A Letter to the Citizens of MBV
Dear Residents, Civic Groups and Organizations,
On May 7th? 2014 the Mastic Beach Village Mayor and Board of Trustees made a resolution to create citizen committees. The board felt that to advance the original goals of the village we have to represent and include “We the People” in the governing of our municipality. To that end we are asking that all those who reside in Mastic Beach and who would like to help to make our village run more effectively and efficiently please sign up to join one or more of the following committees:
Quality of Life Committee
Health and Human Services Committee
Waterfront Use and Development Committee
Alternative Energy/Green Committee
Please contact Trustee Maura Spery at 631-281- or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org you are interested in joining any of these committees. We look forward to working with everyone to make our community the best it can be.
Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink.
I attended the Long Island Resiliency and Clean Water Infrastructure Meeting on Monday, May 19th at Stonybrook University. Speakers ran the gamut from County Executive, Steve Bellone and Congressman, Tim Bishop to the Director of the EPA, Professors from Stonybrook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, to Scientists from The Nature Conservancy, and many others in between. By the end of the day, and 4 hours of charts and lectures, I thought my head was going to explode.
To put it in simple terms we are screwed (sorta). The standard long-term policy on how to dispose of our crap (literally) has come back to bite us in the ass. The policy has been one of develop and build, wherever and whenever, without any foresight or planning. County Executive Steve Bellone stated, “I believe in science” and the science is overwhelming that over the past few decades our waterways have been devastated by the increased nitrogen load that the antiquated, inadequate cesspools and septic systems on Long Island have released into our bays and aquifers
As bad as this news is, there is a silver lining—there are techniques and systems that will reverse the damage and actually begin to restore health to our waters. Even better news is that our current leaders are very focused on doing just that.
On the other hand I am concerned that Mastic Beach is not on their radar. Considering they never mentioned Mastic Beach but called the whole area, Shirley and Mastic, a common mistake, but one that I mean to rectify.
According to the science there are 15,000 homes in Suffolk County whose cesspools/septic systems are 5 feet or less above sea level. This is very, very bad for water quality. I would estimate there are at least 3,000 of them are in our village—maybe - more. If Mastic Beach has 20% of the homes that are causing the water quality problem, why hasn’t there been a more targeted effort to buy up these homes at what are the lowest prices in decades? Especially those homes who wish a buyout post Sandy.
Instead, we have investors buying these houses with inadequate cesspools/septic systems and many are renting them out. In some cases, the tenants over crowd these houses placing a much higher sanitary load on the system with even more devastating results. This is not the fault of the investors or renters this is the fault of our leaders who are missing an opportunity to protect the environment.
A perfect example is small two bedroom home on Magnolia Drive that is in the Extreme Risk Zone as categorized by NY State Rising. The house was damaged by flooding from Sandy and the elderly homeowner would like to sell. He is asking $60,000.00. This seems like a fair price. The State offered him $44,000.00. The house is now on the market for $60K and more than likely, will be bought by an investor who will do minimal renovations and put in a renter. In the end had the powers that be coughed up the additional $14K for this property we would have one less home in the “extreme” risk flood zone. This would be one less opportunity for unscrupulous investors to overcrowd our vulnerable wetlands area and overload our bays with nitrogen. This is penny wise and pound foolish.
As diligent as the village government has been enacting rental rules and regulations regarding the flood zone it has become apparent that investors are a step ahead and have numerous ways to circumvent these rules and regulations. There is still a large inventory of homes for sale that could be bought up by officials that truly want clean water before they are snatched up by unscrupulous investors and slumlords who will just overcrowd them with multiple tenants.
I am just surprised that the State is not being more pro-active in requiring and funding upgrades to all septic systems in the flood zone. Almost all of the homes that have been raised in Mastic Beach since Sandy have the same septic systems they had before the storm. These systems are 5 feet or less to the ground water.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a giant disconnect between policy and practice.
I would love to see Mastic Beach Village work with the Feds, the State, the County and the Town to make our community the model for how we move forward in dealing with sea level rise and the negative consequences associated with that rise.
I believe our community is the perfect candidate for pilot programs that want to combat nitrogen overload in our waterways as well as finding ways to make our village greener for the benefit of our citizens. We would love to partner with any and all entities looking to create a "green village" so we can make this happen.
As a low lying, wetlands area that is a ¼ mile fetch from the Atlantic Ocean, we are looking to our higher levels of government to partner with our humble community to tackle the complicated problem of water quality effecting all of us on Long Island.
There will be another meeting on this issue on May 28, 2014 where the public will be invited to comment. Our community needs to show up and be heard. As of today the time and place has not been posted by the Governor’s Office but check www.Masticbeachnews.com for an update. The more we speak up the more attention we will get.
Maura Spery – Mastic Beach Village Trustee