Letters: Riverhead can’t afford any special elections

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Maryann Wowak Heilbrunn at her desk in Riverhead Town Hall.


Why even run?

I read with some concern the News-Review article “Tax receiver retires; Wooten eyes job”. What I would like to know is when tax receiver Maryann Wowak Heilbrunn knew she was going to retire? She was just elected to a four-year term of office and now we have to have a special election to fill her slot. Special elections are expensive.

Councilman James Wooten, who was just elected to a four-year term on the Riverhead Town Council, now wants Ms. Wowak Heilbrunn’s job. When I ran for assessor last year, Mr. Wooten wanted to run for town supervisor but was pressured by Sean Walter and Republican Party officials to run for a council seat.

Mr. Wooten should make up his mind, as he is not doing the public a favor in having another special election for his council seat. In a time of a poor economy, high unemployment and higher taxes, Riverhead can ill afford special elections. The public be damned.

Robert Svoboda


Singing the blues

After reading a letter to the editor about the Blues Festival in last week’s newspaper, I felt compelled to give my opinion as to why the attendance was down this year, as well as give my reason for not attending myself.

People didn’t show up mostly because they were not allowed to BYOB (bring your own beer). Part of the unique charm of the Blues Festival was to bring your own beverages and food, set up your area, hang out and listen to good music, meet up with friends and just kick back and relax all day. This year, however, between the admission and having to buy beer on-site, it made it too expensive to attend — especially all day, like my group has always done — therefore it was not worth our while.

It’s a real shame because my friends and I — a group of about 25 — looked forward to the Blues Festival every year. None of us went.

It’s also a real loss for the town. Riverhead blew it once again.

Janice Seus


Stop them!

Say what? The Riverhead Town Board is poised to approve a land use plan and rezoning for Route 25A in Wading River, but the non-elected Planning Board thinks otherwise?

That’s what it seems like when a premature and incomplete plan for a 53,000-square-foot shopping center is proposed for the very area the Town Board has targeted for balanced growth. The Planning Board has taken a preliminary look at plans for the North Shore Country Plaza — proposed for the property next to the Condzella Farm in Wading River — and seems ready to fast-track the project before Town Board members can act on what they think is good for Wading River.

Referring to the Town Board plan, project lawyer Peter Danowski suggested that “to change the plan now in the middle of someone’s application, I think, is actionable.” That means subject to a lawsuit. He said, “It’s unfair to have a pending application that is not acted upon and then change the zoning.”

Is he kidding? It’s just the opposite. The 25A Corridor Study was begun in July 2011. The development project was not proposed until December. At that time, it was said that the development plan was some kind of effort to protect development rights in the face of the land use study. So it’s not the case that the Town Board is contemplating rezoning in the face of the shopping center plan; it’s the shopping center plan that’s trying to pre-empt the rezoning. The rezoning plan came first!

I think that the shopping center backer, Mr. Danowski and the Planning Board are quite literally trying to “pull a fast one” and try to railroad this undesirable project through the unelected Planning Board in record time, before the elected Town Board can enact the 25A plan. Neither the Town Board nor the Planning Board should let that happen.

Richard Amper

Editor’s note: Mr. Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, wrote this letter as a concerned citizen and not as a representative of the Pine Barrens organization.


A day at the races

Three cheers for Riverhead! The Cardboard Boat Race has turned into a real downtown showcase event. Judging by the large increase in boats that raced this year and the ever-increasing crowds, we have a lot to be proud of.

I would like to thank all the volunteers, town police, town recreation, town sanitation, building and grounds, the BID and the highway department for their efforts.

I would like to also offer a special thanks to my colleagues on the Cardboard Boat Race committee, Ed Densieski, Kristina Gabrielsen and Ken Zaneski. The boat race committee founded this race in 2010. For three seasons we have worked endless hours to make this event such a success. We are already planning next year’s race to make it even bigger and better. Another event that is positively Riverhead!

George Gabrielsen

councilman, Riverhead Town