Editorial: North Fork not always treated as well as neighbors to the South

As he notes in his column this week, Times/Review Newsgroup president Troy Gustavson doesn’t share The Suffolk Times’ editorial board’s view on including both East End forks in a single state Assembly district. Mr. Gustavson points out, and rightly so, that East Enders have far more in common with each other, regardless of whether they live north or south of Peconic Bay, than we do with our neighbors on the densely populated suburban West End.

It’s true — at the county, state and federal levels, it’s always east vs west. The best representation we can hope for in the Suffolk County Legislature is two of the 18 seats. It’s an uphill battle, always, to gain the county’s awareness of our needs and problems. “Our” refers collectively to everyone residing within the five eastern townships.

It would be easier to concentrate on what unites East Enders rather than what divides us, though, if there weren’t so very many examples of how officials at all levels kowtow to the folks on the South Fork, often at the North Fork’s expense.

We all know about the helicopter noise, a burden North Forkers must bear so the well-heeled need not waste time on the LIE getting to and from their weekend homes. And when the Long Island Power Authority planned to install new electrical transmission lines on the South Fork, the authority gladly paid the additional expense to bury the cables. We, however, were stuck with huge, ugly poles and lines along the historic Sound Avenue corridor.

Let’s not forget the ferry traffic. Yes, we all use the ferry. It’s a fast, convenient way to get off the island without fighting New York City traffic. Since much of its ridership originates on the South Fork, the ferry has long considered opening a terminal there — that is, until the towns there voted to prohibit it. As a result, North Fork roads must carry South Fork ferry traffic.

Just this past week we learned that with federal budget cuts, the Army Corps of Engineers could not proceed with the scheduled 2011 dredging of Mattituck Inlet, the only navigable Sound-side inlet east of Mount Sinai. Ah, but somehow money was found for dredging in Montauk.

Was the opposition to the one-fork Assembly seat a bit unwarranted? Perhaps. But that’s to be expected when one of the forks is looked down upon and treated as little more than a crown colony.