Thursday, August 23, 2007

Board of Ed Upholds its Anonymous Letter Policy

By KELLY CAMPBELL

When anonymous letters arrive in the post office box reserved for Northport-East Northport School District Board of Education members or administrators, Clerk Christa McCulloch follows the Board of Education’s policy and throws them away without further review.

After a lengthy discussion at its July 2 meeting, the Board voted 4-2 to continue that policy, number 8346, which reads, "Anonymous communications will be ignored and destroyed, and will not be processed in accord with the procedures contained in this policy.” Those procedures include marking the document with a “received” stamp and recording the date. Trustees Denise Summers Mumm and Phil Fortuna voted no.

Board President Arlene Munson supported upholding the policy stating, “I can’t contact or protect Mr. or Mrs. Anonymity.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

After Oil Plume, Service Station Owners Seek Change of Use Approval

By KELLY CAMPBELL

The owner of the former Delta Gas Station at the corner of Woodbine Avenue and Fort Salonga Road have submitted a change of use application for the site, closed since January after an oil plume was discovered in Northport Harbor by workers from Britannia Yachting Center.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation determined the plume was likely caused by oil discarded improperly years ago at the Delta Gas Station and required owner Adil Bayat who lists addresses in West Islip and to do what are called tank pressure tests of the gasoline tanks to be sure they weren’t leaking.

After seven months of work, Mr. Bayat is ready to reopen but wants to change the use from a service and gasoline station to a gasoline station convenience store. The Northport Village Planning Board will consider the plan at its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, August 7 meeting. The site is in the highway business district so a convenience store is an allowed use.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Asharoken Trustees Accused of Improper Caucusing


By KELLY CAMPBELL

The allegation of improper caucusing raised a ruckus at the Asharoken Village Board’s monthly meeting Monday, August 6.
Trustee Pat Irving as well as several members of the audience voiced their concern about Mayor Bill Kelly meeting privately with Deputy Mayor Robert Marks and Trustees Alex Janow and Eric Fauser, all three registered members of the Village’s Taxpayer’s Party

Trustee Irving said she has been inexplicably excluded from what she calls “closed political caucuses to discuss Village business” and according to state open government laws, “caucuses unique to our Village are against the law.”
Mayor Kelly disagreed stating that, “The three of us can caucus right now,” meaning he and the other two Trustees, Fauser and Janow, who are registered Independent nationally.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Approved by Voters in May, Work Begins at Norwood Elementary


Work began last week on at least one project approved by voters on May 15. Proposition 2 sought voter approval to expend funds for two capital projects from both the district’s existing capital reserve fund and the general fund for two capital projects.

The capital reserve fund was approved by the voters in May 1997 and provided for an annual $500,000 budgetary allocation to the reserve account.

The two projects recommended for the 2007-2008 year were replacement of remaining classroom windows at Norwood Avenue Elementary School for a cost estimated at $167,000 and replacement/renovation of classroom windows at Ocean Avenue Elementary School for a cost estimated at $333,000.

Other work to be done to Northport-East Northport School district buildings this year was approved by voters May 15 under Proposition 3, which provides capital project funding in addition to the State Education Department Building Aid. Northport is eligible to receive a total combined aid of $2,8623,00—$2,089,719 from the State under the EXCEL program and $772,281 in SED Building Aid—for: security systems for the two middle schools similar to the high school at a cost of $897,500; enhanced security measures at all elementary schools and the William J. Brosnan Building on Laurel Avenue at a cost of $409,300; renovation of the heating system at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School at a cost of $57,500; replacement of floor tiles in several classrooms at Northport Middle School at a cost of $80,000; renovation of student lavatories at Dickinson Avenue at a cost of $70,500; replacement of hallway ceiling tiles and lighting at Norwood, Pulaski and Fifth Avenue Elementary Schools and East Northport Middle School at a cost of $552,200; window replacement at Northport Middle School at a cost of $795,000.

Although the money is not a loan, the district will incur minimal costs associated with the borrowing of funds and the lag time in receiving aid.
—K. Campbell

Monday, June 4, 2007

Town prepares Crab Meadow for summer


Town of Huntington bulldozers graded the sand on Crab Meadow Beach Friday, May 18 in preparation for the start of the busy summer season that unofficially began Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Preservation legislation subject of public hearing

By KELLY CAMPBELL

Northport’s picturesque Main Street is one of its chief assets as far as the value of homes as well as drawing outside visitors. That’s according to Mayor George Doll, at right in photo, and Trustee Henry Tobin, at left, among others, who are pressing for amended Architectural Historic Review Board legislation that will protect buildings that have historic significance.

“It came to our attention that our beautiful buildings, which represent Northport, are protected from renovation but not from elimination. When we began looking at the ‘Archie’s’ code closer we realized that they can deny a demolition permit but it’s not binding,” Mayor Doll said in an interview Tuesday.

“We found someone can apply to Archie’s for a demo permit and they can deny it but then the person can just say, ‘Thank you very much’ and go get their demo permit from the Building Department. We went to [Village Attorney] Jim Matthews and said we want to make it binding. He said we had to have a reason for denying the demolition permit and the way we can do that is through historic preservation legislation. But this really doesn’t change much. People still need to come before the Archie’s for approval on facades and signs. All that changes is the Archie’s can deny a demo permit on the grounds of historical significance.”

Scudder Park Upgraded


By KELLY CAMPBELL

Despite having a pavilion, playground and grills not to mention a beach, Scudder Park on Beach Street in Northport Village is not used as much as Northport Beach on Eaton’s Neck Road.

On a recent sunny afternoon, not a soul was on the beach or playground except the occasional dog walker, although the parking lot to the west of the beach had several occupied cars parked on the waterfront lot and a large boat was launched from the boatramp.

Michael Picchicella, a resident of nearby Fox Lane, said he comes for a quick lunchtime dog walk with his pug. “It’s quick. It’s here,” he said. “It might be empty because it’s next to a sewer plant,” he added, but then said he was “just joking.”

Dirt pile destroys neighboring property's garage


By KELLY CAMPBELL

Last summer, on August 19, a large pile of dirt fell from Cavagnaro Mason Supply property on Brightside Avenue in East Northport on to the garage located on the neighboring property causing a 3,000-square-foot one-story garage to be severely damaged.

The building on the Brightside Avenue property, currently owned by Dave and Margaret Weber who also own Seymour’s Boatyard, has served for 40 years as a sort of adjunct storage and repair facility for the waterfront boatyard on Bayview Avenue in Northport Village, even before the Webers owned the business.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Skepticism Clear at Maritime Zoning Hearing

By KELLY CAMPBELL

Click here to see a copy of the proposed resolution on the Town of Huntington's Web site.


An air of heavy skepticism was evident on the part of Huntington residents at a contentious public hearing held by the Town Tuesday, April 24 to discuss a controversial proposal to create a new zoning district known as “maritime.” In fact, tempers ran so high at the hearing that Supervisor Frank Petrone determined that a public information meeting was necessary to explain the proposal before the Town Board votes on it. A date has not yet been set but the Supervisor said it would likely be in May.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Cemetery treasurer arraigned on charges she stole $75K

By KELLY CAMPBELL

Darcy Jost, the woman who allegedly embezzled more than $75,00 from the Genola Rural Cemetery over a four-year period while serving as secretary, was arraigned in Courtroom D-11 in First District Court in Central Islip Tuesday.

After surrendering herself and records relating to the case to Suffolk County Police early Tuesday morning and being charged with felony grand larceny, Ms. Jost was taken to the courthouse.

County plan for busy intersection causes concern


By KELLY CAMPBELL

Suffolk County Department of Public Works engineers intended to “alleviate any concerns” regarding its plan for Elwood and Pulaski Roads—or as the county refers to them County Routes 10 and 11, respectively—with their presentation to the Northport-East Northport Board of Education Thursday, April 26.

It seemed, however, to have the reverse effect and several members of the Board and many members of the audience were very vocal in their displeasure.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Npt FD mourns commissioner, ex-chief after sudden death





By KELLY CAMPBELL

Longtime Northport Fire Department member Robert Guinn died suddenly Thursday, April 5. He was 59.

Fire department sources say that Mr. Guinn was working on a project for his business Cabinet Corner at a construction site on Selden Drive in East Northport when he had a heart attack. Another man with whom he was working was on a ladder working and when he turned around, he saw Mr. Guinn on the ground and called 911.

Emergency medical technicians from the East Northport Fire Department responded to the scene. When the Northport Fire Department EMTs discovered who the victim was, they, too, raced to the scene. Mr. Guinn was rushed to Huntington Hospital but he could not saved.

Will '300-foot' rule doom wine bar/retail store even before its first pour?


By KELLY CAMPBELL

In order to open a new wine bar on Main Street, a Northport man is seeking a waiver from a Village zoning variance that prohibits a tavern from opening within 300 feet of another.

Matthew Spirn of Bayview Avenue, in photo, came before the Northport Village Board of Zoning Appeals Wednesday, March 28 in support of a new establishment he hopes to open in half of the Open Gallery’s space on Main Street to be called the Northport Wine Cellar and the Northport Tasting Room. The Open Gallery is located in the building that formerly was home to Arndt’s Stationary.

The Diana, Northport, NY


Northport Harbor looking at Centerport with the sunken lobster boat, the Diana, in foreground.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

After The Storm


A Town of Huntington truck cleared snow and ice from Waterside Avenue and Wilafra Place early Saturday—one day after sleet, snow and freezing rain pelted the area for hours. The deluge had tailed off Saturday as the weather system moved northward.

More than $200,000 raised in Northport for St. Baldricks


Rebecca Terry, in photo, a 5th grader at Ocean Avenue Elementary watched calmly as her foot-long brunette waves of hair were removed from her head with an electric razor and placed in a plastic storage bag to ensure they stayed safe until they reached their next destination, Locks of Love.
Like St. Baldrick’s Day, Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that aims to help children suffering from an illness. In Locks of Love’s case, the organization provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.
Rebecca said in St. Baldricks she saw a perfect opportunity to help both causes. She had some personal motivation to help kids with cancer, as well because her mother, Robin Terry, suffered from the disease four years ago.
While it’s much more common for males to participate in the annual head-shaving party/fundraiser, Rebecca said she had no qualms despite being a bit nervous when she first sat down in the cutting chair on the stage at Napper Tandy’s. “I was a little nervous at first but I really wanted to get it all off,” she said. “It’s very high maintenance.” As part of Team Ocean Avenue, Rebecca raised more
Another one of the few young girls who shaved her head Saturday, Northport Middle School sixth-grader Jaime Borden, had a little extra support from her mom, Donna Markette, who shaved her head right along with her daughter.
While this year was Jaime’s first, Donna has bared her head five times so far.
“It’s just a way to show my gratitude for my good health and that of my family,” she said.
April White, who raised almost $3,000, shaved her head in honor of her cousin Kristy Lyn Haley who died seven years ago at the age of 21 of melanoma.
“It’s very emotional,” said April, who was decked out in shades of green from her shamrock suspenders to her false eyelashes. She had even colored her newly shorn head emerald. “I knew I would cry thinking about her. And it’s hard to shave your head but it’s easy for me when I think of what people with cancer go through with chemotherapy and other treatments.”
Scott Rikert, a member of the Northport Lacrosse’s Team that raised more than $24,000, has shaved his head five years in a row for the event. “This is a phenomenal fundraising activity,” said Scott, also a member of the Paddywhackers who were visible all over Napper Tandy’s Saturday in their green and white soccer-style jerseys.
“We’re just a bunch of local Northport Irish people who love our kids,” he said. “I feel privileged to participate.”
To see Rebecca Terry's after photo and more photos, go to: http://www.flickr.com/gp/7381836@N02/3o3pYa

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Complaint sparks review of 20-year-old permit

A neighbor’s complaint has triggered a series of ordinance violations for the Northport Car Wash and a revisiting of the special use permit granted to the business July 6, 1989.
The permit was issued to then-owner DNAL, Ltd. of Bevin Road in Eaton’s Neck for the 1.26-acre property owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at 402 Fort Salonga Road on the east side of Elwood Road just north of Ripley Drive.
The very narrow property, zoned I-5 or general industry since 1934, also needed a side yard variance to permit a 20-foot side yard on one side and a five-foot side yard on the other instead of the normally required 25-foot side yards. Prior to the car wash opening, the site had been empty since 1981.
At the 1989 hearing, a car wash construction expert testified that the entire operation could take place inside the building and the noise from blowers used to dry the vehicles would be no louder than that caused by street activity. The Town granted the permit and variances with conditions.
In April 2005 the Town’s Department of Public Safety received a complaint from a nearby resident of noise and violations of the permit, according to a letter sent to ZBA Chair Christopher Modelewski from Town Ordinance Inspector Philip Colwell. Mr. Colwell said that he found the source of the “offensive noise” was a central vacuum installed outside near the northwest corner of the building and several air nozzles used to blow water off of cars. Neither were on the approved site plan not the proposed site plan presented to the ZBA.
On May 13, 2005, Mr. Colwell said he gave the car wash President Michael Dusold copies of those plans and “I told him compliance was required,” the letter reads.
When Mr. Colwell returned to the property June 3, 2005 he found the conditions had not changed. Summons were issued for violations of Chapter 198, Section 122-A and –B, which read that, “It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to fail, neglect or refuse to fully comply with any condition or requirement imposed by the Huntington Town Board, Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals as a result of any land use or zoning action, decision or approval,” and “It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to deviate in any manner from a site plan filed with and/or approved by the Department of Engineering Services, Department of Planning and Environment, Town Board, Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals,” respectively.
Mr. Dusold appeared in 3rd District Court and pleaded guilty to 198-122A. He was given a conditional discharge requiring that he cease of all machinery outside the building and no fine.
A year later, on March 22, 2006 Mr. Colwell observed that there was another violation in that there was a boat on a trailer placed on the property and it was being used to advertise a boat dealer on Route 25A. Also, Mr. Colwell observed that the vacuum was back in operation. The court was notified of the violation and enforcement proceedings were initiated in 3rd District Court again.
In his letter, Mr. Colwell also noted that, while the original special use permit was for an automatic car wash, it is now a hand wash, as is advertised on the business’s sign. In addition, it was only to have a total of eight permanent employees and the entire business was to be conducted inside the building. “I observed more than eight employees washing, drying, and vacuuming vehicles and the vacuuming was being done outside.”
In the interim, the car wash has been taken over by Nat Kaufman who said that, while he doesn’t want to comment, he is taking steps to mend the situation.
“I really don’t think I should talk about it right now,” he said. “I can’t really say anything. It can only hurt me if I say the wrong thing. All I can say is we’re going to do the right thing and everyone will be happy. It’s going to cost me money but I want to do the right thing and we’re almost there. And that’s all I can say.”
So far two public hearings regarding the special use permit have been adjourned, one on July 27, 2006 and the most recent on February 15, 2007 as Mr. Kaufman works to take action, according to a letter sent to Mr. Modelewski from Mr. Kaufman’s attorney Gary Weintraub of Caputi, Weintraub and Neary.
“As I explained to you, I am gathering information which will demonstrate to your satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the other members f the Board that the alleged noise problem at my client’s business is in fact attributable to the drying blowers rather than the vacuums. I will provide you with information as to state of the art equipment, which will hopefully abate the noise generated by now antiquated equipment presently being used on the premises. The installation of such equipment would be at a considerable expense to my client but if doing so could bring this matter to an amicable conclusion, then I am certain my client would be willing to make that expenditure.”
A new date for a BZA hearing has not yet been set.

Early morning fire guts brand new house



The East Northport Fire Department was called to Old Bridge Road in Northport in the early morning hours of Thursday, March 9 after a fire was reported in a brand new $1.7 million new home in the Estates at Preston Hollow, which is marketed as a five-house development of luxury custom homes on one-acre property sites.
The home, which serves as the model home for the neighborhood being built by Melville-based Island Wide Builders, was unoccupied, according to East Northport Fire Department Chief Bruce Gosik who said the site was particularly hazardous because it had been extremely cold and the ground was covered with sheets of ice.
“We received the call at 2:16 a.m. from the Suffolk County dispatcher and at that time it was 8 degrees,” Chief Gosik said. “There were freezing temperatures and ice all over. When my First Assistant Chief John McCoy arrived the fire was fully involved. It’s clear from the photos that the fire started in the middle of the house.”
He said that the fire had clearly been burning for a long time before the firefighters arrived. “The middle was burnt out. It was going for a long time before we got there. It’s a pretty remote location and the only house nearby didn’t get home until later that morning,” he said, adding that he does not know who contacted the Suffolk County dispatcher.
Approximately 40 members of the East Northport Fire Department responded with two engines, one ladder, one rescue, two ambulances and a
with 2 engines, 1 ladder, 1 rescue, 2 ambulances and a fire police vehicle. Fifteen members each from the Kings Park and Northport Fire Departments also responded.
Kings Park responded with a ladder to assist and Northport provided a fast team. Northport also handled an ambulance call for the East Northport department while its members were fighting the Old Bridge Road fire.
Chief Gosik said that the fire was under control within an hour and the site was cleared by 5:15 a.m. The cause is still undetermined.
“The guys did a great job and everyone went home safe despite all the slipping and sliding and the large volume of fire,” he said.
—K. Campbell

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Tast completes historical renovation for use as office space



When Peter Tast set out to get approval to renovate the ramshackle white house that sits just west of Brittania Yachting on Route 25A (before in below photo), he said he hoped to transform it from an eyesore to a sight for sore eyes.
The owner of TAST CORP Construction and Design, a commercial and industrial contractor, replaced decorative fascia and restored as much of the clapboard siding as he could. He installed historically correct two over two windows on the turn of the 20th century house and painted it cream, plum and turquoise.
“We’re going to great lengths to restore it in an appropriate way,” Mr. Tast said in 2005.
Now that the work is complete, most would agree that he succeeded in all of his goals. At their most recent meetings, both the Northport Village Board of Trustees and Planning Board unanimously approved the release of a $34,000 cash performance bond that Mr. Tast was required to post to ensure that on site improvements were completed.
“He really did a fantastic job,” said Planning Board Chair Rich Boziwick. Mayor George Doll agreed.
The improvements included parking area edging, installing landscaping, concrete sidewalks, parking area stone and lighting, a retaining wall and three drainage pools.
According to Superintendent of Public Works Joe Correia, the Village requirement that Tast install 170 linear feet of stockade fencing at the rear of the .16-acre property was waived because Brittania already has a fence installed.
The businessman bought the house in 2003 in hopes of opening the office of his business there and, in doing so, restoring the house.
Before Mr. Tast was issued his building permit, he had to clear some hurdles. One of the biggest was eliminated in July 2004 when the Northport Village Zoning Board of Appeals gave him a variance allowing an office at the site, necessary because, as part of the restrictions placed on the Britannia Yachting Club when it opened shops and a restaurant at the location in 1988, the house was not to be used as anything but a residence.
But the house's location at a sharp bend on a busy road didn't lend itself to the use as a residence. The house was no longer used and it fell into serious disrepair.
He eventually received the necessary permit and variance approvals, including one that allowed a 22 by 10-foot garage at the east side of the property.
Mr. Tast also received necessary permits from the New York State Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation, the latter necessary because the building is on State Route 25A.
TAST has a lot of experience with historical restoration and the challenges they can create. While restoring the 110-year-old St. Gregory’s Church in Seaford, TAST workers had to level the wooden floor that had dropped three inches in the center by pouring new concrete footings in the existing dirt crawl space and using jacks and new steel wood beams to reinforce it.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Homeowner of historic house wants to add on

By KELLY CAMPBELL

The Huntington Board of Zoning Appeals has given the owner of the historic Booker T. Washington house in Fort Salonga approval for variances that would allow him to add a two-story extension and connect the house to the free-standing garage via a breezeway.
Jerry Gucciardo and his wife Angela of Northport purchased the historic house from the Loretta Smithin estate in 2005 for $1.13 million, according to Town records.
The celebrated African-American educator who rose from slavery to found Tuskegee Institute lived in the small, weathered cottage perched high atop a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound at 30 Cousins Lane in Fort Salonga for the summers of 1911 through 1915.
Due much to the efforts of East Northport’s Thelma Jackson-Abidally, author of African Americans in Northport: An Untold Story and member of Huntington's newly created African American Historic Designation Council, the house was given historical designation in 2003 and was added to the Town’s historic register in 2005.
“What I’m trying to do now is trying to stop a developer from leveling the house now,” Mrs. Jackson Abidally said at that time.
She got her wish when Mr. Gucciardo bought the property. Although he is a developer, he does not plan to level the property, according to his attorney Woodbury-based Thomas Abbate. Rather he plans to update and sell it.
“This is a great application,” Mr. Abbate said in an interview Monday. “It’s in a severe state of disrepair. Mr. Gucciardo bought the property because he wants to renovate it. But it’s severely undersized for today’s way of life. It had no modern amenities that today’s family is looking for. Mr. Gucciardo bought this knowng it is a historical site and he went through painstaking design process and did so in conjunction with the Huntington Historical Preservation Board, from whom he ultimately received approval. The Town Board has also approved Mr. Gucciardo’s design plans, which include a 1,968-foot two-story addition to the south side of the house, a 1,200-square-foot second-story addition over an existing 846-square-foot garage and a breezeway connection the main house to the outbuildings. The addition over the garage cannot have heat, plumbing, fixed stairs or habitable space.
The variances, approved unanimously by the Town’s BZA, are for the second-story garage—according to the Town code, private garages can only be one story— and for side setbacks. The required setbacks are 25 feet and the existing setbacks of the garage are two feet and 73 feet from the nearest properties.
At least one resident was more concerned about the erosion of the bluff that the property sits on than the variances. Another homeowner on Cousins Lane, Paul Zacher, said that in the last year alone the bluff has dropped between four and 10 feet, depending on what point is measured.
"This is a wonderful project," Mr. Zacher said. "But our concern is that you may do all this work and the house may collapse.”
Mr. Abbate said that the house is not in danger of collapsing the bluff.
“We don’t think it’s falling off the cliff,” he said. “We agreed that we would do whatever we can to make sure that the site doesn’t erode to any great extent. This is [Mr. Gucciardo’s] house so he has an economic interest in preserving this house
That interest obviously eclipses everyone eles’s and it makes him the one person who has the greatest interest in protecting that property against substantial erosion.”
BZA Chair Christopher Modelewski said that his Board was only concerned with the variances.
“We have no jurisdiction with respect to engineering or runoff problems,” he said. “There are other governmental agencies which have direct jurisdiction over those matters and a thorough review will be required at those other levels of government. There may be possibly be an Army Corps of Engineers’ application. There is the coastal erosion requirement here in the Town. There’s a whole host of laws and regulations that apply to the redevelopment of the property. We’re only part of the whole municipality process.”
Mr. Gucciardo’s next step is to obtain a building permit and site plan approval through the Town’s Building Department.