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Hampton Bays looks to Mastic Beach for advice

Bruce King, 63, has lived in Hampton Bays

Bruce King, 63, has lived in Hampton Bays his entire life, as generations of his family have before him. (June 19, 2012) Credit: Erin Geismar

Saying they have many questions -- and few answers -- about how to form a new village, the Hampton Bays Civic Association has invited the mayor of Mastic Beach, Long Island's newest village, to share his experiences and talk about the pitfalls of creating a local government.

"We want to talk to some people who just did it, see what's involved, find out what it costs," said Bruce King, president of the civic association. "We've discussed this offhand since I came in [as president, three years ago] but it never came to a vote. Mostly, it's about money, money, money."

King said it would probably take two or three years to get to a formal vote on creating a village, and that would depend on seriously looking at the issues and figuring out what Hampton Bays residents would expect from a village.

He does not see a new village creating its own police force or highway department, but would like to have a village code inspector looking at illegal overcrowding of homes -- which some people believe adds to school costs -- and a village justice court, which could use fines for beefed-up code enforcement.

But that is in the future. The group is still looking at just where to draw village lines, as well as the potential cost of running a municipality.

For now, the plan is to solicit impressions at the Hampton Bays Civic Association meeting today from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Southampton Town Community Center at 25 Ponquogue Ave.

Mastic Beach Mayor William Biondi has been invited to the meeting to answer questions about how his village was formed, what kinds of problems it encountered and what changes the forming of the village has created in the hamlet.

"We want to see what the community wants to do . . . it's the beginning of the first step," King said.

Mastic Beach, on the south shore of Brookhaven Town, was similar to Hampton Bays in many ways when its residents approved a new village by a nearly 3-1 ratio in August 2010. There were problems with overcrowding and boarded-up houses, and many residents complained the Town of Brookhaven did not do enough in terms of code enforcement.

Though all of those problems have not been solved, efforts have been made to spruce up the business district, and some of the village's worst housing problems have been rectified.

The 2010 census showed Mastic Beach with 12,800 people, while Hampton Bays had 13,600.

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