By Aidan Johnson
With two trustee seats up for grabs on June 20, the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a Meet the Candidates event at the Village Center Tuesday evening, June 14.
The candidates had their first Meet the Candidates forum last month during an event hosted by the Port Jefferson Civic Association. The two declared trustee candidates, incumbent trustee Stan Loucks and former village clerk Bob Juliano, tackled a range of subjects throughout the night. The following offers insight into a few key areas.
Juliano said any bond issue or proposal for changing terms of office should go out to public referendum. He maintained the public should have input on matters immediately impacting them, such as taxes.
Besides publishing legal notices, Juliano said that he would “really just plaster the village and let them know” that a public hearing was taking place.
Loucks said that any large project should have a public referendum, agreeing that the changing of terms from two to four years should have had a public referendum.
Loucks addressed the need for more green spaces in Port Jeff. He said the village should “go after” them when they become available, including the undeveloped parcel located immediately east of Mather Hospital.
Loucks also touched upon the underutilization of Roosevelt Park, which he suggested was a decent size green area currently serving little or no use. “Residents in those areas are more hesitant about the parking,” he said, “but that is one green area that we are going to begin to use.”
Juliano said he would support the village obtaining the undeveloped parcel near Mather. While the former clerk said it was Mather Hospital’s right to take down the trees last year, he suggested that Port Jefferson should acquire some of that property and keep it green to help the environment.
Juliano also addressed the perceived lack of open space left in the village, saying that if space became available, he would advocate that the village take a look at it to see if it’s feasible to acquire, “even if it’s just purchased and just kept in its natural state.”
Decommissioning the Port Jeff Power Station
Juliano said that if the Port Jefferson Power Station were to shutter, the village would still receive some taxes on the property. Furthermore, Juliano said he would advocate seeing if there was another use for the land before additional public revenues declined.
Loucks concurred, saying that he didn’t know what it would cost to decommission the plant but adding that it’s “beautiful waterfront property.”
Loucks said he does not believe Port Jefferson has overdeveloped. Instead, he said there is a need for housing, citing Conifer’s Crossing Apartments project that had 1,400 applicants for around 40 units.
Juliano also agrees that there is a need for housing in the village but advocated for condominiums instead of apartments. He also said the Building Department was in disarray, and a senior planner and senior engineer were necessary, along with a strengthening of the Code Department.
Industrial Development Agency
Juliano said that the village has no say as far as what happens with the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency but that he has a plan to make sure if the IDA grants property tax relief, then they will start at whatever taxes they are paying now and not go down to zero. What it should be, he said, is if they’re paying a certain amount of dollars, they’ll continue to pay that, and then any exemptions rise from that down.
Loucks highlighted the little control the village has over the IDA. He said that they can go to their meetings and make recommendations, but ultimately the IDA makes its own decisions.
Port Jeff Village residents will weigh in on these two candidates Tuesday, June 20. Voting will occur at the Village Center from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.