Village of Port Jefferson

Project Action Committee member Beth Watson, trustee-elect Kyle Hill, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay, Andy Freleng, director of Planning & Building Department, PAC members Bob Laravie, Mary Ann Bernero, Frances Campani and Michael Schwarting. Photo by Lynn Hallarman

By Lynn Hallarman

Increasing intense storms and rising sea levels compound the risk of damaging and costly flooding in the Village of Port Jefferson. 

On June 20, village officials hosted the second of two interactive community workshops to explore project proposals for addressing flood risk in the downtown area. The initial workshop was held in April 2023. 

Climate Resilience Plan

In 2021, the village secured grant funding from the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils to tackle the longstanding flooding problem in Port’s downtown watershed. The total project is budgeted at $110,000, for which the state funding covers 75% ($82,500) and the village is responsible for 25% ($27,500), according to village Treasurer Stephen Gaffga.

Village officials formed the Project Action Committee, composed of expert consultants, to collect and analyze data related to flood risk and use it to create the Climate Resilience Plan. The plan currently outlines five potential projects focused on innovative flood and storm surge prevention as part of the village’s strategic planning. The purpose of the June workshop was for PAC leadership to receive community input on several of their proposals and to inform the public about the committee’s progress. 

The initiative, led by outgoing Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay who is the village’s sustainability commissioner, includes PAC members such as architectural experts from Campani and Schwarting; Amani Hosein, legislative aide to Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook); village residents and other local experts. 

Mayor Lauren Sheprow, Kassay, trustee-elect Kyle Hill, Andrew Freleng the village’s director of Planning and Building Department, Kornreich, several PAC members and members of the public attended the workshop. 

“Our village is experiencing issues related to stormwater runoff, a high-water table and tidal flooding that all impact downtown Port simultaneously,” Kassay said. “Tonight’s workshop is part of the village’s ongoing efforts to explore all angles of the problem and to find solutions that will truly make a difference.” 

Project proposals

Michael Schwarting, partner of Campani and Schwarting Architects, presented updated committee findings and outlined five potential projects. A breakout session allowed the public to learn about individual projects from PAC experts. 

“The village watershed is a bowl, collecting water from the south, east and west, all going to one place — down into the commercial district of Port Jefferson,” Schwarting said. “Then there is the harbor from the north, whose sea level is rising and having increasing storm surges.”

According to data from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Long Island region is predicted to experience a sea rise of up to 12 to 25 inches by around 2050.

Blue line represents downtown watershed area in the village of Port Jefferson. Maps courtesy of CASA.

Overview of the projects: 

1.  Develop designs for reducing stormwater flowing from the numerous steep streets upland of the village into the downtown area. 

2.  Assess the flooding problems of the culvert (underground drainpipe) that collects stormwater from Main Street and Barnum Avenue to Old Mill Creek at Village Hall. Convert portions of the culvert into a series of cased ponds for flood mitigation. The water is naturally cleaned when exposed to light. 

3. Complete the 2011 Old Mill Creek restoration plan from Brook Road to the harbor, restoring Old Mill Pond and daylighting the creek culvert — removing obstructions covering the creek — from West Broadway to the harbor.  

4. Update the 2013 village-approved Harbor Front Revitalization Plan in the 2030 Comprehensive Plan, incorporating storm flood mitigation and rising tides solutions as well as creating a green Harborfront Park. This plan would require relocating the harborfront marina parking. 

5.  Research ways to contain stormwater on-site in public off-street parking lots and mitigate these heat islands with trees. 

Water table levels below the surface of the village of Port Jefferson. Courtesy of CASA

Public concerns, official responses

Most concerns voiced at the meeting focused on project feasibility and potential costs to the village. One resident questioned the impacts on village parking if the Harborfront area, currently used to park up to 300 cars, is converted into a green space. 

To date, Campani and Schwarting Architects has billed the village $33,200 for its work studying the flooding problem as PAC members. According to Gaffga, the village has been reimbursed $17,850 of this cost by the state as part of the grant funding. The state grant will ultimately cover 75% of the total costs of the PAC initiative studying flooding risk in downtown Port.  

This reporter asked PAC members if the impacts of the recent uptick in housing development projects and installation of impervious surfaces, such as the Mather Hospital parking lot and asphalt repaving of the walkway at Harborfront Park, have been accounted for in the data analysis and project proposals.  

“That is a good question,” Frances Campani of CASA responded. “We can consider overlaying those impacts in our next mapping update.” 

“This is a step-by-step process,” Sheprow told TBR in a post-workshop interview. “The village has to put together many preliminary studies like the PAC initiative to garner support from the state to win big funding opportunities for major infrastructure projects. Without the studies, we’ll never get those large state and federal grants.”    

Rendering of the proposed Harborfront Park. Courtesy of CASA

New funding

Kassay informed the public at the workshop about the recent attainment of a $300,888 grant, including $270,799 from FEMA with the difference covered by the village, for an engineering study of flood mitigation at especially vulnerable sights in the downtown watershed. Kassay hopes this new funding for an expert engineering study will create synergy with the PAC initiative to set up the village to receive funding from New York State to implement the proposed projects and other innovations. 

The full workshop and slideshow can be viewed on the Port Jefferson YouTube channel. Comments about the project proposals are open until July 15. 

'Swallowtail' by Lorena Salcedo-Watson will be on view at Gallery North through Aug. 11. Image courtesy of Gallery North

By Tara Mae

So much of nature exists in the balance of tension and release: the unrelentingly gray palette of winter gives way to the expansive vibrancy of spring blooms; birds sit on their nests for weeks in the hopes that their young will be strong enough to crack through their shells; and, people dare to dream of brighter tomorrows.

Morpholgies: Recent Works by Lorena Salcedo-Watson, on view at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket from June 27 to Aug. 11, explores this interplay. Featuring 30 pieces including large-scale charcoal and pastel drawings, lithographs, and first drafts, the exhibit is a meditation on how the environment and nature merge with human experience.

‘Let It Go’ by Lorena Salcedo-Watson

“Having her do a solo exhibit here has been a goal for a while…This exhibit examines our symbiotic relationship with nature, our reliance on it, how we communicate with it,” said Gallery North Curator Kate Schwarting who met Salcedo-Watson while a student at Stony Brook University, where the artist is an art professor. 

Many pieces implement chiaroscuro —contrast between shadow and light — as a means by which to address ideas about the tenacity of life, the inevitability of death, and the determination of survival.

“Working in chiaroscuro — I want the drama, sense of falling into a black hole, you can stick your hand in there; I don’t want you to think in pretty terms — [do] not want color to add any other information. So, color is used to evoke mood in really specific moments,” Salcedo-Watson said.

Elements of color are deliberate contrasts; audacious vibrancy in stark relief. The art’s openness represents the vastness of the outdoors. “The abstract world she creates in her work is very singular; it is a celebration of beauty, nature, and curiosity,” Schwarting said. “The language Lorena creates with her art invokes organisms and structures that inhabit a totally unique space.”

It speaks to an understated grandeur that commands attention as it revels in the more abstract details of an exact image. For Salcedo-Watson, artistic scope and medium reflect the majesty of her subject matter. 

“Large scale gives you a sense of magnitude and awe. There have to be awesome things in your life. I encourage students to work large — it is liberating — keeping your drawing restricted to your wrist can be kind of sad since your experiences are life sized or larger,” she added.

Working in this manner enables Salcedo-Watson to create her own domain, in which she can guide and develop the narrative as she tracks its evolution. 

“I have always loved to draw, which is necessary to be a good printmaker. Lithography is a natural way of drawing, but you have multiples prints from the matrix, which allows you to see how you function as a problem solver. You have a record of your progress the whole way through,” Salcedo-Watson said.

The exhibit illuminates this process while also immersing its patrons in Salcedo-Watson’s interpretation of how nature nurtures. Her work is an invitation to envelop oneself in the wonder of the world while remaining rooted in realism.

“I always draw from observation, take what’s interesting to me, and play around with that,” she said. 

A longtime collector, Morpholgies features items from the artist’s cabinet of curiosities that have inspired her such as leaf fossils and root formations unearthed while gardening; insect exoskeletons gifted by friends; and other found objects that influence Salcedo-Watson’s work. 

Her fascination with nature’s detritus and remnants began at an early age and inspired her artistic practice.   

“I started drawing insects because the possibilities were huge with different varieties, but I also made stuff up and it was okay,” Salcedo-Watson said. “Not feeling like you have to follow the rules or always be accurate gave me permission to enjoy it more.”

Likewise, freedom of thought is what she seeks to convey to her audience. The ability to invoke the imagination is an ultimate endeavor of her art. 

“It’s not what I am trying to show you; it is what you think you are getting out of it. I try to put things forward and make you make sense of it. I could have a title to prompt you that this is what I am thinking about, but I want to actually engage you and make you think,” Salcedo-Watson said.

An opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. Salcedo-Watson will give an ArTalk and Print Demonstration on Saturday, July 20, from 3 to 5 p.m. These events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 631-751-2676 or visit

Marie Parziale, Xena Ugrinsky and Kyle Hill outside the polling site on June 18. Photo by Lynn Hallarman

By Aidan Johnson

Kyle Hill and Xena Ugrinsky will join the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees after winning the June 18 election, receiving 796 and 673 votes, respectively.

“What an outstanding turnout from Port Jefferson voters yesterday,” Port Jefferson Village Mayor Lauren Sheprow said. “We are very passionate about our elections!” 

The race saw three candidates—Hill, Ugrinsky and Port Jefferson resident Marie Parziale—compete for two open seats, replacing Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay and Village Trustee Drew Biondo. Parziale finished in third place with 449 votes.

Additionally, 90 write-in votes were cast, including for names such as former Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden, former Village Mayor Hal Sheprow, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay and Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee Chair Anthony Portesy.

“I congratulate Xena and Kyle on their victories and look forward to working with them starting with our first meeting as a Board on July 1,” Sheprow said in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do! I know Xena will hit the ground running and I look forward to getting to know Kyle and hearing more about what he would like to contribute as a Trustee.”

In an interview after the results were announced, Hill expressed gratitude for the support he received.

“I feel like our campaign was really about reaching out to folks that are in the village, not on social media, and really just want to see the place as great as it can be. Having those conversations face to face with folks was a great experience,” Hill said.

“I’m excited to work with the entire board and mayor and looking forward to all the great things that we can do together,” he added.

In a speech to her supporters, Ugrinsky also expressed appreciation for the support and help she received.

“I promise that I will do my best to try and solve some of these problems, and I don’t care if it takes two years, six years, or ten years,” Ugrinsky said. “Even if there’s a term limit, I’m here as a resident; I care so deeply about this village, and I hope to make you all proud.”

In a statement, Parziale congratulated Hill and Ugrinsky on their win, saying she looks “forward to the positive changes you will bring.”

“I remain dedicated to uniting our community and encouraging participation in the village’s ‘Make a Difference’ committees. Additionally, I am committed to advancing the uptown economic development plan and am honored to have accepted the chair of the committee,” Parziale stated.

The last meeting of the current village board will be on June 26 and the swearing-in ceremony will take place on July 4.


By Aramis Khosronejad

The Long Island Explorium hosted its 7th annual Maker Faire on Saturday, June 8, also held at the Village Center and Harborfront Park. The event featured a wide range of activities, from hands-on origami lessons to robotics presentations, drawing a large and diverse crowd.

The Maker Faire has been a popular event well received by various communities. It aims to foster curiosity and provide a platform for people of all backgrounds and interests to share their passions. 

The Maker Faire concept originated in San Mateo, California, in 2006, created by the editors of Make magazine. Since then, it has grown into an international event, with Maker Faires held in cities like San Francisco, New York, Berlin and Barcelona as well as Port Jefferson.

Angeline Judex, executive director of the Long Island Explorium, emphasized that the Maker Faire is “a festival of invention and innovation for everybody. Not just for little kids but for adults as well.” She highlighted the event’s diversity, which makes it especially unique. The faire featured an impressive assortment of participants and interests, from radio clubs to robotics and sculptures made from ocean debris.

This year’s Maker Faire on Long Island featured more than 75 exhibitors and 120 presenters.

The Maker Faire is designed to feed curiosity and nurture knowledge. Judex stated that the purpose of the event is “to enhance education, enrich life and to empower minds,” teaching that “learning is lifelong.” She noted the importance of such events in today’s society, especially with the advent of artificial intelligence. By cultivating curiosity and providing a space for the exchange of information, the faire aims to inspire innovation. “The challenges of the future can be changed by innovations from today,” Judex said. “Science is really at the intersection of endless possibilities — we’re talking about infinite possibilities for the future.”

Judex encouraged attendees to “explore, discover, invent and inspire,” sharing the joy and wonder that sustains lifelong learning and curiosity. “There’s no finite end, the exploring always continues,” she said, emphasizing the importance of having fun while learning.

Andreas Simoni and Andrew Smith row in double scull for the Port Jefferson Rowing Club. Photo courtesy Mary Smith

By  Sabrina Artusa

The Port Jefferson Rowing Club sent four boats to the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships, where all four boats competed in the top heat.

Teammates Andrew Smith, 18, and Andreas Simoni, 18, rowed especially well in their double scull, consistently ranking at the top of their heat in the time trial on June 6 and the semifinals on June 7.

Both athletes began rowing competitively around a year earlier in the Port Jefferson Rowing Club, a nonprofit aimed at bringing novices into the sport.

The pair kicked off the competition by placing second in the time trial, completing 2,000 meters in 6:25.52 — 25 milliseconds behind first place and more than five seconds ahead of the next boat.

In the time trial, the boats don’t line up and begin at the same time as they do in the semifinals and finals, but start intermittently. Each boat gets what Smith compared to a “running start”: after leisurely rowing along, the boat is signaled to begin racing after passing a certain point.

As a result, Smith and Simoni were unaware of how they performed compared to the 23 other boats. When they realized how they fared next to other state champions across the country, they were ecstatic.

“It felt amazing. It was so awesome,” Smith said of the moment when, after returning to the dock, they overheard their neighbors say a team called the Port Jefferson Rowing Club got second place. “You just do your best and hope that you made it,” he added.

In the semifinals the next day, the pair maintained their top-notch performance, ranking first in their heat of eight with a time of 6:48.64.

On Sunday, the day of the final competition where Smith and Simoni were set to compete in Final A, the pair encountered a mishap that, unfortunately, cost them a medal.

At the beginning of the race, Smith slid off his seat, and both rowers had to stop rowing until he was resituated. The incident was attributed to an equipment mishap.

“I was just proud that I made it there and of the times. The times showed that we would have done much better if not for the equipment failure. We possibly would have gotten first or second,” Smith said. “I was just proud that my boat made it to nationals. It was very stiff competition.”

At five years old, the Port Jefferson Rowing Club is relatively new compared to clubs in other states where rowing is more popular. Despite this, the team has achieved success under their three coaches: James Finke, former assistant coach at Harvard University; Jarek Szymczyk, who coached single men’s sculls at the Rio Olympics; and Anna MacDonald, a coach at Stony Brook School.

“We definitely train hard,” said Finke, founder of the club. “We balance between training hard and having a lot of fun.”

“Here, our mission is to make rowing more visible and more attractive to these athletes,” he said.

The club may be intended to attract novices to the sport, but Finke believes that what his team lacks in experience, they make up for in technique.

“Our main philosophy on coaching is making sure our kids have superior technique on the strokes.”

Simoni, who has committed to rowing at the University of California, Berkeley, and Smith began rowing together a couple of months ago after achieving similar times in a singles competition.

“When we got in the boat together, everything clicked and everything felt very good. We just fell into sync and just rowed,” Smith said.

Hugh Macdonald, another member of the club, ranked well in the competition. He scored second in the under-17 singles race but caught a fever before the final, according to Finke. Macdonald raced in the final despite feeling unwell and ranked seventh.

The girls in the under-15 quad race, Sylas MacDonal, Honora Riley, Olivia Timmons, Tatiana Garrison, and Zihe Zhou, also finished fourth.

President of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association Ira Costell swears the new Port Jefferson civic officers, Ana Hozyainova, Holly Fils-Aimé, Kathleen Mc Lane and Marilyn Damaskos. Photo by Samantha Rutt

By Samantha Rutt

At the Monday, June 10, Port Jefferson Civic Association meeting, new officers were sworn in, an update on the looming Staller development in Port Jefferson Station was given, and civic members took part in brainstorming ideas and solutions for the village’s most pressing issues.

The new leadership team, with terms expiring in 2026, were officially sworn in by neighboring civic president Ira Costell. The officers sworn in were Ana Hozyainova as civic president, Holly Fils-Aimé as vice president, Marilyn Damaskos as treasurer, Janice Fleischman-Eaton as recording secretary and Kathleen Mc Lane as corresponding and outreach secretary. 

Jefferson Plaza development proposal updates

Following the official business, Costell, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association shared some updates pertaining to the proposed Staller redevelopment of Jefferson Plaza, a development he feels will have a big impact on nearby communities.

“This significant development will, for better or worse, change the face and future of our community, as well as impacting Lower Port,” Costell shared. Back in March, Costell, on behalf of the PJSTCA, wrote a letter to Town of Brookhaven board and the town’s Highway Department [see “Port Jefferson Station/Terryville civic requests traffic study,” from May 3] asking for a comprehensive study to assess the influx of traffic from this proposal. 

Since then, the PJSTCA has heard back from Town of Brookhaven councilmember, Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), who agreed with the sentiments expressed in the letter and assured that the town “shares the concern about the cumulative impact these developments may have on traffic” and “would like to stay ahead of it.” 

Others chimed into Costell’s speech and shared concerns about the potential impact on traffic, as well as quality of life and affordability, while others emphasized the need for comprehensive planning and coordination — something Costell has advocated for since the developer’s initial proposal. 

“Our community has chosen to not throw up a blockade and say no more, not in our backyard,” Costell said. “We embrace and want to engage with a future that makes sense for our community, that we can digest properly. Without comprehensive planning and coordination, it could be a nightmare that’s going to impact our communities negatively.”

In recent years, the village has seen substantial development and its impacts on the community. Both, the Overbay and The Shipyard complexes have left an impact on the community as residents feel the respective developers were not overtly transparent in their building plans.

Local architect, Heather Brin, echoed these sentiments sharing notes from her expertise, “The Shipyard, downtown, is illegal in terms of the height,” Brin alleged. “The developers raised the level of the berm that the property sits on so they could build as high as they did.” 

Civic members have since questioned the Staller project’s viability, safety concerns and the importance of finding a balance between developer and community needs. The PJSTCA will host Staller Associates on June 20 at 7 p.m. at the Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station, to continue the community conversation.

Village issues going forward

Shifting gears, Hozyainova asked civic members to bring issues, concerns and wishes for the village to the forefront of the conversation. From this, several pressing issues resurfaced and some new ones emerged. 

Residents campaigned for increased walkability of the village, sharing notes of overgrown vegetation limiting sidewalk access. To this, Fils-Aimé asked for increased volunteerism and formation of committees dedicated to their respective concerns.

“Bring a proposal forward, somebody has to lead the charge,” she said. “We can have multiple committees, maybe a couple people are interested in that [issue] or maybe you want to bring them here and have them join the civic association.” 

Others shared their respective concerns over the Port Jefferson power plant and its future, capital projects in the village and in the school district, village constable’s office hours, the future of the country club and the East Beach bluff, keeping and restoring trees and other natural vegetation, were among some of the many issues brought to the metaphorical table. 

LIRR electrification

Adding to the growing list of village concerns, Port Jefferson resident Bruce Miller brought a motion before the civic requesting that Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) makes enforcement of the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act a priority of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Long Island Rail Road in their new 20-year plan. 

Miller explained in his motion that diesel locomotion is no longer acceptable transportation under this act and that riders along the Port Jefferson Branch are “forced to use their internal combustion vehicles to drive to Ronkonkoma for a decent ride,” 

In addition to concerns with ridership and the environment, Miller also detailed that the utilization of hydrogen rail or separate-car battery transportation could allow for a large industry based in New York state — to the benefit of many. 

The motion to approve Miller’s proposal asking Hochul and LIRR President Robert Free to meet with the civic association and Suffolk County’s elected representatives was approved and will be subsequently shared with all necessary parties. 

The next Port Jefferson Civic Association meeting will be held on Aug. 12 at the Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson St., at 6:30 p.m.

Trustee candidates Kyle Hill, Marie Parziale, and Xena Ugrinsky sit before the audience at the Meet the Candidates event on Tuesday, June 11. Photo by Aidan Johnson

By Aidan Johnson

The Port Jefferson Village trustee candidates — Xena Ugrinsky, Kyle Hill, and Marie Parziale — participated in a meet-the-candidates night at the Village Center June 11. The event was sponsored by the local chamber of commerce and the civic association. Two of the candidates will be elected, replacing Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay and trustee Drew Biondo.


Ugrinsky, who has lived in Port Jefferson for 12 years, said she feels “a deep connection to the [maritime] culture.” She has been an “active participant” in the trustee meetings over the past two years, led the election task force, sits on the budget and finance committee, and chairs the Port Jeff Power Plant Working Group. For three decades, she has had a career in finance, technology and the energy sector.

Parziale, who has lived in Port Jefferson for 29 years, works as the senior alumni career coach at Stony Brook University. She described her “superpower” as “connecting with people, seeing the best in them, and linking them with opportunities.” She also said that to solve Port Jefferson’s problems, “we need a long-term strategic plan and we must be part of the process,” and emphasized “the ability for our leaders to bring stakeholders and experts together to find solutions.”

Hill, who grew up in Farmingville and currently lives in Port Jefferson with his partner, said that he’s “been coming down to Port Jeff ever since I had my learner’s permit.” After finishing his master’s at Stony Brook University, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked on Capitol Hill for 10 years, “advancing mostly bipartisan policy projects.” He is a volunteer EMT with the Port Jefferson EMS and served on Port Jefferson’s election task force, where they “recommended leaving the term lengths at two years and also recommended adding term limits to the mayor’s office.”

Issues facing Port Jefferson

Parziale wants to hear “more of what the solutions are that the school district’s coming up with and have them present them to us.” She also sees flooding as a major issue, as well as the East Beach bluff, saying that a vote on the project was needed before continuing to phase two, and it was necessary to figure out why phase one did not work.

Hill believes that flooding is a main issue, especially in terms of the firehouse due to “incidents where they can’t get their trucks out” and having their equipment damaged. He also believes the bluff is “a true disaster waiting to happen,” saying he was the first candidate to call for a referendum on the future of bluff spending.

Ugrinsky said, “We can’t fix the school district’s problems,” but the trustees can help by solving the power plant’s problems, “which delivers revenue to the schools.” She additionally cited flooding as a main issue, saying that “we have a lot of residents who have experience in this area or problems that have already been solved.” She agrees that a referendum for the bluff is needed, and said that development was a main issue: “We really need to figure out how we preserve our maritime culture.”

Maryhaven property

Parziale said that Beechwood Homes is in discussion over the Maryhaven property, but nothing has been finalized. However, she would like to see starter homes built there “so that we have something that’s affordable for our young people,” adding that this could attract families with students.

Hill said that preserving the “historic nature of Port Jeff” is the most ideal choice, adding that “it would be great if we had seniors condos in just that building.” He also said that St. Charles is not “being the best neighbor in maintaining that property,” as he’s been hearing that the area has break-ins. He noted that the area is already zoned for housing, and it is only a board issue if there’s a zone change.

Ugrinsky said that it was important that any residences would be tax-paying residents, and that the developer does a traffic, water and sewer assessment before breaking ground.

Environment and development

Hill wants to “preserve every inch of open space that we have left in this village,” which can also be done by partnering with the hospitals to preserve their open space as well, and “encourage them not to just make more parking lots, but to find other solutions.” He said that there wasn’t much of a choice but to preserve open space, because the more space gets blacktopped over, the fewer places there are for the flooding to go.

Ugrinsky agreed that preserving the green space is necessary to help soak up the water. She also said that evaluation of the underground springs is needed, noting that some of the pipes underground “are too skinny for the volume of the water that’s going through, nor have they been cleaned in decades.” She added, “We need to develop smartly, with foot traffic, where stores can be put.”

Parziale said that the environment and development need to have a “very delicate balance between the two.” She is also for as much green space as possible, and for smart development, saying, “We need to work closely with our developers so that they’re giving back some of that space, and they’re doing the right thing with the property in all ways, including traffic, water, sewer and green space for people that are living in those spaces.”

Fiscal responsibility

Hill said that it was important to come up with ways to offset resident taxes, “and that’s making sure that our commercial areas are thriving, and taking advantage of things like metered parking,” which he said brings in the most revenue to the village after taxes. He said it was important to bring in revenue from more than just the residents, which would help to have “a more successful village, and people are going to want to be here.”

Ugrinsky said that “every municipality in the United States is dealing with declining revenues and increasing costs while trying to serve their populations.” She said that the village should look at the contracts it has in place, and that “there may be volume buying opportunities that people just have not had the time to look at.” She added that they should “stop bonds happening to us and really get the population involved with how we’re going to spend.”

Parziale said that she agreed with Ugrinsky on this topic.

The election is on Tuesday, June 18. Voting will take place at the Village Center from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Marie Parziale. Photo courtesy of Parziale

By Aidan Johnson

Port Jefferson resident Marie Parziale is running for the village board of trustees. Also known as Marie Johs — though her name will appear as “Marie Parziale” on the ballot — she announced her bid on May 29. She has been a resident of Port Jefferson since 1995 and works as the senior alumni career coach at Stony Brook University, along with being an elder and deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson.

In an interview, she recounted how she got involved with the village early into her residency.

“I was lucky enough to have [former mayor] Jeanne Garant living a few doors down [from me], and we had a neighborhood community association. Of course, Jeanne was involved, and I jumped right in,” Parziale said, also describing how she helped on Garant’s mayoral campaign.

Parziale also took pride in discussing how she was part of the committee that worked with the architect that designed the inside of the Village Center, along with being on the parking committee and Vision 2010, a committee created to envision and discuss the goals and future of Port Jefferson by the year 2030.

“When I look back at the happiest times in my life I’m giving,” she said. “I really wanted to jump right back and do community work.”

One of her biggest issues is the revitalization of the downtown and uptown areas of Port Jefferson.

“I work at Stony Brook, and the person who hired me is the vice president of student affairs now, so he oversees residential life, and we have an issue there that there’s not enough housing for students. Upper Port is one stop away [on the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Rail Road],” Parziale said.

She explained her vision of providing a place for graduate students in the uptown area, which would allow more room on the Stony Brook University campus for first- and second-year students.

“What’s missing in this village up there is … a good, vibrant energy, a young energy,” Parziale said, describing an area that would include coffee shops and bookstores.

Parziale also said that a stronger village police presence was needed in the Upper Port area.

“If code had a presence up there, there would be a level of safety, and then people will be willing to come in and invest. I know the developers are building, but we don’t want empty shops like we have down here,” she said.

Parziale praised Mayor Lauren Sheprow for “keeping us up to date on her promises,” though the candidate expressed a need to better amplify this to the community.

“I think what maybe could be better is that she’s got some wonderful things on the website that’s explaining it, but it sounds like people aren’t going there, so maybe a little bit better PR [to be able to] better amplify all that’s being done.”

Parziale is joined by two other candidates for village trustee, Xena Ugrinsky and Kyle Hill, for the two open seats. A meet the candidates night for the three candidates will take place on June 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center.

The election is on Tuesday, June 18, at the Village Center from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Port Jefferson’s East Beach on Jan. 25. Photo courtesy Myrna Gordon

By Sabrina Artusa

With further recession of the East Beach bluff threatening the safety and structural integrity of the Port Jefferson Country Club, tennis and pickleball courts and golf course, the Village of Port Jefferson held a town hall meeting May 28 at the Waterview catering hall to discuss how to proceed with the bluff revitalization plan initiated in 2021. This plan was interrupted by fierce storms that damaged the barrier wall the village spent two years and approximately $6 million building.

While portions of the wall held strong against runoff and winds, the damage has made some residents unsure if continuing with Phase II is the most effective solution. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is funding 75% of Phase II, but the specifics of the grant agreement have not been finalized.

Country club

Some residents question why money should be spent protecting a commercial business and argue for the demolition of the village-owned country club and rebuilding further from the cliff.

“There are a lot of people in this town who are hurting. Inflation is hurting middle American families … we talk about putting millions of tax dollars into this beautiful club, but for what?” one resident asked. 

“It’s not just an engineering issue. It’s a cost-benefit analysis for the entire community, and a referendum requires that we be included,” another person said.

The club, however, reportedly brings in over $300,000 of revenue to the village annually. Additionally, one does not have to be a member of the country club to visit.

“When you are repairing the bluff, what is it actually going to protect? It is going to protect a building that is revenue neutral at its worst and it sounds like it is a revenue positive facility,” another resident said.

Other options

Mayor Lauren Sheprow said that the wall held strong for the most part and that engineers and environmental scientists are being consulted on the most responsible course of action going forward.

Nick Thatos, co-founder of the Long Island-based Coastal Technologies, said that planting native species is key to preventing further erosion. He noted that North Shore native plants evolved “to stabilize” and “colonize this niche environment,” citing the complex root systems and cement-like excretions that can keep sand in place.

“Nature is incredible. We cannot engineer anything near what nature can accomplish,” he said.

Some said that the angle of the bluff needs to be corrected to prevent recession, while others said that retreating is the most dependable option.

“The only way to fortify the top is to retreat,” said a woman who has lived in Port Jefferson for over 30 years. “The golf and tennis are separate. Another building can be built.”

Sheprow is asking for volunteers for the village’s Citizens Commission on Erosion. “We want input, we don’t want to do it in a vacuum,” she said.

Port Jefferson Village Center. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Samantha Rutt

On the evening of May 29, a crime occurred near the village center, shedding light on gaps in the village hall’s communication protocols. The incident has raised questions and concerns among residents and officials about the effectiveness of current systems for public safety notifications.

Incident details

Between 6 and 6:30 p.m., a man who had been stabbed or slashed sought help at the Village Center near Harborfront Park. Covered in blood, the victim’s appearance alarmed bystanders. The assailants were reportedly still at large, fleeing in a white SUV. Suffolk County Police responded with several police cars and retrieved camera footage from the area to aid their investigation.

Compounding the situation, a senior awards ceremony and several sporting events were taking place at the nearby school. Despite the proximity of these events to the crime scene, school leadership was not informed about the incident, raising concerns about the safety and well-being of students and attendees.

Response timeline

Seeking clarity and answers, an email was sent to village officials on May 31. The email was addressed to Mayor Sheprow and trustees Loucks, Juliano, Kassay, and Biondo. All below events are reported from Traci Donnelly’s Facebook page.

May 31, 6:25 p.m.: Initial inquiry sent to village officials.

May 31, 8:26 p.m.: Trustee Loucks responded, indicating he was unaware of any official communication from the village. He learned about the incident from the manager of the village center and noted that more than 50 hours after the incident, trustees had still not been provided with any updates or information.

May 31, 9:11 p.m.: A follow-up email was sent, questioning the lack of community notification.

May 31, 9:32 p.m.: Trustee Biondo responded, suggesting that if the incident were serious enough, the Suffolk County Police Department would have notified the community.

June 1, 7:02 a.m.: A request was made for clear communication protocols and criteria for alert systems.

June 1, 1:51 p.m.: Trustee Biondo advised attending the next public meeting for discussions and deliberation with the trustees. It was reiterated that, according to the village attorney and mayor, public comments are not meant for deliberations.

Several concerns have emerged in the wake of this incident. No public alert was issued, despite the severity of the incident and its proximity to community events, no alert was sent to residents. A lack of real-time information as schools and trustees were not informed in real time. Trustee Loucks learned about the incident from the village center manager and other trustees were also uninformed prior to the email. Additionally, it was made evident there are communication gaps as the current strategy for notifying residents about serious incidents is unclear.

The incident has prompted several questions from concerned residents, in Donnelly’s post she asks “Why wasn’t the incident on May 29 considered a public safety issue warranting a Code Red alert? Who decides when these alerts are issued and who is on the village’s emergency response team? Were all trustees informed of the incident in real time?”

The community is calling for increased transparency and the development of a comprehensive communication plan with public input. Residents are encouraged to email trustees directly for accurate information and to avoid relying on social media for critical updates.

“It is important to have communication between village officials and residents. We are looking to wirk alongside residents to have an effective emergency response system in place,” village trustee Rebecca Kassay said.

The email exchange regarding this incident is available upon request for anyone interested in complete transparency.