Rocky Point chamber and civic team up to aid pocket park

Rocky Point chamber and civic team up to aid pocket park

Rocky Point's chamber and civic associations partnered to protect a local park. Photo by Kyle Barr

A small park behind Tilda’s Bake Shop in Rocky Point has had a rocky history.

For years, the park was managed and maintained by the local businesses. Ed Maher, the owner of Tilda’s Bake Shop, had seen both the worst and best years of the pocket park, taking care of it with little thanks. He has seen the park flourish to seeing it being used by homeless people and vandals. The playset had to be replaced when the first was “destroyed.” There was lighting underneath the large open structure to the rear of the park, but that was vandalized, along with tables, benches and water fountains. Though for the past few years the only issue has been keeping up maintenance, cleaning and taking care of overgrown shrubbery, he finds there isn’t enough help to get the park to where it could be.

Ed Maher, the owner of Tilda’s Bake Shop, speaks of the history of the pocket park behind his store. Photo by Kyle Barr

“This park has seen a lot of good days, and a number of times where it wasn’t so good here,” Maher said. “There aren’t a lot of people watching all the time, and we’re dropping the dime.” 

Now hopes are high for a new era for the small park through a combined effort with the Rocky Point Civic Association and the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce, announced at a special July 2 meeting between both groups.

“With the chamber supporting the economic engine,” said Gary Pollakusky, the chamber president, “the civic can engineer the volunteer and community participation.”

With this new agreement, the chamber promises to handle the financial end of the park, including paying for the park’s insurance, maintenance, operations and inspiring events while the civic would engineer and support the community aspect, whether it’s getting people organized for park cleanups or for various events.

Wayne Farley, civic president, said the civic was approached by the business leaders who were tired of taking care of park maintenance all by themselves.

“What that entails is for us to maintain the park in a clean and appropriate manner for the community to use,” Farley said. “It would be a shame to lose this park. It’s not a very big part of the community right now but it very well could be.”

For years the park has been supported by multiple community groups and members. The land is owned by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that is leased to the community, according to Brookhaven town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point). She added the park is “a diamond in the rough,” that very few communities have access to such a park “that their use is their vision, rather than a cookie cutter government vision.”

Pollakusky said Rocky Point-based landscaping company Bakewicz Enterprises Inc. is donating its time for cleanup of the grassy areas of the park. The chamber is handling the costs of insurance and maintenance. Total cost for the first insurance check was $802, while bi-weekly maintenance is approximately $50 to $80.

“There aren’t a lot of people watching all the time, and we’re dropping the dime.”

— Ed Maher

Police who attended the July 2 meeting said that while there wasn’t any active routine patrol checks at the park, with a formal request, it could become active again. 

Civic leaders added the park could be of interest, especially with the anticipated Rails to Trails project, which would create a hiking and biking trail from Wading River to Mount Sinai. While the trail would cut along north of the park, parents could have the opportunity to travel south along Broadway to make use of the playground.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) who has been at the head of the Rails to Trails project, said construction is expected to begin sometime in the fall, though they do not yet know at which end of the trail construction might start.

Pollakusky and Farley said they expect to continue this kind of partnership into
the future.

“When you see all the families out there, playing on the equipment, it makes it all worth it,” Maher said. “If we maintain this, it can be a beautiful park.”

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