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SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - We Need To Know Where Sewered Outflow Will Go


By Karl Grossman

There’s no Valley Stream any longer in Valley Stream. “It’s gone—Valley Stream is now a stream bed,” Professor Sarah J. Meyland, an expert on water on Long Island, was saying last week. The drying up of the stream that gave Valley Stream its name—and the diminishment of “almost all” the streams in Nassau County—is the result of Nassau sending the wastewater from its sewer plants out into the ocean and bays, the Long Island Sound and other estuaries.

And this could be what will happen in Suffolk County, she warns.

Professor Meyland “is a water specialist with a background in groundwater protection, water resources management and environmental law” as states her biography at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury where she is associate professor in the Department of Environmental Technology and Sustainability. She was co-executive director of the New York State Legislative Commission on Water Resource Needs of Long Island. She also was watershed director for the Suffolk County Water Authority. 

Her numerous degrees include a master’s of science in water resource management from Texas A&M University; bachelor’s degrees in both marine biology and geological oceanography from Humboldt State University; and a law degree from St. John’s University School of Law. She has developed a number of environmental laws for New York State and the federal government.

Streams on Long Island “are fed by groundwater flow. In Nassau, when the water table dropped, water could no longer reach streams,” Ms. Meyland explains. In the 1960s and 70s, with the funding from the Clean Water Act, “wholesale sewering was happening in Nassau County and the county would not allow any land-based wastewater discharge. Every sewer plant in Nassau sends outfall into the Atlantic, bays, the Long Island Sound and other estuaries. And this led to a lowering of the water table.”

In Nassau, “they knew that was going to be the outcome in advance. Some 90 percent of the county is sewered with the wastewater not returned to the aquifer system. The engineers knew what the impacts of this would be to the underground water table, but the public didn’t know and the public wasn’t consulted.”

Will this be the fate of Suffolk County where there has also been an emphasis—increased in recent years—on sending outfall of wastewater from Suffolk’s sewage systems into the Atlantic, bays, the Sound and other estuaries?

In Suffolk in the 1970s, the Southwest Sewer District was constructed with a sewage plant at Bergen Point in West Babylon built to discharge 30 million gallons a day of wastewater into the Atlantic. The administration of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has been pushing to pipe more wastewater to the plant and out to sea including from a massive project called the “Ronkonkoma Hub”—although Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine had called instead for full treatment of that wastewater and its recharge back into the ground to replenish the underground water table.

Some 30 percent of Suffolk is covered by sewers—the remaining 70% utilizes cesspools. More than half of the sewer systems utilize recharge back into the ground—but these are small private plants, mainly built for housing developments.

Larger sewer plants in Suffolk utilize outfall. 

On the western portion of Long Island, outfall of wastewater was how Brooklyn lost the use of its groundwater as a potable water source. Long Island is designated a “sole source aquifer” region—its underground water table, the aquifers below, its water source.

The loss for Brooklyn of use of groundwater for potable water was caused by outfall and consequent entry into the lowered water table of saltwater, explains Professor Meyland. The loss in Queens came because of “over-pumping.” With the lowering of the water table, saltwater intrusion occurred destroying the aquifer as a potable water source. Because of the “massive damage to the aquifer system in Brooklyn and Queens,” they needed to receive potable water from the reservoir system constructed upstate a century and more ago with conduits bringing potable water down to New York City.

How will central and eastern Long Island get potable water if the aquifer system on which they depend is destroyed as a source of potable water? “The upstate reservoirs are at capacity,” said Professor Meyland. “New York City is only one drought away from being in a serious crisis. And the city is expecting one million additional people by the end of the century.” There’s no water available from this upstate system for Nassau and Suffolk, she said.

Professor Meyland, a Huntington resident, says that if serious damage is done to the underground supply of potable water for Nassau and Suffolk: “We’re out of luck.”


Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books.                                       


Suffolk Closeup - Jerry Nadler Great Intellect And Presidential Nemesis


By Karl Grossman 

Having been a journalist for 57 years now, I’ve gotten to know many public officials. The smartest person in politics I’ve ever known—and I’ve told this to folks for years—is U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler. In Jerry Nadler, chairman of the key panel now investigating President Donald Trump and his administration, Mr. Trump has a quite an adversary. 

“Jerry Nadler Was Born to Battle Trump,” was the headline of an article this month in The New Republic. It concluded speaking about his “mandate to counter the momentum toward autocracy and to shore up democratic institutions and practices under siege.”

“We’re now in a Constitutional crisis,” Mr. Nadler declared last week, accusing Mr. Trump with his claims of executive privilege of an attack on the “essence of our democracy.”

Mr. Nadler has been in Congress since 1992. He represents much of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. From 1977 to 1992 he was a member of the New York State Assembly. 

I got to know Congressman Nadler in the 1990s when I authored books, wrote articles and presented TV documentaries on the use of nuclear power in space by the U.S. and also the Soviet Union and then Russia. A decade earlier, in 1986, I broke the story in The Nation after Challenger space shuttle disaster about how its next mission was to loft a space probe containing plutonium fuel. If the Challenger exploded on that launch, in May 1986, and the plutonium was dispersed, far more people than the seven brave astronauts who died in the January 1986 catastrophe would have perished.

This was not a “sky-is-falling” issue, I found. There had been accidents and dispersal of radioactive material in accidents in both the U.S. and the Soviet/Russian space nuclear programs. 

(In addition to investigating the issue in the U.S., I received an invitation from Dr. Alexey Yablokov, environmental advisor to Russian presidents and leading opponent of Soviet/Russian space nuclear missions, to go to Russia to speak at conferences and at the Russian Academy of Sciences. I made repeated visits.)

The biggest nuclear shot ever—NASA’s Cassini’s mission to Saturn—was scheduled for 1997. Some 72.3 pounds of deadly plutonium, more than ever used on a space mission, was involved. 

There was the threat of a launch pad explosion—one in 100 rockets blow up or otherwise malfunction disastrously on launch. And also, there was the threat of a repeat of an earlier space nuclear disaster—the spacecraft not achieving orbit and falling back to Earth, disintegrating in the atmosphere and spreading plutonium. Further, on the Cassini shot, a “slingshot maneuver” involving the Earth was planned. The rocket was to be sent hurtling back at the Earth, coming in at 42,300 miles an hour just a few hundred miles overhead, to use the Earth’s gravity to increase its velocity so it could reach its final destination of Saturn.

If there was what NASA called an “inadvertent reentry” into the Earth’s atmosphere on the “slingshot maneuver” causing disintegration and release of the plutonium, the NASA Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission estimated that “5 billion…of the world population…could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure.”

Also, a solar power alternative—eliminating the use of plutonium to generate a modest 745 watts for onboard electricity for instruments—was available.

It was then that I got to know Jerry Nadler. His brother, Eric, is a good friend. Eric is an investigative reporter who has written and appeared on TV programs for Frontline on PBS, Globalvision, and written articles in Rolling Stone, Mother Jones and other investigative media.

I sent Congressman Nadler a book I had just written on the space nuclear issue focusing on Cassini, The Wrong Stuff, along with one of my TV documentaries, Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens. 

We met and discussed the situation. Mr. Nadler has a brilliant mind. He fully understood the enormous perils of using nuclear power overhead. Further, when the subjects turned to politics and government, his knowledge was encyclopedic. He organized a group of members of Congress calling for a cancellation of the Cassini mission. He and the other members held a press conference on the steps of the Capital in Washington detailing the lethal dangers of the mission. NASA, however, refused to cancel it. Fortunately, this time there was no disaster in this game of nuclear Russian Roulette in space. Subsequently, underlining how plutonium power on the Cassini mission was unnecessary, in 2016 NASA’s Juno space probe arrived at Jupiter—with solar power substituting for plutonium. (Still, NASA is now planning more space nuclear shots.)

Stated the New Republic piece: “Nadler might seem like an unusual political leader to take on the role of presidential nemesis; he is thoughtful, thorough, and cerebral, a man of ideas—the opposite of Trump.”

Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books. 


SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - Libraries "Palaces For The People"


By Karl Grossman

“In Praise of Public Libraries” was the headline of an extensive piece in the New York Review of Books last month. Reviewed were two new books, The Library Book and Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. Also reviewed was a just-released documentary by master filmmaker Fred Wiseman that was described as “inspirational,” Ex Libris. It is about “the grandest people’s palace of all time: the New York Public Library system, a collection of ninety-two branches.” 

I have a great affection for libraries and great respect for librarians.

We have a wonderful collection of libraries in Suffolk County. But there are difficulties in that although there is a program of New York State grants for the state’s 7,000 libraries (significantly cut in the new state budget), libraries depend on local funding.  

This can be a big problem. For example, last month a proposed budget for the Wyandanch Public Library was voted down, reportedly the first defeat for a library budget in Suffolk in the past five years. A significant tax increase—of nearly 39 percent—came with the $2.8 million budget proposal. There would have been a $272 annual increase for the “average” homeowner in Wyandanch, pushing the library tax to $974 a year.

That’s a lot of money especially to homeowners in Wyandanch, a working-class community, largely African-American. As a result of the defeat of the budget, there was a reversion to the library’s budget of last year and the library’s board decided it needed to eliminate Sunday hours. That’s so sad, a loss of a needed service.

Likewise, a major expansion for the Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library was voted down in February. The plan was exciting. Proponents said it would have turned the library into the finest on Long Island. Kerri Rosalia, the library’s director, told me how the expansion would have allowed it to embrace the dramatic changes in libraries that have been happening across the nation—turning them into community hubs.

Features would have included a small outdoor amphitheater to seat 200 to 300 people and provide outdoor concerts, literature readings, theatrical performances and screening of films. There would be more meeting places for community groups. Other innovations would have included a “Nature Explore Classroom” for children. 

Some people might think that “with Google and eBooks” libraries aren’t important any longer, said Ms. Rosalia, but “we’re certainly not seeing the end of libraries. Recent statistics show library use staying strong and steady.” The Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library has a whopping 46,000 cardholders. But the 30-year bond for the $38.5 million expansion plan was apparently considered too much for a majority of library district voters. The library is now exploring future options. 

All through high school, I worked every weekday afternoon, 20 hours a week, at what was the leading library in Queens, the central branch of the Queensborough Public Library in Jamaica. I held the modest job of shelving books. Working in the library environment, getting to know dedicated librarians, was a terrific experience 

Suffolk libraries include The Smithtown Library. With a main building in Smithtown and branches in Commack, Kings Park and Nesconset, it describes itself as the largest library system on Long Island, the tenth largest in the state. Beyond a wealth of books, like all libraries in Suffolk it is a center for a programs and exhibits. Currently, it’s featuring the “2019 Long Island Room Program Series” with a “focus on some of the ways in which Long Island’s past was driven and shaped by the innovative and inventive ideas of those who lived and worked here.”

When my own family lived in Sayville, the Sayville Library was great. And, having since lived in Noyac for 45 years, we’ve found John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor a treasure, too.  It was built in 1910, its original structure beautiful and historic, but there was no room for expansion. With architectural ingenuity, a tall glass-paneled, light-filled addition—doubling the library’s space—was built and opened in 2016.

The East Hampton Library serves as an important regional history museum. Its Long Island Collection “dedicated to the history and people of Long Island” includes a five-room study area and more than 100,000 items. These include whaling logs, diaries, photographs, postcards, deeds, wills, genealogies, maps, oral histories and early Native American documents and artifacts. I’m thrilled that my articles and the documents I’ve gathered as a Suffolk-based journalist since 1962 have been digitized by the library and now constitute an accessible online “Karl Grossman Research Archive” helping it couple its extraordinary collection of the old with additional material from modern times.

Linking Suffolk’s libraries is the Suffolk County Library System with its Live-brary.com feature allowing patrons to order books for free from any of the system’s 56 libraries and download thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, CDs and DVDs. 

Libraries are indeed “palaces for the people” and should be prized.

Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books. 


SUFFOLK CLOSEUP -Joe Quinn And Otis Pike A Lesson In Successful Campaigning


By Karl Grossman

Perry Gershon, in running a second time against incumbent U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, will take a similar approach to that of Otis Pike decades ago. Democrat Pike initially lost to a lst Congressional District Republican incumbent and then spent two years moving around the district meeting with voters person-to-person.

Two years later, in 1960, Mr. Pike of Riverhead defeated three-term Representative Stuyvesant Wainwright of Wainscott. Ultimately, Mr. Pike was elected to nine two-year terms—holding office until 1978—the longest tenure ever for any lst C.D. representative. 

Joseph Quinn of Smithtown worked should-to-shoulder with Mr. Pike. Mr. Quinn, a teacher, was a key Pike campaign aide and was a staff assistant to him through his Congressional years. Mr. Quinn also would become, for 23 years, the Democratic leader of Smithtown—a town which might be critical to Mr. Gershon’s chances. 

Mr. Gershon of East Hampton was defeated last year by 11,000 votes, a narrow 4 percent of votes cast. He won Southampton, East Hampton, Shelter Island and Southold towns. But Mr. Zeldin won in Brookhaven, Riverhead and Smithtown—where Mr. Gershon lost by 7,000 votes. “He lost the race in Smithtown,” commented Mr. Quinn last week.

Back in 1958, in his first race for Congress, Mr. Pike did worse. “He lost by 40,000 votes to Wainwright,” Mr. Quinn recounted. The strategy of Mr. Pike, a Riverhead town justice, for his re-run was to move around the district, connecting with voters, speaking at every venue possible. If there were “three people he could go and talk with, Otis would be there,” said Mr. Quinn. 

Mr. Pike used humor. “He made fun of himself. He would tell people in 1960 that in the 1958 election” Democrats he’d name in various states “got elected—but Otis Pike got murdered!”

Mr. Gershon, with $5 million spent (including in a primary) in his campaign last year, would not be emulating Mr. Pike on campaign spending. Mr. Pike spent but $12,000 on the 1960 campaign, said Mr. Quinn, extremely low even then. But Mr. Pike was famously frugal—including as a congressman. There was but one piece of campaign literature in 1960, a four-page flier. Emphasizing that this was a shoestring campaign, shoestrings were sold at Pike campaign appearances for $1 a pair.

Mr. Wainwright, meanwhile, came from money. Financer Jay Gould, a railroad magnate considered one of the robber barons of the Gilded Age, was his grandfather.

Both men had solid World War II military records. Mr. Pike was a Marine fighter pilot in the Pacific. Mr. Wainwright was an Army officer overseas with the Office of Strategic Services. 

It was very helpful to Mr. Pike that John F. Kennedy was running for president and heading the Democratic ticket in 1960, said Mr. Quinn. Will Mr. Zeldin’s chances in 2020 with incumbent President Donald Trump expected to head the GOP ticket help or hurt him? Mr. Zeldin of Shirley and President Trump are politically and personally close. In Smithtown, said Mr. Quinn, since Mr. Trump’s election two years ago activity in Democratic politics has increased greatly. Democratic meetings that used to bring out few people now bring out many, he said. Whether this will translate to votes remains to be seen. And Mr. Trump won in 2016 in Smithtown by 28 points, the largest margin of any Suffolk town. 

A big break for Mr. Pike came in 1960 when “Wainwright was out sailing on his yacht off Nantucket and missed an important vote.” Mr. Zeldin, however, has actively worked the district in his three terms. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Gershon’s emphasis will be traveling the district to “convince the district at large that I represent a better future for its people.” It will be maximum exposure, Pike-like.

Another example being cited of a Democratic challenger in the lst C.D. running twice and then winning is George Hochbrueckner, then of Coram (now of Laurel). He ran and narrowly lost to incumbent Representative William Carney of Hauppauge in 1984. But unlike Mr. Pike, he didn’t face an incumbent the second time—Mr. Carney dropped out. With the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster happening in 1986, opposition in Suffolk to the Shoreham nuclear power plant and Mr. Carney’s zealous advocacy of it had become yet more intense. So after four terms, Mr. Carney, who began as a Conservative with GOP endorsement, didn’t run again. Mr. Hochbrueckner faced Republican Gregory Blass of South Jamesport, presiding officer of the Suffolk Legislature, and won.  The Shoreham plant was stopped from going into operation. And Mr. Carney became a lobbyist in Washington for the nuclear power industry. 

Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books. 


Suffolk County Breaks Ground On $5 Million Cathedral Pines Project



Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the groundbreaking of a $5 million multi-phased improvement and expansion plan at Cathedral Pines County Park in Middle Island. The multi-year plan includes major infrastructure, recreational and campground enhancements, including several new offerings at parks facilities in an effort to make them more accessible to the public.  As part of Earth Week, County Executive Bellone also signed legislation prohibiting the distribution of single use plastics at County Parks in an effort to preserve Suffolk’s pristine network of parks and protect the local environment. The bill, which was sponsored by Majority Leader Kara Hahn, will go into effect within 30 days.

“These investments will entice more visitors and their tourism dollars to our parks,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “Residents should also be cognizant of what lies in their backyard and I encourage them to stay in Suffolk this summer.”

Cathedral Pines County Park boasts 320-acres of parkland located in the Town of Brookhaven along the headwaters of the Carmans River. Park facilities include campsites for individuals and large groups, designated scouting campsites, including 10 sites with water and electric hookups, and picnic pavilion area and an activity building, with multiple kitchens for group campers and scouts.  As one of ten Suffolk County Parks that offer overnight camping, Cathedral Pines possesses a 6-mile mountain bike trail system maintained by Concerned Long Island Mountain Bikers, which is suitable for beginners to more experienced riders with rolling hills, roots and switchbacks that keep it interesting. The camping facilities on site allow for a weekend mountain-bike retreat for those inclined. Adjacent to Cathedral Pines is Prosser Pines Nature Preserve that features a majestic stand of white pines planted in 1812.

In 2012, County Executive Steve Bellone requested an analysis and study of Cathedral Pines County Park to assess the current condition of the park and to develop a master plan that would grow campground use, enhance recreational amenities and increase overall revenue. As a result, the county has begun the process of a multi-year improvement and expansion plan at the park to increase attendance and continue the trend of providing residents with first-rate facilities at affordable prices.

Master Plan Phasing and Implementation 

The initial phase of the master plan addresses infrastructure upgrades necessary to support the expanded campground area, including the extension of a natural gas line, electric service and water main expansion throughout existing campsites. Expected completion Spring 2019. 

The second and most ambitious phase of the plan calls for a major restoration of Campground Field B, the nucleus of the campground and most heavily used area of the park. New trees will also be planted to provide shade and foster the growth of vegetation beyond the grass. The Department of Public Works will widen and realign roads for enhanced mobility while also creating an additional parking area for campers to reduce congestion around Field A. Field C will also be reconfigured to accommodate 74 additional campsites. All campsites will be outfitted with a concrete paved picnic table pad, BBQ grill, fire ring and a power tower that provides electricity and water. Detailed gravel parking areas, many drive thru capable, will be provided at individual sites as well. Additionally, ADA access will be provided at designated sites.

Phase three deals with enhancing the recreational experience for visitors near Field C. Currently, traditional active, organized recreation is limited at Cathedral Pines County Park. Suffolk County plans to create a “Recreation Core” at the park that is centrally located away from campsites providing parents with better oversight of their children without disturbing other campers. One existing playground will be removed and replaced with two new multi-use courts and a ball wall. A second playground will be converted to additional visitor parking adjacent to the activity building.

A new children’s playground will be located adjacent to the activity building and will have two separate designated areas for children ages two – four years old and five – twelve years old. Other upgrades include five new horseshoe courts, two new bocce courts and a new sand volleyball court. Additionally, phase three calls for the construction of a new picnic pavilion area, additional picnic tables and grills, beautification and the instillation of a communal fire ring. The bathhouses located at the park have separate restroom facilities and shower facilities in a different building, both of which have reached the end of their useful life. The plan calls for the construction of two, brand new, all-in-one bathhouses with upgraded showers for both men and women that meet current ADA standards for accessibility. The buildings will also be equipped with a dishwashing station for campers. 

The fifth phase of the plan is to create a new, centralized drive up check-in station for campers to streamline the check-in process for campers and provide better security. Park offices will also share this facility.  The final phase of the plan consists of updating the current sanitary systems and providing a new central dump station with holding tanks to store all sanitary waste from the newly proposed bathhouses. Once completed, there are plans to create additional picnic pavilions for rent in Field D for these expanded areas as demand is expected to grow.

New offerings at county parks this summer to increase accessibly for all members of the public include: 

·         Handicap Accessible Golf Cart – available at West Sayville Golf Course free for disabled Veterans.  The SoloRider Golf Cart is engineered to keep players with a diverse range of challenges and disabilities in the game of golf. It can be used by seniors with walking challenges, as well as veterans with multiple disabilities.

·         Wheel Chair Accessible Beach Chairs - two all-terrain medical beach wheel chairs are available at every lifeguarded County Parks bach - Cupsogue, Meschutt and Smith Point.  Sand and beach wheelchairs consist of very large wheels that assist in staying on top of the sand instead of digging into the ground like a small wheel and caster generally would. Patrons can call the beaches in advance to have the wheelchairs ready upon their arrival.

·         Mobility Mats at Smith Point County Beach - 75 feet of mobility mats will be rolled out this year laying the groundwork to make Suffolk County Parks largest beach more accessible to visitors. The mats improved access for all, whether wheelchair users, elderly or families traveling with children. The goal in providing these beach access pathways is inclusion – allowing families of all abilities to enjoy the beach together.

·         Discounted Green Keys for Patrons with the Suffolk County Identification Card for the Disabled – allows free beach parking Mon- Fri and discounted camping rates at all County Parks Campgrounds.