Business

Young Rocky Point resident Geoffrey Psillos said he is brining mobile fitness to the local area in a new way to exercise post-pandemic. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s time to lose the “quarantine 15” — and it can be done outside. 

Geoffrey Psillos, a 22-year-old Rocky Point resident, recently became the first AWATfit (All Weather All Terrain Fitness) franchisee. The Hamptons-based mobile fitness concept uses equipment entirely out of a 20-foot truck, and allows people to exercise in a park, parking lot or outside their home in the driveway. 

“Working out outdoors is a natural mood booster,” Psillos said. “And to have the means to open this franchise is a really big goal I never knew I had.”

The AWATfit vehicle can help people with more than 800 different exercises. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Back in September, he met with the founder of AWATfit, Rich Decker, who encouraged him to become part of the new concept. On the truck itself are 25 pieces of exercise equipment and, by using them, a person can do between 800 and 900 different workouts, according to the new francisee. 

“At the end of the day you are the machine,” Psillos said. “As soon as someone tries it once, they love it. I’m a bodybuilder and I get a better workout on the vehicle than I do at the gym.”

Before getting involved with AWATfit, Psillos was a project engineer but lost his job during the height of COVID-19. Fitness has always been important to him, especially as a former competing bodybuilder. By bringing this franchise to the North Shore, he said he wanted other people to experience its benefits — especially during a time when people might not be entirely comfortable working out in an indoor gym. 

“I think it’s going to change the persona of fitness,” he said. “You don’t get the results you want from a cycle class or a Pilates class. This is different.”

Right now, for a few days during the week, he partnered with Miller Place’s Body Source store on Route 25A where he parks the truck in the parking lot, so clients can work out. 

Elizabeth Sagarin, co-owner of the vitamin supplement store, said that because of the COVID-19 crisis, her shop has seen a decline in customers, but by collaborating with Psillos, she hopes to bring more people in and help everyone get healthy.

“We paired with these guys in the hopes of just giving people a space to work out, feel good, get healthy and just build community,” Sagarin said. “He approached us, and it is a great fit.”

Sagarin, who often participates in the class, said she appreciates the facility. 

“It’s a great workout,” she said. “And it’s all ages, you don’t have to be at any level. It’s fun, you’re outside and he’s a great trainer.”

AWATfit’s workout stations attached to the truck address strength, flexibility, core, agility and cardiovascular matters, as well as the mind-body-spirit connection. 

Now that Psillos has been in business for about a month, he said his clientele is beginning to grow mostly by word of mouth. 

“It’s hard to get people since it’s a new concept,” he said. “But once anyone tries it, they’re hooked.”

He’s planning on bringing a workout truck to communities from Smithtown to Shoreham-Wading River. He’s also looking to bring the truck to retirement homes and senior centers so people can get fit safely.

“Gym facilities in senior citizen community centers are fully closed right now,” Psillos said. “We would love for us to come and provide them with an outdoor answer to meet their needs and by engaging them to be healthy.”

Rev. Demetrios Calogredes, a Greek Orthodox priest, above, blessed the lot during the ceremony as Supervisor Ed Wehrheim and Vincent Puleo, town clerk, look on. Photo by Julianne Mosher

A new 55-and-older rental apartment project has been in the works in Nesconset, and as of last week, ground has officially been broken with plans full speed ahead.

Town officials joined developers from Hauppauge-based The Northwind Group Oct. 15 to show their support for The Preserve at Smithtown. Alongside the recently cleared lot off of Smithtown Boulevard in Nesconset near Chestnut Street, several members from the We Are Smithtown civic group protested against the development. 

Protesters from the civic group We Are Smithtown, below, included James Bouklas and Phyllis Hart, president and vice president of the civic group. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“We saw data from the town about what people wanted in a master plan,” James Bouklas, president of the group said. “And it isn’t this project. The residents overwhelmingly want less development, not more, lower density, not higher, they want walkable communities and amenities, like a community center.”

“The town is interested in development for the sake of development,” he added. “Their mantra is, build, baby, build.”

The project is planned to cost about $47 million and should be completed within the next two years. But according to Town of Smithtown planning director, Peter Hans, there has been approval for the site since 1988, initially with another developer. That project called for 192 units, and now, under The Northwind Group development, there will be 180 units built on 20 vacant acres.

“It won’t be heavily visible from Smithtown Boulevard,” he said. “A lot of the wood will be preserved.”

And at last Thursday’s groundbreaking, the elected officials all agreed this new development, despite what the naysayers might think, will have a positive impact.

“Everything we’re doing here is to help our economy,” town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said at the groundbreaking. “Because of the high taxes, people are leaving. We want to keep our community thriving.”

Vincent Puleo, the town clerk and president of the Nesconset Chamber of Commerce, said residents of the project will bring $11 million in disposable income to the area. “Smithtown Boulevard will become downtown driven,” he said. “The positives outweigh the negatives 100%.”

“Smithtown Boulevard will become downtown driven. The positives outweigh the negatives 100%.”

—Vincent Puleo

Jim Tsunis, managing member of Northwind, said he and his team are looking forward to bringing the project to provide new housing for Smithtown seniors.

“They will move out of their houses, get an apartment here and spend their money downtown,” he said. 

“Turning that property into a senior-living development opens the door for Nesconset, which is a game changer,” town spokesperson Nicole Garguilo said. “Nesconset never had that centralized business district, but now Smithtown Boulevard will have that.”

But the peaceful protesters stood their ground.

“We are not against housing for seniors,” Bouklas said. “We are against density in our already dense neighborhoods, traffic on our congested roads and, most importantly, tax breaks for developers while the rest of us pay full price.”

File photo

Hooks & Chops, a new restaurant featuring specialties from both the land and sea, has officially opened its doors. Brought to you by Executive Chef and Operator Steven Del Lima, the restaurant moves into the space formerly occupied by Ruby Tuesdays located at 6330 Jericho Turnpike in Commack. The restaurant is open daily beginning at 5 p.m. which the exception of Sunday when it opens at 4 p.m. A special happy hour menu is offered Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. For more information, call 631-600-0521 or visit www.hooksandchops.com.

Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for SoBol in Port Jefferson Station on Oct. 7. The event was attended by members of the chamber, state and local officials as well as corporate members from SoBol.

Photo by Heidi Sutton

Located at 1035 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station in the Crossroads Shopping Center, the East Coast based franchise specializes in acai bowls, pitaya bowls, green bowls and fruit smoothies. They also offer coffee and kids bowls.

“Thank you to all who have been a part of our opening! We are so excited to be a part of the Port Jefferson Station community,” said owner Numa Hernandez.

Pictured from left, SoBol co-founder Jim Kalomiris; Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn; owner Numa Hernandez; Councilwoman Valerie Cartright; President of Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Dznovar; SoBol Project Manager Bill Meindl; SoBol founder Jason Mazzarone; Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine; NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright; and President of Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Barbara Ransome.

The cafe offers call in orders, online orders, and works with third-party delivery services like Doordash, Uber Eats, Postmates and GrubHub. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 631-743-9643 or visit www.mysobol.com.

The Miller Place Inn has temporarily closed to weddings after receiving a call from the NYSLA. Photo from the Miller Place Inn

By Julianne Mosher and Kyle Barr

The well-known wedding and event venue Miller Place Inn has been issued a hefty fine for hosting an event that led to around 270 individuals having to quarantine across Long Island.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said Oct. 13 a notorious Sweet 16 party was hosted at the venue Sept. 25. The event involved 81 people, including 49 students and 32 adults, which is over the state-mandated limit. That party has now led to 334 people having been notified by the Suffolk County Department of Health for contact tracing. Of that number, 183 of those people were affiliated with schools, while 151 were non-school specific. The county executive said the people affected were spread throughout the county.

“It was the first time the health department has taken a course of action against a business.”

— Steve Bellone

The county DHS has identified 37 positive cases in connection to the Sweet 16 party, of which 29 of the positive cases were those who attended, seven were household contacts, and one case was a close contact of an individual who attended.

State law restricts all non essential gatherings to 50 or fewer people or 50 percent capacity, whichever one of those is less. 

“It was the first time the health department has taken a course of action against a business,” Bellone said on a conference call with reporters, citing that businesses before have largely complied with COVID restrictions when confronted by officials. The Inn has received previous warnings, he said.

The Inn was fined $10,000 for violations of the New York state executive orders, as well as $2,000 for violations of the Suffolk County sanitary code. The county exec said the determination that the Inn was at fault based on the “comprehensive contact tracing investigation.” Though he noted not everyone at the party was wearing masks, the primary violation was breaking the mass gathering rules.

Christopher Regina, a co-owner of the Inn, said in a phone interview after Bellone’s announcement that they were made aware Oct. 8 they were in violation of the guidelines. They thought they were allowed to operate at 50% of their fire marshal cap of 250 persons. He said, along with implementing air filtration measures, they were “operating safely” with less than 125.

“At no time before that did we know we were operating in the wrong,” he said.

On Friday, Oct. 9, the Inn announced it would be closing down after what they said was a warning call from the New York State Liquor Authority over reported COVID violations. Miller Place Inn owners Donna Regina, during an interview Friday, expressed that she was aware of “a group of teens [who] tested positive somewhere.”

“At no time before that did we know we were operating in the wrong.”

— Christopher Regina

The event has become notorious in the past few weeks, as the Sweet 16 was reported to have directly led to the Sachem school district having to temporarily shut down the high school.

Though the county executive said there is no dictionary definition for a so-called superspreader event, “Based on our experience in dealing with this pandemic for seven months now, this is a superspreader event without question.”

On Friday, a spokesperson from the New York State Liquor Authority told TBR News Media they had issued a warning to the Inn about complaints. A spokesperson for the SLA did not immediately respond to a request for comment over if they will take any action against the venue.

Bellone said that people need to be mindful of the consequences of mass gatherings so no more clusters pop up. 

“We need to make sure as we move into the colder weather, as we move towards winter, that we cannot have these types of activities that could cause a superspreader event like this,” he said. “We are entering a period of time where it is dangerous. We know as people move indoors they shut the windows, shut the doors and when inside that’s the real possibility for a second wave of cases happening.”

 

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Residents were concerned to see vape and hookah merch being set up in an empty store in Chandler Square, but both the village and shop owner say the new location will focus on tobacco product. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Questions over Port Jeff’s handling of hookah and vape products has become inflamed once again, though the outcome might just be the loss of one vape shop and the opening of a new smoke store.

Locals have noticed smoke and hookah products moving into a space in Chandler Square next to where The Soap Box resides. Officials said Sanjay Bakshi, the owner of Hookah City, which was located on Main Street, had planned to move from its space there to that new spot but, upon learning of the move, village officials quickly moved in to explain current code requirements.

Village trustee Kathianne Snaden said the village was alerted after residents spotted vaping paraphernalia in the front window. Deputy village attorney, Richard Harris, spoke to owner and is working on getting the issue resolved.

Village code restricts any new vaping stores from opening up in anything but light industrial zoning. All new vape shops or hookah parlors must also be granted a special-use permit by the board of trustees. 

Snaden said Bakshi, has agreed to comply with village code and is continuing his work opening in the new space, though now as a smoke shop selling cigars, pipes, tobacco and other products. Harris said the owner understands the code and has moved about 90% of all the vape or hookah-type products from the premises. The Port Jeff fire marshal, Ryan Klimar, has also been to the location and has recommended a few minor changes to the sprinklers and fire extinguisher placements.

“He understands very clearly what he needs to do,” Harris said.

Bakshi said the owner of the previous location did not renew his Main Street lease, requiring the move. The new space, he said, is going to be part smoke shop, part “convenience store” that sells candies and soda. He is getting rid of the name Hookah City and is just going with Smoke Shop, displayed in small letters on the front window.

Bakshi confirmed he does not plan to display any smoking product in the window and that he doesn’t plan to sell any kind of electronic tobacco products like the old vapes and hookahs.

Before the move Hookah City had been able to continue despite the code change, having been grandfathered in under old requirements. In 2019, when the shop was cited by Suffolk County police for allegedly selling a vape product to a minor, village trustees openly talked about what could be done to the shop but village attorney, Brian Egan, said that officials could not impact a business in any major way unless the code was violated. 

In the past, Port Jeff constables have sent Suffolk police details of what they said were examples of the store allegedly selling to minors, according to past interviews with Fred Leute, code enforcement chief.

Though more and more smoke and vape shops have reported an incredible decline in sales since New York State officially banned the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes back in May, and that’s in addition to the wider economic impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Schools in recent years have complained about the number of vape products getting into minors’ hands, despite age restrictions. Though the science is not conclusive, studies have shown the harmful and addictive nature of nicotine-based products. The U.S. Federal Drug Administration guidelines are still evolving, but the FDA considers vaping medically unsafe for young people, pregnant women and adult smokers who are not using it to quit the habit.

Still, for village officials like Snaden, seeing the last remaining vape shop go is a clear victory for the local community. 

“Anything keeping vape products out of the hands of our children is better for our schools, parents and kids,” she said.

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David Dombroff, above, opened the Rolling Pin 25 years ago with former business partner Beth Litt . Photo by Rita J. Egan

Hitting a milestone such as 25 years in business is a sweet accomplishment to celebrate but, due to the pandemic, Rolling Pin bakery had to scale down its plans.

The Rolling Pin bakery celebrated 25 years in business this September. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Owner David Dombroff said the hope was for current and past employees to come together at a gala at the Setauket Neighborhood House this year.

“We had gotten in touch with so many people — many who worked through high school at the bakery and now some have kids of their own,” he said. “Social media helped us get in touch with dozens of people from a long time ago.”

While the gala couldn’t take place due to state guidelines that limit indoor gatherings to 50 people or less, the Rolling Pin owner and employees still celebrated by giving out free cupcakes on the bakery’s anniversary Sept. 22 and then again Sept. 26 at its Three Village Shopping Center location.

The pandemic has been a big blow to bakeries. Dombroff said baking wedding cakes is a significant part of business, and while people are still celebrating and ordering cakes, the sizes of them are much smaller than usual.

“This was by far the biggest hit — we lost over 70% of the business — and are still down nearly that much — as all of our wholesale accounts have shut down,” the bakery owner said. “This time of year we would typically be making 45 to 55 wedding cakes per weekend.”

During the pandemic, Dombroff said the bakery adapted by offering curbside pickup and working with the food delivery service DoorDash.

Dombroff, who has lived in Setauket for 30 years, grew up in the local small business world. His father for 15 years was the owner of Bagel King that was once located in the same shopping center where Rolling Pin is today.

After high school, Dombroff attended The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and completed the program with his associate in occupational studies degree by 19. After working in the culinary field for a hotel chain in both Boston and Long Island, he said he realized the corporate culinary business wasn’t for him.

He went on to work in his father’s bagel store for a few years, he said, and when he heard the former Glendale Bakery was for sale, he bought it. At first, Dombroff went into business with Beth Litt-Wahl. After five years, she went on to work for Whole Foods and now has a line of brittles called Brittle & Beyond.

“Through the ups and downs of running a small business, he was able to pivot and make it work throughout it all. He has wonderful support from his Rolling Pin bakery team, family and friends.”

— Beth Litt-Wahl

Litt-Wahl said she is proud of Dombroff for keeping the bakery open for 25 years and wished the Rolling Pin team continued success.

“Through the ups and downs of running a small business, he was able to pivot and make it work throughout it all,” she said. “He has wonderful support from his Rolling Pin bakery team, family and friends.”

While Dombroff no longer has a business partner, store manager Rene Augello has worked for the bakery for more than 19 years. Augello graduated from Suffolk County Community College’s culinary arts program, where Dombroff said he’s been teaching one class each semester for 15 years.

Augello said working for the bakery is an amazing experience.

“I love being a part of the community bakery,” she said. “I get such a sense of pride when I see the trucks out on the road knowing they are going all over the Island to make people happy. After 19 years of working for the Rolling Pin, I am still in awe at how much production can come out of one little store, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

For eight years, the bakery owner also ran a second Rolling Pin location in Bay Shore. Dombroff said while he loved the area and people, “we couldn’t replicate the magic from Setauket” and closed the doors to that store last year.

Looking toward the future, while he and his wife Marlo, who works at Stony Brook Medicine, have two children Benjamin and Sydney, he said he doesn’t foresee them going into the business.

Through the quarter of a century, Dombroff has seen dramatic changes in the bakery industry, especially with supermarkets and warehouse clubs selling baked goods, so he’s thankful for Three Village and nearby residents.

“Thankfully, the community has supported us through the years by shopping local,” he said. “This is what allows us and other small businesses to survive against these chain stores. Otherwise, we will all be left with just a few places to shop and none too close or very good.”

The Miller Place Inn has temporarily closed to weddings after receiving a call from the NYSLA. Photo from the Miller Place Inn

The Miller Place Inn has temporarily halted wedding operations as of Oct. 9 at their banquet hall due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Donna Regina, co-owner of the Miller Place Inn, said the decision to temporarily close came after a courtesy call they received from the SLA.

“[An official] said he has orders from Albany to go to venues on Long Island and close them down if they’re not in compliance,” she said. “As of yesterday, they added no cocktail hour and at that point, it’s not a wedding. It’s not what the bride paid for.”

She said the rules are constantly changing.

“The governor tightened the noose on us,” she said. “Our capacity is 250 … Why do we have to have 50 guests?”

William Crowley, a spokesperson for the SLA, said the office received a complaint about weddings in excess of 50 people, and that an official called to warn and advise of the need to retain the 50-person limit and ensure social distancing.

He added that he reminded them there is no dancing allowed, even with masks.

Those set for weddings as early as Saturday, Oct. 17 also received the news Friday.

Selena Rodriguez, a bride from Brooklyn who was set to get married next weekend at the venue, said she got a phone call Thursday night from the Inn, saying they were shut down by the New York State Liquor Authority.

Rodriguez was told she can only postpone her wedding, but earlier in discussions she made it clear that the wedding needed to happen by the end of 2020, as her and her fiancé are moving across the country. They were planning a wedding of 40 people, well under the state’s limit.

She said because she physically cannot postpone her event, the Inn would not refund her money.

“You can’t make me have an event that I’m not going to be here for,” she said.

This comes nearly a week after a rally was held outside the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge where venue owners, wedding industry professionals, brides and elected officials begged the governor to loosen the maximum cap.

Christopher Regina, fellow co-owner of the Miller Place Inn, said they decided Thursday to temporarily halt events inside their venue because of the state’s 50-person limit.

The immediate closure decision was a “conscious one,” Donna added, because “the rules were too much to handle.”

“We cannot operate under these restrictions,” Christopher said. “When a wedding venue cannot hold at least 50 percent capacity, it’s very, very, very hard.”

Rodriguez added that her contract was “bare bones” and did not mention any clauses regarding the venue closing at their own discretion. The original call she received made it sound like the venue was claiming all venues on the island were being moderated by the state.

“They told me they got shut down by the SLA and they’re shutting everything down on Long Island,” she said.

The Miller Place Inn wanted to be clear that his venue did not close its doors permanently or lose its liquor license.

“That’s absolutely not true,” Christopher said.

Donna said that the Inn reached out to all the brides scheduled to get married up until early December.

“We told them simply we would work with you, move your date, provide out-of-house catering… We bent over backward for each bride,” she said. “We understand the brides are hurt. Their dream wedding can’t happen if they cannot get out of their seats.”

She added that claim from brides that they could not get refunds is “not true.”

“Our lawyer advised us we’re not able to refund anything within six months,” she said. “But we never punished a bride, never, so we moved eight months’ worth of weddings not to punish our brides … Every bride and groom has our cell phone numbers, anyone who knows us knows we will answer our phones.”

Caterers across the state also have filed a class-action lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo saying their businesses can be just as safe, if not safer. They argue that with many venues being able to hold more than 300 people, a 50 percent cap would still allow social distancing, with guests still being able to celebrate.

“Please talk to your local government and the people in Albany,” Christopher added. “They are the ones keeping us closed.”

Its plans to reopen fully are up in the air.

“When the government revokes the 50-person cap, but that’s up to them,” he said

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Elected officials stand with brides, business owners and concerned community members asking Albany to change the executive order from 50-person events to 50% capacity. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Brides, business owners and elected officials all stood together outside the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge Oct. 2 begging Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to increase the capacity of events like weddings, Sweet 16s and other catered parties. 

“By limiting us, it’s creating a more dangerous situation.”

— Gennaro Tallarico

Right now, restaurants have been allowed to operate at a 50% capacity, while catering venues are still capped at just 50 people. Those at the rally said desperate families, who have waited their whole lives to celebrate their special day, are more likely to host events elsewhere, instead of safely inside their chosen venue.

“These events haven’t stopped, these events moved,” said Gennaro Tallarico, manager of The Inn at Fox Hollow in Woodbury. “They moved into people’s homes, to their backyards. They moved into event spaces where they don’t have liquor licenses and who are not afraid to open up and break the rules. … By limiting us, it’s creating a more dangerous situation.”

Kiran Wadhwa and Indu Kaur of Port Jefferson Station’s The Meadow Club also showed their support, especially since their venue has three separate ballrooms. After having to close due to a fire in 2018, the club has been under renovation for more than two years, and then had to delay its reopening because of the pandemic.

“Not being able to open at 50% capacity would be devastating to our family business,” Wadhwa said. “We need to be able to recover the loss of two years of income, and we won’t be able to break even with 50-person events.”

Friday’s event was headed by Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio (R), who is also a candidate for New York State Assembly. She said the current 50-person limit these events are allowed is detrimental to not only anxious brides and grooms, but to the Long Island economy.

“Facilities with the capacity for 300, 500 and 700 guests are being forced to operate as if they were all the same size,” Giglio said. “They are going bankrupt and need to feed their families. We need the governor to let them safely serve their customers, put their employees back to work and pay their bills.”

Caterers across the state have filed a class-action lawsuit against Cuomo saying their businesses can be just as safe, if not safer. They argue that with many venues being able to hold more than 300 people, a 50% cap would still allow social distancing, with guests still being able to celebrate.

“An industry that is supposed to be happy is losing hope. It’s crushing the dreams of a fairytale wedding.”

Jodi Giglio

With the wedding industry on Long Island generating an estimated $6 million a year in sales tax, according to a representative from Scotto Brothers, as well as being one of the state’s largest employers, no one has made a profit this year thanks to COVID-19, and many businesses are on the brink of closure.

“An industry that is supposed to be happy is losing hope,” Giglio said. “It’s crushing the dreams of a fairytale wedding. … All of our local businesses have suffered. Our message to the governor is we can do this safely, we can adjust  — and flexibility is a must.”

Along with the maximum-person cap, mingling and dancing are also prohibited under the state’s executive order.

Heather Cunningham, founder of the website and online-based bridal group Brides of Long Island, said she is just seeking fairness.

“I’m not asking for a packed dance floor,” she said. “I’m asking for that moment where a father can dance with his little girl.”

“We need to look at things differently,” Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) said at the event. “They are responsible business owners. They know how to keep their customers safe.”

John Salkowsky, owner of Lindenhurst-based Silverfox, said that “catering halls are the heart and soul of our community.” Businesses, like his photography and videography service, then follow. “I hope this shines a bright light,” he said. “I hope this makes a change.”

The general feeling among owners is if things continue this way, many of them might have to close for good.

“We hope Governor Cuomo has heard our industry’s plea because we are suffering and cannot go on like this for any longer,” Wadhwa said.

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The building at 116 West Broadway was once used by the SCWA and by a bank. Photo by Kyle Barr

The new planned ferry building in Port Jefferson was granted slight height variances by the village zoning board of appeals for an additional 2 and a half feet on top its roof. Representatives of the ferry company said the variances are needed so it can retain an elevator in its design.

Site plans for the new ferry company office building at 116 West Broadway. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company is planning to create new offices for its staff at 116 West Broadway in an old building that had once been used by the Suffolk County Water Authority and had previously been a bank. 

Lisa Rickmers, the planner for Village of Port Jefferson, said that the applicant had tried to get the two story building with an elevator in it while complying with restrictions, but that it was impossible without raising the height by two feet.

“They’re working between the [Federal Emergency Management Agency] guidelines that raise the floor and our own height restrictions that lower the roofline,” she said. “The architect worked with the mechanicals, but he could not get the elevator shaft to stay below the 30 foot.”

Rickmers said the height restrictions were originally designed to preserve sightlines to the water. Though because of FEMA height restrictions, the building must start at least 12 feet up higher than adjacent buildings. The existing building is sitting at 8 feet and must be raised an additional 4.

Though the property is not required to have an elevator because of its overall size, the ferry company said it’s still something they want to include. The property could in theory stay below the required height by making it a flat roof, but Rickmers said the applicant did not think that would be attractive. 

The building is located on the side of the village in the MW-2 zone, which has certain restrictions other buildings across the street do not, especially because its located in a spot that has seen major flooding in the past.

Cindy Ingraselino, a project manager for architectural firm EAB and a representative for the ferry company, said they are keeping the building at the same footprint of approximately 22,090 square feet per floor on a two story building. 

Ingraselino said the elevator is planned to be centrally located within the building.