Letters to the editor

Country Fair sets the standard
I read last week’s editorial on the Blues Festival relocating to possibly another venue. While I don’t disagree on the lack of cooperation when it comes to the Vail-Levitt and the BID management association, I have to comment on a single sentence that stated: “There was no greater showcase for the town.”
I have in the past enjoyed the blues festival, but must admit I became dismayed after they closed the public parking area and restricted residents from attending without paying. After my election I came to realize what the taxpayers were spending to help defray costs, and also what the BID spent to help make the event a success. It was a hard pill to swallow to have to pay an entrance fee to boot. I have supported the festival in all my votes, but there has never been accountability to the town as far as a loss/profit statement. Last year the chapter 90 [permit] application as well as the resolution approving the chapter 90 had one request from the town, that the financial records be produced for the event. It was felt that since town property and taxpayers were supplementing the event it was both reasonable and prudent. No such report or accounting was produced to date. This of course doesn’t reflect my continued support of the Vail-Levitt Music Hall, a real gem and historic place downtown.
But back to my point about there being “no greater showcase.” For over 35 years the town, through Riverhead Townscape, has promoted and coordinated one of largest single-day events on the East End, and most assuredly on the Riverhead riverfront. The Riverhead Country Fair is run entirely by volunteers. It is truly a labor of love and dedication. The BID supports the event, but it is not a BID event. The coordinators and volunteers work with all the stake holders to address perceived problems. Stores that normally don’t open Sundays, will open and get a free booth on their property. Whatever issues arise are  dealt with openly. The fair’s success is largely based on a community effort to promote and showcase a beautiful riverfront business district.
I can’t speak for the BID management association’s board, but as the Town Board liaison to the committee I can honestly say that their mind-set is only to enhance and improve the image of our downtown and to promote business to the few who have stuck it out and deserve to be successful. One would think with the common thread being downtown and what’s best for it, everyone could come together. Lets hope so.
Jim Wooten
councilman, Riverhead Town

We will pay for ice rink
So once again our elected officials on Howell Avenue are looking to throw away tax dollars on a year-round skating rink. Have these same elected officials already forgotten about the skateboard park that sits there, day in and day out, with no one using it? Have these same elected officials already forgotten just how much of our tax dollars went into this fiasco that sits there, empty and unused?
I read the News-Review story concerning a downtown skating rink, but in the entire story I see not once reference to just who will be paying for the town personnel that will be staffing the rink, proposed to be paid for in part with government grants. I therefore have to suppose that to our elected officials the staffing of the rink is something to be concerned about in the future, a future that possibly doesn’t include any of the present board members looking for re-election, but a future which includes salaries, medical coverage, pensions and other fringe benefits, all benefits that will be paid for, year in and year out, by the taxpayers of Riverhead.
Therefore I propose that instead of the tax payers of the town taking on the responsibilities and costs of a downtown skating rink, why don’t our elected officials and business leaders put the proposal out to a private company to own and run such a facility. After all, with the town’s sterling 15-year track record at EPCAL, the taxpayers and voters can only hope that the lessons of the past will finally be learned, or not.
Thomas W. Smith

On the right track
On Friday, Feb. 18 County Legislator Ed Romaine put more traction on the LIRR tracks than the MTA has done in many years as he railed against the lack of meaningful train service on the North Fork.
We pay the highest fares on the line. And while our tax dollars, over $60 million per year, go to the MTA, we get little in return.
The North Fork Environmental Council supports the calls of Legislator Romaine, Supervisors Russell and Walter and Mayor Nyce for not only the MTA to take action, but also for the residents and business owners of the North Fork to make their voices heard and make the MTA take notice and act.
One-time North Fork summer resident Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” If the MTA is not willing or able to solve this problem, then the state and county should stand ready to let the East End towns use those tax dollars to come up with a solution.
Five Town Rural Transit, Inc., a nonprofit organization, has done much research and work in this area, and offered many reasonable, affordable and eco-friendly solutions. It’s about time we take those ideas off of the drawing board and put them on the tracks so we can take some cars off the road and keep more money in our pockets.
With gas prices forecast to surpass $4 per gallon this year, how long can we afford to wait?
New York City and Albany can’t seem to understand, let alone solve the North Fork’s problems. Let us take the steps needed to get back on track.
The five town plan can save the North Fork money, better our environment while increasing our transportation options and at the same time help us “save what’s left.”
Bill Toedter
president, NFEC

These are real people being hurt
Reading your story about affordable housing planned for Flanders, I had to wonder how many people just glossed over the sentence ending with “using properties that were taken by Suffolk County for failure to pay taxes.” I personally find this sentence to be appalling, and something that shouldn’t be in the vernacular of a free nation. Of course, I suppose it depends on the situation. One might imagine (if one were given to flights of fancy) that some of these properties belonged to people who were able to pay the taxes, but intentionally chose not to do so. I doubt this to be the case for any of them.
These are horrible economic times. Imagine having lost your job. Imagine running out of unemployment benefits and still not being able to find work. Now imagine having the government take your house away on top of all that.
Why should we property owners in New York State live as perpetual renters of our homes? Even after paying off the mortgage, we are still liable to be thrown out of our homes if we fall on hard times. This should never be. We need a “circuit breaker” clause in the property tax code.
I call upon the News-Review to research and publish the personal stories of these folks so that the rest of us don’t just gloss over such things when we read about them. We need to realize that there are victims involved, our neighbors and fellow citizens, suffering first at the hands of Wall Street greed, and then again at the hands of an uncaring, bureaucratic monstrosity (something that we voters have allowed to exist). Put a human face on those affected by this government practice, and maybe we won’t all continue to accept it as the status quo.
Tom Pfalzer

What about us?
America can’t pay its bills at home, yet Hillary Clinton is announcing that we are sending $150 million to Egypt to assist in its recovery.  
What am I missing with this logic?
Edward Boyd

Care Center staff truly cared
I would like to thank the staff at Riverhead Care Center for their wonderful dedication, care and professionalism. Their hard work is truly appreciated.
My husband, Mitchell, resided at Riverhead Care Center this past year. During this time, the nurses, nurses’ aides, receptionists, kitchen staff and everyone connected with the center were helpful, attentive and understanding. He passed away last week and my family and I appreciate their kind words and actions during this difficult time.
Jean Stasiukiewicz & family

LIFB says thanks
We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to you and your staff for attending our semiannual young farmer dinner at Half Hollow Nursery last week. Your presence is a vital part to sharing the ongoing issues faced by our current and new-generation farmers from all over Long Island.
In fact, this year we not only received an increasing number of Ag Youth Scholarship applications (a scholarship available to any Farm Bureau member high school senior), but the first-place winner for all of New York, Jessica Anson of Yaphank, was one of the many future agriculturalists right here on Long Island.
We believe the growing number of attendees to our Young Farmer dinner clearly demonstrates the strength and viability of the agricultural industry. But without you, our voice cannot be heard by the community as a whole.
Thank you.
Joseph Gergela
executive director, Long Island Farm Bureau