Ask five different people, get five different answers
That’s how friends and fellow South Country school board members Regina Hunt and Danielle Skelly felt as they tried to make sense of recent development plans for the Bellport area.
Whether it was rehabbing Miracle Plaza or potential workforce housing along Montauk Highway in North Bellport, or even the controversial plans for a new South Country Ambulance headquarters, they said they kept on uncovering more questions than answers.
And since the women are both relied upon by people throughout the district to keep them informed, feeling uninformed themselves wasn’t sitting well with either.
So they created the South Country Community Information Café.
The first meeting was held last week at the Bellport Hagerman East Patchogue Alliance.
Who showed to the meeting?
“We have a lot of friends,” said Skelly, who lives in East Patchogue. “We reach a lot of diverse people in the community. So, we said, we should invite all our friends. And if we invite them, maybe they’ll tell people.”
That appears to be happening, they said. Hunt and Skelly are expecting a good crowd at their September meeting.
Asked for an example of something that can change people’s lives that those same people might want to know about, Skelly mentioned Miracle Plaza laundromat at Station Road and Montauk Highway.
The plaza was purchased earlier this year by a Great Neck company, and tenants interviewed by GreaterPatchogue.com said there are plans afoot to renovate the long-neglected strip mall, which houses Holla Dolla, Imperial Kutt Kreators and Boost Mobile, among other stores.
“What if there was no laundromat in the new plaza?” Skelly said. “The other closest laundromats are in Shirley or over in East Patchogue. Neither is in walking distance.”
Those residents should be given a chance to weigh in before anything’s built, she said.
The women envision the Café as place where people can identify and help solve local problems before they arise, while giving residents from Brookhaven through Bellport and East Patchogue a chance to help shape their communities.
That all starts by being informed, they said.
“We want to create an environment where people can come to these meetings and say what’s on their minds,” Hunt said. “We don’t want to sugarcoat anything.
“The community has a right to know what was going on.”
No date for the September meeting has been determined. Follow the group’s Facebook page for updates.
Photo: Regina Hunt and Danielle Skelly Monday in North Bellport. (Credit: Michael White)