Port Times Record

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While most understand the value of investing in education, there’s more to learning than going to class and doing homework.

We must give all children an equal chance of receiving a proper education, and one way to do so is by ensuring that all students are adequately nourished, navigating the school day on a full stomach. 

Last Friday, New York state elected officials joined school administrators and advocates in Huntington to call upon Gov. Kathy Hocul (D) to include fully funded school meals for all students in the 2024 state budget. The call comes after federal waivers that enabled schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students during the COVID-19 pandemic ended before the start of the 2022-23 academic year.

The universal free school meals initiative may make some pause at first. While New Yorkers understand that there are countless people among us — many right here in our own towns — suffering from food insecurity, they are aware that some of our residents can easily afford to feed their children breakfast and lunch.

However, advocates for the Healthy School Meals for All program contend that many families are eligible for the supplement but do not apply because they are embarrassed to ask for help. Some make slightly more than the income requirements to receive nutrition assistance but could desperately use the help.

In an era when most families need both parents to work to make ends meet, and as salaries and wages increases have lagged behind inflation, ensuring free meals for all children can keep our students healthy while easing household budgets. In addition to helping households, the program would eliminate unpaid meal debt for school districts, which increased after the federal waivers expired.

According to the speakers at the March 24 press conference at Jefferson Primary School in Huntington, including the program in the state budget could help nearly a quarter million students on Long Island alone. The initiative is one that state legislators have gotten behind with $280 million in funding included in their budget proposals.

Now it’s time for Hochul to support it.

With states such as California, Colorado, Nevada, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut already implementing the Healthy School Meals for All program, it’s time for New York to embrace this initiative.

Research indicates that well-nourished students perform better on tests, are more present in school and retain information better. Advocates hope the program provides all children the opportunity to be fully prepared to take on a day of learning, something every student deserves.

We remind our readers that New York taxpayers are currently subsidizing a football stadium in Buffalo to the tune of $600 million — a deal brokered by the Hochul administration. Meanwhile, many of our school children here on Long Island are inadequately nourished.

The proposed school nutrition program is less than half the cost of the football stadium yet would go much further in advancing the interests of ordinary citizens. To our governor and state officials in Albany: The Buffalo Bills should never trump the health of our children.

Doing what’s right for our kids, and paving the way for a brighter future for all, starts with a solid breakfast and lunch. Our state officials are fighting for this. It is time for our governor to do the same.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

They’ll win some, they’ll lose some, and it’ll rain, and they’ll have to play some other day.

No, I’m not going to predict anything about the on field action this year as the “boys of summer” take the field this week for the start of the 2023 baseball season.

Instead, I’m going to make some predictions about the action in the stands. After all, the number of people and stories from the stands far exceeds the paltry size of the teams, umpires, grounds crew and everyone else involved with “The Show.” So, without further delay, here are a few predictions for the upcoming season.

Someone will walk into one of the local stadiums and be too awestruck to speak. He may have been to other games, but returning to his favorite stadium and looking at the shimmering green grass, the bright foul lines, and the oversized baseball bag will take his breath away, even if only for a moment and even if no one notices the goose flesh on his arms despite the warm temperature.

Someone will share some of their favorite lines from baseball movies, suggesting that the team is a “bunch of lollygaggers,” or that, in as deep a James Earl Jones voice as they can muster, “the one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.”

During long day games, fans, clad in T-shirts, jerseys or tank tops, will forget sunscreen and will develop a sunburn. For some, that sunburn will be a reminder of the game. For others, it might provide sore or red skin.

Debates that border on arguments will occur in every part of the stadium. Some disagreements will arise over whether the umpire made the right call, while others will reach into history. Who was the best left fielder? Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?

Fans will celebrate birthdays, waiting for that fleeting moment when their name appears on the screen with best wishes from Joe, Mo, Mary and the rest of the crew.

People will propose marriage. Most will say “yes” and will cover their mouths in astonishment. Some will storm off, throw the ring back, or yell something, leaving others to wonder whether the scene was real or staged.

Some fans will offer unconditional support for their favorite players, urging them on even after they struck out four times. Others will reserve the right to suggest that they could do better or that the player is a “bum.”

Most fans will stand in salute to veterans, as the public address announcer shares details of a person’s service and awards, and his or her family beams nearby, blinking back tears in a strong sun.

Important people will take important calls, making it tough for them to focus on the game. Some of those people will have to leave the game and go back to the office, while others will talk through a document or deal amid a series of ongoing crises.

Awestruck people will realize their fantasy and will catch a foul ball. They will raise the ball as if it were a trophy, giving the strangers around them a chance to applaud. A generous fan will likely hand a ball over to a nearby child, knowing how valuable that souvenir will be for him or her.

Fans will high-five people sitting next to them during a key moment in a big game, sharing their joy with anyone and everyone.

Someone from an earlier generation will shout “Holy Cow” when a player hits a towering home run, sending his friends into fits of laughter.

Someone will believe that the next pitch will alter the course of the game and, perhaps, that person’s world, regardless of the score and the standings. Play Ball!

METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

A recent article that I saw on the Internet claimed that nine out of 10 graduates had regrets about their college. Wow! That’s almost unanimous discontent. Most regretted the heavy debt they had incurred. Some said the college they chose wasn’t a good fit for them. Others expressed disappointment with their major. I, too, have a regret about college; although I am not one generally to harbor regrets, I will confess that regret now.

I regret that I didn’t study harder when I was lucky enough to be in college. Now, this has nothing to do with my particular college. It is a personal failing. I am sure I would have behaved much the same way wherever I had gone to school. But here is the thing about college. It’s much the same thing as is said about computers: garbage in, garbage out.

Had I applied myself a lot harder, I would have gained a lot more in the way of a splendid education from my college courses and years. After all, I went to a fine college. Instead, I was more interested, especially during the first two years, in dating.

Not to be too hard on myself, I had a lot of catching up to do on that front. The last time I was in a co-ed situation before college was in the sixth grade of my neighborhood elementary school. For junior high and high school, I attended one of the schools in New York City requiring an entrance exam, and it was for all girls.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved the school. Many of the teachers had PhDs. I knew I was getting a first-rate education, and I really applied myself to my studies. What else was there to do? I even thrived on the keen competition there, despite the fact that it was considered appropriate to bemoan such a barbaric value.

It was also appropriate to wish the school were co-ed, which we all did, and fervently at the time. Now it is co-ed, and as I look back, I am not so sure that was such a good idea.

But I digress.

My college was also one of what was then regarded as the prestigious Seven Sisters and technically all women, although we certainly didn’t refer to ourselves that way at the time. We were girls, and it was an all-girls college. On the other hand, right across the main avenue that ran in front of the campus was an all-boys undergraduate college.

Needless to say, I crossed the road, both to get to the other side, (as in the old joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road”?) and also to use the library at the all-male school. That library was larger, had more comfortable seats, better lighting, and besides, I rarely returned without having at least one date, sometimes two, and even occasionally three dates for the upcoming weekend. It took the first two years to come to something approaching equilibrium.

Life was good. But for my grades, not so much.

Furthermore, I thought that I didn’t really have an appropriate major. I was pre-med. That wasn’t considered a true major, but it did require many hours of science classes that came with many hours in many labs. I could have spaced out those labs — heavy courses — but thought I should get them out of the way sooner. I did have a faculty advisor those first two years, who was a lovely person, and a famous history professor. She knew little about science requirements, confessed as much, and then signed whatever assortment of subjects I put before her to approve.

“You must pick a major,” I was told. And so I picked English because it provided me with an antidote to all those heavy science classes. Reading was a merciful escape. So was writing. I was casual about that decision, though, because I was sure I was never going to use those skills.

Who knew?

Mount Sinai senior attack Taylor Cline broke the ice for the Mustangs when her shot on goal split the pipes two minutes in, followed up with a goal from teammate Alexa Spallina at the 16-minute mark. Then Cline stretched the net again, putting the Mustangs out front 3-0.

Comsewogue answered back, however, as senior midfielder Gabby Constant scored twice in three minutes, followed by freshman attack Gianna McNulty’s shot on goal assisted by Jackie Riviezzo, tying the game at 3-3 with just under eight minutes left in the half. 

Spallina scored again, capped with a pair of goals by senior Lea Flobeck to lead it 6-3. The Warriors fought their way back to make it a one-score game when McNulty’s shot once again found its mark with just under seven minutes left in this Div. II matchup on Monday, March 27.

Spallina would score the insurance goal, firing at the cage while falling to seal the deal for the Mustangs, who won 8-6. Mount Sinai goalie Sara Flobeck had six saves in net.

Both teams are back in action this Friday, March 31, when the Mustangs host Bayport-Blue Point at 4:30 p.m. and the Warriors host Shoreham-Wading River at 5 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

A year ago, Vladimir Putin waged an unprovoked war against Ukraine. Today, he leads an army that is poorly trained, ill-equipped and increasingly resentful of his command. Pixabay photo

The Russo-Ukrainian War has become the largest European conflict since World War II, which ended in 1945. 

A year after the Russian invasion, and with his nation fighting for its survival, Ukraine’s leader President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told the world his forces would continue their efforts.

The year of bloodshed

At first, the international community believed the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv had no chance of holding out against a well-coordinated Russian assault. Yet the capital city remains in Ukrainian hands.

Some cities in Ukraine now resemble the World War II-ruined cities of Berlin, Dresden and Warsaw, buried in rubble.

At some points in the war, Zelenskyy has warned against the potential collapse of his lines as Russian assaults have been levied against his army. The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has relied on the costly strategy of attrition against the Ukrainians, even as his army has endured as many as 200,000 casualties. 

During this year of fighting, Ukraine, with a smaller army, has relied on Cold War-era planes, helicopters, guns and tanks yet has thwarted Russian movement.

With European allies like Germany deploying Leopard tanks, the key to Ukrainian survival has rested in the constant supply of weapons from the coalition that the United States has created. 

The war has demonstrated the might of American weaponry, which has stymied the Russians. Through the proximity of American bases in Poland and Germany, American forces have also trained Ukrainian noncommissioned officers to lead their soldiers better.

This expertise has also aided Ukrainian military officials, who have learned to mobilize Patriot air defense systems, Abrams tanks and artillery guns. Although the Biden administration has continually downplayed the deployment of fighter planes for the Ukrainians, reports indicate that training has already commenced for some of their pilots.  

A disconnected dictator

Putin, meanwhile, continually targets civilian populations of Ukraine’s major cities and towns, causing death and destruction with hypersonic missiles that are almost impossible to shoot down. 

On the world stage, the Russian army has no clear path to victory. Some of Putin’s soldiers have even sent videos to their families and the press, revealing how poorly equipped and trained they are to meet the Ukrainians on the battlefield.  

Some Russians have openly criticized the government for mishandling the invasion effort. Putin’s government has lost much credibility along the way. 

During the early days of the war, the Russian dictator said his goal was to rid Ukraine of its “Nazi” elements that influenced the government in Kyiv. During a recent G20 Summit in New Delhi, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was met with laughter when he said, “The war, which we are trying to stop, which was launched against us using Ukrainian people.” 

These confused comments suggest an increasingly disconnected Putin regime, a Kremlin that has lost the global public relations battle to justify the war.

Resentment against the regime

Domestic instability has been a primary concern when looking at the Russian regime under Putin. The dictator is in constant fear over his own security, increasingly suspicious that he will be deposed.  

The Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization that has spearheaded much of the fighting, has had several public differences in how this war was being carried out under Putin’s directives. Some believe that Putin views the Wagner Group as a threat to his own rule.  

It is estimated that the Wagner Group has lost over 30,000 mercenaries, with about 9,000 fighters killed in action, U.S. officials said last month. Putin’s forces quickly surpassed the 15,000 Russians killed during the Soviet War in Afghanistan from 1979-89.

There is rising distress within the Russian population over the many soldiers who will not return alive. It has not helped Putin’s cause that his armies receive little training before being shipped off to the Ukrainian front against a battle-hardened foe. 

Through the startling number of casualties, deficiencies in Russian hardware and a total lack of leadership, Putin has repeatedly stated that nuclear weapons remain on the table.

All signs point to a defeated and embarrassed former world power. At every turn, Putin has refused to believe the Ukrainians could mount a capable resistance. One year later, Ukraine continues to push for victory.

Rich Acritelli is a history teacher at Rocky Point High School and adjunct professor at Suffolk County Community College. Written in conjunction with members of the high school’s History Honor Society.

Pictured above, New York State Sen. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), left of poster, and state Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead), right of poster, along with Republican state legislators. Photo by New York State Senate Photography

This past week in Albany, New York State Sen. Dean Murray (R-Patchogue) and state Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) joined with Republican colleagues from the state Senate and Assembly at a press conference calling for the crackdown on improper and deceptive packaging practices for edible products with THC infusions. 

The lawmakers said there has been a dramatic increase in cases of children mistaking these products for regular candies and snack foods, with dangerous and sometimes deadly results. 

Murray and Giglio have introduced legislation that would target this practice, mandating that THC-infused edibles on the market are marked and packaged plainly and increasing penalties for violators.

Photo by Elana Glowatz
By Bruce Miller

The stakes for the future of Port Jefferson are very high. It seems we have a real election this June in Port Jefferson, so we need a real contest of ideas. 

I have iterated many issues for this campaign in The Port Times Record. More are specified here. We know Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden and trustee Stan Loucks will have much support from the development class. Will trustee Lauren Sheprow and trustee candidate Bob Juliano represent the residents?


Years of hard work and research done by our Port Jefferson residents for the master plan committee have been discarded in favor of developers’ plans for future intensive — and not always attractive — development.

I believe our current leadership has permitted blight to be exploited in order to extract concessions for larger zoning — zoning not recommended by our residents’ committee.

The Industrial Development Agency of Brookhaven Town is giving away our tax base. What is “industrial” about apartment developments?

As a former school board member and president, I worked productively on repowering and to improve our tax base for 12 years, then leading this fight on our village board of trustees for eight years after that. 

I speak regularly with National Grid leaders and have addressed our issues and advocated with LIPA’s CEO, Thomas Falcone. Who will lead this effort, which has such a profound impact on our tax base? What is their network to do this?

I worked on our environmental issues for 30 years. The Conservation Advisory Committee needs to be made a board again. The Architectural Review Committee should be made a board. 


The ride from Port Jeff only gets worse. All our elected leaders want “a better ride.” But who will “herd the cats,” so to speak? We need leadership to galvanize and focus around these efforts.  

Looking at recent events, I fear the Long Island Rail Road will eliminate the Port Jefferson Branch line completely. I have worked to secure better service and clean energy service. We need to coordinate our efforts with our neighbors in Port Jefferson Station/Terryville.


Tax revenue is going down, with a significant chance of plummeting. Debt will be going way up. Taxes are going up. There are options for solar power that can recoup some of this revenue.  

I have the network to implement these strategies. So far, my efforts to implement these strategies have not been ignored — they have been rejected. Cleaner air, more revenue? We cannot let petty politics continue to thwart residents’ interests.

For a long time, merchants have advocated parking garages in Port Jefferson. Residents do not want Port Jefferson to look like Queens. I have proposed underground parking garages. Yes, this can be done. The Dutch have done this, creating parks to enhance their country and eliminating flooding at a bargain.

How to pay for this? Claim our share of town, county, state and federal funds for open-space preservation in the form of open-space creation — “parks above parking.” This makes our village more attractive to visitors and prospective residents. 

Claim infrastructure-hardening funding. Remember what the Dutch have done. Lease newly created parkland to restaurants for alfresco dining. Other parties may see value in this option as well. Let’s not forget parking fees.  

Merchants pay the village PILOPS — payments in lieu of parking spots. But there could be actual parking spots to purchase by investing in Port Jefferson.  

Condominiumize parking slots. Merchants and investors could purchase parking spots in prime locations for their exclusive use or derive revenue and tax deductions.

Our downtown businesses, apartments and fire department suffer from toxic intrusion when they flood. Investing in health is always a wise decision.

If you want a better future, we need to ask hard questions of our candidates.

Bruce Miller is a former Port Jefferson Village trustee

Digital payment and a lack of meters has sparked some criticism within the community. Photo by Raymond Janis

The managed parking system in the Village of Port Jefferson has undergone considerable changes this season, prompting debate among some within the community.

Beginning March 15, the village government has incorporated various technologies into its managed parking apparatus, such as automated license plate reading, which village officials say expedites and standardizes parking enforcement.

“We’re looking to make sure that enforcement is more equitable, that there’s less room for a mistake or discretion,” Mayor Margot Garant said in an exclusive interview. “The license plate reader is in at least one of the code vehicles, and when it drives through the parking lot, it scans everything very quickly.” She added, “I think it’s going to be a much more blanketed, equitable process and easier for all parties.”

Kevin Wood, the village’s parking administrator, outlined how the new tech would operate. He said pay-by-plate metering allows for more efficient enforcement of overtime parking and eliminates the need for double payment caused by temporarily leaving and losing a parking space, among other potential benefits.

Wood said digital payment also simplifies parking during future visits as the system remembers one’s plate number. “The next time you come back into town, your plate number is already filled in,” he said. “You can’t say that about a space number because you park in a different space every time.”

The village has also digitized its residential permitting process, supplanting the previous method which was performed by hand. So far, Wood said his office has received nearly 2,000 permits.

Responsiveness questions

The changes to parking procedure have met some opposition, particularly from the business community. James Luciano, owner of PJ Lobster House, has been among the opponents to the changes. 

In an interview, Luciano indicated that many of his older customers prefer the preexisting method of paying at a meter.

The new system “is a hassle for the older clientele,” he said, suggesting older customers often make multiple trips to and from their cars to pay for parking.

“I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you have clientele that are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, it is a lot for them to do that,” he added.

He said he receives daily complaints over digital payment, estimating complications using the system “probably happen 25 times a day — it’s a big problem that people are complaining about.”

Luciano attributes much of the village’s parking adversity to a lack of responsiveness from the village government, suggesting his recommendations to the village have fallen on deaf ears.

“We’ve sat down in meetings, we’ve sent letters over the last two years,” he said. “They say, ‘Thank you for the input,’ and then they do what they want. They don’t want to take any recommendations from anybody.”

Wood suggested his office is actively coordinating with the business community and that no significant changes have been made to the system other than entering a plate number instead of a space number.

“There are no changes to navigate,” Wood said. “The parker himself only enters a plate number instead of a space number, and that’s self-evident. But that being said, my office is always available to answer questions on a one-by-one basis and/or my assistant, Rita.”

Garant said her administration remains committed to working with merchants over any concerns with the system. Nonetheless, she expressed confidence that the new system would prevail over time.

“There are some recommendations that they have and questions, and we’re answering them as we can,” the mayor said. “Obviously, with anything, you’re going to get mixed concerns. I think once everybody settles into this new system, they’ll find that it’s an easier system to use.”

‘The number one challenge is capacity. It accounts for just about everything we are challenged with.’ ­

— Kevin Wood

Capacity: an age-old problem

Parking is a decades-old quandary in Port Jeff, confounding generations of local officials who have struggled to solve the parking puzzle. 

Richard Murdocco, adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University, summarized the issue in a word.

“Capacity — hands down, capacity,” he said. “It’s what all the villages on Long Island struggle with. How do you shoehorn in more parking without compromising the very character that people are seeking out?”

Wood concurred with this assessment. “The number one challenge is capacity,” he said. “It accounts for just about everything we are challenged with.”

Former village trustee Bruce Miller regarded the capacity constraints as all-pervasive, compounding other problems, such as traffic congestion. “It creates a lot of traffic that’s needless,” he said. “People are circling and circling and circling to find a parking place.”

Former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) commented on the generations of anguished parkers pressed to find a space. He regarded Port Jefferson as distinctive for its blend of bustling downtown activity and limited capacity.

“The oversubscription of use is inevitable for a place that is as attractive, and that faces the water, which is such a magnet for this whole sector of the Island,” he said. “You want to go to Port Jefferson because there are businesses, and a vibrant walk along the harbor is exciting.” 

But, he added, “It means you’re always going to have a traffic jam.”

Meanwhile, the Town of Brookhaven, which operates the marina parking lot near the ferry terminal, has set its 2023 parking rates at five times the rate of Port Jefferson’s managed lots. Wood said this could further strain the village’s already cramped lots.

“My common sense tells me that if something is $5 an hour, and they can get that same service for $1 an hour, that tells me they’re going to put more pressure on us,” he said.

Possible solutions

‘Policymakers should begin exploring some more modern, viable options.’ ­

— Richard Murdocco

Murdocco said a natural tension exists between preserving the historic character of an area and expanding parking capacity. He added, however, that the capacity issue would eventually cap the village’s growth potential for its residential and commercial districts.

“Policymakers should begin exploring some more modern, viable options,” the SBU adjunct professor said. The most obvious option, he indicated, would be to construct a parking garage. 

This proposal would come with its own set of challenges, according to Englebright. “I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this because even if you add a parking garage, I think it will be oversubscribed on the first day,” he said.

Wood noted that he gives “daily thought” to this idea, which is also proposed in the village’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan. However, given the natural topography and existing built environment, the municipality remains hamstrung in specific ways.

“Now is the time where I think we would have a serious look at building multidecks [above-ground parking garages], but it’s not so easy because of the landscape of Port Jeff, the depth of the water and things like that,” he said.

Asked whether he foresees the village accommodating a garage in the coming decades, the parking administrator responded affirmatively.

“I’d like to hope that we can come to the point where that possibility could happen,” he said, adding, “If it were in the best interest of the community and residents, I’d like to think we could come to an agreement on that.”

Miller advised the village government to explore underground parking, an option he said would boost capacity without disrupting the area’s historic character.

“A lot of the residents and public do not want an above-ground parking garage — we’re not rural here, but we just don’t see ourselves as urban,” he said. “The advantage of underground parking is that it doesn’t make your town look urban. You don’t have underground structures protruding from the ground.”

Another alternative the village is actively seeking is shared parking, that is, entering into agreements with nearby businesses to facilitate access to their lots during nonbusiness hours.

Wood said he and trustee Rebecca Kassay are working to enter into shared-use parking agreements, particularly with hospitals and medical offices in Upper Port.

“There’s not a lot of commercial activity happening uptown, but that will change,” Wood said, adding that shared parking would offer “immediate parking to people frequenting uptown.”

Kassay, who also serves as the village’s environmental commissioner, said the shared parking proposal would help minimize the need for building new parking lots uptown, as well as the clearings and heightened flooding characteristic of such construction.

Shared parking “would prevent more square footage uptown from being hardscaped, which is a contributor to the flooding because water is not being collected, recharged and filtered in the way it naturally would,” she said. 

The trustee added, “The issue of parking is very real, but the creative solutions, like shared parking, are a way that we as a village can solve parking issues, be environmentally conscious and save taxpayers money by not building and maintaining additional lots.”

Parking committee

Garant, who had coordinated with a parking committee composed of residents and merchants earlier in her tenure, recounted the history and role of that body.

“We had a committee for upward of eight or nine years,” she said. “I think that they brought great concerns, and we heard from them.”

Asked whether the village should reinstitute the parking committee, she responded, “I’m on my way out, so I’ll leave that to the next administration,” adding, “I think Kevin is doing a great job, so I’m going to let the next elected mayor make those decisions going forward.”

Wood emphasized that a committee would not resolve the core issue permeating all parking woes villagewide. “The one thing we all end up talking about is the lack of capacity,” the parking administrator said. “All the committees in the world won’t fix the immediate need for more capacity.”

He added, “We get feedback all the time. We take it under advisement. But again, it usually leads back, after everything is said and done, to lack of capacity.”

‘It would seem to me that some democratization would be logical.’

— Steve Englebright

Wood, instead, encouraged concerned parties to take their concerns to the village board. For him, public comments during village board meetings provide community members the proper forum to be heard. 

Public comment “is the best way to communicate what you are trying to say about any subject,” Wood said.

Luciano, on the other hand, advocated for the reinstatement of the parking committee as a means to properly filter concerns from the greater community. 

“The parking committee needs to exist, and the village needs to take the recommendations from the parking committee,” he said.

Detailing why he believed the committee had disbanded, Luciano again suggested a lack of responsiveness from the village. “They got rid of it because they didn’t want to hear input anymore and because they were going to do what they wanted to do.”

Ana Hozyainova, president of the Port Jefferson Civic Association, has joined the call for resurrecting the parking committee. In an email statement, she said a parking committee would reintroduce debate to the parking decision-making process.

“The Port Jeff Civic Association fully supports the reestablishment of a parking committee composed of representatives from all stakeholders,” she said. “Reinstituting the parking committee would provide a transparent forum for discussion and decision-making.”

The civic president added, “It would also help ensure that we face our parking challenges in a manner that addresses the needs and concerns of all our residents and still preserves the character and appearance of our beautiful village.” 

Englebright regarded the proposal for a parking committee as necessary for promoting public participation.

“If you live in the village, there has to be some sense of being able to participate,” he said. “There needs to be some reasonable balance between the commercialism that dominates parts of the downtown and the needs of the residents, which should not take second place.”

He added, “I don’t know how you do that without some sort of forum other than the regular meetings of the village board. It would seem to me that some democratization would be logical.”

By Ana Hozyainova

We are pleased to announce that the Port Jefferson Civic Association is fully formed and welcomes all village residents.

PJCA was founded to protect and represent residents’ voices in all village matters. Working together, we can identify and amplify concerns that would otherwise get overlooked and help ensure they are brought to the attention of our village representatives.

For example, the board of trustees without any prior notice or public debate voted March 20 to extend terms from two to four years starting in June 2023. The civic association does not have a position on the decision, but believes that term changes are significant and should be debated.

As a civic association, we can pinpoint an issue before it escalates to a crisis and encourage preemptive action. If we had had an active civic association in 2020, perhaps we could have avoided issuing a $10 million bond as the solution to the East Beach bluff predicament. While the erosion needed to be addressed, it was not an excuse for action without debate. The issuance of the bond took many residents by surprise. And although some funds have already been spent, it is not a done deal. Continuing discussions at Village Hall indicate there are other, more cost-effective alternatives still to be explored.

Going forward, the hope is that the civic association can collaborate with local officials to identify solutions that are sustainable, effective and in the best interests of village residents.

Besides the upper wall at Port Jefferson Country Club, PJCA will focus on the overdevelopment of the village. The latter is particularly alarming given the steep slopes, inefficient storm drainage and rising sea levels that make Port Jefferson vulnerable to flooding. That is why a strong focus on preserving open spaces is important. Open space has been proven to mitigate flooding and help purify water to maintain our aquifer — both of which, ultimately, save tax dollars.

 As a community, we will continue to face many issues of urgency and importance. We are committed to working with village officials and residents to find solutions that prioritize both the well-being of the villagers and the sustainability of our environment.

We call on all residents to join us in these important conversations. The PJCA meets at the Port Jefferson Free Library, every second Wednesday of the month. Our next meeting will be April 12 at 7:30 p.m. For more details, email [email protected].

Ana Hozyainova is president of the Port Jefferson Civic Association.

Cartoon by Kyle Horne: @kylehorneart kylehorneart.com

Port Jefferson has a parking problem. This problem is not the fault of any one administration but the natural consequence of maintaining a bustling downtown with limited parking capacity. 

It is a problem that has been with Port Jeff for decades and may soon affect various other municipalities throughout the area. As the towns of Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington look to expand sewer capacity and revitalize downtowns, local leaders should learn from Port Jeff’s parking struggles.

In Port Jeff, as in other communities, parking decisions matter. Parking administration is an expression of a community’s values and priorities. Managing parking requires a delicate balancing act between the various stakeholders seeking access to the community — residents, visitors, shoppers, employees and business owners, among others.

At root, parking decisions are about equitable land use. For other land-use decisions, we have planning departments and zoning boards whose members negotiate and compromise before rendering judgment. We also have committees for various other areas of local governance, such as parks and recreation, communications, conservation and architectural review.

However, municipalities often lack committees for an issue as central as parking. Without a parking committee, parking management seems estranged from the political process, the community stakeholders lacking the forum necessary to translate their interests into sound policy.

Moreover, the existing dynamic is inequitable to those who make parking decisions. Without a committee to channel the community’s wants and needs, the burden of policy falls upon a select few. In Port Jeff’s case, the parking administrator unfairly bears the responsibility of making representative decisions for the entire community, suffering alone the slings and arrows from all competing parties. We regard this arrangement as increasingly untenable and ineffective.

History informs us that uniformity of opinion is not possible. For this reason, a functioning democratic system works to channel the many interests of the people into the political process. Only through that process can a representative policy outcome arise. Parking is no different.

We are committed to the premise that fair policies emerge from an open, deliberative process. It is, therefore, necessary for municipalities throughout our coverage area to form parking committees, opening the decision-making process to all concerned parties. Let us democratize parking here on Long Island. It’s vitally needed.