McKeown sisters at Beaver Dam Creek and South Country road

Brookhaven & South Haven Hamlets

Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York

Brookhaven/South Haven Hamlets Study

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Chapter VII: Summary and Recommendations

As this report has made clear, Brookhaven and South Haven are primarily residential communities. The people who live within this study area in fact share a very strong sense of community – a communal identity that is based primarily on the unique natural resources of the area.

The two Hamlets encompass one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in Brookhaven Town. Lying within the drainage basin of the Carmans River valley and the Beaver Dam Creek, the area includes two of Long Island’s finest unspoiled wetland corridors along the shores of these rivers and is bounded on the south by pristine marshlands and forests along the shores of the Great South Bay and the Carmans River estuary. About one third of the land within the study area is held in public or private trust to maintain its primeval state – including Town and County nature preserves, New York State-preserved wetlands, a Federal wildlife preserve, and a private foundation actively engaged in the acquisition and preservation of wetlands tracts along the Beaver Dam Creek.

Historically, much of the land has been devoted to farming, and many large farm tracts remain as open meadows although only a few farms remain active. Boating, both commercial and recreational, has been an essential part of the daily activity in this area since its earliest times, and this is still the case. The study area includes Brookhaven Town’s largest Historic District designation. The principal roads through the area can be traced back to pre-Revolutionary thoroughfares, and are still maintained as narrow, tree-lined rural streets. In the words of Arthur Danto, essayist, scholar, and Brookhaven resident, the Hamlet’s boundaries "include an area with so unmistakable a character that when one has entered it, there is an immediate awareness of being in a place different in feeling from what surrounds it."

It is this sense of place that draws the local population together and that, in large measure, defines this community of approximately 3,000 residents who otherwise represent a diverse spectrum of backgrounds occupations, age groups and economic classification. The highest priority recommendations of this study are those aimed at maintaining this sense of community by maintaining the essentially rural character of the two Hamlets and preserving the area’s open spaces, wetlands, waterways, and natural resources. Our recommendations are in keeping with the principles of the Brookhaven Village Association’s Zoning and Development Policy (see Ch. IV, Sec. 1, p. 13, of this document), which was first adopted in 1988, and has been reviewed and voted on by the BVA Board of Management each year since. Our recommendations are also consistent with, and in many cases directly reflect, the findings of the Long Island Regional Planning Board regarding the Beaver Dam Creek corridor in its 1990 study, Evaluation of Land Use Impacts on Environmental Quality in Urban and Semi-Rural Streams Tributary to Great South Bay.