by Michael Daly
All told, the population of the five East End townships and the Shinnecock Reservation is approximately 140,000 people. he population of the rest of Suffolk County is approximately 1.4 million.
This area, known as the Peconic Bay Region, is comprised of the five East End townships: Riverhead, Southold, Shelter Island, East Hampton and Southampton and the Shinnecock Reservation. But within those townships are a total of 10 villages and 41 hamlets — a complete list is on East End YIMBY on Facebook.
Wow. We have only 10 percent as many people as the rest of Suffolk County and Suffolk County Government is our only regional municipal government!
In other words, Suffolk County oversees the collection and distribution of taxes, resources for transportation, health department, healthcare, social benefits, housing, etc. for the Peconic Region, and our political power is only 10 percent of what the rest of the county has.
While we only have 10 percent of the total population of Suffolk County in our region, we have nearly 40 percent of the land in the county! Do you understand why we have hardly any public transportation in our Peconic Region? Or why there is little to no focus on economic development in our region?
We have no governing body that is directly and solely responsible for our best interests. For every request for services we make, ten times as many people are asking for it or demanding it in the towns of Smithtown, Babylon, Brookhaven, Islip and Huntington.
As every region does, the Peconic Region has its very own set of challenges and opportunities. Affordable housing, water quality, marine life, conservation, job training, healthcare and education are all areas where we need leadership, assistance and support.
We recognize that many of the federal, state, county and regional resources are held, managed and distributed by politicians, political appointees and government employee’s who do not live in the Peconic Region, because the population, and therefore the political representation, is heavily distributed to the western part of the county.
Therefore, a group of East Enders has decided we need to do several things to strengthen our political capital:
1. We seek to establish a not-for-profit corporation that will clearly identify the needs of the Peconic Region and develop private/public partnerships that will attract the resources needed to maintain a sustainable region through economic development and smart housing solutions.
2. We seek to create a governing body for the Peconic Region that will look out for our regional best interests and work with the non-profits to connect with government resources. One failed attempt at forming this body was in the 1990s.
In 1997, 71 percent of the East End voters approved a non-binding resolution to secede from Suffolk County. However, the New York State Assembly never approved the enabling legislation.
It’s speculated that the Assembly was afraid that it would encourage a wave of secessions in the state, including Staten Island seceding from New York City, and perhaps even cause the division of upstate and downstate New York.
3. Vote, vote, vote in local, county, state and federal elections, including this upcoming November 2018 election for leaders who vow to support our region and provide us with the resources we need to establish ourselves as a sustainable community.
And while we’re at it, let’s bring some young leaders and some people of color/culture into our leadership ranks. White folk are less than 85 percent of our population here in the Peconic Region. Look around at your local, county and state representatives. I think we need to see more diversity in our leadership ranks.
We The People have a lot of work to do. Are you in? I am!