subscribe to the Great Neck Record

Lighthouse Needs $50K—To start

Setting its immediate fundraising goal at $50,000, the Stepping Stones Lighthouse Preservation Committee held its first official meeting last week a with North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Town Clerk Wayne Wink.
The Great Neck Historical Society has established the committee, chaired by Park District Commissioner Bob Lincoln. Lincoln told the audience: “We need $50,000 in the next several months. That’s doable. We hope that by the end of October that we will have a fundraising effort well under way.”
The money would go towards a federal matching grant offered by the National Parks Service. Tom Devaney, grants coordinator for the town, is working on securing the grant through the Maritime Heritage Program. “I know that Tom is looking to file for it in September,” Lincoln added. “It’s a matching grant. We need to have some cash to show that something is really there but the money can be raised during the lifetime of the grant, so it’s not like it has to be raised within the next 30 days.”
Estimates for the cost of full restoration have been speculated to be anywhere from two million dollars to as much as eight million dollars. “The bad news is that the structure is in bad need of repairs but the good news is that it’s restorable,” Lincoln said. “It’s structurally sound. The building itself is not falling down.”
Bosworth and her town board provided the committee with some fresh support the night before. At its monthly meeting, they unanimously authorized the creation of an intermunicipal agreement with the Park District and Historical Society for repairs to the deteriorating lighthouse.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth (right) and Great Neck Historical Society President Alice Kasten discuss the lighthouse project.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth (right) and Great Neck Historical Society President Alice Kasten discuss the lighthouse restoration project.

“I look forward to this great partnership,” Bosworth told the audience at the committee meeting as she held up a draft copy of the partnership’s “save the Stepping Stones lighthouse” brochure. “I am so proud to be able to be working with Bob and Alice (Kasten, president of the Historical Society) to make this dream become a reality.”
Bosworth noted. “There’s a renewed interest on the part of the town to make this happen. This will be done by not using our taxpayer dollars, but by looking for grants, by having public-private partnerships and by going out to people who have a great interest in seeing lighthouses restored.”
The town will be providing services but clearly the Park District has been the one that has set up the initial repairing of the roof, setting up the temporary dock and actually helping us get started.
“It is our intention to reach far beyond Great Neck,” Lincoln said about fund raising efforts. “Things in the last month or month and a half so really have taken off quite well. We have made contact with the Huntington Lighthouse group. They have offered to give us guidance and lead us to sources for private money. We’ve also been in touch with the City Island Historical Society. They’re very interested. Both groups have expressed a very strong interest in participating.”
“Our immediate action steps are really to get the pump primed,” Lincoln said during a question-and-answer session. “We want people to get out there and network. We want to get more interest and get more people to participate in some capacity. We’re looking to get resources and contacts to get out there and actually make this program come together.”
He adde: “There are a lot of people who go out on water and over the Throgs Neck Bridge and see this lighthouse. When we tell them that the alternative is to tear down the lighthouse and put a light on a stick they say ‘no, we can’t allow that to happen.’”
Kasten voiced her continued optimism at the meeting and urged residents to become involved but cautioned, ”It’s going to be a long haul.”
The lighthouse, built between 1875 and 1878, stands in shallow water less than a mile from the Great Neck peninsula. It was fully automated, using solar power, in 1964, ending the need for it to be used as living quarters.
Contributions can be made and more information obtained by going to www.greatneckhistorical.org.

For more about the lighthouse restoration project, see our original story here.

Local Skaters Join Olympic Athletes

Ice_092014A (2)Rachel Breidbart, Tiffany McDowell and Rachel Woo, all from Great Neck, will join Olympians and National Champions on the ice at Ice Dreams, an Olympic Ice Show starring 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist Jason Brown and aspiring local skaters. The ice show is coming to Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Sept. 20.
Rachel Breidbart who is 12 years old; Tiffany McDowell who is 15 years old and Rachel Woo who is 8 years old will be skating in the world class show to celebrate the opening of the best figure skating facility Long Island has ever seen.
“Twin Rinks is proud to host this figure skating event which will feature some of the best figure skaters in the world, said Ron Friedman, owner of Twin Rinks. We welcome everyone to come visit our state of the art facility, located in Nassau County’s Eisenhower Park, to watch these athletes up close in what is sure to be an enjoyable evening on Sept. 20.”
Ice Dreams will feature some of the top figure skating talent in the US and Canada including National Champions John Coughlin and Caydee Denney, 2014 Olympic and World alternate & Long Island Native Samantha Cesario, 2014 Olympic Silver Medalist Dylan Moscovitch and International Competitor Liubov Ilyushechkina, US National Silver Medalists Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, Two-Time Canadian National Medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier and The Skyliners! The entertaining show also offers more than 100 young skaters from Nassau County and the surrounding area the chance to skate in the show on the same ice as their Olympic heroes.
“I am looking forward to performing in Ice Dreams with fellow Olympians and National Champions. I hope this show will inspire a young generation of skaters to achieve their Dreams,” said Brown, the Olympic Bronze Medalist.
“Nassau County is pleased to present this family-fun ice show,” said Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano. “Ice Dreams is a once in a lifetime opportunity that brings together Olympic, World and National skaters with young skaters from our community. This wonderful event promises to be an entertaining, inspiring and memorable event for our young skaters and our community.”
Youth skaters can sign up to skate in the show by visiting www.icedreamstour.com or by calling 212 600-4330. Tickets to the show can also be purchased online. 

Meet the Squirrels

Well, it looks like we must be pretty careful when it comes to checking out new neighbors these days. A long-time Great Neck family just discovered that a family of squirrels had moved into the neighborhood, not next door but right in their chimney.
Although the homeowners had been vigilant in protecting their home, even having chimney professionals put a cap on the chimney, the squirrels arrived anyway, unknown to any neighbors. While friends and family relaxed at the family pool just last week, someone noticed squirrels scurrying around the roof, in and out of the chimney.
Surprised, and more than a little concerned, the homeowner called their chimney experts, Certified Chimney Service; the workers arrived quickly.
Squirrel_081514AOwner Charles Mc Carthy told the Great Neck Record that instances where squirrels invade a chimney are “very common around here … if there’s no cap on the chimney, or no damper.”
McCarthy’s company repairs and rebuilds chimneys. And, in addition, they clean out chimneys. In this case, with the squirrels right at home, the workers found a three-foot nest of twigs, leaves and grass right inside the chimney, along with three newborn squirrels quietly nesting.
When McCarthy and his staff discovered the squirrels, the “frantic” mother squirrel was watching the event from a near-by tree and “in true mother fashion” went after the workers. “We had to beat her away,” McCarthy explained.
However, the men worked hard not to hurt the mother squirrel nor to hurt her babies. “We do this as humanly as possible,” McCarthy explained. The men removed the babies, who were no older than a day and still had no fur, and placed them in a box in the side yard. “We were hoping the mother will come back for them,” he added.
When the Record soon after went to take a photo of the babies, they were already gone. The expert was right, the mother had returned and moved her babies to a new nest.
McCarthy further explained that his business is always careful to remove the little wildlife and cause no harm. “I’ve read about people in other states getting into trouble with the law when they remove wildlife and cause injuries,” he said. “We don’t do that.”
So if you do have concerns over unwanted, furry new neighbors, Charles McCarthy and his company, Certified Chimney Service, can be reached at 516 822-0834.

Famous Great Neck Residents

chefThere have been a lot of famous faces living in Great Neck throughout the years. Here are dozens of celebrities who resided in Great Neck. 

Big Step For Rezoning Plans

An optimistic Mayor Ralph Kreitzman is looking toward October as a target date when the Village of Great Neck’s plan to revitalize the business district will be officially in place.
“It has taken a long time but I’m delighted that we’ve reached the stage that we’re at,” Kreitzman said after the latest public hearing regarding the proposed zoning changes, held at Village Hall last week. “It looks like we’re going to be able to come to a conclusion soon.”
“I’m very happy that the public has made numerous comments at the six or seven public hearings we’ve had,” he continued. “Community and developer input is critical and welcomed. I think we’re now finally getting close to concluding this. We’ll hopefully be able to act in our first meeting in October.”
VGNRezone_081514BStill to come is another public hearing on Tuesday evening, Aug. 19 on the plan, which involves making zoning changes to the business district on Middle Neck Road to create a new multi-family district on that street and a new townhome district on Steamboat Road. All of the provisions of the five actual bills up for approval, which cover everything from allowable business types, building heights and to parking spaces per residence, are directly aimed at making the village more “walkable,” i.e. increasing the number of residences that are within easy walking distance of businesses and stores
Kreitzman anticipates that a vote will be taken at the upcoming meeting to approve the mandated Environmental Assessment Form that has been prepared by the Village’s consultant, VHB Engineering. VHB’s Dave Schiff and his traffic specialist, Robert Eschbacher, were present at last week’s meeting to explain and interpret the report. “They’ve carefully studied everything,” Kreitzman said of VHB’s report. “They’ve come up with basically ‘no impact’ on traffic congestion and other matters.”
The extensive document, part of the required State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), covers over 40 pages and is viewable online at www.greatneckvillage.org under “Steamboat Road and Middle Neck Road Rezoning.” The report assesses a wide variety of possible impacts on the environment from water quality, to flooding possibilities, to air quality to how the project would affect local schools and transportation.
One section of the report states, in fact, “The project will not result in any large and important impact(s) and, therefore, is one which will not have a significant impact on the environment.”
VGNRezone_081514AOnce the Village officially adopts the report, the Nassau County Planning Commission has 30 days to consider the Village’s plans.
“They can make a number of decisions,” the Mayor explained in regard to Nassau’s role. “They can say that “we have no comment’ and that leaves it up to the municipality, they can make comments or they can vote against it. The board can still adopt it provided it’s done with super majority (four out of five votes). The bills themselves can’t be voted on until we hear back from the Commission.”
Public comments about the plan at last week’s meeting included one from builder and Great Neck Chamber of Commerce President Hooshang Nematzadeh who felt that the number of allowable townhomes per acre (15) should be increased to 17 or 18.
“We can still make changes,” Kreitzman commented in considering what Nematzadeh and others said at the meeting. “All of the comments were good. The comments were good because we need this kind input to consider all things.”
“You want to get this done,” he said of the process that began four years ago, ”but you don’t want to do it until you consider all of the input and all of the relevant factors. The bills before us are the results of all of the meetings and all of the comments.”
“We want to preserve the predominantly single family home nature of the village,” the Mayor added. “I don’t believe that any of these bills will change the nature of the village. We want to preserve the historic nature of the old village and to revitalize our downtown by condensing it and having more residential housing.”

Kindness Is Key At Kensington Deli

The Kensington Deli, which has been a Great Neck fixture since the 1960’s, just might be the kosher equivalent of TV’s Cheers signature description, “where everybody knows your name.”
Amid a constant stream of customers entering the long, narrow compact restaurant at 25A Middle Neck Rd., owner Paul Saberito and his staff seem to greet everyone by their first names and his clients, in turn, return the favor.
That’s exactly the way Saberito likes it, and that type of familiarity and friendliness is what he cites as a big reason behind the deli’s long running success.
“Friendly service,” says Saberito, “is what the sign says,” pointing to the plaque behind the counter, Enter As Strangers, leave as friends. “The secret is in treating our customers the way you would like to be treated when you go out to eat.”
“We have a very loyal customer base and we offer what I think is the finest quality that’s out there,” Saberito adds. “If I don’t have what the best is, I don’t know where it is. Shame on me if it’s out there and I don’t know about it!”

Ready To Serve: Kensington Deli staff members (l-r) Phil Sutton, owner  Paul Saberito, Mario Santos and Simon Tkach.

Ready To Serve: Kensington Deli staff members (l-r) Phil Sutton, owner
Paul Saberito, Mario Santos and Simon Tkach.

He also attributes his success to longtime employees, Phil Sutton, who serves as manager, Mario Santos and Simon Tkach. Sutton has been with him for 38 years and Santos is in his 34th year with Kensington.
The boss is quite proud of his longtime customer relationships. “What’s interesting is that I’m now seeing kids coming into the store with their own kids,” he says. “Their kids are now at the same age as they were when I first met them years ago. It’s a nice thing to experience.”
“We prepare our own corn beef, our own tongue, bake our own briskets, roast our roast beefs, make our own soups,” continued Saberito, who has been married to his wife, Paula, for 44 years and lives in Dix Hills. “Most of our stuff is hands on. We have high quality bread to go along with all of our offerings.”
Those who visit the kosher deli have a choice of stopping in the front at the takeout counter or sitting in one of several booths or on a stool at the counter. The menu features traditional sandwiches and what the deli calls “extra-heavy combination sandwiches” which offer a choice of two different meats. Side orders available include franks, knishes, French fries and potato salad.
Though the deli has been in the same spot since 1975, few Great Neck residents remember that the restaurant’s original location was by the Shell Station further up Middle Neck Road. Saberito worked there for the original owner, Oscar Rathaus, until a fire destroyed the business. “He wasn’t able to rebuild, so we looked for another location and found this one together,” Saberito explained. “I worked for Oscar when I was a student in high school in his deli in Bayside,” he explained. “I worked my way through college and did a few other things but always gravitated back toward the deli business. I always enjoyed it because I’ve always had a passion for food.”
“Back then the price of a hot dog was about 75 cents, now it’s $3.50. A sandwich was maybe $2 and now they’re upwards of $8 or so.”
Saberito’s signature sandwich is called “Paulie’s Special,” something he came up with 10 years ago. “It’s a baked brisket of beef, which is a prime piece of meat, which is slowly baked about three-and-a-half to four hours, where it’s really tender,” he said. “It’s sliced thin and it’s put on a special roll which we warm. We put an au jus sauce on it and a horse radish sauce which compliments the beef.”
Among the deli’s regular customers is TV personality and author, Bill O’Reilly. The late comedian Alan King often visited and Saberito remembers him fondly. “He mentioned us years ago when he did an interview,” Saberito recalled. “His remark about us was that when he was young, he couldn’t afford a corned beef sandwich. And now he’s at an age where it’s not good for him. But he always enjoyed coming in for the corned beef.”

Starstruck In Great Neck

With a major studio movie being filmed in Great Neck, the town is excitedly reclaiming its old nickname, “Hollywood East.”
Students and adults alike are eager to get a taste of the “Hollywood life.” On filming days, kids are lined outside North’s gates to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars on the set of The Outskirts: Victoria Justice (Victorious), Eden Sher (Weeds), Ashley Rickards (Awkward), Peyton List (Jessie), and Avan Jogia (Twisted).

Teen stars Victoria Justice and Ashley Rickards catch up with Brittany Namdar, Chelsea Namdar and Julia Hackman in Muddworks.

Teen stars Victoria Justice and Ashley Rickards catch up with Brittany Namdar, Chelsea Namdar and Julia Hackman in Muddworks.

“The cast is extremely nice about pictures and autographs. They give each fan their own moment and seem genuinely interested in our lives, too,” said Brian Attarian, a rising junior at Great Neck North. “I’ve seen Victoria Justice multiple times and, at this point, she remembers my name and past conversations.”
Surprisingly, Brian has had to question who is the bigger fan: he or his mother, Rita Khabbaza. “I was very excited to learn that Victoria Justice would be filming in Great Neck because I always joined the kids in watching her shows,” said Khabbaza. “I don’t know who was more excited to see her: me or my son.”

Peyton List poses with Brian Attarian after a workout.

Peyton List poses with Brian Attarian after a workout.

Students are often seen grinning anxiously by The Andrew Hotel, where some of the actors are staying. A team of middle schoolers is currently engaged in what they call “The Outskirts Challenge,” a competition to spot (and photograph, for evidence) the most stars. While some boys are lining up their pictures, others are running down Middle Neck Road frantically trying to find List at Bareburger or Justice in Gino’s.
“It is extremely cool having all these famous people staying in our town and having a movie filmed right at the high school. It brings a lot of excitement to Great Neck,” said Gabriela Carrasco, a student at North High.
Recently, Justice received a tweet suggesting, “Since you’re in Great Neck, I recommend you go to Café Kriza.” Sure enough, the pop idol visited the restaurant; there is a Facebook picture to prove it. Great Neck social media accounts are swamped with pictures and updates on production of the film.
Despite the blacked-out school windows, the film’s production company, BCDF, is harnessing the fan excitement. For weeks, emails circulated Great Neck asking for “background talent” submissions. Applicants were encouraged to come dressed as classic or modern high school stereotypes : “fantasy kids, skaters, K-pop, EMOs, Twihards, hipsters, techies, jocks, marching band, and popular kids.” The casting team reached out to North’s drama club, Junior Players, in the attempt to deliver an authentic high school feel. BCDF wants its fictitious “Richard Milhous Nixon High School” to come alive.

Gabriela Carrasco meets teen heartthrob  Avan Jogia.

Gabriela Carrasco meets teen heartthrob Avan Jogia.

The competition to be cast was fierce, and in the end, only five Great Neck residents were selected. Joshua Yaminian, a Great Neck North graduate who made the cut, had his eyes opened: “People, including myself before I was an extra, think acting is easy, but as I participated, I realized that acting is much harder than people think.” He was surprised to learn film work has many dull moments. “Most people do not realize that the hours can go up to and even surpass 13 hours a day,” he said. “This could be for five or six consecutive days.” Yaminian hinted at a cameo by Great Neck North’s Assistant Principal, Dr. Daniel Krauz.
“I was asked to be in two scenes. The actors were terrific, kind, and thoughtful. They could easily be students at North High,” said Krauz, confirming his evanescent role. “You will need to look fast to see me.” The assistant principal joked that although acting was a great experience, he will not be leaving his day job anytime soon.
It is not just actors getting in on the action; the film gives homeowners an opportunity to showcase their homes. In June, BCDF set its locations department loose on the North Shore. Many Great Neck homeowners were sent letters of potential interest from locations scout Greg Morrison. BCDF is offering a location fee as well as a certificate of insurance to selected homes.
Even those who won’t be in the film are enthralled with the chance to rub elbows with the famous. Celebrity stalking has become something of a local sport.
“It is so much fun to watch behind the scenes and bump into the cast while walking around town,” mentioned Korin Saghezi, a Great Neck resident eager to see the final movie.
As a whole, students are surprised to learn that their television heroes are just like them. “You see these figures on TV or listen to their music online, but seeing them in person proves how normal they are despite their abnormal lifestyle,” Attarian explained
This isn’t the first time Great Neck has served a production crew. Back in 2008, the district hosted the cast and crew of Harold and, more recently, Great Neck played the backdrop for This Is Where I Leave You and Affluenza. With major studio sets reappearing all over town, it was only a matter of time before Great Neck recovered its old, but fitting title.

Can’t wait for The Outskirts movie? Read more about the film here.

Always Something New In The Plaza

The Great Neck Record is excited to feature one of our villages each week this summer.

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender

In Great Neck Plaza and its bustling downtown business and shopping area, there is always something new. Mayor Jean Celender is bubbling with news of village enhancement plans.
The Plaza is continuing its popular weekly Summer Concerts in the Park and Promenade Nights, bringing a host of musicians to perform live right in town, and featuring unique restaurants. “It’s a community block party,” boasts the mayor.
Adding to the fun, the Plaza is proud to welcome the first LI suburban outlet of the international coffeehouse chain Caffé Bene, which will soon open. It was the first for Starbucks 20 years ago.
With the majority of the Plaza’s downtown area within a half-mile of Great Neck’s train station, the village has adopted Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) zoning to encourage mixed-use developments near mass transportation. TODs raise transit ridership, cut car trips and provide apartments that don’t necessitate an automobile. Celender was recently interviewed by the Rauch Foundation on “Building a Better Burb” to discuss TOD zoning, as well as safety, parking, and revitalization.
Celender reports the Board is eager for even more sustainable projects—that don’t overburden existing facilities but allow for growth to increase jobs and stabilize taxes. Plaza officials hope that, as elsewhere, TOD zoning will mean more residents shopping in downtown retail stores and restaurants.
They are also considering a proposal by a long-time real estate development firm with properties in the Plaza to renovate a one-story retail building on Middle Neck Road at Maple Drive into a four-story mixed-use building under TOD zoning. The ground level would house a retail shop, with residences on the upper floors.
Celender reports that many prospective businesses filed applications for conditional use permits this summer. This month, a Salute to New Merchants will recognize approximately 30 businesses that opened or expanded in the Plaza within the last year.
Great Neck Plaza Village Hall is at 2 Gussack Plaza. Celender heads the board of trustees, plus Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen and trustees Lawrence Katz, Pamela Marksheid and Gerald Schneiderman.

Udalls Mill Pond Dredged

The “flora and fauna” of Great Neck’s Udalls Pond have returned, after a major dredging project.
“It’s pretty much complete now,” reported Ed Galvin of Galvin Brothers Construction on Steamboat Road in Great Neck. “Wildlife is returning.”
udalls_pond_1 The county provided funds to improve drainage in the area and clean up the pond, which is supplied by waters running around the Great Neck Library and under the 9/11 Memorial Bridge to the Saddle Rick Grist Mill. The county decision to restore the pond and the surrounding area was years in the making, slightly delayed by Superstorm Sandy.
“We dredged the pond to create a new depth,” Galvin told the Great Neck Record, explaning that the deeper bottom and resulting higher water level will encourage new growth. Phase I of the restoration included dredging on the pond’s east and west sides, as well as wetlands restoration. Phase II consisted of finishing the dredging, repairing the weir, installing the fish ladder and finishing all other components. Galvin Bros. has a two-year grace period and during that time they will make any necessary changes.
Preparation started in October 2011, with the staging of equipment and site preparation moving ahead. At that time, county officials said that Udalls Pond would play a vital role in the watershed by serving as a repository for water runoff and preventing flooding. It was also thought that the pond would support more wildlife and provide a safe haven for migratory birds.
The story of the dredging project began in 2007 when the late Saddle Rock Village Mayor Leonard Samansky filed an official request with the county to restore the pond. When Judi Bosworth became a county legislator, she took up the cause and worked to convince fellow legislators and county officials that it was a much needed capital project in Great Neck.
At that time it was also noted that the pond was fringed with invasive plants that were so thick and tough that they crowded out other plants. This has become common in waterfront vistas and is an indicator of disturbed environments. The invasive plants were dug up and native plants planted. Native plants were selected not only to enhance aesthetics of the plantings for all seasons, but to provide seeds and berries for birds and other wildlife.
“It looks beautiful,” Galvin said.

Great Neck Plaza Promenade

Were you spotted at the Great Neck Plaza Promenade? Take a look at some friendly faces from the event.

(Photos by Margaret Tumino Mills)