Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization

Civic Accomplishments

LRCO: Working for our Community

Portion Road Light Posts Report: Councilman LaValle Supports Portion Road Safety
The Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization met with Brookhaven 5th District Councilman Kevin LaValle earlier this year to discuss various opportunities within our community. One of the items which we discussed was the state of the decorative light posts on Portion Road. These light posts were installed as part of the Portion Road redesign to provide lighting for pedestrians and support the community atmosphere we sponsor. Unfortunately over time a number of these light posts had been damaged.
Councilman LaValle recently reported that most of the missing and broken light posts have been fixed or replaced. We thank the Councilman for his efforts on our behalf and look forward to working with him closely in the future on this and other community matters.

The Design of Portion Road

Recently, Newsday’s “Watchdog” column discussed Portion Road and its design. Specifically, a local resident wrote to Newsday to find out why some parts of Portion Road have two travel lanes in each direction and some parts have one travel lane in each direction. The resident felt that in the sections that transition from two lanes to one lane, that drivers exhibit aggressive behavior to be at the “head of the line”.Read more...

Civic Accomplishments: Transit Oriented Development at the Ronkonkoma Hub

Throughout 2011 the Civic continued to work closely with the Town of Brookhaven Planning Department to craft the future for the area around the Ronkonkoma railroad station.
The Civic president participated on the Town’s selection committee, which ultimately chose the TRITEC Company, a developer based on Long Island, as the master developer for the Ronkonkoma Hub.
Moving forward, the Civic will continue to work with the Town, and the master developer, in creating a vibrant and exciting transportation oriented development that will appeal to the next generation of workers and residents.

Civic Accomplishments: Implementing the Portion Road Corridor Land Use Plan

Planning is a rational way of preparing for the future. A process that includes gathering and analyzing data, forecasting future trends and needs, and considering alternatives, all with community input. Such was the case for the Portion Road Corridor Land Use Plan.
What began as a vision-driven process became a comprehensive community plan with specific goals, an understanding of trends and opportunities, and strategies for implementation. Back in early 2010 the Civic was proud to support the Town of Brookhaven’s adoption of Portion Road Corridor Land Use Plan, a plan the Civic helped to create.
Some of the goals of the Plan include:
• The revitalization of the long-established downtown center at Hawkins Avenue, and the development of a new downtown area at Morris Avenue, near Nicolls Road.
• The creation of Transition Areas along the roadways that bring vehicles and pedestrians into the downtown centers.
• The integration of existing Regional Centers by providing more pedestrian-friendly connections to local residential areas.
• The further development of Transportation networks that reduce congestion, enhance safety, and encourage a diversity of transportation options.
• An economic development plan that will increase appropriate retail activity, encourage the expansion of local businesses, increase the quantity of local jobs, and provide an adequate tax base.
• The interconnectivity of commercial and residential areas with local resources, such as the Lake. A related goal is the preservation and promotion of the history and historic structures in Lake Ronkonkoma.
• The establishment of architectural design guidelines to improve appearance of buildings undergoing construction or renovation, because a picturesque downtown draws more shoppers.
The adoption of the Land Use Plan was a significant accomplishment for the Civic, but it was only the first step. In June 2010, there was a Special Town Board Hearing at Brookhaven Town Hall to re-zone certain parcels within the area of the Land Use Plan, along Hawkins and Ronkonkoma Avenues. The Civic supported this series of re-zonings because it changed the zoning of specific parcels where the current use of the property matched the Land Use Plan, but not the current zoning. This action removed the burden of a Change of Zone application from property owners who want to develop a parcel in compliance with the Land Use Plan, and it also protects residential parcels from inappropriate development. The Town was successful in re-zoning close to all the parcels presented at the hearing. Another special hearing for a similar purpose for parcels along Portion Road will be scheduled for 2012.
The Civic also continues to work on enforcing the architectural design guidelines contained in the Land Use Plan. The Civic’s Land Use Plan Implementation Committee comments on drawings submitted to the Town of Brookhaven and appears in front of the Town’s Planning Board to ensure that proposed façade changes comply with the design guidelines.

Civic Accomplishments: Access to Your Elected Representatives and More

When was the last time you were able to meet face to face with one of your elected representatives to voice your concern about a particular issue? Well, if you’re a Civic member who attends our meetings then that opportunity occurs almost every month. Our monthly meetings are frequently attended by elected representatives from New York State, Suffolk County, and the Town of Brookhaven. These representatives provide our members with the latest information on local and regional issues, such as the Ronkonkoma Hub, the Bavarian Inn property, LIPA, taxes, and budgets. Members also get the opportunity to ask about issues that are important to them.
Also, don’t be surprised if an officer from the 4th or 6th Precinct is in attendance to report on the what’s happening in the area.

Civic Accomplishments: We Made Membership Even Easier

The Civic website started accepting credit cards, so now you can pay your membership dues online, quickly, safely and securely. New or renewing members can visit our "Join the Civic" web page, and then need only click on a button to be automatically transferred to a secure PayPal-hosted page where they can complete the payment for membership using American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa, or a PayPal account. Credit card information remains safe and secure with PayPal's encrypted website, and the Civic does not store, nor have access to, any credit card data.

By making membership renewal easier, the Civic can reduce the need to mail out letters and make phone calls to remind members to renew and devote its limited resources to other activities such as…
Creating Eyes on the Street

Civic Accomplishments: Creating Eyes on the Street

In 2011, the Civic continued to promote the establishment of Neighborhood Watches. During the year, the Civic, along with other local community groups, had a chance to meet with Inspector James Rhoads, Commanding Officer of the 4th Precinct, and other precinct officers. One of the many topics we discussed was the effectiveness of Neighborhood Watches. Within the 4th Precinct, which encompasses the Town of Smithtown and portions of Islip and Brookhaven around the Lake, there are 21 active Neighborhood Watches, of which 7 are in Ronkonkoma. That’s a great start, but the Civic knows that we can still do more to fight local crime.
By working together with Suffolk County Police, neighbors learn how to safeguard each other’s homes by observing and reporting. By observing and reporting any suspicious circumstance, neighborhoods actually increase their own safety.
Police cannot fight crime they do not know about. When alert citizens keep them informed, the police are far more effective against crime, and citizens have better protection and safer neighborhoods.
In 2012 the Civic will continue to help organize Neighborhood Watches in our area. If you’re interested, contact the Civic President at president@lakeronkonkomacivic.org or the COPE office at the 4th Precinct at (631) 854-8478, or for neighborhoods east of Hawkins Avenue, the COPE office at the 6th Precinct at (631) 854-8670.

Civic Accomplishments: Speaking Out at Brookhaven Zoning Board Hearings

Overall the Civic continues to advocate for public involvement in the development of our community. We have voiced support for the zoning changes necessary to implement the Portion Road Land Use Plan and continue to monitor building proposals for their compliance with the Plan. The Civic supports the concept of a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Plan for the Ronkonkoma Hub and worked hard to assure there were community meetings to give residents a chance to voice their concerns over this Plan. The Civic also continues to oppose flag lot developments that significantly degrade the character of residential communities.

Civic Accomplishments: Meet the Candidates

Every election year the Executive Board has invited local candidates to a Civic meeting to meet with our members, and this year was no different. This past October our members were able talk one on one about the issues that are important to them with the candidates for Suffolk County Executive, Suffolk County 4th and 12th Legislative Districts, Brookhaven Supervisor, and Brookhaven 5th Council District, along with local judicial candidates.

Civic Accomplishments: Litter Cleanups That Make a Difference

The Town of Brookhaven scheduled Town-wide cleanup events once again this past April as a part of their Keep Brookhaven Beautiful campaign; an affiliate program of Keep America Beautiful. The Civic continued to participate in the planning and coordination of this annual event by identifying some local sites in need of special attention and getting local residents to volunteer their time.
Because a clean community discourages littering and raises local living standards and quality of life, the Civic also hosts a monthly litter cleanup along Portion Road. On the first Saturday of the month, volunteers meet in the parking lot at the southwest corner of the intersection of Portion Road and Holbrook Road, where our litter coordinator, Ken Kellaher, distributes gloves, safety vests and trash bags. Then each team walks a small section of the road collecting litter in bags that will picked up later. If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to walk more this year, you can improve your health and your community by volunteering for our litter cleanup. For more information, you can contact Ken at 736-0626.

Civic Accomplishments: Support for Street Sign Maintenance

Every year we ask our members to keep an eye out for street name signs and traffic control signs that are missing or vandalized or in generally bad condition and report the locations to the Civic. The Civic then compiles a list and sends it to the appropriate departments at the Town of Brookhaven with a request to have the signs repaired or replaced, and in the majority of cases the Town has done so. Although this yearly task may seem minor, the Civic encourages members to participate every year because visible traffic control signs, such as stop signs, help reduce accidents, and legible street signs can assist emergency vehicles when responding to a crisis.

Civic Accomplishments: Voicing our Concerns to Brookhaven’s Planning Board

The Brookhaven Planning Board holds hearings regarding proposed development site plans, subdivisions, and variances for the clearance of property vegetation. The Civic monitors the Planning Board’s agenda and speaks out on behalf of the community when there are site plans that are unattractive or objectionable to adjacent homeowners, or against subdivisions that will overcrowd our area or are poorly designed. The Civic also opposes the relief of clearing covenants that significantly reduce the required percentage of native trees and natural vegetation on certain parcels. Excessively replacing native growth with landscaped areas can increase water pollution from fertilizer and insecticides, and reduce the habitat available to local wildlife.
The Civic also enforces the architectural design guidelines contained in the Portion Road Land Use Plan by commenting on façade designs submitted to the Town’s Planning Board.
We encourage our members to attend Planning Board hearings and let their voices be heard; the success of the Civic indicates that our participation does not go unheeded.

Civic Accomplishments: Advocates for the Lake

The Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization played a major role in the designation of the lake by Governor Patterson as a New York State Inland Waterway. To take advantage of that designation, during 2011 the Civic worked with Suffolk County Legislator John Kennedy to have Suffolk County and the Towns of Brookhaven, Islip, and Smithtown to create a Lake Ronkonkoma Watershed Intermunicipal Organization. That effort will continue into 2012, and when completed the LRWIO would facilitate the coordination between the municipalities in regard to activities within the watershed and create a watershed management plan.
To further the public-private partnership strategy for the area around the lake, the Civic also created a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Ronkonkoma Lake Foundation, which has the ability to apply for grant funds for educational and environmental programs related to the lake.

Civic Accomplishments: We Host Popular Community Events

The Civic’s Annual Fall Festival is a big draw for people from all over the region, and it is THE place to be on the last Saturday of September. Besides lake activities, we have food, children’s games and rides, pony rides, a petting zoo, and many vendors and local organizations to interest everyone. Our local fire departments and police bring information and demonstrations, and tours are given from the at the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society’s Homestead. It is the perfect combination of laughter, shopping, and our beautiful lake!
At the beginning of every December we welcome Santa with our annual Breakfast With Santa, and in the Spring we have our annual Bagels With Bunny. At both the children have great fun (though we suspect the adults have just as much fun as the children) with crafts to make, coloring and puzzle sheets, food, goodie bags (and Santa hands out reindeer food), and, of course, a visit and photo-op with Santa and the Easter Bunny. Check our website for the dates for each event and reserve your seats early for a memorable time for your children or grandchildren.

Civic Accomplishments: A Scholarship to Encourage Student Advancement

The Civic is proud of our youth and we recognize their participation at school and in our community by offering a scholarship to a January or June graduate who lives within the area served by the Civic. Applicants are required to write an essay explaining how they have volunteered for community projects and it is certainly heartwarming to see how so many students make their time available for the benefit of others and the Lake Ronkonkoma area.

Civic Accomplishments: Arrowhead Park

In 2011 the Civic continued coordinate improvements to the previously abused triangular shaped property at Church Street and Pond Road. Civic member Nick Crismali heads our Buy-a-Brick campaign to raise funds for the park; residents and businesses can buy a brick engraved with a custom message, to be placed in a plaza around the flagpole. The Civic has also planted trees and flowers on the property and has it mowed regularly. We would like to give a special thanks to Civic member Daren Caranella for mowing the grass. In the future we plan to add a flag light, more trees, flower gardens, benches, and picnic tables.