Bruce Ettenberg is an active member of the Commack community who seeks to better all aspects of the town as the president of the and a member of . He has lived in Commack for more than thirty years, and now that he has retired from his job as an educator, Ettenberg is excited to give back to his community.
What are your goals for the Commack Community Association?
We look at quality of life issues in Commack. Commack is a divided town – it is divided between Smithtown and Huntington townships, and it really has no downtown area. We look at what residents are concerned about, such as road repaving on the Smithtown side of town.
For instance, last year Smithtown lost funds for repaving the roads, and they chose not to repave Commack roads. They cut out the town entirely.
There are also veteran memorials in Smithtown, Hauppauge, and Kings Park, but there is no memorial for the veterans of Commack.
We have an .The east side is Smithtown, and the west side is Huntington. There are two schools on Townline Road, and we have a problem with 18-wheeler trucks going to and from the industrial park. We’re trying to make sure they stay off of that road, and take another route using Indian Head Road, which has more lanes and is further from the schools. It is very difficult to get this done because we have to meet with elected representatives from both Smithtown and Huntington and get both to strike an agreement.
How did you become involved in the Commack Community Association?
My wife and I and a third person who is no longer in the association got together four years ago because we had visited the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce on an issue. We looked through the booklet they had put together on the town and looked up places of worship, and we saw that they left out places of worship in Commack completely. They didn’t look at us as a part of the town. It was a huge oversight. We have been involved since then to make sure the people of Commack are represented.
What does Friends of Marion Carll do?
We work with the Kings Park Rotary and Commack Rotary to save the for educational use… [the Commack Community Association] of the farm to the Holiday Corporation, who wanted to build 30 condos on the property.
We created an educational package with activities and lesson plans for teachers to use with their students at the farm [and] an anonymous donor has talked with the district about donating four million dollars to renovate the house and keep it in public hands as opposed to being sold. Marion Carll’s will said that the property had to be used by the children of Commack, and be public access. If that is not done, the land must be returned to the heirs of Marion Carll, and they can sell it privately.
The school district wants the farm to be sold because they would get taxes from the condos built on the property, but our view is that we can deliver education that is worth those taxes.
A child’s education is not just in the classroom. I am a retired educator, and I know that education has three parts – education by the family, by the school district, and by the community that they live in, [like] their neighbors and what happens around them. In Commack, the schools and libraries are our only public places. The farmhouse is just sitting there, and it could be used for teachers to bring their classes.
How can people get involved with the Friends of Marion Carll?
We have not yet been granted charitable organization status, but we are working toward it. In the meantime, donations can be made out to the Huntington Historical Society, and put “Marion Carll” in the memo, and send it to P.O. Box 226 in Commack.
When we are granted charitable organization status, we will send out membership information. There are four levels of membership - $10 is “seedling,” and you get a wristband that says “Save Marion Carll,” $50 is a full member or “farmer,” and you get the wristband and a t-shirt, $200 lets you be a “planter,” and you the wristband, t-shirt, and a teapot planter filled with seeds, and you get to be one of the first people to plant on the Marion Carll farm when it becomes public. If you donate $1000, you become a lifetime member, and get all of the items listed for the other levels, and additionally [you] get priority access to farm activities.
What are your favorite things to do in Commack?
I like to go to with my grandkids and visit the animals. Commack is such a great location. It’s right in the middle of Suffolk County. North has the Sound, south has the Atlantic beaches, we’re one hour away from the city to the West, and we have the East End. It’s just a great place to be.