Friday, June 24, 2011

Kayak rental agreement approved

Kayak rental agreement approved
Long Island Advance, 16 June 2011, p. 8 (see also BLOG 20 May 2011)
Peggy Spellman Hoey

The Brookhaven Town Board on Tuesday approved a lease agreement for the rental of the former Carmans River Kayak and Canoe Center in Brookhaven, but not without its intended use coming into question by members of the public and lawmakers.

Under the lease agreement, Brookhaven resident Brad DeSantis will make about $70,000 in capital improvements to the site including a new dock, landscaping work, and a nature and educational center that will be open to members of the public. DeSantis will rent the site, which is located across the street from the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, for about $26,000 and run a kayak and canoe rental business. Residents with their own kayaks will not be affected by the lease agreement and will be allowed to access the site for free.

But Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization President MaryAnn Johnston questioned whether the property, which was preserved by the town in 2008, could be reused as a kayak rental center again because open space funds were used in its purchase, something she contends implies only passive use. Johnston also alleged the property had previous issues with a cesspool leaking into the Carmans River.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko said that the information board members have from the town planning and law departments, as well as the State Department of Environmental Conservation indicate a kayak and canoe rental is an appropriate use for the property.

Councilman Tim Mazzei also questioned Johnston’s argument about the cesspool and questioned if anything could be done to safeguard the property from releasing effluent into the river such as the placement of a pump-out station.

John Turner, the town’s director of environmental protection, said he could not recall any issue with a cesspool, although he did point out the site had a fuel tank that needed to be reclamated.

“This is the first time I am hearing about this,” he said.

Like Johnston, Councilman Dan Panico also questioned whether leasing the property out for a retail use would be an appropriate for a property purchased with open space funds. Panico questioned how passive the use of the center would be in light that other areas such as the Nissequogue River in Smithtown utilize rentals, but they are mobile and the bathrooms are also self-contained port-o-potties. “So you can argue that is more a passive use as opposed to what is going on here,” he said.

But Councilwoman Connie Kepert, whose district includes Brookhaven, argued the merits of DeSantis’ application. “I think this is a good application,” she said. “I think it will get more people on the river, more people to appreciate what the Carmans River is and I am not quite understanding what the point is.”

Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Commissioner Eddie Morris also touted the merits of DeSantis’ proposal by pointing out it would not only allow greater access to the river, but it would place a presence at the property and ward off past problems such as squatters and looters. “I think it is a win-win for the town,” he said. DeSantis was not immediately reachable for comment by deadline.

The lease agreement came on the heels of the board sending a home rule message in support of State Senate and Assembly bills, which will put into place measures to protect the Carmans River Watershed including expanding the core preservation area of the central pine barrens region. "I'm glad that town residents will be able to soon enjoy canoeing and kayaking from this gateway to the Carmans River, one of our most beautiful and natural resources," said Supervisor Mark Lesko after the vote was taken. "We also expect the existing building, which has steadily deteriorated, to be refurbished."

Horseblock Road Investigation, Yaphank, Suffolk County, New York

This letter, by Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, concerns a composting site at the northern boundary of Brookhaven Hamlet in the Hamlet of Yaphank. In addition to the relatively low level alpha radiation found near the site, there are many citizen complaints of strong odors and dust. At the June 2, 2011 community meeting (see BLOG, Stop the Sludge Community Meeting), there was considerable "buck passing" between Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County, and New York State agencies as to who, if any, had jurisdiction or regulatory authority over the facility.

See related story: Residents raise stink about mulch plant, Long Island Advance, 23 Jun 2011, p. 5. This particular plant is in nearby Medford, but is producing similar complaints of odors.

New York State Health Commissioner
Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H.
New York State Department of Health Corning Tower Empire State Plaza Albany, NY 12237

June 20, 2011

RE: Horseblock Road Investigation, Yaphank, Suffolk County, New York

Dear NYS Health Commissioner Shah,

I am writing in regard to the above named investigation concerning contamination of unexplained radionuclides in groundwater, surface water and compost samples found on and south of Long Island Compost/Great Gardens located in Yaphank, Long Island.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) is gravely concerned that compost from this facility is continuing to be distributed to farms and the general public across Long Island while under investigation for radionuclide contamination.

Data from groundwater samples immediately south of this facility contained gross alpha concentrations of up to 58.4 picocuries per liter. This contamination was found at shallow depths (20 – 25 feet) and therefore could only be attributed to a very close source. Samples of compost at Long Island Compost/Great Gardens were taken in the northwest and the southeast quadrants of this facility, both samples contained unexplained levels of gross alpha and gross beta radiation. Since alpha and beta radiation was found in the compost materials and surface water samples at the Long Island Compost/Great Gardens facility, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDOHS) both agree this facility is the source of the radioactivity in groundwater.

A second round of sampling is underway and is anticipated to be completed in the next two weeks. Samples will be analyzed by both the NYS DOH and SCDOH. Results are expected in approximately six weeks. I am certainly aware that the additional testing will provide useful information in allowing us to address this concern with greater certainty however, greater clarity is currently needed for public inquiries. CCE is receiving calls and emails from members of the public asking if compost purchased from Long Island Compost/Great Gardens, is safe. They are specifically asking if the radiation can concentrate in their homegrown fruits and vegetables. Given the logical concern that a compost transfer facility should not be producing alpha and beta radiation, and that an investigation is underway, I find this a legitimate question. It would be very helpful for NYSDOH to provide a statement addressing these public concerns and clarifying why no caution has been issued concerning the distribution and use of the compost materials. Therefore, I am respectfully requesting a statement from your office that can provide the needed guidance to the public on this important matter.

I was present at a meeting on May 26, 2011 at the DEC’s Stony Brook office where representatives of the NYSDOH participated via phone. They informed the meeting participants that radioactive levels in the compost materials were relatively low and the public should not be concerned. They also suggested the cause could be "natural". I am currently unaware of any natural process where alpha radiation may result from the degradation process of leaves and grass. It appears too early in the investigation to offer such an explanation as to the origins of the radiation.

If you have any questions regarding this request please do not hesitate to contact me at 516-390-7150.


Adrienne Esposito
Executive Director

Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Congressman Tim Bishop
NY State Senator Lee Zeldin
NYS Assemblyman Dean Murray
NYS Assemblyman Robert Sweeney
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens
DEC Region One Director, Peter Scully
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy
Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning
Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James L. Tomarken

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A [Brookhaven Hamlet] Postcard From 1912 Returns to Brooklyn

A post card of the Trinity Holiday House in Brookhaven Hamlet, mailed in 1912 to Brooklyn, was recently received by the current residents at the Brooklyn address.

The Trinity Holiday House was one of the many summer hotels/guest houses that could be found along the south shore of Long Island, including Brookhaven Hamlet, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This particular guest house was owned and operated by the Church of the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights as a vacation destination for mothers and children.

The "Miss E.F. Iggulden" of the 1912 post card described in the New York Times article was of little doubt Elizabeth F. Iggulden, a daughter of Charles and Anna C. Iggulden. As noted in the NYT article, they appeared at the address in the 1910 census. Charles was a jobber carpenter; Anna was a dressmaker who worked at home. Charles and Anna were of English decent who immigrated in about 1895. In 1910, they had had six children, of which only three were still living.

I have a post card of the Holiday House dated June 15, 1910 from a D. G. Marshall to "Miss A. Iggulden" posted to the same Brooklyn address. Its salutation is "Dear Alice," and she is no doubt Elizabeth's older sister, born about 1895.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Women only: Building boats and connections

Originally published in Long Island Newsday, June 10, 2011.

When temperatures across Long Island began to plummet last December, Ann Bell had no difficulty deciding how to occupy her time. To dispel the winter blues, she signed up for a challenging task, joining six other women at the Carmans River Maritime Center in Brookhaven Hamlet for its inaugural women-only boatbuilding class.

During the program's three-hour sessions on Sunday afternoons, starting in early December and lasting for about six months, she constructed her own kayak from a kit, complete with a seat, seat back, footbraces and a hatch. It was her first building experience of any kind. ...

Includes Pictures

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maurice Wertheim Grandson Visits Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge

On Tuesday, June 7, 2011 Tom Langman, grandson of Maurice Wertheim, visited the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and shared with the refuge staff family history and remembrances. He hopes to be able to be present at the dedication of the new Refuge headquarters building, along with some of his cousins.

The deck of the original Wertheim family hunting lodge on the banks of the Carman's River. To left is Marty Van Lith, Brookhaven hamlet historian and environmentalist.

l.-r: Tom Langman, furthest back is Ann Bell, Public Affairs, and in foreground is Michelle Williams, Director of the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Peacock Seen Wandering the Woods and Yards of Brookhaven Hamlet

Monday, June 6, 2011

Update on our Fire Place Cemeteries

From: Martin VanLith 
Sent: Sunday, June 05, 2011 7:42 PM
Subject: Update on our Fire Place Cemeteries
Dear All,
I toured our historic cemeteries today and had to pinch myself to see if I was imagining things. It seems that the Town has finally started maintaining them. It only took six years and a lawsuit to get to this point. Too bad the Miller cemetery was excluded from Judge Tannebaum's decision. However, today I received permission from the homeowner on Brook Nursery Drive, whose backyard abuts the cemetery, to cut a path to it between his property and a Town Sump fence to the west of him. 

I was especially encouraged with the work done at the Southaven Church cemetery. Not only did they mow the grass but they also replaced broken fence pieces and have started grinding down the many stumps. And with the Carmans cemetery they mowed a 10' border outside the fence.

Councilwoman Kepert's office has been nudging the Parks Department about once a week for the past several months. Below is my reply, with pictures, to an e-mail I received from her office on Friday. 
Begin forwarded message:

From: Martin VanLith  
Date: June 5, 2011 6:59:25 PM EDT
To: Liz Krolik
Cc: Connie Kepert
Subject: Re: cemeteries
On Jun 3, 2011, at 4:02 PM, Liz Krolik-Alexander wrote:
Hi Marty,
I'm hearing that work is getting done at the cemeteries.  Share any info you have.
thanks, Liz
Hi Liz,
Yes, there has been work done on the cemeteries. Two weeks ago I met with Town Parks Department district 4  supervisor Ed Halvison and one of his aides (Chris) and we toured the cemeteries. Ed Halvison was a very pleasant person and said he would do the Brookhaven hamlet cemeteries. However, at least one of them, the Barteau cemetery, might require a survey before he could clear the right of way to get it.  
This weekend I toured the cemeteries and found that Halvison had done at least four since we met. An additional two of the easily accessed cemeteries were mowed in mid-May, so six of the eight cemeteries have been done. Halvison may have also mowed the David Hawkins cemetery, I haven't checked this one in over a week. 
Here are some pictures of the cemeteries I took today:
This is the Rose Cemetery located off Jared's Path. I believe it was mowed in mid-May-

This is the Azel Hawkins Cemetery off Stillwood Road adjacent to Brian and Mary Jane Cullen's house. This was the first one that Halvison did a little over a week ago. They did a great job with it-

This is the Hulse cemetery along Fire Place Neck Road. The Town has been maintaining this cemetery for over a year now (easy access) and was mowed in mid-May-

Next two pictures are of the old Southaven Church Cemetery just off Montauk Highway near the Carmans River. 

Halvison also ground-down some stumps that were in the Southaven Church cemetery-

The next two pictures are of the Carmans Cemetery, after whom the river is named. It is located in the former Robinson farmland-

Looking west over the Carmans cemetery. Again, Halvison did a great job here-

The next three pictures are of the Richard Corwin Cemetery off Beaver Brook Drive. A hugh tree had fallen across it this winter and Halvison cut it up and gave the firewood to the homeowner living near it-

After Halvison removed the fallen tree I put up the interpretive sign for the cemetery (Richard Corwin, a personal body guard for George Washington, was at the battle of Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis). 


This picture of the David Hawkins cemetery was taken two weeks ago, so I don't know if Halvison got to it yet. 

This last picture, like the others was taken today, is of the overgrown Barteau cemetery, the one Hollis is waiting to repair-

In short, I am delighted to see all the work that Ed Halvison has done in the two weeks since we met. If you have an opportunity please get the word to him that Marty and the Fire Place History Club say thank you.