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January 28, 2008

A Solar Home on Long Island

Filed under: Sustainable Long Island by Bill @ 6:03 am

solar home smallI received a letter Frank Mruk, the associate dean for the School of Architecture and Design at New York Institute of Technology, asking for help finding a permanent Long Island location for OPEN House, a solar/geothermal home built by his students at NYIT.

The home was constructed as their 2007 entry in the Department of Energy’s annual Solar Decathlon and took 12th place coming in ahead of MIT and Cornell.

Back in the late 70’s I remember gas lines and countless magazine articles about the rapid development of alternative energy sources, solar seeming the most promising. Yet here we are almost half a century later and nothing has changed. We’re still burning fossil fuels like mad. It’s like we’ve learned nothing from that horrible experience.

OPEN House, constructed by the students at NYIT
Deriving all of it’s energy needs from the sun, OPEN House is both efficient and beautiful

Coincidently, a 2 hour special about oil was broadcast on the History Channel last night. “Crude” featured several prominent oil geologists whose calculations show that oil production has peaked and will now begin a slow, but steady decline. This sounds like hype, but it isn’t. Barring any significant new discoveries we will see a steady decline in production and a corresponding increase in energy prices.

So it’s nice to see Long Islanders like Frank and his students developing alternative energy sources into something we can actually use. OPEN House, is not only fully energy independent, but also captures enough solar energy to power an electric car, and is both “attractive and affordable enough for mainstream America.”

Frank writes:

Currently the house is back in Old Westbury and looking for a long term home. The school has been considering many options including proposals from many towns and private individuals both on Long Island and across the country.

To the NYIT students, the competition had a very specific mission to support the advancement of alternative and renewable energy solutions, promote a green, clean and sustainable environment and to communicate the viability of solar technology to the public on Long Island and around the world.

The students believe the best way to achieve their mission is to use the house to fund the next iteration of the competition.

The next phase of the competition is currently scheduled for October 2009. The institute plans to make a decision on the final site for the home by February 2008.

He also notes that a good location for the home might be in one of Long Island’s vineyards–Perhaps a small plot sale/lease situation where both NYIT and the vineyard can use the home for events.

Any inquires can be directed to:
Frank Mruk AIA, RIBA
Associate Dean
New York Institute of Architecture
School of Architecture and Design
fmruk (at)

For more information about solar energy on Long Island see:

January 19, 2008

Seaford Dock

Filed under: Photo's,Sand, Sea & Sky,Secret Places by Bill @ 10:03 am

Seaford Dock SignWell, that’s not what it was called when I was a kid. At that time I don’t think it even had a name. It was just a plot of land where people kept boats and guys like Captain Eddy, Pops, and Catfish Max rented small outboard powered boats to weekend fisherman hoping to catch some flounder in the bay.

These days, it’s a park with cute little restaurant next door, and one of the places I like to visit when I need some time on the water. So, yesterday I picked up some burgers from All American, which is just a few blocks away, and went to the dock. It was a perfect lunch hour.

Plenty of benches in the park.

There’s a garden in the middle of the park
And a very nice garden in the center.

After lunch I stopped in at the appropriately named Parkside Café. I’ve never eaten here, but it seems promising. Kaitlyn, the Friday night bartender, told me that the food is excellent and because of its small size, reservations are definitely recommended. Look for a full review from me when the weather gets nice enough to enjoy the waterside seating. (More about Long Island restaurants.)

Bar and dining room
With only about 8 tables this is one of the smallest Long Island restaurants I’ve ever seen.

Seaford dock is located at the end of Sand’s Lane off Seamen’s Neck Road. Now as rustic as it may appear, you don’t want to drive on Sand’s Lane. It’s a very narrow, private road that’s not maintained very well. You’ll sink into potholes and roadside shrubs will scratch your car. It’s also a one-way street leading out of the park, not in.

a very narrow road
The hedges will do a number on your paint job and you’ll bottom out in the potholes.

The only way to get to Seaford Dock is Seamen’s Neck Road to Atlantic View to Archer to Alder.

January 10, 2008

Workers on the Waterfront

Filed under: Art,Photo's by Bill @ 9:25 pm

Joe Angevine: HarbormasterI was surfing the back issues of Edible East End this morning and read about an excellent series of photos by photographer Juliana Thomas.

Her project, “On the Edge: Workers on the Waterfront” captures images of people in Greenport, Long Island who earn their living “at the bitter end of a long maritime tradition.”

The 21 photographs in the series are stunning and are accompanied by a short description of how each of the subjects earns their living. Fishermen, dock builders, artists, mechanics, all manor of maritime craftsmen are presented here.

It’s no secret that Long Island’s maritime traditions are on the wane and it really is nice to see people working to preserve them. Not only the artists like Juliana who preserve though documentation, but the tradesmen themselves who preserve by doing, and refuse to give up even when under severe economic pressure.

Having grown up near the water I’m a sucker for maritime sentimentality and these pictures really get me. I’d love to have each one of them hanging on a wall somewhere in my house.

See them here:
On the Edge: Workers on the Waterfront

And here’s a picture of my own.

This is my son, Joe hauling a scallop dredge on his boat last winter. He’s got the bug too and has been working as a commercial fisherman for about 4 years now.

It isn’t easy. The winters are brutal and the pay is not good. The weather can turn in a flash and he’s had his share of close calls.

But I have to say, I get jealous on a beautiful spring day when he’s on his boat and I’m stuck in a cube. On the other hand, I’m always warm, I’m not risking my life, and I can call in sick every now and then.

Joe and scallop dredge

January 6, 2008

Sunset on the Connetquot River

Filed under: Photo's,Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 11:23 pm

I caught this sunset from a dock on the Connetquot River. It’s January so ice near the shore is not unusual. If we get a good cold snap the river will freeze from shore to shore. I’ll post some pictures if that happens.

In spite of it’s width, the river is only about 6 miles long. The water is brackish becoming fresher towards the headwaters on it’s northern end and salty on the southern end where it empties into the Great South Bay.

But more importantly the Connetquot River is beautiful, and another reason why I love Long Island so much.

Sunset and Ice

January 2, 2008

A Park on the Connetquot River

Filed under: Photo's,Sand, Sea & Sky,Secret Places by Bill @ 5:28 pm

One of my favorite things to do on Long Island’s cold winter days is get in my car, grab a cup of coffee, and sit by the water. The colder the weather, the better. Snow and ice, better still. Some of you will think I’m crazy, but a good many will understand exactly where I’m coming from. An old pair of binoculars that I keep in the car makes it all the more interesting.

There’s not a lot going on on the water in the winter. You’ll see gulls and other wildlife and the occasional commercial fishing boat dredging crabs or bay scallops. I just like to sit there and enjoy the scenery.

On the south shore of Long Island where I live, there are plenty of places to do this. Today I went to a tiny park on the southern end of the Connetquot River. Located on the edge of the Timber Point Country Club, this is one of countless, nameless parks in Nassau and Suffolk counties that we are blessed with.

Here are some pictures…

Street View

Road leading into park

looking toward the snapper inn

looking southeast

overlooking the park


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