The Sept. 29 Brookhaven Town Board meeting seemed to provide proof of Margaret Mead’s assertion: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Homeowners from the Strathmore M-section of Stony Brook were in attendance at the meeting, again seeking help to retain sycamore trees on their streets, which had been marked for removal by the Highway Department in preparation for repaving several roads. They listened as town Attorney Annette Eaderesto gave a statement at the beginning of the meeting.
Referencing the residents’ concerns, expressed at the Sept. 1 board meeting, Eaderesto said, “The supervisor directed the Law office and [the Division of] Land Management to get involved in this situation,” explaining that John Turner [the town’s open space program coordinator] visited the area, took many pictures and also took pictures of other roads, which had been paved using curb bump-outs, so that the trees would be saved.
“The project is totally on hold now,” Eaderesto said. “Your trees are not in danger.”
She added she had confirmed the hold with the deputy supervisor of highways, Steve Tricarico. Further, she indicated that Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) would put forth a resolution at the next Town Board meeting, which will establish a “tree committee” so situations like this will not recur in the future. “There’ll be much more communication,” she said. Eaderesto’s statement was met with audience applause.
“We’ll be dealing with a solar code that will not allow any solar [projects] to be done by taking down trees,” Romaine said. “We think Brookhaven should stay as green as it possibly can.”
Eight speakers addressed the board regarding the progress made on retaining the trees. Most of them expressed gratitude to the board, the supervisor and the town attorney for listening and responding to their pleas.
The organizers of this community effort are cautiously optimistic.
“We were surprised [by the town attorney’s statement],” said Susan Ackerman. “We’d like to find out specifics before we truly relax. What is the plan for the M-section?”
While the residents want to preserve the healthy, mature trees in the M-section, Ackerman said she’d also like to see a more modern paving policy throughout Brookhaven town.
“We had so much stuff we were going to say [at the board meeting],” said M-section homeowner Tom Caputo. “We think it was good [referring to the town attorney’s statement], but we’re still walking on eggshells.”
They both plan to watch the Sept. 29 board meeting video online, so they can listen closely to Eaderesto’s words.
“The paving project is on hold while we evaluate all of the options available to minimize disruptions to the neighborhood, while improving our infrastructure,” wrote the office of town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) in an email statement.