Project part of near-decade-long attempt to revitalize area
Beginning at the end of April, Port Jefferson Station residents will start to notice new rustic lights being installed along Route 112 near Joline Road as part of the early stages of a long-awaited project.
The installation of the rustic lights is part of the main street project, which dates back to a 2008 hamlet study done by Louis Antoniello, a former Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association president and Lee Koppleman, a longtime Suffolk County planner. When the first phase of the project is complete, the lights will be installed at various points throughout Main Street in Terryville on Route 112 between Bicycle Path and Route 347.
Antoniello, who co-chaired the initial hamlet study with Koppleman, said the idea to install these rustic lights came about due to answers from a questionnaire put to residents several years ago.
“They told us what they liked about the area and what they didn’t,” he said.
Antoniello, a Terryville resident, said many residents expressed the desire for the preservation of important buildings in Port Jeff Station, more open space and, most importantly, they wanted an identity. That identity would start with improving Main Street.
The former civic president also said people in the community wanted places to go on Main Street where they could go shopping, eat and enjoy the area.
“The area [Port Jeff Station] has a lot of history and landmarks,” Antionello said.
Another factor in the project is to repair buildings and get businesses to come that will benefit the community.
Antoniello said the process to get the funds needed to begin the lights installation took a long time to come about.
He first spoke with Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) about the proposed lights project and with his assistance was able to get approved a $150,000 grant from New York State in November 2016 to help purchase the lights.
Despite being approved, Antoniello said the money was not received until almost two years later.
“I contacted the governor’s office on my own and asked for assistance,” he said “This began the process of getting the money released.”
The former civic president said the state holds on to grant dollars for months, sometimes years. This, he was told, by elected officials is common practice. Once the money was released, he worked with engineers and the Town of Brookhaven Street Lighting Department in preparation for the lighting structures to be installed.
The $150,000 grant will cover the Nesconset Highway/Joline Road section installation. This comes after the installation of the lights on the eastern side of Route 112 by the new ShopRite center. Antoniello said he plans to try to get another grant from New York State and will be applying to the Downtown Revitalization Grant Program to get additional funding for the Main Street project.
This won’t be the first time Port Jefferson Station has applied for the downtown revitalization grant.
“They said we aren’t a true main street, we have too much traffic and we don’t have enough buildings,” Antoniello said. “It’s a lot of excuses — hopefully this time it will be different.”
Brookhaven town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said the antique lighting project is a long-standing community project connected to the revitalization of Route 112 and promoting and enhancing the existing “main street corridor.”
“Many current and past members of the civic association were very involved with supporting and championing this project,” Cartright said. “Main street is the heart of any downtown community and the antique light project helps create a sense of place in the community. This in turn helps to attract additional businesses to the area.”
Some of the lights are already installed near Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace and residents are already taking notice.
“Somebody told me it looks great and are glad that they are finally up,” Antoniello said.
The Terryville resident also had ideas for other proposed projects in the area, including putting a historic marker on Patchogue Road, as it served as the road for stagecoaches back in the 19th and 20th centuries.
He also plans on helping with the construction of a community park located at the intersection of Route 112 and Nesconset Highway where the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce-owned train car resides. Antoniello said once funding becomes available they will move forward with constructing the park.