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Tuesday
Apr092013

Meet John McQuaid - Nissequogue River State Park Foundation Chairperson

John McQuaidSit down with John McQuaid for a minute and you understand that this is a man who knows what he wants.  Spend another minute with him and you understand that McQuaid is a man who works hard to make goals become reality. 

John is a Kings Park resident who lives with his wife and two sons on Kohr Rd., near the Nissequogue River State Park.  He planned it that way.  An avid outdoor person and park user, John moved to Kings Park where he and his family could enjoy the wonderful parkland at both Sunken Meadow and Nissequogue River State Park.

John is organized and he is a planner, he puts on the elbow grease and pitches in whenever needed. When it comes to activities for the kids or the safety of Kings Park kids, John is there. He quietly yet forcefully cuts through political doublespeak and inertia to get things done.

In January of this year, John McQuaid became chairperson of the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation (NRSPF).  He follows in the footsteps of former chairman, Kings Park resident Mike Rosato.  Mike founded the NRSPF, nurtured it and is credited with its success.  Under Mike’s watchful eye the organization raised over $100,000 to be used to protect, promote and enhance the Nissequogue River State Park (NRSP).  More importantly, under Mike’s direction the NRSPF became a visible and vocal advocate in its support for the remediation of the park and the creation of a master plan.

Big shoes to walk in? Absolutely! Is McQuaid up to the task? Absolutely! The new NRSPF chairman is no stranger to getting government to work for the people. He first got involved locally with the clean-up and repaving of Tiffany Field in Kings Park.  McQuaid Is currently leading the charge to put automatic external defibrillators (AED’s) at Memorial Park and other Kings Park parks where kids play in organized activities.  Speaking on behalf of the Kings Park Youth Association he had this to say to the Town Board and Town Attorney Zollo:

“ A couple of comments, I am acknowledging that perhaps how we stated our request.  We’re very willing to offer it to anybody who uses those fields, we’re not, we didn’t mean to suggest that it was just for our use; it’s for any children.  We would be willing to purchase, maintain it and keep it updated and do whatever is necessary to keep it functional and give access to it for anybody who is trained, who is at the facility use of the park.” (Town Board transcript 4/19/2012)  He cares about the kids.  Eventually, John received approval from the Town but is still waiting for an official agreement. He is not happy about moving into another season without the AED’s and is planning to address the Town Board if necessary.

What can you expect of John McQuaid, “Chairperson” of the NRSPF?  A lot. According to John he will continue to push for the master plan for the park. He is going to continue with the creative fundraising the foundation is known for, the two 5k run and walk events. The NRSPF is partnering with the Commack – Kings Park Rotary Club to create a “Healing Garden” and the foundation will be a presence on May 4th, “I Love My Park Day.” According to State Parks the Nissequogue River State Park had 64,702 visitors in 2011 and 106,125 visitors in 2012. John McQuaid is hoping to see the number of visitors continue to grow. He will keep doing those things that have worked in the past, but he is not limiting himself and is open to suggestions.

One thing is certain, John McQuaid will make his mark on the Nissequogue River State Park!  

 

 

 

Tuesday
Apr092013

Smithtown Foodies Delight In Spring

What’s Cookin’? – Smithtown

By Nancy Vallarella

Do Smithtown foodies rely on groundhogs Malverne Mel or Holtsville Hal to predict spring? – NO WE DON’T!  Smithtown foodies have a more accurate way of telling when spring is here. – Traffic on 25A. 

Nick’s Pizza and Clam BarFriday, April 5th, cars were backed up in both lanes on 25A north of Middle Country Road.  Why? - The seasonal opening of Nick’s Pizza and Clam Bar, a perennial al fresco casual dining spot. Something for everyone here:  seafood, burgers, wraps, salads, soups and pizza.  During the month of April a regular large pizza is $7.99.

A little further down the road in Saint James, Chef Jonathan Contes of eatMOSAIC prepares a daily changing five course tasting menu of global flavors for a fine dining experience.  Foodnetwork fans may have caught him competing on CHOPPED and April’s issue of Long Island Pulse magazine profiles this young talent.  Consider yourself lucky if you can get a reservation prior to this fall.

On the north side of 25A,  Del Fuego, known for their Tex Mex daily deals will be gearing up for a Cinco de Mayo fiesta. If you haven’t stopped in yet, try Taco Tuesday when tacos are $2.00 until 4:00pm.

The New York Stuffed Cone CompanyContinue east and you will find the newest sweet spot in St. James, The New York Stuffed Cone Company.  Residents Lauren and Dave Saracino together with niece Laura Viggianno are the owner/operators of this family owned ice cream and coffee shop. WiFi available here along with comfy couch, tables of two and four and counter service with seating. Cappuccino in over-sized china cups (a la Central Perk from Friends) and coffees served in pedestalled glass mugs are divine and pair well with an assortment of fresh baked goods.  Ice cream, shakes, smoothies and breakfast all day until closing; waffles, crepes and french toast – Ooh La La! –breakfast for dinner!  Outdoor seating is available weather permitting. 

Naturally, being residents of the Town of Smithtown, Lauren and Dave possess that gift of community giving. On Tuesday, May 2, 2013 from 4-8pm they are donating a percentage of all sales to St. James Elementary School PTA.  The class that registers the most attendees gets… A Sundae Party!! Stop by and support your favorite SJE class.

Also in the spirit of giving is Yogurtini owner Ellen Bedziner.  Smithtown High School West DECA benefits from sales every Tuesday.  Ms. Bedziner has also arranged for a percentage of sales on Mondays to be donated to Hope for Youth. Hope for Youth donations will be on going starting Monday, April 22nd.  Yogurtini is located at 44 E Main Street. I am personally addicted to the coconut macaroon frozen yogurt. 

If you get tired of driving around town this spring, the ladies of From Our Kitchen To Yours, in Saint James From Our Kitchen To Yourswill be happy to deliver quality home cooked meals to your door. Romantic dinner for two or catering a party for 50, you never have to leave the house.  Mom Maria and daughters Barbra and Toni have a passion for food and entertaining. They are seriously committed to make each customer’s experience a deliciously memorable one.  No detail is too big or small for this dynamic trio of talented individuals. They cater to every need and want using the freshest quality ingredients available.  Individual meal plans are also available for nights when time is tight.  Private cooking lessons at your home can also be arranged. Save the gas and give the ladies a call 631-404-8178. Experience half a century of Sicilian and Tuscan trained cooking in your own backyard! 

Buon Appetito and Happy Spring Smithtown!

 

Thursday
Apr042013

"What Inspires You" - Nissequogue River State Park Foundations Community Quilt Squares 

The Nissequogue River State Park Foundation is all about protecting and promoting the Nissequogue River State Park.  The foundation has been extremely successful in raising money to benefit  the park.  The Foundation has raised over $100,000 over the last five years by hosting popular and unusual fund raising events. Foundation members have been extremely versatile in planning and hosting events that are fun and affordable. The Foundation’s Community ” Quilt Squares” fundraiser is no exception.  

Karin Vanderveer with 2012 QuiltThe “Quilt Squares” fundraiser is open to everyone. The project is the brainchild of member Karin Vanderveer who looked for an event that would allow people, especially children, to use their imaginations and talents to create a unique quilt square that reflects their passion. This is the second year for the project and the theme of this year’s event is, “What Inspires You?” 

Everyone, regardless of where they live is invited to participate. You may paint, glue, draw, stitch etc. an 8”x8” panel that, when completed, will be added to other panels creating an Inspiration Quilt. The panels are tied together and will be on display from May 4th - June 30th at the Nissequogue River State Park (NRSP) Administration Building Community Room.  There will be an opening day reception that coincides with I Love My Park Day on May 4, at 1:30pm.

The Squares are available NOW until they run out. The funds collected go to the foundation to support the 2012 participantsNRSP. Squares are available for $8 each from the NRSP Foundation. You may order online at www.ourstatepark.com, by mail NRSP Foundation P.O. Box159, Kings Park, NY 11754. You may also pick up the square in person this Saturday, April 6th 1:30 - 4pm. (you may want to stay for the free crafting session) at the Administration Building at 799 St. Johnland Road, Kings Park, 11754.

Completed Squares must be dropped off or mailed by Friday, April 26. 

Remember to use your park, enjoy your park and support your park!

Click link for order form www.ourstatepark.com

 

 

Wednesday
Apr032013

All In A Day's Work - Ethics Board Does Not Find Sufficient Evidence

NY Times photoIn a two-paragraph letter sent to Smithtown’s Democratic Chairperson, Edward Maher, the three member Town Ethics Board stated:

“This board did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that any town employee committed a violation of the Smithtown Code of Ethics.  This board is aware of recommendations made by the grand jury with respect to amending the Town Code and will continue to consult with the town attorney regarding possible amendments.”

Smithtown’s Board of Ethics is composed of three members, Democrat Steven Sarisohn (attorney), Republican Joe Saggese (CPA) and independent Tracey Epstein (attorney). On March 30, 2012, Ed Maher requested that the Ethics Board review the 2011 Suffolk County Grand Jury Report, which examined the illegal demolition of buildings on Main Street In Smithtown.  The Grand Jury report was critical of Town Supervisor, Patrick Vecchio identified as Town Employee “A” and Greg Hild, former Town Assessor, identified as Town Employee “C.”

Although there were no criminal charges, the 40-page Grand Jury report found that “A” and “C” pressured the developer to unlawfully demolish the site, even though they were aware that the prospective demolition lacked lawful permits and had been issued a Building Department Stop Work Order.  The Grand Jury determined that the unsupervised demolition “constituted an utter disregard for the well-being of local citizens,” who were not given advance notice of the demolition. It was later determined that the commercial site was demolished with asbestos within its structures. 

The report included a detailed description of behind-the-scene involvement by “A” and “C”. The Grand Jury drew conclusions and made many recommendations.

Among the conclusions published in its report, the Grand Jury found that the Smithtown Code of Ethics fails to mandate that town employees report activities known to violate the town code to an appropriate town department or authority and that the ethics code does not adequately provide for the removal of its public servants, currently addressing the removal of “a limited category of appointed officials” upon violation of the code, “a provision that fails to cover all public servants”.  

Smithtown Democratic Chairperson, Edward MaherEd Maher issued this statement thanking the Smithtown Board of Ethics:

I want to thank the Smithtown Board of Ethics for fulfilling my request and conducting this investigation. I am sure that the ethics board did their best and I accept their conclusions. Considering the seriousness of the Grand Jury’s findings I am surprised that the Smithtown Board of Ethics found no code violations by town employees. So while no town employees have been found in violation of the Smithtown Town Code the code itself seems to be quite weak.  The result of this investigation reaffirms the Grand Jury’s recommendations to strengthen the Town Code. I hope the town officials agree with me and will continue to transform the Town Code so that the activity outlined by the District Attorney will not be considered ethical in the future.

Legislative actions recommended by the grand jury in its report include:

Smithtown must increase fines to, at a minimum, at least double a site plan application fee, to discourage developers and builders who fail to obtain site plan approval,

Smithtown must amend and increase the town’s fine schedule for demolition or construction occurring in the town without proper building department permits,

Smithtown must enact legislation establishing an independent Board of Site Plan Review to ensure “that the legal mandates of site plan review are enforced”.   Currently town board members serve in this capacity.

Smithtown must amend the town code requiring property owners adjacent to a construction or demolition project be notified to allow them to be heard.

Smithtown must amend the town’s Code of Ethics to mandate any public servant with personal knowledge of the violation of town code “has an affirmative obligation” to report it the appropriate town department.

Smithtown must adopt a statute authorizing the removal of any public servant “who engages in misconduct” consistent with the provisions of New York State’s Public Officers Law. 

Administrative changes recommended by grand jurors include requiring town building inspectors and clerical staff to receive training in asbestos inspection and abatement and establishing protocols for the building department’s notification to town officials when a Stop Work order is issued.  The report also calls on Smithtown to identify and sanction commercial demolition and construction contractors who proceed on projects without verifying the proper permits have been issued.

Calling on town officials to refrain from interceding in commercial projects “in a manner that undermines the town code”, the Grand Jury recommended the town obtain an “independent review” by the state of the Office of Town Assessor to insure all properties are assessed “on a uniform and equitable basis” and that Smithtown “audit the practices and procedures administer by the town Assessor “particularly…the assessment of commercial properties”.           


 

Thursday
Mar282013

Smithtown Women Make Blankets For Veterans

click on photo to enlargeA group of senior citizens from the Smithtown Senior Citizen Department recently spent the afternoon at the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University.

According to Laura Greif, Program Director, “We have a group of very talented women who spend countless hours making quilts and lap blankets specifically for our nations’ veterans. They are a very patriotic group who want to say thank you in a personal way.”

The group distributed fifty quilts/blankets to residents, all of whom had the opportunity to pick out one in their favorite color.   Jacqueline Bodkin, Assistant Director of Therapeutic Recreation, hosted the event and was very grateful for the donation. 

Pictured from left to right are JoAnn Loh, Teresa Foti, Christine O’Connor, Rose Garbarino, Dorothy Lehl and Carolyn Eberhardt.

For more information about the Smithtown Senior Citizen Department come visit us at 420 Middle Country Road in Smithtown, call us at 631-360-7616 or visit us at  HYPERLINK “http://www.smithtownny.gov” www.smithtownny.gov.

Photo Credit: Patty Bornhoft