Letters to the editor: Let’s talk about our proposal


Let’s talk about
our proposal

As the superintendent of Riverhead Charter School, I want to address Joseph Fortunato’s recent letter to the editor. I’ve had conversations with Mr. Fortunato and several community members who may be impacted by our efforts to secure adequate space for our students. Let me clarify a few critical points:

Land Development: It’s essential to understand that only 12.3 acres of the land we intend to purchase can be developed. This fact has been verified by Suffolk County and confirmed by me. Any suggestion that we plan to build land that cannot be conceived is factually incorrect.

Enrollment Projection: Contrary to Mr. Fortunato’s claims, we do not envision ourselves as a high school with over 500 students. His projection of our potential enrollment is misinformation. Our focus remains on providing quality education, not becoming a vast institution.

Facilities and Scare Tactics: Mr. Fortunato’s concerns about maintenance buildings and parking facilities are unfounded scare tactics. Our plans are far more modest and practical. We aim to create a conducive learning environment, not an expansive campus.

Public Charter School: It is crucial to emphasize that we are a public charter school, not a private institution. Our commitment to serving the community underscores the word “public.” We advocate for historically marginalized students and families who deserve equitable access to quality education.

In the spirit of transparency, I encourage the community to seek accurate information and engage in constructive dialogue. Let us work together to ensure that every student has the opportunity to thrive.

Raymond Ankrum

Mr. Ankrum is the superintendent of Riverhead Charter School.


A thank you to Assemblyman Thiele

Dear Mr. Thiele:

I have written you several times for different concerns. You always reply expeditiously, courteously, and concisely. I want to recognize the announcement of your pending retirement with gratitude, and, admittedly, a sense of sadness. You, sir, are the epitome of a “steady hand at the wheel” amid a sea of chaos, where government, local as well as national, seem as dysfunctional as ever. I wish you happiness and health as you begin this new chapter of your life. 

Charlie Benkov


The numbers here don’t add up

Gaza health authorities have reported that at least 74 Gazans died in the Israeli raid to save two hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7. That’s a ratio of approximately 35:1. Doesn’t it beg the question, how many Gazans would have died if Hamas had simply returned the two hostages they kidnapped? And doesn’t that beg the further question, what are the chances the Israelis would agree to a ceasefire in exchange for all the remaining hostages? Probably pretty good.

If the 19 hijackers who took down the World Trade Center on 9/11, killing 2,997 people, had never flown those planes into the towers, how many Iraqi lives would have been saved? It’s estimated that 170,000 Iraqi civilians died in the Iraq war. That’s about a 57:1 ratio of Iraqi deaths to American deaths. The United States population is about 35 times greater than the Israeli population. Israel lost 1,200 people in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. The Israeli loss of innocent life is the equivalent to a loss of 42,000 innocent lives in America.

So it all begs yet another question, what would this country have done if some enemy came here and killed 42,000 Americans? And to boot, how would we have responded to the kidnapping of 7,000 people? That’s what Israel is dealing with.

If Israel had exacted the same response in Gaza as the United States did in Iraq, then it wouldn’t have been 74 Gazans who died in the recent raid, but 114, or 57:1. So isn’t this the pot calling the kettle black when the world screams at Israel’s self-defense?

The bottom line: Nobody, on the Israeli or Gazan side, should ever have died, period. But the simple fact is that Hamas started this war and Israel responded with less fury than the United States did in Iraq. Hamas should return the hostages and Israel should take its troops home. That’s the only thing that makes any kind of sense.

Michael Levy


Balance conservation and sustainability

Preserving farmland is a noble pursuit, crucial not only for the North Fork of Long Island but also for agricultural regions across the globe. Selling development rights stands as one of the most admirable gestures in land preservation, albeit one that is often misunderstood and undervalued. In the heart of farming communities, the decision to sell development rights is not taken lightly. It’s a testament to the deep-rooted love for the land and the commitment to safeguarding it for future generations. 

Yet, sustainability in agriculture is an intricate dance, fraught with challenges and uncertainties. The financial risks are immense, from unpredictable weather patterns to fluctuating market demands. The initial investment, coupled with ongoing expenses for labor, resources and maintenance, often outweighs the returns, leaving many farmers teetering on the brink of financial ruin. 

The soaring land values, exceeding $100,000 per acre in some areas, present both opportunities and threats. While increased land values promise prosperity, they also cast a shadow of temptation for farmers grappling with economic pressures. The choice between selling land for development or preserving it for agriculture becomes increasingly complex, especially when regulatory constraints impede the latter. 

This is where the struggle begins — a battle between preservation and prosperity, between tradition and progress. How many are truly aware of the intricacies of development rights and zoning regulations that shape the fate of our farmland? It’s imperative that we demand more from our local officials — clarity in interpreting existing easements and flexibility in zoning restrictions. Farmers should have the autonomy to adapt their land use to meet evolving needs, whether it’s addressing traffic concerns through on-site parking for agritourism ventures or exploring innovative agricultural practices. 

Preserving farmland isn’t just about conserving landscapes; it’s about sustaining livelihoods, preserving heritage, and nourishing communities. As stewards of the land, we must heed the call to action, advocating for policies that strike a harmonious balance between conservation and sustainability. Only then can we ensure that the harvests are bountiful, and the legacy of farming endures for generations to come.

Vincent Guastamacchia


LaLota must act

Our Congressman, Nick LaLota, has made a strong statement mourning the Russian martyr Alexei Navalny and condemning the dictator Putin. Vladimir Very commendable, but will LaLota act on these sentiments? Each of us who cares should urge LaLota, via phone (202-225-3826) or his website (lalota.house.gov), to sign a discharge petition demanding that the House vote on the urgently needed aid to Ukraine.

Stanley Brown