Keeping an eye
           on our community

Hi Everyone
It's been over a month since our last update

Joint meeting with Swan Lake Park Civic on Monday September 12th, 2016.  Greeting time from 7pm to 7:30 followed by meeting. The address is 86 Lake Drive, E. Patchogue.  Lake Drive is at the corner of Robo Car Wash and across from Swan Cleaners.

You may have noted a large building under construction at the corner of Phyllis and the south Sunrise Service Road. It will be a furniture store.  Councilman Neil Foley contacted the owner and asked if he would attend a joint meeting with Swan Lake Civic and Focus East Patchogue and display his plans for the building.  We are concerned about privacy and safety along Phyllis and Franklin as well as Ingress and egress, all of which we hope to resolve at this meeting.
Our last known application for this property was for a nursery and at the time Franks was across Sunrise on the north service road. Later, Franks closed and the owner of this parcel apparently decided not to locate in Patchogue.  Home Depot was also opened on the north side and they had a large garden area.

The land was vacant for a while and apparently the corner parcel was purchased and joined with the proposed nursery parcel.  We also had a proposal regarding a furniture store at the time but we rejected the idea concerned that if it failed, the building would then become an eyesore in the neighborhood just as the Plaza and a few other buildings at the time.  The other concern was if the Town would, in the future, allow this building to be split into four or five store fronts creating a strip shopping center which both the Town and the public have had concerns over for many years prior.

This approval was issued, apparently back in 2007, and unknown to us. This was the same time that the CVS building was approved at the corner of Phyllis and Main Street. 
Councilman Neil Foley investigated the application and found that the project met the zoning codes for the property thus the builder has every right to build. Since we have not met the builder owner, we are hoping to begin a friendly relationship and request that he work along with the community regarding our concerns for privacy, truck deliveries and outside lighting, etc. These are the same concerns we had with St Joseph Sports Center and so far our mutual arrangement has worked for them and our residents.  If you have any concerns or are interested in being informed as to what will be constructed there, please attend our joint meeting next month.

Main Street Clean Up.  First we want to thank everyone who participated in helping to clean up Main Street of the growing out of control weeds, the weed infested tree beds and even the sand and garbage that was clinging to the curbs in the street. "Thank You!"
We tried to take some pictures of the before and after clean up so you could see the enormous difference and to hopefully encourage the property owners or merchants to take more care and concern to the front of their properties. (These pictures have been moved to our Bulletin Board page on our web site.)  Customers view your business from the outside in, and if the outside is neglected or dirty, who will want to enter that business?  This may be an old and outdated saying but it still has a ring of truth today, "cleanliness is next to Godliness".

Now look at the closed bar next to Otto and Peters.  The siding is destroyed, the place was only cleaned because Focus volunteers cleaned it, and there seems to be no shame or concern on the part of the owner.  How can anyone expect to rent a store front looking as that does?
A few had asked some of the volunteers why they were cleaning up when the owners do not care and our answer was and is, that if we do not do something tangible to motivate them, Patchogue will slide back to how it was over 12 years ago.

A letter or flyer alone, will not work.  So we are doing both.  We have cleaned up what we can and now we will circulate a flyer to each store and merchant requesting their help and support in keeping their store areas clean of weeds, garbage, etc.  We ask if you, when you shop, can mention to those merchants that you support Focus and hope that they will help by following up on what has been done.  Thank you for your support.

Health Center Update  We received a note from Legislator Calarco's office that the County will purchase the closed Verizon Building on North Ocean Avenue and move the County Health Center to that location by June of 2018. The county signed a three year extension lease from June 2015 to June 2018, against our wishes and a broken promise that the health center would be out by or before June of 2015.  We have been requesting that the health center be moved since the days when Brian Foley was our County Legislator, years ago. We had even made it known that we would prefer the Suffolk County College satellite over the Health Center.  We were ignored but up front given excuses. We had meetings and discussions and they all went nowhere. No one took us seriously for we were disrespected and ignored. The Plaza building was the main focus of attention so the health center issue, promised to be moved by 2015, was a second or third on our list of priorities.

Our choice of land was to locate the health center on Hospital Road, where all the majority of health services are located. Originally there was land available behind the 7-11, which would have been ideal. The real estate broker involved had tried to work a deal with the County. We are talking about 9 years ago, and before the medical building was constructed across from the Hospital.  We want the taxpayers to own the building. This is a permanent investment in health services, and the county should own, not rent. We were doing their job looking for locations..

Our next opportunity came when the Island Grill closed.  This could have been another suitable location for the Health Center.  In the end, it is obvious that the powers that be do not want the health center anywhere near Hospital Road. Plans are created before decisions are made.  The Verizon building was mentioned but we didn't care for the location far removed from the Hospital and other medical facilities. We were also informed that the Square Footage of the building was much more than the Health Center required, even considering future expansion. Hudson River Health also became the central party, not the County.  All of a sudden, we are informed that money was approved to purchase the Verizon Building.  We were never notified that this building was being seriously considered. We were never notified that a resolution was submitted to the legislature to obtain the funds to purchase and improve the building. The County Legislature, all 18, should have heard if there were any concerns or cautions from the residents, before voting.

At one time, Focus was accused of not caring for the health center patients, which was not true. Our position and suggestion, over the years, was to have a Hospital Road location, which would have been sensitive and more appropriate for the patients then what they did without our input. 
So the Health Center will be off Main Street within the next two years, far removed from retail stores but also far removed from other medical services. Another civics lesson for all.

Our next focus must be on total improvement of that area of Main Street, and to make it a real destination. We need the property owners to join together and rebuild as is done in many states around America. This could be valuable property and a popular destination but it will require creative planning and vision, not the renting of a furniture store, a 99 cent store, more Laundromats, etc.  Our area is full of those services.

The Nursing Home on Schoenfeld Blvd, behind the CVS property, has been having problems with their sewage treatment plant.  Many do not know that there was such a plant or even that there is a nursing home off Phyllis Drive. At this time, arrangements are being prepared to extend a sewer line from the nursing home to the main line under Main Street and Phyllis. According to County Legislator Rob Calarco and Councilman Neil Foley, the whole project should take another year or two, but after completion, the nursing home will have increased land for more parking spaces. This will address the street parking issues and concerns of residents living next to the nursing facility.  It will also end any future possible danger of polluting Swan Lake. The problem will be ripping up our roads and hoping they will be repaved with quality so as not to break apart in two years, as what happens with most road that have been torn apart and closed again.  Disturbed earth takes time to settle but the road must be ready to use ASAP. Thus, in time, the road begins to sink in the disturbed areas. Snow plows can't remove the snow as it then turns to ice. Soon the blacktop is lifted up after a freeze. We need to connect for the Nursing Home, but keeping these experiences in mind is what we need to do for future planning, not just in Patchogue, but all over our Island.

U Haul (formerly Floral Fantasyland)  Some have asked us when will they begin work. Actually, a representative of U Haul came to one of our joint meetings with Swan Lake Park Civic and explained to us what they were planning to do.  When completed, it will be a rental space place.  They had explained that the interior was in very bad condition.  It had been vacant for so many years that we could not imagine the interior condition. They began to remove all that they could to begin the clean up. They are actually working from the inside out because of the need to prepare for a clean and safe storage facility.
It was also explained to us that U Haul doesn't just rent trucks but offers other items needed if you are moving, locally transporting or storing items. When it is opened, it will certainly compliment our area with another diverse business.

Congratulations to the Miramar Beach Civic Association, and Jackie Schwicke on completing 3 years as a civic group.  We are proud of the association and your many accomplishments.  We also thank you for the compliment that Focus was your inspiration to form the civic group. Now you can help guide and encourage others to get involved in their neighborhood!!  Special thanks also that you pass on our email updates to your members. Patchogue, from north to south and east to west, is a large area with thousands of residents and one common desire to live in a safe and clean community.

Our Web Site:  If you recall, we began our web site for the purpose of having a direct communication with our community, controlling our email list of members and without having ads flashing across the screen while you are trying to read or view something. In the past ten years technology has rapidly changed and wireless phones and tablets have replaced land phones and many cameras and video camcorders.
We are testing what works for our web site. We want our web site to compliment the tablet and phone.  We do have a presence on Face book, which Karen Pacell has worked on for us, but all these sites are time consuming. What is the ultimate goal?  To communicate with local residents so you are informed of what is going on in our Town and County.  In the end it is still up to you to get involved, if only to send out an email with your suggestions.  Everyone can help just as if it were a board room with all of us attending. What happens if no one says anything?  The one who suggests is the one who succeeds with that idea. Many times it is our email members who alert us as to activities that we wouldn't be aware of any other way. We need your input.
Let me try to encourage everyone with these illustrations but applied to Focus and our thousands of residents: 

When the show, the apprentice, was broadcasting, ideas were first discussed in the board room.  Mr. Trump listened to everyone and also asked those who 'didn't speak' for their input.  The project was then executed and the results brought back to the board room.  Based on the results and the input of all workers, someone was fired.  Point is that everyone participated toward the goal of raising money for their charity.  EVERYONE, from the Chairman to all the members, including those who were withdrawn to speak.

When the Declaration of Independence was being prepared, everyone had input and Thomas Jefferson was selected to write it.  It was then reviewed and changes were made. There were dozens of points made clear to the King of England as to why the people were forming a new government.  One such complaint, of the dozens, has been my own concern for decades.  'The King held Meetings at such times and places as to be inconvenient to the people.'
In our time, with our methods of communication, there must be a way to honestly and effectively reach out to the public, seek their opinion, and record it for consideration by those we elect.  You cannot hold a public hearing while the public is working and cannot attend.  You cannot allow a short time for the public to speak or write their concerns, with no time for all the public to hear, or to be sure the elected board has heard, digested all remarks and honestly considered all suggestions. You need time, not just the last 30 days. The public should be involved from the beginning, not the end.

I speak from years of experience in the building business where planning boards bring the public into the application at the end where there is no time remaining to act on real concerns, and where the builders have spent all their funds to make expensive changes only to satisfy a small planning board with no input from the public.  In my family of builders, I witnessed my uncles seeking the advice of the neighbors first and then submitting plans to the town. There was no law preventing what they did but there were no rules suggesting or encouraging each applicant to do such a thing either.

Yes, it's true, we cannot satisfy everyone and we cannot do ,as in the 'Apprentice', and go around asking those that 'didn't speak' for their 'input', but no one can be accused of not asking or trying.  I would love to say that our County had tried and  included us regarding the health center purchase.

Applying what we learn for the future is wisdom.  God Bless