Kevin McCaffrey, the Suffolk County Legislature's presiding officer.

Kevin McCaffrey, the Suffolk County Legislature's presiding officer. Credit: James Carbone

Daily Point

Suffolk map panel hearings drew few

Attendance at Suffolk County's redistricting hearings proved tepid, frustrating those who care about how the crucial 10-year map for 18 legislative districts will shape up.

Rumblings about public input sound much as they did when the Town of North Hempstead’s Democratic board majority recently approved new maps.

Brendan Sweeney, an aide to Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) who has been administering the reapportionment panel, told The Point on Thursday that public hearings were held in 10 towns.

“Over the course of two months, 18 people showed up to the various public hearings throughout Suffolk County … Five people submitted testimony via written/email correspondence for these hearings,” he said in a statement.

On Thursday evening, the commission is due to set a timeline to adopt a draft plan, and set dates for two further public hearings, one in Hauppauge and the other in Riverhead, Sweeney said. The commission, with four Republicans and four Democrats, has an Aug. 1 deadline to adopt lines.

Commission officials said that the first hearing drew four people, the second one drew six, the fourth and fifth had three attendees each, and one appeared at the sixth hearing and one at the seventh hearing. Two of the hearings apparently drew no attendees.

Some of the smattering of attendees expressed concern early in the process.

Joan Nickeson, of Port Jefferson Station, said she shared with Sweeney her impression that the notifications and outreach appeared skimpy both in local newspapers and on websites.

Shoshana Hershkowitz, a progressive activist, added that in Brookhaven, “The hearing took place at 11 a.m., which is a very difficult time for working people to show up. I had to submit comments in writing.”

“It seems attendance was not great because it was not particularly well-publicized,” she said.

The commission vows to release and circulate the proposed map when it’s ready.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Pencil Point

The getaway

Credit: Caglecartoons.com/Rivers

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Reference Point

Loving Long Island

Some aspects of life on Long Island have changed considerably over the years. Others, not at all.

The truth of that can be seen by looking back 75 years — or, if one wants to mark the passage of time more grandiosely, three-quarters of a century — when Newsday’s editorial page inquired about the elements of the good life on Long Island, in a piece titled “Why L.I. Packs ‘Em In.”

The jumping-off point was, of course, traffic.

“Bumper-to-bumper traffic on Long Island’s main highway over the holiday weekend attest to the popularity of the Island with vacationists,” the editorial page intro noted on July 7, 1947. “But Newsday’s Curious Cameraguy got to wondering just what it is folks on the Island like about year-round living or vacationing here.”

The Newsday editorial from July 7, 1947.

The Newsday editorial from July 7, 1947.

The Curious Cameraguy was an occasional editorial page feature in which a photographer took pictures of some of the Island’s denizens and asked for their opinions on the topic du jour.

And if traffic was the eternal curse that prompted the exercise that day, the most commonly cited positive on the Island also was timeless: its beaches.

Four of the five interviewees cited the Island’s shoreline retreats, including Fred Muller of upstate Spring Valley, who said, “Boy show me the beaches! I sure do love to come down here in the Summer. The beaches are just what the doctor ordered and I sure do take the doc’s advice. The sand is nice white sand just like the sugar on the table, and the water is good.”

Back in 1947, Levittown was just beginning to emerge from the potato fields of Hempstead. So perhaps it’s not a surprise that running a close second to beaches as a Long Island magnet was something that has been dwindling pretty consistently since then: life in the “country.”

“If you want country life, a drive of a few miles in the car and you can get lost,” noted John Montgomery of Malverne.

“As for country life there is plenty of it around and you don’t have to go very far to get lost,” said Dorothy Facompre, formerly of upstate Hyde Park but by then apparently residing somewhere on Long Island.

Facompre ticked off a litany of positives with the zeal of a native: “very fine homes,” beautiful scenery, the “nicest” yacht clubs, “excellent” night spots, and “friendly and congenial” people — a list most modern Long Islanders also would endorse.

Helen Gamble of Lynbrook added two other attractions: schools that are not as crowded as in the city and “fine parks where you can take the children and not have to worry about them getting in trouble on the city streets.”

Then as now, the city was the point of contrast, the geographical boogeyman whose qualities one was trying to escape.

As Montgomery put it: “Boy, I’ve lived in the city for a long time and now I have just moved out to Malverne and I wouldn’t go back for all the tea in China. You have freedom out here that you don’t have in the city.”

Montgomery also noted “fresh air” and “no gas fumes from trucks”; it would be interesting to hear his take on that today.

And then there was Frank Strohasan of Lynbrook, who spoke like a real estate agent: location, location, location.

“Not only do you live in the country but you also live near the biggest city in the world,” he said, tapping into a yin-yang many Long Islanders still embrace. “You can commute to the city to your place of business and after a hard day in the hot city come out to the country where it is usually ten degrees cooler. Then hop in the car and in a few minutes you can reach the beach for a cool refreshing dip in the ocean. Boy, just show me any other place where you can do things like that.”

Seventy-five years later — as long as your train is not delayed and the road to the beach has no construction and the sharks aren’t biting — the dream is still alive.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie and Amanda Fiscina @adfiscina

Programming Point

The Point will be back Monday, July 11. Have a great weekend!