In the Town of Brookhaven, the populations of the First and Third Council Districts have declined, while in the Second and Fourth Council Districts, the population has grown.
That's according to the town's newly formed bipartisan redistricting committee, which is tasked with coming up with a way to redraw the lines of the town's council districts to reflect those population changes and ensure the people of Brookhaven have appropriate representation.
The committee met publicly for the first time on Monday, seeking input from residents to develop the criteria by which it will suggest ways to redraw those lines. It was attended by seven people.
Joan Nickeson of Terryville made a case for school districts to be preserved within single council districts. "It may seem like nothing much to think about, but our school district and councilman work side by side on issues," she said.
W. Paul Ziems of Coram suggested that hamlets should not be split up between council districts. "Why am I represented by people that live too far east of me to be concerned about local problems?" he said. "I live in Coram. I think Coram is split up between two or three council districts. I don’t know why."
The committee presented preliminary maps – which were drawn by using 2000 U.S. Census data – that illustrated the sizes of the council districts, saying that more detailed, updated maps were on the way. Indeed, those present at the meeting deemed the maps they viewed as flawed.
"The streets are not on there, the school districts are not on there," said Tom Talbot, the president of the Middle Island Civic Association. "Which one of these things is going to trump the other? Is it going to be the school district, the zip code?"
Five more meetings – one in each of the remaining council districts, with each meeting open to all residents of the town – are set for later this week and this month. Tuesday's meeting will take place at 4 p.m. at the Brookhaven Senior Recreation Center on Defense Hill Road in Shoreham.
"We’re trying to make this process as transparent and participatory as possible," said Jeff Wice, counsel to the committee.
The committee has until Sept. 15 to compile redistricting recommendations for the town, which must take action by Dec. 15. The new council district lines will go into effect during the spring of 2013, when the petitioning process for town council candidates begins. Laws require the town to examine council district lines every 10 years with the U.S. Census; this is the first time Brookhaven town is required to do so since it adopted the councilmatic system in 2002.