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Huntington POV: Residents Respond to Housing Coalition’s Richard Koubek; Our Voices Will Not Be Stopped By Your Insults

Is this what a radical anti-development faction looks like?

Dear Mr. Koubek,
I am addressing this to you but in reality this is a blanket letter to all those who have contributed to the continued downward spiral of the Huntington Station community.  There is plenty of blame to go around including residents like myself who were not paying attention until recently.  I don’t beat myself up too much however because while I always believed that a reasonable amount of civic involvement is important, never in my wildest dreams when I purchased my home did I think it would be necessary to spend countless hours a day watching corruptible politicians and special interest groups in order to live in peace and raise my children in a safe environment.  I have learned so much, some of which I really wish I could forget, yet other things I’ve learned are very positive and keep me going. Foremost is that Huntington Station and School District 3 are filled with honest, ethical, hard working individuals that value diversity, want to live and raise their families in the “real world” and operate by the same rules of fair play on which I was raised.   When I attend school functions or talk to my neighbors, it reinforces that I am in the right place.

Mr. Koubek, when I read your quote in the Times of Huntington the other day, it really hit a nerve with me.  The one I am referring to is “I think the defeat of Avalon has spurred on some very radical anti-development people in the Station, but my hope is that the Town Board will look at the interests of the whole town and the long-term interests of the Station and not cave into this radical group that’s got all kinds of agendas.”  My first reaction was to roll my eyes, as I have heard similar things so many times before.  It wasn’t until the e-mails started rolling in, the facebook comments were flowing and my hurt neighbors started calling and discussing their feelings about it in front of our homes.  “It’s not fair that people could say those things about this community”, they would say. “We are good people.” “We just want to live in peace and not have to make it a full time job to watch these special interest groups and the three members of the town Board who care more about lining their pocket and making their friends richer than they do about their hardworking constituents.” (when my neighbor made that comment to me he was referring to Glenda Jackson, Mark Cuthbertson, and Frank Petrone).  

By the way, Mr. Koubek, I don’t want to get on the subject of Avalon Bay (just yet), but it is my understanding that Ms. Berland practically begged you and your umbrella groups to accept the lower density that an R3M zoning would allow.  It seems at the time you had no interest in such a thing.  I have a few theories why, which I will save for another POV on another day.  My intention in writing this today is for you to get a sense of who you and others are talking to when you hurl your hurtful statements.  If people like you would back off of this community, where you do not live, and let us tackle our problems, you would be pleasantly surprised  by what we accomplish.  I am sticking it out because I believe there will be a day where the Huntington Station community can be a role model for solving community issues.

Mr. Koubek, I am not a radical.  I am a devoted wife and a mother of two beautiful boys, who are a significant part of my motivation towards all that I do for my community.  I am an active PTA volunteer.  I chose SD 3 because I wanted to raise my kids in a culturally diverse setting.  I feel hopeful about the direction of my children’s schools because there are so many like me who have a strong desire to move towards excellence for all our district’s children.  I have a strong desire to see that the town codes are enforced in my community.  Not to hurt families. Quite the contrary in fact.  I feel ashamed that children are living in unsafe conditions less than one mile from my home.  Considering the amount of money that is going into HUD and other programs, I know we can do so much better for these families.  I want to start programs and volunteer to solve many of my communities issues.  Unfortunately, most of my volunteering time is spent stopping the further deterioration of my community.  Mr. Koubek, please back off of my community and let us move in the right direction.  Given the opportunity, we will be the example for the township.  As I said, I am not a radical, I am a mom who is willing to sacrifice my precious time toward coming up with solutions to improve the quality of life for all members of my community regardless of their socio-economic background and race.”

-Ilene Fucci

Mr Koubek, Many other members of this community would like to let you know how they feel.  There are too many to include them all.  Some people chose to leave off their last names because they realize expressing their opinions about their immediate neighborhood results in name calling and their motives being questioned.  It still astonishes me how individuals who do not live in Huntington Station or SD 3 feel compelled to dictate to us what is best for us.  The arrogance is especially astonishing since the current policies have failed our community terribly.  I implore you to read each of these statements and consider the words as they come from the heart of these individuals.

I am not a radical. I am a concerned mom and citizen who has lost all faith in my local government. Those that believe Huntington is still transparent need only research the back door dealings that continue to divide our town. We can’t catch our breath, heal, listen to each other, and focus in a real and united way on what’s best for our neighborhoods and our children before the next controversy gets crammed into our already overcrowded lives. It’s no wonder this is all so heated. It’s really more than any community can bear. And perhaps I am naïve, but I would like elected officials to be above the fray. Public forums get heated by tax-paying citizens of all political opinions who sometimes cross lines in efforts to feel heard. But when school board members react by publicly writing they “laugh” at opinions that don’t match theirs and our town council makes a poorly produced video to “get back” at constituents who posted their own video, I can’t help but feel a little sick that I voted for all of these folks. – Kristin Kanzer

Dear Mr. Koubek,
I am not a radical! I am a retired elementary school teacher who spent her career teaching the children of Huntington. I was the liaison officer for the Health and Safety committee for the teacher’s union for 5 years and was trained and licensed by OSHA. I served 6 years as a board member of the Huntington Historical Society and 3 years on the board of the Child Care Council of Suffolk County. As a volunteer I gave time to the Huntington Hospital, Family Service League, and am still active at the Heckscher Museum. I have lived most of my life in Huntington and see it slowly disintegrating into illegal apartments and now illegal houses being built and the town turning a blind eye to the construction and then giving a C.O. to the owners – a virtual pat on the back for breaking the law. I want to see this stopped and the laws on the books followed.  -Anne-Marie Abrahamson

My name is Gerard Seitz , my wife and I have been residents of Halesite for 15 years now. We moved here because we were enamored with the area’s rich history, along with its cosmopolitan flair. We relocated from the western edge of Nassau looking for more open space in which to raise our family. Coming from the Nassau/Queens border, we were impressed with the larger home lots, trees, hills and its wonderful bay and harbors. We wanted to make the most important investment of our life, not only our first home, but our last. Something which we could hand down to our family.

We own a property listed on the National Historic Register which we are attempting to restore to its former glory by ourselves. Huntington has far more historical properties than any other township on Long Island which certainly adds to its unique charm, vibrancy and economy.

I put my advertising career on hold to take an active role raising our 6 year old son. I never envisioned being a stay-at-home Dad, but it was a blessing in disguise. The bond I currently have with my son can not be described with mere words. From 4 months on I was responsible for the care and feeding, along with diaper changing of my infant son. This continues to this present day, but now includes homework. Its incredibly heart-warming, seeing the joy he gets from me helping at his school functions, from serving teachers at Teacher Appreciation Lunches, to reading to his class and even singing and performing music at a recent PTA event.

I started to get involved because I didn’t agree with the Town’s current direction. I don’t want to see the high-density housing of Queens destroy our quaint little town and bankrupt School District #3 in the process.

Dear Mr. Koubeck,
My name is Marina Obermaier. I am not a radical, I am a heretofore civically uninvolved wife and mother of two children who resettled in Huntington from Queens. We fell in love with the best of both worlds this village offers – lower density than “the city,” but the diversity and cultural offerings found in few other suburban localities on long island. High density, tax negative developments threaten our quality of life. I strongly believe our town needs affordable housing for young professionals and seniors, but not if they’re multi-story apartment complexes. Our community can sustain homes, multi use structures (e.g. apartments over stores.) Build within existing zoning limits, be forthright about costs, and demonstrate real benefits. Residents will then stand with you and embrace “smart” growth.”

We are not radicals…………we have lived very proudly in Huntington Station since 1975. When we told people we were moving to “The Station” back then we were “warned” that it wasn’t a “good area”. Contrary to that belief, we found it to be a lovely place to raise our daughter in very good school district. However, over the years we have seen our town go down hill. How many more people can we “welcome” into our community???? Enough is Enough. It’s time for other to communities to step up to the plate and say, “YOU ARE WELCOME HERE”.
-Gail & Russ Gilroy

Mr. Koubek,
My name is Dan Fucci and I am not a radical, however I am a proud Huntington Station resident. Over the years the good residents of Huntington Station have endured empty promises and broken dreams from elected officials. It is high time for the residents who actually live in Huntington Station to chart a path towards vibrancy for the community that we live in. My answer is for private sector commercial business to come in and help lead the way. Provide tax breaks to businesses as an incentive to invest here. Commercial business will provide employment for the community and create economic growth. Mr. Koubek, you had your opportunity to lead and you failed, you will not follow our lead so therefore that leaves you with one choice: Simply get out of the way and again let the residents of Huntington Station decide it’s path to better days ahead.

I am an attorney and a mother who has lived in this town my entire life and struggles with the prospect of having to leave it due to the enormous and ever increasing tax burden.

I am father and the sole proprietor of a home improvement company who has lived in my Huntington Home for 45 years and faces the reality that I may have to sell it simply because of the rising taxes each year.

Mr. Koubek,
I am not a radical, I am a SD3 mom who cares about the community, my kids, my neighbors, and quality of life. I am a proud Cupcake mom! – Michele Kustera

Dear Mr. Koubek,
I am not a radical. I am a 32 year resident of Huntington Station. I have watched our community decay over the years. Our school district used to be #1, now forget about it. Real estate agents warn young couples not to buy in district #3. I know this because my son was one of those young couples looking to buy a home in Huntington. The Town Board has to stop dumping all of it’s so call great ideas on our community. What ever happened to Dix Hills, E. Northport, Northport, Melville, Greenlawn? Just how many of the board members actually live in District #3? We as residents of District #3 have had enough. Our voices will not be stopped by your insults. – Marge Essopos

I am a PTA Mom with 2 children with special needs who contributes massive amounts of time to my school and community. Over the last year I have done so much more than any person should bear to do to protect their home and in return I was called names by people who do not live here, but want to add more housing in this area. Housing that would follow in the footsteps of 4 other high density projects that have not “revitalized” this area but have in fact added more density and is a contributor to a now struggling school district. Winoka, Gateway Gardens, Whitman Village and Highview .We simply do not need anymore housing when blight of businesses has become the norm and every other house on the block is for sale. – Jen, Huntington Station resident

I am not radical, I am a resident of Huntington for the last 12 years. I am a mother of 3 children in SD3. I want my children to attend HUFSD and receive an education of excellence that this district was founded on. I want my children to grow up in a town that is safe, a town where codes are enforced and illegal activity is punished. I am a taxpayer that would like my tax dollars to go towards paying for leadership in this town that has the best interests of all tax paining residents in Huntington. I do not live in Queens. I live in the great all American town of Huntington. -Lauren Meagher

Dear Mr Koubek,
I am not a radical,  I want Huntington Station to first and foremost to be cleaned up of the ILLEGAL HOUSING, at that point then discussions can be made for more building of housing. Since there are 1700 homes for sale in Huntington we do not need anymore building. I enjoy living here and think this is a fine community but some of you feel it necessary to knock the community down with irrational statements. Together with our neighbor watch group and many others, we intend to fight the negative impression you are attempting to portray and demonstrate the positive attributes of living here. -Nick Wieland

Michael/Pamela Grassi, have been residents of Huntington Station for the past 13 years. We have three wonderful children that also attend the Huntington SD#3. I consider our family to be a typical Huntington Station family. My wife and I both work full time and remain active in the community. My wife has been a troop leader for local Girl Scout troop and has long been a member of Washington Primary PTA and volunteers many precious hours to this community. I have been an assistant coach in both my youngest son and daughters soccer teams for several years. We try our best to stay active and involved with the numerous issues facing our community. I would not consider my views to be radical but rather in the best interest of the community and the many pressing issues facing our school district. I have both agreed and disagreed with recent actions taken by our local town and school boards. I feel strongly that the Huntington Station community is too often misrepresented in the local papers and news outlets which focus on bad news or unwanted development. These are strong issues that often divide the community rather than unite. I wish we could all focus our energy in a more positive direction.

Dear Mr Koubek,
I am not a radical. Rather, my wife and I are conservative residents of Huntington Station. We enjoy living here and think this is a fine community but some of you feel it necessary to knock the community down with irrational statements. Together with our neighbor watch group and many others, we intend to fight the negative impression you are attempting to portray and demonstrate the positive attributes of living here. – Kathleen and William Haberer

I am a local business owner struggling to pay taxes in a home I was born in 42 years ago. I fear not having a home left to leave to my children one day. I have a vast history in the town of Huntington as I was born at Huntington Hospital and have lived here my whole life. I have a story from my childhood to go along with each named street on the map. I planned on being an “old timer” telling tales from my youth sitting on my porch one day but special interest groups creating more housing projects with rising density create higher taxes and are killing that dream. I drive around and see so many homes for sale and think we just don’t have a housing crisis till these are full! Special Interest groups have been quoted in papers as far back as the 1970’s crying about a “housing crisis” We need to stop listening to chicken little because the sky is only falling on people like me, the homeowners. –  John, Huntington Station resident

Mr. Koubek,
I am not a radical. I am a father, husband, homeowner and taxpayer. I do expect the leaders of my community to try to build consensus among the many before building on a grand scale. I expect my leadership to keep one another honest, instead of just keeping score. And I expect my community’s leadership, whether in that position by election or conceit, not to resort to calling hardworking citizens names. I’m not living here because my family has been here for generations, or because it was my childhood home. They haven’t, and it’s not. I chose to live here. I choose to stay. And when necessary, I choose to speak out.

Radical ideas, indeed.  – Joe Obermaier

Richard Koubek is president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition and resides in Dix Hills.

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24 comments to Huntington POV: Residents Respond to Housing Coalition’s Richard Koubek; Our Voices Will Not Be Stopped By Your Insults

  • Vivienne H. Wong

    I have tears in my eyes from reading the above letters from Huntington residents.
    Ilene, well done in putting this together and a thank you to the Village Tattler for your publication.

  • Richard Koubek

    To all those offended by my phrase “radical anti-development group”:

    Obviously a nerve was touched. Those who know my position, and the Huntington Township Housing Coalition’s position on AvalonBay and affordable housing in general, should know by now that we have supported TOWNWIDE solutions to our housing shortage. Again and again we have acknowledged that HS alone should not be the sole location for the Town’s affordable housing construction. However, we also believe that there remain some opportunities for affordable housing and much needed economic development in HS. These are being blocked by a small , yes, “radical” anti-development special interest group that is saying no to any opportunities for housing and economic development in the Station. Whatever their motives, they have stirred up well-meaning HS residents to see themselves under attack with each new imitative. Of them I ask this question, that was also asked of an anti-AvalonBay HS resident just before the September Board vote: Where are you going to find the $110 million in HS construction dollars that was lost when AvalonBay was defeated? What is your Plan B?

    • Anon

      Hey Spin Doctor, go away with your half truths. Why were the original Avalon Bay estimates on how many school aged children were going to be housed at the development so low and poorly estimated. Why because the truth hurts and the project would have been in danger with the real numbers. If you spent time being truthful instead of spreading lies perhaps you would gain community respect, then maybe support. But you have proven over the years that you do not act in a forth right manner. At this point in time if you are truly looking to get affordable housing all over Huntington, then start in the areas that have numbers that are well below that of the HS area, once they are brought up to an equal level then we can actually try to believe the garbage that you spew.

    • HS Mom

      Mr. Koubek it seems you have $$$ in the game. Aren’t you getting $800,000 from the developer over in Cold Spring Hills not to build low income housing in that school district.

    • Clifford Sondock

      Mr Koubeck, I agree with you. All towns and villages need to be open to new housing. However, there should be no regulations that impose requirements for property owners to construct “affordable housing” or below market priced housing. New housing needs to be market priced housing and be located where the market demands, not where politicians and the Planning Elite direct. Long Island’s goal should not be MORE “affordable housing” but higher property values. Higher property values in economic terms means more selection, better quality, more variety at competitive (lower) prices. Better home values can only be accomplished with less Government regulation and more competition. (Also, there would be less opposition to more market priced housing in places like HS.)

  • Towns racism

    Ilene has it right, all of us simply want to be treated just like residents in any other part of the Town. That is hardly a radical concept, in fact it is our right. The sad facts is after the summer murders and assaults quieted down during a record cold winter, the Town returned to what they have always done, painting the problem as one caused by a handful of “radical” NIMBY’s in SD#3.

    Meanwhile they pose for picture in front of the new 20 million dollar ice skating rink in Berlands/Petrone/Israel’s backyard in HHH. Cuthbertson is in Northport “demanding” at a Northport School Board meeting LIPA put a Huntington rep on its Board to fight the negative impact to Northport schools once the plant is reassessed from the insane 3.5 billion number the Town assesses it at. (plant is worth 500 million so Northport houses pay half of what we pay because the Town purposely over accessed it for decades).

    So what has changed? Nothing.

    ZBA-No Huntington Station resident sits on the Zoning Board of Appeals despite the Town having 4 openings to appoint a rep.

    Pols-Petrone hasn’t been in the Station since last summer. Israel is running around the country looking for money for Dems running for Congress while he ignores his backyard.

    Avalon-The Town after a huge public outcry to deny Avalon Bay is begging Avalon to come back.

    Gateway Gardens is also getting ready for round two with the ZBA based on the ZBA virtually pleading with them to do something but just make it a bit “smaller” than 26 units per acre which they had to reject because they would lose the case in court and they knew it. (Of course if SD#3 hadn’t fought it, the plan would have been approved in the backroom as planned).

    Code Enforcement still has no Director, three months after the former Director retired.

    Don Pius and the Huntington Housing Authority continue to work to make sure all section 8 placements are in HS, and in return the HHA agrees to let Pius house criminals and not file any code enforcement charges against him.

    Tilden Brakes..nice to still have that landmark eyesore to remind us of the Town’s revitalization.

    Take Back the Block, after eight years, still one house actually sold to a private owner family, at this warp speed in 2,150 maybe we’ll see results.

    None of this would happen in any other school district in the Town. It happens in SD 3 because Petrone and company still believe it’s OK to dump anything they want in the minority section of Huntington Station. If anyone squawks they will buy off whoever they need to and assume the Spanish won’t say boo.

    Funny the liberals are the biggest racists of them all, their projects makes them feel good as they sit on two acres far away from the projects they insist our community desperately needs. If they think the Town needs it so badly, how about Doc Spenser building a section 8 complex next to his house in Centerport, or Fonti one in CSH , or Cutherbertson one in Greenlawn, or Berland next to her McMansion in HHH?

    We need to let every news station in America know what the United States Supreme Court stated clearly, this Town continues to follow a racist agenda which dumps on one school district, SD3.

    If its low income, high density it goes in SD 3, if we fight back they call Joye Browne at Newsday to run a story incredibly painting us as the racists. If a white part of the Town though such as Northport, CSH, CSH has a problem the Town can’t run quick enough to help them out. Low income next to Northport HS, 40 years later nothing because the Town fights it, but you want to build it in HS, they’ll give you a permit next month? The huge Greens complex in HHH, 1300 units and no low income units or section 8? Can you imagine if they built 1300 units in HS with no low income component? Berland and Jackson (and Dick Koubeck, Ken Christensen, etc) would scream “we need affordable housing for “our” residents. What they leave out is what we all know; we need it so long as it’s in HS and not where they live.

    Enough is Enough, the residents of SD3 and the kids deserve better, the Town, the Housing Coalition, the HHA, ZBA, etc need to stop the bullying tactics and work with us.

  • Still more Plan B

    Fill committee positions with Huntington Station residents sice up until now they have been locked out of any of these postions. Correct all the ethichs violations throughout the Township so the residents can regain trust in their local governement.

  • Help me out here.

    Thank you for posting here, Mr. Koubek. If you can please provide some further clarification directly, we can hopefully minimize “misinformation”.

    First of all, please provide more details of the “TOWNWIDE solutions to our housing shortage” that your Coalition has supported, to quote you. It seems all of those initiatives in Lloyd Harbor, Lloyd Neck, Cold Spring Harbor, Dix Hills, etc. have gotten very limited media coverage. I think if you provide the specifics, those pesky radicals can help getting the word out and garner some support many TOH residents.

    Secondly, please provide further details on all of these “opportunities for housing in economic development in Station” that the “small , yes, ‘radical’ anti-development special interest group” has said no to. You can leave out all the obvious disasters that call for changing the entire area’s zoning to a ridiculously dense level that unfairly impacts SD3, not to mention local traffic.

    Next, if you can please clarify your seemingly contradictory statement: “Again and again we have acknowledged that HS alone should not be the sole location for the Town’s affordable housing construction. However, we also believe that there remain some opportunities for affordable housing and much needed economic development in HS.” Hmmmm… Scrathing my head. I guess the initiatives you will describe as requested above will clarify what you are doing besides just acknowledging the fact that this town continues to defy the Supreme Court ruling.

    Lastly, please share your methodology for determining the size and scope of these “radical” special interest groups. Is it similar to Avalon Bay’s methodology for estimating school-age children?

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  • Anonymous

    There is affordable homes in HS already. Housing codes need to be inforced, section 8 homes should be limited to ONE per block and spread out alll around Huntington, Northport, Cold Spring Harbor ect…. In the city the prime areas are near train stations where people can commute. I’m sick of hearing our problems are due to the train station. If this is so why doesn’t Syosett, Cold Spring Harbor, Greenlawn, Babylon ect.. have the problems we have. Having a train station should be an attraction for young commuting couples. Single family homes are needed and some with an accessory apartment to help pay mortgages. The last I looked some areas in HS had cheaper housing then what “affordable” housing is looking to be built.
    Enough is enough — other school districts need to carry some of the load.

  • retired citizen

    I not a resident of Huntington Station and do not have children in the schools so I read the comments of problems in Huntington to stay informed. The letter from Ilene Fucci was the best, clearly written letter I have seen posted here. I cannot understand why so many of the posts are just venting with no solutions.
    I would like to see answers to the following questions that concern me (please answer civilly):
    Where can seniors on low incomes live if they want to downsize and stay in our town?
    How can seniors afford to stay in our town when taxes are so high? One does not even have a choice of selling one’s home anymore as the market is so flooded? Is there anyway to lower our school taxes?

    • To Retired Citizen

      To be civil, our town is unique in that we offer a significant supply of smaller homes, and not just in HS, that are very reasonable, more so than many apartments in queens, and there are many in the 150-200K range). Please go to the MLS site for if you clarity. We also have assisted living facilities in town.

      So, you can see with all this housing being available, especially in HS, all evidence (and it is significant evidence) is pointing more sinister reasons as to why developers are pushing hard to build in HS, using the low income or senior housing as a cover. Oysterbay at Port Jefferson have had similar development fights and they all have successfully fought these people off. Some of these fights have stretched over 30 years.

      Our proposal, more parks, more illegal housing enforcement, and of course if they must build, hey…build a house. We are the suburbs you know!

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