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It was a beautiful spring day in Manorville back in April, when elected officials, and anyone that saw a potential photo opportunity to gather to celebrate the announcement and the promise to bring clean water to Manorville residents. Residents that have fought a battle for over 20 years to get clean water. It wasn’t until contamination from the Old Grumman site hit the radar that the residents “hit the map” and gained much needed attention and help.

We were 64 residents close to the Grumman site seeking help for clean water. My neighbors and I attended meetings, made phone calls, spoke with reporters and news stations, basically looking for anyone that would listen to us and help us. As we gained more recognition and supporters, Manorville residents in the Brookhaven town side joined the fight for clean water with us — a decision on their part that has paid off quickly for them.

I sat back and listened to the speeches, praises, all the while saying to myself, this is never going to happen. I heard the promises; we all have, but maybe this was it, this time was different. After all, Suffolk County Water Authority seemed to have their ducks lined up, and the hand was out to help us. They, Suffolk County Water Authority, just wanted the funding that was slated from approved grants before they started installation of pipes on the Riverhead Town side. As soon as Riverhead Town received the money, clean water would be coming to us.

The Champagne corks popped back in April, and thanks were given, and everybody went their way. Most of the people in attendance, if not all, excluding residents, went to their homes, where clean water runs through the pipes, without concern of contamination or health risks from drinking or bathing in water. We, the residents of Manorville, don’t have that luxury. Is clean water a luxury anyway?

We were told Brookhaven town residents would see the pipes ready to go in the ground first. Manorville and Calverton residents residing in The town of Riverhead, would have to wait a little longer, most likely towards the end of the summer/end of the year. Suffolk County Water Authority is on top of things. They talk the talk, and believe it or not, walk the walk — even offering to provide a helping hand with paperwork to Riverhead Town to speed things up.

Well, the Brookhaven side residents can breathe a side of relief, clean water is coming, as promised, with the installation of pipes already begun.

Here’s where the crickets come in.

A few calls to the Riverhead Town office to get an update had me transferred, put on hold, then told I needed to speak to the person in charge of Riverhead water, Frank Mancini. I knew Frank wasn’t in charge of submitting grants, but I left a message, and the call was returned —only to be told he doesn’t handle the grants. Hats off for the returned call, Frank. At least someone is doing their job. I was told Dawn Thomas handles the grants.

It doesn’t surprise me the waiting game for clean water rests with paperwork. I would think something so simple to get done wouldn’t take so long, but it does, and it’s frustrating to know that this isn’t a top priority for the Town of Riverhead elected officials, and staff. Keep in mind these grants were approved a long time ago. Who’s in charge of following up for the residents? Guaranteed if the people elected to office or working on getting clean water for residents near our contaminated water, we wouldn’t be waiting this long to finally get the funding already promised.

Between the EPCAL potential disaster and years of waiting to drink a glass of clean water, this is the first time I won’t be voting for a particular party, rather someone that will stand up, do what they say, and oversee people in charge of getting things done. After all, in every aspect of work, if you don’t do your job, well you don’t get to keep that job, you basically risk getting fired. Holding a position on a town board requires making decisions in the best interest of the town, residents and the future. How hard is it to finish paperwork on time? How hard is it to get things done? Crickets!

I am hoping the elected officials who held a press conference back in April will answer my questions or provide help with the “paperwork.”

Another press conference in September announcing the breaking of ground for clean water brought out more elected officials, even U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who told reporters “This is a great day for clean drinking water in Manorville.”

What a lot of people do not realize, including perhaps some elected officials, is that Manorville has residents in both the Town of Riverhead and the Town of Brookhaven. The September groundbreaking was a great day — for the Brookhaven side of Manorville. Now that the residents on the Brookhaven Town side are getting clean water, I fear the rest of us will go unnoticed, yet again.

After all, we’ve waited over 20 years to get to this point, only to hear crickets! So much for the Champagne!

Toni Pawson is a resident of Manorville in the Town of Riverhead.

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