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Brookhaven Town has torn down 15 blighted houses this year

The demolitions are the latest in Supervisor Edward P. Romaine’s “Operation Cleanup” initiative to rid the town of abandoned, unsafe structures.

The Town of Brookhaven demolished an unsafe house

The Town of Brookhaven demolished an unsafe house on Riviera Drive in Mastic Beach Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine on Tuesday morning stood in front of an unsafe Mastic Beach house and watched it come down — the latest of 15 blighted buildings to be demolished this year.

Tearing down the unsound structure on Riviera Drive continued one of the supervisor’s top priorities — ridding the community of residential eyesores and blight.

“We vowed when Mastic Beach came back to town that we’d knock these homes down,” Romaine said. “We’re definitely seeking out blight.”

Mastic Beach returned to the control of Brookhaven on Jan. 1 after residents the previous year voted to dissolve the municipality. It is one of the town areas hardest hit by blight.

Romaine’s townwide housing initiative started last year with “Operation Cleanup,” a successful project resulting in Brookhaven crews tearing down an average of one vacant or abandoned home every week in 2017.

This year, Romaine, a Republican, has stepped up the pace of demolition.

Town officials this month have already set 17 public hearings on demolishing houses considered unsafe or structurally unsound.

Seven of those dilapidated homes are in Mastic Beach and another is in Mastic. The others are in Middle Island, Bellport, Blue Point and Sound Beach.

Town officials said they expect to knock down 50 to 70 homes in 2018.

“There’s a message being sent,” Romaine said, adding that dilapidated structures decrease property values and attract squatters. “We’re committed to cleaning up this town.”

Brookhaven needs to raise the bar for what’s considered acceptable living, said Republican town Councilman Dan Panico, who represents Mastic Beach.

“Everyone deserves to live in a clean and safe neighborhood,” he said. “And once you demolish these homes, property values will rise and the neighborhood becomes cleaner.”

Panico said two dozen houses in Mastic Beach are under consideration for demolition.

Brookhaven officials plan to schedule three additional demolition public hearings when the town board meets Thursday. Town officials said two of those houses are in Coram and the other in Mastic Beach.

“We are actively going after the worst homes in Brookhaven Town,” Romaine said. “If you have a building or home that you’re not going to maintain and it’s really bad structurally, it’s coming down.”

Town inspectors between January and early March issued hundreds of summonses for housing, vehicle and fire safety violations in Mastic Beach as part of its plan to improve the community.

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