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Comsewogue Public Library

Above, presenters during Career Day at Terryville Road Elementary School. Photo courtesy Meaghan Reilly
By Meaghan Reilly

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

Students at Comsewogue’s Terryville Road Elementary School had the opportunity to consider this critical question and get some firsthand experience during Career Day on Thursday, Nov. 17. 

Unable to host its generous presenters throughout the pandemic, the school’s biggest event of the year was reinstituted successfully once again.

“We were so happy to welcome our community members to present to the students at Terryville,” said principal Annemarie Sciove. “The students were excited and eager to learn from each professional. It was a memorable experience.”

Above, a Suffolk County police officer poses with students during the event. Photo courtesy Meaghan Reilly

A total of 26 professional presenters met in the school media center for brief refreshments before being escorted to their classrooms by two student ambassadors from each class. 

The halls were full of excited students and enthusiastic Terryville faculty. All students were invited to dress for the occasion. Some students chose to dress for their intended future careers, while others donned their finest attire. 

Each presenter was greeted with a welcome poster before setting up materials and presentations related to their profession. 

Throughout the event, students had a chance to pose questions and try their hands at some of the skills of various trades. To name a few, in landscaper Barry Rose’s demonstration, fifth grade students had the chance to plant seeds. Fourth graders got to try on FDNY bunker gear during their time with fire chief Tom Reilly. 

Inflatable dragons got sent home with third graders who participated in an interactive story time from children’s librarian Debbie Bush of the Comsewogue Public Library. Some students even got to have real casts put on their fingers by Dr. Hayley Queller, internal medicine and sports medicine specialist based in East Setauket.

Presenters consisted of Terryville parents, community members and friends of the Comsewogue School District. There were regulars and newcomers alike. While setting up in the morning, Suffolk County police officer Rob Coffman shared that he’d been presenting at Terryville’s Career Day for nearly 15 years. 

Meanwhile, Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) expressed his appreciation at being invited for the first time. Other presenters included geology researchers from Stony Brook University, a service dog provider, an MTA traffic controller, dance and martial arts instructors, an ocean researcher, a veterinarian, nurses, actors and local entrepreneurs. 

Also attending were a psychologist, a respiratory therapist, a professional lacrosse player and a health teacher from Comsewogue High School. 

It was a wonderful day, and students are already looking forward to celebrating this tradition again next year.

Meaghan Reilly is the library media specialist at Terryville Road Elementary School.

Pictured above, the PJSTCA executive board. File photo by Raymond Janis

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association gathered at Comsewogue Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 15, for its monthly general meeting.

Representing the Comsewogue School District, students Kylie and Max delivered a string of reports on various upcoming events within the district. Kylie referred to the high school’s recent annual Trick-or-Treat Street as “a huge success.” 

Max reported parent-teacher conferences would take place on Monday, Nov. 21, from 5 to 8 p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 23, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Community members are welcome to attend Spanish Heritage Night on Dec. 9 from 7-9 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

Ed Garboski, president of PJSTCA, announced that the area had received a grant for streetlights along Route 112. Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) facilitated the funding, according to the civic’s leadership. 

These funds, combined with money made available to the community through the new Nissan dealership, should cover lights for the entire strip. The body passed a resolution to draft a letter thanking the councilmember and his staff for their efforts to illuminate the corridor.

PJSTCA vice president Sal Pitti announced a recent “huge arrest” related to catalytic converter theft, a crime trend throughout the region. Pitti reported that law enforcement arrested 21 individuals in a multistate initiative, charging 13, two of whom were from Suffolk County.

“This was a Department of Justice operation that was done with multiple agencies across multiple states,” he said. “Mind you, this does not mean it stops. They got a lot of people that we assume are the main people, but they might not be.” He added, “Arrests are being made on it, but we don’t know where it will go from there.”

Garboski discussed spring plans for the community garden near the middle school. “If anyone has ideas, wants to volunteer or help get it moving for the spring, please let us know,” he said.

The members also discussed a 5-acre, 40-unit planned retirement community to be developed on the corner of Terryville and Old Town roads. Civic member Lou Antoniello, who was involved in the 2008 Comsewogue Hamlet Comprehensive Plan, described the historical background behind this local development discussion.

“Back in 2008, the people who owned that [parcel] were the people who owned the shopping center adjacent to it,” he said. “During the hamlet study, they made it known that they wanted to build a shopping center next to the one they already owned.” He added, “The people who lived in that community said they didn’t want it.”

Through a series of compromises made during the time of the hamlet study, the community and the property owners agreed upon zoning that property for a small retirement community. Since then, the Town of Brookhaven has rezoned that land to PRC Residence District.

Civic member Ira Costell suggested the community take a greater interest in that development as the process works through the Brookhaven Planning Board.

“That owner has an as-of-use right to develop that property in that fashion,” he said. “It’s going to be important that we pay attention to the site plan review process at the Planning Board level to decide if we want to influence how that development proceeds.”

Later this month, the civic’s executive team will meet with town officials and Planning Board members. Asking the members how to represent the interests of the community, Pitti offered that it would be wise if he and others pressed the town to limit all new development to residential rather than commercial.

Garboski and Pitti announced during the October meeting they had recently sold their homes, triggering a reshuffling of the civic’s top two posts. [See story, “Port Jefferson Station/Terryville civic … shake-up at the helm.”]

Inquiring about the coming transition process for the civic leadership, Costell proposed beginning those procedures now. 

“Perhaps we can start to talk about a transition group or committee that can join in on some of these conversations and shape where things go in the next several months,” he said. “I think we really need to have a coalition that we can build here so that we can move forward given the changing tenor of the times here.”

Responding, Pitti suggested that he and Garboski intend to finish this year as usual and begin working with possible successors starting in 2023. However, he stated that bringing other members to the upcoming meeting on the Terryville Road PRC development would be unwise.

Costell’s concerns centered less around any one meeting and more around the overall transition process. “I’m trying to indicate that we don’t want to throw somebody into the deep end of the pool next year,” he said. “I’m looking for a principle, an idea, for how we can incorporate some of the people who want to shape this community beyond your time here.”

Finding some common ground, Garboski said members must decide who will fill these top positions given the demands and constraints. “Amongst yourselves, first figure out who wants to take this over,” he said.

Resolving the matter, Costell offered that the organization is working toward a resolution. “You’re making the perfect point that some sort of transition is an ideal circumstance,” he said. “If you’re comfortable with how that’s happening, and the group is as well, that’s fine by me.”

The civic will reconvene Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m

Pictured above, the PJSTCA executive board. Photo by Raymond Janis

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association met Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Comsewogue Public Library for its monthly general meeting covering various topics.

Due to a recent shortage of Suffolk County COPE officers, civic vice president Sal Pitti, whose background is in law enforcement, delivered the public safety report. He concentrated on the crime trend of catalytic converter thefts in the area.

“It’s a multiagency, multilevel thing going on, and we’re not the only ones,” he said. “They’re getting hit upstate. They’re getting hit downstate. They’re getting hit everywhere in New York and in other states.” 

The most popular models among auto thieves, according to Pitti, are the older models of the Honda Accord, Honda CR-V, and Ford F-150. Given the uptick in this phenomenon, he announced the Suffolk County Police Department is exploring an auto crimes unit.

“The last time I talked to the commissioner [Rodney Harrison], he told me he’s working on establishing an auto crimes unit … that can get more in-depth, more cross agency and get more information from other places,” he said.

A student representative from Comsewogue School District announced an upcoming Halloween event at the high school. “This upcoming Friday, Oct. 28, from 4 to 6 [p.m.] is Trick or Treat Street at the high school with diverse clubs and organizations creating a safe environment for the young trick-or-treaters,” he said.

With news from the library, Comsewogue director Debbie Engelhardt announced that Andrea Malchiodi has recently assumed the role of the assistant library director. 

“Andrea brings excellent experience to the library, most recently having worked at the Lindenhurst Memorial Library as a department head and prior to that at Mastics-Moriches-Shirley [Community Library],” Engelhardt said.

Also making an appearance was Bruce Miller, former Port Jefferson Village trustee. Miller gave a string of updates on the ongoing efforts to electrify the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Jefferson Branch line.

Though MTA is funneling billions of dollars throughout New York City and Nassau County, Miller held that the railroad is showing little concern for the needs of its North Shore riders.

“There’s $10 billion on the table for the MTA, and they don’t show a lot of preference for the Port Jefferson/North Shore line,” Miller said. “They’re stripping off ridership from this line here, who are commuting to Ronkonkoma and some [going] as far as Hicksville or Huntington to get a decent ride.”

Responding to this assessment, Charlie McAteer, the civic organization’s corresponding secretary, concurred. “I think your point is well taken that we’re losing ridership because it’s inconvenient,” he said.

Pitti chimed in, discussing how electrification would tie into an overall plan to redevelop the Lawrence Aviation property. However, according to him, the gears can only begin to turn with a commitment from the MTA-LIRR.

“Everything is set and ready to move forward, but we all know how everything moves,” the vice president said. “We’re basically waiting for the MTA.”

Ed Garboski, president of PJSTCA, updated the members on the Town of Brookhaven’s redistricting process, which concluded on Thursday, Sept. 29. [See story, “Brookhaven town board unanimously adopts new map, concludes redistricting process.”]

Garboski said the Town Board selected a map that constituted the least amount of change for Council District 1. This district encompasses Port Jefferson Station and Terryville. “They made the least amount of change for our area,” he said.

While CD1 remained primarily unchanged by the end of the redistricting process, a tiny sliver of the community east of Pine Street shifted into CD2. However, Garboski suggested this change was understandable.

“Most of the people in the area that got redistricted go to Mount Sinai schools,” he said. “Everything else stays. The [Train Car] Park stays in our area. The revitalization area. All of the things that everyone was concerned about, we have.” Following this outcome, the civic leadership sent a letter of thanks to the Town Board for keeping the PJS/T community intact.

Before adjourning, Garboski and Pitti announced they had sold their houses recently. Within about a year, both will no longer be residents of the area, precipitating a turnover of the civic’s top two posts.

The body passed a resolution to allow the two civic leaders to stay in their seats for the interim period. A special election will likely take place in the fall of 2023.

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association held its Meet the Candidates forum at Comsewogue Public Library on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The Democratic and Republican nominees for New York State’s 1st Senate District and 4th Assembly District attended this civic meeting. The candidates received time to deliver opening statements, then answered questions covering a range of local subjects, followed by closing remarks. 

(Left to right) Anthony Palumbo, Skyler Johnson, Steve Englebright, and Edward Flood. Photos by Raymond Janis

Introductions

Before entering elective office, incumbent state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) worked as an attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. He was in private practice for roughly 10 years before running for the state Assembly in 2013. He served the 2nd Assembly District until 2020, after which he assumed his current position.

Challenging Palumbo is Democrat Skyler Johnson, a 22-year-old Mount Sinai native and former political aide to Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren. If Johnson were to win this November, he would become the youngest person to serve in the state Legislature since Theodore Roosevelt.

In the Assembly race, incumbent state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is also up for reelection. Englebright, a geologist by training, joined the state Assembly in 1992. Before that, he served as a Suffolk County legislator for nearly a decade.

Edward Flood is Englebright’s Republican challenger in this race. Flood serves as an assistant attorney for the Town of Brookhaven and is the town’s lead prosecutor for town code violations.

LIRR electrification

Each candidate supported electrifying the Port Jefferson Branch line of the Long Island Rail Road, with some variations in approach. 

Englebright advocates moving the existing Port Jefferson train station onto the county-owned Lawrence Aviation property. This plan, the assemblyman believes, would bring value to the community in the form of cleaner air and higher property values. 

“I am working to try to get the Long Island Rail Road to come into the modern age,” he said. “We will prevail. The first thing to do is to have a community that’s united. … If this community is supportive of that, that will be a big boost.”

Flood condemned the MTA for its historical neglect of Long Island communities. He seeks to pressure the MTA’s governing board and add a local representative to that body. “I don’t believe we have a local representative, and I don’t think anyone on that board cares much about us,” he said. “That needs to change.”

Johnson criticized the needless delays for residents traveling to New York City by rail. He favored allocating more state resources to address these concerns.

“It’s not the most fun trip getting onto the Long Island Rail Road,” he said. “We need to continually invest in the Long Island Rail Road because that will properly benefit our communities, it will help people commute, help people live better lives, and it will make our communities cleaner and safer.”

Palumbo underscored several of these points, backing his support behind moving the Port Jeff train station to the Lawrence Aviation property. “All of those issues are extremely important to this community,” he said. “I think we all agree that this is something that needs to be done.”

Homelessness

Another central topic for Port Jefferson Station/Terryville residents is homelessness. 

Flood proposed that many of the problems associated with homelessness stem from alcohol and substance abuse. He proposed strengthening addiction treatment programs and mental health services. 

“Unfortunately, addiction is rampant throughout the homeless community and possibly the reason why they are homeless,” the Assembly candidate said. “We need to do a better job finding resources to adequately treat people.”

Englebright approached the subject of homelessness through the lens of planning. According to him, this requires offering a coherent vision for the Port Jefferson Station area, much of that concentrated around managing the Lawrence Aviation property, followed by investment.

“That would make it possible for us to accelerate the investment into Port Jefferson Station itself,” he said. “We hear a lot of talk about transit-oriented development, and this is the appropriate place for that policy to be fully fleshed out.”

Johnson supported a “great investment into mental health” to ensure people experiencing homelessness receive the necessary tools to get off the streets. He also said the issue is tied to the affordability and housing crises on Long Island. 

“We do not have proper affordable housing, and we do not have proper workforce housing on Long Island,” the state Senate candidate said. “I’m going to make sure that we do everything that we can to bring home the funds so that we are investing in housing projects, while investing in our critical infrastructure, our public transportation, our roads to make sure that we are keeping up with the flux of people coming into our community.”

Palumbo discussed homelessness as a multifaceted issue, requiring changes in affordable housing, enforcement practices and mental health services.

“I think, generally, Long Island is unaffordable,” he said. “We need to lower the cost of living on Long Island, make it all more affordable, and most importantly do what we can to deal with an affordable housing crisis.”

Concluding remarks

During their closing statements, the candidates were asked to provide their two highest legislative priorities that would also affect Port Jefferson Station/Terryville residents.

Johnson stated his two highest priorities would be affordability and infrastructure improvements. “We need to make sure that we are putting money back in the pockets of everyday people,” he said. “And I’m going to make sure that we do that, and we’re going to make sure that we are investing in our roads and infrastructure.”

Palumbo said his two highest priorities are closely linked to one another. He first hopes to alleviate the burden of high taxes and the unaffordable cost of living on Long Island, then tackle rising crime rates.

“I think other things will fall in place if we get control of the crime issue,” the state senator said. “Coupling that with affordability … we’re losing people for a number of reasons in New York, and we shouldn’t be losing anyone.” He added, “We’re an amazing state, and we need to do what we can to save it.”

Though he did not identify the two highest priority issues, Flood highlighted several matters he would like to remediate if elected. Among these are rising crime, bail reform and better state budgeting.

“I see firsthand some of the effects the state has put into place in terms of bail reform,” Flood said. “They’ve added extra hardships to prosecutors and those in criminal justice, and you see it in an increase of crime, in the inability of a district attorney to bring cases forward, and in that, you have local governments who are handcuffed in trying to comply with a lot of these laws.”

For Englebright, his two highest priorities are the electrification of the Port Jefferson line and better community planning. The assemblyman foresees many positive effects if the existing railyard relocates to the Lawrence Aviation property.

“This is, after all, Port Jefferson Station,” he said. “Our station area should be enhanced, and the plan that we put forward for that should not just be something that looks like South Brooklyn. It should look like a vision of what this community should look like when it looks itself in the mirror.” He concluded, “It should be a place of pride. I believe it should be a public park.”

Members of the Brookhaven Redistricting Committee hear comments from the public at Comsewogue Public Library on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

The Brookhaven Redistricting Committee held a public meeting at Comsewogue Public Library on Tuesday, Aug. 16, to hear comments from residents across the township.

For the third straight week, citizens of Port Jefferson Station/Terryville presented a united front, urging the committee to keep the hamlet intact on the Brookhaven Town Council.

Logan Mazer, a Coram resident whose “map of least change” has received generally favorable reception in recent weeks among the public, addressed why he believes the proposed maps on the redistricting committee’s website would harm communities of interest.

“The two proposed maps make a few edits to the current boundaries that are clearly not acceptable,” he said. “The first, of course, is splitting up Port Jeff Station from the rest of CD1 and including [part of] Mount Sinai. This cannot stand and any new map that this commission considers and any map that the Town Council considers must reunite Council District 1.” He added, “Our priorities need to be keeping communities together.”

Charlie McAteer, corresponding secretary of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, informs the committee of the historic ties between Port Jeff Station and Terryville. Photo by Raymond Janis

‘We have worked hard over the past 15 years … and all of this has been brought forth to get us to this point where we’re redeveloping our area as one vision, one hamlet.’

—Charlie McAteer

Among those in attendance who advocated for preserving Port Jefferson Station/Terryville within CD1 was Charlie McAteer, the corresponding secretary of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association.

“We are one hamlet,” he told the committee. “We have worked hard over the past 15 years — 2008 was the hamlet study for the Comsewogue district — and all of this has been brought forth to get us to this point where we’re redeveloping our area as one vision, one hamlet.”

Joining this cause was John Broven, an East Setauket resident, who compared the current redistricting process to that of 10 years ago. After investigating the 2012 process, Broven found that the committee then had worked collectively as an apolitical, independent unit.

Unlike 2012, Broven suggested that this year’s hearings have been marked by controversy and that he is “genuinely worried at the prospect of gerrymandering … along with the illogical splits between Port Jeff Station/Terryville and also Mount Sinai.”

Nancy Marr, president of the League of Women Voters of Brookhaven, outlined her own displeasure with how the hearings have been advertised to the public.

“In this case, the publicity to inform and involve people has been inadequate,” she said. “I hope next time it’s better. Despite many hearings that were scheduled, most people in Brookhaven Town did not know about them in time to come and participate.”

Shoshana Hershkowitz, a South Setauket resident and a statewide organizer for Citizen Action of New York, discussed the findings of the 2020 U.S. Census, which indicate the changing demographics of Suffolk County residents.

“It is clear that the population of New York state and the population of Suffolk County shifted dramatically,” she said. “We were at 19% minority communities in 2010. We are now at 33% in 2020. That is a 76% increase.”

Despite these demographic changes, Hershkowitz said the two proposed maps on the committee’s website target the two most diverse council districts in Brookhaven: Districts 1 and 4.

“Neither of these districts requires much change,” Hershkowitz said. “They’re both within that 5% deviation,” mandated under town code. She advocated for the transfer of territory from District 6 into District 2: “The logical thing is to move from 6 into 2. Do not disrupt these diverse communities.”

Gordon Heights Civic Association president E. James Freeman spoke on behalf of the residents of Gordon Heights, who presently reside in Council District 4. He reiterated that Districts 2 and 6 are the only ones requiring change, and that any proposal to expand Council District 4 into other areas of the town would dilute the voting power and disenfranchise the people of his community.

“We are always coming in here to be able to fight, to be able to be heard, to be able to be seen, to be able to be represented,” he said. “The weight of the many is often carried by the few. You don’t have a lot of faces in here that look like me but, believe me, things will still get done as long as we have a collective voice across all people.”

Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, right, delivers a presentation alongside executive board members of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association. Photo by Raymond Janis

Members of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association deliberated on a range of issues during their monthly meeting held on Tuesday, July 26 at the Comsewogue Public Library.

Redistricting

Headlining the meeting was Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), who addressed the ongoing redistricting process for the Brookhaven Town Council, calling the current redistricting scheme a threat to his district.

“The intention of redistricting is to rebalance election districts — council districts, for example — based on population changes,” he said. “But in practice, what happens is that both political parties tend to take advantage of this to redraw districts that they believe will be more favorable to their own party.” 

Kornreich, who represents Council District 1, will see significant changes to his district’s boundaries if the current plans are approved. The proposal for Council District 1 is to transfer roughly half of the Port Jefferson Station and Terryville community into Council District 2. In exchange, CD1 would receive roughly half of Mount Sinai. 

“It is unclear to me what is going to be gained from this,” Kornreich said. 

What will be lost is the continuity of planning and progress that he believes has characterized his tenure in the district. “All it does is split the hamlet. … It splits this hamlet that we have worked so hard to work on together.”

The consequence, Kornreich fears, is that public investment in the PJS/Terryville area will be diluted and redirected to areas with greater voting power. He urged community members to attend upcoming hearings of the Brookhaven Redistricting Committee. 

“This is a time for community unity,” the councilmember said. “You understand what’s at stake. So get educated about it and speak up on behalf of your community.”

Ed Garboski, PJSTCA president, spoke of the ways in which the community has come together in the past to protect its interests. He considered the current redistricting controversy a cause for collective concern and action.

“We need to come together,” he said. “We have to have a voice, and it has to be a loud voice.”

Several members agreed to attend the Tuesday, Aug. 2 public meeting held at 6 p.m. at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai to resist the current redistricting plans.

Jefferson Plaza

Another order of business was discussion on the proposed redevelopment of Jefferson Plaza, an expected $100 million investment by the Hauppauge-based real estate group, Staller Associates.

Members considered preparing a statement relating to several inquiries regarding traffic, architectural design, community benefit initiatives and the preservation of the historic character of the area. 

“I like the general approach of this concept,” said one civic association member. “I just don’t want to see a rush to judgment. I want to see us work together collectively to fine-tune it in the best possible way.”

Public safety

Two officers from the Suffolk County Police Department attended the meeting. Several of the members expressed their frustrations over frequent acts of “aggressive panhandling” throughout the area, requesting a greater police presence in the areas where the practice is most widespread. 

One member raised the issue of speeding along Canal Road, which he said has been “constant on Canal ever since they fixed the road.”

Noise pollution generated by loud mufflers has also created a public disturbance. While there are laws regulating loud mufflers, the Suffolk police officers said that they are restrained in enforcing them due to provisions in the law that require a measurement of decibels.

'Below the Ocean'
First 25 participants receive free copy of book

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker has self-published a children’s picture book on ocean pollution titled Below the Ocean: Keeping Our Sea Friends Safe. The book targets young children ages 2-10 years and provides an engaging story about a young seal and her encounters with ocean pollution.

Leg. Sarah Anker

“Having raised 3 children and knowing how important it is to teach our kids about respecting and maintaining our environment, I decided to take the plunge into writing this book, as well as additional children’s environmental books. Long before I ran for public office, I was involved in beach cleanups, advocating for clean water and air, recycling our garbage and preserving open space. We all need to do more, and I hope this book will inspire children and their parents to be environmental superheroes,” said Anker.

The illustrator, Lily Liu, is an award-winning artist who has provided illustrations for several top-selling children’s books. The vibrant colors and adorable characters capture your attention as the main character, Sophia the Seal, encounters ocean garbage and learns how it is affecting sea life and our ocean.

Plastics have been on Earth for close to 70 years and in that time, we have created over 9 billion tons of plastic waste. Most plastics are not recycled and end up as garbage in landfills and in our ocean. Below the Ocean not only informs young readers about ocean pollution, but it also provides insight on what they can do to keep our ocean clean and safe and encourages them to be a Sea Hero. The book is available online at www.amazon.com. For more information go to www.Ankerbooks.com.

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Families with young children are invited to join Leg. Anker for a book launch at Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station on Thursday, July 28 at 2:30 p.m. The educational presentation will feature a reading of the book, a Q&A, book signing and crafts. The first 25 books will be given out for free. To register for this event, call the library at 631-928-1212 or email [email protected]

Stock photo

Comsewouge Public Library, 170 Terryvile Road, Port Jefferson Station  will host a Job Fair on Tuesday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Presented by the Suffolk County Department of Labor’s One-Stop Employment Center, the fair will feature representatives from Suffolk Transportation, Amazon, Doyle Security Services, Stony Brook University, Gardaworld, Express Employment Professionals, First Student, Ideal Homecare Services, Trinity Solar, Sun River Health, Services for the Underserved, Center for Discovery, Citation Healthcare Labels, Developmental Disabilities Institute, Options for Community Living and more!

No registration required. Bring your resume and dress for success. For more information, call 631-928-1212.

Comsewogue Public Library honors original research committee during 55th anniversary ceremony

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), at podium, with Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) during the 55th anniversary celebration of Comsewogue Public Library. Photo by Raymond Janis

Surrounded by officials from the Town of Brookhaven, Comsewogue Public Library members honored their founding research committee during a 55th anniversary celebration.

The library research committee was the group of community members formed in 1966 during the library’s embryonic stage. The original committee members were the first to explore ideas and secure permissions to charter a new library that would serve the Port Jefferson Station and Terryville communities. 

Debbie Engelhardt, CPL director, recounted the early history of the library and the important role the committee played in its development.

“Today we’re shining a light on the library research committee, a group of citizens who banded together and worked toward the goal of establishing a library for the community,” she said. “They formed in 1966 with an original committee of six members, plus an advisor, and followed the steps that New York State requires in order for the state to charter a public library.”

‘It was an act of tremendous vision to see a need and to start planning … We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to this research committee.’ — Jonathan Kornreich

While most of the members of the committee have passed, the library’s archives provide enough information to produce a likely narrative of its early history. Records indicate the committee envisioned the library to be a community hub for scholarship and intellectual enrichment. 

“We do have many documents that help us piece together the timeline from back then,” Engelhardt said. “It appears the committee worked swiftly and that the community was supportive to where they did receive a charter.”

The idea to honor the research committee was first pitched by Jan Kielhurn, daughter of Jasper Newcomer, one of the six members on the committee. Kielhurn said she was browsing for a book one day when she decided to look for a plaque with her father’s name on it. Not finding one, she asked Engelhardt to explore ways to formally recognize the library’s earliest leadership.

“I had come up here to get a book and all the sudden I’m looking around and I realized there was nothing stating my father’s contribution to the start of this,” she said. “I had spoken to Debbie and she told me there was going to be a board meeting and she was going to bring it up then. That’s how all this all came about.”

The daughters of Jasper Newcomer, one of the six original members of the library research committee. Pictured: Lee Kucera (left) and Jan Kielhurn (right). Photo by Raymond Janis

Lee Kucera, Kielhurn’s older sister, remembers their father’s time commitment, dedication and collaboration with other committee members during the founding of the library. “They got together and went to wherever they had to go — several different places — to get the okey dokey on it,” Kucera said. 

In 1967, Newcomer sadly died shortly before the library was inaugurated. At the time of his death, Kucera remembers her father’s enthusiasm for the project. 

“He was very excited about it,” she said. “He was very, very interested in education and reading, and he really felt that was something everybody should have a chance to have.”

Knowing their father’s dreams for the institution and the personal sacrifice he and the committee had made for the betterment of the community, Newcomer’s daughters both agreed that he would be elated if he were around to see the library today. 

“He probably would have been very pleased, probably looking for other ways to help it,” Kucera said. “He probably would have been instrumental in making sure that it had computers.” She added, “This would have been one of his babies.”

During a formal dedication ceremony, Engelhardt presented a plaque with the names of the original members of the library research committee. The plaque will forever enshrine these names in the library’s history, honoring the visionary citizens whose aspirations became reality, and whose imprint is left upon the community into the present day. 

Brookhaven officials present two proclamations to the Comsewogue Public Library. Pictured (left to right): Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Jan Kielhurn, CPL Director Debbie Engelhardt, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) and Town Historian Barbara Russell. Photo by Raymond Janis

Brookhaven officials were also present at the ceremony. Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said events such as these help to remind people of the reasons for serving the community and the important function the public library plays as a repository of information for its members.

“All good ideas usually start with one or two people talking about something and then it grows,” he said. “Today, the town has issued two proclamations, one acknowledging the tremendous influence of this library on this community, the second on that research committee that started this with an idea.”

‘Libraries make us better citizens. Libraries build better communities. We’re here to celebrate libraries.’ — Ed Romaine

Since his time long ago serving on the Long Island Library Resources Council, Romaine said he has cultivated a deep understanding and appreciation for the valuable work that libraries perform every day in making communities wiser and better.

“They are repositories of a lot of information — not only the books, but all types of multimedia,” the town supervisor said, adding, “It’s where we come to learn about things, it’s where we come to educate ourselves about the world around us. Libraries make us better citizens. Libraries build better communities. We’re here to celebrate libraries.”

Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) was also in attendance. He highlighted the strong foundation laid down by the library research committee, a foundation which still supports the library into the present day. 

“It was an act of tremendous vision to see a need and to start planning,” he said. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to this research committee.”

Since the founding of the library, the world has undergone remarkable transformations. These profound changes reshaped the ways in which humans relate to their technologies and to knowledge itself. Kornreich extolled the library’s leadership throughout its 55-year history for its willingness to adapt to changing times in service to the community. 

“Fifty-five years ago when this was built, we wouldn’t have had computers or printers, there was no internet and there was no digital media,” the councilmember said. “They never could have imagined the changes that took place.” He added, “Under the continued wise leadership of our board and our library director, this institution continues to evolve and serve the community.”

‘Modern ideas and a progressive way of thinking I think have always been a part of the vision from back in the 1960s and it remains so today.’

— Debbie Engelhardt

Over a half century after the committee first laid down its foundation, the Comsewogue Public Library continues to exist in a symbiotic arrangement with the community. While men and women like Newcomer foresaw how a public library could foster creative thinking and community enrichment, the library and community members keep that visionary spirit alive today. 

“It’s clear to me that from the research committee to the original library board to the original administration, there was a broad vision for an institution of excellence for this community,” Engelhardt said. “Modern ideas and a progressive way of thinking I think have always been a part of the vision from back in the 1960s and it remains so today.”

The names of the original members of the library research committee: Carol Benkov, Anne Herman, Florence Hughes, Laurence Lamm, Jasper Newcomer, June Tilley, and Gus Basile, advisor.

METRO photo

Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station hosts a program titled Electric Vehicles 101 on Wednesday, May 4 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.  Representatives from Drive Electric Long Island will speak about electric vehicles on the market today during this in-person event. EV owners will also give a show-and-tell of their vehicles and share their experiences. Free and open to all. Visit www.cplib.org or call  631-928-1212 to sign up.