While campaigning for Town Board in 2013, Mattituck resident Mary Eisenstein found herself looking out at a crowd in East Marion during a Meet the Candidates event.
Organized by the East Marion Civic Association, the event soon got her wondering.
“I saw what they did and asked, ‘How we can do it?’” Ms. Eisenstein recalled.
So, she decided to find out.
Ms. Eisenstein is launching the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association later this month and says it will provide a place for residents who don’t belong to an existing group, such as the Chamber of Commerce or the local historical society, or feel intimidated voicing concerns by themselves at town meetings.
“Mattituck is growing,” said Ms. Eisenstein. Her 2013 run ended up being unsuccessful and she said she isn’t considering another run anytime soon. “I see a need for all different parts of Mattituck to come as one to the table.”
Laurel residents living on the Southold Town side of the border are also invited to join.
The types of things the civic group will chew over are similar to those discussed at last Wednesday’s Mattituck Chamber of Commerce dinner.
Topics include starting an educational foundation that would act like a booster club, rumblings of a new bank moving into the vacant building on Main Road where a Hudson City Savings Bank was planned, Pike Street’s parking lot woes, and reconfiguring Old Sound Avenue near Love Lane to provide a pedestrian-friendly connection to Love Lane complete with a green space and gazebo.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he believes the civic group will be helpful to the town by gaining community feedback on different issues, especially since the town is in the process of drafting the land use portion of its comprehensive plan.
He also believes the group will be successful since it’s modeling itself after the East Marion Civic Association.
“I’ve been invited to speak at [the East Marion Civic Association’s meetings] a few times, and each time the room was packed,” Mr. Russell said. “I think it’s an excellent idea and a nice way of bringing the community of Mattituck together.”
In the fall, Ms. Eisenstein decided to hold a meeting in her home that was open to anyone interested in learning more about her idea.
About 25 people showed up, she said, and the group agreed that now is a good time to form a civic group in Mattituck because the hamlet is grappling with proposed developments such as affordable housing and traffic calming projects.
Ms. Eisenstein said the group will discuss proposals under review, take votes and let the Town Board know where members stands.
When a few Laurel residents also expressed an interest in joining a civic group, Ms. Eisenstein decided to expand the group to her neighbors to the west.
And since Laurel straddles both Southold and Riverhead towns, she added that she’d like the group to collaborate with the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association in the future, an idea president Angela DeVito welcomes.
“I think any occasion to discuss mutual concerns is beneficial; we don’t have to just stay on our side of the line,” Ms. DeVito said. “It should be driven by the people of Laurel and I would encourage the communication.”
Someone asked about adding Cutchogue to the mix, but Ms. Eisenstein said she believes taking on another hamlet might be too much too soon, though she added that “maybe later we can include Cutchogue.”
When asked why she believes Mattituck has never had a civic organization, she said it’s because the hamlet has strong community groups like the chamber, fire department and parks commission.
Chamber president Terry McShane said his group has acted like a civic group over the years, extending its community function beyond helping businesses with street fairs and scholarships.
He believes now is a good time to have a civic organization help with the vetting process with land use and other town issues.
“Mattituck has been self-sufficient and it will be helpful to have another voice,” he said.
The group’s first meeting will take place Wednesday, Feb. 25, from 6 to 7:45 p.m. at Mattituck-Laurel Library, during which interim leaders will be elected to serve until an official election is held in June. They will also adopt a mission statement and bylaws and form various committees. Southold Town residents are welcome to attend.
For more information, contact Ms. Eisenstein at 298-8963.