What should happen to the long-shuttered Violet Cove restaurant and marina in Mastic Beach?
Members of the Pattersquash Creek Civic Association offered County Executive Steve Bellone and Legis. Rudy Sunderman plenty of ideas at their recent meeting.
The property is owned by the county, which had offered to sell it to the former Mastic Beach Village. The village, now dissolved, had agreed to buy it then quickly reversed course given the expense.
“The waterfront needs to be available to the people who live there,” one resident said, adding that it shouldn’t be “for outsiders first and foremost.”
“We shouldn’t be priced out of waterfront in our community,” she said.
A man who said he’s been in the community for 78 years and remembers when it was built in 1946, recalled when it had a tavern and ice cream parlor and yearned for something similar.
One man called for a catering hall and restaurant to bring business the region, while others said it would serve as a good location for shellfish hatchery, in coordination with a group like the Cornell Cooperative Extension, to help clean the waters.
April Coppola, a William Floyd School District board member who attended the meeting, said she was aware of educational programs with other institutions, and that connecting the district with a program at the facility sounded interesting.
“Any program that could offer an experience where students can use what they learn on the outside and then relate it back to the classroom is a wonderful opportunity,” she said in a follow-up email.
Sunderman said Cornell and several other organizations had reached out to his office about a shellfish hatchery, and that he’s passed on his the information to Bellone.
Developing ‘a broader vision’
“I’ll do whatever you want me to do,” Bellone told the group of about 40 people. But he stressed that he doesn’t believe in “site by site planning.” Rather, he said he was open to bringing in experts “to develop a broader vision.”
At the end of that process, he said, it would become clear what should happen with Violet Cove.
“What I fundamentally believe is that whatever happens has to come from the community. It has to be community-based. The ingredients we have here are extraordinary,” Bellone said. “If there is interest in the community … we will do everything we can to make it happen.”
Bellone’s comments drew the ire of some people in the audience, who noted that a big reason why the Village of Mastic Beach was established was to develop that plan, and now they felt like they had to start from scratch.
“Why are we the armpit of Long Island?” a woman asked. “Why doesn’t anyone want to invest in us?”
Bellone said he was there to listen to ideas and was encouraged by what he heard.
“What government should do is support community-based efforts,” Bellone said. “It takes commitment. It takes perseverance.”
The future of Neighborhood Road
Civic association president Frank Fugarino said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico would attend the civic association’s meeting on April 1 to discuss planning for Neighborhood Road.
Sunderman said he sees the development of Neighborhood Road as key to a successful Violet Cove property, especially if a sewer line comes down to the business district.
“We’re going to look at every option and see what’s viable,” Sunderman said in a phone interview. “We have to look at the resiliency of whatever’s going to go there.”