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Jack Krieger

Graphic from the town website: https://www.brookhavenny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/29593/Brookhaven-Proposed-Districts-2022

The Town of Brookhaven has released its first proposed map to reapportion the Brookhaven Town Council. 

Last week, the town’s appointed bipartisan redistricting committee disbanded after failing to adopt an official map for the six council districts. Without a recommendation from the committee, the Town Board is now responsible for redrawing the district lines.

Following the dissolution of the redistricting committee, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) met with the six representatives on the Town Council to discuss their priorities for the new map. 

Jack Krieger, the town’s communications director, offered a statement outlining the methodology used to arrive at this new proposal. The supervisor could not be reached for comment.

“Over the course of the last several months, more than a dozen public hearings were held across the town by the Brookhaven Redistricting [Committee] in an open, transparent and public process,” Krieger said. “At these meetings, in emails to the [committee], and in local media, numerous residents, civic associations and community leaders voiced their concerns and opinions as to what newly created districts should include, and what they should not.” The communications director added, “The map that will be voted on includes numerous elements from these suggestions.”

In an exclusive interview, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) offered some points he raised during his conversation with the supervisor. 

“The supervisor outlined a couple of his priorities, like keeping communities together and making as few changes as possible,” Kornreich said. “Another one that he expressed, which I didn’t happen to agree with, was getting as close to zero [percent deviation] as possible.” The councilmember added, “As long as it’s legal, as long as it’s within the tolerance, that [zero deviation] is just not as important to me. The other criteria are more important.”

One of the reasons for the outpouring of public resistance throughout the committee hearings was a general fear of dividing communities of interest across political boundaries and consequently diluting their voting power, leading to possible gerrymandering.

Krieger defended the new map in his statement, arguing that it “reduces the number of hamlets that are split between districts of multiple council members, has substantially equal populations with the least possible deviation, and contains clear and readily identifiable boundaries.” He added, “The map makes only minimal changes to accomplish this, with 90 percent of residents seeing no change in the district in which they live.”

Kornreich also addressed the public’s concerns. He said the debate surrounding his district, Council District 1, has been about defending the integrity of communities rather than advancing the interest of a particular party.

“This whole thing of me trying to defend the integrity of my council district was never a political effort,” he said. “It was a bipartisan civic effort. The people who had my back in this were as Republican as they are Democrat.”

Residents will again have an opportunity to weigh the redistricting plans during a public hearing on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Brookhaven Town Hall. The hearing will begin at 5 p.m.

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Porta-potties are located outside the locked bathroom facilities at the popular Stony Brook beach.Photo by Rebecca Anzel

By Rebecca Anzel

The absence of functioning public bathroom facilities has caused a problem at a popular Stony Brook beach.

Because the health department does not permit swimming where there are no restrooms, there will be no lifeguards on duty this season, town spokesman Jack Krieger said.

A recently added sign warns beachgoers to swim at their own risk, due to the lack of lifeguards.

Stony Brook Beach is crowded in the summer with families, children and dogs, village resident Nicole Mullen said. She goes to this beach on Sand Street four to five times a week.

Now that the bathrooms are closed, though, she said some beachgoers are less than thrilled.

Mullen said she is lucky to live nearby, but for the typical folks that frequent the beach, the nearest public bathroom is in Fratelli’s Italian Eatery — about a 10-minute walk away.

“It feels like the town put so much money into West Meadow Beach, upgrading it, and they cut back here,” — Nicole Mullen

The Town of Brookhaven did not open the bathrooms at Stony Brook Beach, which is commonly referred to as Sand Street beach by residents, because findings in an engineer’s report commissioned by the town found structural and plumbing issues with the 50-year-old building, said town spokesman Kevin Molloy. The beach will remain open all summer, albeit without lifeguards.

“I have been working with the Parks Department to address the issues with the bathroom facilities at Stony Brook Beach as it is of great importance for our community to have access to our beautiful Town beaches,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said in an email. “I have, and will continue to, explore the options for reinstating lifeguards with [Brookhaven parks commissioner] Morris.”

The Town placed two porta-potties outside the existing, closed bathroom structure, Cartright added. Though Mullen said the town does not clean them.

It is unclear when the beach’s restrooms will be renovated. Molloy said the estimated cost of the work is a minimum of $400,000. Parks Commissioner Ed Morris is just beginning the budget process for 2017.

“It feels like the town put so much money into West Meadow Beach, upgrading it, and they cut back here,” Mullen said. She added that the restrooms look the same now as they did when she worked at Stony Brook Beach in the 1980s.

Her friend Michelle Roach agreed. “This beach is a little hidden treasure,” she said, adding that she prefers Stony Brook Beach because it is free to park in its lot. There is a $5 charge to park at West Meadow Beach, which is about 3.5 miles away.

“Moving forward, I will continue to work with Parks to address repairs to the bathrooms with the expectation that they will be opened as soon as possible,” Cartright said in an email.