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Charity Race Road Closure Sparks Residents' Ire

Bayport residents say better communication is needed beyond mailed letter from race organizers.

While the third annual Sayville Running Company 10 Mile Run to the Brewery is proving popular with racers it's a bit unpopular with some Bayport residents who found the race road closure frustrating this past weekend.

“No one South of Middle Road was notified… Very inconsiderate of the Sayville Running Company. Many people could not get out to go to work, appointments, pick up children etc... for almost 2 hours!,” wrote a resident on Patch’s Facebook page.

“I had great difficulty getting out of my driveway, let alone, across Middle Road. The route needs to be planned better so we are not boxed in,” wrote another resident.

According to the race organizer, the Greater Long Island Running Club, a letter about the race held Saturday was sent out on January 11 and included a course map as well as a contact number in case residents had questions.

A few Patch readers, including a few expressing frustration with the road closure, acknowledged a letter was received though several others stated they had not been notified.

Some readers stated the letter appeared to be junk mail and was likely dismissed by affected homeowners though the envelope did state in bold letters “Important Road Closure Information Inside.”

“It was in an envelope from the Greater Long Island Running Club. I think that in the future, it might be best if they sent a flat mailer/postcard type that might be more easily noticed. When I saw it, I first assumed it was an advertisement or solicitation. I would imagine it could have easily gone unnoticed,” wrote a Patch reader.

One Facebook posting stated the letter “asked” residents not to use the road and did not specifically state that Middle Road, between Sayville and Patchogue, would be closed for two hours. Another reader admonished those complaining that it was not the organizers’ fault "if people don’t read their own mail."

Race co-sponsor, the Sayville Running Company, said it received three complaint calls Saturday morning and referred the callers to the GLIRC. Mike Polansky, GLIRC president, said he fielded several calls in the week prior to the race regarding questions on the road access, and several this past Sunday from residents upset about the road closure.

“We took great care to personally advise by mail every resident that could be affected by the event. Our mailing went to everyone south of Montauk Highway. It included the time of the event, all the other details and a detailed course map,” Polansky told Patch.

“Most important of all, it included my phone number at the club office with a suggestion that anyone who might have a problem contact us. We received perhaps a dozen phone calls from local residents expressing their concerns and, for the most part, we were successful in helping them,” he added.

“The last thing we want to do is disturb the local community,” said Brendan Barrett, co-owner of the Sayville Running Company.

“We apologize for any disturbances it did cause, and both GLIRC and Sayville Running Company would welcome any constructive feedback regarding the race and things we can do in the future to further minimize inconvenience. We'd genuinely like to work to find positive solutions to any problems that occurred,” Barrett told Patch in an email.

The race drew well over a 1,000 runners, the most ever in its history, with 1,081 finishers, according to Polansky.

“It’s become a very popular race as it’s the only 10-mile run in Suffolk County and it’s very competitive. It also benefits a great local charity,” he told Patch in a phone interview Tuesday.

The race raised nearly $10,000 dollars for BULA (Better Understanding of Life in Africa), a charity run by the Fricke family of Bayport that supports children and educational efforts in Uganda. The event also collected significant donations for Sayville and Patchogue food pantries, said Polansky.

Necessary permits were granted by Islip and Brookhaven towns, as well Patchogue Village and the event had approval from the Suffolk Police Department, said Polansky.

In the first two years the race started at Blue Point Brewery on River Road in Patchogue, went to Sayville and back again. This year the race started at the Brewery and finished at Weeks Street, in Patchogue, to allow River Avenue access to drivers shortly after the race began, said Polansky.

“This allowed River Avenue to be totally cleared and open for traffic within 10 minutes after the start. The police had also asked us to start the race no later than 8:30 and to hold it on a Saturday rather than a Sunday, and of course that was no problem,” said Polansky.

“I recognize that there were lots of people who did experience some inconvenience, and I would be happy to work with anyone on constructive criticisms and suggestions that might help things for them in 2014,” said Polansky, inviting residents to provide feedback by calling him at 516-349-7646.

“I hope that people will be understanding. This is the single biggest event held in the area every year and brings significant business to the local business communities."

Susan T. January 22, 2013 at 11:16 PM
This event did NOT have the approval of the Suffolk County Police Department. They denied the request to close Middle Road. The police were equally disturbed by what took place as a result of this race. 911 calls were made, tying up the emergency line and drivers did drive down Middle road causing a life threatening situation for the runners, for which they were ticketed. Police officers were frustrated, and as stated in one of the comments on Saturday they were telling residents that this was a poorly organized event. Any phone call to the Fifth Precinct will confirm this.
Judy Mottl (Editor) January 23, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Susan, if you can provide me with a name who can verify that at SCPD 5th Precinct I will call them to update the story.
Vito January 23, 2013 at 03:29 AM
IT doesn't matter how organized the events or how many notices are posted or sent. There will be someone who will complain about everything. Over the years, in this town and others, I assisted with parades and functions that have been ongoing for years and people still claim to have not been informed. You can't please all the people all the time, and some professional whiners can never be pleased. I unexpectedly had to cross the race route on race day and was able to do so with just a few minutes wait. A small price to pay for having such activities in our community.
patti rowland January 23, 2013 at 04:16 AM
I never received a letter regarding the race and the closing of Middle Road. It's wonderful that people want to run for a cause, but to confine people to their homes for almost 3, not 2, hours on a Saturday morning, was extremely inconvenient. I was forced to cancel a doctor's appt. and may be responsible for a $50 late cancellation fee. The police officer at our intersection was likewise frustrated and was surprised it was permitted, and suggested we contact the Town. Perhaps the organizers might consider closing one side of Middle Road for their next race, with limited traffic for ingress and egress from those streets having no other outlet but Middle Road.
Kelly farrell January 23, 2013 at 12:12 PM
It really is a shame that people always find something to complain about even with over 1000 getting together for a good cause. I live south of montaik, I did receive a letter and I was affected by the race but I worked around it. Wether or not the SCPD approved the race, I can't confirm but they did have officers redirecting traffic. I want to thank the Sayville running company for all that they do for our community.
C Miller January 23, 2013 at 12:18 PM
A letter did come in the mail, however it was addressed to my husband . It was put in his pile to read. It appeared to be junk mail. He never opened it.{A postcard with a race photo would have been noticed} Signs posted on Middle Rd. would have alerted more people about the race and closures. After being blocked in for 30 mins . at my Middle Rd. address I informed the race people at the corner of Gillette that I was coming out of my driveway whether they liked it or not. The road was clear . The police officer at the corner told me to complain to the Town of Islip. Closing a road for 2 1/2 hours + is too long for residents. Using half the road and on a Sunday would most likely affect less people. I had conversations with residents who complained that they could not get out to go to work, doctor appts. and driving their children to their events. Some were threatened with summons if they did not obey the road closure. The running company needs to take a look at the complaints and change their notification system. Thanks, A Middle Rd. Bayport resident
Judy January 23, 2013 at 01:02 PM
They can have the run along Railroad Ave from Blue Point Brewery without causing traffic and safer for the runners since it is side streets. This is the way I ride my bike to get from Sayville to Patchogue and back. Middle Road is too busy to close down for a couple of hours.
Yvonne Kleine January 23, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Mr. Polansky states that they notified all the residents who would have been affected by the closing of Middle Road? That's the entire community! Middle Road is the busiest street in Bayport. I had to tell my patients their appointments were canceled, inconveniencing them and costing me money. I'm all for helping the community and this is a good cause, but it was poorly planned and poorly advertised. I nearly threw out the notice myself. I agree that Railroad Avenue is a much better route, but I'm sure those residents would be no happier tobe sequestered in their homes for three hours on a Saturday morning. Remember too, there are three churches on Middle Road/ South Main Street and it's the main route to Our Lady of the Snow for many, making Sunday an even worse choice. If we put our heads together, we CAN come up with a better way to do this next year.
patti rowland January 23, 2013 at 04:02 PM
That's an excellent idea, Judy! And as Mr. Polansky requested, I likewise offered an alternative suggestion to help the race continue next year smoothly. This blog shouldn't be a format to criticize or minimize resident's concerns, but to have an understanding of problems that arose for whatever reasons, and take all suggestions into consideration for next year's race, which I hope draws more runners than this year!
Kath January 24, 2013 at 11:41 AM
I agree...could we all just stop complaing about everything for just one day. I live south of Montauk in W.Sayville, and we always have races and festivals at the end of the block. If it's for a good cause... wonderful ! And being confined to your home...BULL...and just think about how many times you sat in your doctors' office 2 HOURS past your appt. time ??? Does he pay you for your time ?? You probably could have gone there and been right on time Patti !!!!!
Lulu January 24, 2013 at 03:43 PM
It is unfair to criticize residents about complaining. I am happy that events like this are held in our community. However, when an event inconveniences hundreds of residents than it is the responsibility of the event planners to PROACTIVELY address the problems that may arise. Big signs posted on Middle Road 2 days in advance would have alerted every resident. The coordinators could have also asked Judy to run a Patch alert as well. Had these steps been taken, I would not have been upset but just adjusted my plans accordingly and enjoyed watching the race - instead of worrying about how I was going to pick up my child and get to work.
Susan T. January 24, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Captain Chris Bergold at the 5th precinct will be happy to address any resident's concerns for the future.
Mike Polansky January 25, 2013 at 01:40 PM
My thanks to everyone who offered a constructive criticism or suggestion. We want to be good neighbors, we want to correct mistakes, at the same time as we want to help support local charities and promote fitness in what is suffolk County's ONLY 10 mile race. We will be exploring the possibility of route changes, we will be considering means of making our pre-race mailings more effective (brightly colored postcards, pwerhaps) and we will be focusing more on signage. I am available at 516 349-7646 to discuss the event with anyone who wants to speak with me about it. Please help us preserve this event in a way that will minimize any inconvenience to the local neighborhood. Mike Polansky, president Greater Long island Running Club
Let's be Real February 10, 2013 at 02:28 AM
Who cares about Suffolk County's "only 10 mile race?" The community is not built for it. Take it elsewhere and stop being so greedy
Mike Polansky February 10, 2013 at 02:47 AM
"greedy"? That's not fair. I don't earn ten cents from this event, and we gave a chck for $15,000 to charity Friday morning from the race!
Not Happy March 23, 2013 at 12:50 AM
The 5th precinct doesn't like the idea of people raising money for charities through races. They have been trying to shut down races ever since Inspector Mojica came in charge. Races around this area have had their race courses changed, dates changed, times changed, all because he wants to have his piece in everyone's pie. What's next, giving the proceeds to the 5th precinct? Races happen in all towns of the island with little interruption as compared to here near the 5th precinct.


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