Talking With: Bayport Civic President Bob Draffin
Citizens who stay informed can have a voice in government, development decisions, says BCA leader.
Patch decided to sit down with BCA President Bob Draffin to talk about what the decade-old organization is focusing on this year and why local residents need to be involved in civic groups.
PATCH: What are the top two to three goals or focus points for the civic this year?
DRAFFIN: Every year the Bayport Civic strives to live up to its Mission Statement which is to unite the residents of Bayport, in order to maintain and improve the quality of life of its citizens; to promote and preserve the rich, historic and unique character of our hamlet; and to undertake projects for the general welfare of the people of our community. Specifically, this means staying vigilant against those proposals that our community does not want, such as the QuickChek Gasmart or the McConnell Apartment complex, while promoting those things that we do want, such as the preservation of the Aerodrome.
PATCH: What is one thing about the civic that maybe some people don't realize or know?
DRAFFIN: The civic seems to get the most attention when it is fighting against something, for example the Camp Edey cell tower application. The reality is that we will endorse a project that makes sense and is good for the community like the recent DePalo boat shop proposal to start a Mom and Pop local business on a blighted property on Montauk Highway. The Bayport Civic is not a NIMBY group, and if a particular project serves a need and fits the nature and character of our community, we will support it 100 percent.
PATCH: What was the civic's accomplishments in 2013?
DRAFFIN: 2013 was another busy year for the BCA. We meet every month except August, with each meeting having a specific theme with a guest speaker discussing a topic of local importance. The civic introduced our new Schools Superintendent Vincent Butera with a budget presentation at our April meeting. Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino made news at our September meeting announcing he had secured federal funding to study the possibility of sewers for the south shore from Oakdale to Bayport. In October we hosted a Meet the Candidates Night with the candidates for town council and county legislature for a Q & A with the audience. We also recently held a Town Hall style meeting with representatives from QuickChek in which residents voiced their concerns. In addition 2013 marked a milestone when we broke the 5-ton mark of the amount Turkey’s that we have been giving out over the past 10 years to those in need around Thanksgiving. We also gave away our ninth annual $1,000 scholarship this past June to a graduating senior who excelled in the performance of his civic duties. And just this past holiday season, we once again partnered up with the elementary schools for our annual Adopt-a-Family for the Holidays charity.
PATCH: Why should all Bayport residents be members of the civic?
DRAFFIN: The motto of the Bayport Civic Association is Get Involved! I believe that the citizens of Bayport should get involved with what is going on in their community. By staying informed and taking an active role in our own neighborhoods, we can have a voice in the decisions being made that directly affect us. I guess that brings us back full circle to where I began with our Mission Statement about maintaining and improving the quality of life we Bayporters are so lucky to enjoy.