The Bayport Civic Association will celebrate two milestones Tuesday as hit holds it’s 100th meeting and celebrates a decade of community activism and accomplishments.
And to mark the two special achievements there’s a very special guest speaker at the 7 p.m. meeting at the Bayport Methodist Church: Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci.
The civic group formed 10 years ago when rumors swirled that a condo unit was being planned for the current 60-acre Bayport Aerodrome site. It began as an ad-hoc effort with Aerodrome neighbors meeting in each other’s living rooms, recalls Bob Draffin who enlisted to serve as civic group president when it became apparent that such an organization was needed if homeowners and residents wanted to have some say and control over quality of life issues and planning and zoning decisions.
“It started with neighbors stopping neighbors to discuss the latest that they had heard,” said Draffin in an email to Patch about the decade-hitting mark. “It culminated with the realization that a civic association was needed to protect the quality of life we all enjoy in our community.”
The first organizational meeting was held at the Bayport-Blue Point Library and the to-do list was extensive. Bylaws needed to be drawn up, board elections were held and then the focus was on preserving what Draffin calls the hamlet’s “Flying Jewel.”
“The overriding concern that evening was to save the Aerodrome. Over 30 people gathered that night, several of them from the Bayport Aerodrome Society who had fought and won this same battle nearly three decades earlier,” Draffin noted.
The group’s popularity started strong and stayed strong through the past 10 years, with over a 100 residents attending by the fourth meeting and officials from the town, county, state and federal agency level attending as guest speakers.
And since those early meetings the group’s primary focus has been preserving the Aerodrome and an extensive roadmap strategy was developed and resulted years later with getting town federal funding for improvements and attaining Historical Landmark Status from both the state and federal agency level.
In 2005 Islip officials approved using federal funding for the Aerodrome, which protects its status for at least 20 years. In September 2007, the state’s Historic Preservation
Review Board designated the Aerodrome as part of the State Registry of Historic Places. The federal registry achievement came in 2008.
In looking back at the civic group’s accomplishments Draffin is quick to thank many of the early supporters as well as the Aerodrome Society members.
“There are so many people to thank but I would like to personally thank Sue Lauper, former Bayport Civic VP, for her tireless efforts through the years," he said, adding that thanks are also due to all those "Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" whose antique planes are what make the Aerodrome what Draffin calls a living aviation museum.
"We are also indebted to the Davis family with their wealth of knowledge and materials about the former “Davis Field.” Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the executive board and the membership who proved worthy of our motto that we can all make a difference in our community if we just get involved."