After a two-year, COVID-induced dormancy, the Greater Ronkonkoma Civic Association met for the first time in the basement of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on 45 Lake Street in Lake Ronkonkoma to swear in a new batch of officers. The Honorable Judge Alfred Graf swore in the board members.
The group mostly met at and was inspired to recreate the civic by the Midway Crossing Project – a large controversial commercial development advocated for by many leaders in government, business and labor – which stands to transform the area around MacArthur Airport, as previously covered by The Messenger.
At several public meetings of the Midway Crossing Project, Matt Miller and Sal Napolitano took notice of the project as “something that was both inviting and also scary; and like all development, it should be done smart,” according to Napolitano.
“Midway Crossing caused everyone to take a very hard look at what was going to be developed on the Islip side of the Ronkonkoma train station.”
The meeting drew members and representatives from government and business. Legislator Trish Bergin (R-East Islip), Senator Alexis Weik (R-Sayville), Supervisor Angie Carpenter (R), Receiver of Taxes Andy Wittman (R-Sayville), Councilman John Lorenzo (R-Sayville), and a representative of Assemblyman Doug Smith (R-Holbrook), Shawn Hymns, as well as Ed McNamara of the Greater Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce, who all spoke and fielded questions from the audience. More elected officials are expected to attend future meetings. Government officials in attendance at this first meeting congratulated the civics’ reboot.
There has been much malaise in Ronkonkoma following the development of the Ronkonkoma Hub project, which has only been exacerbated by the uncertainties of Midway Crossing.
Furthermore, some concerned residents came to speak of Ronkonkoma as a “forgotten hamlet” – a characterization Napolitano refutes.
Weik also disagreed with the characterization of Ronkonkoma as a forgotten hamlet, emphasizing her ties to the area.
Others voiced concerns related to development, affordable housing, infrastructure and Lake Ronkonkoma.
Now officially headed by Co-Presidents Sal Napolitano and Matt Miller, the board also consists of Lisa O’Mara, Treasurer; Diane Mottola, Secretary; Larry Farrell, Media Trustee; Grace Bohl, Trustee; and Carol Ryan, Trustee are looking to grow the organization and soon work with surrounding civics to work for the collective good of the township.
Miller emphasized to the audience that the best way to go about voicing their concerns was to be organized “to get the development we need for our community.”
The group aims to hold regular meetings with loose agendas to always be able to react to community concerns. And when they cannot provide attendees with answers, they intend to seek them out.
Another topic the civic and elected officials were concerned with was Hochul’s ‘compact housing’ proposal, which, if passed, threatens to override local zoning laws. This budget measure is particularly aimed at areas surrounding train stations, a proposition which particularly worries Ronkonkoma residents, many of whom are already frustrated by current levels of development.
Despite the numerous problems brought to their attention, the civic, made up of longtime community members, appears well-positioned to produce the answers the community seeks.