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Village

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Planned changes to area around Barnum Avenue and Route 25A. Photo from PJ planning department

Port Jefferson village has long been dealing with issues of parking and attracting more people into the downtown, but proposals put forward by village officials and other property owners have received stern opposition from residents living close to these proposed projects.

The upstairs meeting room in the Port Jefferson Village Hall was packed March 14 as residents came out to get answers on several major developments coming to Port Jefferson. One details the planned development for a mixed-use apartment and retail space in the building that is currently Cappy’s Carpets, while another includes a new parking lot on Barnum Avenue.

The Port Jefferson planning board was originally allowing additional comments from residents until March 24, but they agreed to extend that until March 29 for the planned Cappy’s development.

Apartments in Cappy’s Carpets

Several Port Jeff residents said the Shipyard apartment complex, which only started receiving tenants little more than a year ago, left a bad taste in their mouths. Many who spoke at the March 14 meeting decried the Tritec Real Estate Company’s four-story 112-unit rental complex, and asked that if development were to continue, then they should learn from the last development.

The Capobianco family, which owns the property, along with real estate firm Brooks Partners LLC unveiled plans in February for creating a three-story apartment and retail space in the current Cappy’s Carpet shop at 440 Main St. The development would 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. Also included was a roof deck and rooftop fire pits. Village Mayor Margot Garant previously said the building had remained at three stories in direct response to criticism over the Shipyard development.

Left: Cappy’s Carpets in Port Jefferson; right: rendering of new mixed use space. Left photo by Kyle Barr, right photo from Port Jeff planning department

In terms of parking, the project would include 78 spaces, with the 37 set in a parking garage within the development and 41 spaces outside. The parking spaces would require the developer to pay for four spaces in lieu of parking fees, due to village code parking requirements.

Sayville-based attorney Eric Russo, representing Brooks Partners, said the project would enhance the village’s walkability, especially north of the majority of downtown’s businesses. 

“As part of your village’s master plan, your goal was you wanted to create a walking downtown and expand on the town, so it would move forward where it was on Main Street and continue upward toward this particular area,” Russo said. 

Residents were quick to criticize the idea of a roof deck, saying that people standing up so high would likely be heard throughout parts of the village.

“We live in a bowl here, and if somebody has a roof deck on top of that building, that’s going to travel uphill into our residential area,” said Marge McCuen, resident on Tuthill Street. “I think it was very inconsiderate.”

The development would also go along with new projects to remediate traffic concerns in that area. The New York State Department of Transportation has said it will amend traffic concerns surrounding Barnum Avenue, including removing the triangle median where Barnum and Main Street connect, making one egress and ingress and 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. Patrick Lenihan, an engineer with Hauppauge-based VHB engineering firm, said the state DOT has also recommended removing four street-level parking spaces on Main Street near the expected curb cut for the development.

Resident Michael Mart said removing those four spaces on Main Street would mean the village would be even further in the hole when it comes to parking spaces, not counting the four spaces the developer is willing to pay in lieu of parking for.

As part of the application, Brooks Partners conducted a traffic study with VHB. Results showed 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. Some residents criticized the traffic study, especially for the limited time it was conducted, saying it should have also shown traffic patterns for weekdays, especially in mornings when buses take children to school and when cars arrive on the morning ferries.

“With your traffic study, instead of doing just one day in July, you should have done a day in April or May, preferably a weekday, make it when the ferries arrive,” said village resident Drew Biondo. “I think you’d get a better sense.”

“We live in a bowl here, and if somebody has a roof deck on top of that building, that’s going to travel uphill into our residential area.”

— Marge McCuen

Biondo later in the meeting asked if the building would be built on pilings, which the developer responded with yes, on over 200, which would take about three weeks to install during code-allowed times. 

Mart added he hopes this new apartment complex would not get a similar payment in lieu of taxes plan the Shipyard complex received from the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency. Another $10.8 million planned apartment complex called Overbay, being built by the Hauppauge-based development company, The Northwind Group, has also received an extended PILOT agreement from the Brookhaven town IDA.

“We as taxpayers then have to pay the cost burdens from it,” he said.

At the village’s March 18 board meeting, Garant asked the board to look at the village’s code regarding roof decks, agreeing at the rate in which sound travels within the area. 

Parking lot on Barnum Avenue

Port Jefferson officials are planning for a 44-space parking lot located on the west side along Barnum Avenue just after the turn on Roessner Lane that goes toward Rocketship Park. 

The space currently exists as a gravel lot, and officials have allowed town workers to park in it for the time being. The site was once a house that Garant described as an illegal rental property. Officials agreed to purchase and demolish the building in 2017. 

Plans for the parking lot give it a 53-foot buffer from Barnum Avenue and a 23-foot buffer from Caroline Avenue. These plans also include a new sidewalk with plantings along the edges of the proposed site. The board has stated its intention to eliminate parking along the northern side of Caroline Avenue.

The site of the planned parking lot on Barnum Avenue. Photo by Kyle Barr

Garant said the proposed lot would include a managed parking system with meters but no overnight parking and limits to the number of hours a car is allowed to park in that lot. A gate would be installed to prevent people from parking in the lot overnight. 

Barbara Ransome, the director of operations for the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said the new parking was desperately needed. 

“We really haven’t had a new parking lot in downtown in 50 years,” Ransome said. “From the business perspective we really do support the additional 44 parking spots.”

The mayor added the plans for lighting include goosenecked, directional lighting that would focus their rays on the parking lot itself, and they would be automated to turn off at midnight.

“We’re very sensitive to the lighting,” Garant said. “The light will not penetrate beyond parking area.”

Despite her attempts at assurances, some residents who would border the proposed lot were not so convinced. Kathleen Loper, who lives on Caroline, said she has already had problems with lighting from the nearby baseball field disturbing her ability and her neighbors to maintain their sleep schedules. 

“People have different work schedules — those lights are very distracting, so I can imagine what the parking lot lights are going to do,” Loper said. “If I wanted to live in Manhattan, I would have bought a house in Manhattan.”

Pat Darling Kiriluk, a Port Jeff resident, said she was concerned about the beautification of that space, especially with the Drowned Meadow House nearby along the same street.

We are never going to have enough [parking] availability,” Kiriluk said. “It’s never ever going to be enough.”

“The light will not penetrate beyond parking area.”

— Margot Garant

Others who live in the area already feel the area is dangerous for pedestrians due to high traffic along Barnum and Caroline. Tony Dutra, who lives at the corner of Caroline and Barnum, asked why the project couldn’t have an entrance off Barnum and an exit on Caroline. Anthony Cucuzzo of D&B Engineers and Architects said they could look at the idea but believed large traffic volumes along both roads would cause delays.

Garant has previously said if the project gets approval, she would want construction to start by fall of this year.

The mayor added the village may be able to enhance the crosswalk features. Other residents feared illicit activity happening in the parking lot at night.

Kevin Wood, village parking administrator, said current parking lots already have surveillance cameras and parking ambassadors, which would be extended to this new parking lot. 

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Mill Creek running after Feb. 12 snows. Photo by Kyle Barr

At a Port Jefferson village board meeting Feb. 4, Mayor Margot Garant held up a picture of West Broadway in front of Ecolin Jewelers from March 2, 2018. It’s a panorama of part of the village underwater after the area was hit by winter storm Riley, taken by photographer Craig Smith. 

Though that photo spoke of how the village had once been known as Drowned Meadow, Garant said it was telling that the picture could have been any number of occasions in the past year.

“Unfortunately, this is becoming an all too familiar picture,” Garant said. “We have probably had five or six events since 2018 that caused the three-way intersection to flood … flooding in and around Barnum Avenue is becoming a regular concern.”

“In short, I think it’s going to get worse.”

— Frances Campani

In July 2018, Port Jeff put in an application to New York State for a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grant to update the 2013 Waterfront Revitalization Plan, an appendix to the village Comprehensive Plan Update. At the Feb. 4 meeting the board voted to go forward with Port Jefferson-based Campani and Schwarting Architects, who in part submitted for the grant last year, to create a visioning study to address the issue of stormwater runoff, storm surges and future rising tide protection in an effort to resubmit for the grant in July.

The proposed analysis would look at the flooding problem in the harbor, including Main Street and East and West Broadway, what causes it and what is predicted to happen in the next two, five and 10 years.

“In short, I think it’s going to get worse,” said architect Frances Campani. 

In addition, the proposal document for the visioning study states they would study the watershed groundwater flooding problem, including bringing in existing data on stormwater catch basins, the culvert running to the Mill Creek at Village Hall, flooding and ponding at Barnum Avenue and flooding in the area between Wynne Lane and Maple.

While the shoreline and Harborfront Park would be the expected areas of concern, Campani said the most concerning areas are East and West Broadway and the main stormwater drainage line, which partially runs underground and has become overcharged with water in the past. She added another problem could be the amount of asphalt in the village, which unlike dirt cannot absorb any water. In addition, there could be a mention of widening certain parts of Mill Creek to allow more water flow.

“Two things should be studied, certainly the park itself with an eye to flood mitigation and waterfront park design methods to help the uplands areas,” said Campani at the Feb. 4 meeting. “Also the watershed area — it’s so closely linked we should tie them together as a study.”

“A thing that really needs to be looked at is where do you put the water.”

— Larry Lapointe

In September 2018, Port Jefferson was hit with major rains that inundated the village in water, causing people to become trapped in their cars and thousands of dollars in damage to local businesses, especially village staple Theatre Three. In the basement of the venerable theater, waters rose as high as four or five feet. New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said he was concerned that such damaging flooding could happen at low tide.

He and other local officials feared what could happen if the same circumstances occurred at high tide.

The visioning study proposal said it would be completed in four months, adding up to a total cost of $9,800.

Village trustee Larry LaPointe said it was important to consider just where the water might go in efforts to drive it away from the village business hub.

“A thing that really needs to be looked at is where do you put the water,” LaPointe said. “How do you get the water to go into places where it’s not interfering with our use of the village?”

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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.

Norhtport village residents packed the Jan. 29 public hearing regarding The Northport Hotel. Photo by David Luces

By David Luces

Northport residents came out in support of the business a local hotel could bring but raised concerns about the traffic that may come with it.  

Northport village held a hearing Jan. 29 on business owners Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce’s, of the John W. Engeman Theater,  proposal to construct a hotel-restaurant, The Northport Hotel, at 225 Main St. The much-anticipated project drew a large crowd to the American Legion Hall, which was packed to standing room only. 

Christopher Modelewski, an attorney representing O’Neill and Dolce, presented an updated site rendering of the hotel at the village public hearing Jan. 29. The rendering included changes they made to the site as a result of concerns raised by the planning board and area professionals. 

Study:  Northport has parking spots, if you walk

Northport residents voiced their concerns about a lack of parking along Main Street at a Jan. 29 public hearing on a proposed hotel and restaurant. Yet, a study released in December 2018 determined there are plenty of spots if people are willing to walk.

The Village of Northport hired Old Bethpage-based Level G Associates LLC to perform a paid parking study of Northport. Their survey, which took place from August to October 2018, concluded the village’s 615 parking spaces are sufficient, with a slight exception of summer evenings.

Northport’s central business district has a total 195 metered slots and 420 free spaces between Main Street and its side municipal lots, according to the study.  Nearly half of these spots are divided between streetside metered parking on Main Street, and the two free lots adjacent to the village’s waterfront parks.

On a typical weekday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Level G Associates found 60 percent of Main Street metered spots were taken and Main Street lots were full as well. However, the study cited roughly 100 available spaces in the waterside lots and Lot 7, located off Woodside Avenue by the American Legion hall.

“These are normal/healthy parking patterns for an active [central business district],” the report reads.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, Level G Associates found most metered parking spots and lots on Main Street were full. However, the study found “ample available parking” in the free waterside and Woodside Avenue lots that “are within reasonable walking distance for downtown employees or visitors.”

The only time traffic experts found an issue with the village’s parking was on summer nights, from 5 to 9 p.m. The study found the village’s parking is 95 percent full, often due to concerts and special event attendance, and could be improved through the addition of 72 spaces.

Tom Kehoe, deputy mayor of Northport, said the village board is being proactive in trying to address parking demands and congestion concerns.

“The evaluation provided us with some suggestions that we may consider,” he said.

Some suggestions include re-striping of  waterfront municipal lots could add 30 spaces, expanding the free lot by the American Legion to add 35 spots and development of a parking management plan. Other ideas given by Level G Associates are just not feasible, according to Kehoe such as leasing the parking lot used by the St. Philip Neri Church and Parish Center on Prospect Avenue.

Kehoe also said he has suggested moving the village’s Highway Department out of the Woodside Avenue lot to provide more spaces.

“It is a public safety issue,” the deputy mayor said. “You have the theater close by, snow plows are in there — that lot can get very busy.”

Kehoe said Northport residents are fortunate to live in a place where people want to visit and spend money, but in turn that causes more of a demand for parking. The village’s town board plans to continue the process of making these changes between now and the upcoming summer.

When the building plans were first presented to the village’s planning board in May 2017, O’Neill sought to construct a 24-room hotel and a 200-seat restaurant. Recent changes have  reduced the size of the restaurant to 124 seats with an additional 50 seats in the lobby and
bar area. 

Despite these changes, Northport residents continued to express concern about accessibility and how it could exacerbate parking issues in the village.

Tom Mele, of Northport, said he is for the creation of the hotel but argues it is off base to think that there isn’t an accessibility and parking problem in the village.

“If you [O’Neill] love this town as much as you say you do, you would find a way to work with the village board,” Mele said. “Work with them to decrease the traffic on Main Street and if that means downsizing the venue downstairs to accommodate the people, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.”

Northport property owner Frank Cavagnaro expressed similar sentiments saying that the planning board shouldn’t accept the site plans as is. He viewed the parking issue as his main concern.

“You’re gonna come in and try to stuff five pounds of bologna in a 1-pound bag — it’s not going to fit,” Cavagnaro said. “Parking in the village is terrible, it’s going to kill the village.”

The  Village of Northport commissioned a parking study by Old Bethpage-based Level G Associates, released in December 2018, that found that during a typical weekday the downtown area “exhibited normal and healthy parking patterns.” While approximately 60 percent of Main Street metered spots were taken and the free Main Street lots were full, the study found 100 free spaces available during peak times in the in the municipal lots. 

Still, Cavagnaro presented a possible compromise to the village board. 

“Consider a smaller restaurant, to get him started with the option if we find more parking, for him [O’Neill] to come back to the board,” Cavagnaro said. 

Modelewski also cited a traffic impact study performed by Walter Dunn, a professional engineer and founder of Dunn Engineering Associates, and Tom Mazzola, former traffic and safety director for the Town of Huntington. The study found that the hotel would have a benign impact on the traffic in the area.  

O’Neill said under the proposed plans there would be no parking on Woodside Avenue and no right turn out of the two parking lots so traffic does not go into residential areas. 

“We will have the ability to take, between the theater and the hotel-restaurant operation,  roughly 150 cars off [the] street,” O’Neill said. “The village has 609 [parking] spots, for anybody in the industry that’s a seismic shift in the dynamics in how much parking is being provided.”

Residents were also concerned about the possibility of delivery trucks unloading on Main Street, which is not permitted under Northport village law according to Modelewski. 

“Tractor trailers and box cars double park behind cars — that’s unlawful,” the hotel’s attorney said. “There’s a reason why the law isn’t being enforced — it’s because it’s the only way businesses can function.”

Modelewski said O’Neill will work with the suppliers to use only box cars. 

Northport resident Alex Edwards-Bourdrez said the proposed hotel would fit the town beautifully. 

“I understand that there can be all these of glitches [in the process] but I would ask for all of us to rise up together in support of this,” Edwards-Bourdrez said. “We have all the brains in here to put the pieces together in a way that they won’t fall apart, it won’t choke the village — I don’t believe it will.”

Edwards-Bourdrez also touched on the issue of parking. 

“Nobody that goes into New York City or a bigger town worries about walking 5 to 10 minutes to where they are going,” he said. “There is parking, you just sometimes can’t park right next to where you want to go. We have to make these concessions for us to grow as a village.” 

The village’s parking study found that on a typical weekend, defined as Friday and Saturday evenings, there is ample available parking “within reasonable walking distance for downtown employees or visitors.”

Lenny Olijnyk, of Northport, said everybody was against the theater until O’Neill took over and renovated it in 2007. He argued that the hotel would increase the village’s commercial tax base. 

“Maybe we can clean up the streets a little bit, the sidewalks will get fixed,” Olijnyk said. “You have to think about that. The village wants to grow, my grandkids are going to live here. There has to be revenue for the village.”

O’Neill felt strongly in order for his theater business and others to strive they must work together in a positive way. 

“It’s just not sitting up here trying to make money, there’s more to it,” he said. “I don’t believe in sucking the community dry where we do business.” 

 

 

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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.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the swearing-in of state Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport). Photo by Sara Meghan Walsh

By David Luces 

More than a week after New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) released his proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, many municipalities both big and small in Suffolk County may have to face the reality of losing state funding. 

This comes as a result of the governor’s decision to end state funding to Suffolk County towns and villages as part of a program called Aid and Incentives for Municipalities, which was originally established in the state’s 2005-06 fiscal year. 

If the budget passes, 41 towns and villages in Suffolk County stand to lose AIM funding. Those local governments that rely on AIM funding for more than 2 percent of their budgets would keep this aid.

“It’s as if the governor has decided to aim a dagger at the heart of every municipality on Long Island,” Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said. 

“It’s as if the governor has decided to aim a dagger at the heart of every municipality on Long Island.”

— Ed Romaine

The Town of Brookhaven stands to lose $1.8 million, which is the second highest loss in funding behind the Town of Hempstead which is set to lose $3.8 million. 

Romaine said the decision to cut aid for Brookhaven taxpayers is unconscionable and that it will have an immediate and serious impact on town services and could result in a tax increase. 

Other townships along the North Shore are also standing on the cliff’s edge of funding loss. Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said in a statement that he is disappointed to learn of what he called an unprecedented $59 million in total cuts Cuomo has proposed in his 2020 NYS budget, including little more than $1 million in AIM funds for Huntington. 

“[This is] effectively gutting the unrestricted state revenue sharing program and significantly affecting the Long Island region,” the town supervisor said. “I urge our state Legislature to reject the governor’s dangerous proposal, which could translate into service and program cuts and layoffs.”

The Huntington supervisor added the town should not be punished because of what he described as its conservative fiscal practices, which have resulted in a state funding stream that represents less than 2 percent of the town’s budget. 

“When you take over $1 million away from us, the money has to come from somewhere,” he said. 

Over in the Town of Smithtown, which stands to lose more than $650,000 in AIM funds, officials are staying wary of the timetables, especially considering that many municipalities calculate the AIM funds into their regular yearly budgets. 

“We’ve heard about it, though it’s not official yet — there’s a distinct possible that it could happen,” said Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R). 

“When you take over $1 million away from us, the money has to come from somewhere.”

—Chad Lupinacci

Town officials expressed that the governor should give them and other municipalities more time to prepare for the proposed budget cuts. 

Werheim said the town already has completed its budget and if the money is lost it would put a hole in their operating budget, forcing them to allocate funds from somewhere else. 

If the governor’s plan goes into effect, programs like Horizons Counseling & Education could lose funding, officials said. The program is funded to provide adolescent and adult treatment, prevention and education services for drug- and alcohol-related problems. 

“I’d ask [the governor] to reconsider other avenues,” Werheim said. “Many municipalities on Long Island depend and rely on federal funding.” 

Many incorporated villages along the North Shore are also looking at a funding loss, such as the Village of Northport which is expected to lose $50,000. Others villages like Poquott would lose $2,500, Belle Terre $4,100 and Old Field $3,500.

“I do not yet know how this is going to impact the village,” Old Field Mayor Michael Levine said.

The Village of Port Jefferson would lose $33,000 of AIM funding. 

“If that goes through it means losing another budget revenue line,” Mayor Margot Garant said. “As this stuff starts to pile up, it really starts to hurt.”

Garant mentioned that the lobbying group New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, which represents mayors and small municipalities across New York, will be pushing back against this line in the budget come February. 

Other groups like Suffolk County Village Officials Association will also work with NYCOM and Suffolk legislators to lobby Suffolk’s representatives in Albany about the dire consequences of this aspect of the governor’s budget proposal. 

“As this stuff starts to pile up, it really starts to hurt.”

— Margot Garant

“The governor’s proposal hurts the village citizens the most in villages that have the largest budgetary needs,” said Richard Smith, president of SCVOA. “The governor continues to add to village responsibilities and costs, but simultaneously wants to force villages to increase their local property taxes to pay for the same village services as were provided last year.”

While schools are gearing up to present next year’s budgets, some districts on Long Island would also see less state aid if the governor’s proposed budget passes. Shoreham-Wading River School District would see an incremental increase in foundation aid of $16,000 but a fall in expense-driven aids resulting in a net decrease of $77,000 in state aid. Superintendent Gerard Poole said the district expects to advocate for more funds.

“Last year, as a result of our advocacy and the support of our local legislators, our final foundation aid allocation was about $100,000 higher than what the executive budget originally proposed,” Poole said. “It is also important to note that an additional aid category, building aid, which was not included in recent media reports is in fact projected to increase for our district next year due to the completion of capital projects.” 

The New York State Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees must review the proposed budget before the state Legislature acts on the appropriation bills. Town officials and others said they will continue to advocate for more aid for their districts.

EarthCam showing live footage of Port Jefferson Harbor. Photo courtesy of Earthcam

While local residents only have to drive a few minutes to see Port Jefferson Harbor’s quaint waterside sights, now people across the world can watch kids play in Harborfront Park and watch the ferries ship out from the historic dock, all in high definition.

Port Jefferson Village has joined EarthCam, a New Jersey-based company that allows locations from all over the world to showcase live 24/7 broadcasts of locations. The camera is located on the side of the Village Center facing toward the harbor and has been running since the end of November.

“Now, [Port Jefferson] residents, visitors and the world can share in the beauty of our stunning harborfront village,” Mayor Margot Garant said in a statement. “Being a four-season village, we are excited about the many changes of scenery that everyone will be able to see live from any place around the world.”

The village joins other famous sites like Montauk on the East End and Times Square in Manhattan. Kevin Wood, the village’s parking and security camera administrator, said he has been impressed with EarthCam for several years, and while there are other security cameras around the village, this one will be used specifically to promote Port Jefferson.

“It’s for the benefit of everybody worldwide to see the beauty of our harbor,” he said. “Many people, even on Long Island, don’t know what the harbor looks like.”

Wood added that the camera, which cost approximately $1,800, will have the capacity to broadcast sound as well as video starting in 2019.

Mary (Pam) Pierce and Ian Jablonski are both hoping to continue serving the Asharoken community. Photo from Pam Pierce

By Victoria Espinoza

The Village of Asharoken government is looking to stay the course, as two incumbents on the village board are running for another term to serve their community.

Deputy Mayor Mary (Pam) Pierce and Trustee Ian Jablonski announced this week they will be running for re-election in the Asharoken village election June 20, seeking a fourth and third term, respectively.  Both are members of the Asharoken Integrity Party.

Pierce, a 32-year Asharoken resident, is a retired business executive and owner and has served as deputy mayor for five years. She was the coordinator on the Village Response for the ASDRP beach project and  oversaw the repair of the Sound-side groins at both the eastern and western ends and the National Grid sand placement in the fall of last year.

“We’ve been doing a lot and it’s been very rewarding serving the community,” Pierce said in a phone interview. “This is a great little community, and it’s great to get as many projects done as we can for the future of our village.”

Jablonski, a 16-year Asharoken resident, is a director in the information technology department of Northwell Health. He managed the widening of the shoulder on Asharoken Avenue across from the seawall, the repair of a retaining wall northwest of that area and has kept the board apprised of deer, tick and hunting information during his tenure. In the past two years residents have been divided on how to handle the overpopulation of deer in the area, and the resolution of allowing bow hunting for deer.

During the last five years, the pair said the Asharoken administration has concentrated on four main areas: taxes, infrastructure, grant funding and intermunicipal cooperation/planning.

In each of the last five years the village has remained below the New York State-mandated 2 percent tax levy increase cap. The recently adopted 2017-2018 budget has a 0 percent increase for the second year in a row. The five-year average tax change is the lowest it has been since 2002, at 1.4 percent. In addition, the New York State comptroller has conducted financial stress tests for local governments in the last four years, and Asharoken received the best evaluation possible for all three tests.

Another project that the pair was proud to have played a role in accomplishing was the construction of the new village hall, which was achieved entirely through resident donations. The current administration has also worked on repaving and repairing streets, repairing parts of the seawall and other parts of the beach. The village has also added four part-time police officers and replaced aging police cars to improve security in the area.

According to Jablonski and Pierce, approximately $1,100,00 in federal, state and local support has been secured by the administration in the last five years, which helped substantially defray the costs of many infrastructure projects.

The incumbents also said the village negotiated a five-year police contract that freezes the pay scale for new officers for five years and requires new officers to contribute 15 percent of their health insurance costs, instituted single stream recycling which has reduced sanitation costs for the village by approximately $2,500 annually, and created a multi-agency plan to effectively deal with storms like Hurricane Sandy, which caused major damage to the village five years ago.

Pierce and Jablonksi said in a joint statement they’ve enjoyed the collaborative efforts that make Asharoken so successful.

“It has been very rewarding working with the wonderful team we have-our fellow trustees and the mayor, the village employees and the many volunteers and residents who give so much to our beautiful village,” they said. “While much has been accomplished in the past five years, there are still important challenges and issues ahead.  We’ll continue to work with the help of the community for the best solutions for all of Asharoken.”

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