Letters to the Editor: Dec. 15, 2011


Fender-bender trap

My husband recently had an accident at the Route 58 traffic circle on a rainy night. I have had numerous near-misses while negotiating this circle. The officer who came to the scene said there has been numerous accidents in the circle since it was changed to its current form. Something needs to be done to alleviate the dangers at the circle. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the circle was completed.

I am sure much thought and planning went into the circle’s design, but something is definitely wrong. Our insurance agent guessed precisely where the accident took place as soon as my husband told him it happened on Route 58. Perhaps we need to have a police car sitting in the parking lot just southwest of the circle; maybe that would slow drivers down a bit. Perhaps speed bumps would slow them down. Maybe more police presence and ticketing is the answer.

The speed limit on that stretch of road is 35 mph, but I see cars going much faster most of the time. Those entering the circle from the west on Route 58 don’t seem to think they need to slow down at all because they are continually moving forward without any regard to who might be pulling into the circle. At a minimum, drivers need to have a little courtesy when approaching any traffic circle. Allow the car waiting to the right to have a bit more time to actually get into the circle instead of zooming by to save 30 seconds.

I am certain this adversely affects older drivers especially. I’m not picking on our seniors, as I am by some accounts considered one of them! They are more likely to sit and wait for a large opening before creeping into the circle, thereby holding up cars waiting behind them. Eventually, those behind start honking their horns, making the driver at the front of the line even more nervous, and perhaps pull into the traffic circle at the wrong time.

My husband and I will have to use a different route to try and avoid this fender-bender trap. Or maybe the powers that be can think of something to improve the safety of traffic. I’m sure there are others who feel the same.

Lois Marascia


Students will press on

Thank you for your support in your editorial (“Speed limit should be reduced in Calverton,” Dec 8). By your bringing this matter to our officials’ and the public’s attention, we are sure we will gain even more support and move forward to accomplish our goal of reducing the speed limit. We are very excited to know that we could possibly make a difference.

We also thank Councilman John Dunleavy and look forward to our next meeting with him and Police Chief David Hegermiller. We understand that the process will take time and may be difficult, but we know we are up to the challenge!

Riverhead Charter School

fifth and sixth grades


We’re owed
an explanation

This is an open invitation to the Riverhead Board of Education to explain to the taxpayers of the Riverhead Central School District how the board can justify spending $843,579 (includes contingencies, A/E fees, CM fees and owner soft costs) for new bleachers and a new press box at McKillop Field.

In these difficult financial times, when all taxpayers are having difficulties making ends meet, I thought the bond proposal was supposed to fund district needs and not wants. When did a new press box ($183,121), new 1,200-seat bleachers ($439,491), new 250-seat visitors bleachers ($91,491) and replacement of wood bleachers ($129,406) become needs of the district? Spending $843,579 for these extras will do nothing to improve the education of our students, make our buildings more efficient and safer, preserve community assets or improve the ability of our student athletes.

I consider this a travesty and feel the money would be better spent in the new classrooms and laboratories. The taxpayers of the Riverhead Central School District deserve to have their taxes spent prudently, and not wasted on nonessentials.

Sal Mastropaolo


that works

There’s a collective smile on the faces of New Yorkers proud of their government and what bipartisan cooperation can produce for a citizenry tired of the kind of bickering and backbiting that has stalled our federal government.

In stark contrast to the gridlock in Washington. D.C., the state Senate’s Republican majority has worked together with Governor Andrew Cuomo to accomplish major changes and positive reforms this year.

The new middle-class tax cut and job creation plan will build on these successes by cutting taxes for hardworking middle-class families, and helping to create new private sector jobs. The package delivers on my long-standing goal of derailing the job-killing MTA payroll tax. It includes $250 million in new tax relief through elimination of the MTA payroll tax on most small businesses and elimination of this job-killing tax for more than 290,000 small businesses throughout the 12-county MTA region; 81 percent of all impacted businesses will see the tax completely eliminated.

Earlier this year, working in a bipartisan manner, we accomplished some very important things for the people of this state, including eliminating a $10 billion deficit, bringing spending under control and capping property taxes.

This job-creating economic plan continues to defy the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and shows that we can make government work for the people of this state once again. I am pleased to have partnered with the governor on this agreement that reflects two of my long-held priorities: cutting your taxes and creating jobs in New York State.

Ken LaValle

New York State senator


You have a stake

Last week, the Riverhead Town Board unanimously approved a law that will require the Planning Board to hold public hearings for commercial and retail site plan development proposals, and we welcome the change.

The new rules will allow residents to provide comments, feedback and recommendations early in the review process. The law reminds the Planning Board that Riverhead residents should have an important say in planning the future of their community.

Group for the East End, along with a number of Riverhead civic organizations, had been advocating for the new legislation for some time, as Riverhead was the only town in the region that excluded public input on commercial and retail site plan applications. In our view, a responsible public hearing process is the only assured way of incorporating public concerns into the daily decision-making that is shaping the future of Riverhead Town. The public dialogue helps to clarify key issues and offers an opportunity to create the best, most compatible project by incorporating both the developer’s and the community’s vision. The new legislation also helps to create a more open and transparent decision-making culture that the Town of Riverhead so desperately needs.

Collectively, every resident can now play a more productive role in shaping the future of Riverhead Town, and we hope they will.

The Planning Board meets twice a month on Thursdays (rotating between afternoon and evening meetings). The meeting schedule can be found at riverheadli.com. Additionally, legal notices will appear in the News-Review at least 10 days prior to the scheduled hearing, and hearing notice signs will also appear on the property where a project is proposed.

Jenn Hartnagel



An invaluable program 

As a mother of four children who have attended or currently attend Riverhead schools, I want to express my opinion regarding a quote in the October Riverhead News-Review regarding “cuts to programs, not teachers” as a means of addressing next year’s predicted budget shortfall. Although I applaud the board’s attempt to rein in spending, I am frankly concerned about the possibility that cuts to “programs” could eliminate some of Riverhead’s important programs that are not state mandated, such as seventh-grade foreign language. If this is what the BOE has in mind, I can hardly think of a worse idea.

While I wholeheartedly and publicly supported the recently approved building improvement bond, the elimination of important academic programs on the heels of our recent progress would render the bond victory more than hollow.

Riverhead is extraordinary because it offers foreign language to seventh-graders. Most foreign countries introduce foreign language to much younger students. Eliminating seventh-grade foreign language puts us even further behind than we already are!

In Riverhead, we have always set the foreign language bar high. Unlike most schools in the state, we have offered students the ability to study Latin through high school and even take Greek. I cannot discuss the Riverhead Latin program without mentioning the outstanding educators who teach these classes. They are among the finest teachers I have ever encountered. As a seventh- and eigth-grade Latin teacher, Lorene Custer is engaging, excited and interested in her students. She also coaches Latin students with great success in Certamen competitions, runs the Latin Club and amazingly coordinates the Roman Banquet each year, where the students author a mythological play, make props and costumes and present their creation while feeding what feels like millions of excited Riverhead families. Riverhead Latinists shine throughout the state and our reputation in that venue is contrary to what most outsiders hear about Riverhead Schools. We should not allow ourselves to go backwards.

I had the pleasure of spending a weekend at Gettysburg College with my eldest son, a six-year Riverhead Latinist. While walking through the National Cemetery and discussing New York’s decision not to mandate seventh-grade foreign language and the recent elimination of the Latin Regents exam, he noted the irony on one of the monuments honoring fallen New York Civil War soldiers, which was emblazoned with New York’s motto: “Excelsior,” a Latin word meaning “higher, always upward.”

Let’s not be sheep. Instead, let Riverhead continue to show the state what its motto means! Please keep seventh-grade language, especially Latin, part of what makes RMS and RHS extraordinary.

Dawn Thomas