By Alexander Corrigan
The Town of Brookhaven, and its Quality of Life Task Force, pulled out their brooms and took to the streets in order to clean up the neighborhood.
This past October the Town of Brookhaven completed “Operation Clean Sweep” in the neighborhood of Farmingville. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko (D- Brookhaven) created the task force in 2008 to eliminate blight in neighborhoods, shutdown suburban slumlords, and prosecute serial offenders.
“Farmingville is our sixth clean-up effort,” said Supervisor Lesko. “The Quality of Life Task Force will…work to eliminate residential blight like what existed on 33 Woodmont Place.” The property on 33 Woodmont Place was destroyed in a fire, but remained as a prime example of suburban blight, and served as the staging point for the Farmingville clean up effort.
The impact has been monumental all over the Town of Brookhaven. In Farmingville alone Operation Clean Sweep has replaced 129 street signs, repaired or replaced 38 streetlights, trimmed or removed 19 trees, swept all the streets in the hamlet and removed a total of 2.5 tons of trash.
“I thank our Quality of Life Task Force for the great job they do in maintaining the high quality of life in our residential communities,” said Supervisor Lesko “By targeting areas like this one, we have been able to clean up neighborhoods block-by-block.”
The program launched in April of this year in Selden, where it was announced there would be six separate efforts to clean up specific neighborhoods. The first effort alone had a deep impact, creating a difference right from the start. In Selden the task force replaced 44 street signs, fixed 40 street lamps, swept 40 streets and cleaned all catch basins, removed over 1200 pounds of trash and issued 78 code violations.
Included in those 78 code violations was a search warrant executed by the sixth precinct on the property at 16 Pinehurst Court in Selden, six appearance tickets were issued for atrocious violations of the town zoning laws by turning a two family house into a multi-family house that was barely livable.
The operation continued across the Town of Brookhaven, targeting specific neighborhoods in the following months. Following the efforts in Selden the task force moved to Rocky Point in June. Then Mastic in August, Medford in September, Port Jefferson Station in October, and ending in Farmingville.
“The coordinated effort by Town departments really helped to show a tangible difference for this neighborhood,” said Highway Superintendent John Rouse. “While we do this work every day, focusing in on a small area with such an array of town resources lets us show these residents that their quality of life continues to be at the forefront of our daily effort.”
The neighborhoods have responded well to the clean up efforts and have shown an appreciable difference. Since its formation in 2008 through 2010 there has been a 255% increase in fines levied for code violations, including almost one million dollars in fines in 2010.
However not all members of the community have been impacted as greatly. Students polled at Suffolk Community College barely seemed to notice the difference.
“That’s why there was all those clean-up trucks on my block” said student Adam Gajewski, a Farmingville resident, “I didn’t realize they were cleaning up my whole town.”
If residents believe that a property is in violation of any Town of Brookhaven codes, they are encouraged to call (631) 451-TOWN in order to file a complaint.