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Park Plans Cause Friction in South Setauket [POLL]

Plan pits some residents against the South Setauket Park Advisory Board.

A plan to raze a vegetated lot in South Setauket Park to expand an existing park is drawing criticism from some who say it will only create problems and praise from others who say it will enhance the quality of life in the community.

The South Setauket Park Advisory Board, which created the plan, is calling for a 230-foot by 170-foot grassy lot with picnic tables that would serve as a great place to "throw a frisbee, fly a kite, play soccer etc. with your children and grandchildren," according to a letter to residents published on the board's website. The park area, which would amount to just under one acre, would be located behind the current park area that features a gazebo and some benches along Strathmore Village Drive.

According to its letter, the Advisory Board downsized the plan from a previous proposal of a 300-foot by 150-foot area based on feedback it received from some community members. The plan includes the preservation of natural buffers around the park, and does not include plans for athletic fields or parking lots. The South Setauket Park Special District has a budget of around $14,500 for projects outside of routine maintenance, landscaping, irrigation, and administrative costs; the district has an annual budget of approximately $40,000, which is funded by a $59 fee each South Setauket Park household pays each year.

The plan for a park has angered some nearby residents.

"The people [on] Strathmore Village Drive will have to contend with the increase of noise and vandalism," said Gail Casano, a resident of Strathmore Village Drive for 38 years.

She said she is concerned that to use the park area, residents will likely park on the street in an already heavily trafficked part of the community where stop signs are often ignored. She cited past vandalism to the gazebo as another reason why she said the expansion is a bad idea. And, she said, "There’s no promise that only residents can use the park."

Another neighbor, Richard Harrison, said he also objects to the park.

"I think we have enough parks in the area that we don’t need to destroy what should be considered a wildlife sanctuary," he said. "We don’t live in apartment buildings. We all have large enough properties where we can picnic and barbeque in our own yards."

However, not everyone is opposed to the idea.

"It would be a good idea that would maybe bring the community closer together," said Larry Perlmutter, who has lived in South Setauket more than 30 years.

Nearby resident Edward Good called the park a great idea. "It would have multiple uses," he said. "Right now it's just wasted land."

Harrison noticed town workers clearing the lot in May, and said he had not received any prior notices from the Advisory Board regarding the creation of parkland out of a vegetated lot. He called the town, which then stopped clearing the land.

"We got a temporary cease over here, but this is the beginning of a fight," Harrison said.

Armin Olivieri, a member of the South Setauket Park Advisory Board, said in an email to Patch that the community's 671 households were notified at least once in May – some as many as three other times since then – and said the board received a negative response from less than 1 percent of those households.

The South Setauket Park Advisory Board is a group of nine board members appointed by the Town of Brookhaven. According to Olivieri, it was created by town resolution in 2000 in order to advise the town board of the residents' needs and desires, guide the special district's expenditures, and determine new projects within the special district.

Over the years there have been other attempts to create a park at this site, most recently in 1999, when a community vote was held. Olivieri said the community voted in favor of the park at that time, but said the plans were never carried out because the actual cost would have been much higher than the projected cost and the community did not want to incur any additional expenses.

"Since the current plan is simple and basic, falls within the limitations of the advisory board responsibility and operating budget, we do not believe it warrants a community vote," Olivieri said.

Brian Beedenbender, the town's deputy chief of staff, said those on both sides of the issue are currently canvassing the neighborhood with petitions.

"We’re holding off until we get a clear understanding from this community," Beedenbender said. "We’ll move forward if a majority of people want it done."

Chris Bonadonna July 12, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Chris It's obvious that the people who are in favor of the park do not live adjacent to it like me! What would be your feelings if it was next to YOUR backyard. Ask the people who live next to the new ballfield how they like that idea. This is not about a few minor concerns. This is about those who are directly affected by it. I bought my house because it was next to the woods and I paid a premium for it. Unfortunately as Bill stated, it is very political and the board seems to have their own agenda. Using votes from anyone not near the land is as political as it gets. Of course we will be out numbered and they know it. And btw- it's true. We were not notified until it was too late.
Cindy July 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Unless you live adjacent or across from this area you don't care. I learned that along time ago. Has anyone counted how many cars sit along Strathmore Village Drive during "movie night", or for the pumpkin picking or tree lighting ceremonies? I do and it is alot. I don't see anyone walking to these events. Hope you all enjoy yourselves at my expense.
INFORMED TAXPAYER August 31, 2012 at 03:29 PM
At a meeting last night on the lawn in front of the gazebo, the advisory board members finally got a taste for how the residents most affected by the proposed picnic area really feel. Simply stated, the message was that it isn't needed and is a bad idea to start with! It was obvious that the board members were unprepared for the onslaught of negative comments from the concerned citizens! It should now be very obvious to the town officials that were there, that the board members misrepresented the level of support for the project. Hopefully, both the town and the board would agree that the money for the picnic area would be better spent on sidewalks and speed control on Strathmore Village Drive. In fact if a camera system were installed at each stop sign, it might go a long way to stop the drivers who just blow through the signs routinely!
joe blow November 02, 2012 at 09:05 AM
well i think that a park would be a great idea cause we used to have a bmx track in ther and it just got bulldosed down what a bumer for all the children groing up around hear i think that we need a park or something like a bike tracklike the have on sheepastuer y caint they do some thing like that it would be great for people all agesi think that we should utilize the land for something productive well im just one person but i think that it would be a greart walking trail paved for walking and bikes thats my oppinion
joe blow November 02, 2012 at 09:21 AM
and whaat is this in the corner saying that the flagis inappropriate i realy hope you are not talking about the american flag cause if you are you shouldent even live in this area pack youbags bill

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