Letters to the Editor


Hats off on hotel

It’s been about 14 years since Jim Bissett and Joe Petrocelli got involved in building an aquarium in Riverhead. Once they began, it only took them about a year to finish the project, a true testament to their ability and know-how to get things done. It was a great thing to see, especially after the utter debacle that preceded them. They have continued their transformation of downtown with a beautiful new hotel. The addition of the hotel can only bring positive progress for downtown. Congratulations on your success.

Jim Breitenbach


In memory of local hero Heidi Behr

Readers can no doubt recall the heartbreaking story of Heidi Behr, a Riverhead resident and single mother whose life was lost while gallantly trying to save the life of another. Heidi was administering to a patient in May 2005 when the ambulance she and a colleague were in struck a tree. A dedicated volunteer, Heidi, just 23, had been the recipient of two awards for her efforts as a Riverhead Volunteer EMT: the Top Responder Award and the Corpsman of the Year Award.
Heidi was the type of person who always sought to help others. If she came across someone in need, she was simply incapable of looking the other way. As a mother, daughter, volunteer, colleague and friend, Heidi embodied the spirit of community so skillfully captured by author Margaret Betz: “Community is a way of relating to other persons as brothers and sisters who share a common origin, a common dignity, and a common destiny. Community involves learning to live in terms of interconnected ‘we’ more than an isolated ‘I’. It involves making choices which reinforce the experience of relatedness and foster the sense of belonging and interdependence. Community begins, but does not end, in our face-to-face relationships with the persons who are closest to us.”
It was that deep sense of interconnectedness that led to the formation in 2008 of Heidi’s Helping Angels, Inc., a not-for-profit organization established to honor the memory of Heidi Behr and her ultimate sacrifice in service to the Town of Riverhead and its residents. The group has established a scholarship fund to recognize graduating seniors of Riverhead and Mercy high schools whose community service emulates the dedication and commitment shown by Heidi during her lifetime, and to encourage the recipients’ continued volunteerism in the Riverhead community. To date, four $2,000 scholarships have been awarded in Heidi’s memory.
On Thursday, Sept.15, Heidi’s Helping Angels will be hosting a Polish Hall “Steak Night” in support of the Heidi Behr Memorial Scholarship Fund. It is our hope that the Riverhead and surrounding communities will join us, not only as a tribute to Heidi, but as a tribute to all of the men and women who selflessly serve and sometimes risk their own lives for our community and the people closest to us.
For tickets and further information, please contact (631) 727-6060 or P.O. Box 911, Riverhead, NY 11901

Jim Stark


Birds of a feather?

After watching the Democrats tack so far to the right during the debt crisis negotiations it has occurred to me that Barack Obama is almost as conservative as John Copertino.

Gregory Wallace


Zoning board isn’t looking out for us

The Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals, whose members are appointed by the elected Town Board, continues to dismantle our zoning code and Comprehensive Land Use Master Plan.
On July 28, they approved a use variance for a property on Edwards Avenue to allow the building of a pharmacy and bank. These uses are not permitted under current zoning and state law requires the applicant to pass a number of very difficult tests, including proving it cannot realize a financial return on any of the permitted uses for that zone and demonstrating that any claimed financial hardship has not been self-imposed. The granting of a use variance is intended to be a serious and rare event. The report prepared by the applicant’s consultant failed to justify this: It contains multiple equivocal statements such as, “suggested it would be unpopular,” “deemed unfavorable,” and “adversely affect the intended use of the vacant restaurant” when ruling out the permitted uses. But that did not deter four out of five ZBA members from voting to grant this use variance.
The applicant, who just happens to be a real-estate developer and political donor with holdings that include ownership of a local restaurant that hosted the current majority party’s victory dinner last November, was given exactly what he requested for the second time in the last year despite not truly meeting the requirements.
Isn’t it time we questioned the qualifications, conflicts of interest, and appointments of our ZBA members?
Their decisions consistently undermine approved zoning and codes to the benefit of a handful of special interests without apparent regard for the long-term impacts that affect all of us. The most controversial decisions are often made without public discussion of each member’s individual voting rationale. A growing number of us fear that decisions like this one threaten Riverhead’s future.
This is not the type of service the public deserves.

Phil Barbato


Asked & unanswered

What has happened to our beloved country?
The government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals, but nothing for their victims.
In public schools you can teach tolerance for others, but don’t mention the word God.
We got rid of the communists and socialist threat by renaming them progressives.
We are unable to close our border with Mexico, but we have no problem stationing 38,000 troops along the South Korean border.
Who are we protecting the Western Europe countries from?
You can have pornography on TV, but not a nativity scene in some public places.
We take money from hard-working Americans and give it to illegal immigrants in the form of food stamps, medical care, clothing, business loans and housing. Why?
We still have the freedom of speech, but only when it is politically correct.
Our government has become the foster father of millions of children, while allowing the men who fathered those children to shirk their responsibility of support and fatherhood.
If they are needed in the work force, then what is wrong with immigrants entering legally, registering, and having their backgrounds checked?
If we are a melting pot of nationalities, then why do we have to choose either English or one particular foreign language when we dial up businesses and municipal offices?
Why are we being baited into this “divide and conquer” strategy?
Our forefathers chose to accept English as their language. They didn’t impose their native language on others. They became part of the melting pot.
What happened to this melting pot?
Why doesn’t our leftist press report the fact that the Fort Hood shooter and the Norway bomber were in fact Muslim terrorists?
God Bless America

John Copertino


Give and take

Compromise is the essence of democracy.
The Constitution is loaded with them, as is the Declaration of Independence. Can we do less?
That is enough.

George Kreiling