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David Overton Trail opened by Brookhaven officials

Newsday, December 31, 2015 11:31 AM

Brookhaven officials have announced the opening of a hiking trail that runs through Coram, Gordon Heights and Medford, and a digital media room at the Mastic Recreation Center.

The David Overton Trail is a multi-use path that runs through several hundred acres of woodlands, wetlands and meadows in the Overton Preserve. The trail was designed and constructed with funds such as a $140,000 grant from state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Councilwoman Connie Kepert said she had fought to create the trail when she was president of the Middle Island Civic Association, more than a decade ago.

“I am happy to finally announce that the David Overton Trail is complete,” Kepert said in a statement. Her last day in office is Dec. 31, 2015. “I look forward to continuing to work with our Suffolk County legislators to create additional recreational opportunities in the area. Thank you to the town’s Parks Department for their hard work in creating this path.”

Farmingville, NY – Councilwoman Connie Kepert visited the recently completed multi-use path along the David Overton Trail that travels through the Overton Preserve. The David Overton Preserve, which extends through the hamlets of Coram, Gordon Heights, and Medford, is several hundred acres of woodlands, wetlands and meadows. As the President of the Middle Island Civic Association, Councilwoman Kepert fought for the preservation of this environmentally and historically significant land. After taking office in 2006, the Councilwoman worked to secure a $140,000 New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation grant for the design and construction of a multi-use path along the historic roadway that runs through the preserve.

“I am happy to finally announce that the David Overton Trail is complete,” said Councilwoman Connie Kepert. “I look forward to continuing to work with our Suffolk County Legislators to create additional recreational opportunities in the area. Thank you to the Town's Parks Department for their hard work in creating this path."

Town Closes On Open Space Donation of 65 Acres in the

Pine Barrens Core Preservation Area in Yaphank

November 18th, 2015

Farmingville, NY – Recently,Brookhaven Town closed on 65 acres of undeveloped land in Yaphank, donated by the owner, to be preserved as open space. The property, known as the “Enchanted Forest,” had originally been considered for a residential subdivision until it was included in the Pine Barrens Core Preservation Area expansion that took place several years ago. It is a heavily wooded, wildlife habitat that straddles the 0-2, 2-5, and 5-10 year groundwater contributing area to the Carmans River, delivering approximately 37 million gallons of pure water annually to the watershed.

Importantly, the properties are adjacent to existing publicly-owned open space in the form of the 115-acre "Camp Olympia" assemblage and are in close proximity to the Silveri Corporate Park property, of which the town purchased 100 acres for open space in October 2014.  All combined, approximately 280 contiguous acres of open space have been permanently preserved in the area.

“Since I took office in 2012, the Town has purchased hundreds of acres of open space in the Pine Barrens and the Carmans River Watershed,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine. “close proximity to other lands that have been acquired by the town for open space will help to maintain water quality in this environmentally sensitive area. By purchasing property for open space, we reinforce our commitment to preserving the environment for the generations that will follow us.”

Councilwoman Connie Kepert said, “Since I took office in 2006, the Town has been working with Suffolk County and the owners of this piece and adjacent pieces to preserve and protect this important ecological treasure which lies within the Carmans River contributing area.”

Six of the seven properties (approx. 55 acres) that make up the new purchase are situated in the Core Preservation Area of the Central Pine Barrens and were eligible for Pine Barrens Credits pursuant to the allocation formula provided for in the Central Pine Barrens Plan. Once the credits were determined and removed, an easement was placed on the property and it was gifted to the Town.


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Councilwoman Kepert Moves Forward Approval to Allow the Installation of an

Anaerobic Digester at Long Island Compost 

Farmingville, NY- the Brookhaven Town Board meeting on October 1, 2015, the Board voted to approve a Public Hearing sponsored by Councilwoman Connie to authorize a special permit for the installation of a state-of-the-art anaerobic digester at the Long Island Compost facility on Horseblock Road in Yaphank. The project is moving forward after an agreement was reached in June of 2013 between Long Island Compost and the Brookhaven Community Coalition (BCC), a committee formed to address the odor, noise, and dust impact of the facility on the surrounding community.

As part of the agreement, Long Island Compost has agreed to build a $50 million enclosed anaerobic digester which will use microorganisms, such as bacteria, to convert food waste into renewable energy. Their digester will provide enough renewable energy to run the 62-acre facility and produce enough natural gas to power the company’s fleet of vehicles. The digester will be the first of its kind in the region to compost food waste and will revolutionize the operation of the facility, allowing for an 80% reduction in mulch on-site, which is the primary source of dust and odors.

“The installation of an anaerobic digester at Long Island Compost will significantly reduce the facility’s impact on surrounding neighborhoods while creating an efficient means of recycling food waste into renewable energy. This state-of-the-art technology will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 40,000 tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking 8,125 cars off the road. It is a win for the community, and a win for the environment,” said Councilwoman Connie Kepert. “I commend the BCC and the entire community for working tirelessly toward a solution to the noise, dust, and odor from the facility.”

Irrigation systems to get rain sensors

Newsday, Carl MacGowan, October 6th, 2015

New in-ground irrigation systems installed in Brookhaven Town must have rain sensors to reduce water usage and prevent groundwater pollution.

The town board on Thursday approved the measure, which town officials said is similar to laws in Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida, Minnesota, Georgia, Illinois and parts of Texas.  Rain sensors prevent overwatering by shutting down the irrigation system when certain aamount of rain has been detected.  The system will not be reactivated until the sensor is dry.

Town officials said the devices are relatively inexpensive and take less than an hour to install.  Brookhaven officials said the sensors also cut the amount of nutrients washed into the drainage system.  Residents who overwater their lawns many compensate by adding more fertilizer, which pollutes the ground, officials said.

“Rain sensors conserve water and prevent nutrients and fertilizers from washing away into the ground water,” Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who sponsored the law, said in a statement.  “A simple rain sensor will help homeowners save money.”

The resolution was approved 5-0.  Supervisor Edward P. Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner abstained. -

‘5 for 5’ with town candidate Connie Kepert


As part of our “5 for 5” series ― designed to help readers better navigate the 2015 Elections ― we asked incumbent Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert to give us five great ideas, or policy goals, that could be set in motion in the next five years.

Kepert, 65, of Middle Island, is a former teacher, and civic leader. She is currently serving her fifth term as Brookhaven Town councilwoman for the Fourth Council District. She is running for re-election on the Democratic, Working Families Party, and Women’s Equality lines. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Keeping street safe

Keeping residents safe on our roadways is an important power of the Town Board. To ensure that our streets are safe places to be, I spearheaded the initiative to adopt a Complete Streets policy within the town. This policy requires that the highway department evaluate all new roadways, or roadways undergoing construction, for the addition of traffic calming measures.

Complete Streets Legislation requires safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. Included in complete streets policies are sidewalks, bike lanes, accessible pedestrian signals, and curb extensions.

We have already begun implementing this legislation throughout Brookhaven Town.

I have made it my priority to work toward the continued implementation of the Complete Streets policy, which will make our roadways safer for all users and reduce the reliance on automobiles as the sole mode of transportation.

Improving neighborhoods

Vacant, abandoned houses, also known as “zombie homes,” are visual blights that systematically reduce property values, diminish quality of life, and oftentimes create health and safety concerns for the surrounding neighborhood.

These derelict homes are a growing epidemic throughout New York, particularly on Long Island.

During my years in office, I have worked closely with our town law, building, and waste management departments to enforce our town codes, ensure these properties are properly maintained and demolish those zombie homes determined to be structurally unsound and a threat to public safety.

Many of these demolished buildings are have been from within the Fourth Council District, including a fire-damaged home in Medford, three structurally-unsound houses in Bellport, and the derelict site of the old Island Squire dinner theater in Middle Island. I look forward to continuing to work to make certain that these abandoned homes to do not negatively impact the economic health and public safety of our local communities.

Creating sustainable places

Guiding the way our communities grow and develop is one of the most important powers of the Town Board. Land use plans are a way for residents to come together to create a vision for their community. 

The Middle Country Road Land Use Plan, which encompasses the communities of Coram, Middle Island, and Ridge, is one such plan. During my tenure in office, I have overseen four phases of rezonings along the Middle Country Road totaling 2,042 acres, or 322 total parcels. These upzonings represent an impressive reduction of sprawl and strip commercial development along the corridor. 

The Bellport Land Use Plan, which resulted from a community visioning process in 2009, was adopted in October of 2014. I moved forward the first phase of rezonings to implement the recommendations of the plan in July. This first phase focuses on the rezoning of parcels along Montauk Highway, from Bellport Avenue to North Dunton Avenue, which will create the Bellport and Hagerman hamlet centers and form a downtown, main street look.

The Medford community has also worked hard to develop a vision which must now be transformed into a land use plan.

Land use plans require focus, dedication, and commitment in order to bring the community recommendations to fruition. I will continue to work with community members and our town planning staff to make the vision of communities within the Fourth Council District a reality, while implementing smart growth policies, reducing sprawl development, and creating attractive downtown destinations.

Better parks for our children

Working to provide positive recreation opportunities has been a priority of mine since taking office.

As the mother of three and a former Longwood teacher, I understand the importance of ensuring that a variety of recreational services, programs and facilities are available to our children. That is why, during my time on the Town Council, I have invested in improvements and upgrades to the parks within the Fourth Council District, including refurbishing the multi-purpose fields and installing an ADA compliant playground at Martha Avenue Park, upgrades to the fields and installation of new bathrooms at the Medford Athletic Complex, upgrades and the addition of a spray park at Robert Rowley Park, the installation of new playground equipment at Children’s Park, Bartlett Pond Park, and Swezey-Avey Park, and planned improvements and updates at Wave Avenue Park in Medford.

I strongly support the ongoing advancements and improvements in our parks and facilities because investing in our youth is one of the most important and valuable investments we as a community can make.

Restoring the bay to health

The recent opening of the new inlet after Hurricane Sandy has greatly improved the water quality in Bellport Bay. This past year, I worked  closely with the newly-formed group the Friends of Bellport Bay (FoBB), to take advantage of this opportunity to further improve the health of the Bay’s ecosystem.

The town provided 100,000 seed oysters to the organization, which were placed along Ridge Island and will be monitored by the group over time. Shellfish are important to improving the quality of the bay because they filter nitrogen and particulates from the water. 

Brookhaven Town recently announced a partnership with Suffolk County in a combined effort to plant eelgrass, which is critical to the success of shellfish in the bay, and a commitment of over $100,000 to continue shellfish restoration efforts.

I am excited to carry on this partnership and move forward this restoration project in the coming years.

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