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02/04/16 2:00pm
The single- screen Sag Harbor movie theater is for sale.

DOUG KERR PHOTO/FLICKR.COM | The single- screen Sag Harbor movie theater is for sale.

Sag Harbor Cinema, the single-screen movie house in the heart of the village, is once again for sale.

Owner Gerald Mallow, who previously put the theater on the market in 2008 without working with a real estate agency, is asking $14 million for the art deco movie palace. This time he is working with Saunders & Associates. (more…)

01/26/16 4:30pm
The cover of Forager's Cocktails.

The cover of Forager’s Cocktails.

A bristly, irritating stinging nettle plant might be unwelcome in most homeowners’ yards, but for Amy Zavatto, it’s a great bitter root to balance the sweet agave syrup in a “Swizzle.”

“The weed is kind of in the eye of the beholder,” said Zavatto, a part-time Greenport resident and author of the new book “Forager’s Cocktails,” which features more than 40 recipes using foraged and grown ingredients. Drinks made with fresh components like elder flower, wood sorrel and lovage are accompanied by tantalizing photos of the finished products.

Read more on Shelter Island by northforker

06/06/11 1:54pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO

Local state senators introduced a bill in the Senate Monday that, if approved, would repeal the Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax for all employers in counties outside New York City.

Approved in 2009, the tax imposes a .34 percent levy on payroll for all employers, including schools and governments, in New York City and the seven surrounding suburban counties.
Many local lawmakers have challenged the fairness of the tax since its inception, claiming that eastern Long Island receives paltry service from the MTA. Bill cosponsor state Senator Ken Lavalle (R-Port Jefferson), who represents the North Fork and voted against the original legislation, called the payroll tax “ill conceived and onerous.”

He’s not the only one who feels that way.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the MTA, without increasing fares or cutting services, can balance its books after this legislation is implemented,” state Senator Lee Zeldin (R-Mastic), one sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

Mr. Zeldin gained traction in his bid to oust former senator Brian Foley by campaigning on Mr. Foley’s vote to support the MTA tax.

As ways of relieving the transit authority’s budget woes, the freshman senator, who took office in January, cited real estate transfer taxes, eliminating overtime abuse in the MTA and investigating having a private agency run the MTA.

Under the proposed legislation, small businesses with 25 employees or less, as well as schools, would not have to pay the tax as of January 1, 2012.

The payroll tax would be reduced to .23 percent for all other employers in the seven counties outside New York City, including Suffolk, as of that date. It would be further reduced to .12 percent as of January 2013 and repealed as of January 2014.

As of January 2014, the tax would remain at .21 percent for all businesses within the five boroughs.

Marcus Povenilli, Mr. Zeldin’s deputy chief of staff, said the bill was introduced Monday but it is not known when senators will vote on it. He added that state Assemblyman George Latimer (D-Mamaroneck) will introduce the same bill in the Assembly.
“We hope that it moves swiftly through the system,” he said.

But Desmond Ryan, a New York State political analyst and the executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island, said it might be hard for the bill to gain momentum in the Assembly, which would also need to approve the repeal.

“It will probably gain some traction in the Senate, but I’m not sure where the Assembly stands on the bill,” he said. “The Assembly is predominately made up by people who are city-centric.”

An MTA spokesperson defended the tax Monday, calling it vital support for the transit authority.

“The payroll mobility tax, passed by the Legislature in 2009, provides a vital $1.4 billion in annual support for public transportation across the downstate region — 15 times more money than was saved by last year’s painful service reductions,” said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan in a statement. “The MTA’s focus is on using this revenue as efficiently as possible, which we are achieving by identifying savings projected to reach $1 billion annually by 2014.”

Mr. Donovan indicated that higher fares could be coming down the line.

“Because we have already taken these steps, finding additional savings from means other than fare increases or service reductions would be very painful,” he said. “As we continue cost-cutting, further reductions become harder and harder to achieve.”

The repeal of the MTA payroll tax would be welcome news to William Schoolman, owner of the Bohemia-based Classic Coach company, which directly competes with the MTA yet pays more than $15,000 to the agency due to the tax. In 2009, Mr. Schoolman filed a lawsuit against the transit authority claiming the payroll tax is unconstitutional, and he has also started the website www.mtataxpayerabuse.com.

“This year [the company’s payroll tax] will be more than last,” he said. “We certainly hope [the local senators] are successful in their efforts.”

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05/25/11 8:46am

PETER BOODY PHOTO |TV crew from WNBC interviews Town Board members Tuesday, from left, Councilman Peter Reich, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, and Councilman Glenn Waddington.

The people of Shelter Island last week gave a patriotic hometown welcome to the visiting members of the the First Cavalry’s Banshee Troop from Fort Drum, who served alongside Shelter Island’s own Joseph Theinert, the Army first lieutenant who was killed in Afghanistan a year ago.

The troops were escorted down State Route 114 — part of which has been renamed Lt. Joseph Theinert Memorial Way — along a route lined with banners, smiling friends and family and American flags waving from roadside utility poles.

But Island residents, and people across Long Island, were outraged when a front page story in Newsday on Monday reported that the Long Island Power Authority would be charging a $5 fee for mounting flags on its utility poles — even though town officials had believed the issue sesttled and that a fee would not be charged. The story spread to New York TV stations, which sent crews to Tuesday’s Town Board meeting to interview local officials.

Now politicians are challenging the power authority’s interpretation of a state law that LIPA officials say requires them to charge to display anything on their poles, including Old Glory.

County Legislature Ed Romaine complained in an interview Tuesday that most of the poles along the route belong to Verizon, not LIPA, and yet LIPA initially wanted to charge for all of them anyway. He said LIPA was an “out of control company” that “has done so many skunky things.” Verizon, he said, never demanded any fee.

He said the case was closed and no one on the Island would pay any fees. Verizon does allow for pole attachment fees “to be waived for commemorative ceremonies such as this,” said Verizon spokesperson John Bonomo. “We intend on waiving it in this case.”

As State Senator Ken LaValle put it, “The Long Island Power Authority’s assertion that it cannot allow the placement of American flags on its light poles without charging a fee is an over interpretation of the Public Authorities Law.”

Said Sen. Lavalle (R-Port Jefferson), “Section 2897 of The Public Authorities Law was never meant to be applied to patriotic displays. Rather, the law was meant to address leasing agreements with for-profit companies.”

The flags are now hanging from utility poles along lighted areas of Ferry Road from the South Ferry to North Ferry. They were installed by the Highway Department and funded by the American Legion Mitchell Post in preparation for Banshee Troop’s visit. The American Legion, along with Shelter Island Hardware, has spearheaded a movement to display the flags along the route every year from now on from Memorial Day through July 4.

Mitchell Post commander Mike Loriz said the Legion had raised $8,000 to buy and maintain the flags, poles and brackets and only half the money has been spent.

“A lot of people in our outfit are angry,” Mr. Loriz said of the fees to attach American flags to the poles. “I’m just astonished.”

The rate is $5 annually to use the poles, though the fee has been pro-rated to $1.25 for the flags to be displayed for two months. It would cost $23.75 in 2011 to use LIPA’s 19 poles, according to LIPA spokesperson Vanessa Baird-Streeter.

LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey, who claims the state mandates that LIPA issue the charge, told Mr. Romaine in an e-mail last week that he would pay the fee out of his own pocket this year. Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty reported Tuesday afternoon that Mr. Hervey had done so and the matter of who would pay the fee had been closed.

Town Councilman Peter Reich commented, “It’s not about the fee; it’s about the principal.”

He said that, just as there is no sales tax on American flags, there should be no public utilities fee to display them.

Everyone seems to agree that state law must be changed.

“This matter must be addressed by the State Legislature to amend the law that prohibits state authorities from giving use of or disposing of their property for free,” LIPA’s Mr. Hervey said in a statement. “The unintended consequences of this law put us in an unfortunate predicament.

Mr. Dougherty said he’d had a conversation with Mr. Romaine earlier this week, who indicated that the fee would not come out of the pockets of anyone on Shelter Island.

“My understanding is we don’t have to pay it,” Mr. Dougherty said even before he had heard from Mr. Hervey. “No one has told me the contrary.”

Mr. Dougherty, in fact, anounced at a Town Board work session a week ago that no one in town would be required to pay the fee.

Councilman Reich commented he could understand the power authority charging to display a banner advertising a community event or fundraiser, but not for the Stars and Stripes.

“So many things in government are so ridiculous,” Mr. Reich said. “At some point, common sense has to prevail.”

On Tuesday evening, he was preparing to be interviewed at home by a New York TV station via Skype on the issue.