Village looks to create pocket park near Toast stairs

Village looks to create pocket park near Toast stairs

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New plans for stairs near Toast Coffeehouse. Left photo by Kyle Barr; right image from Deck and Patio Company

The stairs leading up from the parking lot in front of Portside Bar & Grill is full of dried grass and aging streetlights with extension cords reaching out the top like lifelines on ancient scuba gear.

Now, a Smithtown-based metal fabrication company is proposing a complete remodel of the path leading up to the stairs, even including a waterfall and pond.

Sean Hanley, left, and Mayor Margot Garant discuss new staircase and park. Photo by Kyle Barr

“That water feature would bring the whole thing to a whole other level,” Port Jefferson village Mayor Margot Garant said. “It would be just so calming.”

Sean Hanley, whose wife, Melissa Hanley, owns Salon Blonde hairstylists across the street from the staircase, has known the area for a long while, and approached Garant at the start of the year about transforming the aging staircase and pathway.

“My mother lives in the village — we’re really local, and I always felt that space needed some work there,” he said. Hanley is the owner of LB Fabrication & Automation, a metal fabricator and mason based in Smithtown. 

The designs were created in part by Hanley and by Huntington Station–based Deck and Patio Company, which he hopes will be used when it comes time to start the landscaping portion of the project.

“The space is not totally flat in there, so it doesn’t allow for seating areas everywhere, and we just had to come up with something nice,” the metal fabricator said. “Really want to dress up that sign and walkway so people feel comfortable walking up those stairs.”

Last year in the winter of 2017 and 2018, the village closed the stairs for what it said was necessary renovations due to safety concerns. Garant said she would like lighting that maintains a rustic aesthetic of nearby signage on storefronts.

While the plans don’t include them, Hanley has discussed putting in a waterfall feature on the left-hand wall, which can be seen from the parking lot. They are also considering putting in a stream that would go from the waterfall over to a planned pond. The metal fabricator said the pond can be built so it can be drained down below ground far enough so it won’t freeze during the winter months.

“Everybody was really on board with this,” Garant said.

Plans for pocket park near Toast Coffeehouse. Image by Deck and Patio Company

The concrete pathway would be replaced by herringbone brick that continues up the stairs to the top level. Hanley also said he wants to create a decorative latticing underneath the stairs to cut off access for pedestrians, and that he would want to clean up the stairs themselves of rust.

Along with plans for the stairs, Hanley is also in talks with the village to replace some of the signage in parks, such as Founders Park, with those made from powdered aluminum, so it won’t rust.

Garant said she needs to show the plans to the Business Improvement District. She also intends to speak to the owners of Portside Bar & Grill about adding additional fencing along their building to shield from view when employees use the bottom side entrance. She also said she intends to look into opening up the alleyway between The Kate & Hale and The Secret Garden.

The mayor and metal fabrication owner said there are still details to be worked out over how many companies the village will put out to bid for, what will be the total costs and what is the phasing plan for the project. Overall, they hope to have the project done by the end of spring.

While the details need to still be worked out on which companies will complete the project, Garant said she is looking to see if they can do parts of the project with in-house staff.

“It’s still a public project,” she said.

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