June 21, 2006

Whats On Your Mind?

Irma Stimban

Occupation: Retired

Cutchogue Resident: 19 yrs.

I would like to see the elected officials try to maintain the rural character of the North Fork.

Nineteen years ago when we relocated to Cutchogue from the West Village, there were many working farms, baymen and fishing communities, which contributed to the unique character. We have all this natural beauty right outside our front door and just two hours from the city. Slowly, we have seen many of the farm stands disappear, there are hardly any working farms, no scallops are left in the bay, no more lobsters in the sound . . . the fishing industry is all just about dried up.

This industry was the backbone of the North Fork, and it's turned from a thriving, vital, working community to a resort community. Many of the local restaurants are getting too expensive, which is a reflection of the changing community as is their advertising of Maine lobsters. It's interesting, I think people move here for the beauty and country atmosphere, and then slowly begin to change it.

I see the wildlife population gradually diminish along with the fish and the farms, and feel we're headed towards suburbia. The gentrification has gotten to the point where the North Fork is losing some of its soul.

A few years ago they had a massive elimination of raccoons because they assumed they had rabies. We ourselves had two dead foxes on our property that died from mange. We were told that all these housing developments were covering up the foxholes where they lived, and since their habitat was being destroyed, coupled with having to live in a more congested environment, they were getting mange and spreading it to each other.

And now the local vets are noticing they have many more cases of mange in dogs. We have West Nile from mosquitos, Lymes Disease from ticks and Rocky Mountain Fever from ticks. Ultimately, nature is fighting back.

We were on the board of the North Fork Animal Welfare League for six years. And I must admit the staff does as well as they can with the existing structure, which is shabby and decrepit. A new shelter is needed desperately, but for some reason money is always being siphoned off for different projects, so there is never enough for the shelter. There's been a continual delay over the last 15 years even though plans have been submitted and money has been allocated, and yet they still feel the cost of building a new shelter is too high.

Another thing we see is a lot of people who can no longer afford to live in the North Fork community. And these were people and activists who contributed a great deal to the community, instrumental people who fought for things and were very concerned with this area, but reluctantly had to leave because they could no longer afford to live here.

But for those of us who have committed to staying there should be more public transportation. Route 48 is pretty fierce during summer months as people rush to the ferry. I think the town should put up more traffic lights or put pressure on the Hamptons to build a ferry terminal there, so that they can accept some of the traffic. Allowing them to have a ferry to Connecticut or to Orient Point would keep the South Forkers from barreling down the local country roads on the North Fork.

I know in life nothing stays the same and things change. I just hope the natural beauty, peace and quiet that people have come here to find remains.

If you live or work in the North Fork area and want to give us a piece of your mind about something, let The Independent Traveler Watchman know by contacting Rick at 324-2500 or e-mail news@indyeastend.com and we'll pass it along to R.B. Stuart.

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