Government

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Hurricanes have caused power outages in recent years. File photo

With several emergency services packed into a small area, Port Jefferson Village officials hope to secure a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority toward building a local backup energy grid to be used in case of a crisis.

The village applied for the NYSERDA grant to build the backup grid, known as a microgrid, through a statewide competition because of the critical community services that cannot stop functioning during a power outage, Mayor Margot Garant said.

“During a severe weather event such as we had with [hurricanes] Irene and Sandy, where the hospitals lost power and some of us lost power — some up to 14 days, [and the] hospitals were out eight to 10 days — those … patients that were on critical care services were put in harm’s way,” Garant said at the village board of trustees meeting Monday night. “So basically if we have a microgrid during those severe weather systems … where the overall grid goes down, we flick a switch and keep our critical services online.”

Microgrids are independent of the regional grid and rely on their own power-generating resources. NYSERDA may award up to $40 million total to help communities around New York State build those microgrids.

Port Jefferson Village is not the only municipality on Long Island applying for a slice of the pie. Huntington Town officials recently agreed to pursue the grant funding for their own microgrid, to support buildings like Huntington Hospital and the town’s wastewater treatment plant. And a month ago, NYSERDA awarded the first five grants — $100,000 each — to communities from Buffalo to East Hampton, so the applicants could perform feasibility studies on their projects.

NYSERDA expects to announce the next round of grant winners soon.

“We have two major hospitals, a ferry, a railroad station, our own school district, a village hall, a wastewater treatment facility, a groundwater treatment facility, an ambulance company,” Garant said. “We have a lot of emergency services-related components within a very small radius.”

Port Jefferson is listed on the NYSERDA website as one of five “opportunity zones” on Long Island where microgrids might reduce strain on the regional utility system and have other positive benefits. The other zones are Long Beach, Montauk, Hewlett Bay and Inwood. Statewide, there are eight other regions that have their own opportunity zones.

With a $100,000 grant, the village would work with consultants and local stakeholders, like the fire department, to research the Port Jefferson project. In choosing which projects to award grants to, NYSERDA is using criteria such as the area’s level of vulnerability to outages, how a microgrid would improve community function and the possible effect on ratepayers.

Although power generation and distribution in the United States used to operate at a more local level, the grids have become more regional over time to make the utilities more cost-effective and reliable, according to NYSERDA’s website.

“These systems are, however, vulnerable to outages that can impact large regions and thousands of businesses and citizens, particularly as a consequence of extreme, destructive weather events,” the website said. “Microgrids could help minimize the impact of these outages by localizing power generation, distribution and consumption so that a fallen tree or downed wire will not interrupt critical services for miles around.”

Projects awarded the $100,000 grants to perform feasibility studies will later be eligible to apply for more funding under the NYSERDA program, to advance the microgrid construction efforts.

County Executive Steve Bellone cites increased savings for taxpayers

Steve Bellone, Barry Paul and John Kennedy, Jr. spotted at a recent press event. Photo from Suffolk County

The merger of the offices of Suffolk County treasurer and the Suffolk County comptroller is being moved up by two years — a move Executive Steve Bellone’s office claims will save taxpayers even more money than originally anticipated.

The treasurer’s office will be folded into the comptroller’s office on Jan. 1, 2016 instead of a planned 2018 deadline, and the groundwork for the transition has already begun, with changes in the treasurer’s office implemented as early as January this year.

A whopping 62 percent of Suffolk County voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum to combine the two offices in a vote , and ever since then, plans have been put into action to complete the merger.

Merging the departments is expected to save taxpayers more than $3 million, according to Bellone’s office in a statement. Moving the merger up by two years saves more money because the county can eliminate positions sooner. Also, implementing new human resources software will allow the county to realize more savings.

The merger includes abolishing the treasurer’s position, as well as two deputy treasurer positions. Five positions have already been eliminated from the treasurer’s office. These positions included staff members who had retired or left the office and were not replaced, since the positions were deemed no longer necessary. 

Interim Treasurer Barry Paul has been spearheading the merger, and it is the main reason he was brought into the position. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone nominated Paul to the post when previous Treasurer Angie Carpenter was named Islip Town supervisor and left the office in early January of this year.

Bellone has worked with Paul and Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr., whose two offices will become one. However, at first, Kennedy was not in favor of the merger. During Kennedy’s campaign for comptroller last year, he strongly opposed the referendum and the merger.

“I had concerns with the separation of functions and the new oversight of the two offices,” Kennedy said. Once he was elected into office and realized the public’s support for the move at the polls, Kennedy said he altered his point of view.

“I try to be guided by the will of my constituents, and they wanted to see consolidation so I am now on board,” Kennedy said.

Originally the merger was scheduled to be complete in January 2018, since Carpenter’s term as treasurer was from 2015 to 2017. Once Carpenter stepped down, there was an opportunity to bring on Paul and speed up the process.

Previously, Paul was a Bellone staffer, and once he finishes overseeing the merger of the treasurer’s office with the comptroller’s office, he will return to his post there. For Paul, the treasurer appointment was always a short-term assignment.

“All existing personnel from the treasurer’s office will go under Kennedy, and Kennedy has really embraced that,” Suffolk County Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider, who has worked on the merger as well, said in a phone interview. “This merger will save taxpayers money, while delivering better services.”

Another place that the treasurer’s office has been able to save money is with regards to a backlog of providing tax refunds. As of May 14, the backlog tax refunds were reduced by a third, coming down to 7,810, whereas over a month before, the number of backlog tax refunds was 11,830, according to Bellone’s office.

The backlog is expected to be completely eliminated by July, and will save the taxpayers more than a million dollars in reduced interests costs annually.

The new merged office will also host Munis software in the county’s IT system, which will save another $150,000 to $200,000 dollars. Munis is an integrated enterprise resource planning system that manages all core functions, including financials, human resources, citizen services and revenues.

In a statement, Paul said he has been following Bellone’s mandate to make the treasurer’s office as efficient as possible, and is confident in this timeline and the work his office has been doing to save taxpayer dollars.

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Smithtown Animal Shelter. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

The director of the Smithtown Animal Shelter will be stepping down from his position at the end of next month, town officials said.

Town Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) publicly announced the resignation of shelter Director George Beatty, 62, at a Town Board meeting last Thursday night, citing the recent death of Beatty’s wife as a catalyst to his decision to vacate his post. Beatty, who has been at the helm of the shelter for more than 30 years, has been at the center of controversy for many months in Smithtown as residents have consistently used Town Hall meetings as public forums to question his conduct, leadership and performance.

“I know many people would like to know the status of the animal shelter’s supervisor, Mr. Beatty,” Vecchio said at the Town Board meeting. “Two weeks ago, he lost his wife. It put some burden on him, as he takes care of his grandchildren.”

Vecchio said Beatty submitted his letter of resignation to the board earlier this month intent on retiring as of June 30. The audience at the meeting started applauding and cheering. The letter, dated, May 19, was short but concise.

“I have enjoyed working for the town of Smithtown and its residents and very much appreciate all of your support,” Beatty wrote in the letter. “I will miss working at the animal shelter, and if I can be of any assistance during the transition, please let me know.”

It was unclear who would be replacing Beatty, officials said. Town Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R) took on the role of animal shelter liaison earlier this year and has been working with an advisory board she established to enhance care at the shelter, usher in building improvements and work toward a 100 percent adoption rate.

She said at the meeting that Beatty had been working closely with her advisory board of experts, which included animal welfare experts Lucille DeFina and Diane Madden and animal welfare attorney Elizabeth Stein, and was helpful in moving the project forward.

“We’ve been meeting regularly with him,” she said. “George has been absolutely cooperative and we’ve been working together for some time.”

Residents have been accusing Beatty of animal neglect at the shelter and called for his removal from the facility. Beatty blamed a lot of the accusations on misinformation, rebutting claims that his shelter was not clean nor doing enough to care for and promote adoption of the animals.

He said over his nearly three decades at the helm, he has seen the Smithtown shelter’s population shift from a dog-dominated census to a cat-centric group now because of his team’s hard work.

An online petition at www.change.org also called for Beatty’s resignation. The online petition, which also links to a Facebook page calling for change at the shelter, blamed Beatty for animal neglect and requested the town form a committee to choose a new director, independent of the civil service list.

The shelter director said the petition was rooted in misleading information.

“I’m very truly upset — I was mortified by it,” Beatty said in a previous interview. “It would have been of no use to speak. I feel our side was very well spoken and professional. But as for the opposing side, it was apparent to me that they only wanted to believe what they wanted to believe. Nothing I said could have put them to rest.”

Young horseshoe crabs at West Meadow Beach, Stony Brook. File photo

Local fishermen came out to Brookhaven Town Hall last Thursday to let officials know they oppose Supervisor Ed Romaine’s push to limit horseshoe crab harvesting.

Earlier that week, Romaine (R) announced he and the town board would consider urging the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which regulates the industry, to ban horseshoe crab harvesting within 500 feet of town-owned property in an effort to protect the crab population and allow them a safe place to mate.

Romaine moved to table the idea after hearing the baymen’s concerns.

The 450-million-year-old species are used for bait and in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, as their blue blood is used to detect bacterial contamination in products. At a May 19 press conference, officials said if the crab population shrinks, other species — like those that eat the crabs’ eggs — could be negatively affected.

Stony Brook’s West Meadow Beach and Mount Sinai Harbor already have harvesting plans in place, and a ban would broaden the restriction area.

However, the fishermen said the restriction was not based on any facts and the horseshoe crab population is not declining. In addition, they said further regulation would affect their livelihoods.

Ron Bellucci Jr., of Sound Beach, said horseshoe crab harvesting is a vital part of his income. He added that he knows the crabs are important to the larger ecosystem, which he is a part of as well.

“I’m just a man, but I’m a vital part of the food chain and I think I’m at the top,” he said.

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a partnership between East Coast states to protect fisheries, a 2013 assessment of the horsecrab population showed a decrease in the New York and New England regions, while crabs have increased in the southern states — North Carolina through Florida — and remained stable from New Jersey through coastal Virginia.

David Klopfenstein, of the North Shore Baymen’s Association, urged the board to speak with the DEC before supporting a ban. He said there was a lot of misinformation regarding a very complex issue that is already being controlled.

“It’s also the most well-managed fisheries that we have up and down the East Coast,” he said.

The DEC did not immediately comment on the issue.

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Stony Brook’s B-Section is brand new. Photo from Dan Losquadro

Stony Brook has a bunch of brand new boulevards, thanks to Brookhaven bureaucrats, and residents are abuzz.

The Brookhaven Town Highway Department finished a long-anticipated road improvement project in Stony Brook last week in the area known as the B-Section, repaving 19 roads and making the neighborhood safer. Residents living in the community celebrated the milestone after more than two decades of wear and tear.

“It is a pleasure driving through the community now,” said Dr. Jay Orlikoff, who lives in the neighborhood. “The last time these roads were repaved was about 25 years ago and it was tough to get in and out of the community. This time it was very well done and the courtesy of the workers in how they directed traffic was extremely helpful.”

Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said the 19 Stony Brook roads have been near the top of his department’s list for more than a year, but budget constraints have limited his repaving initiatives. But as of the end of last week, the 19 roads — including Balfour Lane, Ballad Lane, Ballad Place, Barker Court, Barker Drive, Barnwell Lane, Beaverdale Lane, Bendix Lane, Bently Lane, Birdseye Circle, Blackwell Court, Blackwell Lane, Blueberry Lane, Bonnie Lane, Botany Lane, Bucknell Lane, Bunting Lane, Burgess Lane and Buxmont Lane — have new surfaces and are safer routes.

“They were in terrible condition. These were roads that, quite frankly, I wish I could have gotten to last year,” he said. “Unfortunately, as you can imagine, everything is budget-driven. There’s a finite amount of money.”

The highway superintendent said he has about 3,350 miles of road to maintain throughout Brookhaven on an annual basis, and more than $100 million worth of roadwork on his to-do list at any given time. But there is only roughly $17 million in funds available to complete the work.

“I’m trying to work my way through these roads, and one of the things I’ve tried to do with people is create a reasonable expectation,” he said. “There are three-to-five-year plans of how we need to get where we need to be, and I’m working toward that. A project like this, that can cost between three-quarters of a million dollars and $1 million, is just an extensive project.”

For the better part of a week, Brookhaven road crews took to the B-Section to rebuild concrete, curbs, drainage and paving components on the 19 roads. Residents waited patiently over several days of milling work and the end result, the superintendent said, was a safer Stony Brook.

“It is very gratifying to hear the positive feedback we have been receiving from residents in this community,” Losquadro said. “This is one more project I can check off our to-do list. The Highway Department will keep on pace to complete many more roads throughout this paving season.”

Looking ahead, Losquadro said he had another big project coming up, budget permitting, in the same vicinity near both Spyglass Lane and Buccaneer Lane, where he said roads are in terrible condition.

“We need to get in there and get that done,” he said. “With the budgetary constraints, I have to be honest with you, I can spend my entire allotment without a problem. But the residents throughout this town deserve attention. We try to do worst first.”

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Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Port Jefferson government will have at least one new face this summer.

Three seats on the village board of trustees are up for election in mid-June, including those of the mayor and two trustees. Mayor Margot Garant is running for a fourth term and faces a challenge from resident Dave Forgione. Trustee Larry LaPointe is on the hunt for his third term on the board, running against resident Matthew Franco and Stan Loucks, chairman of the County Club Management Advisory Council.

Trustee Adrienne Kessel, whose third term is ending this year, is not running for re-election. In a phone interview, she called being on the board “a tremendous commitment.”

“I just felt that after 6 years, I’m hoping that some good candidates step up,” she said. It’s “time to kind of reclaim a little more time for myself.”

She said she would continue to serve on the village’s architectural review committee and as the head of the committee involved in upgrading Rocketship Park in downtown Port Jefferson. Kessel has been a driving force in fundraising and design for the park project.

Kessel advised whoever succeeds her to take the job seriously and make decisions based on what is best for the village as a whole.

“Many, many things come into view when you become a trustee,” she said. “You begin to see an entirely new picture of the village where you live.”

Voting is on Tuesday, June 16, at the Village Center, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Mayor
Garant said she is not ready “to turn over the keys.”

She said she is still working toward getting the aging local power plant upgraded — or repowered — so it continues operating and thus remains a source of property tax revenue for the village. The incumbent is also focused on completing Port Jefferson’s comprehensive plan, which outlines recommendations for development throughout the village, and on pushing for revitalization in the uptown area, which has issues with vacant buildings and crime.

“The first several years of my administration I felt that I was doing a lot of corrective work,” Garant said, between fixing infrastructure that had been long neglected and stabilizing the budget. “We’re finally moving, I feel, in a very, very positive direction.”

She is also advocating to get a Town of Brookhaven jetty in Mount Sinai repaired, as the jetty, which is between Port Jefferson’s East Beach and Mount Sinai Harbor, in its damaged state allows currents to carry sand away from the village beach, causing erosion.

“We have a really good rhythm and I’d really hate to see that interrupted or, worse, for us to take a step backward,” the mayor said. With another two years, “I will work as hard as I have for the last six.”

Her challenger, Forgione, who has lived in the village for 15 years and operates a billing and accounting business in upper Port, said he threw his hat in the ring because “our village deserves a choice.”

He wants to more tightly control village taxes and help financially prepare the village in the event that the community loses property tax revenue from the Port Jefferson power plant. Forgione would also like to call on the state and the Long Island Rail Road to upgrade the crossing in upper Port to relieve traffic congestion, and work with the Suffolk County Police Department and village code enforcement officers to reduce crime in that area.

Another issue for the challenger is transparency — he said he would like to upgrade the village website to collect more public opinions on government proposals.

Forgione, a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves and the National Guard, said his current and past experience in business and finance, on the local board of assessment review, on the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, on the school district’s budget advisory committee, and as a fiscal manager for a cancer screening program with the county health department would help him lead the village.

“I want to maintain that small-town feel with the residents and the business owners while encouraging growth in the 21st century.”

Trustees
LaPointe said he is running for re-election because there is “unfinished business” in the form of projects he wants to see through.

The incumbent, a retired attorney, has been working on renovations in the village’s downtown parking lots and on improving security by strengthening a network of cameras in commercial areas, among other projects.

“So we have a lot on our plates,” he said.

The trustee said he is proud of his work to increase police presence in lower Port — improving safety particularly on weekend nights during the village’s peak summer season — and of his role in renovating the country club golf course and maintenance building.

He also said the village now has a club “that’s second to none.”

“After a lot of hard work, the village is finally starting to get into a good place — a place where we’re economically secure, a place where we can look forward to a bright future,” LaPointe said when asked why residents should vote for him.

One of his challengers, Loucks, has lived in the village since 1981 and is a retired athletics teacher and administrator in Plainview-Old Bethpage. He is running for the village board because after volunteering on the CCMAC for a number of years, “I feel I have so much more to offer to the village than just working with the membership up at the country club.”

Loucks said he wants to work toward repowering the Port Jefferson power plant, revitalizing upper Port and broadening the village’s tax base.

“I also want to get involved … in making a better relationship between the schools and the administration downtown.”

He said the village and the school district should work more closely, partnering more on things like recreation programs.

Loucks said one of his strong points is budgeting, after working as a school administrator. At Plainview-Old Bethpage, “I was handling budgets larger than the village budget. … And I was always able to make ends meet.”

He said people should vote for him because he is good at listening and organizing.

“Along with the budgeting I think my strong point is my ability to get along with everyone.”

The third candidate for a trustee seat, Franco, has lived in the village for 10 years and is a pediatric occupational therapist for Nassau BOCES. He is running for a trustee position because he thinks taxes are too high and there is “very little transparency” in the village government.

“The biggest thing that we need to do … is inform the community of what’s going on,” he said in a phone interview. “There is no openness to this government. … They should be entitled to all the information that’s going on in the village.”

Franco also has concerns about the village’s efforts to revitalize upper Port — he said the level of development that the village’s proposed comprehensive plan would allow there would congest Main Street.

“They’re not really addressing the traffic issue and that is an ambulance route,” he said.

According to Franco, the village could use incentives like tax credits to get local business owners uptown to redo their facades, or other similar methods of enhancing upper Port.

“Our small businesses are an invaluable component to our village and I don’t think they’re being dealt with in an effective manner.”

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Glenn Jorgensen poses with a tree stump at the Montclair Avenue highway yard. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

In a short and not very sweet memo, Smithtown’s supervisor called out the superintendent of highways.

Pat Vecchio (R) said he felt Glenn Jorgensen should resign from his post amid a slew of accusations surrounding his performance on the job, including an alleged sexual harassment scandal and various felony charges against Jorgensen regarding road paving projects late last year. The letter came after the supervisor learned Jorgensen, 63, had allegedly taken his personal secretary out to a job site.

Vecchio’s memo included an attachment from the Suffolk County Civil Service Department, which explicitly outlined the job description of the secretary to the highway superintendent and did not include on-site work.

“It is my understanding that today, May 13, 2015, you had [a] secretary accompany you to a job site,” the memo said. “It seems to me that you are either not comprehending why the position exists, you have a disregard for civil service law or you are mocking the town board and the public.”

Town records showed that Jorgensen, who could not be reached for comment, hired Kaitlin Swinson as his new secretary in late January. Her position had initially been terminated back in February when the town board voted unanimously to rescind the $38,000 allocated for her job, but later reinstated her position in a 3-1 vote in March. She could not be reached for comment.

The highway superintendent has been at the center of controversy for several months now since a notice of claim was filed against the town in December alleging he had sexually harassed his former secretary, Aimee-Lynn Smith, 27. The claim also alleged Jorgensen had taken her out to job sites, out to eat and eventually fired her after finding out she was dating an employee of the highway department.

Jorgensen, of St. James, was also slapped with separate charges accusing him of tampering with public records for a town paving project, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Jorgensen pleaded not guilty to the four felony charges and the misdemeanor in April.

The district attorney alleged that Jorgensen directed a highway foreman to alter road construction reports to conceal that he had approved a contractor, Suffolk Asphalt Corp. of Selden, to pave at least eight Smithtown streets in freezing temperatures in November. The altered records misrepresented the weather conditions during the repaving work, Spota said.

Jorgensen’s misdemeanor grand larceny charge also accused him of stealing a public work order for the improper repaving and taking the official document home. District attorney detectives found the records in Jorgensen’s Hope Place residence, under his bed, Spota said.

“State department of transportation construction standards dictate asphalt must not be applied to a road surface in freezing temperatures and, in fact, the town’s own engineer has said repaving in freezing weather would result in the asphalt falling apart,” Spota said. “The repaving of a residential street doesn’t happen that often and when it does, residents are paying for a job done correctly, not a faulty repaving that will soon need pothole repair work.”

Smithtown Democratic Committee Chairman Ed Maher also called for Jorgensen’s resignation back in April after the charges surfaced, calling the taxpayers funding of his salary an outrage.

Smithtown Comptroller Donald Musnug outlines his capital budget suggestions before the Town Board on Monday. Photo by Phil Corso

Smithtown’s new comptroller is calling on the town board to borrow money to fund upcoming capital projects.

Donald Musgnug, who was sworn in as town comptroller in February after his predecessor, Lou Necroto, took a job with the county, provided his first capital budget recommendations report on Monday and pushed for borrowing money to pay for improvements. He listed several bullet points justifying his recommendation, as the town gears up to fund projects like an animal shelter renovation, LED streetlight retrofittings and marina bulkhead improvements.

“Interest rates are at historically low rates and the town is fiscally strong,” Musgnug said. “Now is the time to borrow, when rates are low, and thankfully we are in a position to do so.”

The comptroller said he expects replacing aging and otherwise deteriorating equipment would reduce the amount of money set aside in future budgets for repairs and maintenance. In reference to an upcoming streetlight project that would bring LED lighting to Smithtown’s streets, Musgnug said the town would offset the costs of future projects in the form of savings.

“Taking advantage of new technology, such as in the case of LED bulbs for streetlights and the municipal solid waste facility, will reduce utility costs [and] repair costs and improve safety,” Musgnug said in his report. “Because the town’s finances have been conservatively managed over the years, there is little room to cut operating budgets, making the goal of staying within the New York State tax cap increasingly difficult in light of rising compensation, health care and pension costs.”

In the upcoming year, Musgnug said most of the budgetary requests are equipment-related and should be done in the near future as assets deteriorate due to age and usage.

The streetlight project, he said, would total $5.6 million but could be offset by a possible $750,000 grant from the state.

“It should also be noted that … we expect to reduce utility costs and repairs by $350,000 as a result of the streetlight LED retrofit, which will offset the cost of borrowing, which is $270,000 per year,” Musgnug said. “So we actually more than offset the cost of installation.”

The comptroller also said the town should anticipate equipment purchases and construction in 2016, mostly because of the first phase of Smithtown Animal Shelter renovations as well as upgrades at the town marina, which collectively require about $3.1 million in financing.

The following year, he said, those projects would require about $6 million in funding overtime to complete.
After the comptroller’s report, Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) said he was impressed by the thoroughness of Musgnug’s pitch and wants to make sure the town follows through on capital projects after setting aside funding for them.

“Overall, I think it’s excellent,” he said. “In past years, we borrowed money and put up capital projects, but they never got done. Let’s make sure someone oversees these.”

In his report, Musgnug said even if the town chose to borrow more money as recommended, it would still see its overall debt steadily drop because of its conservative fiscal management policies.

“You should be commended for putting the town into a position where it can borrow significant sums of money and still have declining debt service payments [for which] it must budget,” he said.

Suffolk County Department of Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson outlines the proposal that would change the way drivers enter Nicolls Road off Route 25A. Photo by Phil Corso

Suffolk County is turning a corner.

A problematic intersection where Nicolls Road meets Route 25A is in the county’s crosshairs as officials seek ways to make it more pedestrian-friendly and safer for drivers. Three Village residents heard a presentation on the proposal last Monday evening, where elected officials and administrators outlined plans to install a new sidewalk on the northern side of the intersection.

“The county has been responsive to our concerns about pedestrian safety here,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-East Setauket). “Right now, the 25A-Nicolls Road intersection is sort of scary for pedestrians trying to make their way across. The aim here is to improve safety and I wanted to make sure the public was included.”

Gil Anderson, commissioner of the county’s Department of Public Works, pointed to a blueprint of the proposal, which would remove an access ramp for drivers making a right onto Nicolls Road from 25A, and instead make the access point to the major roadway in the same spot as motorists making a left onto it from 25A. The intent, he said, was to ease the flow onto Nicolls without impacting eastbound traffic along 25A.

“Our intent is to improve safety at this intersection,” he said. “The county will be putting in sidewalks to connect the existing sidewalks put in by the state.”

As it stands, there are two ways to access Nicolls Road from 25A. Drivers going east on the route make a right onto the road via the access ramp in question under the county proposal, while drivers going west on the route make a left off 25A at a traffic light where the two roadways meet.

Bill Hillman, chief engineer with the county Department of Public Works, called the intersection the “genesis of pedestrian safety issues and vehicular issues” for the Three Village area and said this proposal could solve a lot of those problems. He said eliminating the current access ramp for cars going east on 25A making a right onto Nicolls Road was the safest way to handle the situation, and the county would be exploring the possibility with the state’s permission, because state-owned 25A is the crux of the county’s traffic issues at this site.

Some residents asked about the possibility of bike lanes being included in the proposal, and Anderson said civic members and elected officials should reach out to the state, which maintains Route 25A, with hopes of breaking through.

“If the civic reached out to the state, now would be an opportune time,” he said. “Route 25A is a state jurisdiction when it comes to bike lanes. They’ll take your requests a lot more seriously than ours.”

Hahn said she also requesting planning money on the county level for a bike path down Nicolls Road and near Route 25A and hoped it gets considered for the betterment of Stony Brook University students who frequent the area either by bike or foot.

“I’m hoping that money stays in and gets implemented one day,” she said. “Many students utilize the sidewalk and this will improve safety, no doubt.”

The former Islander Boat Center could soon become 52 apartments. File photo by Erika Karp

A second apartment complex on West Broadway got the green light recently, when the Port Jefferson Planning Board gave conditional approval to 52 units at the former Islander Boat Center property.

The 20 conditions the board put on Overbay LLC’s project at its May 14 meeting include items to control drainage at the site off of Brook Road, which is not far above the water table, Planning Board member Barbara Sabatino said in a phone interview. The applicant must also give the village “a final eyeball” on the structures’ elevation and colors before it can be granted building permits.

Overbay’s two buildings would go up next door to a planned 112-unit apartment building — the Residences at Port Jefferson — at West Broadway and Barnum Avenue, the site of the decrepit former Heritage Inn. The board approved that project, from applicant TRITEC Real Estate Company, at a meeting last month, according to minutes from April 16.

The Residences at Port Jefferson are to be built on a property roughly double the size of Overbay’s.

Both sites at the western entrance to Port Jefferson Village would have parking underneath the apartments and would replace longtime community eyesores. Neither required variances for approval.

The two projects have another thing in common: Both have faced opposition from some village residents who say they are concerned about increased density and traffic.

“We don’t want to be urbanized,” Phil Griffith said at a public hearing in March. “It is just too much. Too, too much.”

With the Overbay apartments, cars would access the site from Brook Road, while cars visiting the Residences at Port Jefferson would enter through a driveway on West Broadway or an entrance on Barnum Avenue.

The proposal the Planning Board approved for the Overbay project does not include commercial space, which had been a component — along with more apartments — in previous proposals for the site.

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