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Port Jefferson Village

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Village Center file photo by Heidi Sutton

Let there be light.

Representatives from Johnson Controls, an energy performance contracting company, presented a plan to the Port Jefferson Village board of trustees at a meeting Tuesday that would save the village about $1.6 million on energy costs and electrical supplies over 20 years.

The project would entail providing Village Hall and the Village Center with more than 500 LED lighting upgrades, LED lighting fixtures for the village’s more than 1,100 streetlights and 60 new tennis court lights.

“We really haven’t done a lot of upgrades to the existing lighting in forever,” Mayor Margot Garant said during the meeting Tuesday. She called the proposed project “a thing of beauty.”

Dan Haffel, Johnson Controls’ liaison to the village, estimated during the presentation that the project would pay for itself in about 11 years. Port Jefferson would pay the company $1.8 million out of their energy savings — “it’s completely self-funded; there’s no out-of-pocket exposure,” Haffel said — for the consulting and improvements over the life of a 15-year contract, with an interest rate somewhere in the 2 to 3 percent range.

The agreement would come with a guarantee from Johnson Controls.

“The project is guaranteed to pay for itself in 15 years — we’ll pay the village a shortfall if there is one,” Haffel said.

Rob Rolston, the lead project manager from Johnson Controls, said it would be ideal to complete the project before winter, given the complications cold weather and winter storms could present. That would require quick movement from the village.

But the company also put forth a more conservative potential timeline as part of their presentation. If the board approved the proposal in July, fixtures and lights could be ordered by August and construction could begin in September. The job could then be completed in May 2017.

Many of the upgraded lights in Village Hall and the Village Center would incorporate motion sensors as another means to save electricity. The streetlights come with a 10-year manufacturer warranty.

Johnson Controls is a nationwide Fortune 100 company that has been in the field of performance contracting for about 30 years. They have received awards for their environmental impact and energy efficiency from entities like Newsweek and utility PSEG Long Island.

Port Jefferson school district is working on a contract with Johnson Controls for a similar project, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Sean Leister. He called the proposed upgrades, which still require school board-approval, a “win-win” for the district for the energy and cost savings it would present in a phone interview last week.

The village board has not yet set a date to vote on the proposal.

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James D. Schultz as Bill Reach in a scene from ‘Down the Road.’ Photo by David Morrissey Jr.

By Stacy Santini

One of the most daunting scenes in film is in the final minutes of 1974’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” when Leatherface is dancing his own murderous ballet wielding a chainsaw at sunset. It is a stunning visual into the disturbed psyche of a serial killer. There is no need to delve back into celluloid archives to experience this phenomenon once again, as Bluebox Theatre Company is brilliantly exploring this unsettling subject matter in its presentation of Lee Blessing’s “Down the Road,” at The Performing Arts Studio of New York in Port Jefferson Village.

Directed by Bluebox’s David Morrissey Jr., the play opens with an abrupt spasm disrupting the cozy darkness in this intimate blackbox theater; a large flat-screen TV center stage begins flashing familiar images. The audience is reminded of William and Kate’s royal wedding, the West Nile virus outbreak and other popular “newsworthy” stories.

In a short time the broadcasts turn extremely dark, focusing on people the public has come to know all too well: Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Charles Manson. Interview after interview, clip after clip, Morrissey begins to open up our doors of perception and draw us into the minds of these haunted men, the actions that have made them media icons and their stories a sad reality.

“Down the Road” is a psychological drama about serial killer Bill Reach, who has murdered and raped 19 women. While Reach is incarcerated, a young married couple, Dan and Iris, both of whom are journalists, are contracted to write a book about Reach. Initially approached as a fact-compiling endeavor, the couple soon begin to unravel not only Reach’s subconscious but their relationship as well and at the same time explore demoralizing themes.

As their ambition bounces their physical bodies into a cheap motel room in this rather beige part of the world, the audience is first introduced to Iris and Dan. Played by Marquez Stewart and Bluebox mainstay Bryon Azoulay, their connection is palpable. Consumed by passion for one another discussing their dreamy expectations of starting a family, they seem like tender lambs unaware that they are being led to slaughter.

As the play progresses, their different styles of interviewing Reach are apparent as well as the way each character reacts to the intensity of their exchanges with him. Communicating their thoughts on their individual interviews with Reach into a recorder, their distractions also become evident and the toxicity of Reach’s aura slowly twists and torments not only their ability to proceed with the task at hand but their relationship as well.

It is undeniable that Stuart portrays Iris with all the confrontational, aggressive boldness that her role demands. She is terrific and perfectly balances her character’s vacillation between being drawn to Reach while at the same time being repulsed by him. When asked by Reach if she is afraid of him, she snidely responds, “Desperately,” without disrupting her dead on stare.

Azoulay’s Dan is much more accommodating and at times submissive to Reach. He begins his interactions with Reach obligingly as a great inquisitor, but his growing fear eventually arrests his questioning and manifests in a dichotomy between his desire to run and his addiction to Reach’s mania. His impassioned solo scripted moments invoke the same angst and confusion into the viewer that his character is experiencing.

James D. Schultz as Bill Reach — that should be the play’s tag line. Schultz, a solid acting member of the Theatre Three family for several years, is a prodigy. Watching Schultz sprint to the top of our local acting pyramid in such a short time has been not only a joy for his followers but an awe-inspiring accomplishment. Probably his most challenging role to date, he more than nails it — he surpasses it, so much so that audience members were shaking when his presence loomed on stage unlit, allowing the other actors to take the baton. It was horrifyingly beautiful. All were scared to death of the diabolical monster Schultz passively and slowly created.

Embarking on the stage, Schultz is handsome and inviting. With the exception of his handcuffs, his attire is mainstream — jeans, a button-down shirt and designer eyeglasses.

He looks so normal, so familiar; but then the exchanges begin between him, Dan and Iris, and we are perversely aware that there is nothing normal about Bill Reach or James Schultz for that matter.

A chronological questioning commences, and it is here we see the true talent of Schultz. Expectations of a rabid, crazed lunatic who takes life from people is anticipated, but this is not the case with most serial killers, and Schultz’s restraint in this regard is stupendous. With a blank stare, a severe sociopathic being comes alive as he describes his killings in a matter of fact tone. The audience is hearing it, but in the back of our minds we are not really believing it. Methodically, he unwinds the details of his carnage. He says things like, “It wasn’t murder, murderers have motives, I kill,” and “Don’t insult me, most people don’t torture what they hunt.”

As Schultz describes what it feels like to kill, the theater was eerily quiet, audience captivated and for a moment almost simulated a poetry reading. Eventually we see outbursts and violence from Reach that Schultz brings to a new level. He frightens the audience with a lingering energy and so much so that when his character is not the focal point, the audience is still very much aware that evil is in the room. Absolutely incredible and only the work of a true master.

David Morrissey Jr. governs this production with the intensity and passion of a veteran director. Part of the talented triad team that makes Bluebox Theatre Company tick, Morrissey creates synergy among his characters and movement on stage that will surprise you. Coached by his counterparts, Joe Rubino and Andrew Beck, this play secures their place among our local theaters and stages. Transmitting themes that might be difficult to digest such as how the media is responsible for making monsters like Reach into celebrities and identifying internal motives for these inexplicable acts of hatred and violence is no easy feat, but this small green production company succeeds on every level.

The Performing Arts Studio of New York is a special place and keeps the urban culture of the big city alive in a small town, but seating is limited. Walk fast, sprint, no run to see “Down the Road” as it won’t be here for long. For mature audience only.

The Performing Arts Studio of New York, 11 Traders Cove, Port Jefferson, will present “Down the Road” through Sept. 6. Tickets are $19 adults ($15 online), $13 students ($11 online). For more information, call 631-928-6529 or visit www.blueboxtheatrecompany.com.

Port Jefferson Village Board denies use of floating docks to extreme water sport

FlyboardLI, a company behind an extreme water sport, wants to operate out of Port Jefferson Harbor. Photo from Jimmy Bissett

FlyboardLI, a company behind a fairly new extreme water sport, has been denied approval to operate out of Port Jefferson Harbor any longer.

It had been previously working out of the harbor without approval of the Port Jefferson Village Board or a proper permit since May this year.

The board decided at a meeting on Monday evening that there were too many liabilities attached to the activity. Trustees said the harborfront park has always been a passive park, and they want it to remain that way.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Bissett was disappointed to hear that the village would not be approving his proposal.

“I bring people into the town, it’s a very popular activity,” Jimmy Bissett, owner of FlyboardLI said. “I had more than 500 customers last season, and I am doing very well this season.”

Invented by Franky Zapata, a competitive jet skier, the sport offers a fusion between wakeboarding, surfing, kite surfing, and Jet Skis. It involves strapping into a pair of boots, which are connected to a long hose. The rider can control the hose to float on the water, submerge underneath it or soar above it.

The sport gained popularity after a 2012 YouTube video of the first flight ever went viral. The video now has more than 15 million views.

The Village Board was unanimous in its decision to deny a trial period for FlyboardLI in the harbor. Bissett had also requested three parking spaces and the use of the floating docks in the harbor as part of his application.

Members including Trustee Larry LaPointe said he felt that there were more liabilities at stake to comprehend. He questioned if someone on a Flyboard struck a resident who was paddle-boarding, or damaged a boat in the harbor, whether the village would be held accountable.

Mayor Margot Garant said she had mixed feelings on the application.

“I think it’s a great attraction, but I feel that the harbor is a passive place, for activities like paddle-boarding and fishing.”

The board noted that FlyboardLI had participated in the village’s last two maritime festivals and at both, the activity seemed to be a big success. Board members also noted that the floating docks in the harbor Bissett wants to use for the business currently have no activity on them.

But the board felt that the potential cons would outweigh the pros for the village.

Bissett started the company last summer in Riverhead, but he first became involved with the sport in 2012, when he was in Arizona. He wanted to bring the activity back to his native Long Island to share it with residents here.

Last summer, while operating out of Peconic River in Riverhead, Bissett ran into some problems with the Town of Riverhead. He decided in the next season to bring FlyboardLI to his hometown of Port Jefferson.

Bisset explained that every participant has to be sign a liability waiver, and that the company is fully insured. The company offers several session options. The 15-minute session starts at $99.

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The Long Island Maker Festival debuts in Port Jeff

Spectators view demo of the Voxiebox which will be on display at the Long Island Maker Festival Sunday. Photo by Sean Kane

Opening my web browser the other day, I was dropped into the middle of an Apple “special event” product unveiling where an executive enthused about some app or service or the other. It was something to customize my newsfeed. Since I’m good with the way I currently get my news, I didn’t pay too much attention and moved on.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming — keeping up with apps, worrying about issues of privacy and multi-tasking — all of which can erode productivity and promise access to more content than we could ever properly consume. And yet, we can either be intimidated by technology or energized by it.

People who turn that energy into creativity — makers, doers — can be an inspiration to us all. That’s why this Sunday, June 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson Village and KidOYO are hosting the Long Island Maker Festival.

The largest maker festival in Suffolk County, it will showcase the work of people who have seized technological innovations and turned them into opportunities to become innovators, says Cindy Morris, the event’s organizer.

As Cindy describes it, the maker movement stems from accessible innovation.

“Technology has changed so much, you can do almost everything from your own home,” she says.”

You don’t need millions of dollars or fancy hi-tech facilities to realize your ideas.

I have to admit that I love the word “maker.” People who create, contribute and value utility. It’s the opposite of consumption and requires grit and ingenuity. How could anyone not be excited by that?

Sunday’s family event will bring together 50 volunteers from ages 11 on up to the Port Jefferson Harborfront Park. There will be scientists from across the island wearing shirts saying, “I’m a scientist. Ask me a question.” They want to encourage those who attend to learn more about the science behind what they will be seeing.  And Cindy assures there will be lots of science — professional robotics, a children’s science exhibition, a demonstration of green screen technology and a hologram machine built in a garage — to name just a few offerings.

Festival participant takes in the Voxiebox 3D video consul. Photo by Sean Kane
Festival participant takes in the Voxiebox 3D video consul. Photo by Sean Kane

The maker movement encompasses more than just science and technology, Cindy says. There’s art, performing art and crafting, much of which will also be seen Sunday.

Stony Brook University’s theater department will demo theatrical make-up, while attendees can take sewing lessons, observe an African drumming circle, or take in other musical performances. Workshops from computer coding to organic gardening will also be offered.

“We always talk to our children about being imaginative, but as we get older, we stop doing it ourselves,” Cindy observes.

This event, this gathering of creators and entrepreneurs, is to show that “anybody can do this,” she says. “We want our children to know that they don’t have to be adults to be creative, and for adults to realize that they don’t have to be children to be creative.”

All of this came together in four months, which Cindy sees as a show of the community’s interest and desire for such an event.  There are close to 100 makers participating, and organizers expect the festival to draw some 3,000 attendees.

Cindy’s background as a strategic planner for non-profits — she owns The Benson Agency — definitely came in handy when gathering sponsors. Without them, the undertaking would have cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000, she estimates.

Port Jefferson Village is allowing the organizers to use the Harborfront Park rent free, while The Rinx, the roller rink at the Village Center, is offering all attendees free roller skating for the day. Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences and its department of technology and society, Stony Brook Medicine, Hofstra, The Science Academy Camp at Park Shore, Long Island Parent and PSEG are among the other sponsors.

If you are a mover and a maker, or you want to be one, head “down Port” this Sunday. Maybe something you see will spark your sense of invention!

Tickets: Purchased in advance $10/person or $40/family. Day of $15/person or $60 family. www.limakerfest.com

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