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Jane Taylor

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Jane and Rob Taylor: Maria and George Hoffman; and Gretchen and Herb Mones are familiar to many in the Three Village community. Photos from Jane Taylor, Maria Hoffman and Herb Mones.

The Three Village area is filled with movers and shakers, so it’s no surprise that many of them are married to each other. Recently, three of the area’s community-minded couples took time out of their busy schedules to talk about their relationships and balancing their active lifestyles.

George and Maria Hoffman

“We make time to balance all the busyness. So, I think that is part of keeping things alive.”

— Maria Hoffman

George Hoffman, of East Setauket, is a familiar face in the Three Village area. He is first vice president of the Three Village Civic Association and co-founder of the Setauket Harbor Task Force. Maria Hoffman is chief of staff for state Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), a local beekeeper and a volunteer with the harbor task force.

The Hoffmans married in 2009 in Frank Melville Memorial Park, and they said it’s the second time around for both of them. A couple of years before they tied the knot, the two met through Englebright’s office. George Hoffman, who has worked in the political field for 35 years, was living on the South Shore working with a former county legislator, Wayne Prospect, when he first met Englebright. One day when he saw Maria at the office, she asked him to take a walk in the park and soon after they started dating.

The husband said with both being community activists they understand each other’s schedule, like when she’s under deadline or he has a night meeting, and they don’t get as stressed as some couples might. George Hoffman said it also helps that their interests overlap, and they have easygoing temperaments.

“I think we are respectful of each other’s responsibilities,” he said. “We have separate spheres that overlap a little bit in terms of the environment and community. She’s involved more in government, and then it overlaps into environment and community.”

The husband, who said his wife is the first one he goes to for editing his work, added the two are good for each other especially making sure the other doesn’t procrastinate. Maria Hoffman said they also work on ideas together.

The wife said it’s important for busy couples to spend time alone with each other too, calling the time “regeneration periods.”

“We also make time for things that are important, whether it’s walking or in the summertime boating — being on a sailboat,” Maria Hoffman said. “We make time to balance all the busyness. So, I think that is part of keeping things alive.”

Herb and Gretchen Mones

Herb and Gretchen Mones, from Stony Brook, have been married for 28 years and have three grown sons. The two met while teaching at Centereach High School where she was an English teacher and he was a social studies teacher.

“Gretchen has such an integrity to do the work she does correctly and immaculately, and with a degree of professionalism, that it becomes a model to attain to.”

— Herb Mones

Gretchen Mones is the first vice president at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, an organization where she has been an active board member for 15 years, and has chaired the education and exhibits committee for more than a dozen years.

Herb Mones has been a board member of the Three Village Civic Association for almost 30 years. A past president of the civic, he currently serves as the organization’s land use chair. In addition to his work with the civic association, he is a board member of the Three Village Community Trust, which works to preserve and protect buildings and properties in the community. He co-chaired the civic’s task force for more than a decade which eventually resulted in the construction of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail. Herb is a past chair of the Greening of 25A and was active in the movement to restore the West Meadow peninsula. He currently serves on a Town of Brookhaven West Meadow Beach steering committee.

Herb Mones said his wife’s commitment to everything she does inspires him to do things to the best of his ability. It’s something he noticed when they both taught at Centereach High School.

“Gretchen has such an integrity to do the work she does correctly and immaculately, and with a degree of professionalism, that it becomes a model to attain to,” Herb Mones said.

Gretchen Mones said her husband has never met a project he couldn’t conquer and has the energy of four of five people. He is up early every morning and walks the Greenway trail, where he cleans up any graffiti he sees.

“He’s just so capable and optimistic — dedicated,” she said. “There’s no such thing as a short term or long term. Once he starts, he’s in it until he finishes it. It’s really incredible. I don’t know how he does it. All my friends tell me how lucky I am and how lucky the community is, and I have to agree with them. He’s an incredible person.”

Gretchen Mones said sharing calendars helps them manage their schedules and attending each other’s social functions, especially fundraisers and annual events, is important.

Herb Mones said volunteer work helps with one’s personal growth as well as a relationship, even when a husband and wife may be involved in different community activities.

“You have a greater understanding not only of what you’re doing but what the other person is doing,” he said.

Jane and Rob Taylor

Jane and Rob Taylor, who have been married for 47 years, were introduced by a friend at a Doors concert. Three Village residents know Jane Taylor from her various roles with The Stony Brook School during her 44-year career. Her husband graduated from the private school in 1967 and worked in the school’s business office for a time after college.

“Blending all the parts of your life together is never easy and it’s never going to go smoothly, and there are going to be bumps. And you have to accept that fact that it’s going to be bumpy. Some seasons are going to be a little harder than others.”

— Jane Taylor

Last summer Jane Taylor stepped down from her role as assistant head of school and is currently the executive director of The Three Village Chamber of Commerce. Rob Taylor, a CPA and a former partner in the Manhattan office of CapinCrouse, still provides virtual chief financial officer services for local organizations.

Successful careers haven’t kept the couple from being involved in the community. Jane Taylor serves on a West Meadow advisory committee, co-chaired the Route 25A Corridor Citizens Advisory Committee, is a long-term member of the Walk for Beauty Committee, among others. Over the years, Rob Taylor has served as an elder of a local church, is a founding president of Leadership Huntington, and is on the boards of The Jazz Loft and Citygate, which works with the homeless. He is also a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The couple said a wife and husband don’t have to be involved in similar activities, and sometimes one’s community work not only helps them each to become a better person but improves relationships. The two have also learned from each other.

While Jane Taylor admires her husband’s knack for writing, she also appreciates his energy. Rob Taylor said he takes joy in seeing how his wife works with people from many different perspectives. He also credits her for bringing order to his life.

Jane Taylor said a shared calendar is helpful to keep their schedules in sync, even though she admitted sometimes they forget to tell one another about an activity here and there.

“Blending all the parts of your life together is never easy and it’s never going to go smoothly, and there are going to be bumps,” she said. “And you have to accept that fact that it’s going to be bumpy. Some seasons are going to be a little harder than others.”

Rob Taylor, who together with Jane has two grown children, said commitment helps with balancing, too.

“I think some of it is a matter of just, from a philosophical and practical standpoint, knowing that you want to be involved in community and to make a commitment to business and family at the same time and just working together to make it work,” he said.

Know someone in the Three Village area who is mover and shaker? If so, send an email to rita@tbrnewsmedia.com, and you may see his or her story in a future edition of The Village Times Herald.

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Jane Taylor, third from left, with some of her fellow board of trustee members at the Sept. 26 Three Village Chamber of Commerce meeting. Pictured with Taylor is John Tsunis, Michael Ardolino, Colette Frey-Bitzas, Elizabeth Miastkowski, Gloria Rocchio, Charles Lefkowitz, Andy Polan, Ron LaVita, Leah Dunaief, Billy Williams, Carmine Inserra and the Hon. Howard Bergson, who swore in the members. Photo from Three Village Chamber of Commerce

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce welcomed a new executive director at the beginning of September.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor congratulates Jane Taylor on being chosen as Three Village Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year in June. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Jane Taylor, who retired in June as assistant head of The Stony Brook School, has taken on the leadership role. The position has been vacant since David Woods’ retirement last year. Taylor has been involved with the chamber for 20 years and a member of the board for more than five. In June, she was named Three Village Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year.

Charles Lefkowitz, first vice president of the chamber, said Taylor is the “last part of the puzzle for the reorganization of the chamber.” Over the last few years, he said the chamber has been undergoing a reorganization that has included planning events 12 months in advance and changing how they arrange networking activities to allow for more mingling.

“Jane Taylor is an outstanding selection for the executive director for the Three Village chamber, and she comes with a wealth of community involvement and knowledge of the Three Village area,” Lefkowitz said.

Taylor’s association with the organization came about when she first started at The Stony Brook School. She said she felt it was vital to network with community members to talk about issues and connect with local vendors.

“I felt it was an organization that was committed to the community and was something that was built on the importance of developing relationships,” she said.

When Taylor, who grew up in Pittsburgh, first moved to the Three Village area with her husband, Robert, 45 years ago, she started working at the school as a physical education teacher and coach. Taylor said when she started she was able to connect with the local athletic communities including Ward Melville and Port Jefferson.

“The local business community is one of the key elements that make a community healthy and vibrant.”

— Jane Taylor

“I realized that people really cared about this place and wanted me to be successful even though we were competing against these schools,” she said.

Taylor said her new responsibilities as executive director of the chamber include working with the board identifying goals for the coming year, making sure the e-newsletter is posted, building membership, visiting businesses and not-for-profits in the community, maintaining communication and “whatever needs to be done.”

She said she feels local businesses play an important role in communities, covering everything from when a baseball team needs a sponsor to who is hosting the Christmas parade.

“The local business community is one of the key elements that make a community healthy and vibrant,” she said, adding that she looks forward to helping local businesses grow.

Taylor lives with her husband in Stony Brook, has two grown children and two grandchildren. She said she has learned to juggle a lot in the past and looks forward to her new responsibilities.

“You just take what’s in front of you, put one foot in front of the other and assume the goodwill of everybody,” Taylor said.

Local community leaders joined Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright at a press conference Oct. 24 to announce the completion of a 25A visioning report. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Route 25A in the Three Village area is one step closer to getting a makeover thanks to the collaborative efforts of residents, business owners, civic leaders and local lawmakers.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) held a press conference at The Stony Brook School Oct. 24 to announce the completion of the Route 25A Three Village Area Visioning Report. The town board is expected to vote unanimously for the report at the Oct. 26 town board meeting. The next step for changes in the area will be land use studies followed by public hearings.

“The visioning document that we’re going to be putting forward at the town board meeting on Thursday offers thoughts and ideas for improving traffic and pedestrian safety, creating and maintaining a more cohesive architecture and visual aesthetic while enhancing the existing public open spaces,” Cartwright said. “It is this type of community-based planning that we need to continue to do, and it is that work product that will be presented on Thursday, and I’m proud to be the sponsor of that resolution.”

In 2016, Romaine and Cartright co-sponsored a land use resolution which led to the Brookhaven Town Department of Planning, Environment and Land Management authorizing the creation of a land use study and plan regarding the state highway.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine shows the Route 25A Three Village Area Visioning Report at an Oct. 21 press conference. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“This report is step one but it’s an important step,” Romaine said. “It lays out the future of the 25A corridor. From this step will come land use decisions that will be put before the entire town board regarding the future of 25A, and this could not have happened without the hard work of Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and the hard work of the citizens who participated starting with the two co-chairpersons Jane Taylor and George Hoffman.”

In addition to being co-chairs of the Citizens Advisory Committee, Hoffman is vice president of the Three Village Civic Association and Taylor is assistant head of The Stony Brook School. Romaine and Cartright also thanked the representatives from local community groups who attended the press conference and were involved in the visioning process.

The supervisor and councilwoman also thanked The Stony Brook School where community forums were held. The meetings gave residents and business owners the opportunity to discuss improvements they would like to see along the corridor from the Smithtown/Brookhaven town line to the Poquott Village line. Listening to constituents’ concerns about the area is something Cartright said she has done since she took office, and she is optimistic about the future of 25A in the Three Village area, where she said residents love the historic, main street feeling and charm.

Hoffman said after a shaky start in 2013 the councilwoman was “influential and instrumental in kind of jump starting the planning process for Route 25A again.”

Romaine asked the co-chairs to present the report at the Oct. 26 meeting. Taylor said she was pleased with the results of the report that will provide the town board with a “road map” for future planning along the state road.

Local community leaders joined Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright at a press conference Oct. 24 to announce the completion of a 25A visioning report. File photo

“I was absolutely overwhelmed, when we began this process, about the excitement of being able to vision ahead maybe 20 or 30 years, when many of us won’t be here anymore, and the participation of the committee members to make that happen and to share their thoughts,” Taylor said. “And, sometimes we had varying opinions but we would all come together and the purpose was the vision of what we want to see for our community.”

President of the Three Village Civic Association Jonathan Kornreich was in attendance at the press conference. He said like many group leaders and residents he appreciated the opportunity to contribute ideas at the meetings.

“Planning for the future of the community is one of the primary goals of the civic association and it’s really our main focus,” he said. “I’m very appreciative of the work that Jane and George did, and I am especially appreciative for the leadership of Valerie and Ed.”

Romaine put the lengthy 25A visioning process into perspective.

“Society grows great when old men plant trees,” Romaine said, quoting an ancient Greek proverb. “We planted some trees here, and not all of us may see it to fruition, but this is something that speaks to the quality of this community and the people that live in it and the desire to ensure that this community remains, not unchanged, but the same type of a community that it is now 20 or 30 years from now.”

Residents will be able to review the report on the town’s website after it is presented at www.brookhavenny.gov.

George Hoffman, Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Jane Taylor stand in front of Stony Brook train station on Route 25A. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Brookhaven Town is calling on those residents who know the area best to help herald in a new era for Route 25A, just weeks after passing a resolution to explore a land use plan and study for the area.

On Feb. 4, the town board created a Citizens Advisory Committee for the Route 25A study and plan, and appointed Three Village’s own George Hoffman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force and Jane Taylor, assistant head of The Stony Brook School, to lead the committee.

The efforts could tie in with similar ones in Port Jefferson Station, where residents, with the help of the town planning department, have already finalized their land use plan for the main drag between the Long Island Rail Road tracks at the northern tip of the hamlet and Route 347 at its center. That main road starts as Route 25A and becomes Route 112.

Brookhaven officials are starting up this year on rezoning parcels in that study area to fit the finalized plan.

In Three Village, the new citizens group will also include members from 12 offices or organizations, including the newly renamed Three Village Civic Association, the office of the president of Stony Brook University, members of the Setauket and Stony Brook fire departments, among others, the town said.

For Hoffman, traffic and pedestrian safety is an area for concern for him and other community members and officials alike. About one-and-a-half years ago Hoffman helped establish a kiosk for an Eagle Scout project near Route 25A and the Stony Brook train station. A car destroyed it nearly a month later, he said.

Hoffman said, “It’s a tricky area and there’s a lot of pedestrians” that walk along Route 25A.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said a Stony Brook University student died several years ago when walking along Route 25A. Many others walk along this road throughout the school year.

“When you have the largest state university in the state of New York, it should have sidewalks,” Romaine said.

Hoffman started working to revitalize the area when he joined the civic association board four years ago. His co-chair, Taylor, has lived in the Stony Brook area since 1973 and said that she was pleased with the news of her position on the committee.

“One of the important values that I have … is to be able to give back to our community in some way,” Taylor said.

Taylor added that it’s exciting to see a variety of local organizations unite for this issue. She also said community input is something the supervisor and town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) wanted from this land use study.

Cartright has worked with the supervisor to address the Route 25A issues.

Last June, Cartright teamed up with the Three Village Community Trust and organized a meeting with residents to get their input on how they’d like to see the street revitalized. According to Cartright, around 100 community members attended the meeting at The Stony Brook School. While there were some differences in opinion, the majority of residents wanted to “keep the small-town feel” and maintain as much open space as possible.

“I think it is part of the planning process. I think we need to always make sure to have the community [as] involved as possible,” Cartright said.

Cynthia Barnes, president of the Three Village Community Trust, said the corridor study was an opportunity for residents to make sure any past successes were not wiped out by future indifference.

“The community has worked hard to prevent Route 25A from turning into an endless corridor of strip malls like so many other places in Brookhaven and elsewhere,” she said in a statement. “Over the past 20 years, civic leaders have actively engaged in community-based planning, advocating land and historic preservation, scrutinizing development proposals and conducting two planning studies, in 1997 and in 2010. As a result, land has been preserved along 25A and throughout the area and the first of 15 historic districts now in Brookhaven were established here in Setauket and Stony Brook.”

Barnes also said the study is an opportunity for the entire community to “influence policymakers and deciders in how they direct future development and redevelopment along our ‘Main Street.’”

Looking ahead, she said the trust urges everyone to participate in this planning process by seeking out information and watching for meetings and workshops — including the trust’s spring “Join the Conversation” series.

The town will conduct the study in phases starting from the Smithtown line to Nicolls Road while the second phase will focus on the remainder of Route 25A to the Poquott Village line. Although Romaine said there’s “tremendous opportunities for redevelopment” of the street, it will take time to revitalize the area. The supervisor agreed with Cartright that community members are key to a successful study and plan.

Cartright is also involved in revitalizing the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville area to meet the needs of residents. The Citizens Advisory Committee there has presented the town with a vision for the area, which the town previously accepted and then voted on Jan. 14 to start rezoning the area to fit that vision.

Port Jefferson Station’s land use plan was built on existing studies of the area, and the town’s Citizens Advisory Committee meetings will add on to previous Route 25A discussions.

“We’re just at the beginning of the process,” Hoffman said. “We want to build off Valerie’s successful community meeting in the summer. People have different views of how they want their community to look [and] we want to make the area really beautiful [for residents].”

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