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Joe Palumbo

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Village workers have already started landscaping near the Toast stairway. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Village of Port Jefferson is remaking the path around the stairway near Toast Coffeehouse, though plans are much more subdued than what had been proposed last year.

Village workers have already started landscaping the area at the bottom of the black iron steps, which empty out close to Portside Bar & Grill. Joe Palumbo, the village administrator, said they do not have a site plan or a concept drawing, but the general idea is to beautify the walkway and create much more greenspace. The bottom of the stairs has long been an enclosure of dead grass and tree stumps.

“This is conceptually in the mind,” Palumbo said. “There’s going to be grassy areas along with other plantings.”

Mayor Margot Garant said the cost, ignoring labor, could be around $20,000 when all’s said and done, but lighting costs are still unknown. The village plans for goosenecked lanterns on the stairs and along the pathway, which may include additional accent lighting.

“Internally the guys have been doing a great job, and I’m happy to see they can handle a project of that scale,” she said. 

Last April, the village had received a proposal from Sean Hanley, the husband of Melissa Hanley, who owns Salon Blonde hair stylist just across the street from the top of the staircase. The plans had called for a complete remodeling of the iron staircase into a more modern, concrete staircase and at the bottom create a pocket park, complete with water features and patio.

The problem is, officials said, that plan would have cost around $96,000. 

Instead of tearing up the walkway like under that plan, the village is keeping the same walkway, remodeling the columns at the entrance to the stairway and include an approximated 12-by-12-foot patio. On Monday, March 2, Lisa Harris, who owns several Port Jeff businesses, said she would be donating two benches to the project.

Currently, Palumbo said the issue they’re facing is the large tree just to the right of the stairs bottom. The roots are apparently at a high elevation and run deep underground and restrict extending the blocks that run along the back side of the space to the other side of the path. At the March 2 board meeting, Garant said that tree could not be removed. 

Palumbo said they would have to look at alternatives.

Trustee Bruce Miller said that the current project and other village beautification initiatives will be important as Port Jeff moves along the LIPA settlement glide path, which will see the village getting less in property taxes from the Port Jefferson Power Station over the next several years.

“I just think we got to make this village more attractive if we are losing revenue, we’re going to be charging more or providing less,” he said.

Palumbo said next week they will begin to install irrigation and then after install the patio. They hope to have the plantings and sod installed by spring.