Tags Posts tagged with "Village of Port Jefferson"

Village of Port Jefferson

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Site plans for the pickleball courts Photo by Kyle Barr

Port Jefferson village has put out bid requests to add several pickleball courts to a portion of the tennis space at the Port Jefferson Country Club.

Deputy Mayor Stan Loucks said the game has picked up in popularity, and has been reported as one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. 

The Sport and Fitness Industry Association reported that participation in the sport has increased by close to 10 percent over the past three years, with a total of 3.3 million participants in the country, compared to 2.815 million in 2014.  

The game of pickleball is often compared to an enlarged game of ping pong, or a shortened game of tennis. Instead of rackets, players use large paddles to get a plastic perforated ball across a net. Unlike tennis, serves are underhand. It can be played one-on-one or two-on-two.

Many people attribute the sport’s popularity to it being relatively simple. It doesn’t require a lot of rapid body movement but requires good hand-eye coordination.

Loucks, the liaison to the country club, said original plans were to include the pickleball courts to the west of the current tennis courts, but that would have required extra revetments and erosion mitigation along that end of the bluff. The new designs show the three new pickleball courts to the north of the existing tennis courts, about 32 feet from the existing parking lot. Original estimates for the project range from $85,000 to $128,000, a total that combines both the landscaping and the building of the asphalt courts. Excavation started for the courts Jan. 7.

The village has struggled in recent years to get permits from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to build new revetments and structures to halt erosion on the bluff near the country club. Loucks said they are losing a few feet of bluff every year, making it precariously close to taking out the tennis courts. Mayor Margot Garant said the DEC is finalizing everything, and they are hoping to get those permits back “soon.”

“I think it’s a great move — we’re not losing any parking area,” Loucks said. 

The pro shop for tennis will also cater to pickleball players. The village set the membership rates for pickleball at $400 for a resident, $500 for nonresidents, and each will pay a $50 annual assessment plus a $135 minimums fee. Country club members interested in playing pickleball will be charged an additional rate of $300.

Loucks said he hopes the sport will be popular.  The only other two local pickleball courts are a private space in the Village of Belle Terre and a public court in Centereach.

“I’m hoping to 50 to 100 members the first season,” he said.

Final deadline for new bids is Feb. 6. After that the village will choose a contractor and then more work can begin. Loucks said that while asphalt companies don’t open their doors until April, he expects the project to be done by the beginning of May.

Laura Aheran. Photo from campaign

Laura Ahearn, longtime crime victims advocate, is ready to take on a new challenge, running for state senate. For 43 years the state District 1 seat has been held by Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), but she said it’s time for change. 

“Many members of the community are grateful for his [LaValle’s] service as I am, but it is time now for a new voice and an advocate like me to fight furiously for our community,” Ahearn said. 

For 25 years, the attorney said she has worked to keep the community safe from sexual predators. Ahearn also founded the Crime Victims Center “from a room in her home” and over the years established it into a nonprofit organization that has worked with local, state and federal law enforcement. 

“There are some serious flaws in the criminal justice reform that took place Jan. 1 that makes our communities very vulnerable.”

— Laura Ahearn

The center’s educational programs have been shown in numerous school districts, along with local colleges and universities throughout Suffolk County. 

“I want to take my advocacy experiences, my legal skills and use it to help our community, children and families up in Albany,” the executive director said. “I know my experience over the past 20 plus years positions me to take on other issues as well.”

Some issues Ahearn hopes to tackle is the recent bail reform issues and MS-13’s infiltration into Long Island schools. 

“There are some serious flaws in the criminal justice reform that took place Jan. 1 that makes our communities very vulnerable,” she said. “Bail reform was absolutely needed, because people who couldn’t afford cash bail were incarcerated, that’s not fair. But we haven’t looked at what the implications are for the community and for victims.”

Ahearn said the recent reform needs to be amended to add some discretion for judges who may need to hold certain offenders who may be eligible for automatic release. In addition, she said law enforcement and probation officers need to be given more resources to further monitor offenders of violent crimes. 

On the MS-13 front, Ahearn stressed we need to make sure we are giving schools the resources and funding they need to ramp up their security to protect students.  

Cost of living and keeping young professionals in Suffolk County have been vexing issues for elected officials. Ahearn knows this firsthand. 

“I have two grown children and they can’t afford to live on Long Island — high taxes are driving our kids out off the island,” she said. “We have to ensure that they have fair wages, educational opportunities, safe work environments and affordable housing.” 

The Port Jefferson resident said in terms of job opportunities she thought Amazon would’ve been a great opportunity for the county and if elected will strive to continue to bring businesses into the district. 

Other issues on the challenger’s radar are the ongoing opioid epidemic, curbing nitrogen pollution in local waterways, marine/wildlife conservation, phone scams targeting the elderly, tick-borne illness, among others. 

Ahearn, who graduated from Dowling College, Stony Brook University and Touro Law School, recently had a campaign kick-off event Dec. 10 and said she is looking forward to meeting and learning from movers and shakers in the area. The senate district stretches from eastern end of Suffolk County to the eastern end of Town of Brookhaven.  

“As time moves forward, I’m going to learn a lot from the advocates in the community — I’m not an expert on some issues and I want to learn from those advocates who are those experts. They have to educate me, so I can represent them,” she said. 

The attorney said the position requires one to work with everyone, something she has done for two decades, helping develop, implement and manage crime prevention programs and assist in drafting a number of state, local and federal laws. 

“I really love what I’ve been doing,” she said. “Voters have a decision to make and I have a demonstrated history of fighting for our community and if that’s what they want — someone who will fight furiously for them — then they should vote for me.”

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‘Red’ marks the estimated depth where the water table is less than 11 feet. Image from Campani and Schwarting

A state agency has granted Port Jeff over $80k in funds to help plan for future storms and floods.

The New York State Regional Economic Council awarded Port Jefferson village $82,500 Dec. 19 to create a Climate Resilience Plan. This comes in response to hurricanes over the past decade, including Irene and SuperStorm Sandy, as well as other storm surge events. The promised plan will integrate sea-level rise predictions to propose solutions to mitigate flooding and storm surges, along with the impacts of rising tides due to climate change.

Michael Schwarting presents the study’s findings to village officials back in August. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nicole Christian, Port Jefferson’s grant writer, said the village would have to put conducting the plan out to bid sometime early in the new year, and should cost a total of around $165,000. The $82,500 from New York State was the fully awarded amount requested.

With the funds, she said, Port Jefferson will be one of the few North Shore communities whose waterfront revitalization reports will be “on the leading edge” of current technologies and data from storms.

The funds go back to June this year, when the village presented its Waterfront Revitalization Plan to the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, describing its intention to perform immediately needed maintenance of the storm drainage system and provide emergency equipment to deploy in a rain event to protect properties in the village in catastrophic flooding.

At its July 15 meeting, the village voted unanimously to apply for grant funds from the state Division of Planning’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, Empire State Development and any other applicable state agencies.

In September of last year, Port Jefferson was bowled over with water, with nearly 4 inches of rain collected in a short span of time. Buildings like the Port Jefferson firehouse and the venerable Theatre Three were drowned in 3 to 4 feet of water, causing thousands of dollars in damages in the case of the theater. In July this year, the village was hit with yet another flooding event, and while this year’s was not nearly as severe as 2018, it still left many villagers wondering what could be in the future.

Christian said when submitting the grant, the village included images of that 2018 flood, giving an example of what could happen in the future if issues are not addressed.

The area outside Theatre Three was under 2 feet of water July 22. Photo from Brian Hoerger

Back in August, architects from the Port Jefferson-based firm Campani and Schwarting displayed a draft report about trouble spots for Port Jeff flooding. Michael Schwarting, one of the architects, pointed out Port Jeff has a lack of permeable surfaces, a significant amount of hardscape, and a water table that lies as close as 11 feet to the surface.

The Long Island Explorium is planning to create rain gardens at several points in the village, which may have the added benefit of creating permeable land for water to seep into during heavy rains. The gardens originally had a deadline of the end of this year, but the explorium’s Executive Director Angeline Judex said their grant was given an extension to June 1, 2020.

In a release, the village thanked Cara Longworth, chair and director of the LI Regional Economic Development Council and Denise Zani, deputy of the LIREDC, along with other state, county and town officials for continued support.

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Katherine Lewin with her newborn son Jonathan at St. Catherine Hospital's new maternity wing. Photo by Kyle Barr

St. Charles Hospital’s nearly $4 million new maternity wing has one thing at the top of the mind, privacy.

St. Catherines officials cut the ribbon on the new maternity wing. Photo by Kyle Barr

At a ribbon cutting for the new renovated 16-room maternal/child pavilion Dec. 19, hospital officials boasted rooms with “hotel-like atmosphere,” that focus on letting families stay together with their newborn in relative quiet.

“Today the standard in the community is probably for privacy for mothers, because now their husbands stay with them, so you need to have more people in the room,” said Jim O’Connor, the president of St. Charles Hospital.

O’Connor said the new wing cost around $3.8 million, most of which came from the hospital’s capital budget, and took around 10 months to build. During that time patients were moved to the 3-West wing, in order to avoid the disturbance of construction for the doctors, nurses and patients.

The hospital’s foundation and auxiliary contributed about $500,000 to the construction, said Lisa Mulvey, executive director of the hospital’s foundation. Funds were raised through trustees and events such as their annual golf outing and spring luncheons. The end result, she said, was well worth it.

“It’s beautiful,” Mulvey said. “I couldn’t have pictured something more beautiful.”

Each room features new beds and more accommodations for person’s significant others with new sofa chairs and larger, walk-in showers. The rooms also include more modern isolettes for newborn children.

One of the new rooms at St. Catherine Hospital maternal unit. Photo by Kyle Barr

Dr. Jerry Ninia, the director of obstetrics and gynecology at the hospital, said the new wing’s technology helps in emergencies, but it’s always moreso the staff involved.

“It goes beyond the nice showers and the nice digs, so to speak,” he said. “It helps the staff, it’s always nice to work in a nice facility.”

The wing officially opened about three weeks ago, and patients are already making use of the facilities.

Ed Casper, an architect from Stantec engineering company that worked on the new wing, said just that morning he had become a grandfather, his grandson being born right there in the new wing.

“Our experience through the night last night was absolutely phenomenal,” he said.

One of the first children to be born in the new maternity ward was young Jonathan Lewin, less than a week old. His sparse, brown hair is already as long as thumbtacks. His mother, Katherine Lewin, 31, a nurse from Wading River, said her care there was “excellent, everyone here is great.”

She is excited to take her new son home, where she expects her 2 ½ year-old daughter is excited to be a sister.

“She asked if she could bring him home,” Lewin said.

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Downtown Port Jeff circa 1906. Both original photos by Arthur S. Green. Digitized images from Preservation Long Island.

Time destroys all things. Photos fade, film degrades, buildings crumble. To stop entropy and the inevitable march of time, local historians, both local and regional, have been working to digitize a number of vintage Port Jefferson films and photos for more people to enjoy.

The Port Jefferson Train Station circa 1900. Original photos by Arthur S. Green. Digitized images from Preservation Long Island.

Cold Spring Harbor-based Preservation Long Island purchased a collection of glass slide photographs from renowned late 19th- and early 20th-century photographer Arthur S. Greene, who took photos from all over Brookhaven Town, many of which ended up on postcards and in books promoting Long Island as a tourist destination. 

It wasn’t until 2018 that Preservation LI curator Lauren Brincat said the historical nonprofit was able to place the very delicate glass slides where people could see them. The Palmer School of Library and Information Science at Long Island University supplied Preservation with a grant as part of the school’s Digitizing Local History Sources project, funded by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. The grant brought two LIU students to Preservation’s headquarters to digitize the photographs. 

Only one problem, there was no guide or template on how one should scan something as fragile as a glass slide. Brincat said the two LIU students had to start from scratch, creating their own guides and frames for photos of different sizes, 4×6, 5×7, etc. The group covered the flatbed with Mylar and used spacers to prevent the scanner from touching the artifacts. 

It was a “tedious and labor-intensive” job, Brincat said, but the result is worth it. Hundreds of images are now stored online for anybody to peruse. 

The Port Jefferson Train Station circa 1900. Original photos by Arthur S. Green. Digitized images from Preservation Long Island.

“There are great benefits to this,” the curator said. “It prevents having to go back to the original material, which could result in breaking them, emulsion or impact on the negative which are very light sensitive.”

The collection of photographs, Brincat said, captures the Island at a different time, especially how it developed from an agricultural, rural setting into its suburban commercial-based future.

“These pictures show the introduction of electricity and the automobile,” she said. “Many of the streets were dirt roads, which is hard to imagine today.”

Other people closer to home have also set themselves to the task of digitizing Port Jefferson history, items that have helped both village residents and historians understand their roots. 

Chris Ryon, the Port Jefferson Village historian, has been working with Belle Terre historian John Hiz on numerous projects, including getting a number of donated film reels from the Childs family digitized. Ryon said Hiz was instrumental in negotiating that donation to the Port Jeff archive. 

“I just wanted to make sure they were kept in the community,” he said.

A video of Belle Terre includes reels of pergolas, things that Hiz said he’s only seen in print. Without such items, he said, historians don’t have that tangible way to look back on the locals’ past.

“It makes things come to life,” he said. “Having access is the most important thing. There’s probably tons of materials stored in people’s attics or basements, but being able to have access is critical.”

A woman and child burn leaves in a digitized film reel gathered by local historians. Video from Port Jeff Maritime Facebook page

The reels depict numerous scenes from 1928 through 1940, including of a woman in a fur coat burning leaves in Belle Terre, of parades, and even of a picnic in Montauk, among others. One reel even shows flooding in Port Jeff reminiscent of recent events from this year and last.

The reels were sent to a historical group in Chattanooga, which has digitized the reels at $15 a piece. The Port Jefferson Harbor Education & Arts Conservancy provided funds. 

“It blew my mind once I first saw it,” Ryon said. “Everyone I showed it to had the same reaction — to see it come alive is another level, another dimension.” 

The PJ historian is still waiting on five more reels to come back, which he expects will be in a few weeks. The videos are all being displayed in the public Facebook group Port Jefferson Maritime, though Ryon said he may look for some video to be posted to the Port Jefferson website. 

“Once it becomes digitized, we can send it all over the world,” Ryon said. “Everyone who wants to can see it.”

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Top, William, Charles and Marie Reed at the harbormaster building in Port Jeff. Below, William and other volunteers make sure the trains run smoothly. Photos by Kyle Barr

As the Dickens Festival filled in the chilly outdoor air with 19th-century charm, the harbormaster building itself piped into the village a different kind of old-time allure, that of locomotives and steam engines. More than 20 miniature trains ran in inexhaustible loops, little jets of steam puffing from their chimneys. Boy Scouts of Troop 354 hovered over the tracks, along with Charles, Marie and William Reed of Port Jefferson Station. 

Charles, the father, owns the trains and knows how to put all the complicated parts and tracks together. William, who makes the words “train enthusiast” seem an understatement, knew each of the models and could do “train talk” with something of a dizzying speed. Ask the youngest Reed, who’s an Eagle Scout with Troop 354, about trains and he’ll tell you about trains in far-off places.

“Korean railways is the national railway they have there, some of their high-speed trains are French derived, based on the French models like the KCX1 and 2,” he said.

The young man dashed around and between the tables, adding liquid to the trains’ stacks and helping his father fix the tracks.

The Reed family has been chugging along for the last several weeks setting up the train display, although in earnest the family spent several months beforehand gathering all the materials it needs to have on hand. Setting up the public display has meant several long nights, carting box after box of train collections, laying it out and making sure each is in operating order. The family asks for donations at the door, where on average around $1,400 is raised for Toys for Tots.

“We don’t need them in the boxes, that’s why we can take them out and share them,” Marie, the mother, said.

In previous years, another man used to set up trains during the Dickens Festival. After he moved away, the Reed family stepped in. Marie said that, while he would have a score of volunteers, the Reed family only has themselves and a few people from the Scout troop.

Charles said that each year since they started, six years ago, they have added more tables. At first, they had six tables with 10 trains. Today they set up 10 tables with 20 trains. 

“It’s crazy, but it comes together eventually,” the father said.

The amount of effort the family puts into it was recently acknowledged by Mayor Margot Garant at a Port Jefferson village meeting in November. 

Port Jefferson hosted its 24th annual Charles Dickens Festival Dec. 6-8. Photo by Kyle Barr

A silent night Dec. 6 opened up the weekend with Port Jefferson Village’s annual lantern dedications, but as night turned to day, Port Jeff was suddenly filled with characters straight out of a classic 19th century Dickens Classic. For the 24th year in a row, the village was suffused with the sights and sounds of Christmas spirit during the annual Charles Dickens Festival.

Volunteers acted scenes from A Christmas Carole and other Dickens books, such as a live, local musical version of Oliver Twist. Visitors could visit the Village Center for ice skating, the festival of trees or a live reading of A Christmas Carol. A constant supply of marshmallows were up for grabs to roast over a fire, and businesses all shared Christmas and Dickens themed dinners and specials. Over at Theatre Three, A Christmas Carol was acted out Friday through Sunday, and is going on all the way until Dec. 28.

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The Island Christian Church in Port Jefferson will soon be officially called Harborview Christian Church. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Island Christian Church in Port Jefferson will soon be under a new name, Harborview Christian Church.

The well-known church at the corner of East Main and Prospect streets hung a banner from its porch declaring its name change. Rev. Pete Jansson said the church is splitting off as a branch of Island Christian, with the other, much larger site in Northport. 

“It’s a step of faith,” the reverend said. 

He said when the two branches of the church went up, it was said that if the two became too distinct they would have to look into separation. The Northport branch is a much larger campus and congregation, with many more church programs for multiple age groups and other, larger events. The smaller church in Port Jeff, he said, had become distinct in both its activities and number of churchgoers.

The church hung the banner off its porch to get residents used to the name before becoming a fully separate church starting the first Sunday of January 2020. 

Splitting off also has some disadvantages, namely the church having to fully pay its own bills, meaning more dependence on the donations of churchgoers instead of having the backing of the larger branch. 

“We’re dependent on paying our own bills,” Jansson said. “But we feel God is moving us in that direction.”

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Judges taste pies made by local residents, making the decision on both taste and texture. Photo by Kyle Barr
PJSD student in the aftermath of the pie-eating contest. Photo by Kevin Wood

Pie to die for was served up at the Village Center in Port Jefferson Nov. 23 as the village hosted its first Pie Bake Off and Eating Contest, sponsored in part by Torte Jeff Pie Co. and the Village of Port Jefferson. 

Residents and locals, even one who hailed from across the Sound in Connecticut, sent over two versions of their home-made pumpkin pies to see which would be the cream of the crop. Six judges, including Mayor Margot Garant and trustee Kathianne Snaden, as well as Torte Jeff Pie Co. owner Lisa Harris tried slices of 33 pies, judging them on crust, taste, sliceability and more. By the end, it was general surgeon Dr. Lawrence Kelly of Port Jefferson who won first place. Second place was tied between Tom Capodanno and Beth Whitford. The pies were raffled off for those wanting to take them home, and over $250 was donated to the food pantry at Infant Jesus Church in Port Jeff.

After the judging, both adults and kids from Port Jefferson Elementary School took part in a blueberry pie-eating contest, with Luke Musto winning in the children’s division. In a contest between the village and school, the village barely managed to pull ahead. Finally, Jimmy Purificato won in the public pie-eating contest.

Nick Dattilo, a salesperson for Nesconset-based electrical supplies company Kelly & Hayes, during his presentation to the village board Nov. 18. Photo by Kyle Barr

Port Jeff village officials are considering installing an electric car charger into an existing parking space toward the west end of the lot off Barnum Avenue.

Nick Dattilo, a salesperson for Nesconset-based electrical supplies company Kelly & Hayes, presented to the village board Nov. 18 about the possibility of installing a Charge Point electric vehicle charging station. Each station comes with two extendable charging ports and can be accessed with either an app or with a device that usually comes with a standard electric vehicle.

Kevin Wood, parking and mobility administrator, said the village is looking to make use of a New York State Energy Research and Development grant, which will provide up to an 80 percent rebate for such projects, from $250,000 up to a max of $500,000. The village would have to put the money upfront to be reimbursed. Mayor Margot Garant said she wanted to make sure the grant was in place before signing any contract for Charge Point.

Wood said the village could benefit, as the demographic of electric car owners is on the rise.

“As soon as you drive in [to the parking lot] you drive right into these,” Wood said. “I just like the idea that a person could come to Rocketship Park with their kids and charge their car.”

Officials said the hope is people with electric vehicles would shop while waiting for their car to charge. Each charge takes from three to five hours for a full charge.

The station includes an 18-foot retractable cord that winds up like a vacuum electric cord.

Though each station comes with two ports, Wood said he would like to see only one port be used with one space as a pilot. He added the village’s parking committee is usually hesitant to give up even a single space.

“If we saw it being used a lot, we’d open the second one up,” he said. “This town can’t afford to give away spaces.”

There are several electric vehicle charging stations in the immediate area. One set is in the parking lot of Heritage Park in Mount Sinai, and another set is provided at Stony Brook University, whose services are not billed for use.

The village board would still have to decide upon cost to the driver, with the rate depending on how long a car is being charged. Garant mentioned, depending on cost, the service could be offered free to attract people into downtown Port Jeff.

The board plans to reassess the feasibility of the charging station at the next board meeting, Dec. 2.

Wood said his goal is for installation of the charger next to Rocketship Park to take place in the first quarter of 2020.