Letters to the editor

Housing program a big win for many
The letter to the editor about the affordable housing plan for seven parcels in Flanders (“These are real people being hurt,” Feb. 23) neglected to mention the many benefits of Suffolk’s affordable housing land-transfer initiative, known as the 72-h program. The program transforms uninhabitable structures and vacant, undeveloped land into newly designed single-family houses for qualified first-time buyers. The properties were turned over to the county after prior owners failed for six years—the longest grace period allowed in New York State—to pay back taxes. To allow prior owners to keep title to these properties beyond that time, as the author of the letter endorses, would be grossly unfair to the many other property owners who routinely meet this obligation. Upon taking title to these properties, the county graciously transferred them to the town for affordable housing instead of putting the properties up for auction and reaping the financial reward. In the last two years alone, at the direction of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, almost 100 such county properties were transferred to towns. As a result, hard-working Suffolk residents will have an opportunity to achieve the dream of home ownership; non-producing properties will be returned to the tax rolls; people will be put to work constructing the homes; and surrounding communities will secure enthusiastic new neighbors who are putting down roots. We are delighted to report that the 72-h program has been a clear success for all involved.
Jill Rosen-Nikoloff
director of affordable housing

Think twice on dinner cruises
Riverboats have cruised into Riverhead and riverboats have cruised out of Riverhead. Fact is, Riverhead is cruising fine, providing Supervisor Sean Walter remains at the helm. I commend our supervisor’s decision to investigate and research the impact of a 3,000-square-foot (much more if you consider both decks) entertainment vessel berthed at our riverfront. My neighbors and I vividly remember the previous entertainment vessel cruising up and down the Peconic River with lights flashing, music blasting and passengers singing well into the night. Riverhead is on the cusp of great things happening. Let’s not make a rash decision on a 366-passenger party boat.
The fishing boat Zephyr is currently docked at our riverfront and hasn’t moved in approximately a year. Will she become Riverhead’s problem to dispose of?  Keep in mind how much we just spent revitalizing Grangbel Park. An environmentally friendly, natural ladder was built to enhance the reproduction of alewives, one of the most valuable food sources in the Peconic Bay food chain.
As an active member of East End Rowing and McGann-Mercy crew, we would like to utilize the calm water that the Peconic River has to offer. Hopefully in the near future we can host major regattas, extending Riverhead’s interest to a market of activity that accentuates the riverfront in a unique and environmentally friendly way.
Maybe this vessel would be good for Riverhead, maybe not. I am just glad we are performing due diligence before the Cabana cruises into town. I thank Mr. Walter for putting Riverhead first.
George Woodhull

Planning hearings sorely needed
As a former Riverhead Town resident for nearly 15 years, I can personally attest to the need for what Supervisor Sean Walter described, as quoted in the News-Review, as a “new era of openness and inclusiveness.”  (“Supervisor looks to change how site plans are considered,” Feb. 1)
Having spent the last 25 years in the professional arena of community planning, I believe that informed public input is the cornerstone of intelligent and balanced community planning. Sadly, Riverhead has lagged behind other East End communities and does not provide the opportunity for formal public hearings on site plan applications.
One of the most effective means of establishing an inclusive planning process starts with a well-noticed public hearing that invites public testimony during the application review process for all major discretionary actions (such as site plans and subdivisions). Shedding light on public concern should be a key component of any responsible planning process as it significantly clarifies the key issues that will be of greatest importance to the community.  Without such input, the public and those appointed to represent its interests are both poorly served.
As the town now faces another flurry of commercial development activity that could redefine the rural character of Sound Avenue and Wading River, the supervisor’s stated concern about the value of openness and inclusiveness could not have come at a better time. I hope Mr. Walter will take this opportunity to transform  his vision for what Riverhead’s planning process should be into a specific legislative proposal that can make it happen.
Should these new rules be adopted, the people of Riverhead will be able to play a much more productive role in shaping the future of their community.  I encourage all of your readers to reach out to Mr. Walter and the rest of the Town Board and express their desire to see the town adopt legislation that would provide for valuable public input into the planning review process and ensure that the community has a say in the Town’s future commercial development.  
Robert DeLuca
president, Group for the East End

Make noise on Social Security increases
What is happening to my country that I love, the United States of America? I and millions of Americans worked hard all our lives to help make this country a world producer. Everybody was honest, and handshakes were our bond. I, like many who enlisted in the armed services, went into the U.S. Navy during the Korean War to help my country where it needed me. I served for four years. When I came out, I went to work within a week and worked until I had to stop due to illness at 70 years old. I paid into Social Security all those years knowing at least I would have a little money coming in, and that’s exactly what I’m living on, just Social Security, like millions of others. I don’t believe how our government cannot give us a COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) increase this year and possibly next year. We as retired workers have a legal contract with America, we count on Social Security to survive. Government officials say nothing has gone up. But look around, rent, food, electric, heat, gasoline, etc. Seniors, call your congressmen, write them. We are entitled to an increase every year.
Robert Stringham

Equal protection
In this country, constitutionally a child in its mother’s womb deserves all the lawful rights of equality. To life, liberty and to the pursuit of happiness.
Equality is under the natural law, God’s law, and all his children deserve protection.
Our unborn are his children also.
It is God’s will that we grant them the right to life.
And the truth will set us free.
Jack McGreevy