01/09/13 8:04am

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter (left) in debate with Democrat Al Krupski at Martha Clara Vineyards Monday night, as both men seek the Suffolk County Legislature’s 1st District seat.

In their advertisements, the candidates vying for the 1st District seat in the Suffolk County Legislature are portrayed as very different men. Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter’s ads show him taking a sledgehammer to downtown Riverhead and vowing to shake up the Legislature. Ads from his Democratic opponent present Al Krupski as a farmer and small businessman with a tireless work ethic.

In front of a packed house at Martha Clara Vineyards, Mr. Walter again vowed change during a Monday night debate sponsored by Times/Review Newsgroup, while Mr. Krupski touted his ability to collaborate effectively with other elected officials.

The January 15 special election is being held to fill the nine months left in the term of former county legislator Ed Romaine, who vacated his post in November after being elected Brookhaven Town supervisor. The 1st District runs west from Southold Town and Shelter Island to Riverhead Town and parts of eastern Brookhaven.

If Mr. Krupski were to be elected, county Democrats would have a veto-proof majority in the Legislature, which Mr. Walter said would be an unhealthy outcome. Mr. Krupski pointed out that, as the only Democrat on the Southold Town Board, he had a long history of bipartisan cooperation.

“Once you get elected, you don’t worry about party. You worry about people,” Mr. Krupski said. “I don’t buy into Democrat versus Republican, east versus west. You’re never going to go anywhere in government if you toe the party line.”

Mr. Walter said politics at higher levels of government don’t work that way.

“I’d love to believe that’s true, but it’s not,” he said, adding that county Democrats have “strings attached” to the $50,000 they’ve invested in Mr. Krupski’s campaign.

“I don’t understand what Mr. Walter is saying,” argued Mr. Krupski. “That certainly hasn’t been my experience in 28 years in government.

Both men counted quality of life as their most important issue, but while Mr. Krupski touted his record on land preservation, clean water and controlling development in Southold, Mr. Walter said quality of life is a balancing act.

Times/Review Executive Editor Grant Parpan, who moderated the one-hour debate, asked the candidates if the district’s legislator should be a member of the Shelter Island Ferry Study Group, a committee Mr. Romaine opted out of.

Mr. Walter said the 1st District legislator should be part of it for the remaining year, at least. Mr. Krupski was unequivocal, saying the county has always been involved in oversight of ferry rate hikes, so it is essential the legislator of whatever district he/she is in sit in on the discussions.

Mr. Parpan noted during the debate that he received several questions from the public about whether the county should play a role in gun control. He asked the candidates to weigh in.

Mr. Walter said he was appalled at politicians’ attempts to politicize gun control in the wake of the December 14 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“I’m disgusted,” he said. “I’m not answering your question.”

Mr. Krupski said there should be clear leadership from one level of government on the issue.

“If the state is going to take it up, that’s the way it should be,” he said. “There should be only one layer of government taking the lead on that.”

Mr. Parpan asked Mr. Walter if he really believed the county Legislature should be abolished, as he has publicly stated in the past.

“Most of New York State is run by a board of supervisors,” Mr. Walter said. “Only the metropolitan area has the legislature system. I agree with Mr. Krupski on reducing the layers of government. We don’t need the legislature.”

In closing, Mr. Krupski addressed that issue, but with a slightly different view.

“I want to represent the East End,” he said. “I’m not the sort of person who, when something’s broken, you smash it. I like to take it apart, fix it and make it better.”

[email protected]

12/04/12 1:53pm

COURTESY PHOTO | “Fort Terry on Plum Island,” a circa 1914 postcard in the collection of the Southold Historical Society.

It’s easy to be intrigued by Plum Island’s current status as a secret federal animal disease research laboratory, but that’s just one chapter in the island’s rich history.

East Marion resident Ruth Ann Bramson, also board president of the Oysterponds Historical Society, has been researching the island’s pre-lab history for several years and is working on a book on the subject with Southold Historical Society director Geoffrey Fleming and collections manager Amy Folk, a Long Island historian who has worked on some of the society’s other books.

She’ll give a presentation on the island’s past at the Peconic Landing auditorium next Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m.
In an interview this week, Ms. Bramson said Plum Island’s history has “not really been collected anyplace. The island has a very rich history of exploration, changing ownership and government acquisition. It’s an interesting lens, I think, to look at American history.”

She said the island was known by Native Americans as Manittuwond, meaning “the island to which we go to plant corn,” and that the first map was prepared by Adriaen Block, a Dutch trader employed by the Dutch East India Company, who also is credited with discovering Block Island.

“He prepared a map in 1614 based on his last voyage, which includes Plum Island,” said Ms. Bramson. “We know that he saw Plum Island.”

Later, between 1637 and 1639, the island played a major role in the Pequot War, the first armed conflict between Europeans and Native Americans.

The island is mentioned in a letter from Rhode Island founder Roger Williams. He wrote that the Pequots, who were “scarce of provision,” made their way to Manittuwond and Munnatawket, their name for Fishers Island, “to take sturgeon and other fish and to grow new fields of corn in case the English destroy their fields.”

The waters between Fishers Island, Block Island and Plum Island later became a “great center of trade between English and Indian tribes,” Ms. Bramson added. “It’s interesting to think of that area as being a center of trade.”

The island also provided the setting of the first engagement between the newly formed Continental Army and the British during the American Revolution.

“On Aug. 11, 1775, shots were heard on the island,” Ms. Bramson said. “We can’t say it changed the course of history. It was just a footnote in history. But it was the first exchange of cannon fire and the first amphibious assault by the U.S. Army.”

She said Plum Island also abounds with stories from the War of 1812, of shipwrecks and efforts by local residents and seamen to build lighthouses on both Plum Island and neighboring Little Gull Island.

During the late 1800s, the island became a well-known place for sportsmen.

“Very famous people came out to Plum Island to stay in the home of the lighthouse keeper, on farms and in barns,” she said. “Grover Cleveland visited frequently aboard the ship Oneida, owned by his very close friend Commodore Elias Benedict.”

Fort Terry was built on the island in 1897 as an artillery post to protect the U.S. coast from enemy ships during the Spanish-American War and later served as a lookout site for German U-boats and planes during World War II, though the fort never saw conflict and was declared surplus in 1948.

Ms. Bramson hopes to explore all these topics in more depth in both her lecture and the book, which the Southold Historical Society hopes to release in mid-2013.

The historical society received a $15,000 grant from the Gerry Charitable Trust, which must be matched by the end of this year, to complete the book, Mr. Fleming said this week.

“We hope that anyone interested in the fascinating history of Plum Island will consider making a donation,” he said.
“We are also currently looking for original documents and images relating to the historic structures and families that once occupied Plum Island. If you are a descendant of the Beebe, Tuthill or other notable families that once called the island home, please consider sharing the material you have with us. It will help make this project much richer and more interesting.”

To make a donation or to reserve a seat for Ms. Bramson’s lecture, call the Southold Historical Society at 765-5500.
[email protected]

11/24/12 8:00am

This gutter in Greenport was torn apart by superstorm Sandy. Conventional five-inch aluminum gutters are easy to repair, say contractors.

With all that’s going on at this time of the year, from preparing for the holidays or dealing with the mess left by Hurricane Sandy, it’s easy to overlook your gutters.

But between the heavy winds of recent storms and the inevitable falling leaves of autumn, now’s the time to make sure your gutters are doing their job of channeling the rain pouring off the roof and directing it away from a home’s foundation and basement.

Although cleaning gutters is not the most pleasant of tasks, experts recommend doing it two to three times per year.

Without protective covers, gutters “need to be flushed out. Pulling debris out isn’t enough,” says Richard Duda, who owns Duda’s Quality Gutters, or D.Q.G., on the East End. Mr. Duda said that mud and granules of roofing can clog gutters, even if you put a protective shield over the top to keep the leaves out.

“There’s nothing out there that’s maintenance-free,” he said in an interview last week. Even with protective covers, gutters “still need to be hosed off once in a couple years.”

Mr. Duda installs Leaf Solution gutter covers, a fine aluminum mesh that keeps debris out but still lets water in.

Bob Tuholski of Long Island Gutter Solutions in Riverhead swears by a gutter protector he’s been installing all over Long Island since 1995.

His Waterloov gutter cover, available in many colors, fits over standard five-inch aluminum gutters, which are used in most conventional gutter installations.

“The cover slides under the shingles so there are no nails or screws on the roofline,” said Mr. Tuholski. “It’s a permanent installation. I wrote the warranty in 1995. If the gutters ever clog while people own the house, I’ll come out and fix it for free. I haven’t been doing that job, because it stays clean forever.”

Mr. Tuholski said his company’s exclusive focus on gutters, along with the Waterloov gutter guards, have made them experts on how water behaves when it hits a house and how to keep it from causing damage.

“A gutter system is vitally important to the homeowner. If not installed right, the water will seek its own level,” he said. “A conventional seamless five-inch gutter is appropriate for all roof conditions and will accommodate any roof pitch.”

He said the Waterloov won’t work with expensive half-round gutters, often made of copper or other decorative metal, which he said are much more popular on the South Fork than on the North Fork.

“You have to physically maintain the half-rounds,” he said. “People put it on their house because they feel it’s a more attractive-looking gutter. Some architects will suggest that.”

Mr. Duda and other local gutter contractors said they’ve been very busy with repairs since superstorm Sandy.

He said that for more than 30 years, most gutters have been made of seamless, five-inch aluminum, making replacement of small sections of existing gutters a relatively straightforward task.

“They’re extruded out of a machine,” he said. “They’ve been extruding the same type of gutter for 30-plus years.”

In addition to repairing gutters torn from houses in the storm, a common problem residents face is gutters that have been undermined to the point that they’re not sitting at the right pitch, making proper drainage difficult.

“You’ll actually see gutters sagging in the middle, or dark stains on one area of the gutter,” he said, adding that the solutions to pitch problems vary widely depending on where the gutters were installed.

Mr. Duda also does high-end copper gutter work, which is more than triple the price of aluminum but is sometimes the perfect fit for a specific house.

A little more than a year ago, a crew of thieves went around the South Fork stealing copper gutters, which bring a hefty price when sold for scrap, said Mr. Duda, but they were later caught by police.

Contractors have begun to solder copper gutters and strap and bolt them more securely to houses to make them nearly impossible to steal.

“People like the look of it,” he said. “A gutter on a house is like a frame around a nice painting. Certain gutters enhance the house more.”

[email protected]

11/17/12 5:09pm
Hurricane Sandy, North Fork, Real Estate

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Houses on Willow Street in Aquebogue were still flooded with salt water several days after Hurricane Sandy hit. Experts say a hefty dose of fresh water and the addition of soil amendments are the key to protecting salt water-damaged landscaping.

Right after Hurricane Sandy, cleaning up the damage may have seemed straightforward.

Cut up that tree that uprooted in the backyard after the storm tide weakened the roots. Call an electrician to have the service put back on and wait for LIPA to hook it up at the street. Fret and wait for the insurance company to call and say how much your out-of-pocket cost will be.

The storm is long gone, but for some, lawns have turned an unnatural shade of gray. The few remaining leaves on the boxwoods have turned black, and all the landscaping has taken on a ghostly hue.

It could just be the start of winter, but if a property was under water for any time during the storm, chances are salt saturation is to blame.

Cornell Cooperative Extension turf specialist Tamson Yeh says there may still be time this year to save home landscaping from permanent salt damage.

“Make sure your yards are well-watered,” she said. “It’s going to be warm this week, which will be a good time to do hand watering of trees and shrubs to leach the salt away from the roots. Or turn on the irrigation, if it hasn’t been drained for the season, for an inch every other day to flush out the salt in the soil.”

Cutchogue landscape designer Judy Plant, who has been working with seaside properties for more than 20 years, swears by the use of powdered gypsum soil amendment, which is spread over the soil or can be dug into bare ground. The calcium-rich gypsum helps leach salt from garden soils.

Ms. Plant remembers one garden she put in at Sterling Harbor Marina in Greenport before a hurricane.

“The water just laid on the gardens I’d planted there, for several days at a time,” she said. “I put gypsum all over and nothing died. I’ve used it in so many cases. I’ve used it for breaking up clay at Port of Egypt. It’s a product that does many things.”

Ms. Plant said she tends to plant species that will do well by the seaside in gardens that might be flooded or exposed to salt spray.

The good news, she said, is that many, many plants do well by the shore. She said hydrangeas and rugosa roses of all kinds thrive there, as do many ornamental grasses. She’s also had good luck with Montauk daisies, butterfly bushes, lilacs, lavender and creeping thyme. Larger spirea bushes and rose of Sharon make good tall hedges for windbreaks. Ms. Plant is especially fond of spirea, deciduous shrubs that flower throughout the spring and summer.

“It has incredible foliage colors and pink flowers. It can withstand almost anything,” she said. “It’s a sun-lover.”

In most autumns, new plantings can be added until mid-November, so there is still a very small window of time this year to plant new bushes that will bloom next year. But Ms. Plant cautioned that this season doesn’t seem to be following the norm weather-wise. Spring is also a good time to plant new landscaping. Ms. Yeh shares Ms. Plant’s assessment of the best seaside plantings. “Lilacs are fairly salt tolerant, as are ornamental grasses,” she said.

“Many roses are fairly salt tolerant.” Ms. Yeh said turf grasses also vary greatly in their tolerance of salt water — tall fescues are the most tolerant, while Kentucky bluegrass is the least.

The Long Island Cauliflower Association in Riverhead also recommends for seaside lawns creeping bentgrass, seashore paspalum, Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass.

Ms. Yeh said the best way to tell whether your grass has survived or the lawn has been permanently damaged by salt water is to cut out a small piece of turf, put it in a pot in the house and treat it like a houseplant during the winter. If the root system has survived, new green shoots should begin popping out of the soil within a few weeks. She isn’t a huge fan of adding lime or gypsum to the soil to balance out the acidity created by the salt water.

She believes those amendments don’t work as well in Long Island soil as they do elsewhere in the country.

“You can lime. It’s not going to hurt anything unless the pH is already high, but it’s probably not going to do a lot to ameliorate salt damage,” she said. “Gypsum’s best effect is on soils that are different than Long Island soils. [Long Island] soils’ best friend is going to be water, water, water. Try to push the sodium away from the plants.”

She also recommends rinsing off and hosing down plants that were exposed only to salt spray, not to flood waters.

Gardeners concerned about salinity levels in the soil can call the extension office at 727-7850 for advice on sending soil to be tested.

Ms. Yeh also recommended a simple test for soil salinity that gardeners can do at home. “Take some of your soil, after you’ve leached it, and put in some tomato or cucumber seeds. If they don’t grow, or if they get to the two-leaf stage and collapse, you still have salt in the soil,” she said.

[email protected]

11/04/12 1:18pm
Nor'easter NorthEast Long Island storm

ACCUWEATHER.COM GRAPHIC | Above is a possible scenario for the upcoming storm. Less of the Northeast would be impacted if the storm tracks farther offshore.

A “significant” nor’easter is expected to bring gusty winds, rain and coastal flooding to Long Island Wednesday evening, battering an area already dealing with power outages and gas shortages in the wake of superstorm Sandy, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

The storm could hamper clean-up efforts on the North Fork, and may knock down branches and trees already weakened by Sandy last week, weather experts said.

The nor’easter is expected to form over the southeastern coast Tuesday and strike the east coast Wednesday evening into the overnight hours, said David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Upton.

Forecasts show the storm will pack sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph, with gusts between 45 and 60 mph, Mr. Stark said.

“There is a concern that if these winds materialize we could see more power outages and downed trees,” he said.

Mr. Stark said the North Fork will see between 1 and 2 inches of rain Wednesday evening and “moderate coastal flooding.”

Sandy’s devastation, especially along the south shore of Long Island where protective sand dunes were wiped away, makes it difficult to predict how bad the surge’s effects will be, Mr. Stark said, adding that the Long Island Sound and South Shore will likely see worse flooding.

There is some uncertainty in the forecast because the storm has not formed yet, and the effects will be less severe if the storm heads off the coast. Updated information is expected once the nor’easter forms Tuesday.

“The way it looks right now, [the storm’s track] will be close enough that we’re going to see some of those winds,” Mr. Stark said.