Letters to the Editor: October 6, 2011


Don’t condemn the Wellness Center

In reference to your Sept. 22 special report on Dr. Jesse Stoff, although I am displeased with the personal choices Dr. Stoff has made, we cannot penalize one doctor for the entire staff at East End Wellness. Dr. Stoff’s facility Solstice Wellness Center in Rockaway Park is not the East End Wellness Center. Readers should not confuse the two establishments.
To the Rocky Point woman who spoke in the story on behalf of her 24-year-old daughter by stating the facility “didn’t feel right.” Obviously she has never patronized a medical establishment on Roanoke Avenue in Riverhead. Most of the medical offices are structured just like East End Wellness. Most of the buildings were once homes that have been converted to office buildings. If you are looking for a sterile, “feels right” type of environment, please go west to the Belle Meade medical offices in Setauket and Stony Brook.
Additionally, both mother and daughter seemed, in the story, to know nothing about allergy testing. Allergy testing is performed with needles, which is a standard medical practice, not just holistic. Precisely how did this dynamic duo believe allergy testing was performed? East End Wellness will continue to get my business as well as referrals.

Jody Mitchell


Please vote on our school proposals

On Oct. 11, we urge all taxpayers in the Riverhead School District to take time to vote on two important bond propositions we have placed on the ballot for your consideration.
Proposition 1 represents the district’s plan to maintain its school buildings by renovating and rehabilitating portions of each building that can no longer be maintained through regular maintenance. The time has come with our schools when day-to-day repairs are no longer cost effective. Much like our homes, our school buildings need infrastructure attention, and we have designed a plan that will involve only our most pressing concerns: new roofs on most buildings to replace roofs that leak and have surpassed their life expectancy; new boilers and mechanical systems that are inefficient, out of date and unnecessarily expensive to run; and renovated parking lots and bus loops that will enhance the safety of our students and staff.
Proposition 2 is for a new gymnasium at the high school that will supplement our existing gymnasium facilities and ease overcrowding for this important community resource.
A resident whose home has a full value of $280,000 (which is the district average) will pay about $185 per year in additional property taxes during the full life of this bond for Proposition 1, and about $66 for Proposition 2. Residents who want to learn how the bond will impact their specific property taxes should email their address to [email protected] or call 369-6823 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
In order to make participation in this important election easier for you, we have established four voting zones in the school district, based on the catchment areas of our four elementary schools: Riley Avenue, Phillips Avenue, Aquebogue and Roanoke Avenue. Residents should vote at the school that a child living in their home would attend under standard circumstances, except that Roanoke Avenue votes will go to the high school to vote because Roanoke Avenue is not handicapped accessible. Questions about where to vote should be directed to 369-6526.
As taxpayers in this community, we are mindful that these are difficult economic times for each and every person, but as your elected representatives charged with safeguarding your school tax dollars, we feel that these renovations are justified and well overdue. We urge you to make your voice heard on Oct. 11.
Riverhead Board of Education

Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, president
Gregory Meyer, vice president
Jeffrey Falisi,
Timothy Griffing,
William Hsiang,
Amelia Lantz,
Kimberly Ligon


Consider this when voting Tuesday

The Riverhead school board recognized the severe deterioration of existing school facilities and the lack of modern facilities, both necessary to educate the children of the district. The result was the formation of the CPR schools committee, which consisted of parents, teachers, administrators, community members and school board members. Project engineering support was provided by BBS Architects and Engineers.

The focus of the CPR schools committee was the examination of the needs of each of the district’s seven school buildings and grounds relating to pupil and staff safety, restoration, maintenance and the improvement and expansion of scholastic and athletic facilities. The objective of the committee was the presentation, to the Riverhead Board of Education, of a detailed proposal defining the needs of the district and the cost of same.
Each school was addressed in the same manner:

• An in-depth inspection tour and listing of the school needs was presented by the school principal.
• An engineering assessment of the physical state of the school was provided by BBS A & E. This included need priority and cost of replacement or repair.
• Discussion of the information presented followed.
• As the meetings progressed, detailed layouts of the schools were presented. These layouts were modified based on the discussions and recommendations of the committee.

The meetings continued from September 2010 to May 2011. During that time the designs continually improved. Detailed cost estimates were presented. Schools were revisited with emphasis on the high school and the middle school. Special emphasis was placed on Roanoke Elementary School because of its space- and age-related needs. In May 2011 the committee presented the proposal to the school board for acceptance. The $78.4 million final design presents a realistic, cost-effective solution to bring the district schools to a safe, up-to-date state while providing a modern educational environment for now and in the future. Please vote ‘yes’ for Proposition 1.

As for Proposition 2, the CPR schools committee found no need for a new high school gym. The new gym is an attempt by certain school board members to have district taxpayers finance a costly “Riverhead Coliseum.” Please vote ‘no’ on Proposition 2.
Your vote is important and necessary.

Richard Tavano

member, CPR schools committee


Invest in our community

While it may be hard to believe, Riverhead High School is now 40 years old. The only renovations that have been made to address class sizes have been in the form of “portable” classrooms.

As a resident, graduate of 2002, taxpayer, teacher at Riverhead High School and someone trying to start a family in this community, I don’t want to think about what would happen to our schools and community if this bond doesn’t pass. As someone who volunteered for the CPR committee (which met for the past 12 months to revamp the former bond proposal), I sat beside 55 other members of this community to take $40 million off the price tag for this proposal. Roofs are leaking, windows malfunctioning, and deterioration is found at each of our seven school buildings. This bond addresses health, safety, infrastructural and space needs and nothing extra. This can be found in the $78 million Proposition 1. Consider this an investment — fixing things as emergency repairs each year takes precious dollars away from our annual school budget. Forty-year-old windows are 40-year-old windows. Leaky roofs can only be patched so many times. HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems have reached the point where they are in need of replacement, not repair or maintenance. I urge you to call the school district at 369-6823 or email them at [email protected] to find out exactly how much the debt service on this bond will cost you each year. We shouldn’t have up to 300 students outside in portable classrooms each school period at the high school. Wind, rain and snow shouldn’t impede the educational process but it does on a daily basis. As a homeowner I know that this investment will help my property value in the long term, not to mention close the gap between our district and many other local school districts in terms of infrastructure. This proposal is fiscally responsible; the cost of labor and materials will never be cheaper. Please join the conversation on Facebook, too, at facebook.com/riverheadbondyes.

And come out to vote on Oct. 11. The future well-being of this town and its young people depend on it!

Justin Cobis


Worth the money

$78 million. That is a huge number; I will not argue that fact. I will, however, be voting yes to this amount on Oct. 11. I took part in our community and joined the CPR committee that created the school bond proposal.

Our community is a place where we help others in need, the place that wins championships and science awards and music awards. The place in which I was born and raised and now raise my two children, who now attend the Riverhead schools. If I leave this town, no matter near or far, I always look forward to coming home to the very place that has more heart than anywhere I have ever been.

We can blame many for our buildings’ faults. I agree with the fact that our past school boards have in a way let us down, dipping into our reserves in order to keep our taxes low, all along knowing that one day the bottom was going to fall out.

I took part in our community and joined the CPR. We discussed as community members the needs versus the wants and, of course, the past. I trust the tides have turned. I feel they hear us loud and clear that we will stand for nothing less this time around than to maintain and secure this huge $78 million investment.

If we continue to point fingers and play the blame game and say who did and didn’t do what and not address this now, we may never get a chance again to give ourselves — as a community of the most unbelievable type — the very school buildings we deserve.

Maureen McKay


For the children and much more

Riverhead has many assets attractive to business and industrial leaders, as such people make decisions on where to locate and/or expand. These assets include reasonable taxes, available land, reliable public services, an increasingly vibrant downtown, cultural opportunities, transportation, and natural environment, including waterfronts. But community development studies also point to another basic factor, the availability of a good public school system.

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, we have been called to support a carefully crafted and necessary plan to make some needed repairs and improvements to our schools. As is clear when one looks around on L.I., a good school system improves property values and is essential to attracting business and industry. It is also essential to provide families the quality education children need.

We are retired Riverhead residents and proud grandparents of Riverhead school children. We encourage a vote in favor of the plan to continue to improve Riverhead by maintaining good schools.

Francis and Patricia Roberts


The bond makes financial sense

I am writing to express my full and heartfelt support for the Riverhead Central School District bond proposal. As the mother of four children who attend school in the district, and as a taxpayer, I feel it is imperative to vote for the bond, not only to give our children the schools they deserve but also to properly plan for our collective financial future.

I think some voters view a “no” vote as a conservative vote for no increase in taxes. However, the “no” vote is actually a vote for poor planning and financial uncertainty. Rather than responsibly plan for needed expansion and repairs when the costs and interest rates are low, a “no” vote means we allow our buildings to crumble and patch in portables, paying through the nose at future interest rates that will most certainly be higher than what is available now. So, while people may argue that we can’t “afford” to vote yes on the bond, the reality is that the opposite is true. Responsible people plan for growth and capital expenditures. A vote for the bond is a vote for responsible, secure and sensible fiscal planning; the kind of planning we hope our children will engage in as fiscally responsible adults. A “no” vote is a vote for the same foolish “spend today, it’ll work itself out tomorrow” mentality that got our country in the pickle it is in today.

Be responsible, vote “yes” next Tuesday.

Dawn Thomas

Editor’s note: Ms. Thomas is a former Riverhead Town attorney.


Do some work for once

I have never seen such childish behavior as the sparring between Riverhead’s former and present supervisors. If one of them would keep quiet and stop his silly Guest Spot and Equal Time diatribes, he just might get some work done. Or, is that wishful thinking on my part. Do any politicians get any work done? Have you noticed that many politicians are mostly seen (in number order): 1. Campaigning, 2. Ribbon cutting 3. Kissing (elderly) ladies at garden club luncheons. 4. Getting haircuts. 5. Putting up ugly signs on manicured lawns. 6. Drinking coffee at Town Hall. 7. Attending meetings.

But, I am optimistic about Riverhead’s future; things downtown can only get better.

Jim Dreeben


Don’t judge a house by its cover

To the woman who wrote the editor expressing disgust over my new home.

Madam, I thank you for describing the home I built with so much love and creativity as a nightmare for my neighbors. I apologize to you for somehow disturbing the tranquility of this beautiful waterway. Although there has not been a single complaint from anyone but you, I hope you accept my apology.

I further apologize if you are offended by the joyful noise of what you refer to as my “circus grounds on the waterfront.”

What you may have been offended by was my annual company picnic. I feel it is important to thank those that work for me, so each year I graciously serve 100 of my loyal employees with a BBQ at my home. Or maybe what disturbed you was our charity art auction that raised money for the Have a Heart Foundation, which helps homeless people throughout the North Fork.

I apologize for what you perceive as “having turned my residence into a Club Med.” What you may have witnessed was a wonderful celebration on my lawn this summer in which we raised $18,000 for City Harvest, which feeds hungry New Yorkers every day.

I imagine there are other things you have been offended by, for which I also apologize. Possibly it is the black teenagers that are often on my lawn. These are the two African children that I found begging on the streets of Ethiopia several years ago. I now raise them as a single dad and their friends are over often.

I also apologize to you for the soccer games that are played on my lawn by a children’s soccer team that has no place else to practice. I apologize for taking a home that was an eyesore, and making it something artistic and tasteful. I apologize for beautifying the neighborhood and hopefully helping to increase your home’s value.

In closing, Madam, I apologize for all these shortcomings and for having intruded on your unhappiness! I strongly suggest to you that the next time you criticize a fellow human being for his prosperity that you first look into how he employs it.

Victor Ozeri


Tread carefully with new shelter efforts

Last week’s article regarding Denise Lucas and her decision to collect money for a new animal shelter for innocent animals in the Town of Riverhead appears to be a positive action. But first consider these questions.

1. Is she an established and listed non-for-profit organization, as required by law? As such, is the organization registered with New York State and the federal government. Records and receipts must be documented for each donation.

2. Has she acquired a commitment from the town that the money will only be used specifically for a new facility?

3. What has become of the money in previously established “trust funds” for the shelter?  Others have tried this in good faith before without success.

4. Where will the new facility be located?

5. Will it be all-inclusive for cats and other animals?

6. Will it be a no-kill facility?

7. What input, if any, will volunteers or other groups have in managing the facility?

I have spent 18 years of my time, effort, money and emotions trying for the same thing without results. By the same thing, I mean a new facility in a new location — one that is no-kill and all-inclusive. A sanctuary versus a shelter, where age, health and overall cuteness do not determine the fate of any animal in need.

To Ms. Lucas and her donors, good luck but beware.

Sandra Lee Mott


Don’t divert funding

There has been much said about Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s proposal to use funding from the quarter-cent sales tax program to provide for needed sewer infrastructure.
A portion of this money has always been allocated to the sewer stabilization fund, which pays down debt on the Southwest Sewer District. Since funds needed for this debt have been decreasing over the years, excess funds can and should be allocated for upgrading existing sewer infrastructure to more modern treatment technologies.

In some cases, we need to build new sewer systems in communities such as Mastic and Shirley, where the Forge River is severely degraded from septic system discharge.

The Citizens Campaign for the Environment agrees with Mr. Levy that using excess funds for needed sewer upgrades and new infrastructure is a wise and necessary step. Upgrading sewers will protect our drinking water, bays and estuaries, all of which are in the spirit and intent of our water protection program.

However, funds should not be removed from the sewer tax stabilization fund and deposited into the county’s general fund in order to balance the budget.

For 20 years our organization has worked to keep the drinking water protection program as a safe and lasting fund to protect our island’s natural resources and our only source of drinking water.

Sewers are a part of that protection plan, but diverting funds is not.

Adrienne Esposito
executive director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment