The Girl Scouts of Suffolk County has received the green light to hold its popular holiday light show in Bayport in December -- but the Islip Town Board warned the organization it might be the last year there.
"To the Girl Scouts, I would say you have become a victim of your own success," town Supervisor Tom Croci said at Tuesday's board meeting. He asked the organization to consider moving to a different venue next year.
Several residents of Lakeview Avenue complained to the town board about traffic from the thousands of visitors driving through their neighborhood to visit the Girls Scouts' annual light display at Camp Edey. The Scouts have used the camp for the show for a decade. With sponsorships and charging between $15 to $20 a car, the Scouts raised $225,000 during last year's show.
For this year's show, the Girl Scouts applied to the town for two 10-day special-events permits to run the drive-through light show on evenings from Dec. 4 through Dec. 23. While the board approved the permits, Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said the second permit would be revoked if traffic issues occur again during the first 10 days of the light show.
"The light show has outgrown our street," resident Christopher Slater said. He said he's had problems gaining access to his driveway during the light show because of backed-up traffic, and he recounted being yelled at by waiting drivers.
Resident Emily Bosch said the neighborhood has "been severely affected by the holiday light show for 10 years. We have been patient, although scared and frustrated. We are unable to have any holiday events of our own, in our own homes."
Mary Garrote, the director of development for the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, said her group has reduced the hours of the show, required prepaid tickets, limited the number of cars to 250 an hour, and hired extra security and coordinated with Suffolk County police.
But she said the event was "extremely important to us" and that the Girl Scouts rely on the money raised by the show. Last year the organization used the money to support about 7,800 Girl Scouts in Suffolk County who need financial assistance.
"We really have heard you," Garrote told the residents during the meeting. "We've taken your complaints, your concerns, your issues to heart. Please, I beg you to let us have our event."
Councilman John Cochrane said that, while the town generally supports the Girl Scouts, "this community is getting overwhelmed." He suggested the Girl Scouts move the light show in the future to a larger venue such as Heckscher State Park in East Islip.