They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more.
Residents of Flanders, Riverside and Northampton, frustrated and upset by recent crime on their streets are planning to descend on Southampton Town Hall Tuesday to demand action. Dozens of car break-ins, an armed, early-morning home invasion and, most recently, a gangland-style murder where a man in a parked car died in a hail of bullets, have pushed residents to the brink in an area long plagued by drugs, prostitution, loitering and overcrowded, substandard rental houses owned by absentee slumlords.
‘Enough is enough’
“I’ve lived here my entire life and I’ve never been as cautious or nervous to leave my house at night. I was solicited by a prostitute when I was getting the mail at my parent’s house — in broad daylight,” said Ron Fisher, who implored the community to attend Tuesday’s Southampton Town Board meeting to demand more police protection.
Longtime residents say the area in the northwest corner of Southampton Town — home to pockets of intense poverty in one of the most affluent towns in the region — has historically been neglected by town officials who they say are far more concerned about the welfare of residents in wealthier neighborhoods “east of the canal.” They complain about extended police response time and lack of patrols by the town police.
Now, they fear the removal of the desk officer and dispatcher from the Riverside state troopers barracks will only make matters worse. The Bayview Pines Civic Association has started an online petition asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to keep the desk officer at the Riverside barracks and keep it open to the public as well as to maintain a full staff of troopers.
“Several retirees haven’t been replaced, two junior officers were transferred earlier this year and still haven’t been replaced either. Consolidating dispatch will be yet another officer taken out of Riverside to be utilized elsewhere,” the civic association says in its explanation of the petition, which so far has gathered only 128 signatures.
‘Our lives matter too’
Civic leader Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders-Riverside-Northampton Community Association says town officials have put fiscal restraint over public safety in the area.
“In one of the wealthiest townships in America, there is simply no excuse for our town leaders to continue to save tax money for the wealthiest Americans and grow reserves beyond reason by in part denying police protection to the least affluent hamlets,” Taldone wrote in an email urging residents to attend next week’s board meeting to demand more police protection.
“So if you are horrified by the often long wait times for police response, the recent surge in car break-ins, home invasions and shootouts, please join us at Town Hall on Tuesday, November 24 at 6 p.m. to tell the town council that our lives matter too,” Taldone wrote.
Town officials say the town has recently focused more attention on the area than ever before, funding an ambitious revitalization plan for Riverside and proceeding with zoning code amendments to implement.
At an Oct. 29 town board public hearing on the plan’s environmental impact statement, residents pleaded with officials to undertake the plan’s recommendations. Many pointed to crime — drug activity and prostitution that has taken its toll not only on property values and quality of life, but has also claimed the lives of their own loved ones.
The revitalization plan is a step in the right direction, but public safety concerns must be addressed now, residents say.
Southampton Town Police should designate at least one permanent sector car to patrol the area 24/7, Fisher says.
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