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Charlie Lefkowitz

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) has announced the Summer Soirée fundraising gala will return with a cocktail hour, dinner and silent and live auction at 6 p.m. on June 27 at the historic Three Village Inn in Stony Brook. The primary purpose of the fundraising is to support the ongoing restoration of the beloved Stony Brook Grist Mill (c. 1751). Any additional funds raised will support WMHO education programs and invasive species projects sponsored by WMHO. 

This year’s event will be honoring three exceptional individuals who are WMHO supporters and community leaders: Charlie Lefkowitz, Barbara Damianos and the Damianos Family, and Michele Miller.

Charlie Lefkowitz is Chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority, President of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce and President of CALCO Development and Louis Lefkowitz Realty Inc. Despite this hectic work life, he remains very involved in community endeavors. He resides in Setauket with his family.

Barbara Damianos raised her five children in Head of the Harbor and now resides in Port Jefferson. She is known for her international charity work that has taken her to countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Ukraine, Peru, and Russia. The highlight of Barbara Damianos’s professional life was the establishment of her family’s wineries. The Damianos Family collectively runs three vineyards: Pindar Vineyards, Duck Walk Vineyards, and Jason’s Vineyard.

Michele Miller is an Educator at Selden Middle School. She has been integral to the success of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s (WMHO) Youth Corps. Her daughter Leslie, an attorney who worked for the Bloomberg Administration and now works for a non-profit, was one of its first members. The Youth Corps is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. Michele resides in Setauket.

“These honorees were selected because of their good works in the Long Island community and beyond”, said Dr. Richard Rugen, Chairman of WMHO.

For tickets and sponsorship information for the Summer Soirée, visit www.wmho.org or call 631-751-2244. 

File photo by Raymond Jani

By Aramis Khosronejad

In March, nearly 50 Long Island projects, totaling $87 million, were approved in both the first and second tranche of appropriations bills that the U.S. Congress approved. 

U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY1) was able to secure monies to carry through these projects with other local congressmen, Andrew Garbarino (R-NY2) and Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY4), and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). 

According to LaLota, after “months of relentless advocacy, including the crafting of detailed proposals and concerted efforts directed at members of the House Appropriations Committee,” they were finally able to integrate various initiatives and final appropriations bills. 

For some time now, the water infrastructure on Long Island has been brought into question and, by extension, the quality of water available for citizens. Suffolk County has seen protests over the past year concerning the basic right each citizen has to clean water [See story, “Suffolk County Legislature recesses, blocks referendum on wastewater fund,” July 27, 2023, TBR News Media]. The conflict has evolved into a political issue. 

The FY2024 Consolidated Appropriations Act passed with “overwhelming” bipartisan support in the House. LaLota described the local funding as “a significant milestone in our commitment to serving the people of Suffolk County.”

Included are the Town of Brookhaven’s Port Jefferson Harbor dredging and wave wall construction projects, for which $1.5 million has been secured. “This funding will cover the costs of much-needed structural improvements to maintain the harbor,” LaLota said.

The town will benefit from another sum of $1.5 million for sewer treatment facility expansion secured by Garbarino. The congressman also secured $2 million for a Suffolk County sewer expansion project.

A further $1.25 million has been secured by LaLota for the Suffolk County Water Authority’s Westhampton Water Main Extension project. Old Country Road in Westhampton, which serves as an area housing 64 homes and families, has long been identified by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services for polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, contamination. An allocation of the federal monies will be used to ensure access to clean, regularly tested drinking water for affected households.

Charlie Lefkowitz, chairman of Suffolk County Water Authority, emphasized that “clean drinking water is the right of every New Yorker but making these projects affordable is critical to giving access to that resource.” 

“Thanks to this funding we will soon be able to extend high-quality public water to these families, giving them peace of mind every time they turn on the tap,” he added. 

LaLota and Lefkowitz, along with their teams, continue to “maintain our unwavering commitment to addressing water quality issues and prioritizing the well-being of every Long Island family,” LaLota explained in an email. With the passing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the considerable federal funding that comes with it, the future of the water infrastructure on Long Island looks brighter.

By Samantha Rutt

Suffolk County Water Authority hosted the next installment of its WaterTalk series on Feb. 20 at Amityville Public Library. The event allowed customers to learn more about their drinking water and engage in open dialogue with their water provider. 

“Our drinking water continues to be a topic of discussion in the media, and we believe it is important for residents to have an open dialogue with their water provider to learn more,” SCWA Chairman Charles Lefkowitz said.

The WaterTalk series features a panel of experts who discuss various topics, including the quality of drinking water, the implementation of new infrastructure to enhance water service and quality, and the importance of conservation. 

SCWA’s water quality and lab services director, Tom Schneider, and customer growth coordinator, John Marafino, represented the authority at the event. 

“Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public benefit corporation operating under the public authority law,” Marafino stated to open the meeting. “We serve about 1.2 million customers, and we began operations in 1951. We operate as a nonprofit, and we’re one of the country’s largest groundwater suppliers.”

Following the opening remarks and brief background of the authority, Schneider made a PowerPoint presentation to discuss the current infrastructure plans around the county, touching on water main management and emerging projects, and pump station projects.

Water quality

During Schneider’s presentation, attendees could ask questions, some of the most frequently asked centered around drinking water quality and what the authority adds and detects within our drinking water. Concerns for fluoride inclusion and potency arose from several attendees. Schneider eased the worry by explaining what the water authority does to regulate water quality.

“We add very small amounts of chlorine to our water. The chlorine kills any germs or bacteria that might be present in the water mains and as the water is delivered to you. The water as it comes from the ground is free of harmful bacteria,” Schneider said. “We also add a chemical called [hydrated] lime. The water we pump from our aquifers is slightly acidic, which can damage the pipes in your home over a long time. [Hydrated] lime makes the water less acidic, protecting the pipes in your home from corrosion.”

Schneider continued explaining the danger of the bacteria that are commonly found in untreated water:

“It’s keeping water safe. You don’t want to grow bacteria — bacteria is the stuff that will get you sick. There are no bacteria in the groundwater, and we want to ensure that the distribution system is safe. That’s why the chlorine is added, by law.” 

The director recommended using filtration systems like ones built into refrigerators for those who are more sensitive to the added chemicals.

Schneider continued his presentation by touching on the groundwater laboratory — what it is, what it does and how it tests Suffolk County’s groundwater.

“We are consistently considered the largest groundwater laboratory in the country because we have 600 wells. We have 600 wells on 240 pieces of property,” Schneider explained. 

“We test samples at the wellhead. We’re testing what’s in the source water and what’s in the groundwater before we do anything to it,” Schneider said. “Last year, we did 91,000 samples for about 190,000 different tests. We tested for 414 different parameters, more than what’s regulated. We have such a great laboratory, we have a lot of technical equipment, we have a lot of good scientists, we’re doing more than what’s required.”

He mentioned that if there is an environmental concern near any of SCWA’s wells or if traces of a regulated constituent have been found at a well site, SCWA will test at a greater frequency.

Schneider explained that when wells are in need of remediation, SCWA will use treatment systems, such as granular activated carbon, to remove contaminants from the water supply so the water SCWA serves always meets state and federal regulations. 

In addition to the monitoring that SCWA does on a regular basis, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services also routinely performs tests of the public water supply at the wellhead and at various parts of the distribution system. The purpose of all this monitoring is to ensure that the highest quality water is served to consumers.

Another topic of concern addressed by the director was how safe is bottled water, a question the water authority has been addressing on a more regular basis. 

“Bottled water actually has less regulation than drinking water,” Schneider explained. “It’s not regulated by the EPA, it’s regulated by the FDA but they have different rules. They’re not required to test for a lot of the emerging contaminants like we do in New York state.”

“Now there’s the concern about bottles — so when they manufacture the bottle, the manufacturing process imposes plastic microbeads in the water when opening and closing the tap and also releases plastic in the water,” he added. 

Schneider urged everyone to be mindful of consuming plastics, reminding attendees that it is more cost-effective to get your own container and not deal with the waste from plastic.

“Plastic is not really recyclable like they say — it ends up in our landfills and oceans,” Schneider said.

The SCWA encouraged all interested residents to participate in their events in person or virtually, emphasizing the importance of understanding and safeguarding the community’s drinking water, as it is one of Suffolk County’s most precious natural resources.

Residents interested in attending a WaterTalk can register by emailing [email protected]. The WaterTalk is also accessible virtually through a link available on SCWA’s website for those unable to attend in person. For more information about the event, visit SCWA’s website, www.scwa.com.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announces $479 million in grants for water infrastructure projects. Photo courtesy the Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

As on any other weekday, traffic buzzed along Vanderbilt Motor Parkway in Hauppauge on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 12. Yet unknown to those in their vehicles, it was no ordinary weekday.

At the Suffolk County Water Authority’s Education Center and Laboratory, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) joined public officials, environmentalists and SCWA staff to launch $479 million in grants statewide to invest in clean water.

The program earmarks $30 million for the state’s clean water septic system replacements, directing $20 million of that sum into Suffolk County. Another $17 million will support protecting drinking water from emerging contaminants, Hochul added.

The governor projected the initiative would spur 24,000 new jobs statewide and save ratepayers $1.3 billion annually.

“This is a great day for the people of this county and the people of this state,” she said. “It’s an investment in our environment. It’s an investment in justice. And it’s an investment in our future for all of our children.”

From left, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone; Gov. Kathy Hochul; Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment; and Suffolk County Water Authority board chair Charlie Lefkowitz. Photo courtesy the Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Outgoing Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) reported that 360,000 homes and businesses within the county operate on aging septic systems and cesspools, contaminating the sole-source aquifer on Long Island. He said this stimulus, coupled with a $10 million investment by the county Legislature, would enable the county government to fund septic replacements in 2024 and 2025.

“This is an exciting moment because we can see the path to solving the crisis,” Bellone said, adding the funds would bolster the clean water septic industry in Suffolk while advancing the administration’s two primary objectives of establishing a countywide wastewater management district and the Clean Water Restoration Fund — blocked by the county Legislature earlier this year.

SCWA board chair Charlie Lefkowitz said the funds would assist the public utility in its mission of eliminating emerging contaminants from the drinking supply.

“This announcement today is historic,” he said. “It’s historic that the sewer projects, the septics that contaminate and get into our bays and streams and harbors — we can finally address it.”

He added, “We look at some of these large infrastructure projects that we’re working on — sewer projects, the electrification of the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Jeff Branch — these are projects that when you look back 100, 150 years and none of us are here, they’ll say, ‘That group of people really did it the right way.’”

Suffolk County Water Authority officials say Advanced Oxidation Process systems, such as those seen above, will help flush out 1,4-dioxane and other emerging contaminants from local drinking water. Photo courtesy SCWA

By Raymond Janis

[email protected]

In a secluded residential block on Northport’s McKinney Avenue lies an advanced water treatment center masquerading as a barn.

At this site, representatives from the Suffolk County Water Authority joined state and local public officials for a press event on Thursday, Aug. 24, announcing eight new high-tech water filtration systems for local drinking water.

THIS IS NOT A BARN: The exterior of the SCWA’s new state-of-the-art water treatment plant. Photo courtesy Suffolk County Water Authority

Charlie Lefkowitz, chairman of the SCWA Board, said the eight systems employ Advanced Oxidation Process, or AOP, technologies capable of treating and removing emerging contaminants — such as 1,4-dioxane — from the groundwater.

“I’m always asked by the media what is our biggest threat,” he said. “Aging infrastructure and emerging contaminants,” both of which are areas addressed through the AOP systems.

The SCWA Board chairman also noted the measures taken to comport this industrial complex with the surrounding area.

“Just look at the historical character of this building,” Lefkowitz said. “It doesn’t look like your normal commercial building throughout Suffolk County.”

He added, “This is a great moment for water treatment overall, for the Huntington community as well as every resident of Suffolk County.”

New York State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James), who has previously served on the SCWA Board, emphasized the continual need to invest in and develop aging water treatment systems.

He pointed to the recently passed $4.2 billion New York State Environmental Bond Act [see page A12] as a potential funding source to keep this infrastructure up to date.

“We want to make sure that we received our fair share,” the state senator said. “Clean air, clean water and green jobs — that is so important that we receive the money.”

New York State Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) also attended the event. He detailed the lifespan of the process from its planning stages to its completion.

“It’s very special when you get to see something that goes from some blueprints and some pipes to a plan and watching it through the policy effort to ultimately being able to make it happen and cut the ribbon,” Stern said.

Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) tied the announcement to an ongoing local initiative to modernize infrastructure.

“Whether it’s on the highways, the roads or the waterfront, it’s all about infrastructure and maintenance, and I know everybody in the town is pulling in the same direction,” he said. “All you have to do is look around at this state-of-the-art facility to know that this money is well spent.”

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, highlighted the various threats against Long Island’s sole-source aquifer, referring to the new treatment center as “a needful clean water victory for the public.”

“1,4-dioxane is a highly toxic chemical,” she noted. “Having Suffolk County Water Authority be an aggressive partner to make sure they’re filtering that water for Suffolk residents is a pleasure, and it’s a gift.”

Despite the eight new treatment systems in Huntington, Lefkowitz suggested the work of SCWA to be “far from done.”

He indicated that the water authority is simultaneously completing nine other AOP systems throughout the county, with hopes to bring these online soon.

The SCWA Board is exploring a third billing tier targeting excessive water consumption

Last month, Charlie Lefkowitz, above, took over as chair of the Suffolk County Water Authority Board. He says the SCWA Board is exploring a third billing tier targeting excessive water consumption. Photo courtesy SCWA

By Raymond Janis & Aidan Johnson

As the county enters the hottest and driest months of the year, the Suffolk County Water Authority is urging residents to take preemptive measures to help mitigate potential water shortages.

Last month, commercial real estate developer, Three Village Chamber of Commerce president and former Town of Brookhaven Councilman Charlie Lefkowitz, a Setauket resident, took the helm of the SCWA Board. He takes the reins of the public benefit corporation at a critical juncture in its history.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tracked record lows in rainfall throughout the region in 2022, with the county experiencing its sixth driest July on record.

In an exclusive interview, the newly installed SCWA chair maintained that while clean water is essential, the county is facing growing water quality and quantity issues. And with summer weather approaching, he said the water authority’s existing infrastructure would also be feeling the heat.

“Being on the board for the last year, I got some really good insight on how important protecting our groundwater and the constitutional right of everyone in Suffolk County to have clean drinking water,” he said.

Lefkowitz described the county’s water situation as being “very unique,” as it’s one of the largest water districts with a sole-source aquifer, whereby ratepayers receive 100% of their water from the ground.

“We have 1.2 million customers,” he said. “Eighty-five percent of the residents of Suffolk are customers of Suffolk County Water,” adding that the rest primarily rely upon private wells or smaller water districts.

But in some areas, notably along the East End, prolonged droughts coupled with heavy water consumption can put an undue strain on SCWA’s infrastructure.

“The East End and the North Fork get very stressed this time of year,” he said. “When you have pristine lawns, gardening, pools, waterfalls and multiple geothermal” air-conditioning units, the excess strain on SCWA’s pumps can become severe, creating water shortages in some areas of the county.

To counteract these trends, Lefkowitz stressed the need for residents systemwide to limit their water use.

SCWA’s existing billing schematic is two-tiered, placing an upcharge upon customers who exceed 75,000 gallons in a single billing cycle. Given the severity of water quantity challenges as of late, Lefkowitz said the SCWA board is now exploring creating a third tier.

“This is for excessive use of water,” he said. “When you look at someone who has a single-family home of 20-40,000 square feet, but they’re using millions of gallons of water, we have to really look at” disincentivizing overconsumption of water.

Lefkowitz said he is often asked why he promotes water conservation, as the initiative could likely diminish revenues. Given the environmental and financial realities, he maintained the environmental pluses still outweigh the economic minuses.

“We’re in that season now,” he said. “At the end of the day, water conservation is really important.”

On June 13, members of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce let the community know that the area is open for business. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

Members from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce want the community to know that they are open and ready to serve.

Last week, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) giving the green light for shops on Long Island to open their doors during Phase 2, the chamber wants to assure everyone that these small businesses are taking the extra precautions in the wake of the pandemic.

“They are providing gloves to customers and employees, taking temperatures, wearing masks and making sure masks are enforced,” said Jane Taylor, executive director of the chamber. “They’re being careful about social distancing and encouraging sidewalk sales or outdoor dining where available.”

Overseeing small businesses in Setauket, Stony Brook, East Setauket and Old Field, Taylor said that supporting local establishments during these trying times is beneficial to everyone.

“These businesses are our neighbors and friends,” she said. “They’re the ones who are the backbone of our communities.”

Charlie Lefkowitz, president of the chamber, said that shopping small businesses benefits the economic growth of Long Island.

“It supports our local economy and keeps our great community vibrant,” he said.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health have a new set of guidelines that do not allow more than a designated number of customers in at a time, as well as no indoor dining as of yet, Lefkowitz is encouraging people to partake in what the Three Village area has to offer.

“If it’s done in a safe, social distanced manner by both the owner and the public, I support it strongly,” he said.

His favorite spot? The Three Village Inn’s outdoor seating section.

“It was outstanding,” he said. “We’re supporting our neighbors and the service was unparalleled.”

Amazing Olive in Port Jefferson village is just one of many businesses which has turned to online orders as nonessential shops have been closed. Photo by Kyle Barr

As Long Island continues to take steps toward reopening and some sense of normalcy, municipalities are aiming to help small businesses and their financial futures. The Town of Brookhaven has created a post-COVID-19 task force for economic recovery in an effort to revitalize the downtown areas and help small businesses affected by the pandemic, many of which are receiving no income at all during this time.

The Small Business Recovery Task Force is made up of business owners, chamber of commerce representatives, business experts and other officials. 

Barbara Ransome, executive director of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said the task force gives them the opportunity to come together and be on the same page on how to help these small businesses. 

“We all have similar concerns and it’s important that we rally together and have a unified plan,” she said. 

The task force has continued to comply with feedback from local business owners. A complaint they have brought up is the state’s process of phasing in business reopenings.

“They could come up with a formula that could be based on square footage of a business and safety measures.”

— Barbara Ransome

Ransome said the state’s plan favors big box stores. While large retailers like Target and Walmart have been able to stay open, smaller merchants, who sell many of the same products, have been forced to close. =

“Those businesses don’t have that ability right now [to reopen],” she said. 

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and the Suffolk County Supervisors’ Association has sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) calling on him to come up with a consistent way of judging businesses. 

“They could come up with a formula that could be based on square footage of a business and safety measures,” she said. 

The group has also called on elected officials to help with insurance coverage issues.

Educating business owners, merchants and customers on social distancing and other best practices is another area the task force is focusing on. 

“It’s all our responsibility to make sure we are on the same page,” said Charlie Lefkowitz, the president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce,. 

One idea they’ve proposed is creating a public service announcement in coordination with the town. Lefkowitz said it would inform the public on safety measures, social distancing compliance and other information. They would also use it as an opportunity to send out a positive message of unity. 

“The hardest thing we will have to figure out is how we are going to social distance,” he said. “We are trying to help these main street and small businesses.”

In addition, the task force is looking at ways to ease the reopening process for owners. Capacity and the number of customers a business can serve could play a huge role in how they do so, given the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. 

Lefkowitz said he has been working with the town officials on a way to allow business owners to temporarily extend their store space either by permits, tweaking town code or drafting new legislation. 

“Some businesses might be able to use walkways and put merchandise outside, or they could set up a tent outside in the parking lot,” he said. 

The chamber of commerce president has a draft legislation proposal that would increase the floor area ratio of a business, which would help in making more selling space. 

Lefkowitz said restaurants were just one type of business that could benefit from increase in space. 

“They can be more efficient with indoor and outdoor space,” he said. “Whatever the capacity is, you may have customers that might not feel comfortable going inside.” 

Long Island has taken steps toward reaching Phase 1 of Cuomo’s New York Forward plan for reopening its economy, meeting five of seven benchmarks required by the state. The governor’s plan to reopen consists of four phases which include different categories. Restaurants are in Phase 3. 

“Whatever the capacity is, you may have customers that might not feel comfortable going inside.”

— Charlie Lefkowitz

Michael Ardolino, a past president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said businesses will be facing different challenges when they reopen. 

“How will places like beauty salons and barbershops fare when everyone is in close proximity to each other?” he said. “These owners will want to be able to get their business going.”

Ardolino said he could envision a scenario where those types of businesses take a certain number of customers by appointment only.  

“We will continue to monitor all businesses and may have to plan for what might be a new business climate,” he said.  

Owners hope business reopens sooner rather than later, with summer close by. 

“As the warmer weather gets closer it will be challenging to keep people at bay,” Ransome said. “We have to continue to push government leaders, need to continue to make these phases and hit these benchmarks so we can reopen. We don’t want to be going backward instead of going forward.”

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting and grand-opening celebration for Gypsy Hair Lounge on Feb. 27. Established in 2015, the salon recently moved from its Port Jefferson Station location on Nesconset Highway to the Three Village Shopping Center at 1389 Route 25A in East Setauket. The salon specializes in creative coloring, highlights, blowouts, extensions and event styling. 

Chamber members Michael Ardolino, Jane Taylor and Charlie Lefkowitz presented a Certificate of Congratulations to owner Nicole Digilio and welcomed her and her staff to the community. 

Hours of operation are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 631-374-6397.

Port Jefferson's stop on the Long Island Rail Road. File photo by Erika Karp

An idea decades in the making could take a major step forward by the end of 2018.

It still may be years before electrification happens, if it ever happens at all, but momentum is building toward funding being secured for a study determining the feasibility of electrifying the Long Island Rail Road on the Port Jefferson line from Huntington to the stations east by the end of this year.

Mitchell Pally, the Suffolk County representative on the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s board of trustees, said the LIRR has already appropriated funds to support the study, adding state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has also succeeded in appropriating state funds toward the plan.

“The support of the communities involved is essential to making this work,” Pally said in an interview. “The railroad is very supportive.”

Community support for exploring the possibility of electrifying the line, which currently allows trains to run on diesel fuel east of Huntington, has been building in recent years, although the idea has been on the radar for North Shore residents at least as far back as the 1980s.

Anthony Figliola, an East Setauket resident, former Brookhaven Town deputy supervisor and vice president of Empire Government Strategies, a company that provides strategic counsel on governmental relations and practices to municipalities, has been leading a community coalition advocating for a feasibility study for about the last year, he said. The group, which Figliola said has been informally calling itself the North Shore Business Alliance, has been lobbying elected officials and community organizations like civic associations and chambers of commerce throughout the relevant territories in an effort to build public support for and attention on the idea. Figliola said he hopes the funding for a study will be in place by the end of the year. The study is expected to cost approximately $12 million, he said.

“It’s ripe, the community wants it,” Figliola said. “We’re very grateful for all that Mitch is doing to advocate on behalf of this.”

Figliola identified Charlie Lefkowitz, vice president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce and real estate developer, as one of the other community members leading the charge for electrification.

“It’s a long time coming,” Lefkowitz said of progress on the feasibility study. “It was a collaborative effort on many fronts. The direct beneficiaries of it will be the communities.”

The study would examine how much faster trains on the North Shore line would reach Penn Station in Manhattan with electrification from Port Jeff, select a new rail yard to house the electric trains among other logistical particulars. Currently, the LIRR rail yard is off Hallock Avenue in Port Jefferson, though several officials have indicated electrification would require the relocation of that yard and the Port Jeff train station. The former site of Lawrence Aviation Industries has been suggested as a possible new rail yard and train station.

On April 4 Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R), Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Smithtown Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) sent a joint letter to the New York State Legislature’s Long Island delegation to express their support for the feasibility study due to potential economic and environmental benefits. They cited that the Port Jefferson and Huntington branch lines have the highest ridership, about 18.7 million annually, of any line in the LIRR service territory, according to the most recent LIRR Annual Ridership Report released in 2015. Figliola said his coalition had lobbied for the support of the three supervisors.

“I think it has legs,” state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said of electrification. “It’s such a good idea that I think it should happen.”