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Letter: Community Dialog At The Civic Association

The next meeting of the Oyster Bay Civic Association will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 20 at the Italian American Club on 48 Summit St. (across from the Historical Society). The group is the “voice of the people” —not taking sides, but serving as a mechanism for uncovering public concerns and conveying diverse opinions and wishes to “deciders.”

Currently on the agenda is the installation of officers by Legislator Donald MacKenzie (with additional nominations accepted from the floor).  However, topics open for discussion include the clean-up and possible public acquisition of the Mill Neck Marina; the dispute between the Baymen and the Flower Oyster Farm; the application by the Hess Gas Station for a bigger sign; a proposal for drive-by mail box drops at the Post Office and the need for better traffic control at the foot of Mill Hill.

Some folks ignore their Civic Association until a crisis threatens the community (like the West Shore Road collapse after Super Storm Sandy or the proposed Avalon Bay high rise apartments).  Then they expect the OBCA to round up the troops and jump into action.

But what happens to the Civic Association when there is no immediate crisis or hot button issue?  It does not go dormant, rather dedicated, alert officers and members continue to meet in public as watchdogs of the community. When issues arise, the OBCA is already in place, to serve as a public forum.

Most of the time (on the surface) things are pretty quiet here in our historic hamlet, and that is a good thing.  However, as with any community, there is always lots of tweaking going on behind the scenes: applications for variances, new policies and personnel.  Many local issues have a long pre-history, hidden in the collective memory of the community, or belong to a particular constituency like the school or business communities, which are represented by the PTA or Chamber of Commerce.

The OBCA exists as an ongoing open meeting, welcoming regular folks to discuss all sides of an issue without bias.  They keep an eye on important issues, educating us on how the government works, tracking down rumors, following up on suggestions, and providing feedback to officials.  

But they can’t do it alone. They need many more community minded citizens to participate by attending the meetings, raising issues, voicing their opinions, volunteering to serve on committees and informing their neighbors of the issues we collectively face.

Please come to our next meeting and take part in the community dialogue!

Caroline S. DuBois