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Brookhaven Town keeps up pace of demolishing Mastic Beach blight

Dan Panico, Brookhaven Town councilman, stands on a

Dan Panico, Brookhaven Town councilman, stands on a vacant lot in Mastic Beach where a hazardous home was demolished Wednesday. Credit: Randee Daddona

The dwindling number of blighted, unsafe homes in the former village of Mastic Beach marks the culmination of what residents said they wanted but incorporation failed to achieve.

Since it took over Mastic Beach in January 2018, the town has demolished 75 abandoned, vacant, deteriorating houses. Officials say they have about 10 more to go and expect to have those properties cleaned up by the end of the year. 

“All those [properties] that qualify under the law to be taken down, meaning they are hazardous houses deemed unsafe by a town engineer, are coming down,” Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico said.

"Our goal is not to knock down homes," he said. “We want clean and safe neighborhoods.”

Mastic Beach incorporated in 2010 largely to create a tax-neutral village capable of tearing down hazardous homes and enforcing property codes. 

In the seven years it was a village, Mastic Beach's elected officials had 15 blighted houses torn down. But dozens more remained and town officials have focused on cleaning up the blight in the former village.

Getting rid of dilapidated abandoned houses and other unsafe properties has been a priority of Supervisor Edward P. Romaine. Brookhaven officials started cleaning up the Mastic Beach blight last year by issuing hundreds of summonses for housing, vehicle and fire safety code violations.

“Blight has suppressed property values,” Panico said. "As we take down all of these homes, the property values will rise."

The most recent house demolished in Mastic Beach was on Laurel Street, where neighbors said they were happy to see it go.

“I’ve waited for years, it was really depressing,” said Barbara Murphy, 77, who has lived next to the long-vacant home for 40 years.

She said a former Suffolk County legislator originally owned the home when it was well-maintained, but it went through several owners over the years and has been abandoned for a decade.

“I want a nice house built with people taking care of it,” Murphy said.

Former Mastic Beach Village Mayor Maura Spery said Brookhaven demolishing the homes shows dissolving the village was the right decision. Residents voted 1,922 to 1,215 to disincorporate in December 2017.

"It kind of makes the point for consolidated government because the larger governmental entity is able to corral its resources in a more effective way," Spery said.

The stepped up demolition has been part of a community rebirth.

Town officials in September opened the $9.5 million Mastic Beach Ambulance Company headquarters on Neighborhood Road. Real estate agents are promoting the community as one of the last best places on the South Shore, where affordable waterfront property or a home just a short walk to a beach are within reach of young families and the middle class.

Timothy Rothang, chief of staff for Suffolk County Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Shirley), said last month he supports a proposal to connect a sewer pipe from the Forge River Watershed sewer district along Mastic Road and into Neighborhood Road. It would cost $32 million, but town and county officials would solicit federal and state grants to further improvements in the area.

Longtime Laurel Street resident Bonnie Lang said she appreciates the town's efforts.

“It’s a good plan," she said of the demolitions. "We can rebuild and have nice neighborhoods."

Mastic Beach Blight Removal

  • Brookhaven Town has demolished 75 houses with about 10 more to be removed before all homes deemed hazardous by a town engineer would have been cleared.
  • Mastic Beach demolished roughly 15 houses in seven years as an incorporated village.
  • Town officials have said they expect the rest of the demolition to be complete by the end of the year.

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