Letters to the editor


Big Duck about to lose big bucks!

As a member of Friends of the Big Duck, my feathers are ruffled at the way the Town of Southampton is handling the installation of the restrooms at The Big Duck in Flanders. The Friends of the Big Duck have been approved for a $5,000.00 grant from Suffolk County to install restrooms in the gray stucco building next to The Big Duck. The Town of Southampton has not fulfilled its requirement to furnish a list of materials to the county for the conversion of the gray stucco building. The deadline for this submission is Dec. 15, 2010. As of the date of this letter the paperwork containing the list of materials has not been received by the county. The town has decided instead to begin work on the “duck barn” further back on the property, which is not included in the grant funds. I can appreciate that the barn needs to be renovated, but why not do the work that is included in the grant funds first?  If the list of materials is not provided to the county before Dec. 15, 2010 the funds will be LOST.  Meanwhile there are no restrooms for the employees of The Big Duck, when needed they have to lock up and go elsewhere to find public facilities.  Every event at The Big Duck needs to incur the expense of renting portable toilets, costing approximately $100 apiece.  The Friends of The Big Duck are working hard to raise the funds for The Big Duck Ranch while the town is not keeping up with its requirements.
Let’s get quacking, Southampton! Time is running out!
Bernadette Virgintino

Our kids can’t afford the tax breaks
The past few weeks I have been attending Community Partnership for Revitalization meetings with fellow residents to gather input on proposing another bond referendum to address the Riverhead School District’s infrastructure and space needs. We spend time touring the buildings and discussing the “needs” versus the “wants.” I feel this group is well-rounded, and it really feels good to be able to discuss and hopefully change things that are important to the improvement of our schools for our children, our home values and our future. Our children deserve good things.
I’m writing today in the hopes that we can get our schools and our town together to make this a reality. Big business has come to Riverhead with free tax rides and reduced bills. Route 58 is jampacked. One downtown business has that side of town booming and is even adding a hotel, and that also will get yet another free tax ride. Suffolk County National Bank has built a lovely building on Second Street, and they pay a small amount of town taxes because the town has granted them an IDA Exemption, so they save a large amount on their tax bill.
I’m just wondering, would any of these businesses give back to the community’s schools? The Atlantis Athletic Complex has a nice ring to it, and the SCNB Theatre for Arts and Music would host great things. The Tanger Science Wing and Crime Labs would give our students many possibilities. These are big dreams, but you get my point.
It is my hope that this Town Board will look at the burden we as taxpayers are facing in repairing our schools and help us look toward the future. Going forward I beg the Town Board to consider our schools when these big-business owners propose ideas for building in our town. I get that we gave them incentives to locate here, but they are here now and it’s time to stop the free rides and invest in our future. EPCAL can be the grand slam of projects if well-planned and that project and all others going forward cannot get free rides. If Riverhead is happening, businesses will want to come here.
Maureen McKay

Vote for fire commissioners
Like most everyone reading this letter, I have never attended a meeting of the Riverhead Fire District Commissioners during the public hearing for the annual Riverhead Fire Department budget. That was until I recently read in Newsday about the proposed budget increase for the Riverhead Fire District of 11.2 percent compared to an average increase of fire departments across Long Island of just 1.2 percent. I was very surprised that there were no more than a half dozen concerned residents in the audience to ask about the proposed budget. One of those present was a veteran fireman by the name of James Carey (a former student of mine, I think) who did challenge the commissioners on a number of the proposed increases. Sometime after the budget hearing I was informed that Jim is running to become a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners.  
No one would deny that the volunteer fireman of Riverhead provide a service to the community that is often not recognized or fully appreciated. However, given the difficult economic climate and the already burdensome property taxes we pay, it would seem that there must be some cost cutting that the Riverhead Board of Fire Commissions could have made in order to keep its budget more in line with the increases in other volunteer fire departments. Please consider taking the time to vote Tuesday, Dec. 14 between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the Roanoke Avenue firehouse.
Goerge Bartunek

They took my tree
The town highway department cut down a beautiful evergreen tree on my property this afternoon. It was 15 feet tall, in perfect health and over 14 feet in from Peconic Bay Boulevard. Nobody asked for my permission to cut down my tree, but my neighbor did not like the tree so he asked the assistant highway superintendent to cut it down, which he did.
By the way, my neighbor recently took down hundreds of beautiful trees on her property. Talk about a non-environmentalist. She should live in a 20th-floor walk-up in Manhattan where there are no trees.
I do not believe that highway people can come onto someone’s property without the owner’s permission, unless there is some emergency, such as a large, dead tree that might fall onto the roadway. This was not the case. This tree was completely green, not a brown needle in sight.
I would like Riverhead Town to pay me $10,000 in damages so I can have the stump and roots removed and plant a new, similar tree.
Jim Dreeben
Editor’s note: According to town highway superintendent George Woodson, the tree referenced in this letter is in the town’s right of way, “by a little bit over two feet.”

A thank you from ‘Santa’
I would like to thank the Riverhead Lions Club for sponsoring the Santa parade this past Sunday. They have run this parade for over 60 years and it has brought joy to the children of this town.
Seeing all the children on the street calling to Santa and shouting “I love you!” brings feelings that cannot be described. The glow in their eyes and the look on their faces when they told Santa their wishes for Christmas truly allowed me to feel like Santa Claus.
I also want to thank the Riverhead Lions Club for allowing me to fill Santa’s shoes and bring joy to all the children. What a wonderful way to start the holiday season.
Bob Zappulla