Letters to the Editor: August 25, 2011


Don’t want to be like Hampton Bays

I read with interest Supervisor Sean Walter’s comments in last week’s News-Review that he thought it might be appropriate to permit homeowners the opportunity to rent their homes [out] to supplement their mortgage or tax payments.
I have had the unfortunate experience with so-called summer rentals in Hampton Bays. My home in Hampton Bays was surrounded by two seasonal rentals. The code enforcement officer would routinely visit these properties to abate the noise and lewd behavior.
Please take some time to explore the potential for opening the door to such rental arrangements. There must be restrictions in place to eliminate the possibility for abuse. I would seriously suggest that you do not want to become the “new” Hampton Bays. Renters have no problem selling shares for the weekend, the more the merrier. Anyone who happens to reside next to or near these rentals will have their quality of life negatively impacted.
I have no problem with families enjoying what our town has to offer, I am only concerned that permitting unrelated folks to rent these homes affords the potential to cause a great deal of problems for code enforcement personnel as well as our police department. I left Hampton Bays for the tranquility of Jamesport. I certainly trust you will use your experience and knowledge to craft a proposal that insures my tranquility will not be disturbed in Jamesport or anywhere in the Town of Riverhead.

Robert Hill


Do we have no respect?

I am disturbed by what was reported in last week’s “Friday night raid at motel” article, and have several questions. Did Riverhead Town contact Gregory Blass and the Department of Social Services first? If not, why ?
Was the woman arrested on a traffic violation held overnight in jail? Did this arrested woman have any children with her? If so, were the children provided with proper babysitters by the town or police? Was any consideration, comfort and concern provided by the town to the people staying at the motel ?
I hope common sense answers to my questions can be provided. When our town government fails to communicate with the county it’s shame on the town and our supervisor. Where is our leadership and respect for the county government and victimized people? I ashamed of our town for not being more considerate of the people residing at the Wading River Motel.

Warren McKnight


We can work this out

The town’s appalling raid at the Wading Riverhead Motel failed to discredit the homeless families there with the obviously intended arrests for contraband and warrants that did not happen. So now the effort turns to discrediting me and the motel operator. That is fine. It is my job to speak out for the homeless and for the operators of housing facilities. They are our partners in housing the homeless, and we take that relationship seriously. With the county’s 52 shelters full, motels are the only available alternative to housing these unfortunate families, who did not deserve to be cleared from their rooms and told to stand by while their names were checked for warrants and their rooms were searched.
Here are facts that not only I know but also the Town Hall elite know. The motel had been inspected by Riverhead Town building code, fire marshal and county health code staff, consistently with the owner’s cooperation. These inspectors clearly approved what they saw, and the health department actually granted the motel’s most crucial permit. DSS housing staff also approved the facility. The reputable operator had a private engineering firm, well versed in the Riverhead code, find the place safe for habitability.
We cannot and will not vacate the premises, as the town now demands. These already disrupted lives will not move and wait until such time as the town again approves what they had already inspected. Certainly town inspectors may return, knowing, as they have always known, that the owner/operator will consent to any inspection at any time. We can leave this to the state Supreme Court to resolve or we can find a way to settle all issues in the manner that was just about to be concluded prior to the awful Friday night raid. We would accept any reasonable approach that guarantees safe housing, a fact with which we and the state are already satisfied. The town should be too.
The winter numbers of homeless will climb dramatically in Suffolk. We now are setting up five other permanent shelters, all outside Riverhead. The Wading River Motel is our only motel-based shelter now in this town, and we have a new system come the school year to keep all children in their school districts of origin.

Greg Blass


Department of Social Services


Preserve plan is good for taxpayers

We were surprised to learn that concerns were raised about the potential loss of $56,000 in school tax revenues because of the open space acquisition of the North Fork Preserve. We think everyone should be cheering the purchase because of how much it will save Riverhead taxpayers over the years to come.
If the town and county do not buy the preserve as open space, it is likely to be sold for housing. This property is in a receiving area for development rights, so zoning will allow approximately 300 new homes. It currently costs over $21,000 per pupil to educate a student in Riverhead. About $18,000 of this comes from our taxes. If each new home produces just one student — and it seems likely there could be more — the annual cost to district taxpayers would be $5.4 million.
Even if these homes sell for $500,000 (well above the Riverhead average), they would produce only about $2.0 million in school tax revenue. Thus, the eventual net cost to the school district’s taxpayers would be about $3.4 million dollars annually.
New homes seldom pay for themselves. This is why farmland and open space preservation — so critical to keeping farming a viable industry as well as maintaining the beauty of the North Fork we all love — are also important for keeping our taxes reasonable. Development and population growth almost always lead to increased education costs, as recent school tax hikes in Riverhead attest. By itself, the build-out of the North Fork Preserve would increase all of our school taxes by 4 percent!
In short, Riverhead has an opportunity to conserve over 300 acres of beautiful, ecologically important land — an opportunity that benefits us and future generations by conserving wildlife habitat, reducing pressure on our aquifers and preventing pollution of our groundwater, and that will also help lessen future tax increases.
What could be better for Riverhead taxpayers?

Nancy Gilbert

Richard Wines


Hamlet needs a building moratorium

It makes no sense at all for the Riverhead Town Board to authorize and pay for a study to determine what, if anything, should be built along Route 25A in Wading River while the town simultaneously moves ahead with the approval process on the very development projects that threaten the community.
Hundreds of residents and taxpayers have already written to the Town Board asking for a time-out because, like me, they understand that it would defeat the purpose of the study to approve potentially disastrous development before finding out what makes sense for the area. Yet, so far, the Town Board continues to disregard the fact that a time-out is a no-brainer. Instead, they seem to be adopting a policy of “build first and find out later what should happen in Wading River.” What are they thinking?

Dominique Mendez
president, Riverhead Neighborhood
Preservation Coalition


Still little progress in Riverhead

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit my hometown recently. My stay was too short and clearly too long delayed. It was great to see my friends and to enjoy a few yummy egg sandwiches on rolls, which is unheard of in my current surroundings. The sweet corn I ate while there was like candy on a stick. There were a few disappointments, though. My trip would not have been complete without dinner at the Riverhead Grill. It was not the food that disappointed but the fact that I was the only customer. So sad. I remembered the place abuzz with longtime guests and staff.
The worst let down was Main Street itself, specifically the area around the aquarium. The hotel looks like it landed from outer space. It is so foreign to the old time charm of the nearby homes. The aquarium with its very shiny blue façade is somehow connected to that atrocity by an edifice with faux classic pillars squeezed in between. Who could possibly have thought that was a good idea? On the other side of the aquarium was an unpaved service station with every square inch of window covered in advertising. Has the Architectural Review Board been disbanded? How did any of this happen? And the Suffolk Theatre appears to be still dormant. I’m not sure how much progress has been made at the former Grumman property, but so far no word of any NASCAR events. Surely my brother would have mentioned that.
But wait. There was one notable addition that caught my eye. The Red Collection on Main Street is an offshoot of my favorite local haunt. Much of the excess furnishings that came south with me went on sale at the Red Collection in Greensboro. They even had some help visiting Riverhead from my local store. That was just a little disorienting.
I am grateful for the chance to go home again, if only for a few short days, and for the hospitality of friends and for the feeling of being someplace so familiar that it will always be home no matter how long I stay away. I miss it all.

Diane Llardi


Who do the Republicans represent?

The Republicans voted no for equal pay for women; no for Wall Street reform; no for leaving Iraq; no for the timeline for leaving Afghanistan; no for unemployment extension; no for repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military; no to drug discounts for seniors; no for benefits for us Americans who need protection from the for-profit health insurance companies; no to investigate mortgage corporations and letting a company like Countrywide off the hook when they practiced open mortgage fraud to thousands. No one went to prison.
Corporate campaign contributions bought our House of Representatives. Now they will be coming to collect on their investment. God help the USA.

Robert Svoboda

Editor’s note: Mr. Svoboda is a Democratic nominee for a Riverhead town assessor seat.