North Babylon, NY – October 6, 2015
On Tuesday, the very first North Babylon Community Summit was convened in a very fitting place, the preschool classroom in St. Paul’s Reformed Church, signaling both the infancy of the collaboration and the positive intentions responsible for it.
Surrounded by alphabet charts and smiley faces, Garrett Simulcik Sr., President of the North Babylon Chamber of Commerce, brought the meeting to order and explained how this all came about and why the Chamber invited community leaders, from as far away as Amityville to attend. “When Denise’s group, the Belmont Lake Civic Association, had a rally this summer, I was there with them. We spoke about doing more together and that’s how we got here.”
He was referring to Denise Leary, Vice President of the Belmont Lake Civic Association, who described herself as a life long active member. “Our parents were involved and active in the Civic [Association], so we were always involved in the Civic.” The Association held a Rally for Peace at Brennan High School this July in response to recent incidents they believed reduced the quality of life in the North Babylon and West Babylon area. Afterwards, Simulcik invited the Association to assist with the renovation of the Flag Station at the intersection of Sylvan Road and Deer Park Avenue. Richard Irizarry, President of the Lions Club and also present at the Summit, led that project and the North Babylon Chamber, the Boy Scouts, and both the Belmont and Parkdale Civic Associations were all represented. Simulcik suggested the Summit to the Chamber, which was welcomed as a positive move, especially by Terence McSweeney, President of the Parkdale Civic Association and an officer of the North Babylon Chamber. During the Summit he summed up what everyone was thinking.
“We are all experiencing the same problems here even though we are in different areas. I don’t consider myself a big deal, but since we revitalized the Association, we’ve gotten 4 stop signs put up and a roundabout. The more we work together, the more we can get done.” McSweeney suggested that if the members of this new Summit were to collaborate, sharing knowledge about working through the known channels that get results, North Babylon and our neighbors could solve many of the issues they were discussing.
Representatives from North Babylon, Deer Park and West Babylon all shared information and possible solutions with one another for rising issues ranging from noise nuisance, public safety, drug abuse and crime.
Jay McGraw, President of the West Babylon Community Association, voiced concerns that many Long Island communities are facing in the aftermath of the housing/financial crisis. “[Illegal] rentals are changing the quality of people that we have in our neighborhoods.” He referred to the number of zombie homes, squatters and non-compliant Section 8 renters as a pattern that his impromptu neighborhood watch had to deal with consistently. “I’m out there all times of the night, and the drug problem is real.” His colleagues from West Babylon, Gilda Gricka and Bonnie O’Connell, raised additional concerns about neglected playgrounds and new developments causing traffic congestion.
Deer Park Community Association Leader Catherine Brady confirmed that her community has been experiencing similar problems, citing evidence of drug abuse in a local park. “We thought it was just trash at first, but later found out that it was dimebags. I was not familiar with that sort of thing.”
Tim Rissmiller, a member of the North Babylon Chamber and business owner, reported a pattern of disorderly conduct nearby too. Paul DellaUniversita, the Chamber’s Vice President, was able to help end the meeting on a positive note. “I’ve lived here my entire life and I worked hard to bring my business here. I went to high school right here with Terence [McSweeney]. We worked together with the Town and now we are going to change a part of the community that was basically an eyesore, into somewhere people can work!”
The group intends to meet quarterly and submit their findings and requests to local government and law enforcement. For additional information about the next Summit call the North Babylon Chamber of Commerce at (631) 983-4283.