VIDEO: Community gathers to clean their beloved Lake Ronkonkoma

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LAKE RONKONKOMA, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — The heat was on for the first day of summer this past weekend. However, despite the dripping sweat, a team of dedicated volunteers muscled through the summertime warmth and bright sunshine. They brought beauty to their beloved lake for which the community is named—Lake Ronkonkoma. 

After the pandemic kept members of the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group from coming together in recent months, they gathered along the lakefront for a much needed and overdue sprucing up.

Plus, the Town of Brookhaven made recent improvements near Larry's Landing along Lake Shore Road to help protect the lake. 

OnSachem Publisher Jim Green brings you the story.

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Interviews with:

  • Maryann Hoffman, Ronkonkoma Resident
  • Evelyn Vollgraff, Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group
  • Kevin LaValle, 3rd District Councilman, Town of Brookhaven
  • Daniel Losquadro, Superintendent of Highways, Town of Brookhaven
  • Neil Foley, 5th District Councilman, Town of Brookhaven

Video Transcript

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

Hey everyone, I'm Jim Green of OnSachem.com. We’re out here along the shoreline of Lake Ronkonkoma for this first day of summer. The community came out after being cooped up for several months because of the pandemic. They’re out here today to clean up the shoreline and return some summertime beauty to the lakefront.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

You’ve lived in Ronkonkoma for 50 years. You've always seen and enjoyed the lake. Tell me about your history here and why do you think it's important to be a part of today.

Maryann Hoffman, Ronkonkoma

Well I remember back in the day when I used to take my nieces and nephews down. We were actually able to enjoy the lake, go in the water, and just have a nice outing. We just want everybody to enjoy this land and make it make it better. It's not going to be like it used to be when I was growing up, I don't think, but, I still have hope.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher


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The Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group comes out here every year, but this year you were delayed because of the pandemic. Tell me about how you finally got out here.

Evelyn Vollgraff, Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group

We wanted to start in April, and it just wasn't happening, everything was bad. We try to start in April because you can get the weeds when they're very small. We just kept putting things off and putting things off. It was really important to get here today because the one area where the county had cut down all the Locust trees were now three and four feet high, and they just come back and come back. If you don't keep trimming, they don't die; if you trim they will die, eventually. We have a beautiful view of our lake at Larry's landing, and we couldn't see the lake anymore from there. It was important to come back, and everybody just loves everybody.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

The Town of Brookhaven has worked with the community over the years to help improve the lake quality. Tell me about that.

Kevin LaValle, Councilman, Town of Brookhaven

We worked with LRIG [Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group] three years ago when we first had a meeting with [Town Councilman] Neil Foley and members of the community. There were a lot of different issues that had to get taken care of and a bunch of things that we're working on right away was just cleaning up the lake. The town provided dumpsters, bags, gloves to start. Then there was graffiti removal that went on. Other issues have come up.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

One of the environmental problems facing this lake is all the stormwater runoff. Now here along the side streets by Lake Shore Road, the side streets go downhill, and the stormwater goes straight into the lake.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

The Town of Brookhaven was looking for a solution to help solve that problem. So, they just installed curbs and storm drains over by Larry's Landing.

Daniel Losquadro, Town of Brookhaven Superintendent of Highways

The problem that we had here was direct road runoff going into the lake. It was washing a lot of debris out of the county parkland here into the lake as well as the material coming off the road. What we did is we added curbing to direct the water flow into a new series of drains that we installed upstream, so to speak, to capture that water before it gets down to the landing here. That water goes into those storm drains, is filtered naturally through the soil column, [and] that sediment and any debris off the roadway is captured in those drains. It allows us to clean those drains out, keep that material out of the lake—very importantly—and also filter that water through the ground before it gets into the lake instead of having that direct discharge.

Neil Foley, Councilman, Town of Brookhaven

Going forward, we still have a lot of work to do. And I've always said the big part of this group and project that we need to do is eventually the water quality. We’re cleaning up, it looks great, the shores great, but eventually we need to clean the water. I know this group and myself and the other elected officials in the area are definitely talking to people from the state and the DEC on how to do it. There are many reasons why the water quality is not where it should be, we just have to make sure we find solutions to each one of those issues.

Jim Green, OnSachem.com Publisher

Now this is not just a onetime deal for the volunteers. They'll be out here several times throughout the summer and into the fall. Along Lake Shore Road near Larry's Landing in Lake Ronkonkoma, I'm Jim Green, OnSachem.com.

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