Letters: Stolen shrubs, tragic accident and election season


A real disgrace

This is not Riverhead’s worst crime but it’s certainly up there as one of the most incomprehensible and disappointing. The Riverhead Garden Club began restoring the traditional English-style knot garden that sits between the town’s two landmark buildings on East Main Street, where the East End Arts gallery and school are located. The News-Review did an article on the garden club’s restoration project when we put in several boxwoods in December.

Last Saturday, we came by the garden to get it ready for spring planting and found someone had uprooted and stolen 11 dwarf boxwoods. The garden looks awful; this is so upsetting. Club members worked hard to plant the boxwoods, not taking into account the cost of the plants, which comes out of our limited budget. We had a dream of a historic restoration of this once-beautiful garden. We need about 20 boxwoods and now we have to replace what was stolen as well.

I am not even sure if it is safe to replace. We believe Riverhead’s Main Street can be welcoming and beautiful once again with all its historic significance. I believe the people who live in Riverhead want to see improvement and that this was someone who doesn’t live in Riverhead and has no sense of values.

Judy Kayton
member, Riverhead Garden Club
restoration committee


Sorry for family’s loss

I want to express the deepest sympathy to the Trionfo family regarding the tragic loss of young Dominic’s life this past Sunday in Mattituck’s Peconic Bay.

As a lifelong resident here, it brings me great sadness that this beautiful place has been connected to such a tragic and awful thing.

No parent should ever have to face losing their child.

Please accept my apologies and sincerest concerns. May God keep you and bless you indefinitely. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Erica Wells


Bring the family

With the pro forma environmental review under way for the Wading River 25A Corridor Study, there’s not much hard news to report. But all the talk of preserving community character got me thinking about broader community character. I recently was introduced to the Shoreham-Wading River Community Band, which will hold a free concert Friday, May 25, at Shoreham-Wading River High School, starting at 7:30 p.m.

The band is some 30 years old and comprises music lovers young and old. From Brian Radonavitch, the band’s 13-year old trombonist to Pat DeRosa, who plays clarinet at the age of 90. The band is directed by Jim McDougal, who has been at it for the past nine years.

This week’s concert, “Salute to Our Armed Forces,” will feature patriotic music to honor our men and women in uniform, along with classics like the “William Tell Overture” and the family-friendly “Peter and the Wolf,” which I have been invited to narrate.

This is the Prokofiev treat where the characters are represented by instruments or whole sections of the band.

The Shoreham-Wading River Community Band has 55 members and performs 13 times a year, with three major concerts such as this week’s in December, March and May.

The band plays at Calverton National Cemetery in connection with Memorial Day and Veterans Day and entertains at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University. In addition to saluting our veterans, the Friday concert will offer something for everyone with the music of Irving Berlin and even some Dixieland jazz.

So, it’s clear that community character comes in all shapes and flavor, not just through land use.

This will be a great performance — and it’s free! Bring the whole family!

Richard Amper

Editor’s note: Mr. Amper is the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, an environmental advocacy group.


Some taxing questions

Here’s a few quick points on spending in the Riverhead School District.

• The district had 4,898 students in 2010. (The district’s website does not publish 2012 data.) Assuming the number is still the same now, it costs $22,375 per student per year, going by the adopted budget for 2011-12, and $22,820 under the approved 2012-13 budget. Contrast that to New York City, which has 1.1 million students at an annual cost of $24 billion, or $21,818 per student. We all know how much more expensive the cost of living is in the city. One would have expected a significantly lower cost for Riverhead. What accounts for this aberration?

• From 2007-08 to 2009-10, the number of teachers in the district went from 393 to 355, a 10 percent reduction. Yet in all years since then the budget has been going up. Something is wrong with that picture.

• A large bond was approved last year by a slim margin, with those voting in favor representing less than 10 percent of the town’s population. It is, of course, too bad that there is such voter apathy. No sooner did that bond pass, that the district declared a 20-acre parcel on Tuthills Lane as surplus. That should have been known before the bond vote and should have been used to reduce the amount of the bond. At a minimum, the voters should have been informed that this asset will be sold.

While education is crucial at this time in our national debate, it does not mean that to support education we have to give a blank check. These are serious questions and they deserve some answers from district officials. The district’s website is not easy to navigate and there is little disclosure that would help answer the above questions. More transparency is needed and certainly more accountability as to why their cost per student is higher than New York City’s.

Charles Massoud


What do the candidates think?

Last week a letter appeared entitled “He is a disgrace.” In it, the writer says that the president is a “disgrace … to this great country, which he is attempting to convert into his socialist empire.” He goes on to say that the president “is committed to converting our nation into a plantation society” and that “he will live in memory as our worst president, and he will not only have disgraced our flag, but his family as well.”

I would like the Times/Review editors to show that letter to Randy Altschuler and George Demos and get their reaction on the record for your readership. In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, a man universally recognized as a hero and a patriot, stood up to similar hate speech during his campaign. His response to a woman at one of his rallies was that then-Senator Obama is a “decent family man and citizen who I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” It would be important for the voters of the 1st Congressional District to know whether our two Republican candidates for Congress have the backbone and decency to do the same.

Jerry Silverstein


Here we go again

Randy Altschuler, the biannual candidate for Congress, made a fortune by sending 10,000 American jobs overseas. He spent $3 million two years ago and lost to his opponent. It’s a shame he didn’t use that money to help the communities to which he recently moved. Mr. Altschuler is a wheeler-dealer and an opportunist. He has not done anything to merit his running for Congress.

This country needs builders and doers for our district.

Warren McKnight