Route 58 has now been cemented in place and Long Island now has a deadly Queens Boulevard on the East End, but worse because there is no center safe median. There are no contiguous sidewalks on the north side of the road! No bike lanes. No shoulder. They expect people to cross to the south side, use the sidewalk and then cross back to the north side when they get down the road to where they are going. And all the people who designed all this crap and approved all of it as wonderful went to school and are supposedly educated.

At the Route 58 roundabout, the county has officially invited pedestrians up into the busy circle with raised red areas with inserted bent sidewalks for motorists to contend with and cause rear-end accidents. Railings ought to have been set up at outside corners of the intersection to preclude people from inserting themselves into such a busy place. There are also now raised red triangles at several of the intersections along Route 58, each with adjoining misplaced stop lines for vehicles, obstructing other vehicles from making smooth turns from side roads onto 58. So many of these intersections could have and should have been traffic circles. I am complaining because I know that this is deficient and should have been much better.

Carla D’Esposito


Stick to the facts on politics

As we enter the surreal, anything-goes season of politics, I suggest one key attitude we should all adopt.

Let us ask our opinionated friends and political ranters, from whatever side they inhabit, to explain their positions. The wide range of exhortations that we are bombarded with should be held at arms length until the speaker explains how to do it and what the results will be.

The Tea Party folk, for example, claim the answers to the current problems are very simple: cut taxes, cut spending, reduce the deficit and, finally, oppose stimulus spending and bailouts. This is a catchy agenda. How can you oppose it? But doesn’t it demand explanation?

Let’s note that while entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare are extremely large parts of current spending, they are enjoyed by many Tea Party shouters and other citizens and are unlikely to be tampered with. So ask for an explanation of where significant spending cuts are to come from?

The tax cuts so vehemently requested will just make the situation worse in this time of declining national receipts. As innately selfish individuals, we all would love to see our taxes lower. However, at this time of economic stress and teetering bankrupt state governments, this rant makes no sense at all. Can the ranters make a sensible argument?

As to the stimulus/bailout programs, I think that overwhelming evidence justifies our government’s past actions. Support from respected economists and from the evidence that similar programs were recently put into effect in Europe justifies the stimulus and bailout policies.

Can you get an intelligent story that contradicts this?

If you can get realistic, sensible answers, sort out intelligent argument from hyperbole and engage in real conversation, I am certain that this will be one large step toward a more functional government.

Howard Meinke


Who’s in my wallet?

Recently I have seen signs suggesting Congressman Tim Bishop is into the wallets of voters. In response, I would like to make the following points.

For one, my house insurer recently sent me a notice that it was canceling my policy. I have had this policy for over 35 years, and have had one small ($235) claim over 30 years ago. The company has now determined that I live in a “dangerous zone” and so, without warning, it canceled my policy. I have had to spend time and extra money looking for a new insurer. In this case, my wallet has been invaded by an insurance corporation.

For over five years I have taken a medication for high cholesterol, which has been very effective with no side effects. But now my insurance company tells me I must take something else, which makes me itch and ache, or pay for the one “I choose.” Of course that makes the medication too expensive, so who knows where my cholesterol levels will go. The corporate world is not only in my wallet, but in my health plan.

As with many, many people, my retirement investments have been pilfered by Wall Street’s greedy crooks. Now my decision to retire has had to be postponed and I fear that I might have to work “forever.” My wallet’s present as well as future content has been deflated by corporate thieves.

Discussing corporations, there’s the oil industry, whose profits have never been higher, not even giving consideration to the recent oil spill. My wallet makes a weekly contribution to this success since I must commute almost 40 miles to work. This is only one of a few corporations that control the American economy and steal from our wallets.

The Boston Tea Party (and I am an historian of American history) was a protest against corporate control of the British government. The present Tea Party group is supporting these corporations in some misguided idea that they protect the independence of the American consumer. Government has had to step in because the corporations are making their profit off the hard work of American citizens.

The only place I find Tim Bishop in these situations is in supporting legislation to help the basic American consumer against the oligarchy of business, which IS in my wallet.

Barbara D. Ripel, Ph.D.