Tags Posts tagged with "Port Jefferson"

Port Jefferson

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A trash can outside a home in Port Jefferson. Photo by Kyle Barr

Many Port Jefferson village residents woke up one morning at the end of January to find their garbage would be taken by a different contractor.

In a letter dated Jan. 28 sent to all Port Jeff residents signed up with them, Ronkonkoma-based Quick-Way Sanitation Corp. said it would no longer be servicing the village and, as of Feb. 1, its contracts would move over to Yaphank-based Maggio Sanitation.

“Since garbage facilities have been raising dump fees on a monthly basis, we are no longer able to offer our current price and would have to raise residents [sic] astronomically,” read the letter signed by President of Quick-Way Joseph Litterello.

A representative from Quick-Way said they had no additional comment.

Residents then received an additional letter from Maggio dated Feb. 1 saying their company would be servicing their account, and they would provide residents with two new garbage totes, one for trash and one for recycling, within the next eight to 10 weeks.

On a post of the Unofficial Port Jeff Villagers Facebook group Feb. 3 village Mayor Margot Garant said she was not notified by the company about the change. She said in additional posts the changeover did not have anything to do with the village government in particular.

“Now you have things like the Brookhaven town landfill closing soon — there’s a lot of issues with garbage nowadays.”

— Joe Colucci

Joe Colucci, the president of Middle-Island-based Colucci Carting, posted to the unofficial Port Jeff Facebook page Feb. 10 saying that if 500 residents call with interest, he would expand his operation to include residential garbage pickup, though during a phone interview he said he is also considering if 300 residents show interest he will provide services to the village. So far, Colucci said he has received about 30 calls over the weekend. Pricing for garbage pickup would be $35 per month and $70 bimonthly.

“It’s got to be beneficial for me to go in,” he said.

Colucci said he was curious why Quick-Way didn’t simply raise its fees instead of ending service, though he has seen the cost of carting garbage increase for several decades.

“The cost to dump garbage has [gone] up significantly, almost $100 a ton to get it out of the Island,” he said. “Now you have things like the Brookhaven town landfill closing soon — there’s a lot of issues with garbage nowadays.”

According to the official Port Jefferson Facebook page, there are eight sanitation companies currently allowed to operate in the village, still including Quick-Way, Maggio and Colucci Carting, as well as Islandia-based Jet Sanitation Services, Bay Shore-based National Waste Services, Holbrook-based Superior Waste Services of New York, Brentwood-based V. Garofalo Carting and Babylon-based Winters Bros. Hauling of Long Island. Some of these companies have, for the most part, only serviced local businesses or provide dumpsters.

Town of Brookhaven residents pay an annual fee for their garbage and recycling pickup, but since Port Jeff village is an incorporated government, it has operated on different rules, asking residents to set up their own garbage carting contracts.

The official Port Jeff Facebook post also said any company can apply to operate in the village with a one-year license, first by providing the village with a $2,500 bond payment, provide proof of liability, property and workmen’s compensation insurance, and by paying a processing fee of $50 plus $10 per truck operating within the village.

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A longtime Port Jefferson business, Cappy’s Carpets building, may soon triple in size to accommodate new retail space and nearly 50 new apartments.

The Capobianco family, who owns the property, along with real estate firm Brooks Partners LLC, have unveiled plans for creating a three-story, mixed-use building on 1.15 acres of property at 440 Main St. The development will replace the existing carpet store along with the boat storage lot to the rear of the property.

The proposed plans call for 1,200 square feet of retail space, a 1,500-square-foot restaurant and a 750-square-foot fitness center on the ground floor. Above that would be 44 one-bedroom and two, two-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors. 

Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant said she was adamant the new space should have retail on the first floor.

Site plans for new development. Photo from Port Jeff planning department

“We feel very strongly, despite everybody saying ‘Retail is getting killed [and] Amazon is killing small business,’” Garant said. “In providing a space where a small store that is attractive, it makes Main Street a vibrant street for everyone.”

Cappy’s Carpets currently exists on a single-level building, but this development could raise its height to match the surrounding three-story structures. Renderings for the space provided by Hauppauge-based engineering firm VHB show a rustic aesthetic building trying to keep in tune with its neighbors. 

The Port Jeff mayor said original plans for the structure put it at four stories, but the village trustees voted to change the code to restrict its height to 35 feet or 3 stories. She has seen the updated plans and said she appreciates the look of the structure’s facade.

“We learned a lesson when the Shipyard building came in,” Garant said. “We’re trying to maintain our character while allowing these property owners to build within the code … there has to be a careful balance between our very sensitive downtown.”

The westernmost portion of the first floor will consist of surface-level parking. The garage will encompass 37 spaces. The available parking outside the structure will have 41 additional slots and one loading space. The parking would be accessed off Main Street and through an egress on Barnum Avenue. The parking garage and 29 of the outside stalls will be reserved for apartment tenants. Another 12 remaining outside spaces will be available for employees and patrons of the commercial Main Street businesses. 

Cappy’s Carpets owners did not respond to requests for comment.

According to a traffic study conducted by VHB, the weekday average traffic for Main Street was less than 18,000 vehicles per day in the vicinity of the project site as of March 2016. Saturday and Sunday daily volume during the same week was recorded at less than 20,000 and 15,000 cars, respectively. The study does not give the volume of traffic for Barnum Avenue. 

The study states the development would only lead to an increase of 61 new trips during peak a.m. times, 71 new trips in peak p.m. times, and 115 new Saturday midday trips. It concludes by saying the project would not have any major effect on traffic in Port Jefferson village.

Rendering of new development from the Barnum Avenue side. Photo from Port Jeff planning department

Garant said the New York State Department of Transportation has already approved renovations to the three-way intersection between Barnum Avenue and Main Street as well as traffic features south along Main Street. Current plans call for removing the triangle median where the two roads connect, making one egress and ingress, eliminating the need for pedestrians to make two crossings along one road. The next project is to install a traffic light at the intersection of Old Post Road and Main Street in hopes of eliminating some problems of the accident-prone intersection during rush hour. The mayor added she hopes to see these changes in the next year, or at least before any new Cappy’s Carpet development finishes.

“We’re in the last stages of negotiation phases with DOT, but the traffic light is definitely happening,” Garant said. “The changes to Barnum are also something we hope will alleviate some of the problems with pedestrians crossing that intersection.”

The Village of Port Jefferson has released the draft site plans for the site and has them available at the Village Hall, the Port Jefferson Free Library and the Building and Planning Department at 88 North Country Road. As of press time, the site plans are not yet available on the official Port Jefferson Village website.

A public hearing about the proposed development is set for March 14 at 6:30 p.m. Residents can submit comments to the Planning Board until March 24.

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By David Ackerman

The ancient craft of wooden boat building is alive and well at the Bayles Boat Shop.

On a dreary Saturday morning in January the workspace, located at Port Jefferson’s Harborfront Park, was filled with many projects at various stages of completion while workers, ranging from teenagers to senior citizens, all performed jobs necessary to the task of boatbuilding. 

The space is heated by a wood furnace which allows production to continue throughout the winter months. According to Philip Schiavone, shop director and member for more than 10 years, “We use our mistakes as fuel,” speaking to the spirit of resourcefulness which has enabled the shop to grow purely by the effort of community volunteers.

“We use our mistakes as fuel.”

— Philip Schiavone

The boat shop was founded by Long Island Seaport and Eco Center, a nonprofit organization that tries to promote an appreciation, awareness and understanding of maritime history and the marine environment. The volunteer community at the shop contributes to the overall mission of LISEC by preserving Port Jefferson’s maritime history of boat building, and offering memberships and educational resources to the general public. 

In 2018 the boat shop started a canoe building project for high school students in coordination with Avalon Park’s Students Taking Action for Tomorrow’s Environment program in Stony Brook.

“This project is an opportunity for the students to learn new skills that they won’t get in high school while also contributing to their community,” said Len Carolan, the event coordinator at the boat shop.

Some of the practical skills the students are learning include the safe use of tools, making precise measurements, following detailed construction plans, and using advanced woodworking techniques such as mold making, joinery and wood-finishing processes. High school student and Port Jeff Yacht Club Sailing School member Oscar Krug said the project they were working on was a Sassafras 12 canoe kit with laser-cut sections built with a stitch-and-glue process. The finished product will be donated to Avalon Park where it will either be made available for public use or auctioned off in order to fund the next construction project.

“This project is an opportunity for the students to learn new skills that they won’t get in high school while also contributing to their community.”

— Len Carolan

Avalon Park’s STATE program operates year-round and provides volunteer opportunities for eighth- through 12th-graders both in Avalon Park and by networking with local nonprofits. The program is led by Kayla Kraker, a marine biologist and science educator who aims to involve students that are “self-motivated leaders and passionate about nature and the outdoors.”

Other student projects with the STATE program have included horseshoe crab tagging, organic farming, shellfish restoration and an archway construction.

Alongside the canoe build there are multiple projects underway in the boat shop. Members Bill Monsen and John Janicek are in the finishing stages of their restoration of a sailing dinghy called a German Pirate which will be the shop’s first submission to the WoodenBoat Show at Mystic in Connecticut. It has taken three years for this project to develop from a hulk of timber and wood to a stunning restoration, built with careful consideration to historical accuracy. The end product will be a faithful reproduction of the original German Pirate sailing dinghy which was first built in 1934 and is usually found only in Europe, making this model a rare discovery in the United States.

The shop is also preparing for its annual Quick and Dirty boat build in August where participants will race in the Port Jeff Harbor with boats that are constructed in four hours on the shore. Shop members are currently in the finishing stages of a raffle boat project which will be offered up at the event to raise funds for the facility.

Bayles Boat Shop at Harborfront Park is open for business every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Tuesdays 7 to 9 p.m.

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Debra Bowling, the new owner of Pasta Pasta, and her husband Jerry. Photo by Kyle Barr

Debra Bowling, the new owner of Pasta Pasta in Port Jefferson village, knows the customers who walk through the old wood doors. She herself started 20 years ago as a waitress and has kept loyal to the restaurant ever since. Now, after two decades, she’s in charge.

However, despite owning the restaurant, she expects she will still continue to wait tables.

“That’s not going to change,” Bowling, a Setauket resident, said. She was almost successful at suppressing a laugh. “We still have two kids in college, so I really put a lot of hours in here. I said if I’m going to work so hard, I might as well work for myself.”

The restaurant serves what the new owner described as American food with an Italian flavor, providing everything from fish to pasta to salads. The eatery is also famous for its flaky and moist garlic bread.

Previous owners Steve Sands and Jules Buitron bought Pasta Pasta back in 1998, already owning another restaurant on the South Shore. Sands said they already knew and liked the Port Jeff restaurant, back when its menu was limited to pizza and pasta, so they decided to purchase it and bring in Bowling, who was at that time planning on moving to the North Shore.

Pasta Pasta in Port Jefferson Village. Photo by Kyle Barr

Once Sands and Buitron decided they wanted to sell, Bowling was the first person they talked to about buying the restaurant.

 

“She’s a hard worker, she knows the business and she knows the customers,” Sands said. “She’s got a great team. Much of the kitchen crew has been there before we even bought the restaurant.”

Sands said he still plans to visit the restaurant when he can.

“The reason I bought it because it’s always been my favorite restaurant,” he said.

That doesn’t mean it’s not a big transition for Bowling and her family. The new restaurant owner’s husband Jerry is also there on a regular basis where he can be seen manning the phone and helping with whatever needs doing. 

So much of Bowling’s life has been spent at the restaurant, and her children have also moved through the restaurant as a part of growing up.

“Five of my six kids have worked here, and two of them still work here,” the restaurant owner said. 

While many have moved on, the kids have been supportive of their mother’s new venture, with her son Ryan Burns posting a heartwarming social media message to his mother saying how much she inspired him.

And even with these new expectations laid on her shoulders, Bowling still has two families to assist her, one at home and one at work, including kitchen manager Anthony Vadala, who has helped Bowling and her team throughout the years. Now with her running the show those two families are more intertwined than ever.

“We’re all a family here, the kitchen staff has been here before me,” she said. “Most of the waitresses were here between 10 and 15 years.”

“We’re all a family here, the kitchen staff has been here before me.”

— Debra Bowling

Bowling intends to keep the food and the atmosphere the same as it has been, though she does have a few design changes in mind, including some new paint on the walls, new bathrooms and replacing the windows up front so they can be swung open on atmospheric summer evenings.

The customers who have gone to the restaurant for years probably couldn’t accept too much change, and there are quite a few regulars. Even before she owned the restaurant, Bowling was a well-known face to her multitudes of regular customers, often those who have their own set of menus internalized in the minds of the Pasta Pasta staff. Some of those longtime customers who constantly travel make it a point to stop in her restaurant, even going out of their way to call ahead of time and beg the restaurant for a bowl of pasta, the kind the restaurant staff knows they like in particular. Baby showers have been hosted in the restaurant, and just last year, the restaurant hosted a wedding as well.

“On New Year’s Eve we had a wedding here,” Bowling said. “They met on their first date here on New Year’s Eve two years ago. She met here, she has to get married here … That’s just from them getting to know us over the years.”

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Deputy Superintendent Sean Leister. Photo by Kyle Barr

While the Port Jefferson School District is preparing its budget for the 2019-20 school year, the shadow of LIPA still hangs over the small school district.

Superintendent Paul Casciano said the LIPA outcome, at least in terms of drafting next year’s budget, was not as bad as it could have been. 

“It was translated by the town to be on the assessment rather than our payments,” he said. “With the glide path it gets more challenging later on, but we have time to make adjustments.”

“With the glide path it gets more challenging later on, but we have time to make adjustments.”

— Paul Casciano

In December 2018, the Town of Brookhaven settled with LIPA over the tax assessment of the Port Jefferson power station whose white and red smokestacks can be seen almost anywhere near the harbor. LIPA filed a lawsuit almost a decade ago against both Brookhaven and the Town of Huntington saying its plants in Port Jeff and Northport have been overassessed by millions of dollars and were seeking a 50 percent reduction. The settlement decision agreed to lower LIPA’s assessments by 50 percent over a nine-year period from $32.6 million to $16.8 million starting with the 2017-18 tax year.

Even after the settlement, district officials said the Port Jefferson School District would have the second lowest school tax rates compared to others in Brookhaven Town, only being beaten by Riverhead. The district, going into the ninth year of the settlement, would have a tax rate approximately 100 less than the average of non-Port Jefferson school rates, according to the district.

The school district, along with several village residents, feared what a 50 percent reduction could do to school taxes. Casciano, along with Deputy Superintendent Sean Leister, hosted a special meeting for district residents where they estimated a tax rate of 159 in the 2019-20 school year, and an estimated 243 by the 2026-27 school year.

If local revenues remain flat and with their expected tax levy cap sitting at 1.18 percent, the district expects their current $43.9 million budget will adjust to a $44.1 million rollover budget next school year, an increase of $232,930 if the district maintains all current programming and staff. The current school tax levy — the money a school makes in local area taxes — of $36,434,479 would jump to $37,075,627, more than the schools expected 1.2 percent tax cap.

Leister said this would mean reductions, but the district is currently in the process of creating the upcoming school year’s draft budget.

“We haven’t identified those reductions yet,” Leister said. “We are going to take the next few weeks to see if it can be done through efficiencies: We have to identify what our enrollment looks like, what our student interest looks like and what our scheduling looks like.”

Casciano said this difference is minimal, and it can be made up on the school’s end by tighter budgeting.

“If the community stays in support of the district, it won’t be as dramatic,” the superintendent said. “If the school has to absorb the entire cost of the tax loss, it will be.”

“A cynic would look at it and say you’re just trying to dampen any resistance in the short term and pushing it back.”

— Todd Pittinsky

Before news of the settlement, residents had proposed that the district combine with other area districts, but Leister said that combining with a district like Comsewogue or Mount Sinai would overall increase tax rates. Port Jefferson’s estimated tax rate in the 2019-20 school year is 159 compared to Comsewogue’s 262, assuming an annual levy increase of 2 percent, or under the New York State tax cap.

While the difference is minimal for this school year, the district said the glide path of LIPA’s assessment reduction ramps up over time. While the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years see a 3.5 percent reduction, later years show reductions going up to 7.5 and 8.25 percent.

Todd Pittinsky, a Port Jeff resident and professor in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University, said it would behoove the district to think long term when it comes to the reductions over time, and not make those cuts more drastic when the reductions start to increase dramatically.

“A cynic would look at it and say you’re just trying to dampen any resistance in the short term and pushing it back,” Pittinsky said. “I would hope that the effort is one-eighth each year. The formula you are using is going to push back the pain of dislocation or relocation, and it would be very easy to think that other decision makers will be in this role.”

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By Bill Landon

The Port Jefferson boys basketball team had their hands full when Southampton came knocking Jan. 28. The Royals were able to stay within striking distance for the first 16 minutes, but the Mariners poured it on in the second half outscoring the Royals by 30 points to put the game away 99-56. 

Atop the leaderboard for the Royals was eighth-grader Mano Idir with 15 points. Seniors Grant Calendrille and Jonathan Bachman netted 12 and 11, respectively, and eighth-grader Drew Feinstein banked eight. The Royals retake the court Jan. 31 on the road against John Glenn searching for that elusive league victory with three games remaining. Game time is 6:00 p.m.

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Port Jefferson Middle School English teacher Allison Giannusa shared her class lesson with educators from the Anhui province, China. Photo from PJSD

By David Luces 

It was a case of east meets west as a delegation of Chinese educators visited the Port Jefferson School district Jan. 15 to experience and learn about the American education system. 

Port Jefferson School District was one of two school district chosen to be toured by the Chinese educators. The trip, organized in part by Stony Brook University, had the delegation from the Anhui province in China take a tour of the district and witness interactive lessons inside its classrooms. 

Chinese educators visited the Port Jefferson School District buildings. Photo from PJSD

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for educators from another country to come in and see how we do things here,” Christine Austen, the Principal of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School said “This is unique because of the size of the school and the scope of our educational program.” 

The Chinese educators, accompanied by three Mandarin translators, were welcomed to the school with the school’s orchestra playing Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.” On a tour of the high school the group visited a chorus classroom where they caught a glimpse of students beginning to warm up their vocal cords, then later took a tour of the high school gym facilities. In between spots the educators were able to ask some students about their experiences in the Port Jeff school district. 

Austen said the educators may have seen things that they haven’t observed in other school districts. 

“We take a lot of pride in the school district,” Austen said. “We want to show our students that we are open to having these conservations and we are welcoming to everyone.” 

Superintendent Paul Casciano said the district had an important responsibility when it came to showcasing American education to the delegation. 

“Their impression of the American education system will be based on what they’ve seen and learned [here],” Casciano said. 

In September, the district joined in an Educational Leadership Program with Stony Brook with some high school teachers. The program offers courses to prepare educators for advancement in position such as superintendent and principal. 

Craig Markson, the director of the Educational Leadership Program at Stony Brook University said the Office of Global Affairs has a collaborative relationship with principals of schools in the Anhui province of China. The educators wanted to visit the United States to see how the American educational system works.  

The superintendent said the district set up the date and time with the Chinese delegation back in December.

“It forced us to be introspective and I think that’s really healthy.”

— Paul Casciano

“We already had a relationship and connection with the university,” Casciano said. “Markson contacted me about the planned trip and they were looking for schools to visit.” 

The superintendent said for two weeks before the visit they asked themselves what made the school district so special and what the
students and teachers might learn from the experience.

“It forced us to be introspective and I think that’s really healthy,” the superintendent said. “It’s a small snapshot — only a couple of hours — we only get to see the short-term impacts of something like this. We don’t even know what the long-term effects will be.” 

Though the two districts have cultural differences, Markson said they both share a common goal. 

“One thing that we all have in common is trying to prepare our children to meet the demands of a 21st century economy,” Markson said. “So we are learning from each other.” 

Austen said she’s excited to learn later how the delegation used what they learned in Port Jeff back in Anhui province.

“I can’t wait to hear what they have to say — I’ve never been to a school in another country, so this is an opportunity to gain knowledge on how they do things,” Austen said. “Everyone can learn from one another.” 

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High school student Jillian Lawler's rendering of the armed forces tribute to be constructed in front of the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. Picture courtesy of Port Jefferson School District.

The Port Jefferson School District has announced the creation of an armed forces Tribute to be dedicated on May 30.

The tribute will recognize former Port Jefferson School District students and staff who served in the armed forces.

A brick campaign is currently underway at $100 for each individual brick to be set at the selected tribute site in front of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. They will be placed on the planned “court of courage” and “path of honor” that will surround the planned tribute. Each purchased brick will be engraved with a message to honor past and current service members, family members, community members or friends, selected by the person donating.

“The Port Jefferson School District community has really embraced this project,” said Superintendent Paul Casciano, who helped spearhead the initiative.

Some of that initial support comes from a New Year’s Day fundraiser held at Tara Inn that raised $7,650. A boulder which will serve as the centerpiece of the tribute that was transported to the site by Sheep Pasture Tree and Nursery Supply.

“We are grateful to Sheep Pasture and to Tara Inn and their contributors — their generosity has gotten this endeavor off to a successful start,” Casciano said.

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School senior Jillian Lawler also took part in the initial planning by creating a rendering of the proposed site.

The brick fundraising campaign will run until March 1 and a dedication ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 30.Those interested in purchasing a brick must fill out a fundraising flyer available at the district’s website. All money raised will help fund the building of the tribute. Those interested can also contact Kathy Hanley in the superintendent’s office at 631-791-4221 with any questions.

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A family of deer stands, weary of strangers, at the Port Jefferson golf course. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Village of Belle Terre has moved to allow hunting in the village limits, saying the village code that restricted it was illegal in the first place.

Chapter 95 of the Belle Terre village code, specifying hunting and firearms, forbade any person for hunting, trapping or discharging firearms within village limits. In a meeting Jan. 15, the village board voted unanimously to remove it from the code and now it defaults to New York State law and Department of Environmental Conservation regulations regarding to hunting.

Belle Terre Mayor Bob Sandak said nine months ago the village board announced to the community it had received an opinion letter from the attorney general of the state of New York saying all hunting regulations are held by the state, and there is no room for local laws in contradiction to state laws.

“We’re just doing away with something that can’t be in the village code,” the Belle Terre mayor said. “It’s controlled by state legislature through the DEC. You’re not allowed to have codes that do not conform to state law.”

During the public discussion at the Jan. 15 meeting, many residents spoke out against taking away the code. Some said they felt the decision to remove the part of the village code was announcing to the public Belle Terre was open to hunting, though DEC regulations state hunters must be 150 feet from any structure, and they cannot trespass onto people’s property without permission. 

Natalie Bratt, along with other Belle Terre residents, share their opinions of deer hunters in Belle Terre village. Photo by Kyle Barr

Village resident Robin Marcel said she was concerned rogue hunters or poachers would be shooting arrows in the residential vicinity.

“How many arrows must I find in my backyard?” Marcel said. “There are certainly some good hunters out there, but not everyone is reputable.”

A number of residents reported seeing hunters carrying bows and arrows walking down residential streets. Others said they heard what might have been gunshots going off in the night. Some said they were afraid that deer injured by bows and arrows might leap fences and end up dying in people’s backyards.

DEC regulations specify hunting can only be done during the day, and the use of firearms like rifles or shotguns for deer hunting is prohibited on Long Island.

Sandak said he has only heard a single complaint about a deer dying in a resident’s backyard within the village, but that issue was cleared up quickly. He added the best way to deal with these illicit hunters was to contact either Suffolk County police or the DEC. 

Village Attorney Eileen Powers repeatedly stressed village constables had no authority to arrest people for hunting, especially if the persons were invited onto the property by
the homeowner.

Kelvin Bryant, a member of East Quogue-based hunting advocacy group Hunters for Deer, attended the meeting and said while there were bad actors out there, his group’s members were all professionals who only kill deer from elevated positions, called tree stands, and would only shoot at a deer if it was 15 to 20 yards away max.

“Our guys are trained to take ethical shots,” he said.

Culling in Port Jeff and Belle Terre

In neighboring Port Jefferson village, discharging any kind of firearm, bow or crossbow is strictly prohibited by village code, but that may soon have to change if plans go through to perform a deer culling for both Belle Terre and Port Jeff. Sandak said the hunting would most likely happen at the Port Jefferson Country Club golf course.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said she was currently working up an agreement with Belle Terre village over setting up a professional culling of the deer population in the area, though they are still working out the final details between the towns. Garant added there would be public meetings in the future on the subject of a professional deer culling, and the cost would be split between Port Jeff and Belle Terre 50/50.

“They’ll do it properly, and do it for a three-year period,” the Port Jeff mayor said. “Nobody will hear gunshots or see deer running around with arrows stuck in their backs.”

‘Nobody will hear gunshots or see deer running around with arrows stuck in their backs.’

— Margot Garant

The culling would be done through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has a special permit from the DEC to get around a number of normal regulations. The USDA officers would use silenced rifles, bait, and will do the culling only at night. 

Sandak said Brookhaven National Laboratory recently completed a culling along its own property to hamper the tick population. 

“They fired 331 bullets and killed 330 deer — I don’t know where the last bullet went,” Sandak said. “Their tick population was reduced by 50 percent.”

Belle Terre Trustee Jacquelyn Gernaey said she was initially against the idea of a culling due to the cost, which she said could be as high as $1,000 a deer.

Sandak said in the near-mile radius of the village bounds there could be as many as 300 deer. While he does not expect to bring that number down to the appropriate number of deer for the area, only around 20, he does expect a culling could bring it down to approximately 50. Though he added it may be needed every two years to keep the total population down.

Hunting incidents in the two villages

Some hunters in the Belle Terre and Port Jefferson area are taking the deer population problem into their own hands, sometimes using illegal means.

Village Trustee Stan Loucks said he heard gunshots outside his home along Soundview Drive the morning of Jan. 7.

They were only small, short shots of small caliber handgun, which went off around 7:30 in the morning, Loucks said the day after the event. When light broke, he went outside to investigate, and near his backyard, which borders on the territory of the Village of Belle Terre, he found a small pool of deer entrails lying on the ground. The carcass was gone.

“It was a popgun, it was close, and they were quick,” Loucks said. “It was a fresh kill.”

Hunting for deer is limited to bows and arrows on Long Island, according to the DEC.

Loucks called the DEC, and he said they arrived within the hour. The DEC officer came back with a hunting dog, but he could not pick up a scent of the hunters. 

A family of deer stands, weary of strangers, at the Port Jefferson golf course. Photo by Kyle Barr

Garant said other residents within the village have complained of hearing firearms near their homes in the recent past.

While the investigation is still ongoing, Loucks has his own theory of what happened. He said he believes the hunters injured the deer with a bow and arrow and then, after tracking it to near his backyard, finally killed it with a handgun.

Garant said she spoke to the DEC officer assigned to the case who informed her there might be poachers in the area, and she has heard details in the past of hunters who had decapitated deer and left them on the golf course. At the Jan. 7 Port Jeff village board meeting, Garant and village trustees discussed putting up signs near the golf course expressing the penalties for hunting within the village limits. 

Sandak was shocked to hear about Loucks encounter with hunters near his property and said it was completely illegal to use a firearm to hunt deer with a gun instead of the mandated bow and arrow.

Fears of hunters in the Port Jefferson area are not unfounded, especially that of animals injured by arrows stampeding onto resident’s property. 

Spokesperson for the New York DEC Bill Fonda said there have been two other complaints of hunting activities in Port Jeff village this hunting season. One was at a home on Prospect Street filed, Nov. 28, 2018, related to a deer being found on a person’s property with two arrows lodged in it. On Dec. 5, 2018, another homeowner filed a complaint that related they saw a hunter with a bow stalking in the vicinity of Oakwood Road. The DEC has not had any waterfowl hunting complaints in Port Jeff village this season.

Individuals with general questions relating to hunting should contact DEC’s Wildlife Office at 631-444-0310. Those with concerns relating to hunting safety should contact DEC’s Environmental Conservation officers at 631-444-0250.

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Eastern Suffolk BOCES CEO Julie Lutz speaks to residents. Photo by Kyle Barr

Who would be Port Jefferson’s perfect superintendent?

It’s a question of priorities, according to Eastern Suffolk BOCES CEO Julie Lutz, who hosted a public meeting Jan. 3 at the Port Jefferson High School asking residents what they would like to see in a new PJ superintendent once Paul Casciano, the district’s current superintendent, vacates his position July 1. 

“A superintendent’s job is to work at the direction of the board, and to organize his or her cabinet to implement the business and instructional practices of the district,” Lutz said. “He’s or she’s the voice of the district to the community, he’s basically responsible for everything that happens.”

‘We need to keep us as a school district of excellence, not cutting programs or anything like that.’

— Arnold Lustig

Twenty-four people applied for the superintendent position through the month of December while the position was being advertised, according to Lutz. BOCES and the Port Jeff school district are still currently screening interviews. All candidates require a School District Leader state-level certificate, and while around half of all superintendents in the Eastern BOCES area have doctorates, it is not required for the job.

Lutz guided a conversation among around 20 Port Jeff residents who came to the meeting about what residents wanted from a superintendent from the perspective of personality and professionalism.

Longtime Port Jeff resident Arnold Lustig said he is currently satisfied with how Casciano has handled the district as of late, and he wants the new superintendent to continue in that.

“We need to keep us as a school district of excellence, not cutting programs or anything like that,” Lustig said.

Karen Sullivan, the president of the Port Jefferson Special Education Parent Teacher Association, said the district is different than other schools across Long Island due to its small class size and its large amount of retirees who live within the district. She said she would want a superintendent willing to reach out to the different segments of the village population.

“We’re an anomaly,” Sullivan said. “If that person can meet with all the stakeholders besides just the parents in the district we would be better for it.”

Leza DiBella, the president elect of the PJSEPTA, said the district is well known in the area for taking special education to heart, and she hopes that will continue with a new superintendent. Other community members agreed a new superintendent should not pay sole attention to high achieving students or students who need the most assistance, but those students in the middle of the pack could also use that consideration.

“This is a district handpicked by residents known for being inclusive and welcoming,” DiBella said.

‘If that person can meet with all the stakeholders besides just the parents in the district we would be better for it.’

— Karen Sullivan

Some in the meeting said they wanted the new superintendent to have had classroom experience, while others asked that he or she should have a strong business sense to handle the district’s finances.

Port Jeff resident Bob Gross, whose child is currently enrolled in the district, said he would want continuous improvement in the school district, whether it’s renovating some of the aging school buildings or building upon current programming, though he was concerned if the district will be able to finance these improvements or pass its budget due to recent events at the end of 2018.

The Town of Brookhaven and the Village of Port Jeff settled a lawsuit with the Long Island Power Authority over the Port Jefferson power station’s tax assessment. The effects of the lawsuit will reduce the $32.6 million tax assessment by 50 percent incrementally over the next nine years to $16.8 million, starting with the 2017-18 tax year. 

The school district is still analyzing what the overall impact on the community could be, but Casciano said at the time residents should expect a tax increase, and the decreased funds the district will receive from LIPA could result in programming being slashed.

Lustig said while many in the district remain concerned over how the LIPA decision might impact them, it’s time to move forward.

“The LIPA issue is done, in fact, it’s no longer an issue,” he said. “The tax rate will go up, and we may be comparatively taxed compared to other local districts. We have to decide what we are going to do to keep the school moving along.”

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