Tag Archive | "Suffolk County"

Waterfowl Count

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web birds LesserScaup

The South Fork Natural History Museum is calling all birders to help with the annual winter waterfowl count on Saturday, January 17.

The New York State Ornithological Association sponsors the annual event throughout the state in an attempt to record the winter waterfowl population and to assess the situation of each species.

Habitat loss, food scarcity and the introduction of nonnative species of water birds have all led to the decreasing waterfowl population on the East End.

A recent report released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation deemed the American black duck one of the species most in need of human conservation intervention.

The data from the winter waterfowl count, which extends from Montauk Point to the Shinnecock Canal, will go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for further analysis.

Intermediate and advanced birders interesting in taking part should call Frank Quevedo at 537-9735.

New Year Brings New Hunting Seasons

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Hunting seasons in Suffolk County were extended this year as a way to deal with the large deer population on the East End. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt and Jill Musnicki. 

By Mara Certic

Several amendments to New York State hunting regulations have gone into effect this year in an effort to encourage recreational hunters to increase the deer harvest as one means of managing the expanding white-tailed deer population on the East End.

The regular bowhunting season, which historically has ended on December 31 and includes weekends, will now be extended through January 31. The special firearms season, which began on Sunday, January 4, will end on January 31 and will, unlike previous years, allow for weekend hunting.

These are two of the amendments that came from legislation sponsored by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle.

“The recent population explosion of white-tailed deer on Eastern Long Island threatens public health, public safety, personal property, and the environment,” Mr. Thiele said in a release.

“Local municipal deer management plans describe the uncontrolled increase in population as an emergency, requiring immediate action. Without controlling the deer population, human health and safety will continue to be put in jeopardy,” he added.

In response to the new regulations, East Hampton Town has updated its code to try to keep bowhunters and shotgun hunters as far apart from one another as possible.

The town only has jurisdiction over town-owned parkland, with private properties and state parkland coming under the purview of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“On town properties, where big game gun hunting is occurring, bowhunting is not allowed at all,” explained Andrew Gaites, the senior environmental analyst in the town’s Department of Land Acquisition and Management.

“However, the town has plenty of properties open to bowhunting with no gun hunting allowed, so we updated our code to reflect that,” he added.

The changes were made in order to prevent hunter conflict, Mr. Gaites said. The required setback for bowhunters was recently reduced from 500 feet to 150 feet, giving them more opportunities than shotgun hunters. This new law will give shotgun hunters full access to the few lands that remain open.

Town permit quotas have been increased to reflect deer management needs, and next year several new permitting requirements will come into effect.

Despite the extended season, the state has declined to open its parkland in Montauk to additional hunting, meaning there will be no January bowhunting or any weekend gun hunting.  There will also be no weekend gun hunting in Noyac, according to the DEC.

Bill Crain, founder of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife, spoke up at East Hampton’s work session on Tuesday morning, admonishing the town for allowing weekend hunting on town-owned land.

“Who suffers from this decision?” Mr. Crain asked. “The deer. I imagine what it’s like to be a deer out there. It’s just very upsetting to have any empathy for these animals.”

Human residents of the East End will also suffer, he said, as the new regulations will make weekend walks in the woods more dangerous.

“Another victim is democratic decision-making,” Mr. Crain said, adding that the town should have publicized its hunting rule changes.

For more information about hunting in Suffolk County visit dec.ny.gov/outdoor/hunting.

Measure Would Restore Drinking Water Money

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Legislation sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman to make sure  federal and state reimbursements are properly returned to the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program was approved unanimously at the December 2 meeting of the County Legislature.

A portion of the drinking water fund, also known as the 477 fund, has historically been used to pay the salaries of employees doing water quality related work. Some of these salaries are in part eligible for such reimbursements, but the money received was being placed in the county’s general fund.

The measure requires any federal and state reimbursements to the county to be returned to the drinking water fund. Mr. Schneiderman estimates the 477 fund could see an increase of as much as $300,000 per year.

“This is a significant amount of money,” said Legislator Schneiderman in a release. “This additional money could be used to fund additional water quality projects to improve the integrity of our water supply for years to come.”

The resolution will now go to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who is expected to sign it into law.

East End Elected Officials Agree on Local Issues at LTV’s Second Village Green Meeting

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By Mara Certic

East End elected officials offered a strong, united front, seemingly agreeing on each and every local and national issue that cropped up during a “village green” discussion hosted by LTV Studios in Wainscott on Friday, October 17.

LTV hosted its second village green meeting of the year in an effort to give the public an opportunity to ask the five major East End elected officials about issues of concern.

Representative Tim Bishop, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst spent an hour and a half answering questions about various subjects including the potential of “Peconic County,” offshore wind farms, planning issues, heroin and Ebola. Robert Strada, the board president of LTV, moderated the discussion, and questions were submitted by the public through the website phlive.at.

The oft-examined notion of a new “Peconic County” was the first question to crop up during Friday’s forum, which Mr. Thiele and Mr. Schneiderman answered.

The discussion of Peconic County first began many years ago, when Suffolk County offices were moved from Riverhead to Hauppauge. Peconic County would be made up of the five East End towns, which officials have often complained that the county ignores their needs.

“We will never get our fair share from Suffolk County,” Mr. Thiele said, adding the East End represents 8 percent of the county’s population and yet pays in excess of 15 percent of the sales tax and over a third of the county’s property tax. He said Suffolk’s population of almost 1.5 million people is much larger than what a county’s should be.

“The East End is simply going to be the tail on the dog,” he said, “and it is only occasionally that the tail gets to wag the dog.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he had always been a supporter of local control but that starting a new county would be “an awful lot to take on,” and that now might not be the time. Mr. Thiele added there was currently a big push from the governor to consolidate and “we would be swimming against the tide.”

“The politics of creating new local governments is something that’s extremely hard to do,” he said. “The issue is whether or not you can get the political stars to line up to create the county.”

Supervisors Cantwell and Throne-Holst described some of the measures they have employed to protect local beaches, including the Army Corp of Engineers program in downtown Montauk and a $10 million grant East Hampton Town was awarded to protect the low-lying Lazy Point area of Napeague.

“Clearly we’re dealing with the issue of climate change,” Mr. Cantwell said. The elected officials all sprung at the opportunity to answer a question about Deepwater ONE, a proposed 200-megawatt offshore wind farm that would, if all goes according to plan, create enough electricity to power 120,000 homes.

“Wind has to be part of our energy portfolio going forward,” Mr. Bishop said, but emphasized the importance of siting the project appropriately so as not to disrupt aesthetics, fishing grounds or shipping lanes. “My own view is that it’s a pretty big ocean out there, and we should be able to figure this out,” he added. Legislator Schneiderman agreed it was important for the offshore wind developers to continue to work in conjunction with commercial fishermen but added, “This is too important for us to put up too many obstacles.” Mr. Schneiderman said the farm has “great potential to get our region off the grid”

“The reality is we’re woefully behind,” said Supervisor Throne-Holst about the use of renewable energy on the East End compared to the rest of the world.

Next week, the board of LIPA and Governor Cuomo are slated to have their last meeting about Deepwater ONE on Thursday, October 30. Environmental organizations have organized a “Rally for Renewables” to show the governor how much support an East End wind farm would have.

Governor Cuomo came under some fire when the assembled elected officials were asked how they allowed the 60-foot PSEG utility poles to be installed in East Hampton Village and Town. “That’s got a sorry tale, really,” said Mr. Cantwell.

“Public outreach and public notice isn’t opening up the window at the corporate headquarters at Hicksville at 3 o’clock in the morning and whispering ‘we’re going to build utility poles out in East Hampton,’” Mr. Thiele said. “They simply did not do what you would expect a public utility to do.” He went on to describe PSEG as “an unmitigated disaster.”

“The governor has been absent. I don’t know if he’s on his book tour, or what he’s doing but he’s not helping with this particular problem,” Mr. Thiele added.

At the end of the forum, each member of the panel was invited to make a closing comment. “We’re very, very fortunate to have this great and responsive group of people,” Ms. Throne-Holst said of her fellow elected officials. Representative Bishop said the good, professional relationships among the group of legislators “represents government at our best.”

“Really, I feel like we have an incredible team,” said Mr. Schneiderman, who is serving his last term as county legislator. Assemblyman Thiele said he knew he had said some “nasty” things about Governor Cuomo and added, “I just want to let you know, I’m not taking any of them back.”

Lighthouse Lantern Finds a New Home

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The Cedar Island Lighthouse lantern arrives at the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Society on Friday. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Following a short procession with a police escort, the lantern, which once graced the top of the Cedar Island Lighthouse, made its way from the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard to a temporary home on the grounds of the Sag Harbor Historic and Whaling Museum on Friday morning.

Michael Leahy, who is spearheading the effort to raise about $2 million to renovate the lighthouse and convert it into a bed-and-breakfast, hopes placing the lantern in a very public place will spur donations to the cause.

The lantern was removed from the old lighthouse in November 2013 by Chesterfield Associates and Bob Coco Construction and moved to the yacht yard where it was cleaned, sandblasted, painted its original black.

Mr. Leahy, the president of the Long Island chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society and chairman of the restoration committee, said if all goes according to plan, the lantern will be ready to be placed back on the lighthouse as early as fall of 2015.

“First, we have to replace the roof,” he said. “I need to raise the money for that. If all goes well I can raise the money this winter and maybe next fall we can do it.”

Mr. Leahy, who pegged the cost of the roof project at “several hundred thousand dollars,” said the lighthouse restoration committee is looking for grant money and large donors with deep pockets to help with the fundraising effort.

Although Mr. Leahy had originally estimated that it would cost about $50,000 to totally restore the lantern, he now thinks the job will come in at about half that cost, thanks to all the volunteer help he has received.

The lighthouse was constructed on what was then Cedar Island in 1868, its beacon powered first by whale oil and later kerosene. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1934.

“It was in the middle of the Depression,” Mr. Leahy said. “Things were no different then than they are today. The biggest cost of anything is people. They could have little flashers doing the job instead of having a person there.”

Mr. Leahy said preservationists would like to have a replica made of the fresnel lens, which was removed when the light was decommissioned, although it would not be operational.

Cedar Island was joined to the mainland by sand deposited during the Hurricane of 1938, and eventually the abandoned lighthouse became a target for vandals. A fire in 1974 caused major damage. Although East Hampton Town replaced the roof, the building was boarded up and left alone.

Mr. Leahy said two similar lighthouses on the Hudson River were demolished. The Saugerties Light on the Hudson, about 40 miles south of Albany, was turned into a bed-and-breakfast.

Last summer, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman announced a deal in which the county would allow the lighthouse society to transform the Cedar Island Lighthouse into a two-bedroom bed-and-breakfast as well, although those plans remain years from fruition.

Mr. Leahy said the Sag Harbor Historical Society had offered to place the lantern on the lawn of its headquarters at the Annie Cooper Boyd House on Main Street, but he later approached the whaling museum as it had more space and because of obvious ties of whaling to the lighthouse.

The museum’s board was receptive to the idea and a deal was quickly struck to allow the move. Barbara Lobosco, the board’s president, said it was “a perfect fit” to place the lantern on the lawn of the former home of whaling ship owner Benjamin Huntting III.

Mr. Leahy praised the museum’s board, Greg Therriault, the museum’s manager, and his staff for their cooperation. He also praised Lou Grignon, the owner of the yacht yard, and his staff, for their help in storing and refurbishing the lantern.

In the meantime Mr. Leahy said he would like to revisit a plan to place a set of binoculars, similar to those on landmarks such as the Empire State Building, so visitors can take a peek at the lighthouse, which is visible from the end of Long Wharf and a major piece of local history.


West Nile Finding

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Another good reason to be happy that summer is almost over: Suffolk County  Health Commissioner Dr. James L. Tomarken reported this week that 28 more mosquito samples taken earlier this month tested positive for the West Nile virus, including one that was found on Shelter Island.

To date this year, 165 mosquito samples and 11 birds have tested positive for West Nile virus. No humans or horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County this year.

West Nile virus, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples or birds indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” said Dr. Tomarken. “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”

To reduce the mosquito population around homes, the county urges residents to try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed by removing water from containers, where it can sit for any length of time.

According to Dr. Tomarken, most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Individuals, especially those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, who are most at risk, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at (631) 852-4270. For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call(631) 854-0333. For more information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website at suffolkcountyny.gov/health .

Suffolk County to Spray for Mosquitos in Southampton and East Hampton

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Salt marshes throughout Suffolk County will be sprayed with pesticides by helicopter to control mosquito larvae on Tuesday, July 8.

The Suffolk County Department of Public Works’ Division of Vector Control plan to use large droplet, low altitude application of BTI and Methoprene between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow. A press release from the Suffolk County Department of Health named the marshes that will be sprayed tomorrow. In Southampton Town: Stokes Poges, Jagger Lane, Moneybogue Bay, Westhampton Dunes, Meadow Lane, Iron Point and North Sea.

In East Hampton Town Napeague, Beach Hampton and Accabonac Harbor will all be sprayed with larvicides.

The Suffolk County Department of Health wrote that no precautions were recommended for this spray, as the helicopters will be flying low and avoiding inhabited areas: “Human exposure from this operation is unlikely and the products involved have no significant human toxicity,” according to the release.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman introduced a bill last year that would restrict the use of Methoprene, a larvicide that has been linked to killing lobsters. Mr. Schneiderman continues to seek support for this bill; similar laws have been passed in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Coram Woman’s Body Found in Montauk

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By Tessa Raebeck

The East Hampton Town Police Department, in conjunction with the Suffolk County Medical Examiners Office, is investigating the death of a woman from Coram that occurred at the overlook parking area along Old Montauk Highway, south of Washington Drive in Montauk.

The woman, Nikole Doering, 37, of Coram, was found deceased in her car at approximately 3:03 p.m. Monday, June 2, after police responded to a report of an unresponsive female in a vehicle.

Ms. Doering had been reported missing by her family to the Suffolk County Police Department on Sunday, June 1.

The investigation is ongoing and does not appear to be suspicious in nature at this time. Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact the East Hampton Town Police Department at (631) 537-7575.

No To Puppy Mills

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Suffolk County Legislature approved a measure on Tuesday that will require more disclosure from pet stores and prohibit the sale of animals from proven puppy mills.

The law was co-sponsored by Legislator Jay Schneiderman of Montauk and written with the aid of animal advocacy groups and local store owners.  The law prohibits pet shops from buying animals from questionable breeders with violations on their most recent United States Department of Agriculture reports.

Advocates Discuss Lack of East End Youth Services

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By Stephen J. Kotz

East End youth advocates gathered on Thursday, May 29, at the David Crohan Community Center in Flanders to solicit ideas about how Suffolk County could both maintain and improve the services to young people.

The impetus for the forum was the completion of a draft report by an East End subcommittee of the Suffolk County Youth Board Coordinating Council that focused specifically on the East End. The subcommittee was one of four convened by the county, the others being tasked with studying behavioral health issues, teen pregnancy and unemployment.

“There is a lot of agreement that this is an under served community,” said Nancy Lynott, the director of the Southampton Town Youth Bureau in an interview on Monday. She added that while it was reassuring that the county recognized the East End’s special needs, the region must still fight for its fair share of funding.

That will be particularly true in years to come, she said, because of a change in how funding for youth services is doled out at the county level by New York State. “There have been changes that give the county some flexibility in how state funding is used,” she said. “It used to be designated for each municipality, but starting in 2014, it all goes to county” to allocate as it sees fit.

The report, which is due to be completed next month, will be an important tool if East End providers of youth services want to maintain their share of the county pie. “We want to be able to show why East End communities should be getting priority,” she said. “They are aware of our situation, but they wanted not just stories and anecdotes, but hard information.”

What the report found was that it is difficult to get everything from mental health services to employment counseling on the East End because it is so far east of the county’s population centers, there is a lack of public transportation, and services are available on a spotty basis.

“Service delivery is fragmented,” Ms. Lynott added, “with some provided by towns, villages and even the county. We also have 30-some school districts on the East End. So what we have to do is get everybody on the same page.”

Last week’s event was co-sponsored by youth bureaus in Southampton, Riverhead and Southold towns as well as by Suffolk County Legislators Jay Schneiderman, who represents the South Fork, and Al Krupski, who represents the North Fork.

Although the image of the East End is one of wealth and glamor, Ms. Lynott said there is a darkly different reality behind the façade. “We have some terrific wealth out here, but we also have some terrific poverty,” she said.

During her presentation, she said that East End communities routinely turn up in lists of the most underprivileged in the county. Six of the most economically distressed communities in the county found on the East End, with 76 percent of teens between the ages of 16 to 19 unemployed. Seven of the 15 communities with the highest number of uninsured families are also here. East End children also qualify at higher averages for free or reduced-fee school lunches, and young people on the East End “are well above the national average in their use and abuse of alcohol and drugs.”

East End youth are priced out of the housing market and have limited social outlets, the report found. And those who finish school find “they don’t know what they are going to do next and we have we have very little to offer them,” Ms. Lynott said.

“Government doesn’t understand that if you spend $2,000 on prevention, you might save $30,000 to $40,000 down the road” in treatment or jail costs, said Riverhead Councilman Jon Dunleavy, one of several public officials to attend Thursday’s roundtable.

Rachel Toy, a Sag Harbor resident and a recent college graduate, said providing good jobs for local youth is a must.

Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender suggested that local building contractors could be enlisted to launch an apprentice program to help in that effort.

Kerry Laube, a Westhampton Beach Police Department sergeant, said teaching kids about the dangers of substance abuse should be a priority.

Helen Atkinson-Barnes, who runs educational programs at The Retreat, a non-profit that provides shelter and counseling for domestic abuse victims in East Hampton, called on educating young people about the importance of developing healthy relationships. “Underlying a lot of those issues” contained in the report “are unhealthy relationships,” she said.

“First, I want to address transportation,” said Laura Smith of the North Fork Alliance, who said better bus service is needed to help young people get to jobs and appointments.

Improving mental health services was the concern of Andrea Nydegger, who works with the Eastern Suffolk BOCEs on the North Fork. “I have kids who get referred to me constantly,” she said, adding that she tells parents counseling is cheaper than paying for a tutor.

Kim Jones of the East Hampton Anti-Bias Task Force agreed there was a “dire need” for better mental health services, and said that the community had recently learned of the second suicide this year of a young person.

“Our high school students are not asking ‘where are you going to college?’” she said. ‘They are asking, ‘who do you think is gong to commit suicide next?’”

“We realize this is just the beginning,” Ms. Lynott told the gathering. “I hope we can continue these discussions. Maybe we can get some real changes started.”