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The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat ferry company is temporarily operating with a significantly scaled down schedule. File photo

Port Jefferson hopes to become a hub for weekend travelers with the launch of a new ferry service connecting the village to New York City and New Jersey.

The Seastreak ferry will start running on May 22, according to a press release, in partnership with other travel companies that already link the village to Connecticut and the Hamptons.

Port Jefferson will operate as the center of the new Sea Jitney service, with the high-speed Seastreak ferry running between Highlands, N.J., Manhattan’s East River ferry terminal at 35th Street and Port Jefferson; the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry running across the Long Island Sound between Connecticut and Long Island; and the Hampton Jitney bus service driving between the village and the Hamptons and other locations on the East End.

The three transportation companies will coordinate service between the branches.

“This powerful partnership has an extremely low impact on our infrastructure while introducing visitors to our beautiful, historic village,” Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said in a statement.

According to the press release, one-way fares change based on where passengers start and finish their trip, but range from $33 to $50.

Reservations are required for the trips, which will focus on travel toward Long Island on the weekends, with departures from New York City and Connecticut on Fridays and Saturdays and from the East End on Sundays.

“Sea Jitney is a game changer for people who travel between Connecticut and the Hamptons,” Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry General Manager Fred Hall said in a statement. “At two and [a] half hours from Bridgeport to Southampton, it’s shorter than going through NYC and much less stressful.”

The ferry between the city and Port Jefferson takes about two hours, the press release said, while the bus from the village to the Hamptons takes another hour.

Visit www.seajitney.com for more information.

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The King Kullen supermarket on Route 25A will close its doors next month. Photo by Phil Corso

A North Shore grocery chain is shuttering one of its locations next month just as summer breaks into full bloom.

Joseph Brown, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer for King Kullen Grocery Co., Inc., said the East Setauket location on Route 25A will close its doors for good on June 11, answering to rumors that have been swirling through the Three Village area over the last several weeks. The chain’s workforce, however, will be taken care of, Brown said.

“We do not anticipate a layoff of employees, as they will be offered relocation to other stores, including our nearby supermarkets in St. James and Selden,” Brown said.

The East Setauket King Kullen opened back in 2005 in the same shopping center as two other grocery chains — Wild by Nature and Super Stop and Shop. The former grocery chain also operates under the King Kullen brand, which Brown said was not going anywhere.

“It has been a privilege to serve the Three Village community and we remain committed to the area through our East Setauket Wild by Nature,” he said.

Andrew Polan, president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said his group was sad to see the supermarket chain go after several years of service to the community. He said it was likely that oversaturation in the area could have made it difficult for King Kullen to prosper as it stood alongside two other major chains.

“Anytime something closes down, it’s a cause of concern for us. King Kullen is a longtime Long Island company and we’re sorry to see this happening,” he said. “I’m sure the increase in competition in the area has made it difficult for businesses to survive.”

King Kullen operates several other locations in communities near the North Shore area including Mt. Sinai, Lake Ronkonkoma, Middle Island, Commack, Northport, Huntington and Huntington Station among others.

Construction could start in September

Stephen Normandin, of The RBA Group, answers residents’ questions at the Sound Beach Civic Association meeting on Monday. Photo by Erika Karp

Echo Avenue in Sound Beach is getting a makeover.

Brookhaven Town officials presented plans for a revitalization project along the busy street at the Sound Beach Civic Association meeting on Monday. Handicap-accessible sidewalks, new curbs, decorative lighting and ornamental trees are set to line the approximate .3-mile stretch between New York Avenue and North Country Road in the near future, as leaders seek to beautify and make the area safer for pedestrians.

Steve Tricarico, deputy highway superintendent, said the project will “bring that downtown feel like you may have seen the highway department do in Rocky Point.”

Late last year, the department completed a similar project along Broadway in Rocky Point.

In 2013, the town adopted a four-phase plan to revitalize Echo Avenue and received a Community Development Block Grant for the first phase. Last year, officials applied for more CDBG funding, but found out the hamlet no longer qualified for the grant.

Tricarico said the highway department went out to bid for new contracts and was able to get a better deal and was therefore able to match the 2013 grant and fund the project in its entirety — a total cost of about $240,000.

According to Stephen Normandin, director of design and planning for The RBA Group, the engineering group selected to oversee the project, starting at the intersection of New York Avenue, a four-foot-wide sidewalk will be constructed on the east side of Echo Avenue that connects all the way up to Handy Pantry. Then, a crosswalk will be created, by Devon Road and Caramia Pizzeria, that crosses over Echo Avenue and links up to another sidewalk on the west side of the street, ending at North Country Road. In addition, the triangle by Handy Pantry, which houses the civic’s “Welcome to Sound Beach” sign, will be extended in an attempt to slow traffic at the Shinnecock Drive and Echo Avenue intersection.

Normandin said the project does come with its challenges, as there are hills and existing guardrails and trees, and limited space within the public right-of-way.

“We are sensitive to the [private] properties,” he added.

If all goes according to plan, the project will commence in late August or early September and wrap up before the winter season. The road will be paved once the sidewalk and concrete work is complete.

A few residents, including Bea Ruberto, civic president and the driving force behind the project, requested some additional lighting by New York Avenue and Mesquite Tex Mex Grill. Currently, the plans don’t include new sidewalks and lighting on that side of Echo, but Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said her office would look in to it. However, an easement agreement between the town and property owner might be needed, which could delay the project.

“None of this is set in stone; the dollar amount kind of is, so wherever we can … cut from one area and add to another, we are certainly willing to do that,” Bonner said.

Stony Brook students field questions at their final project presentation. Photo by Phil Corso

Nick Fusco is still in college, but he already has a vision for the Three Village community’s de facto Main Street known as Route 25A. He and his classmates brought that vision to his neighbors Monday night to show what a little dreaming can do for the North Shore’s future.

“Our community could look like this,” Fusco said in front of a projected rendering of a reinvented Route 25A complete with greenhouse spaces, apartment housing, environmentally friendly landscaping and more. “We’ve come up with ways to improve safety, aesthetics and, most importantly, functionality.”

Fusco and about a dozen other Stony Brook University students presented at the Setauket Neighborhood House on Monday evening as part of a final project for Professor Marc Fasanella’s ecological art, architecture and design class under the college’s sustainability studies program. The conversation, “Keeping a sense of place in the Three Villages,” involved four students presenting PowerPoint slides showing off their reimaged Setauket and Stony Brook communities, utilizing existing infrastructure to help employ ecologically-friendly additions and make Three Village a community that retains young people.

A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso
A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso

“We looked at this as a tremendous opportunity for our students and for the community moving forward,” Fasanella said. “Are we dreaming? Of course we’re dreaming.”

The class built off the work of last year’s students, who brainstormed ways to bridge the gap created by the railroad tracks that separate the university from the greater Three Village community. Their proposals were met with great praise from residents, civic leaders and officials in attendance Monday. The ideas were bold, including anything from pulling buildings closer to the 25A curbside to make way for a greater “Main Street” feel to constructing a “green” multi-tiered parking garage near the train station for both retail space and commuter parking.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, applauded the students for daring the community to take a different look at the future of Three Village. His group helped to sponsor the event alongside the Three Village Community Trust.

In an interview, Nuzzo said the Route 25A corridor, especially near the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road station, has a long and troubled history and could use a facelift to enhance safety for pedestrians, motorists and anyone living in the area.

Nuzzo, who also studied environmental design, policy and planning at Stony Brook University, was also once a student in Fasanella’s ecological urbanism course and underwent a similar exercise in which he dreamt up projects to connect the campus to the nearby community.

“We need to have this discussion over what we want for our de facto Main Street. If we don’t decide, the developers are going to decide for us,” he said. “What do we want as a community? It starts with stuff like this.”

And the students’ visions did not fall on deaf ears, either. Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) sat attentively throughout four students’ presentations and ended the meeting with encouraging words.

She said she was working alongside Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) to enact a comprehensive Route 25A study, which should be discussed in a community forum on June 30 in East Setauket.

“It’s our responsibility to engage and continue the visioning process,” she said, on behalf of civic leaders and lawmakers in the community. “We want to work on our ‘Main Street’ and put the community’s visions into planning.”

By Lynn Johnson

From its beginnings more than a half-century ago, Stony Brook University has been characterized by innovation, energy and progress, transforming the lives of people who earn degrees, work and make groundbreaking discoveries here. Stony Brook is the largest single-site employer on Long Island, and the diversity of career opportunities available is equaled by the diversity of our employees.

New jobs are being posted daily using innovative software recently implemented on our applicant job site. These enhancements make the process of applying for jobs at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook Medicine and Long State Veterans Home quicker and easier than ever before.

Through the university’s new Talent Management System, you can create your own profile electronically on any device and then apply for multiple jobs at Stony Brook with a few quick clicks online, 24/7. At any time during the search-and-selection process, you can update your profile details, monitor your status and receive customized job alerts based on individual preferences — all while conveniently keeping track of everything in one place.

This system allows for easier access to the tremendous job diversity at Stony Brook. Long Island’s premier research university and academic medical center offers outstanding career potential in health care, research, academia, administration, public safety, food service, maintenance, construction and more. It’s an environment in which you can explore a myriad of career opportunities.

As the university expands, more opportunities for employment and career advancement are becoming available. The new Research and Development Park is home to the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology and the Small Business Development Center. The 250,000-square-foot Medical and Research Translation (MART) building, scheduled to open in 2016, will have eight floors devoted to imaging, neurosciences and cancer research. New student housing facilities and a dining center, also slated for 2016, will make Stony Brook the largest campus-housing program in SUNY.

The sheer size of the university makes it seem like a small city in itself, with countless amenities, such as on-campus banking, eateries, childcare and transportation via the LIRR and bus services. Employees are immersed in an active, vibrant campus life. You can see world-class live performances at Staller Center, cheer the Seawolves NCAA Division I athletic teams, work out at the Walter J. Hawrys Campus Recreation Center, learn from our renowned faculty or enjoy the tranquility of the Ashley Schiff Nature Preserve.

Stony Brook also offers a rich benefits package with multiple health insurance plans, including retirement health benefits; paid holidays, vacation and sick leave; retirement and college savings plans; flexible spending plans; and employee tuition assistance benefits.

To create an account and start the search for your new career at Stony Brook, visit stonybrook.edu/jobs.

Lynn Johnson is the vice president of human resource services at Stony Brook University.

Officials broke ground Monday morning on a housing complex many hope will spur redevelopment in uptown Port Jefferson.

After four years of plans and approvals, developer Rail Realty LLC can get started on demolishing homes and buildings along Texaco Avenue to make way for 74 rental apartments, a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom. The Hills at Port Jefferson apartments will be constructed as two three-story buildings on several parcels along that street: One building will take the place of two vacant houses and the former Port Jeff Auto Spa car wash on the north half of Texaco, close to Sheep Pasture Road; while the other will be built in what is now a grassy field at the intersection with Linden Place. Resident parking will be underground, with a final parcel on the south side of Texaco and Linden, currently holding Stony Brook Electric Inc., to be used for additional parking.

Ryan Gitto arrives at a groundbreaking ceremony in upper Port Jefferson prepared to work. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Ryan Gitto arrives at a groundbreaking ceremony in upper Port Jefferson prepared to work. Photo by Elana Glowatz

“This is the beginning of a renaissance and a jumpstart to upper Port Jefferson,” Rail Realty principal Tony Gitto said at the groundbreaking ceremony, after digging into the earth at the grassy field.

The shovel work was followed up on the car wash property next door, where Mayor Margot Garant climbed into an excavator and took the first crack at taking apart the building there. Concrete crunched as she closed the vehicle’s claws over a corner of roof and ripped it away from the rest of the building.

“I can get used to this,” she shouted from the operator seat.

Garant said that the apartment project will be “so important” to upper Port revitalization efforts.

The village has been working to enhance that troubled area around Main Street between North Country Road/Sheep Pasture Road and the Long Island Rail Road tracks. An entire section of the village’s draft comprehensive plan is devoted to upper Port, with recommendations geared toward improving quality of life, making it more pedestrian-friendly and attracting developers and visitors.

Rail Realty got final village approval on its project last year. Under the conditions of that approval, the developer will make improvements to a pocket park near the apartments and improve traffic flow in the area by redesigning the intersection of Main Street and Sheep Pasture Road.

Tony Gitto breaks ground at the site of his upcoming apartment complex. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Tony Gitto breaks ground at the site of his upcoming apartment complex. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The housing complex will be constructed in phases, with the first phase being the northern apartment building, the second being the other building, and the third being the parking area across Linden Place.

The Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency gave financial assistance to Rail Realty on the project, including sales tax exemptions on construction items, a mortgage tax exemption and a 10-year property tax abatement through which the owner will pay taxes on roughly the current value of the site, as opposed to the increased value of the property once work is complete.

The IDA aims to boost the economy within Brookhaven Town by assisting businesses in locating or expanding in the area.

IDA Chairman Fred Braun said Monday, “Cleaning up a semi-blighted area is the first step,” and Long Island needs rentals both in the area of Stony Brook University and elsewhere.

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Amanda Stein’s refurbished home décor shop opens

Amanda Stein, owner of reLove in Miller Place. Photo from Amanda Stein

By Julianne Cuba

Miller Place is getting some extra love this spring with the opening of Long Island native Amanda Stein’s reLove shop and paint boutique.

The reLove shop in Miller Place. Photo from Amanda Stein
The reLove shop in Miller Place. Photo from Amanda Stein

The store, located at 87 North Country Road in Miller Place, held its grand opening on April 11 and features Stein’s own refurbished and painted furniture, along with home décor and homemade jewelry from other local artists, as well as CeCe Caldwell’s Paints, an eco-friendly line of natural chalk and clay paints.

Miller Place residents may recognize Stein’s work from Facebook, as the wife and mother, started posting pictures of her original furniture and custom-painted signs on the social media site about a year ago.

Stein, who has lived in Miller Place for about a year and a half, said her love of interior design stems from her grandmother, who collected antiques, and that she began painting furniture after she moved out of her parents’ house.

After leaving her career in real estate to look after her two children — Ella, 5, and Adam Jr., 4 — Stein said she wanted to take her passion and turn it into a business.

“It was one year ago that I started reLove from my house as a stay at home mom,” she said. “I always painted furniture for years and years, and all my friends kept telling me I should sell it. So I started with a Facebook page. It was literally overnight [that] it took off.”

Stein said she started the page with just seven pieces of furniture, but that number quickly grew as she began marketing all over social media.

Inside reLove in Miller Place. Photo from Amanda Stein
Inside reLove in Miller Place. Photo from Amanda Stein

Within a few months, Stein said she was getting booked with custom jobs and selling out of her furniture and signs.

“I did all of this from my two-car garage,” she added in an email.

reLove’s grand opening was jam-packed the whole weekend, Stein said. The store was supposed to close at 7 p.m., but people were still coming in until after 7:30 p.m.

“The opening was absolutely amazing,” she said.

For its opening weekend, reLove offered free paint samples to everyone who came in and a $50 dollar raffle for the store.

“A couple of people took the [paint] samples home and they immediately painted a piece of furniture with it and sent me pictures of the furniture they painted, which was very cool,” Stein said.

A piece of custom painted furniture for sale at the reLove shop in Miller Place. Photo from Amanda Stein
A piece of custom painted furniture for sale at the reLove shop in Miller Place. Photo from Amanda Stein

Dolores Spyowicz, of Country Charm in NYC, who has items for sale at the shop, said she met Stein through a painting group on Facebook and the two became good friends. She said reLove’s owner is a hard worker with a “beautiful vision.”

“I thought that being in a store in such a wonderful, beautiful neighborhood, my pieces would get more attention, and I’d be helping her out as well,” Spyowicz said. “I just thought it would be a wonderful opportunity.”

In addition to being a “one-stop-shop” for customers who paint and refurnish furniture, Stein said reLove will host several workshops — from painting basics to parent and child craft nights to bride nights out.

Stein also said reLove will maintain an eco-friendly and socially responsible business.

“It’s all eco-friendly,” she said. “The paint line that I sell, there are absolutely no chemicals in the paint.”

Stein said she’s thrilled to be following her dream as a business owner in beautiful and historic Miller Place.

“It’s been a wonderful thing because I’ve had a lot of positive feedback.”

A view of the Demerec Laboratory, slated to house a proposed Center for Therapeutics Research. The laboratory, completed in 1953, needs an upgrade. Photo from CSHL

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a research center that has produced eight Nobel Prize winners and is stocked with first-class scientists generating reams of data every year, shared some numbers earlier this week on its economic impact on Long Island.

The facility brought in about $140 million in revenue in 2013 to Long Island from federal grants, private philanthropy, numerous scientific educational programs and the commercialization of technology its scientists have developed, according to a report, “Shaping Long Island’s Bioeconomy: The Economic Impact of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,” compiled by Appleseed, a private consulting firm.

At the same time the lab tackles diseases like cancer, autism and Parkinson’s, and employs 1,106 people with 90 percent working full time and 987 living on Long Island.

“We are recognized as being one of the top research institutions throughout the world,” Bruce Stillman, the president and CEO of CSHL said in an interview. The economic impact may help Long Islanders become “aware that such a prestigious institution exists in their backyard.”

Stillman highlighted programs that benefit the community, including public lectures, concerts and the school of education, which includes the DNA Learning Center, a tool to build a greater understanding of genetics.
The financial benefit to the economy extends well beyond Long Island, too.

“The research we do has an enormous impact on the development by others of therapeutics and plant science in agriculture,” Stillman said.

Indeed, Pfizer recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a breast cancer drug called Ibrance that is expected to produce $5 billion in annual sales by 2020. The research that helped lead to that drug was conducted at CSHL in 1994.

In its 125-year history, this is the first time the laboratory has provided a breakdown of its financial benefit.
The impetus for this report occurred a few years ago, when Stillman met with Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr. and Sam Aronson, who was then the CEO of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

“We were talking about promoting further interactions and seeking state support,” Stillman said.

This year, CSHL will bring online a preclinical experimental therapeutics facility that will build out the nonprofit group’s research capabilities.

At the same time, CSHL is awaiting word on a $25 million grant it is seeking from New York State to support a proposed Center for Therapeutics Research.

The center would cost about $75 million in total, with CSHL raising money through philanthropic donations, partnerships with industry and federal aid. The center would “fit in well with our affiliation with North Shore-LIJ [Health System],” Stillman said.

CSHL plans to create the center in the Demerec Laboratory, which was completed in 1953 and needs an upgrade. Named after Milislav Demerec, a previous director at CSHL who mass-produced penicillin that was shipped overseas to American troops during World War II, the building has been home to four Nobel Prize-winning scientists: Barbara McClintock, Alfred Hershey, Rich Roberts and Carol Greider.

The renovated lab would house a broad range of research strengths, with candidates including a number of cancer drugs that are in the early stages of clinical trials; a therapeutic effort for spinal muscular atrophy, which is the leading genetic cause of death among infants; diabetes; and obesity.

The revenue from CSHL, as well as that from BNL, SBU and North Shore-LIJ, Stillman said, all have a “huge economic benefit to the Long Island community.”

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson sponsored the resolution to schedule a public hearing. File photo

A new iteration of a proposal to build a senior assisted living facility near a wooded Huntington neighborhood will be the subject of a town board public hearing next month.

The board scheduled the hearing on Tuesday to consider changing the zone on the six-acre property to allow the Massachusetts-based Benchmark Senior Living to proceed with the project, which would be located on the corner of East Main Street and Washington Drive. Benchmark is looking to rezone the property from C-3 Special Business and R-10 Residential to R-HS Residential Health Services District to make way for the facility.

The project has gone through several versions. The proposed number of units has been brought down from 87 to 69 units. Also, the building will be two stories instead of three, and the proposed on-site sewage treatment plant has been moved to the northwest corner of the lot, adjacent to commercial property.

A 40-foot wide natural buffer along Old Northport Road will be built, and the gross floor area would be slightly reduced from 70,567 square feet to 66,995.

Some residents who live near the property have opposed the plan, citing size, traffic and noise concerns. A group of residents, who call themselves United Homeowners of Huntington, has formed to oppose the plan.

Jane Carter, a resident who belongs to the group, asked the town board at the meeting on Tuesday to keep the zoning on the property in tact. She said the project “hasn’t changed enough.”

William Bonesso, a Uniondale attorney representing Benchmark for the project, also attended the Tuesday meeting. In an interview last year, he spoke of a need for the project.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, we’re living on an island that’s aging,” he said.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) sponsored the resolution to schedule a public hearing. He said in an interview with reporters after the meeting that the public hearing was a chance to evaluate whether the public’s concerns about the project are addressed

“It’s been kicking around,” he said. “They came up with what they believed was a different plan so let’s put it before public hearing, decide whether it should go forward.”

A rendering of the Gateway Plaza development on the left, and on the top right, the envisioned artist residences on the corners of New York Avenue and Church Street. Image from Renaissance Downtowns

Plans to revitalize Huntington Station are inching closer to fruition, with the town board holding a public hearing next week to jointly consider the environmental impacts of three potential developments that would inject the community with retail, commercial and residential spaces.

Renaissance Downtowns, a private developer the town appointed and charged with revitalizing Huntington Station, is spearheading the projects situated along New York Avenue. They include a four-story, 140-room hotel with 100,000 square feet of office space; 49 artists’ lofts, which would include residences and gallery space in a three-story building; and 68 residences made up of studios and one-bedroom units to be built above 16,000 square feet of retail space.

Andrea Bonilla, the community liaison for Source the Station, a partner of Renaissance Downtowns that solicits ideas for redevelopment in Huntington Station, said the public hearing will allow the board to consider the impacts of all three projects in one hearing, versus considering one at a time, which would take about six to nine months each, she said in an interview this week.

“The feeling was if you’re in very close proximity, to do a single environmental impact statement to cover the area,” town spokesman A.J. Carter said last week.

It’s a big step forward for Renaissance, and for the area’s revitalization, Ryan Porter, vice president for planning and development at Renaissance Downtowns said this week. “It’s huge,” he said.

The three projects represent what Renaissance has identified as “immediate opportunity sites,” meaning they’ll able to be developed within the current sewer district capacity.

There’s still work to be done before the projects are in the ground. Once the board considers the environmental impacts under the New York State Environmental Quality Review process, it can choose to adopt a finding on whether the projects pose a significant impact. If a favorable finding were adopted, Renaissance would begin financing the projects and gaining site plan approval for each lot, Porter said.

Porter said he hopes Renaissance breaks ground on the hotel project by the end of the year. He also said he has already attracted interest from companies such as Marriott and Hilton.

The public hearing next week is yet another town board milestone on Renaissance’s road to revitalization of Huntington Station. The most recent was the town board’s approval of a community benefits agreement in January that spells out job and economic benefits to the surrounding community if Renaissance develops property in Huntington Station. That agreement was the brainchild of a number of local groups, officials have said.

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