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Mastic Beach begins process of disbanding, a day after vote

Protesters turned out as residents went to the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, to vote on whether Mastic Beach should remain a village or rejoin Brookhaven Town as an unincorporated community. Credit: Randee Daddona

A day after Mastic Beach voters decided to end their experiment in self government and rejoin Brookhaven Town, the municipality will likely continue operating for about a year as it transitions from village to hamlet.

In a 1,922 to 1,215 vote, residents in the village on Wednesday approved a plan to disband their six-year-old municipality. State law provides guidelines on the process of disbanding a government that, because of the many steps, could extend the village for up to a year.

“I think it will be a year or less,” Mayor Maura Spery said in a Thursday interview.

She urged board members to begin working with Brookhaven Town on inter-municipal agreements to streamline the process.

As of Thursday, the board has 30 days to meet and discuss a reorganization plan, after which they will have up to six months to approve that plan by resolution, according to state rules.

The rules say that at least one public hearing must be held no later than 90 days following that approved resolution. State law also allows, under certain circumstances, a referendum vote on the reorganization plan itself. But state law says the vote to dissolve can’t be overturned.

While these steps are being taken, officials said Village Hall and its departments will operate as usual.

Looking ahead as the process continues, voters will likely still go to the polls in March to elect a mayor and two trustees. Among the tasks ahead, village officials will explore ways to pay off the $900,000 bond debt it used for the Village Hall building.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico, who represents that area of town on the board, has pledged to work with residents during the transition.

“I recognize that people have very strong feelings on the vote. However, Mastic Beach cannot reach its potential without everyone working together,” Panico wrote in a Facebook post after the vote to dissolve.

Both Spery and a trustee said the goal is just that.

“It’s a sad day for many of us that did fight to create the village. But I do hope that we can all still work together and still do what’s right for Mastic Beach,” said trustee Betty Manzella.

Spery agreed.

“We have a very passionate community here,” Spery said. “I hope we all commit to being better people and to go to our best selves. Let’s go to the love and kindness and not go to the hate and the meanness.”


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