“Highlight of My Life — My Long Island column this week

My syndicated column running this week in newspapers and on websites on Long Island. This is how it appears in The Southampton Press and The East Hampton Press.

A Part Of History

By Karl Grossman

It was a highlight of my life. Dennis Fabiszak, director of the East Hampton Library, sent an email last month saying: “I have great news. Your archive is now live. We currently have 3,401 documents included, and we are scanning every day.” It included a link: easthamptonlibrary.org/long-island-history/karl-grossman-research-archive/.

What a thrill! After 55 years as a journalist on Long Island, all my files,­thousands of articles and what historians call “primary documents” ­are being digitized by the East Hampton Library to be available to anyone on Long Island and indeed the world.

They chronicle the modern history of Long Island, which I’ve covered from 1962 to the present, for most of the years as an investigative reporter and columnist. My now nearly 50-year-old column, begun at the daily Long Island Press, has, since The Press folded in 1977, run in weekly newspapers and now also on news websites.

The material amassed id derived, too, from my work as nightly news anchor on the island’s commercial TV station, WSNL67, as host of “Long Island World” on its PBS station, WLIW21, and chief investigative reporter at WVVH50, “Hamptons TV.”

It’s a great honor to donate all the material to the East Hampton Library. The title of the archive: “Karl Grossman Research Archive.”

I’ve had a front-row seat as Long Island has exploded in population and gone through many changes­ while, so fortunately, preserving much of its beautiful nature and the charm of its communities.

Some examples of what you and others can now start to access digitally:

Robert Moses was hell-bent between 1962 and 1964 on building a highway the length of Fire Island but was stopped by creation of a Fire Island National Seashore. I was in the middle of this story. All the documents, ­Mr. Moses’s declarations, the statements of Citizens Committee for a Fire Island National Seashore­, and many, many articles, are all there.

There were three major campaigns for the secession of the East End of Long Island from Suffolk County to form a separate Peconic County, and there are records of these drives. The first, in the 1960s, was led by Shelter Island Town Supervisor Evans K. Griffing; the second, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, by then-State Assemblyman John Behan of Montauk; and the third, in the 1990s, by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor.

The establishment by New York State of Stony Brook University was mired in “town=gown” conflict with some in the nearby area objecting to the university and its students. This culminated in an army of Suffolk County Police streaming onto the campus at 5 a.m. on January 17, 1968, in a raid I covered called “Operation Stony Brook.” The police put out a 107-page manual ­in my files ­identifying student after student as a purveyor of drugs, mostly marijuana. One of the cops whose undercover activities, hanging out with Stony Brook students, led to the raid would later remark: “We were the first police department that ever had the nerve to hit a university.”

There are voluminous records and articles on a huge Suffolk scandal of the 1970s: the $1 billion Southwest Sewer District project. With sewering on again here, they offer lessons.

The Long Island Lighting Company spent decades seeking to build seven to 11 nuclear power plants with Shoreham the first. There are thousands of records of this ultimately defeated scheme to make Long Island what nuclear promoters called a “nuclear park.” I also wrote a book published by Grove Press on this nuclear push, titled “Power Crazy.”

With development pressures intense, Suffolk County created an extraordinary Open Space Program, the largest land acquisition undertaking of any county in the United States, and a first-in-the-nation Farmland Preservation Program. Many documents and articles about them are in the files.

There was the scam about building a “deepwater port” in Jamesport. Excavation on a square mile of land along the Long Island Sound was proceeding full-tilt by 1970. But, in fact, what was involved was a gigantic sand mine, ­no port. I received the George Polk Award for my journalism’s role in stopping this.

Then LILCO bought the land for four of its planned nuclear plants. And this was stopped in the 1980s. I was deep as a journalist in this phase of the saga, too. The land is happily now the site of Hallockville State Park.

If you’d like to support this archive project, please contact Mr. Fabiszak, at dennis@easthamptonlibrary.org, or call him at 631-324-0222, extension 7.

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Karl Grossman, a resident of Noyac, is a journalism educator, author and award-winning journalist who has written “Suffolk Closeup,” focusing on local and regional issues, for nearly 50 years. His email address is kgrossman@hamptons.com.