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North Bellport

Screenshot taken from the Brookhaven Town website

The Brookhaven Redistricting Committee met Thursday, Aug. 18, in a virtual meeting with the committee’s mapmaker, David Schaefer. 

This meeting marks the first time throughout this process that the eight-member committee has met with the mapmaker. Before speaking with the various committee members, Schaefer gave his rationale for two draft maps that generated significant public interest and opposition. 

For Schaefer, political redistricting aims to balance populations across council districts. “Equal population is the reason we’re doing redistricting,” he said. “This is about one person-one vote, and all other criteria are secondary to that.”

Aside from this primary condition, Schaefer said that the New York Municipal Home Rule Law states several additional criteria that factor into the mapmaking process. Among these items are drawing maps that promote political participation of racial or language minorities; contiguity; compactness; unifying communities of interests; and facilitating the efficient administration of elections.

George Hoffman, a Setauket resident and committee member, pressed Schaefer on the two draft proposals that have generated significant public opposition throughout this process. He asked the mapmaker whether he had received any testimony that suggested swapping Mount Sinai and Terryville between Council Districts 1 and 2.

Schaefer said that though he had read through the public testimony to familiarize himself with the issues, those suggestions did not weigh into his drawing of the original maps. He considers the two proposals as rough drafts only.

“I don’t take it upon myself to put any weight on any of the testimony, whether it’s positive or negative,” he said. “I leave that for the commission to do, and I don’t think my draft is one that the commission should accept as anything more than a first draft.” He added, “If there are changes to be made or big issues to consider, those are in the next pass of what I would do.”

Committee member Krystina Sconzo, of Mastic Beach, raised the issue of evaluating election districts versus communities of interest. She said that she would like for the committee to prioritize communities of interest.

Sconzo and Gail Lynch-Bailey, of Middle Island, both reiterated one of the frequent complaints from the public regarding the legibility and accessibility of the draft maps. They both asked for future draft proposals to present as many details as possible. 

Schaefer acknowledged the request, indicating that a detailed draft proposal is relatively simple. “I can create individual maps that have every road, most of the street names on those roads, and I can do it very quickly,” he said.

Lynch-Bailey motioned for the mapmaker to produce a map addressing the population imbalances between Council Districts 2 and 6. She said these districts are the only ones falling outside the 5% deviation allowable under town code and, therefore, the only ones requiring change. 

“I request a map that addresses just those two districts, and please put back Mount Sinai and Terryville,” she said. The motion passed the committee unanimously.

Co-chair Rabia Aziz, of Coram, cited the considerable public testimony regarding the proposed changes to Council District 4. She said that while the initial draft proposals keep the diverse communities of Gordon Heights and North Bellport within CD4, they dilute the voting power of those areas through the incorporation of Ridge into CD4.

“If you dilute the ability of people of color to be able to elect someone that has their community of interest at heart, then I think that is not in concert with what the community would want,” she said. “It should be a council district of least change.”

Aziz moved to send all of the public map submissions to Schaefer and have him produce a map that loosely follows the boundaries set forth by the Logan Mazer map. Aziz’s resolution passed the committee unanimously. For more on the Mazer map, see the TBR News Media story, “Residents, elected officials fight to keep PJS/Terryville intact” (Aug. 11).

Ali Nazir, of Lake Grove, made the final motion of the evening. He asked to produce a map that follows the boundaries of Proposal 2, currently on the website, but restores Port Jeff Station/Terryville and Mount Sinai. Nazir’s resolution passed the commission 5-2, with Hoffman and Aziz voting “no.”

Members of the committee agreed to give Schaefer at least a week to prepare the three draft maps requested during this meeting. The committee decided to reconvene in the first week of September to mull over the new maps. To watch the entire meeting (starting at 4:21:50), click here.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Fifth Squad detectives are investigating a crash that killed a Coram motorcyclist in North Bellport May 12.

Dayquon Boykins was traveling southbound on the northbound lanes, passing other motorists on Station Road approximately 200 feet north of the Woodside Avenue intersection, when he crashed into a 2010 Honda Odyssey minivan that was traveling southbound and attempting to make left-hand turn into a parking lot at approximately 4:18 p.m.

Boykins, 29, was ejected from the motorcycle, and pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. The driver of the Honda, Stacy Washousky, 40, of Ronkonkoma, and her 11-year-old daughter were both transported by South Country Ambulance to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue with minor injuries.

Both vehicles were impounded for a safety check. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact the Fifth Squad at 631-854-8552.