Mattituck resident Julie Amper fears her community is becoming overdeveloped and turning into “the armpit of the North Fork.”
On Wednesday, she decided to join the newly formed Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association in order to help protect the character of the place she calls home.
“It’s like we’re going to be the buffer and become Riverhead just to protect the rest of the North Fork from development,” she said. “This is why I joined this organization — to stop it.”
Ms. Amper attended the civic’s first meeting at the Mattituck-Laurel Library where she and a group of about 25 residents gathered to officially form the association.
Mattituck resident Mary Eisenstein said in a recent interview that she decided to launch a civic group in order to 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.
The idea stems from her experience campaigning in 2013 for Town Board. While she didn’t win the election, Ms. Eisenstein said she learned about how a civic group could help residents when she attended a Meet the Candidates event organized by the East Marion Community Association.
The new civic group’s mission statement reads: “To preserve and protect Mattituck-Laurel’s character, our natural environment — land, skies and waters — and our agrarian and maritime heritage by informed consideration of issues that affect these legacies, championing what will benefit and sustain our community now and for generations.”
Some residents at the meeting were hesitant to nominate themselves for the various interim officer positions. But when it came time to name the group’s president, the mood of the meeting became cheerful as several residents nominated Ms. Eisenstein.
“I’ll gladly take that role,” she said, a response that received a round of applause.
Ms. Eisenstein described the group’s dedication as exciting and at one point during the meeting jumped up and down as the group continued discussing ideas for the civic, which plans to discuss proposals under review, take votes and let the Town Board know where members stands.
Residents then listed projects they believe the civic group should take under advisement, including: the former Capital One Bank building on Main Road and a development plan for affordable housing located across the street; retail construction plans for Pike Street; the vacant Hudson City Bank property; and bus shelter locations.
Quality-of-life issues like illegal housing, traffic, noise and light pollution were also listed.
If members want to state their personal opinions on issues already voted on by the civic, Ms. Eisenstein said they need to be mindful of how they represent the civic when doing so.
“Being a member of the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association we talked about that we were going to be a consensus group,” she said. “You may have a different opinion as an individual, but when you’re a representative of the group, you are a voice for what the consensus is.
“In a public forum, you want to be mindful of who you’re speaking for.”
In addition to discussing the civic’s role, the group decided on interim officers that will serve until serve until an official election is held in June.
Valerie Kilbridge volunteered for the treasurer position and John Carter signed on as secretary. Both reside in Mattituck.
As for Ms. Amper, she quickly signed on to be the group’s vice president.
“The vice president shall preside at all meetings from which the president is absent,” she said, reading the position’s lone responsibility, which got a laugh. “Alright, I’ll do that.”
Others volunteered to serve on committees, including government, membership, communication and programs, which will be responsible for planning and scheduling meetings.
Lynn Summers of Mattituck, who ran for unsuccessfully on the Democratic line for Town Trustee in 2011, joined the government committee, which is tasked with attending Town Board work sessions and meetings.
Mattituck resident Steven Bellavia volunteered for the communication committee and offered to create a Yahoo group, similar to the one he manages for the Custer Institute.
Barbara Kujawski of Mattituck, who has volunteered for Dominican Sisters Family Health Service, agreed to join the membership committee and said she’d like to focus on attracting younger residents to join the civic.
“The young people are going to benefit from our actions and we should get them to be a part of it,” she said, adding she’d like to see a student representative to also be a part of the civic’s efforts.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 29 at 6 p.m. in the Mattituck-Laurel Library.