By Kyle Barr
“We have become the dumping ground of Smithtown,” is being repeated by Nesconset residents, almost like a mantra. Now, they are banding together to form a new civic group.
The Nesconset Civic Association held its first general meeting April 19 at the Nesconset branch of The Smithtown Public Library. The members of the new association said they have felt the character of their town is slipping away due to unwanted development and increased traffic.
“We’re not against development, we’re just for sensible development,” Vice President Sal Romeo said. “We want development that takes in the quality of life.”
Its members first met in the fall of 2017 at an informal meeting where they discussed traffic and development problems in Nesconset. A core group of like-minded people started a plan to make their voices heard. News of the proposed 7-Eleven at the southeast corner of Nichols Road and Smithtown Boulevard, at the site of the former Capital One bank, served as a catalyst for the group to organize.
“We feel that Smithtown has not been listening to us and they’ve used Nesconset as their dumping ground.”
– Phyllis Hart
Several members have complained that there was already a 7-Eleven located approximately one-tenth of a mile west on Smithtown Boulevard and another would negatively affect traffic patterns on an already congested road.
“In terms of increased traffic, in terms of the structure proceeding without a full debate, it was something that we were very against, and it resonated,” said James Bouklas, president of the civic association.
Bouklas pointed out that 7-Eleven already has 13 convenience stores within the Town of Smithtown, with two other locations in Nesconset.
While there are two other area civic associations, the Nesconset Civic members said they plan to be laser-focused on their town’s issues and what they perceive are its modern problems of overdevelopment, traffic and underrepresentation in town government.
“We are the forgotten hamlet,” board member Marie Gruick said. “They are concentrated on developing Kings Park, St. James, everything but us. What I would like to see is something that draws people to the community, not these 7-Elevens or foot massage places.”
Phyllis Hart said she moved to Nesconset in 1994 because she saw it as quiet and rural. But since then, Hart said she feels those qualities have been slowly stripped away and pleas to elected officials have gone unheard.
“We feel that Smithtown has not been listening to us and they’ve used Nesconset as their dumping ground,” she said. “You don’t see this development in St. James or Kings Park. We don’t have a main street and I feel that that’s what’s holding us back.”
Nesconset resident Gerald Abualy said that the traffic on Nichols Road has gotten worse since he moved there in 1991. He said drivers constantly go 30 mph over the speed limit, causing frequent accidents and
imposing danger to him and his neighbors.
“My feeling is that we couldn’t get anybody from town to listen to us and we’re hoping that a new administration, a new set of eyes, new set of ears, new set of hands and feet on the ground, maybe they’ll listen to what we have to say.”
Overall, the Nesconset Civic Association members said they want to be more involved in the decisions town officials make. They want their voices and opinions to be heard.
“Our point is, think about what you’re doing, think about how it affects us, and we want to be part of the discussion,” Bouklas said.
The organization’ goals include getting the town to perform a traffic study of Nesconset and become more involved in the master plan being drawn up for the Town of Smithtown.