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Jen Dzvonar

Representatives of Bicycle Path Group LLC present redevelopment plans for the property at 507 North Bicycle Path. Photo by Raymond Janis

Members of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association went back and forth Tuesday night, Dec. 19, wrestling over conditions for land development within the hamlet.

During its December meeting, the body heard presentations from two separate applicants before the Town of Brookhaven. In a show of local oversight, the civic opted to submit letters for both applicants with conditions.

Representatives of Bicycle Path Group LLC, owner of the property at 507 North Bicycle Path, presented plans to renovate a 4,000-square-foot commercial building into a medical office and construct a separate 20,000-square-foot medical office on the 2 1/2-acre parcel.

Members posed various questions surrounding architectural design, landscaping, parking and proliferation of medical office space locally.

Also before the civic Tuesday, representatives of Riverhead Building Supply explained the setbacks involved with its proposed special-use permit for a masonry showroom at the company’s newly-acquired Hallock Avenue property, seeking to bring the current facilities on-site up to code.

Civic member Jen Dzvonar, also president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, introduced a resolution to write a letter of no objection for the proposed renovations for the masonry showroom.

Lou Antoniello modified Dzvonar’s resolution, offering to issue a letter of no objection, subject to improvements to the landscaping at the entrance of the property.

Countering, Dzvonar suggested the conditional letter would place unnecessary impediments upon the local business owner: “I think to try to request exactly what plants, what trees and what flowers they’re going to be putting on their property — I mean, you don’t ask that of your neighbor,” the chamber president said.

Antoniello, however, referred to the modification as a “simple request to see somebody’s landscaping plan,” adding that it establishes a precedent for future development.

“It doesn’t mean they’re not going to come to our community and build — it doesn’t mean we’re discouraging” the property owner, he said. “Precedent is the word we should use here. So when people drive by existing businesses, they say, ‘This is what the community expects.’”

Following these deliberations, the members approved Antoniello’s conditional letter of no objection.

Returning to the proposed medical office, the body again opted to exercise its land use oversight function. The members agreed to issue a letter to the property owner, requesting tweaks to the site plan to accommodate resident concerns over architectural style and parking.

The civic will meet again on Jan. 23.

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Rabbi Aaron Benson, of the North Shore Jewish Center, presides over a prayer service Thursday, Dec. 7, during a menorah lighting ceremony at the Train Car Park in Port Jefferson Station. Photo by Raymond Janis

Faith and business leaders, public officials and community members from Port Jefferson Station/Terryville marked the beginning of Hanukkah Thursday, Dec. 7, with a community gathering and menorah lighting service.

The PJS/T Chamber of Commerce hosted the event at the Train Car Park in Port Jefferson Station. Rabbi Aaron Benson, of the Port Jeff Station-based North Shore Jewish Center, presided over the prayer service.

“In times when we need hope and times when we are struggling in the darkness, the hope, inspiration and strength that we get will come not as some raging fire but a tiny little point of light — just like the menorah here,” he said. Following these remarks, Benson delivered a series of blessings sung aloud by those in attendance.

Chamber president Jen Dzvonar emphasized the importance of this annual event for the chamber and the greater community.

“We believe it is so important to bring all of our community together, especially at this time,” she said. “We are so grateful for Rabbi Benson to always be a part of the chamber and to always do the blessings for us on this day and every year.”

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) also attended the event. During his remarks, he tied the Hanukkah service to the perseverance of the Jewish people throughout history.

“This holiday was celebrated after a Jewish victory against people that tried to destroy them,” the councilmember said. “I think it speaks to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people, and it speaks to the feeling of optimism and hope.”

The crowd cheered in delight as Kornreich lit the menorah’s first candle.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich presents a new architectural rendering for the proposed redevelopment of Jefferson Plaza during a Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association meeting Tuesday, Nov. 28. Photo by Joan Nickeson

The Brookhaven Town Board will hear public comments on the Jefferson Plaza shopping center in Port Jefferson Station, a proposed redevelopment project with the potential to reshape the face of the hamlet and reorient its long-term trajectory.

The board will hold a public hearing Thursday, Nov. 30, to consider rezoning the 10-acre parcel, owned by Hauppauge-based Staller Associates, to a Commercial Redevelopment District, a new classification within the Zoning Code crafted “to stimulate the revitalization of abandoned, vacant or underutilized commercial shopping center, bowling alley and health club properties.” [See story, “First of its kind: Brookhaven Town Board to review new zoning category for Jefferson Plaza in Port Jeff Station,” Nov. 16, TBR News Media.]

In the runup to the public hearing, the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association held its general meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 28, to establish a set of priorities for overseeing the proposed redevelopment.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) attended the meeting, identifying four primary areas of concern based on feedback he has heard from the community: traffic, density, height and architecture.

Kornreich said several of those concerns could be addressed through a 35-foot cap on building height. “What I’m going to be looking for is not four stories but a maximum height of 35 feet, which is the same maximum height that you can get in any residential area,” he said.

Leaders and members of the civic association generally favored the 35-foot cap.

The councilmember stated his intention for the developer to adhere to the conditions outlined under the Zoning Code instead of pursuing variances and other relaxations of use.

Regarding architecture, Kornreich said he had consulted with the developer, advocating for “a little bit less of New Hyde Park and a little bit more of New England.” He then presented an architectural rendering of the new proposal that was received favorably by the civic.

Much of the meeting was opened up to members, who offered ideas and raised concerns. Among the issues deliberated were the potential relocation of the post office on-site, availability and diversity of retail options at the property, possible tax increases and related traffic and environmental impact.

Jennifer Dzvonar, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, endorsed the redevelopment initiative. “It’s very blighted,” she said. “A lot of local stores are leaving there,” adding, “We want to keep expanding and revitalizing the area.”

Charlie McAteer, corresponding secretary of PJSTCA, discussed the possible community givebacks that could be offered through such redevelopment.

“We have to work on … a purchase of some open space in our hub area that’s forever wild,” he said. He added that this form of local giveback would cushion the deal for surrounding neighbors “because they’re giving us, the community, something that we would like.”

Following discussion, the body authorized PJSTCA president Ira Costell to deliver a statement Thursday night to the Town Board representing the collective views of the organization.

The public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, at Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville.

Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce president Jen Dzvonar, above, is a declared candidate for Suffolk County’s 5th Legislative District. Photo courtesy Dzvonar

The race to replace Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) is now a three-way contest as Jen Dzvonar, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, has declared her candidacy.

Hahn’s 5th Legislative District spans Three Village, Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson Station, Terryville and parts of Coram and Mount Sinai. The incumbent cannot seek reelection due to 12-year term limits for county offices.

Former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and 2022 GOP primary candidate for New York’s 1st Congressional District, Anthony Figliola of East Setauket, have received their respective party committee’s nominations. [See story, “Legislative races ramp up across levels of government,” The Port Times Record, March 9, also TBR News Media website.]

Dzvonar’s campaign is unaffiliated with a political party. She owns the Port Jefferson Station-based Bass Electric and has served as chamber president for over a decade. She is also a Port Jefferson Rotary Club member.

In an exclusive interview, Dzvonar told TBR News Media she entered the race to build upon ongoing efforts within the 5th District.

“I wanted to make sure that our community is moving in a forward direction, still making progress, still revitalizing,” she said.

The chamber president suggested local initiatives often stagnate due to bureaucracy. She expressed interest in “streamlining” government services, limiting paperwork and removing other impediments within the county government.

“Especially being in the chamber, I see the struggle of local and small businesses — even small developers — that have a hard time getting things to happen,” she said. “It just seems to take so long, and I want to streamline that whole process.”

Among other policy concerns, Dzvonar said she would focus on addressing homelessness, maintaining that the county offers valuable services that are not used to their full potential. Accessing social services, she noted, should be simple.

“There are so many great programs already established for homeless people, people with addiction, with mental health,” the candidate said. “We just need to make those services more readily available.”

She added, “There just seems to be a disconnect somewhere. They don’t make it easy for people that have these issues to be able to obtain help.”

Dzvonar also proposed expanding sewer access into Port Jefferson Station, a measure she contended could bolster further community development. “We can’t get rid of the blight until that is done,” she said.

Dzvonar added that increasing the number of mental health personnel within the county and promoting the Safer Streets initiative are also items on her agenda.

To get on the ballot, Dzvonar has a tall task ahead, needing to obtain 1,500 signatures between April 18 and May 23. Election Day is November 7.

Dozens of community members, performers, business leaders and public officials gathered at the Train Car Park in Port Jefferson Station Dec. 8, continuing a lasting holiday custom.

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce has hosted this event for decades, perennially reuniting the various facets of the community amid festive cheer. Guests were greeted with hot chocolate under a tent, with some chamber members tabling inside.

The stars of the event, Santa and Mrs. Claus, arrived in a stylish fire rescue vehicle supplied by the Terryville Fire Department. Along with them was chamber president Jen Dzvonar, New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook).

Santa and Mrs. Claus spent quality time with the children, sitting for photographs and taking requests for Christmas. Vocalists from the School of Rock performed Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs. Dancers from the Port Jefferson Station-based Backstage Studio of Dance jived to the musical beats of several tunes.

“We try to rally the entire community for a great community event,” Dzvonar said. She responded to the sizable turnout and talented performers by saying, “I think it’s so heartwarming. It’s like a true holiday festival, celebratory and inviting.”

The laughter and fun of the evening were just another positive development in a string of forward momentum for the community this year. Kornreich described the spectacle as exemplifying the area’s distinctiveness and charm.

“By my reckoning, I think this is reason number 74 for why Port Jeff Station is one of the best places to live in Suffolk County,” he said. “This town is changing so quickly, and there are just so many fun things going on here all the time,” adding, “I’m just really happy to be here with everyone from the community on yet another happy occasion in our new park.”

Englebright outlined some of the historical contexts behind this event. The assemblyman regarded the gradual development of the area and the Train Car Park as the product of decades of joint efforts between community groups, governmental entities and engaged residents.

“To see all of the young people here, and Santa and Mrs. Claus … it is showing us all the direction that this holiday is meant to be in,” the assemblyman said. “It’s very heartening to see the very talented kids, the dancers and the fire department. The whole community is here, and it’s just amazing.”

Gwenn Capodieci is the executive director of the Backstage dance studio. She said her dance groups have performed during this event for the past three years and frequently coordinate with PJSTCC. For her, the evening is a unique opportunity for the dancers to perform before their peers and community members.

“After all, this is a performing art,” she said. “Performing is a big part of it, so to get an opportunity to show that is really great.” 

Nicole Terlizzo, artistic director and teacher at the dance studio, said the performances were the product of two months of preparation, with the rehearsals ranging from jazz techniques to hip-hop, tap, ballet and others.

“The girls practiced really hard and really came together,” Terlizzo said. “They have a lot of fun doing it, and it’s a fun way to get them out of the studio and in front of the community.”

Paul Perrone, vice president of PJSTCC, summed up why the chamber continues this tradition annually: “It gives people an opportunity to get out of their house and enjoy the community park,” he said. “It helps people feel that Comsewogue — Port Jefferson Station/Terryville — has something to offer everybody.”

Joan Nickeson, the chamber’s community liaison, offered her take as well, citing the tree lighting event as an annual tradition that highlights the area’s continued growth and support.

“It’s an annual Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce tradition, and we’re so fortunate to have a great Santa, support from our electeds, residents and the business community,” she said.

From left, Vanessa Molinelli, Jennifer Dzvonar, Joan Nickeson, Donna Boeckel and Lisa Molinelli from the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce. Photo from Jen Dzvonar

By Rebecca Anzel

Community members young and old will enjoy good old-fashioned family fun at the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce’s first ever Family Fun Day on Saturday, Sept. 17 at Buttercup’s Dairy, 285 Boyle Road in Terryville (at the corner of Old Town Road). From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., attendees of the free event will enjoy live music, a petting zoo, an apple pie baking contest, a chili cook-off, a scarecrow contest, selfie stations and more. Admission is free and there is no rain date.

An opportunity for community members to learn more about their local businesses, Family Fun Day will feature representatives from Old Town Blooms, Cumsewogue Historical Society, Stony Brook University, Bass Electric, Great Clips, People’s United Bank, Masone Natural Healing, Home Performance Technologies, R & B Electrical (Solar), Kiddie Academy, Port Jeff Bowl, Comsewogue Public Library, TFCU, Renewal by Anderson, Little Flower Children’s Services, Gutter Helmet, Coach Realtors, Everlasting Memories in Time, Kitchen Magic, PJS/Terryville Civic, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Habitat for Humanity and Brian Yonks Chiropractic.

“It’s really an exciting event that’s going to bring local businesses and the community together,” chamber board of directors President Jennifer Dzvonar said. “Local businesses are the backbone of the community. Why not bring the community to meet them?”

Dzvonar said she is most excited for the scarecrow contest, where families are encouraged to work together to create a unique scarecrow at home and bring it to the event to be displayed. The top submissions will receive ribbons.

To further celebrate the importance of family, the event committee asked children ages 10 and under to write essays about what family fun means to them to enter into the Little Miss and Mister of Terryville contest. The winners will receive a crown, sash and flowers the day of the event. And the apple pie baking contest, Dzvonar said, will allow members of the community to bond over the delicious fall-time dessert. “The woman next door might make the best apple pie, but you’d never know it! These contests are a fun way to get to know your neighbors better.”

Planning for the event has been underway since last November, and committee member Craig den Hartog said everyone involved is “excited to just get it started.” He is going to be on hand to help set up tents and direct traffic. A volunteer with Old Town Blooms, den Hartog will also be sharing information about the community beautification project, which has planted over 20,000 daffodils in the area over the last seven years. “The fact that our event benefits the community is the most important part,” den Hartog said.

Family Fun Day was inspired in part by similar events in surrounding towns. Rich Smith, whose family owns Buttercup Dairy, said he thought Terryville should have an event to celebrate the town, like St. James does, and members of the Chamber of Commerce agreed. den Hartog and Dzvonar both said the dairy was the perfect spot to host the event. Buttercup Dairy is the main focal point for those who live in the area and is Terryville’s longest operating business. “This event is a good way to give back to the community,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the families that will turn out for the old-fashioned fun [the committee] is planning.”

According to Dzvonar, organizing Family Fun Day was a group effort. It was “every facet of the community who pulled together and worked together to create such a great event,” she said, adding that the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce is hoping to make the event an annual affair hosted in each of its seven towns. “This year, we’re concentrating on Terryville. Next year, we might be in Mount Sinai, Wading River or we might be in Terryville again,” she said.

For more information, call 631-821-1313 or visit www.northbrookhavenchamber.org.