Tag Archive | "Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman"

Janet Grossman

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The new president of the Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor talks about the future and why this not-for-profit needs community support.

By Stephen J. Kotz

 You were recently named the president of the newly created Youth Resource Center of Sag Harbor, Inc. Why was the organization formed and how long have you been involved?

The Sag Harbor Youth Center and YARD (Youth Advocacy Resource Development) were merged beginning last summer and officially became the Youth Resource Center at the start of the year. County LegislatorJay Schneiderman really pushed for it. The two were competing for limited funding, and ever since the Youth Center had moved to the Old Whalers’ Church, not that many young people were using it.

I’m a retired teacher of English as a second language. I worked in the Sag Harbor School District for 24 years and retired seven and a half years ago. I’ve been involved with YARD since it was started, 15 years ago.

What is the new Youth Resource Center’s mission?

We want to have a place for the young people, the youth, of Sag Harbor to go after school where they can meet friends, play games, and socialize so they don’t have to go home to an empty house when their parents are working. We serve, in the community room at Pierson, 40 to 8 kids a day, mainly middle school kids.

We have games, we have refreshments and activities. Sometimes we have a workshop for kids, a babysitting workshop for instance. We try to offer resources so if they have a problem they can come in. We try to have trips for young people during school vacations and we have safe summer beach program that we run at Long Beach. We want to keep the kids entertained and engaged so they are not getting into trouble in town.

We also have a youth advisory board with 10 or 12 teens on it, so they can tell us what they want.

Now that the programs have been merged, do you see any advantages in funding?

We get some funding from the two villages, Sag Harbor and North Haven, a little funding from the school district, some from the county and some from the state, but we don’t know what we are going to get. A lot of people don’t know our beach program is not connected to the school, so we have to get our own insurance for that and liability insurance is $10,000 alone.

The reality is we are struggling, absolutely struggling.

What are your biggest needs at this point?

One of the most pressing things we need, even more than funding, is volunteers to join the YRC committee, which meets monthly. We know parents have a hard time getting out, but we need active members. They can be senior citizens.

I would like to be able to have more school trips. Over winter break, we took the kids to the bowling alley in Riverhead. This break they may go ice skating at Buckskill, but only about 10 have signed up, so we’ll need parents to drive them because we can’t afford a bus for only 10 kids. We have had trouble getting chaperones.

We also need people willing to work with fundraising. We used to have two or three fundraisers a year, but we only had one this year because there was not enough involvement.

We had a nice fundraiser at B Smith’s in November, but there were two other fundraisers that same night so we only came out with about $6,000 profit after a tremendous effort. We really need people to work on fundraising.

People can call me at 725-5132 if they’d like to help out.

Given the constraints you are facing, what will you focus on this year?

The main thing the kids love is the safe summer beach program that we run at Long Beach. I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to run the program through this summer. After that, I don’t know. If we can just get through this summer, I’ll be really happy.

 

County Sidewalk Project on Turnpike Irks Environmentalists

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A Suffolk County sidewalk construction project already partially completed on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike has drawn the criticism of both the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt (FLPG) and the South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) this week. Both groups — who have fired off letters to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman — are worried that high curbs and large drainage structures will threaten the migratory abilities for animals like frogs, salamanders and turtles that populate the Long Pond Greenbelt.

The Long Pond Greenbelt nature preserve, which features a series of ponds and wetland areas, stretches along the eastern side of the turnpike and is the habitat for a number of species of animals, including the endangered Eastern Tiger Salamander.

This week, FLPG President Dai Dayton said she was concerned that Slade Pond, on the western side of the turnpike — also known as County Road 79 — is home for a number of salamanders and turtles who use the turnpike as a crossway. Dayton said the curbing will be impossible for those animals to surmount leading to certain death on the roadway instead.

Dayton added the drainage structures the county is installing are so large that salamanders, turtles and other small animals like foxes, raccoons, rabbits and even cats or dogs could easily fall into them with no means of escape.

Frank Quevedo, the Executive Director of SoFo, shares FLPG’s concerns.

“We are speaking on behalf of the animals as they are not able to speak for themselves and requesting the work being done on County Road 79 be stopped temporarily so that we can implement turtle safe sidewalks into the remaining work,” he said on Monday.

On Tuesday, Schneiderman said he had already reached out to the project engineer who said it was possible to make the remaining sidewalk with mountable curbs for the turtles, with specific attention paid to the area around Slade Pond. He said the county engineers would work with Dayton and Quevedo on the project.

Schneiderman said he would also look at what options could be explored in terms of the drainage structures.

“When we had public meetings, people did ask for curbing, but obviously we can address this and anything is possible,” he said.

Committee Explores Future of Long Wharf

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The future ownership of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor, which for over a year now has been debated by Suffolk County and Sag Harbor Village officials, will not likely be decided until after a new Suffolk County Executive is sworn into office.

Despite that, a group of county and village officials gathered in Sag Harbor’s Municipal Building on Tuesday afternoon in a brainstorming session on how to increase revenues on Long Wharf to make it self sustaining. The session also continued the debate over whether Suffolk County should retain ownership of Long Wharf, and continue to fund capital improvements, or whether the Village of Sag Harbor, which maintains Long Wharf’s surface and collects fees from dockage, should be given the roadway and pay for its long-term upkeep.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, the chairman of this Long Wharf Advisory Committee, explained this debate actually began when current Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy discovered the county owns Long Wharf, not Sag Harbor.

Schneiderman said that similar to a number of system roads in Suffolk County, the county took ownership of Long Wharf from Sag Harbor Village as it was eligible for state and federal funding for capital improvements. He estimated the capital improvements needed at Long Wharf cost Suffolk County, which is looking down the barrel of an almost $200 million hole in its 2012 budget, about $100,000 a year to fund.

Originally, the county executive hoped to just give Long Wharf to the village, but the legislature viewed the wharf as a county asset and voted against that proposal.

Much will depend on who will lead the county next year — Democrat Steve Bellone and Republican Angie Carpenter are vying for the position in this year’s November 8 election — said Schneiderman. He added a new law allows the superintendent of the county’s Department of Public Works to give Long Wharf to Sag Harbor Village without the legislature’s consent, if the village will take it.

“I am not sure that is the best solution,” said Schneiderman, adding he would like to see the county and village partner in looking for ways to increase revenues on Long Wharf and share those revenues, so ideally both the village and the county can break even on Long Wharf’s maintenance.

From the village’s perspective, Mayor Brian Gilbride said he would like to see the county and village maintain its previous agreement, where the village maintains the wharf’s basic upkeep and the county takes on the capital projects.

Gilbride said the village spends about $50,000 a year on maintenance, and collects between $57,000 and $107,000 in dockage from the wharf. If the village is to take over ownership, Gilbride said he has explored setting up a reserve fund to cover capital costs, although with a small budget and a two-percent tax cap finances are certainly a concern.

The money the village spends to maintain Long Wharf, added Gilbride, does not include the cost of policing the wharf or for the Harbormaster’s services.

“The one thing I want to make clear is I don’t think a lot of money is left to be split in revenue sharing with the county,” said Gilbride.

Schneiderman countered the county is facing a looming financial crisis as well, and doesn’t get any revenues out of Long Wharf.

Former Deputy County Executive Ben Zwirn, who now works for Bellone, disagreed.

Zwirn argued the county spends millions in downtown revitalization, and the Long Wharf is a part of Sag Harbor that provides critical parking and draws people to the village, increasing the amount of sales tax revenue the county collects from Sag Harbor businesses.

“My recommendation would be the county should control and maintain it as it is a boon to economic development,” he said.

Schneiderman said he would still like to explore increasing revenue, by allowing more boats, increasing dock fees or bringing in a winter attraction like an ice rink. A passenger ferry was another idea, he said.

Gilbride countered a passenger ferry is against village code.

“There is a lot lacking in upland support for that, particularly parking,” agreed Harbor Committee chairman Bruce Tait. He added a lot of the enhancements that would make Long Wharf more profitable, including making it more pedestrian friendly, would also cost money to develop.

Schneiderman suggested a Friends of the Long Wharf Committee could be set up to fundraise as a not-for-profit entity, similar to those that support the Big Duck in Flanders or the Montauk Lighthouse.

The committee agreed to reconvene after November 8, when the new county executive is elected to office.

Sale of Long Wharf is No Longer in Suffolk County Legislature’s Hands

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First there were threats. Then there was a deal. Then there was no deal and now things may stay the same.

That is the short story in what has been a year long debate over the future of Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf, an intrinsic part of the village’s waterfront, but technically a county road.

For over a year now, the village has been negotiating to take over the Long Wharf completely, handling not only the annual maintenance of the facility, which it already does, but also taking on the costly, long-term capital repairs the wharf will need to survive throughout the years.

Those repairs have traditionally been paid for and completed by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works.

After the Suffolk County Legislature waffled this summer on whether or not to sell Long Wharf to Sag Harbor — an initiative pushed forward by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s office last fall — it appears a sale could move forward or at the very least, the county could continue to lease the wharf to the village at no cost, as it historically has done.

Last week, the Suffolk County Legislature passed a resolution giving the Commissioner of the Public Works Gil Anderson the right to sell or give Long Wharf, along with a number of other county roads that are currently maintained by smaller municipalities, to the towns or villages the roads lie in.

Anderson will be able to pass the ownership on without the approval of the Suffolk County Legislature, according to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

“He will not have the authority to force them to take it, but if they want Long Wharf he has the authority to give it to them without going back to the legislature,” said Schneiderman.

Anderson is not required to offer the wharf to the Village of Sag Harbor, said Schneiderman, who added he would be meeting with Anderson in coming weeks to discuss the situation.

Last fall, county officials offered to sell the Long Wharf and the adjacent Windmill Beach to the Village of Sag Harbor for one dollar. The county would not continue to pay for long-term maintenance under the deal, including $340,000 in repairs the county’s department of public works has estimated Long Wharf will need in the next five years.

Initially, after village officials expressed concerns over being able to take on the financial burden of Long Wharf, county officials hinted at the possibility that the county could sell the wharf or take over its operations itself, collecting the revenues from boat slip rentals instead of the Village of Sag Harbor.

According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, while during a banner 2009 the wharf brought in $90,000 in revenues, the average amount of money the village collects from dockage at the wharf is closer to $50,000 annually.

However, Sag Harbor Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. questioned the legality of the county selling Long Wharf, and Mayor Gilbride questioned whether the county could afford to maintain and run the wharf in its annual budget.

By last February, the village board of trustees passed a resolution allowing Sag Harbor Village to take ownership of the wharf and Windmill Beach, but by the summer the county legislature voted against the sale, requesting time to study the value of Long Wharf. Schneiderman supported the sale to Sag Harbor Village.

“Now, I think we are in a much better place for the Village of Sag Harbor,” said Schneiderman on Monday. “The village only wanted the wharf because the county was saying it wouldn’t maintain it. Now, if they want it, they can have it, but maybe can also go back to the way things were and work out a deal where we can increase revenues on the wharf and maybe share some of those revenues.”

Schneiderman said in addition to holding a fundraiser – through the newly conceived Friends of The Long Wharf – to help offset the cost of maintaining Long Wharf, the village and county could also look at initiatives like setting up a small passenger ferry service from the wharf.

“There are a lot of ideas I would like to explore for revenues at the wharf, but it will depend on if the village would like to do it,” said Schneiderman.

Paid parking is not one of those ideas, he added.

The Friends of the Long Wharf committee, a group made up of several county officials, as well as Mayor Gilbride, Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Robert Evjen and Jack Joyce from the Sag Harbor Historical Society, will begin discussing these ideas at a meeting next Tuesday afternoon.

There is currently no lease in place for Long Wharf between the village and the county. On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride noted the village is still maintaining it, and paying for insurance.

He added he has been willing to work with the county from the outset, but does need to know whether or not the village needs to budget the $100,000 it planned to put in a reserve account for the long-term maintenance of Long Wharf. Revenue sharing, he added, was not likely a viable option. Mayor Gilbride estimates the village spends between $40,000 and $60,000 on caring for the wharf after it applies the $50,000 it collects in revenues from boat slip rentals.

“I am the mayor that is willing to bite the bullet and take Long Wharf,” said Mayor Gilbride. “We will work with the county, but profit sharing is not going to work out for us.”

Honoring Graboski

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web Graboski Love Fest

Nancy Graboski was overwhelmed Tuesday evening — but in a good way.

The Southampton Town councilwoman, who will not be seeking re-election this year, was lauded by peers and members of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday during the council’s regular monthly meeting.

“If the intention was to make me feel special, you’ve succeeded,” Graboski told the audience of about 30, which also included a guest appearance by former Southampton Supervisor Linda Kabot.

The councilwoman, who hails from Bridgehampton, was praised in particular for her efforts on behalf of the local farmers and her work on establishing a comprehensive guide for town residents on hurricane preparedness.

“During this past hurricane, we got a pat on the back,” said current town supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. “much to the thanks of Nancy and her efforts.”

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. — himself a former Southampton Town supervisor — noted it was important to thank people for the public service they do.

“The east side of the town has always been well served by you, as both a member of the planning board and the town board, especially when addressing agricultural issues from the point of view of the farmer,” said Thiele. “When you got Nancy Graboski, you got what she thought was going to be right for the community — and sometimes that got her in trouble with her own party.”

Kabot, too, lauded Graboski’s “independent mindedness,” and ticked off a list of issues Graboski had tackled, including Dark Skies legislation, traffic safety, speed limits and land preservation, among others.

“Thank you Nancy for being my friend,” said Kabot before announcing there will be a retirement party for Graboski on November, 10 at Oakland’s Restaurant in Hampton Bays.


Also at Tuesday’s meeting was Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman who gave the members an overview of issues he’s addressing, including a proposed 5-cent fee on plastic bags used in grocery stores and supermarkets in an effort to deter their use. Revenue would go to fund environmental programs.

“Let me know what you think,” Schneiderman said when taking a straw poll in the room. Of those voting, 11 were in favor of the legislation, and 13 opposed (three of whom felt the law did not go far enough).

Locally, Schneiderman said the county was just about to break ground on a $600,000, 2-mile long sidewalk along the turnpike, from Main Street, Bridgehampton, to Scuttle Hole Rd.

The legislator also said the county has just formed a committee with the Village of Sag Harbor to discuss the future of Long Wharf — which the county owns but the village maintains and collects revenues from.

The wharf costs the county about $100,000 a year, and Schneiderman said he is considering ways to cover that expense, including creating a fundraising group — the Friends of Long Wharf.

“The ideas I know I don’t like are paid parking and selling the naming rights,” he said.

Restoration of John Jermain Memorial Library Begins

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Just weeks after moving into a new temporary home on West Water Street in Sag Harbor, the John Jermain Memorial Library board of trustees was granted approval to begin exterior repairs to their historic Main Street library. It is the first phase of a complete renovation, restoration and over 7,000 square-foot expansion of the 101-year-old library that is expected to take from two to three years to complete.

On Thursday, July 14 architect Richard Munday and historic preservation expert Raymond Pepi, flanked by JJML Library Director Catherine Creedon, presented plans for the first phase of the restoration to the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB).

According to Creedon, library officials are “anxious” to get started on this first phase of the restoration, citing leaks in the building that have “increased exponentially” in the last year alone.

“The work proposed today is just one part of what we anticipate will be many phases with many presentations to the ARB,” said Munday.

The first phase involves the complete re-pointing of brick masonry that surrounds the historic structure, as well as repairs to the building’s limestone trim and cornice.

According to Pepi, his firm — Building Conservation Associates — has done a complete study of the whole building, assessing the exterior to determine what historic materials can be repaired and what needs to be replaced.

The original mortar, said Pepi, is a mixture of cement and limestone and has “experienced a significant amount of erosion” over the last 100 years, even with minor repairs made to the building over the course of its existence.

In addition to re-pointing the brick masonry, and repairing the mortar and limestone trim, ultimately, Pepi said a series of treatments will be applied to the library. These will ensure that with proper maintenance the building will no longer leak when the restoration and expansion is done.

The limestone trim and cornice, said Pepi, will be repaired with any missing pieces replaced with Indiana limestone – the same used when the building was first constructed.

All of the brick, granite and limestone will also be cleaned, he said.

Sag Harbor ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown wondered if the new mortar used to replace eroded material would look different from what exists today.

Pepi said his firm has analyzed the existing mortar and has been able to match the new mortar so that it will closely resemble the color of the mortar that is on the library now.

“The bricks and the limestone have weathered themselves naturally,” he noted. “It doesn’t make sense to change it. We will keep a harmonious balance in terms of the mortar.”

The board unanimously approved the repairs, and according to Creedon, library officials hope to begin the project this September.

Thiele Continues Gas Wars

According to a press release issued by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. last week, he intends to file monthly surveys of gasoline prices on the South Fork with the New York State Attorney General in an effort to stop price gouging in the region.

Thiele said he plans to submit a survey comparing South Fork gas prices with other parts of New York State as a follow-up measure to price gouging he said occurred on the East End over Memorial Day weekend.

While the American Automobile Association provides a survey of gas prices in the state, Thiele said there is no survey that looks solely at the South Fork. He said he would provide the attorney general with the average price of gas on Montauk Highway in an effort to show what a majority of stations are charging for the fuel.

“The Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an investigation of gasoline prices in March and has been actively collecting data throughout the state, including the South Fork, as part of his review,” said Thiele in a statement.

Thiele had contacted the State Attorney General after Memorial Day weekend when South Fork gas prices remained high at $4.25 cents per gallon when the Long Island average was $4.08 and the state average was $4.02.

Thiele said he has also sponsored legislation aimed at strengthening New York’s laws on zone pricing of gas, which is the establishment of changes in the cost of fuel based on geographic locations, without regard to wholesale costs.

“It was clear that on Memorial Day prices had been kept artificially high simply to exploit the crowds flocking to one of America’s most popular vacation communities,” said Thiele.

In Thiele’s July 13 survey, the most prevalent price on the South Fork was $3.99 per gallon at nearly a half dozen stations on Montauk Highway. He said this was $0.03 cents more than the average for all Long Island, $0.10 cents more than the New York State average, and $0.02 cents less than the price of gas in New York City.

“Gasoline prices are still too high, nearly a dollar higher than a year ago,” said Thiele. “However, since I contacted Attorney General Schneiderman, the differential between the South Fork and the rest of the State has narrowed considerably. I appreciate his work on behalf of our motorists.

“To insure fairness in gasoline pricing requires constant vigilance and strong laws,” he continued. “I will provide the Attorney General with price data from my district monthly and will continue to seek strong legislation to inhibit price gouging of our residents.”

Sunday Riderships Soars

According to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, the number of riders on a newly introduced Sunday bus service on the East End has doubled in the pilot program’s second week.

Schneiderman said the first Sunday bus two weeks ago carried 396 passengers, but last Sunday an additional 190 passengers rode the bus, bringing the total riders using the public transportation to 586.

“This level of use demonstrates the clear need for public transportation on Sundays,” said Schneiderman.

For close to a decade, Schneiderman fought to make Sunday and holiday county bus service a reality on the East End, citing the resort community’s workforce, which is reliant on the service, as well as an increased desire for public transportation options.

The pilot program was approved this spring, increasing fares by $0.50 to $2 in order to offset the cost. Schneiderman said this week he would like to see the pilot program extended to the rest of Suffolk County.