The Brookhaven Town Board on Thursday night adopted a new town council district map that sets boundaries for the next 10 years.
The 7-0 vote, following a contentious three-hour public hearing, caps months of debate over the town's redistricting process, which some residents said included vague maps and poorly publicized public meetings.
Some in the crowd of about 200 Thursday shouted "Shame on you" after the vote. The map, proposed by Republican Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, takes effect next year.
Shirley Singletary Hudson of Middle Island, who had spoken against the map, said she was disappointed.
"I probably would have liked to even hear them say to not vote on it [Thursday]," she told Newsday. "Their minds were already made up and that's unfortunate."
Republicans on the town board, who hold a 6-1 majority, did not comment before the vote.
The board's lone Democrat, Councilman Jonathan Kornreich, said he supported the map because it unified some split communities into single districts. But he said the redistricting process had been flawed.
"This process was atrocious," he said, citing a lack of data and poor communication among town officials, residents and an appointed redistricting committee that had failed to recommend a map. "It was not a fair and transparent process at all."
The town board had faced a Dec. 15 deadline to approve a map that adjusted council district lines to reflect population shifts.
More than 40 people spoke at the public hearing. Supporters said the map would unite communities currently split among different districts. Town officials said 90% of communities were unaffected and fewer hamlets would be split than under the current system.
Leaders of the Coram Civic Association said they supported the map because of changes that put more residents of the racially and ethnically diverse hamlet in a single district, though the community remains divided among four districts.
"It is a victory for all Coram residents," president Erma Gluck said.
Ridge resident Robert Colwell said he was relieved his community, currently divided among three districts, will be united in Council District 4, which also will include two other newly united hamlets, Gordon Heights and North Bellport.
"The change to our community is much needed and most appreciated," Colwell said.
Gordon Heights residents were split: Some said they liked the map because it united the predominantly Black community, but others objected because Ridge, a mostly white community, will be added to the district. They said that would water down the voting power of minorities.
"We've done a lot over the last 10 years," Gordon Heights Civic Association president E. James Freeman said, referring to refurbished parks and other improvements provided by the town. "Don't let the cherry on top be something that takes us back decades."
Two members of the now-disbanded redistricting committee offered starkly different assessments of the panel's work.
Gail Lynch-Bailey, a Democrat and Middle Island civic leader, said the committee faced "ferocious" public criticism and called the process "unconscionable."
Republican committee co-chair Ali Nazir responded that Democrats on the commission "cared only about one thing: advancing the Democratic cause."
The committee's town-appointed legal adviser, Republican Vincent Messina, a Sayville attorney, said the approved map met all state and federal legal guidelines.
But most speakers opposed the map.
Marvin Colson, first vice president of the Brookhaven NAACP, said the map was "unfair" because "it does not provide protection to the protected class."
Singletary Hudson said the map would make it more difficult for Blacks and Hispanics to win town board seats. All the current members are white.
"Looking at this council sitting here is not a reflection of our community," she said.