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Legislature Names County Road 39 for Buzz Schwenk

Brendan O'Reilly
Southampton Patch

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Suffolk County Legislature named County Road 39 in Southampton after the late Edwin "Buzz" Schwenk, a businessman, political leader and preservationist.

Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) introduced the legislation in November to rename the highway.

"I wanted to show my sincere respect and admiration for Edwin 'Buzz' Schwenk and his dedication, efforts and commitment to the residents of the county by naming County Road 39 in his memory," Schneiderman was quoted as saying in a press release Nov. 9.

Schwenk, a Southampton native, died on Dec. 17, 2009 at the age of 86. He had run Schwenk's Dairy and had convenience stores throughout the county. He also served on the board of directors of the Tink National Bank and started his own public relations firm in 1978, Omnibuzz Associates, according to Schneiderman's release. Additionally, Schwenk was a legislative liaison and, later, the executive director of the LI Building Institute.

Schwenk was also directly involved with the creation of the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act, which created the third largest land preserve in the state of New York "and ended years of expensive legislation for the building industry while protecting, in perpetuity, a sole source aquifer," the release states.

In 1998 Schwenk spearheaded the passage of the Community Preservation Act, which established a 2 percent real estate transfer tax to preserve open space and recreational land. The Community Preservation Fund has preserved thousands of acres on the East End, the release notes.

Of all the options the county had to honor Schwenk, Schneiderman said he chose to name County Road 39 after him because of Schwenk's advocacy for improvements to the highway, which had been marred by morning traffic delays that turned what should have been 15-minute commutes into hour-long affairs, or longer.

A new eastbound lane was opened in April 2008, drastically alleviating traffic.

"Buzz was a key ally in obtaining the improvements to County Road 39, which broke the bottle neck and allowed traffic to flow," Schneiderman said.

The official name of County Road 39 is now "The Edwin M. 'Buzz' Schwenk Memorial Highway."