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DEC Charge Medford Man With Illegal Shellfish Harvesting In Nissequogue River

Individual Faces Four Misdemeanor Charges

A Medford man is facing four misdemeanor charges after New York State Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) observed him harvesting shellfish from an uncertified shellfish harvesting area in the Nissequogue River, near San Remo.

“In addition to protecting natural resources, Environmental Conservation Officers  play a valuable role in safeguarding the public’s health,”  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Peter A. Scully said. “The harvesting of shellfish from uncertified waters has the potential to have dire human health consequences. Harvesting shellfish from uncertified waters could potentially result in the shellfish transmitting diseases to humans who consume them. The work done by DEC’s Environmental Conservation Officers is often the first line of defense against the transmission of diseases to humans.”

According to Captain Timothy Huss of DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement in Region 1, on February 23, two ECOs observed John P. Martell walking along the shore of the Nissequogue River near Riviera and Locust Drive in San Remo. Officers then observed him driving down the road to the location where he stashed approximately 800 oysters. Martell was then confronted by the officers after he was seen loading the bags of oysters into his vehicle.

Martell,of Medford, was issued four misdemeanor tickets which each carry up to $1,000 fines and/or one year in jail. The four misdemeanor charges issued were: failure to tag shellfish, possession of commercial shellfish quantities at night, taking shellfish at night and possession of shellfish at night. Martell was also charged with one violation for failure to carry a commercial shellfish digger license which carries a potential $250 fine.

State law prohibits harvesting shellfish from sunset to sunrise. This law was made so law enforcement officials could easily observe shellfishing activities to ensure shellfish are harvested from certified areas.

The entire length of the Nissequogue River is listed as uncertified for shellfishing.

Martell has a court date of March 23 in Suffolk County First District Court in Central Islip.

For more information on shellfishing, visit DEC’s website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/345.html.  Additional information on DEC and shellfish safety can be found at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9161.html.

To report any environmental crime, please contact DEC’s toll free 24-hour TIPP hotline at: 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332). DEC keeps the identity of all TIPP callers confidential.


Teacher Evaluations - A Good Thing

New York Enacts Teacher Evaluations

Local school and community officials react to the new system

By Chad Kushins

NYS Gov. Andrew CuomoNYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi
NYS Education Commissioner John B.King

Elected officials and educators alike are responding to a statewide agreement reached last week, which would bring tougher teacher evaluations in public schools statewide and make student performance 40 percent of a teacher’s grade. 

Almost instantly controversial, the deal reached by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYSUT (New York State United Teachers), and State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. would base the remaining 60 percent of the evaluation on classroom observation and other factors not related to standardized tests. Districts through collective bargaining will determine this criteria for the plan.

 The plan now goes to local school districts where discussion over specific areas such as an appeal process will be developed. A plan must be implemented within the coming year. Cuomo claims he will deny non-compliant districts the scheduled four percent increase in state aid that he has proposed.

The announcement brought together Cuomo, State Education Commissioner, King, and Teachers Union President Richard C. Iannuzzi, who had been wrestling over the details of the new statewide system since its introduction into law in 2010 as part of the state’s application for a federal “Race to the Top” grant.  New York is one of 19 states that received grants under the “Race to the Top” competition, which requires every recipient to adopt a teacher evaluation system.  Last month, the federal Education Department warned New York that it could lose its share of the money if it did not comply, causing a rush to compromise and completion of the announced plan.

The agreement creates a rating system for teachers.  The ratings are “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing,” and “ineffective.” For a teacher rated “ineffective,” a Teacher Improvement Plan (TIP) would be developed. Two annual ineffective ratings could lead to a hearing and possible dismissal. A rating of “highly effective” would allow teachers to be eligible for merit increases or other perks, as determined in local labor contracts.

Many officials and educators from Smithtown are responding to the announcement.  “There’s a lot to like here,” said Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick.  “When the announcement was made, we had a real deadline looming.  Governor Cuomo said, ‘We’ve had plenty of time,’ and he was right.  Our educational system has some major problems, given what we’re spending – that’s not debatable.  And I really do believe that there has to be accountability.  That’s been avoided, but now we have a governor who’s willing to stand up for it.  I, personally, thank him for that.”

Fitzpatrick continued, “I think that one of the reasons that there’s been no accountability in the schools has been the problem of taking on the union.  Now, it’s a matter of receiving a grant for funding and I really think Cuomo is leading the way here.”

According to Fitzpatrick, there is only one element to the new system that he has found to be a negative aspect.  “I’m not happy that bad teachers would be getting a two-year reprieve,” he added.  “But that’s the only downside, the only pill we have to swallow – and it’s a significant one.  It’s the kids who are going to suffer because of that for two years.”

State Senator John Flanagan concurred, citing the new governor as a chief source in the proposal and commenting on its importance for the state.  “Teacher evaluations are fundamentally and critically important to everyone,” said Flanagan.  “Also, if you can make a good compromise, that has value on its own.  I congratulate the governor.  He and his office made this needed compromise.”

Flanagan continued, “Whatever is done [with the evaluations], it must be in a timely fashion … If you look at other areas and school districts with high graduation rates and high grades, those set an example.  Ultimately, my hope is that this happens and that it happens right.”

“I commend the teachers and administrators who are working together now on an APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) Committee that will ensure that we select the very best evaluation model to meet our district’s needs,” said former teacher and current member of the Smithtown Board of Education Joanne McEnroy.  “The Governor’s new system will, I believe, create the need for teachers to ‘self assess’ and, I think that they will have to develop and maintain some type of a professional portfolio in order to articulate and corroborate the full measure of their work.  This opportunity for teachers to self-assess/advocate is an unintended, but I believe positive outgrowth of the Governor’s proposal.”

According to McEnroy, she is not for an evaluation system that would use students’ scores on standardized tests to judge a teacher’s abilities.  “Every one of the new evaluation models that are proposed address areas that speak to a teacher’s ability to recognize and plan to meet this kind of diversity and, to execute lessons to address it,” she continued.  “However it needs to be established and, at the very least acknowledged, that the circumstances that are brought to the learning situation do act upon outcome.  While the teacher can control the planning, the process, the practices and the teaching methods that are used, he or she often has no ability to control the circumstances that are brought to the setting.”

McEnroy added, “In the Smithtown district, there are so many things to be proud of.  That was also the case before the Governor’s proposal.  Our students have always done well because our teachers are held to a very high standard—by our community, by our administration and, most importantly, by themselves.”

Calls to the Superintendent’s office and local branches of the New York Teachers Association were not returned due to winter break.

According to Flanagan, the next step in making the teacher evaluations a mandatory practice is to see this proposal go before the legislature. 


Editorial - Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho - To The Messenger Tax Dollars Go!

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho – to the Messenger tax dollars go!

If you haven’t heard about it, or seen it on the town’s streaming video, or read about it yet, at the Thursday, Feb.23rd Smithtown Town Board meeting, in a split decision; three for, (Wehrheim, Creighton, Malloy) and two against, (Vecchio, Mc Carthy), the Board voted to give the town’s legal notices to the Smithtown Messenger.

What?… That’s correct, The Smithtown Messenger.

Now why should it make a difference to you?  Apparently, the Smithtown News did not publish the councilmen’s names or photo’s enough and the boys got angry and took their marbles away.  The problem is the marbles are our dollars, and not theirs.  And the bigger problem is, where and how was this discussed.  Since suspending Town Board public work sessions over a year ago, taxpayers don’t get to see any of the decision making process, and there is never an explanation.

The ads come from $$$ tax dollars … taxpayer dollars to the tune of $30,000, will go to the paper that will side with the new supermajority of Wehrheim, Creighton and Malloy.   This is not a new problem…The Smithtown News has been a good friend to Supervisor Vecchio.

So here is a question for Councilmen Wehrheim, Creighton and Malloy…  How do you spend our taxpayer dollars?  What consideration was given to the number of subscribers a newspaper has?  Perhaps you negotiated a new lower fee for the legal ads?  That’s what fiscal conservatives should do.  Inquiring minds want to know…  So I’m sure you can supply the public with the competitive bids you solicited.  Please tell us what deal you negotiated for the taxpayers… five, ten or fifteen percent less?

If recent history is any indication, as in the appointment of our new part time Town Attorney, at $125,000 annual salary, a 10.7 percent boost over the previous full time attorney’s salary, taxpayers will be paying more money for less. 

I for one can wait to see all the wonderful articles and photos of Councilmen Wehrheim, Creighton, and Malloy, in the Smithtown Messenger.

Hi - Ho





Town Hears Proposal for Commack Hess Station

Proposed site of Hess Gas Station and Convenience StoreGas chain meets with Zoning Board and community to make their case

By Chad Kushins

This week’s Public Hearing portion of the Smithtown Town Board meeting was, by all accounts, a not-to-be-missed affair, as over two dozen separate residents took the podium for a marathon “public comments” section – running over two and a half hours long – with each voicing their respective concerns over a controversial commercial zoning change on the agenda. 

February 23rd’s meeting at the Eugene Cannataro Senior Citizens Center saw local residents and elected officials alike gather to discuss a proposed Hess gas station, set for construction at one of Commack’s busiest intersections.  Hess, one of the largest gas and filling station chains in the US, had been seeking such a construction for years, making Thursday’s meeting of the Town Board just the latest in its attempts to continue the controversial proposed project.

According to Hess’ attorney, Sayville-based Eugene DeNicola, the proposed station would sit at the at the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road in Commack – a high-volume intersection commonly prone to traffic and accidents.  The proposed “Hess Express” gas station is set to replace the abandoned Shell station – which has lay dormant for years.  In order to complete the project, according to a corporate model that includes a convenience store, Hess would have to obtain a zoning change from the Town of Smithtown.

Although Hess was denied their initial plans two years ago, the “eyesore” status of the currently vacant Shell structure may have warmed some town leaders and community members to the possibility of a zone change.  However, concerns about the construction still exist, with most residents and officials being less worried about safety issues (with the boarded up building) and more concerned with how it would affect existing traffic patterns at the site.   The current pattern has vehicles entering the intersection from two directions each on Jericho Turnpike and Harned Road, as well as an exit ramp from the northbound lanes of the Sunken Meadow Parkway.

“The DOT [New York State Department of Transportation] recommended that the curb-cut be reduced in size,” said President of RMS Engineering Christopher Robinson, who is overseeing the project, “and we are in full agreement.”

Hess’ initial plans for the construction originally met with opposition from both Smithtown’s Planning Department and its separate Planning Board.  However, with slight changes and adjustments incorporated into the plans, the Planning Board is now currently endorsing its construction – in the event that the zoning changes are approved.  The Planning Department remains opposed.  The site’s current zoning would allow for the gas station itself, but does not include a convenience store – the single issue that Hess is seeking to override. 

Other groups have come out in opposition to the move, including the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association and the Commack Community Association.  At the Thursday night meeting, 28 residents came forward during the “public comments” session to vent their concerns and opinions. 

“We are opposed to a station here,” said Commack resident and member of the Commack Community Association, Jeannette DiSalvito.  “Commack needs another convenience store like a hole in the head.”

“It’s not about the competition,” said Rudy Massa, the owner of the Gasoline Heaven station at 2088 Jericho Turnpike for more than 40 years.  “The reason that any gas retailer wants to expand to this size, of course, is that they want to maximize profit.  [But] the key factor here is safety … It’s a five-corner intersection and is a nightmare.  I have grandchildren that are of driving age and we’re all on this road everyday.  It could be very dangerous.”

At the Town Board meeting, Massa presented a petition with more than 1,800 signatures from the community opposing the Hess Express to the Town Board, hoping to demonstrate the overwhelming number of residents against the Hess construction.  Massa had been joined by a number of retailers in Commack in writing and circulating the petition, especially after customers would come into his station and express their own worries about Hess’ plans.  “Originally, the Town Board said to us that, because of safety concerns, [the construction] wasn’t going forward.  Now, a few years later, it’s back on the docket … I’ve had tremendous feedback from customers, expressing their concerns.”

Former New York Mets shortstop and Long Island Ducks co-owner Bud Harrelson also spoke of his concerns, claiming as a resident of Smithtown that the construction could pose serious safety issues.  “I’ve been here for 42 years and it is a dangerous and confusing cluster in that area,” said Harrelson.  “I’ve said it before – I really don’t think that a gas station is operable for this property.”

“I’ve heard the analysis of the traffic people saying 27 accidents is ‘minimal,’” said Commack resident Daniel O’Brien.  “Well, my son had an accident at that intersection when the Shell gas station was there – and the vehicle was totaled.  And if you think about making a left turn on Indian Head Road onto Jericho Turnpike, and you think about someone looking down at their gas gage and thinking, ‘Oops, I need gas,’ and he turns into that new station – that’s an accident looking to happen.”

Although Assemblyman Michael J. Fitzpatrick was unable to attend the meeting, he sent a personal letter to be read, siding with angry residents and voicing his own opposition to the Hess proposal.  “Please deny [the proposal] for reasons of safety,” Fitzpatrick’s statement to the Town Board read, citing the difference in size and style of the old Shell station his reason for concern.  Fitzpatrick’s letter was presented by Chief of Staff Kathleen Albrecht, who also took with podium to stress her own personal worries regarding the proposal.   “The reason that I wanted to get involved,” Fitzpatrick told Smithtown Matters, is that this is really a zoning issue.  You can’t use business competition as a relevant issue in this.  The problem, really, is that Route 25 is a state road and we’ve had six separate recent deaths along it … Because this is a five-corner intersection, safety is a major concern.”

Fitzpatrick continued, “Is [the Shell station] an eyesore?  Yes – that’s unanimous.  But that doesn’t mean that you can make a bad planning decision.”

Amid the overwhelming opposition, the owner of the property, Jacob Fayland, was also in attendance, defending his actions to work with Hess.  “When I bought this property, I was assured when I bought it – I went to the Building Department – that, yes, a gas station was there and I could restore it again,” said Fayland.  “That’s why, in 2004, I bought this property.  Since then, [with] three projects … nothing’s moved.  Even my mortgage states that I am allowed to put a gas station there.”

In response to Fayland’s statement, Supervisor Patrick Vecchio clarified that the debate in question was not in regards to a gas station’s actual construction but, rather, the zoning changes needed to accommodate a large-scale station including a convenience store.  “I just want to correct the record that the Building Department did not lead you astray,” remarked Vecchio, later adding, “[Hess’ representatives] will not impress me to change my vote or support my effort.  I have heard nothing hear to change my mind.  I will still hold that I will not support this application.”

As last night’s meeting was a Public Hearing, no vote on the matter was taken.  According to the town, an official vote on the Hess proposal can be expected on a future agenda in the coming months.

Additionally, plans to hear the Santilli Commercial Developers’ plans for a sports complex in Kings Park – originally scheduled for last night’s agenda – have been postponed.  Representatives of the mine’s owner, Santilli Commercial Developers, said they need more time to notify neighbors of the hearing.  They are expected to make their presentation in March.  


Good Evening, Mr. Supervisor and Town Board Members

(Richard Macellaro read this statement before the Town Board on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012)

My name is Richard S. Macellaro and I have been a resident of Kings Park for a little more than 20 years. I am here this evening to discuss the findings and recommendations of the Grand Jury Investigation, released on February 7th, by the Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota. The report describes the improper and unethical actions by Members of the Smithtown Town Government regarding the demolished former Nassau Suffolk Lumberyard (Commercial Parcel A) on Main Street. The unlawful demolition did not adhere to accepted protocol for the asbestos removal and therefore endangered the health of Smithtown residents. The Town Government is sworn to protect the health and welfare of its citizens!

As editorialized in the Smithtown News, “according to the (Grand Jury) report (Town Officials) offered a tax incentive package to Developer A if he hurried the demolition prior to the March 1, 2009 tax-status date. The removal of the buildings would have lowered the assessment on the land by $40,000, but since only woodsheds and a storage building were finally demolished, the assessment reduction was a tenth of that amount, $4,000.”  Given the current and past financial crisis, elected officials must attempt to insure that corporations and individuals pay their fair share of taxes.  The Grand Jury Report further determined, “The unlawful demolition secured an immediate financial advantage for Developer A, to the disadvantage of the Town and others. “The Town Government should not conspire to reduce tax levies for businesses and friends, at the expense of its citizens! Testimony in the Grand Jury Report says that Employee A’s intentions were to have something to use for his re-election campaign… a clear abuse of political power for personal profit.

The Town Government was more concerned about politics than governance. In Newsday’s February 7th edition, an article entitled, “Grand Jury: No Criminality in Smithtown Case,” reports no one will be charged.  While paying fines, issuing “a host of summonses,” circumventing Town Codes, political expedience and the “ utter disregard for residents health and safety,” may not constitute “no finding of criminal activity,” however, therein lies the problem. Town Ethics Code Deficiencies still exist as stated in the Grand Jury Report. The people of Smithtown have a right to know which town officials knew what and when, and failed to speak out.

Finally, the Grand Jury Report recommends, the following actions:  “in order to protect the laws of, and required of the Town of Smithtown and the best interests of it citizens.”

 The Town of Smithtown must:

—Amend the Code of Ethics to mandate that any public servant who has personal

  knowledge concerning an activity known to be in violation of Town Code, has an

  affirmative obligation to immediately report that violation to the appropriate Town


—Adopt a statue that authorizes the removal of any public servant who engages in

  misconduct, malfeasance or nonfeasance in public office, consistent with the provisions

  of New York State Public Officers Law Section 36.“

—Amend its fine schedule established in the Smithtown Town Code for violations.

—Amend and enhance its fine schedule with respect to demolition or construction that

  occurs in the Town without a Town Building Department permit.

—Enact Legislation which allows for the appointment of an independent Board of Site

   Plan Review.


I hope that the Town Council Supervisor and its Members will consider the Grand Jury’s

recommends and take the necessary time and course of action to examine and investigate

this seemingly growing out of control situation, by requiring the Smithtown Ethics Board

to commence an investigation, and to publicly announce so, no later than March 6th,



Thank you.

Richard Macellaro