Tag Archive | "East Hampton"

State Education Aid Increases by $1.1 Billion

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced Monday that the 2014-15 state budget will increase state aid to education by $1.1 billion to more than $22 billion.

“The State Legislature has improved the governor’s 2014 state budget proposal by increasing school aid from a proposed 3.9 percent to 5.3 percent across the state,” said Assemblyman Thiele. “Suffolk County’s share of aid also would increase by 5.3 percent. Suffolk had gotten its fair share of this year’s school aid increase.”

A major part of the school aid increase was the reduction of the Gap Elimination Adjustment by $602 million. The GEA was originally enacted to close a state budget deficit back in 2008-09.

Mr. Thiele said the final state budget also includes the governor’s $2 Billion Smart School Bond initiative to improve classroom technology and construct pre-kindergarten classroom space. He expressed support for the governor’s Smart School Bond Act, which must be approved by voters in November.

“The focus on improving quality education is a goal I fully support,” said Mr. Thiele. “This state aid proposal accomplishes that goal for Long Island and New York State.”

“Superintendents in my district conveyed that their priority for this year’s budget was the reduction of the GEA—a budget-balancing fiasco imposed by the Democrats in 2010 when they controlled all three branches of government.” said Senator Kenneth P. LaValle. “This year, we were successful in restoring $602 Million of the GEA money to local school districts. The state’s commitment to education is now well over $22 billion. This budget meets the needs of New York State’s children while at the same time providing property tax relief to residents who help underwrite the costs. I am pleased to have obtained increases for each school district in my area.”

Under the state budget, the Sag Harbor School District will receive $1,637,585, a 5.92-percent increase in state aid. The Bridgehampton School District will receive $656,377, a 10.9-percent increase. The East Hampton School District is set to receive $2.76 million in state aid, a 4.15-percent increase, and the Southampton School District will get $2.6 million, a 9.9-percent increase.

Sunday Ribbon Cutting at New Hellenic Center

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Archbishop Demetrios, the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will formally open the Nicholas S. Zoullas Hellenic Center at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons after the church’s Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 6.

The center was designed to become the gathering place for the cultural, educational, and social events of the parish. Expected to be used for art exhibitions, lectures, and musical concerts, the new structure, with expansive arched windows on all sides, hardwood floors and room for 250 people, will become home to a myriad of cultural and community events hosted by the Greek Orthodox congregation in Southampton.

The Nicholas S. Zoullas Hellenic Center is the third and final stage in the construction of a new church complex for the parish. In all, the complex includes the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Sanctuary, a cruciform Byzantine church; the Johnides Family Cultural Center, with state-of-the-art classroom, office, meeting, and kitchen space; and the Nicholas S. Zoullas Center.

Mr. Zoullas, a philanthropist and shipping executive, has been a longtime steward of Orthodoxy and Hellenism.

SoMAS “State of the Bays” Report to be Delivered This Friday in Southampton

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Gober, Christopher

Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Studies will present “State of the Bays, 2014: Nitrogen Loading, Estuarine Flushing and the Fate of Long Island’s Coastal Waters” in the Duke Lecture Hall of Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook-Southampton campus this Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.

The talk will introduce a new organization, The Long Island Coastal Conservation and Research Alliance, whose mission will be to engage in coastal research and monitoring that can be used to protect and restore Long Island coastal ecosystems. The seminar will also highlight recent observations and research important for the conservation of these ecosystems.

Over the course of the last year, awareness has grown about the negative effects of excessive nitrogen loading on Long Island’s coastal waters. This attention was partly driven by the continuous outbreaks of red tides, brown tides, rust tides, blue green algal blooms, Ulva blooms, and dead zones in Long Island’s estuaries during May through October of 2013, notes Dr. Gobler in his talk, an excerpt of which was issued via a press release this week. At the same time, research findings have emerged connecting excessive nitrogen loading and the intensity and toxicity of marine and freshwater algal blooms. New evidence has also emerged, according to the release, that estuaries in the region that have successfully reduced nitrogen loading are now experiencing a resurgence in water quality and fish habitats. The talk will also focus on the benefits of enhanced flushing, which can protect bays against the threats brought about by excessive nitrogen.

The event is free and open to the public.

Poxabogue Celebrates 50th Anniversary

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Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack.

Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack. Photo courtesy of Poxabogue.

By Tessa Raebeck

On “Poxy days,” Alfred and Robyn Poto would wake up their young children, Jennifer and Eric, get out the family bikes and head down Town Line Road to the Poxabogue Golf Center on Montauk Highway. After breakfast at the Fairway Restaurant, the family would spend their morning hitting golf balls on the range.

“When I think of Poxabogue, I smile,” recalled Jennifer, now a grown woman. “It has a warming sense of tradition and milestones for so many people.”

Opened in 1964, Poxabogue is celebrating 50 years of tradition this year. Originally a small potato farm, the Sagaponack course and driving range was started to give local residents an affordable alternative to the region’s standard of elite, members-only clubs.

Over a half a century, Poxabogue has become the range of choice for locals, tourists and summer residents alike.

“When I was a kid, I loved going to the range, it was a nice little family activity,” said Jennifer Poto, whose family had a summer home in Sagaponack. “It became a family tradition for us. Poxy golf and breakfast both just instantly remind me of my childhood.”

“It was a place where we could interact with our young kids, while surrounded by the beautiful landscape,” her mother, Robyn Poto, said. “No better way to start off a weekend morning, only to end the visit with a great breakfast with Dan [Murray],” who has been operating the Fairway Restaurant, the independently owned diner next to the course, since 1988.

An ad celebrating the opening of Poxabogue Golf Course in 1964. Photo courtesy of the Bridgehampton Historical Society.

An ad celebrating the opening of Poxabogue Golf Course in 1964. Photo courtesy of the Bridgehampton Historical Society.

While the Poto family enjoyed their “Poxy days” on sunny summer mornings, others honed their golf skills at Poxabogue bundled up on winter weekends and after school.

“I’ve always loved hitting golf balls there since I was young,” said Brendon Spooner, who grew up in Wainscott around the corner from the range. “It’s good for learning the game, having the nine-hole course out here.”

When developers threatened to turn the property into a housing development or a miniature golf attraction in the early 2000s, residents—billionaires and longtime locals alike—quickly spoke out to save Southampton’s only public course. In March 2004, the towns of East Hampton and Southampton recognized the public pressure and stepped up to the plate, splitting the cost to purchase Poxabogue.

Southampton bought out East Hampton’s share of the course in 2012 and is now the sole owner. PGA Director of Golf Steven Lee took over the day-to-day operations last June.

Mr. Lee manages the course and runs it as if it’s his own, paying the town in an agreement similar to a lease. He has a relationship with the town, he said, “to provide the people of Southampton and East Hampton with a public golf course in an area that has mostly private clubs.”

“What makes it special is that there’s not a lot of public golf out in the Hamptons,” said Mr. Lee. “And it’s really ironic, because at a time when all of the golf courses started becoming bigger and bigger and more expensive and more challenging—and that’s really one of the things that’s driven people away from the game—now they have Poxabogue, where people are coming out to. They love coming out, they love hitting balls.”

Matt Nielsen started playing at Poxabogue when he was 16. Some of his friends from East Hampton High School worked on the range, driving the caged carts around picking up balls. Mr. Nielsen first came to Poxabogue to perfect his golf game by taking aim at the carts his friends were driving, but he quickly became a regular.

“It’s important because it gives us locals a place to play that we can actually afford,” he said. “Some of the private courses out here cost more money than I will make in my lifetime. It’s a course for real golfers, not the rich stockbroker that just plays to close a business deal.”

Like the regulars on the range, Mr. Lee is hopeful Poxabogue will enjoy another 50 years providing the community with a place to play golf. One of his goals, he said, is to get more of locals to come out and hit balls in the off-season.

“As long as I live here, that’s my course,” Mr. Nielsen said.

From Farm to Bottle, “Hops and Brews” to Explore Long Island Alcohol

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Hops growing at Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

Hops growing at Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

By Tessa Raebeck

Long Islanders have been enjoying homegrown potatoes for generations, but rarely has the local harvest been in their vodka.

At “Hops and Brews” this Sunday, a farmer, a brewer and a spirit maker will discuss the various manifestations of the rapidly growing alcohol industry on Long Island. Panelists John Condzella of Condzella Farms in Wading River, Duffy Griffiths of Crooked Ladder Brewing Company in Riverhead and Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow will reflect on the collaboration between local producers and the strength of Long Island’s wide variety of goods.

Duffy Griffiths, head brewer at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Crooked Ladder.

Duffy Griffiths, head brewer at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Crooked Ladder.

The second installment of the “Conversations With…” lecture series presented by the Peconic Land Trust, “Long Island Grown: Food and Beverage Artisans at Work” will be moderated by Laura Donnelly, a resident of East Hampton, pastry chef, author and the food editor for The East Hampton Star.

“Some Long Island farmers are making really unique or non-traditional products as they strive to meet a growing demand for locally grown and produced items,” said Kathy Kennedy of the Peconic Land Trust, “We’re excited to be able to showcase some of them.”

“I am very excited to have a chance to moderate this panel,” said Ms. Donnelly. “I am a huge fan of craft brewers and love trying local beers and ales.”

With the recent—and fast—growth of craft beer on Long Island, small hops farming has become economically feasible, creating a symbiotic relationship between farmers and brewers. The hops farmer needs the craft breweries to survive and the craft breweries need the supply from their local farms.

Brewers working with wet hops must do so within 24 hours of the harvest, so finding a local source is crucial to a successful wet hop brew. John Condzella, a fourth generation farmer at Condzella Farms, recognized this demand, adding Condzella Hops to his family farm six years ago.

Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits. Photo courtesy of Rich Stabile.

Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits. Photo courtesy of Rich Stabile.

“I wanted to grow a unique crop, something that no other farm was doing,” explained Mr. Condzella. “During college I developed a love for craft beer; I know that was an important catalyst for my hops growing endeavors.”

Initially, Mr. Condzella was picking his hops by hand, enlisting the help of family, friends and local volunteers, until a Kickstarter campaign last spring enabled him to purchase a Wolf WHE 170 Hopfen Pflückmaschine, a German machine that picks them for him. In 2013 alone, Mr. Condzella harvested 800 pounds of hops.

“I think demand on Long Island is growing, the industry is very young. Most local brewers aren’t accustomed to using local whole cone hops. Mainstream hops pellets from around the world are their hops of choice,” Mr. Condzella said.

Hops grower John Condzella of Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

Hops grower John Condzella of Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

The demand is indeed growing: Some of that farm-to-growler beer will be available next year at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company, which opened in July 2013.

Head Brewer Duffy Griffiths said the brewery will start using local hops in September, “when the fresh hops round comes out.” Condzella’s Hops is an option, although Crooked Ladder hasn’t yet chosen its supplier.

“It’s a matter of just using whole hops and supporting your local industry, rather than buying them from the Pacific Northwest or having them imported, so we try to keep everything local,” Mr. Griffiths said. “It helps out the area.”

Keeping everything local is at the core of Long Island Spirits. Founded in 2007, it is Long Island’s first craft distillery since the 1800s. The flagship product, LiV Vodka is made from Long Island potatoes, many of which are grown on the 5,000 acres of farmland surrounding the North Fork distillery.

Supplied by a variety of local farmers, the marcy russet potatoes arrive at Long Island Spirits in one-ton sacks. Three days a week, the distillery goes through roughly eight tons of potatoes. Every 25 pounds of potatoes makes about one liter of LiV Vodka.

The distillery also makes Rough Riders and Pine Barrens whisky and a collection of Sorbettas, liqueurs infused with fresh fruit.

“We’ll use local raspberries or local strawberries,” explained spirits maker Rich Stabile. “We’re using real fruit infused with the vodka that we grow on Long Island, made from Long Island potatoes.”

“We all know Long Island potatoes are the best,” said Ms. Donnelly. “Rich believes it is the sweet, buttery flavor of the potato that makes his LiV vodka so good. I have tried this vodka and it is excellent.”

“Long Island farmland is some of the best agricultural land in the world,” said Mr. Condzella, whose family farm started with dairy in the 1800s and evolved to a potato operation in the 1920s. “Our maritime climate, fertile soils and abundant sunshine are great for growing most crops, and hops are no exception.”

“Hops and Brews” is Sunday, April 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Bridge Gardens, 26 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. To reserve a seat, call Robin Harris at 283-3195, ext. 19, or email events@peconiclandtrust.org.

Looking for that Elusive Glass Slipper

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The Hampton Ballet Theatre School's 2012 presentation of the Nutcracker.

The Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s 2012 presentation of “The Nutcracker.” Photo courtesy of Sara Jo Strickland

By Tessa Raebeck

For its annual spring ballet, the Hampton Ballet Theatre School will present “Cinderella,” the classic story of love, hope and transformation, in four performances next weekend.

Rose Kelly as the Swan in the HBTS production of "Carnival of the Animals" last spring.

Rose Kelly as the Swan in the HBTS production of “Carnival of the Animals” last spring.

One of Sergei Prokofiev’s most popular compositions, “Cinderella” is a melodious ballet composed in the 1940’s based on the story from the classic fairy tale of unjust oppression. Choreographed by Sara Jo Strickland, director of Hampton Ballet Theatre School, the ballet features handmade costumes by Yuka Silvera and lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski. Local community members and guest artist Nick Peregrino of Ballet Fleming, who will play the Prince, will join the trained dancers of the ballet school, in the performance.

 

“Cinderella” will be performed Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 12 at 1 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 13 at 2 p.m. at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton. General admission tickets purchased in advance are $20 for children 12 and under and $25 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under and $30 for adults on the day of the performances. Premium orchestra, box seats, balcony seating and group rates are also available. To reserve tickets, call 1-888-933-4287 or visit hamptonballettheatreschool.com. For more information, call 237-4810 or email hbtstickets@gmail.com.

Thiele Proposes Larger Penalties for Code Violations

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. is co-sponsoring legislation with State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski of Rockland County that would increase the penalties for building code violations when the condition is deemed an imminent threat to the safety and welfare of the building’s occupants by the local government.

The bill provides for graduated penalties for repeat offenders. A first-time violation would carry a fine of no less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000. A second violation would carry a fine of no less than $5,000 and no more than $10,000. A third violation would result in a fine not less than $10,000 per day of violation or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.

“The current law allows for a wide range of discretion in handing down penalties for failure to correct building code violations,” said Assemblyman Thiele, a former Southampton Town supervisor and town attorney. “The penalty structure is often viewed by violators as nothing more than a cost of doing business. However, some violations create an immediate threat to the safety of the occupants and emergency responders. These violations must be taken more seriously in order to deter this conduct and protect the public safety. This bill will implement minimum fines for violations that put lives in danger and will make property owners more accountable.”

In addition to the new legislation increasing penalties, Mr. Thiele also has sponsored a bill that would give local justice courts the power to issue injunctions to stop serious building and zoning violations. Currently, local governments must go to state Supreme Court to obtain such relief.

Aquaponic Farm Approved at Page Restaurant

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The Sag Harbor Planning Board approved improvements at 63 Main Street Tuesday night that will allow the building’s owner, Gerard Wawryk, to construct an aquaponic farm facility on the second floor that will grow fresh vegetables for the first floor restaurant, Page @ 63 Main.

Aquaponic farming combines hydroponics and aquaculture. Plants are cultivated in water rather than traditional soil and the water is fed with nutrients produced created by fish housed on-site. Mr. Wawryk applied to the planning board for approval to construct a second story atop an existing one-story portion of the 3,860-square-foot building. That addition will serve as a seeding, growing and aquaponics area. Mr. Wawryk also earned approval Tuesday night for a rooftop garden where vegetables will also be grown for the restaurant.

The fish raised on-site, according to Mr. Wawryk, will not be used for food in the restaurant.

The decision was approved by board members Nat Brown, Larry Perrine and Jack Tagliasacchi. Planning board chairman Neil Slevin was not present at Tuesday’s meeting and acting chairman Greg Ferraris abstained from voting due to a financial relationship with Mr. Wawryk’s partner at 63 Main Street, Joe Trainer.

In other news, at its April 22 meeting, the planning board will likely approve a change in the John Jermain Memorial Library’s plans for the restoration and expansion of its Main Street building. According to Mr. Ferraris, the library needs to move an electrical transformer, originally mounted on a pole, to the ground.

“I don’t have any issue with this,” he said, to the agreement of the rest of the board.

The April 22 meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Pierson Laxmen Key in Two Wins

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By Gavin Menu

The East Hampton boys lacrosse team, which features a handful of Pierson players, picked up wins in its first two games, following a 12-7 win over Longwood on March 18 with a 15-9 victory over North Babylon last Thursday, March 20.

Pierson’s Jack Schleicher had three goals and three assists and Drew Harvey scored three goals and had five assists to lead the Bonackers over Longwood. Jack Lesser, another Pierson student, had a goal and won 13 of 16 face-offs.

Against North Babylon, it was Harvey leading the way again with four goals and five assists as the Bonackers jumped out to a quick 2-0 start.

“Sean Toole has been good in the goal,” head coach Mike Vitulli said when asked about other Pierson players, of which there are nine on the squad. “Max Grout and Joe Gengarelly are both starting and playing well.”

The Bonackers suffered their first loss of the season, falling 10-5 to Harborfields on Tuesday. They will play at Sayville today, March 27, at 4:30 p.m. and at Hampton Bays on Wednesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. The team’s next home game will come on April 4 against Bayport-Blue Point at 4:30 p.m.

East Hampton Track Teams Hosts First-Ever Invitational

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The East Hampton boys and girls track teams hosted the school’s first-ever invitational on Saturday, with several Pierson students posting standout results. Ian Barrett and Gavin O’Brien placed second and third, respectively, in the 200-meter dash, with Barrett posting a time of 26 seconds flat. O’Brien finished right behind in 26.7 seconds.

Allura Leggard, another Pierson student, finished in second place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.8 seconds.

In total, East Hampton hosted three boys teams in Hampton Bays, Southampton and Westhampton, while the girls hosted four teams in Eastport-South Manor, Sayville, Southampton and Westhampton Beach.

The boys will compete at Comsewogue today, March 27, at 4 p.m. before returning home to host Eastport-South Manor on Tuesday, April 1 at 4 p.m. The girls will travel to Eastport-South Manor for a meet on Monday, March 31 at 4:30 p.m.