What started as an idea to foster community involvement quickly became an organization when Freeporter Joseph Gambino recently drummed up enough support among neighbors to start the South Freeport Civic Association. Group members, he said, hope to give a voice to residents of South Freeport, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“Right now we’re the only active civic association in the South Freeport area, and before us there was none active for a number of years,” Gambino said. “Residents in the South Freeport community need something like this. because we don’t have anything available.”
There are currently civic associations active in Freeport, such as the Northwest Civic Association and the Sterns Park Civic Association, but before Gambino got involved, there were none in South Freeport for some time.
Gambino is joined on the new group’s board by Barbara Simms and Peggy Lester, who said that the interests of South Freeport residents differ from those of people in other neighborhoods. Several years ago, Freeporter Angie Cullin, a Town of Hempstead councilwoman who died in January at age 89, helped start the Freeport Harbor Civic Association, but three years ago the group disbanded because of scheduling conflicts among members.
The new civic group “is similar to the Freeport Harbor Civic Association, as it covers the same part of town,” Lester said. “I don’t think it’s exact, but it’s similar. We’re going to see how it goes.”
Simms said that the South Freeport group’s aim would be to project a positive message of unity throughout the community, while tackling residents’ concerns. South Freeport residents “are going to have a say,” Simms said. “And we’re going to convey those [to the village] administration, whether it be the mayor’s office or the building department.”
The SFCA’s first meeting will take place at the Freeport Memorial Library on Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Gambino said he is expecting 30 or so people to attend. The group will discuss the launch of a neighborhood watch program in the area and address the gang and graffiti issues that residents have expressed concerns about. The group will also share its mission, purpose and agenda for the next year.
“We do have a problem with gangs and graffiti,” Gambino said. “So the civic association is going to create awareness in the community.”
The group will not patrol the streets, but members will be encouraged to say something if they see something, Gambino said, adding, “As a civic member, it’s your duty to be aware, and if you see something, not turn your head and report it.”
He added that the group would take part in Mayor Robert Kennedy’s weekly Quality of Life meetings on Tuesdays at Village Hall. Through those sessions, group members said they hoped to shed light on their neighborhood issues.
The civic group is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization. Members said they hope to create community events that will involve people in the village. Members will also lend a hand to neighbors in need during the holidays. And they will receive discounts from local merchants.
“An organization like this is needed, especially for residents who want to get involved in the community to improve the quality of life and get involved in the different things South Freeport has to offer,” Gambino said.