By Bea Ruberto
Sound Beach, nestled between Miller Place and Rocky Point, had a population of 7,612 as of 2010. When I first became involved with the Sound Beach Civic Association, I often heard that our hamlet was forgotten by all levels of government. I can honestly say that in recent years, this has begun to change. Among other projects, the Town of Brookhaven was instrumental in revitalizing Echo Avenue and paving this road to lower Rocky Point Road and is currently working on restoring the East Beach.
Several years ago, Suffolk County recognized the need for better bus service through Sound Beach and added two new runs of the 5A. Now, they’re getting ready to take this back and more — eliminate the 5A. This will mean there will be no service north of 25A and east of Echo Avenue. The only “service” will be the S62, which skirts our community and only runs twice a day — in the a.m. eastbound and p.m. westbound — to allow people to get to Suffolk County offices during rush hour.
Suffolk County is planning to eliminate eight routes throughout the system to help close a looming $78 million deficit, and, yes, the 5A is not a busy route, but it is the only public transportation in Sound Beach. People use this to get to work and to doctors’ appointments and to connect with other routes in Port Jefferson and Middle Island. In addition, an increasingly aging population may need to do things as basic as get to the grocery store. At this point, I don’t use the bus system, but, having just turned 70, I foresee a time in the not-too-distant future when I may need to give up my car.
According to the county, in some cases there may be alternate routes for passengers. In Sound Beach, this only applies to those living within walking distance of 25A, and most Sound Beachers live too far to walk to 25A. In other cases, existing routes may be altered to cover key destinations on the routes subject to elimination.
We then ask that the route of the 5A be modified instead of eliminated.
Barring this, perhaps the S62 can be modified so that it runs through Sound Beach proper and more often than once in the morning and once in the evening.
Public hearings on this will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. on the following dates/locations:
• Thursday, Sept. 8, Riverhead Legislative Auditorium, Evans K. Griffing Building, 300 Center Drive, Riverhead.
• Friday, Sept. 9, Hauppauge Legislative Auditorium, W. H. Rogers Building, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Smithtown.
Written comments may be submitted up to five days following the hearings to Suffolk County Transit, 335 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank 11980-9774.
Members of the Sound Beach Civic Association will attend the Sept. 8 meeting. If this route is removed, it won’t be easy to get the service back. We urge everyone in Sound Beach to join us whether you ride the bus or not. We will also be crafting a written comment that will be made available for use by the community. For more information, to get a copy of the written comment or if you need a ride to the Sept. 8 meeting, email Rubertob11789@aol.com or call 631-744-6952.
Bea Ruberto is a Sound Beach resident and current president of the Sound Beach Civic Association.