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Kevin Molloy

Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
By Sabrina Artusa

Nicole, a Miller Place resident, has long frequented Mount Sinai’s Cedar Beach, saying she has often enjoyed visiting this scenic destination with her family. In recent years, however, she has noticed one “really unsettling” trend.

“So much garbage is left behind on the beach,” she said. “It makes me sad.” 

Nicole said she and some other locals have grown increasingly agitated with the Town of Brookhaven over a perceived buildup of litter and fishing debris at Cedar Beach, with some even suggesting a lack of code enforcement and security measures. 

In the face of these objections, many continue enjoying the beach, according to town official Kevin Molloy, chief of staff in the supervisor’s office. 

While Molloy acknowledges that some debris is left on the beach occasionally despite town efforts, he argues that residual garbage is inevitable during heightened summer activity and the “thousands of people” enjoying the beach each week.

“We comb the beach every morning, every day — sometimes multiple times a day, we will remove garbage,” Molloy noted. “We are not seeing anything different compared to past years.”

The beach contains a marina, harbor, yacht club, oyster and clam hatchery, nature preserve, basketball courts and a playground. There is also live music and sunrise yoga. 

Given all this activity, Molloy says that the town is attentive to its upkeep responsibilities and that its staff is “continuously cleaning and picking things up.”

He said that the town leads an annual beach cleanup, partnering with local environmental groups before each season. The oyster and clam hatchery also works to improve water quality. 

Molloy further emphasized that Brookhaven prides itself on being accessible to anyone who wants to use it as long as they follow town rules. 

“There is something for everybody from the little kids with the playground to kayaking to basketball,” he said, adding, “That’s not to say we don’t have a host of rules.”

To access the beach, Brookhaven residents must either possess a $30 annual parking permit or pay hourly parking fees. The cost for seniors (60+), handicapped and veterans per vehicle is just $7 for 2023. Nonresidents can pay hourly for parking or buy the $350 annual parking permit.

Given the general cost of beach access and public resources put toward maintenance, some residents feel that the state of the beach could be better. Nicole, who pays for the permit annually, said the lack of ticketing and security is problematic. 

“People are parking and not paying the meter,” she said. “They take complete advantage.”

Nicole argues that the “code needs to be enforced” by penalizing violators in the act instead of simply cleaning up after the damage is done. 

She added that she and others are upset by fishermen who don’t clean up after themselves or encroach upon bathing areas.

Supervisor Ed Romaine during his State of the Town address. Photo by Kyle Barr

Click on the inset pictures to get a better view of which homes are in each defunct district.

Town of Brookhaven residents can soon expect a check in the mail after the Town Board unanimously voted to pass a resolution that would return remaining fund balances to taxpayers in six dissolved special water districts. 

A map of the defunct Sound Beach water district showing where residents will be receiving refunds. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

“This is part of the $20 million grant that the town got to consolidate shared services to improve efficiency,” Ed Romaine, town supervisor, said at the June 27 town meeting. 

The Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Plan is designed to consolidate town services and create shared services with other local municipalities to help cut costs. The dissolution of the six water districts was part of that consolidation, and when they were dissolved there were outstanding fund balances. 

The plan dates back to the 2018 $20 million grant that was awarded by New York State, which went toward modernizing services while reducing the burden on taxpayers by reducing redundancy in local governments and pursuing opportunities for increasing shared services. 

“All of that money is going back to the residents of those water districts,” the supervisor said. “They will get a check in the mail — [the amount] will vary from district to district.”

The town supervisor mentioned one of the benefits of consolidating services and eliminating the special districts, is that people who are now covered by the Suffolk County Water Authority but were once part of paper districts will get some of that money back. 

In total, the town will return approximately $500,000 to taxpayers. The money is from remaining fund balances from fiscal year 2018 that earned interest in 2019. 

The highest refund will go to the taxpayers who were served by the dissolved Sound Beach Water Supply District. The district, as of December 2018, had a remaining fund balance of $274,018.97. 

A map of the defunct West Setauket water district showing where residents will be receiving refunds. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Kevin Molloy, Brookhaven Town spokesperson, said residents of the special district that covered over 3,000 parcels will get an average refund of $89. The range of the refunds for Sound Beach varies from as low as 49 cents to as high as $2,638. 

The West Setauket Water Supply District had a remaining fund balance of $71,363.35, and each resident is expected to receive an average refund of $126, according to Molloy. 

Refunds will range from 14 cents to $476. 

Molloy said the amount residents get will depend on the evaluation of their property in their respective district. 

The refund will be handled by the town’s commissioner of finance who is authorized to remit all remaining fund balances of the dissolved special water districts, plus all accrued interest to the Town of Brookhaven tax receiver. 

“Residents will be getting a check in the mail starting the beginning of [this] month and no later than August 31,” Molloy said. 

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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.