During 2018, the Suffolk County Legislature was productive in advancing policies and projects that improve the quality of life for every Suffolk resident. As your elected representative in the Legislature, and as that body's Majority Leader, I am proud of our accomplishments and gratified that I could make a difference for the people who live in my district and all County residents. Here is a rundown of last year's activities, including some of the projects and policies I am convinced will have a positive impact on our community.
Sworn-in for Fourth Term;
Reelected to Majority Leader Post
Last January, I had the honor of being sworn in to a fourth term as your representative in the Suffolk County Legislature and as the body’s Majority Leader for the third consecutive year. Last month, I was reelected by my caucus to serve as Majority Leader for a fourth year.
Again Selected to Lead Two of Legislature’s Key Committees;
Now Serve on Four Others
During 2018 I continued to serve as the chairperson for both the Legislature’s Environment, Planning & Agriculture [EPA] committee and its Parks & Recreation committee. In addition to EPA and Parks, I also served as a member of three additional committees: Education & Human Services; Economic Development; and Public Safety committees. In 2019, I will again serve as Chair of the same two committees and member of the same three committees as last year, and in addition, have been appointed to the Seniors and Consumer Affairs Committee.
Commencing “Operation Remember”
After nearly two decades of continued conflict, local veterans of recent wars will soon receive the recognition they have earned on those foreign battle-fronts back here on the home-front. Through a partnership my office has forged with American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts located in Setauket, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson, and the Long Island State Veterans Home, we have made substantial progress in our plan to update four existing local war memorials. These updates are designed to commemorate the sacrifices made by the most recent generations of America’s service members of the Cold War, the Gulf Wars and the Global War on Terror.
Our partners and I expect the updates to memorials located in Stony Brook Village, on the Setauket Village Green, at the Setauket Veterans Memorial Park and along the Port Jefferson harbor front to cost approximately $30,000 and be funded through donations and sponsorships from the community. We are counting on our residents and small business owners to help meet this goal quickly so we can begin work in the early spring. Once the fundraising goal has been met, we will contract with a local stonemason to update the monuments, hopefully in time to unveil them this coming Memorial Day, certainly the ideal time to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
If you would like to make a contribution, donations are being accepted through (and payable to) the Veterans Memorial Fund, PO Box 986, Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776 or can be hand delivered to the following service post locations:
Wilson Ritch Post 432
1450 Hallock Avenue
Port Jefferson Station, New York 11776
|Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3054|
8 Jones Street
East Setauket, New York 11733
Clearing a Path for new North Shore Multiuse Trail
Suffolk will soon carve a path – a walking path – within Old Field Farm County Park! This was made possible when I was able to reallocate up to $60,000 in funding leftover from other completed projects in the Parks Department for the pathway addition. The goal of the path is to provide visitors with new opportunities to explore and enjoy this historic 13 acre equestrian show grounds that run along the bank of West Meadow Creek. Once completed, the trail made of crushed bluestone will extend almost half a mile from the park’s westernmost entrance to its easternmost gate along West Meadow Beach Road and link to a nearly two mile “out-and-back” multiuse trail maintained by the Town of Brookhaven on what was once Trustees Road. The plan also calls for adding fencing and a small parking area to accommodate visitors.
Swinging into Spring with the Help of New Jazz Festival
Spring was in the air early in 2018 and it brought with it the sound of live music during the new “Swing into Spring” jazz festival. Stony Brook Village, which is home to the “Jazz Loft”, hosted the inaugural festival we developed to attract more tourists, music lovers and even “foodies” to this historic business district. Suffolk County sponsored the festival through a grant I secured intended to promote tourism through the arts. Funds for these programs are drawn from the Hotel-Motel Tax which counties across New York State apply to overnight stays in hotels and motels and must be used to promote tourism and boost our local economy. Join us this March as the “Swing into Spring” jazz festival makes its encore. Exact dates, times and locations to be announced soon.
Declaring Independence from Single-Use Plastic
Suffolk County established a Single Use Plastic Reduction Task Force in 2018 through legislation I sponsored. As the Task Force’s Chairwoman, my first goal was to encourage Suffolk eateries to go straw-less through a countywide initiative intended to reduce single-use plastic waste originating from these establishments. Dubbed “Strawless Suffolk,” organizers work in coordination with the Surfrider foundation’s “Strawless Summer” campaign to convince restaurants throughout the County to pledge to stop using plastic straws. To date, nearly 100 restaurants have agreed to stop using straws completely; provide biodegradable straws made from paper or bamboo upon request; or provide reusable straws made of stainless steel or glass.
You can recognize the restaurants that have pledged to reduce this harmful and unnecessary waste by the Strawless Suffolk decal given to participating establishments. The task force has numerous other suggestions for reducing the use of single-use plastics that will be announced in the coming months. Task Force participants include representatives of the East End Surfrider Foundation, Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SOMAS), Suffolk County Community College, Suffolk County Department of Health, Green Inside and Out, and Southampton Town.
Suffolk Observes “Gun Violence Awareness Day”
Every day, nearly 100 Americans are killed by gun violence, and many more sustain firearm injuries. That is why I sponsored an initiative last spring to designate June 2nd of each year as “Gun Violence Awareness Day” in Suffolk County. Out of respect for those whose lives have been cut short and the countless survivors injured, my designation also calls for the illumination of the H. Lee Dennison building annually from June 1st through June 5th in recognition of gun violence awareness.
The Months Ahead…
Last year set the groundwork for many new and important initiatives that I believe will enhance our lives, strengthen our community and protect our county’s viability during 2019 and beyond. With recommendations from the Emergency Department Opiate Response Working Group expected, we will hopefully get more people rehabilitated and restored, not just “Narcaned” and detoxed. Through a new athletic coaches training curriculum, coaches will no longer just be rooting for their players from the sidelines, but will be actively helping guide them through one of the most dangerous challenges confronting today's youth. From the work of the Single Use Plastic Reduction Task Force, we will make Suffolk County greener and in doing so make our residents healthier as well. And of course, by building new memorials to our fallen service men and women, we will help lay the groundwork for a deeper understanding of the role they play in our lives and consequently, a deeper respect upon which to strengthen our entire community.