Perspective: Raising the stakes for this year’s village elections
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