Tags Posts tagged with "Kathleen McLane"

Kathleen McLane

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John Turner, conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, delivers a guest presentation to the Port Jefferson Civic Association on Wednesday, July 12. Photo by Raymond Janis

On a hot summer evening, with others outside listening to live music, roughly three dozen Village of Port Jefferson residents filled the third floor of the Village Center on Wednesday, July 12, tackling a range of local matters at the Port Jefferson Civic Association meeting.

Members of the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees also made their presence felt, with Mayor Lauren Sheprow and trustees Bob Juliano and Drew Biondo in attendance. During the meeting, residents touched upon ongoing work within the village’s Election Committee, discussed water reuse opportunities at Port Jefferson Country Club and addressed possible uses for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property on Myrtle Avenue.

Election Committee

Kathleen McLane, PJCA outreach coordinator, updated the body on the ongoing work coming out of the village’s Election Committee. This advisory committee, McLane indicated, was formed after the village board approved — and subsequently rescinded — term extensions for village offices earlier this year.

Members of the Election Committee are exploring whether village offices require term extensions and limits and whether to alter the month the election is held. To provide input for ongoing Election Committee deliberations, email [email protected].

Maryhaven Center of Hope

Members weighed in on the Maryhaven Center of Hope property on Myrtle Avenue after the village board denied code changes for that property proposed during the spring. [See TBR News Media website for recent stories.] 

Civic president Ana Hozyainova suggested that the civic work “to develop a vision.”

“We, as a larger community, need to come up with a plan, develop a budget and draw up these plans at the local level and the higher levels” of government, she added.

Steve Velazquez proposed that the Maryhaven property could serve a variety of municipal functions, accommodating both relocated emergency service headquarters and a new Village Hall.

“There’s a lot of land,” he said. “And that type of land just doesn’t come available” very often. He added, “It would save the taxpayers a lot of money by using one facility for multiple uses.”

Water reuse 

Guest speaker John Turner, conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, returned to the civic body to inform them of an initiative for water reuse.

Reusing treated wastewater, according to him, could have several environmental benefits. He said reusing treated effluent water would help reduce nitrogen levels in local water bodies and ease the strain upon the area’s limited water supply. [See last week’s story, “SCWA ‘pleading with the public’ to conserve water.”]

“We have to begin to meaningfully reduce the amount of nitrogen we’re allowing into … the environment,” Turner said. “Places like Port Jeff, where there are sewers, there’s an additional opportunity to try to reduce the nitrogen going into Port Jeff Harbor.”

He encouraged the village officials in the room to write to Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to set aside funds from the recently approved $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act for water reuse purposes.

PJCA will not meet in August. The civic body will reconvene Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Port Jefferson Free Library.

WRITE TO US … AND KEEP IT LOCAL

We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected] or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

Credit where credit is due

We would like to thank the staff at The Port Times Record for their June 15 editorial [“Election Day is only the beginning”], in which they acknowledged some of the contributions the Port Jefferson Civic Association has made.

There was one item, however, that was incorrectly attributed to us: the formation of a tree committee.

While our membership fully supports the preservation of our village tree canopy, and several PJCA members volunteered to staff the committee, the primary credit for developing it belongs to Village of Port Jefferson trustee Rebecca Kassay.

PJCA member Kelly DeVine initially brought the idea to trustee Kassay, who followed up on it with extensive research on tree-related efforts in various villages within New York state and beyond. She discovered many municipalities have dedicated committees to assist staff and board members in managing a village’s canopy.

Trustee Kassay further consulted with chairs and founders of other tree committees to gather insights and information. These findings were presented to Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden, who expressed support for the creation and development of the Port Jefferson Village Tree Committee.

We just wanted to make sure to give credit where credit is due.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Kathleen McLane, Outreach Officer

Port Jefferson Civic Association

American dreams for some, not all

What a beautiful story in The Village Times Herald May 25 [“American Dream” series] on page A7 about the Huangs legal journey from China to the United States and how they worked hard and sent money home to bring other family members here.

Their hard work, sacrifice and ultimate success at their Kai Li Kitchen in East Setauket is a true American Dream story. I have many Chinese friends who did the same, as well as my four Italian grandparents. 

It’s too bad that the May 25 letter by Shoshana Hershkowitz [“Words matter in immigration dialogue”] could not have been on page A8. What a dichotomy. Almost every week she is complaining about something in this country. She belongs to Citizen Action of New York (website: citizenactionny.org), that is, progressives like AOC, Warren and Sanders. They bash Republicans, Conservatives and corporations. The problem with socialism is that it needs capitalism to survive. Thus, the ironic hypocrisy.

There is a legal way to become a citizen and an illegal way to play the system. The new “messaging” from the “left” is that “everyone” entering the country illegally is an asylum seeker (see Newsday, June 19). According to Ms. Hershkowitz’s statement, “Asylum seekers are fleeing their countries because of climate change, poverty and political violence.” If that’s true, the whole world can move here. We have the same issues: climate change, antifa (who the left were silent about as the group destroyed federal buildings and businesses in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington), Proud Boys and millions of our own citizens who live in poverty.

So when these “illegal asylum seekers” arrive we are supposed to just let them in, while the people who are legally emigrating from their countries wait to gain citizenship and get penalized by following the law? And I suppose it’s OK for the citizens in Texas, Arizona and California to bear the brunt of the huge, intentional failure at the border by Biden, Harris and Mayorkas. 

According to the House Committee on Homeland Security, as of Jan. 23 there have been over 4.5 million encounters at the Southwest border in addition to over 1.2 million “gotaways.” When the illegal immigrants were sent to Martha’s Vineyard, I don’t recall the vice president commenting on their next-day overnight extradition to mainland Massachusetts by the NIMBYs. 

The hypocrisy of these elites and socialists is obvious. It’s all about future voters and power at the expense of the citizens of this country. 

To the Huangs and Kai Li Kitchen (Chinese translation, “triumphant victory forever”), well done.

Rocky Graziano

Setauket

Two points of view

As an avid reader of the letters section of your paper, I felt compelled to write about the recent exchange of views on the issue of language and the words we use to describe the immigrants who are coming to the United States.

I know both writers personally and know them to be good people who are community-minded and who have worked to make our Three Villages a better place. I think both made good arguments about the current debate, and considering other points is what the American experiment in democracy requires its citizens to do in the pursuit of consensus.

We all know that our recent political discourse has changed, and not for the better. It seems now that we only want to hear one point of view, and criticize or discredit others whose points of view differ from our own.

Local newspapers play an important role in letting the community know about important issues and the various opinions of the people who live here, and I appreciate that.

We can learn a lot by being open to our differing views and maybe even find better solutions for the problems and challenges that we face as a community.

Thank you TBR News Media and to both writers for sharing your thoughts on a very heated and controversial subject.

George Hoffman

Setauket

Congrats, TBR News Media

Dear Leah,

You must be very proud of your continued recognition from the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest from your team’s work by receiving 11 awards this year. This is also a testament to your success as the founder and publisher of a weekly newspaper.

I believe hometown papers are an essential means to keep residents updated on what is happening in their community as they report on local government, schools, sports, entertainment, news and other items of interest.

I join with all of your readers in congratulating you and your staff and look forward to your continued success.

Rob Trotta

Suffolk County Legislator (R-Fort Salonga)

13th Legislative District

Sunrise Wind projections questionable

The Sunrise Wind project, as we were told in a March 23 TBR News Media article, “will use windmills to provide power to about 600,000 homes.” But what does this mean, exactly? It appears that 600,000 may have been selected as an arbitrary number, which may represent the number of homes that will derive 100% of their power requirements when all of the windmills are generating power at their maximum capacity, although this is not specifically stated in the article. But this raises the obvious question: For what percentage of the time will this be the case? We can only guess.

A much more helpful and meaningful terminology, in my opinion, would be to present these concepts in terms of energy, rather than power. Power is the rate at which energy is produced, or expended. To state that a windmill farm can produce a certain amount of power under ideal conditions, but neglect to mention the percentage of time this may be in effect, is to provide a very limited ability to understand the issue. A much more useful characterization would be to specify the total amount of energy generated in a fixed time, such as a year, compared to the total amount of energy required. For example, we might say something like, “The Sunrise Wind project will provide 45,000 MWh per year, which is 22% of the total energy required by Suffolk County.” (These are, of course, made-up numbers.) In this way, the complex variability of the wind strength becomes included in the energy notation, making the whole issue considerably easier to understand and evaluate.

Surely this issue is well understood by Sunrise Wind, and why they would choose to muddy the waters, as they have, is a matter for speculation. As Honest Abe Lincoln would have told us, a windmill farm can provide some of the power some of the time, or possibly all of the power some of the time, but it can provide none of the power most of the time.

George Altemose

Setauket

More Maryhaven discussions needed

We may be missing the forest for the trees in the process by which the Village of Port Jefferson is approaching this initiative to make an amendment to a long-standing village code for the Professional Office (PO)-zoned Maryhaven property. Residents had their first opportunity to hear and provide feedback as to what was being proposed at the standing-room-only public hearing during Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, May 1. 

Comments and concerns ranged from: Do what it takes to preserve the Maryhaven building; and, we need to know exactly what the plan is prior to a zoning change; to, have the Architectural Review Committee and Conservation Advisory Council been involved? Because we’ve known about the sale and vacancy for a very long time as a village; and, questions and concerns over the potential density as permitted via the draft code amendment (192+ units/~19 units per acre), coupled with the lack of a full environmental review (SEQRA) and sewage treatment related to the project. Other questions? Why didn’t we work with the owner of the property to secure an historic landmark designation and has water runoff into the neighborhoods below been considered? 

The bottom line is that these questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Engagement with the developer by a select group of village officials had been ongoing, but the announcement of the pending sale (March 6, Deputy Mayor Snaden) followed by the public hearing request (April 3, Mayor Garant) ostensibly came from out of the blue for the rest of us and now we are playing catch up and the residents are as well. 

There should have been more discussion about this building in the public sphere — years if not months ago; i.e., the ARC, CAC, Port Jefferson Historical Society, all could have been engaged. 

Is it too late? We will see. But because the developer is working within a “timeline” as described by the mayor, this has suddenly become an urgent, time-sensitive matter. The public hearing remains open for three weeks. 

I’d like to hear the public’s response to this and encourage feedback. What I heard May 1 was important, if not concerning. Please contact me at [email protected] if you have additional feedback.

Lauren Sheprow, Trustee

Village of Port Jefferson

Maryhaven: a potential spot zoning case

I was surprised to learn at the May 1 standing-room-only public hearing that the mayor, deputy mayor and village attorney have been in discussions with the developer for the proposed Maryhaven project for well over a year. Yet the first time the residents were made aware of this proposal was at a March 6 Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees meeting.

 While I applaud the Board of Trustees for their interest in preserving the historic Maryhaven building, their solution — changing the village code to achieve this goal — seems like the classic definition of spot zoning. This is the practice of singling out a specific property for a special zoning designation that differs from surrounding properties — an approach that is controversial and subject to challenge. During the hearing, the village attorney and mayor repeatedly said the purpose of the zone change was to preserve this historic building.

 Significant concerns were raised about the scope and scale of the Maryhaven redevelopment that would be facilitated by the “relaxing” of existing limits in our code. Many good alternatives to the proposed code change were offered both by residents and trustees Lauren Sheprow and Rebecca Kassay. But there was near universal opposition to changing the village code to accommodate this project because of its potential for adverse impacts to this property and for other parts of the village.

If the village is serious about historic preservation, we need to explore code changes that would apply to more than just a single property. Also, funding opportunities for historic preservation should be vigorously researched and a report issued so that the village can make fully informed land use decisions.

Virginia Capon

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer formerly served as Port Jefferson Village trustee and chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee.

Character assassination in PJ mayoral race

I came home from the May 1 Village of Port Jefferson public hearing elated. Village Hall was packed with residents who were there to weigh in on a code change that would affect the development of the Maryhaven building, encompassing people from all political stripes. Yet, here we were engaging in civil discourse and united in the goal of trying to find the best solutions for our community.

So I was stunned when I received a letter, the very next day, which can only be described as a character assassination on one of our mayoral candidates. The unsigned letter, which had no return address, purported to be from a “concerned villager,” and proceeded to attack trustee Lauren Sheprow in a vile manner.

I have the pleasure of knowing both candidates and refuse to believe either of them would ever condone such ugly politicking.

Last year, when we had an unusually competitive trustee campaign, the candidates remained civil. I trust Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden to maintain an even higher level of courtesy and respect, and am confident she will publicly condemn this offensive attack on her colleague.

Going forward, I hope all candidates will urge over-ardent supporters to refrain from personal assaults and focus on issues villagers care about.

Kathleen McLane

Port Jefferson

Snaden: a seasoned leader

It has recently come to my attention that we have an open mayor’s seat in the Village of Port Jefferson’s election taking place this June. Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden is running for the open seat, as well as newly elected trustee Lauren Sheprow.

We need to be mindful that the mayor’s office is no longer a place where a neophyte can just step in. The village is a small city, with two major hospitals, a train station, deep water harbor, school district, two business districts, large federal FEMA grants and major redevelopment projects underway uptown. It takes a seasoned, experienced person to be able to run this village and the $11.37 million budget in place.

Having been a trustee for less than one year, Sheprow does not bring experience to the table. She is rather in the middle of a very large learning curve, seeing to the day-to-day “ins and outs” of village policies, New York State law and municipal government — never mind the obligations of the mayor’s office. She has in fact, confessed herself on many occasions in public meetings that she hasn’t done a budget before and hasn’t run a public hearing.

On the other hand, you have Deputy Mayor Snaden, who has been working for years under the tutelage of Mayor Margot Garant. Snaden is a seasoned, experienced proven leader, with her own perspective and innovative ideas who is ready to take control.

In this election cycle, Sheprow would keep her seat if she loses her bid for mayor and would remain a trustee. If, on the other hand, Sheprow is elected we will have in office a neophyte mayor, and we will lose Snaden as she gives up her trustee position to run for mayor. 

So, I ask you: Why would we vote for a rookie and lose the lead pitcher, when we can have them both on our team? Don’t forget, the last time a Garant [Jeanne] left office to an inexperienced mayor, our taxes went up. Let’s not let history repeat itself.

Lauren Auerbach

Port Jefferson

Vote ‘no’ on the May 16 school bond vote

My name is Teri Powers. I’m 63 years old, widowed, a resident and homeowner for 37 years.

Currently, we are on the LIPA tax burden (glide path), in which we have experienced increases in our tax bill, but the lion’s share of this burden is a result of that settlement, which will increase our current taxes by over 35% by the year 2027.

The Port Jefferson School District Board of Education is proposing a $15.9 million capital bond vote on Tuesday, May 16, at the high school between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. A similar bond vote was defeated in December 2022. Please renew your enthusiasm and defeat this bond again.

Teri Powers

Port Jefferson

WRITE TO US … AND KEEP IT LOCAL

We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

Email letters to: [email protected]

or mail them to TBR News Media, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733

File photo by Raymond Janis

Support Healthy School Meals for All bill

Every child deserves to be fed, and in a nation as wealthy as ours, no child should go hungry. The April 20 editorial [“Food before football: Long Island’s uphill battle against childhood hunger”] correctly identifies the crisis of child hunger, and how our government is failing to adequately address the issue. There is a legislative answer to this crisis in New York, and it is the Healthy School Meals for All bill. Our state Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul [D] must pass it this year.

The bill ends the policy of means testing, and establishes permanent funding for every child to receive breakfast and lunch at school at no cost. This saves struggling families money on their grocery bills, and eliminates the stigma that may prevent children from utilizing the current program. The cost in New York would be less than 0.01% of the state budget, with $200 million of state dollars supplementing the federal assistance provided to New York. It is estimated that this will provide an additional 726,000 students in New York state access to two meals a day. Currently, one in seven of New York’s children are food insecure, and this disproportionately impacts students of color. 

Children are more than just a test score. If a child is hungry, it is difficult for them to learn, to play and to grow. The Healthy School Meals for All legislation addresses the needs of the whole child, and is economic justice for New York’s children and families. 

This bill is supported by many organizations across the state. Suffolk Progressives, the group I founded, is a proud supporter of the bill, and I encourage others to join the call to reduce child hunger by asking their lawmakers to sign on. I urge constituents to reach out to state Sens. Anthony Palumbo [R-New Suffolk], Dean Murray [R-East Patchogue] and Mario Mattera [R-St. James], and Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio [R-Riverhead], who are not currently listed as co-sponsors of the bill. 

Childhood hunger is not a partisan issue, and all of Long Island’s lawmakers should get behind this legislation. The Legislature must pass Healthy School Meals for All, and Hochul must sign it into law in the 2023 legislative session. New York’s children are depending on it.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

Let’s patronize our local restaurants

Why not patronize your neighborhood restaurants during Long Island Restaurant Week April 23-30 with a wide variety of both two-course lunch and three-course dinner specials all year long.

My wife and I don’t mind occasionally paying a little more to help our favorite restaurants survive. Don’t forget your cook and server. We try to tip 20 to 25 percent against the total bill including taxes. If it is an odd amount, we round up to the next dollar. If we can afford to eat out, we can afford an extra dollar tip. When ordering take out, we always leave a dollar or two for the waiter or cook. It is appreciated. 

The restaurant industry employees include hosts, bartenders, waiters, bus boys, cooks, cashiers, parking valets, wholesale food sellers, distributors and linen suppliers. There are also construction contractors who renovate or build new restaurants.

Our local entrepreneurs work long hours, pay taxes and provide local employment especially to students during the summer. If we don’t patronize our local restaurants, they don’t eat either. Why travel into Manhattan when there are so many great neighborhood restaurants in Centereach, Cold Spring Harbor, Commack, Huntington, Mount Sinai, Northport, Port Jefferson, Selden, Smithtown and Stony Brook?

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Maria’s No Mow May campaign

Sadly, Maria Hoffman passed away in 2022. She was someone who was involved in everything and anything that touched our community — historical preservation, open space protection and environmental issues.

There was no issue too large, or too small, that Maria wasn’t part of — and always achieved with a smile on her face.

Her involvement was done with a quiet style and grace, and while her voice was soft and light, her influence was great.

Anyone who enjoys West Meadow Beach, the Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway, the cultural, historical and art institutions in the area — they all need to give special thanks to Maria’s legacy.

Maria was an avid beekeeper.

She loved her bees and maintained a number of hives.

Her eyes sparkled whenever she spoke about bees — she marveled at their unique abilities and intelligence.

And she was deeply concerned about the declining bee populations across the country.

To honor the legacy of Maria and to protect the bee, butterfly and bird populations, the Three Village Community Trust is kicking off its 1st annual Maria’s No Mow May campaign.

No Mow May is an international movement that first was popularized by Plantlife, an organization based in Salisbury, England. The simple goal of No Mow May is to allow grass to grow during the month of May, creating an important spring habitat for early season pollinators. No Mow May is really easy — do nothing!

Don’t apply any fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides.

While community residents might not want to leave their entire lawn unmown for the month of May, just allowing a small area to be part of No Mow May will make a difference to the environment.

You’re likely to see yard signs saying “ join Maria’s No Mow May campaign throughout the community.

Join the Three Village Community Trust, your friends and neighbors in Maria’s No Mow May. Just like Maria — bee special!

Herb Mones

President, Three Village Community Trust

Eliminating bail reduces recidivism

A recent letter by Jim Soviero [“Dem Albany County DA Soares criticizes bail reform,” April 6] essentially reprints a New York Post op-ed piece by Albany County DA David Soares deriding bail reform. Soviero takes great pains to emphasize Soares’ political affiliation (Democratic) and race (Black).

As I’m sure Soviero would agree, even Democrats can be wrong sometimes. And regardless of Soares’ race, neither he, nor Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, nor even Soviero himself are better equipped to decide what’s best for New York’s African-American community than that community itself. Polling shows that the overwhelming majority of Blacks support policies reducing incarceration. If bail reform is as terrible for the African-American community as Soviero’s crocodile tears seem to suggest, there’s a simple remedy — they can vote out of office their representatives who voted for it. That’s not about to happen. Instead, the voices most stridently denouncing reform are those exploiting the politics of fear and division.

If just jailing people made our streets and communities safer, the United States should be the safest country in the world. After all, we lead the world in incarceration, both absolutely and per capita.

As far as the cherry-picked statistics Soares relies on and Soviero repeats to denounce reform, they’re all wet. A study released this March by John Jay College, the preeminent criminal justice school in the state, shows that the 2020 bail reform law has actually reduced the likelihood of someone getting rearrested. “Fundamentally, we found that eliminating bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies reduced recidivism in New York City, while there was no clear effect in either direction for cases remaining bail eligible,” said Michael Rempel, director of John Jay College’s Data Collaborative for Justice.

All of this obscures the fact that the purpose of bail is for one thing only — to restrain those judged to be a flight risk. It is not to lock up people, sometimes for weeks or months in horrible conditions, who are legally innocent. Unless we are willing to drop the presumption of innocence from our legal system entirely. 

I’m sure that Soviero would agree with me that the recently indicted former president is legally entitled to the presumption of innocence. So why is it that he, who is rich and powerful, is entitled to this, but someone who is poor and powerless is not? I don’t know what to call that, but I certainly wouldn’t call it justice.

David Friedman 

St. James

Editor’s note: We are publishing this letter because it responds to an earlier letter. In the future, we ask that letters mainly speak to local issues.

Local residents toast George Washington’s visit

This past Saturday local residents gathered on the corner of Bayview Avenue, East Setauket, and Route 25A to commemorate the 233rd year of our first president George Washington’s visit to Setauket on April 22, 1790. Several in attendance read excerpts about Washington and his life, including a poem written by ChatGPT on Washington’s trip to the Roe Tavern in Setauket.

As many know, Washington came to Setauket during the first year of his presidency to meet with Capt. Austin Roe who ran a small tavern on what is now Route 25A near East Setauket Pond Park. Though the president’s diary was sparse about the true intentions for his five-day trip to Long Island, many believe it was to thank those who had been part of the Culper Spy Ring that was founded in Setauket and critical to Washington’s success against the British troops and mercenaries encamped in New York City.

This is the second year that local resident Rick McDowell and his brother Ken organized the gathering. They are already planning next year’s commemoration for another rousing cheer to our first president and to the Setauket spies who helped him win the War of Independence from Britain.

George Hoffman

Setauket

May 1 public hearing on Maryhaven is urgent

It’s concerning that a Village of Port Jefferson public hearing on changes to zoning for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property is still scheduled for May 1.

Especially since the follow-up work session on April 25 raised more questions than answers — even for some of the trustees. Further, from what we understand, the Board of Trustees has not even received a formal request from the developers, and the Building Department has no record of any application. So why the rush?

The village attorney argues that having the zoning hearing now allows the village to be proactive when the developers are ready to apply. But this remedy seems more preemptive than proactive because the residents don’t yet have enough information to make an informed decision.

Not only were we not included in any of the prior discussions, but it does not appear that a full due diligence was conducted.

It might be too late to call for the hearing to be postponed. But it’s not too late to request that no binding decisions on Maryhaven be made until residents have a chance to review the facts and, perhaps, propose other options for the property.

In order to get answers, we urge you to come to the public hearing at Village Hall on Monday, May 1, at 6 p.m.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Kathleen McLane, Outreach Officer

Port Jefferson Civic Association

No interest in changing Port Jeff Country Club to a public course

This is an open letter to the editor, to the members of the Port Jefferson Country Club and to the residents of the Village of Port Jefferson.

It has been brought to my attention by several members of the country club that inaccurate messaging is being shared around the course — that as part of my Port Jefferson mayoral campaign platform, I intend to convert the country club to a public municipal golf course, and make golf at the country club free for all residents. At first, I thought it was a joke. Because nothing could be further from the truth. Then when more people started asking me if it were true, I knew I had to address this publicly.

I have no interest or intent in changing the country club to a public course. I hope those who consider voting for me see through this political ruse and know I would never be so reckless or fiscally irresponsible. It will remain a private municipal course, as it always has been from the day Mayor Harold Sheprow acquired it, and as it was established when the decision to buy it was voted upon favorably in 1978 by the residents of Port Jefferson.

I will always support making the club and its restaurant facilities a welcoming and inclusive environment for all residents. Giving memberships away for free does not enter into that equation.

If PJCC members or village residents have questions and would like to personally discuss this or any information that has the appearance of being contrary to what I stand for — see my website www.sheprowformayor.com under the “platform” tab — I can be reached by email at [email protected].

Lauren Sheprow, Trustee

Village of Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is the daughter of former Port Jefferson Mayor Harold Sheprow.

Pictured above, from left to right: Port Jefferson Civic Association’s outreach officer Kathleen McLane; civic president Ana Hozyainova; Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich; civic vice president Holly Fils-Aime; treasurer Marilyn Damaskos; and secretary Carol Macys Fox. Photo by Raymond Janis

Leaders of the newly reconfigured Port Jefferson Civic Association formally entered their posts during a swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday, March 8, and went straight to work during the first official executive board meeting.

Ceremony

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) officiated over the ceremony, swearing the newly elected civic leaders into their positions at the outset of the meeting. Kornreich, who had previously served as president of the Three Village Civic Association, outlined the value that civic groups can add to a community.

“I can tell you, as an elected, that the role of the civic is incredibly important because we want to get a sense of what the community thinks,” he said. “Your electeds in the village, and for things related to the Town of Brookhaven, we’re going to come to you.”

He added, “It’s a big responsibility because you have to reach out and be representatives of your community, and I’m very grateful to you all for stepping up to take this important responsibility.”

He then presented each officer with a town proclamation. The executive board is represented by civic president Ana Hozyainova, vice president Holly Fils-Aime, secretary Carol Macys Fox, treasurer Marilyn Damaskos and outreach officer Kathleen McLane.

Priority

Following the ceremony, the board quickly got moving, detailing the local issues it would prioritize. Based on a vote among the body, the most significant priority for the civic will be to advocate for voter input on major construction projects within the village. 

The second will be to enhance walkability and calm traffic while referring to the village’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan to guide new development.

Third on the list is advocating for villagewide oversight and enforcement over planting and clearing. And the final item is creating a close partnership with the village Conservation Advisory Committee to preserve open space.

“Part of the reason why the civic association was created is because we found, as individual citizens, very little traction when engaging with trustees on those individual issues,” said Hozyainova. “Coming together as a formal association, we hope that we can start that conversation in a more fruitful way.”

Strategy

To work toward implementing the civic’s collective goals and vision, the executive board brought in backup. Sal Pitti, vice president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, and Kornreich sat in on the executive board meeting, offering the newly installed leaders techniques for dealing with local government.

Pitti emphasized the value of high turnout and a growing body. “Get numbers on your side,” he said. “The more people you have on your side, the more they’re going to listen,” adding, “There’s always power in numbers.”

Pitti also recommended working to accomplish small tasks to help grow resident interest in the civic. “Get yourself a high school liaison, like we have at our meetings,” he said. “We have one of the kids at the high school telling people about events.” This method, he maintained, fosters interest from parents and boosts turnout at monthly meetings.

One of the core areas of concern among the PJCA body, according to Hozyainova, is the issue of coastal erosion at East Beach, which has endangered the restaurant and catering facility at the Port Jefferson Country Club.

“We are concerned about paying for a wall that might or might not survive the next few years,” Hozyainova said. She continued by saying that the village government has yet to comprehensively consider managed retreat away from the bluff.

Pitti recommended that the civic association establish new connections within the village so that important public announcements do not go unnoticed by residents. “Try to set up a new system working with the village, that they advise you directly when all these things happen,” he said.

Hozyainova suggested many of the decision-making processes and responsibilities within the village government tend to be consolidated within just a few hands. “A lot of decisions are made without extensive consultation, and very few people ask questions,” the PJCA president said.

To rectify this issue, Kornreich advised the board to forge tighter working relationships with village board members to develop more collaborative exchanges between elected officials and the public.

“Building those relationships with trustees is vitally important,” the councilmember said.

He added that educating civic members on local issues is another responsibility to promote a better-informed civic body and public. “Educate your members,” Kornreich said, adding, “You educate your members so that they understand” the local issues at stake.

Kornreich also mentioned that disseminating important information to the village would be another key function of civic leadership. This, he added, is especially important when it comes to advertising the civic to community members.

Pitti said one of the best investments for PJSTCA has been its website, which he said represents a vital organ for getting the message across to the public. 

“That’s how we get our information out,” he said. “People come and join us there all the time. They love to see what’s going on in the community.”

Members of the Port Jefferson Civic Association during a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21. Photo courtesy Ana Hozyainova

The Port Jefferson Civic Association elected officers and voted to set its priorities during a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21. 

Elected for one-year terms, Ana Hozyainova will serve as president, Holly Fils-Aime as vice president, Carol Macys Fox as secretary, Marilyn R. Damaskos as treasurer and Kathleen McLane as outreach officer. Each will be formally sworn in at the first business meeting of the civic association.

PJCA was established on Sept. 17, 1990, but it fell dormant in 2006. In 2023, the civic was reconstituted due to concerns by residents about a need for more engagement with local governing bodies. [See story, “Port Jeff civic resurrected, members set their priorities,” The Port Times Record, Jan. 12, also TBR News Media website.]

Fourteen village residents attended Tuesday evening, narrowing the civic’s focus around overseeing village-led construction projects, advocating for public referenda, facilitating green space preservation and promoting pedestrian and public safety initiatives.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) attended the meeting and shared his experience as a former president of the Three Village Civic Association. He emphasized the importance of having a body that can be a compass for local governments.

All village residents are welcome to join the Port Jeff Civic Association. The civic can be reached at: [email protected].