Some residents of Manorville say their “little corner of the town” is neglected by Riverhead Town government.
Residents of Old River Road have not been able to get mail delivered by the Manorville Post Office since the beginning of the month because snow and ice conditions prevent the letter carrier’s truck from safely traversing the town road. The Manorville postmaster wrote a letter to Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson this week asking him to rectify the situation.
One resident has given the town board what-for about municipal services in her neighborhood and lack of response by town officials to her requests for help.
Another resident says that the community’s situation regarding emergency medical service response time has not been addressed despite five years of complaints to town officials.
Kelly McClinchy, who lives on Old River Road in Manorville near the Swan Lake golf course, filed a letter of complaint with the town clerk’s office Tuesday.
The snow and ice have made the road almost completely impassable for a month now, McClinchy says. Beyond that, the road urgently needs drainage work and complete repaving. Ruts and holes have damaged her car to the tune of $500 in repair work.
“I am disgusted by the lack of response from town officials,” McClinchy said in her letter dated Feb. 24. McClinchy said she had trouble getting hold of the highway superintendent, who “will not return my phone calls.” Calls and emails to town board members and visits to town hall have left her similarly frustrated.
In addition to the road conditions, McClinchy says she has trouble getting the police to respond to requests for a patrol car to her road, where a neighbor is currently being prosecuted for renting a house without a permit and where one of his tenants was arrested for prostitution last year. She is suspicious of drug activity in the area, she says.
“I have also raised concerns numerous times over whether or not emergency vehicles can reach us if it were necessary,” McClinchy wrote. “My husband is an amputee and I dread the day that we are not able to be reached in an efficient and timely manner by emergency services if necessary.”
But getting emergency services in a timely manner remains a persistent problem, according to Oakwood Road resident Clare Bennett, who, with a group of neighbors complained to the town board at public meetings in 2012 and 2013 about 30- to 40-minute response times by Riverhead ambulances.
The area is located near the Brookhaven Town border, just outside the Manorville ambulance district, which is served by the volunteer Manorville Community Ambulance Corps. But the 60-plus homes in the area are in Riverhead Town, within the Riverhead ambulance district, and are served by the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
A Manorville Community Ambulance station, located on South Street in Manorville, is located less than three miles away. The Riverhead ambulance headquarters, located on Osborn Avenue in central Riverhead, is a little more than 10 miles away.
Logistics are complicated because of glitches in the routing of 911 calls made from the area, which were being sent to Suffolk County for dispatch rather than Riverhead PD. Further complicating emergency response were errors in the database that had certain Manorville addresses incorrectly listed as located in Wading River or Calverton.
Supervisor Sean Walter told Manorville residents during an Aug. 7, 2012 public meeting that Riverhead would explore an intermunicipal agreement with Brookhaven Town that would allow the Manorville ambulance corps to serve the area. The Manorville residents liked that idea, but Bennett says to date, it’s gone nowhere.
“We’re just a little corner a forgotten part of Riverhead,” Bennett said today.
She said she and her neighbors remain fearful of what might happen if they need an ambulance. “We’ve been lucky that situation hasn’t arisen. Someone could die,” she said.
The highway department, meanwhile, has returned to Old River Road and applied additional salt sand, Woodson told RiverheadLOCAL yesterday. He intends to repave about half of Old River Road this season, he said.
Snow blowing off the golf course made keeping the road open and the lack of vehicular traffic on that road makes salt less effective once the snow packs down and ices over. There’s also a lack of sunshine along that stretch, which alos inhibits melting, Woodson said.
“I can only do so much,” Woodson said. “That road is out there all by itself. We plowed it, we put salt sand down. But it doesn’t do much without sun and traffic. It’s been a bad winter,” Woodson said in a phone interview Monday.
“She told me she’s been here two years,” Woodson told town board members today during a discussion of the situation. “I said, ‘Well, you should have maybe done your homework first. This is the way it is out here. You’re coming from Hempstead or wherever else— the topography out here is different than it is out west.’ It’s passable. It may not be the most comfortable ride, but it is what it is,” he said.
McClinchy confirmed Woodson has called her and met with her since he was contacted by RiverheadLOCAL seeking comment for this story. Highway trucks have been back to clean up the road and put down more salt. “Throughout our meeting and conversation, [Woodson] demonstrated professionalism, knowledge, and the desire to be honest and truthful with me,” she said in an email this morning.
McClinchy says Walter asked her to tell the town board members they should not agree to fund a new pay-loader Woodson wants unless he agrees to repave Old River Road. She was outraged that the supervisor would try to draw a constituent into a game of horse-trading among elected officials.
“That is sneaky and outlandish!” she wrote in the letter. “This road should be taken care of because it is in a state of disrepair, not as a threat to other members of the community to purchase machinery that may be needed elsewhere.”
Walter admitted he made that request of McClinchy and said he was just trying to make it clear that the only leverage the town board has over the highway superintendent is the power of the purse strings.
“The town officials should be embarrassed and ashamed of how they behave toward each other,” McClinty said. “The residents suffer when they spend their time and energy belittling each other and bickering the way they do. Their own political agendas and petty disputes don’t concern me.”
“Enough is enough,” she wrote in her letter. “It is time that this area of the town goes from the little, forgotten-about corner to being as well-served as other areas of the town.”
Woodson attended today’s town board work session to discuss purchasing the new payloader, among other things.
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