Newly formed Mastic Beach Conservancy last weekend invited residents to stop by the Town of Brookhaven Marina 5 parking lot to help clean the Mastic Beach parkland area and learn more about their initiative.
“I think that it’s such a beautiful area,” conservancy secretary Aeriel Brown said at the March 21 cleanup. “There’s a wealth of natural resources here and I think that it’s important to acknowledge and do our part to protect that.”
The parkland area is roughly 6 and 1/2 miles of publicly accessible, recreational waterfront. According to the Mastic Beach Conservancy, over 30 residents of Mastic Beach and the surrounding towns currently make up the nonprofit.
Maura Spery, former Mastic Beach mayor and current board of director chair of the conservancy, said she enjoys the public wetlands.
“Everywhere else on Long Island, you want a waterfront, you drive down to the end of the street, it says, ‘No Parking’ and it’s private property,” Spery said. “This, I can ride my bike to, but we need a little help fixing it up.”
The conservancy’s mission is to conserve, protect and maintain the parkland and one of the ways they hope to do that is by combating the effects of climate change and sea-level rise, according to the conservancy’s website.
“We’re like the canary in the coal mine when it comes to sea-level rise,” Spery said. “We’re low-lying, we’re a quarter mile from the Atlantic Ocean and the effects are happening to us… 20 years before they’re happening to the rest of the South Shore.”
In addition to regular cleanups throughout the year, the nonprofit hopes to create a publicly accessible blue/green trail along the parkland, create an environmental community center and have art, design and architectural projects that are inspired by the parkland.
“This diamond in the rough has been treated like coal,” Spery said. “We’re here to shine it up.”
In addition to the many families and children at the cleanup, Sen. Alexis Weik visited to show her support for the group and get her hands dirty.
“This is an important initiative because it’s an area that’s long overlooked,” Weik said. “It’s down by the water—lots of environmental impact on the area—and it’s time that we pay attention to it and start addressing some of the issues through the area environmentally so that it’s sustainable for the future.”
After a great turnout for the conservancy’s first initiative, Spery said she is optimistic for the future.
“This is the beginning of something truly unique and special,” she said.