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Margot Garant

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

The Port Jefferson Board of Trustees delivered several important announcements to the public during its monthly general meeting on Monday, Aug. 1.

During the business meeting, the board accepted the resignation of village administrator Joe Palumbo, effective Aug. 12. This marks the end of Palumbo’s nearly three years of service in that role.

Along with the resignation of the village administrator, Mayor Margot Garant announced multiple appointments, naming Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden as trustee liaison to the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Trustee Rebecca Kassay will take over as the village’s commissioner of environmental sustainability. In addition, residents Gerard Gang and Jennifer Testa were appointed to the Architectural Review Committee.

Mayor’s report

During the general meeting, Garant delivered several updates on projects at East Beach that will affect residents in the coming weeks. Construction of the lower wall at East Beach to stabilize the bluff will begin next week. The mayor predicts the project will take approximately eight months to complete.

“You’ll start to see large boulders and the steel being delivered to the parking lot area,” Garant said. “They’re going to start to mobilize with construction. Unfortunately, the beach, folks, will be closed. You can walk down, but you’ve got to stay away from the major construction.”

About 450 lineal feet of bluff line will be sloped and revegetated, likely sometime in the spring. “It’s a long project, it’s a lot of stabilization, and that is underway,” Garant said.

The mayor also announced that plans to construct an upper wall to protect the clubhouse at the Port Jefferson Country Club will be going out to bid. This next step, according to the mayor, will allow the board to gather more information as it prepares to make a final determination on how to proceed with regards to that facility.

“That project will be going out to bid just so we can get the information and see what the numbers look like,” she said. “We need to have the hard numbers before we can make any real decisions. We will be making a presentation to the public, informing you all along the way.” She added, “It’s a pretty complicated process.”

Concluding her report, Garant announced that the village will partner with the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center to commission a whaleboat.

“It’s not a whaleboat to go fishing for whales,” she said, jokingly. “It’s a whaleboat that was famously used during the [Culper] Spy Ring … Our whaleboat will be something we can use for programming and for demonstrations down at the museum.”

Trustee reports

Snaden provided an update on the roadway obstruction at the intersection of Arlington Avenue and Route 25A. She was pleased to see that the New York State Department of Transportation had resumed construction at that site.

“You can see that a lot of work has been done,” the deputy mayor said. “Most recently, they have started the layers of paving and they are still on track to be finished with that and [have] that road open hopefully by the end of summer.”

Trustee Lauren Sheprow delivered several updates on the status of the Recreation Department. She first highlighted the close relationship the village recreation director has forged with the Port Jefferson School District.

The newest member of the board also announced a village-wide golf outing scheduled for Sept. 22. The fee for the event is $50, which will cover 18 holes of golf at the PJCC along with cart fees, green fees, food and prizes.

“We are opening up our golf outing to the entire Port Jefferson community,” Sheprow said. “That will include Port Jefferson Fire Department volunteers, Port Jefferson School District employees, Port Jefferson village employees and all the residents of Port Jefferson village.” She added, “Proof of employment is required, as is proof of residence.”

Sheprow also announced the reinstatement of the village recreation committee, which will be made up of “seven to nine village residents who can provide feedback and guidance, leading to recommendations to the board of trustees for improvements to parks, facilities and recreational programming,” the trustee said. She added that the next step is to establish a charter for the committee and explore possible candidates.

Sheprow also announced her plans to foster a closer relationship between the Village of Port Jefferson and Stony Brook University. Following conversations with the Office of Community Relations at SBU, the village government hopes to tap into resident experts and specialists in service of the village’s aims.

“The village is proposing to establish a think tank of sorts made up of researchers and scientists at Stony Brook [University] who live in Port Jefferson and who can engage and consult on the opportunities and challenges in their hometown village,” Sheprow said. “This can include marine sciences, engineering sciences, environmental sustainability, education, health and wellness, culture, society … it doesn’t stop. There are so many opportunities to bring in the knowledge of these experts.”

Kassay offered her support for this proposal, saying, “I’m looking forward to seeing all of the community members that are engaged in a lot of those initiatives, as well as the university.”

Kassay delivered a brief report, highlighting some of the environmental activities she has undertaken. She said the Conservation Advisory Council is researching municipal bamboo codes.

“This has been brought up by a few residents over the years and increasingly so more recently,” she said.

Trustee Stan Loucks used his report to recognize the Parks Department for its recent efforts to facilitate several events held throughout the village.

“The Parks Department is responsible for a lot of things in the village that a lot of us are not aware of,” he said. “They take care of every park in the village. They take care of a lot of grassy areas in the village that are not considered parks … and I think they deserve a lot of credit.” He added, “Many times you’ll see them out there with the white trucks and the blue uniforms. If you see them working, stop and say ‘Hello’ and thank them for what they do.”

To access the full meeting, visit the village’s YouTube page.

Without remediation, the clubhouse at the Port Jefferson Country Club may fall off the bluff within years. File photo by Raymond Janis

During a public meeting at Village Hall on Monday, July 18, Mayor Margot Garant presented to the board of trustees the options for the upland projects to stabilize the East Beach Bluff.

The Port Jefferson Country Club, a village-owned property, is now at risk of losing its clubhouse as coastal erosion has withered away the bluff. Without remediation, the clubhouse is likely to fall off the cliff within years.

Proposals to address the problem have been hotly contested by the public, with one faction favoring preserving the clubhouse and the other favoring a retreat plan. During the meeting, the mayor presented the board with both options, outlining the logistics and some of the expected costs for each.

The upper wall

The first option is a 47-foot-deep steel wall between the clubhouse and the edge of the cliff. This wall would be capped by timber, which Garant said would be safer, cheaper and more aesthetically appealing than a concrete cap.

To slow further erosion, the plans include extensive revegetation of the bluff. This would also avert additional expenses related to drainage.

“When this is installed with all of that vegetation, you’re not going to need any more drainage because that wall will become a stopgap and the vegetation will just soak everything up,” Garant said.

The conceptual layout of the planned design also accommodates two regulation-size tennis courts along with three pickleball courts.

Garant said this project would be approached in two phases. The first phase involves a section of wall aimed at preserving the clubhouse, while the second involves an extension of the wall for racket sports amenities.

Still without hard figures on the expected cost of the wall, Garant recommended that the board move forward with exploring this option. “I recommend putting the upper wall out to bid and getting a hard number on that,” she said.

Managed retreat

The alternative proposal involves the demolition of the current clubhouse, immediate installation of a drainage system along the bluff, and the renovation and expansion of The Turn pub and grub facility to accommodate the existing clubhouse operations.

This retreat plan, based on an estimate provided to the mayor, would cost the village approximately $5 million to $6 million.

The board is likely several weeks away from making any decisions on this matter. 

For additional background, see The Port Times Record’s April 7 story, “On the edge: Port Jeff Village weighs the fate of country club.” 

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

The newly configured Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees held its first public meeting on Tuesday, July 5.

Trustee Lauren Sheprow took her seat alongside her colleagues on the board for the first time. After completing her first full day in office, the trustee discussed ways in which she intends to familiarize herself with the mechanics of the village and learn more about the concerns of her constituents.

“I continue to take information in and I’ll continue to seek information from the residents, not because I am not campaigning anymore but because I am really interested in what they have to say,” she said. 

Sheprow will jump headfirst into her first term of office, already securing two important assignments from Mayor Margot Garant: commissioner of communications and commissioner of recreation. Outlining her rationale behind these appointments, the mayor said she intends to tap into Sheprow’s professional experience in public relations and repurpose those skills in service to the community.

“We put her to work as commissioner of communications [because] we want to put her public relations experience and career to work for us,” Garant said, adding, “And also as commissioner of recreation, so that she can help the recs department and because she was a former member of the recs committee.”

As well, Garant congratulated reelected Trustee Rebecca Kassay, who began her second term this week. 

Kassay reported that she received a request to explore code changes related to the planting of bamboo as the roots of this woody grass can cross property lines and create conflicts between neighbors.

“This would address the planting of new bamboo as well as sort of being more clear about when someone has bamboo and it starts creeping over to another property line,” she said. “This is a big issue as far as property values can go and can help prevent neighborly disputes in the future.” 

Trustee Stan Loucks delivered an extensive report on the status of the recreation department as it enters the height of its busy season. He announced that two tennis courts at the country club have been opened for pickleball and will remain minimally open throughout the summer until construction begins at the East Beach bluff.

“We anticipate that the construction of the lower wall along the bluff will be starting sometime in August or early September and if any part of this construction requires working from the top, in other words, working from those tennis courts, then we’re going to have to close those courts,” he said. Loucks added that East Beach and its parking lot will also be closed off during the construction period.

Although golf membership at the country club has exceeded 630 members this year, Loucks said there are no plans to cap membership. He advised community members that while tee times are scarce between 6 and 11 a.m., there are plenty of remaining slots available after this time frame.

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden used her report to address an ongoing issue related to the recently renovated public bathrooms at Rocketship Park. According to her, the bathrooms were vandalized just four days after they were opened, prompting the board to enforce a closing time for public use of the facility.

“The conclusion we all came to was that because of the vandalism that happened four days after opening our brand new, expensive bathrooms … it is best to keep them closed at 7 p.m. and to have a sign to say that they are closed at 7 p.m. due to the vandalism that is occurring,” she said. This signage will assure that the public knows “when they’re closed and why they’re closed.”

Snaden also informed the public that the village has renewed its intermunicipal agreement with the Port Jefferson School District to allow constables on school grounds. She added that the roadway closure at the intersection of Route 25A and Arlington Avenue remains ongoing.

Garant recognized the village employees who worked to facilitate a smooth election day last month. She also acknowledged all of the candidates who ran for the village board and commended them for their continued commitment to the service of the village.

“I thank you for your involvement, for engaging, for getting out and knocking on the doors,” the mayor said. “You make a difference and we hope that you stay engaged.”

Garant also highlighted the monumental act of heroism on the part of a group of Port Jeff high school graduates. As reported on June 30 in The Port Times Record, these grads left their high school commencement ceremony to help extinguish a fire on Arlington Avenue.

“Brave is not even the word,” Garant said. “Community service is an understatement. … This really says what Port Jefferson is all about.” She added, “The fact that we do have a fire department that helps train our kids and that they are ready to serve under any circumstances is just absolutely amazing and encouraging and amazing to me.”

Concluding a hotly contested election season in the Village of Port Jefferson, Rebecca Kassay and Lauren Sheprow were sworn into office for two-year terms on Monday, July 4.

Joined by family and friends, Trustee Rebecca Kassay takes the oath of office. Photo by Raymond Janis

Immediately after dozens of groups and community organizations paraded through the streets for the Fourth of July celebration, community members gathered on the front lawn of Village Hall for the formal swearing-in ceremony. 

Members of Cub Scout Pack 41 performed the ceremonial raising of the flag, which featured a historic 46-star flag that was donated by the Squires family. For more on this flag, see The Port Times Record’s April 28 story, “Squires family heirloom returns to Port Jefferson.”

Following the flag ceremony, Mayor Margot Garant, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden and Trustee Stan Loucks gathered on the steps of Village Hall to join their incoming colleagues. Barbara Sakovich, the Village clerk, administered the oath of office to Kassay and Sheprow, who each took the oath while surrounded by family and friends. 

Upon taking office for a second term, Kassay thanked members of the Port Jeff community for entrusting her to continue her work on the Village Board. 

“Thank you everyone for being here today, for being a part of this village and for entrusting part of it with me,” she said. “It’s truly humbling to be entering my second term, and I am so very much looking forward to continuing to add strength to this already strong community.”

Trustee Lauren Sheprow sworn in for her first term of office. Photo by Raymond Janis

Sheprow, a first-time public officeholder, was surrounded by a sizable party of family members, including children, grandchildren and her father, former Mayor Hal Sheprow. 

On a similar note as Kassay, Sheprow thanked the community members for their support. “I can’t express how grateful I am that the Village of Port Jefferson has put their faith and trust in me to represent them for these next two years,” the new trustee said, adding, “I hope that I can live up to that faith and trust.”

The trustees took their seats before the public the following night. For more on this meeting, see The Port Times Record’s July 7 story, “Port Jeff board of trustees updates public on recreation, vandalism and local heroism.”

(Left to right) Trustee Rebecca Kassay, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden, Mayor Margot Garant, Trustee Stan Loucks and Trustee-elect Lauren Sheprow. Right photo courtesy Sheprow, all others from the Port Jefferson Village website

The Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees will undergo a major shakeup next week as Bruce Miller leaves the board.

Miller, who has served since 2014, was unseated in last week’s village election after an unsuccessful bid for a fifth term. His seat will be filled by Lauren Sheprow. 

Bruce Miller, above, leaves office next week after eight years on the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees.
Photo from village website

As Miller transitions out of village government, his colleagues weighed in on his legacy of service to the village. In a series of emailed statements, Mayor Margot Garant and trustees took the opportunity to describe their many takeaways from Miller’s time in office. 

The mayor, under whose administration Miller served during the entirety of his tenure as a trustee, highlighted several initiatives Miller had championed through the village government.

“Bruce’s vision for a better Port Jefferson brought us to the table on many big issues, including the repowering of our power plant, getting a better ride on the Long Island Rail Road, and reducing energy costs for those who live both in Port Jefferson and beyond,” Garant said. “He should be commended on every level for his selfless contribution, and I wish him all the best in his retirement years ahead, spending many more days visiting his daughter and doing the things he loves.”

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden praised Miller for the innovative ideas and problem-solving skills that he brought to the village board. According to her, his creative approach is best illustrated by his taste in architecture.

“My first memory of Bruce was with his work on the Architectural Review Committee and his ideas on Victorian-style exterior design,” she said. “He always brought an interesting perspective to issues and it’s been a pleasure working with him. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Trustee Stan Loucks, who has also served alongside Miller for eight years, emphasized that Miller’s service to the community long predates his time as trustee.

“It should be obvious to everyone that Bruce Miller has been, and still is, dedicated to servicing the village of Port Jefferson,” Loucks said. “His many years on the school board and the eight years he served as a trustee are proof of that.” He added, “There is a saying, ‘All good things come to an end.’ I feel that Bruce was one of those good things. I wish him the best going forward — good health and happiness.”

Trustee Rebecca Kassay, who will remain on the board for another term, also acknowledged Miller’s contributions to the school district. She added that she hopes to continue to tap into Miller’s wealth of experience moving forward.

“Trustee Miller has garnered invaluable institutional knowledge from his years of service, not only on the Board of Trustees, but also from his years on the board of education,” she said. “I appreciate his perspectives and look forward to continuing a dialogue with him to help inform future village decisions.”

Sheprow commented on the lessons she takes away from her predecessor’s decades of public service in and around the village. 

“Bruce Miller has been contributing time and talent to the Village of Port Jefferson — and before that to the Port Jefferson School District — for close to two decades,” the trustee-elect said, adding, “He deserves a great deal of respect for all he has contributed and I applaud him for his dedication. He is a role model for public service to be emulated in the Village of Port Jefferson and I hope others will follow in his footsteps and get involved as he has for the betterment of this community.”

Sheprow will be seated officially after a formal swearing-in ceremony held on Monday, July 4, at Village Hall. This will conclude Miller’s eight-year tenure on the village board. 

To read about Miller’s biggest takeaway from his time in office, see the TBR News Media June 30 story, “A legacy of service: Bruce Miller reflects upon his tenure as Port Jeff Village trustee.”

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

The Village of Port Jeff Board of Trustees held its monthly public meeting on Monday, June 6, addressing a number of issues.

Public safety

Chief of Code Enforcement Fred Leute reported that while the village has not noticed a recent spike in automobile break-ins, this is a crime trend occurring in other nearby areas. He reminded villagers of the importance of locking their cars and not leaving key fobs inside the car when they are away.

“If you lock your car, there’s no incidents of anyone breaking into the cars,” he said. “It’s not worth it to them … If you lock your stuff, lock your windows and lock your cars, you’ll be safe.”

Suffolk County police will conduct training programs for village constables, “and that includes an active shooter certification for all of our employees,” Leute said.

He also highlighted his office’s ongoing efforts to monitor speeding through radar enforcement and officers posted near stop signs. Through these activities, he noticed a startling phenomenon.

“The interesting thing that came from that is that once they did that for the past week and a half, they’re finding that it’s mostly village residents that are speeding,” he said. 

Leute stressed the importance of calling his office rather than reporting incidents on social media. “If you’re of good heart and you want to help this village, call us,” he said. “Don’t go on Facebook, call my guys. We will listen, we will figure out what the problem is and we will fix it.” He added, “Going on Facebook and demeaning either the village or the constables or the highway department … whoever, it’s not productive.”

Trustee reports

Trustee Rebecca Kassay announced she had a productive meeting last weekend with the Beach Street Community Garden, a group of gardeners and community volunteers. She said that she also hopes to have a meeting with Elizabeth Hornstein, of the Long Island Sound Study, to explore ways in which the village can secure possible funding for certain projects.

Kassay said Hornstein specializes in assisting “villages like ours, municipalities who have goals concerning flooding and other environmental issues, to connect us with grant money that is available on the state and federal levels.”

Trustee Stan Loucks said there are still available job openings within the recreations department. 

“We’re looking for junior counselors, senior counselors, lifeguards — these positions are still open, so you can apply through the Village Center,” he said. 

Loucks also reported positive news on the country club, whose membership this season has exceeded 600 members. “This certainly indicates that we have an exceptional facility,” the trustee said. “However, golf courses can only handle so many golfers. We may be having discussions in the very near future about putting a cap on our membership.”

Loucks concluded his report by reminding residents that the restaurants at the country club are open to the public, not requiring a membership to eat at them. “The eating facilities up at the country club, they’re not private,” he said. “They’re public places — The Turn as well as The Waterview. These are public restaurants and many people are not aware that they can go up there and go to these places.”

Trustee Bruce Miller provided an update on his recent deliberations with the executive staff of planning and training at Long Island Rail Road. Miller said there was “a lot of movement, but I don’t know if you would call it in a positive direction.”

During the conference, the LIRR presented several alternatives to the village. The parties discussed the idea of having two tracks, that is, a second track between Port Jefferson and Huntington stations. LIRR also proposed fixing the bridges. When the idea was pitched for electrification of the line, LIRR responded with the need to purchase more land to accommodate the two tracks. 

Miller questioned if LIRR’s numerous alternatives may overcomplicate the planning of this project, dooming it to failure from the start.

“I’m just thinking to myself, have they put so many bells and whistles onto this project that they then can say, ‘Well, we’d like to do all of this but we just can’t. It’s just not economically feasible,’” Miller said. “Part of my issue is the fact that we have a lot of residents who live in Port Jefferson … but commute to the Ronkonkoma line. That to me is very ‘ungreen.’”

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden announced a number of upcoming events in the village, including the upcoming Maker Faire on Saturday, June 11, at the Village Center.

“I’ve been working with the museum about coordinating with our code department for security, for road closures, for parking,” she said. “That’s shaping up to be a great event, as it always is. We’re glad to have it back after the COVID years and get back to the fun with the kids.”

Mayor report

Mayor Margot Garant reported that a fireworks display will be held on Sunday, July 3, at East Beach with a rain date of July 8. 

The mayor also congratulated the high school baseball team and girls lacrosse team on their successful seasons. 

To watch the full meeting, click here.

Mayor Margot Garant has responded to concerns about seating availability at Port Jefferson train station.

The village mayor believes the issue of seating availability cannot be divorced from public safety. “We were getting a lot of complaints about the homeless population,” Garant said. “They were using the off and on ramps and sleeping in them. And our ridership — whether it was people from Port Jeff Station or Port Jeff village — they were complaining to us about the safety at that time of getting on and off the train, especially in the early mornings and in the evening hours.”

During the 2019 redesign of the Port Jefferson train station, the village had discussed both seating availability and public safety with Long Island Rail Road. During those deliberations, the mayor said LIRR had pitched an idea to add redesigned benches to prevent individuals from sleeping on them.

“The discussion was held at that time about what the renovation plans would look like and I believe they had commented to us that they were introducing some of these other types of benches which would allow for seating but don’t allow for overnight sleeping,” she said, adding, “Since then our complaints have gone down, I would say, like 85%.”

‘So, yes, seating should be made available if they can’t sit inside the booth or they want to sit outside, but it may be the type of seating that does not allow for you to lie down on it and that’s for a reason.’  — Margot Garant

Despite the decline in complaints from residents, there remains the problem of user-friendliness at the station for some riders. As reported last week, there are only two outdoor seating areas at the station, which can present an unnecessary obstacle for people with disabilities and the elderly.

Garant acknowledged that greater accommodations at the station should be made to ensure these populations can rest comfortably while waiting for a train.

“I feel for the complications that people have,” she said. “So, yes, seating should be made available if they can’t sit inside the booth or they want to sit outside, but it may be the type of seating that does not allow for you to lie down on it and that’s for a reason.”

The quantity and style of seating at the station is largely determined by LIRR, according to the mayor. The decision to add armrests along the benches, however, was a coordinated decision between LIRR and the village to curb sleeping at the station.

“Yes, there was a conversation with respect to that because we’re trying to prevent people from using the station as a sleeping area,” Garant said. “There is a significant, conscious effort in making sure that when our ridership gets up there in the early morning to take the train to work, they are not having to step over people or deal with a certain population up there that’s going to panhandle and make them feel unsafe. That was a conversation that we had.”

Garant added that user-friendliness has not been part of her agenda primarily because she does not see the public demand to alter the present layout of the station. 

“In three years, nobody has come to us at a public meeting or raised this as a concern of theirs that they feel that the station is not user-friendly for them,” she said. “It’s not something that was brought to our attention.” She added, “Since we worked with Pax Christi and the station was renovated, it’s been a very peaceful coexistence.”

Because the railroad is not a village property, the mayor also said she is limited in her ability to change the layout. However, she agreed that if this becomes a persistent problem for riders and residents, then she would coordinate with LIRR to remedy it.

“We will certainly discuss with the Long Island Rail Road — because it is not our property — what we can do together to try and alleviate that concern,” the mayor said. “I have to be honest, that concern has not come to my desk in over three years.”

Station Street

Questions surrounding the layout of the station will continue as the village embarks upon its latest project to introduce Station Street, a one-way thoroughfare that will begin at Main Street, cut east near the parking lot and end at Oakland Street. This planned terminal will mitigate congestion on Route 112 and facilitate traffic coming in and out of the station.

Three-dimensional renderings of the proposed Station Street plaza. Graphics generated by Campani & Schwarting, courtesy of Mayor Margot Garant’s office

The Station Street project has been in the works since 2016, when the village approved a master plan to revitalize Upper Port. As part of joint efforts between the village, the Town of Brookhaven, LIRR and the state Department of Transportation, the proposed Station Street would create a plaza that will help channel traffic from the main thoroughfare, alleviating congestion as drivers enter the village. 

“We did a traffic study,” Garant said. “The traffic study and the DOT comments said the more that we can get people off of Route 112 as they’re going toward the east to work at the hospital, the better.” She added, “That will eliminate a lot of the buildup, the people waiting in line to get into Port Jeff village.”

The plan, if implemented, would eliminate two traffic concerns for the village. First it would relocate the bus stop currently placed along the train crossing into Station Street, eliminating a public safety hazard for people getting off of the bus. Relocating the bus stop will “make it much safer, get the pedestrians off that train intersection there and alleviate the traffic,” Garant said.

The plans would also introduce a driveway into the train station parking lot, where taxis and cars will have a better drop-off and pickup area. Behind the scenes, these plans are falling into place, according to Garant. Although still without a developer, the plans have been put out to bid and contracts are expected soon.

“The bid is out right now for contractors to come in and do the installation of that street,” the mayor said. “Everything is lining up and the plan is coming to fruition as we speak.”

American Legion Post 432 hosts Memorial Day service to honor the fallen. Photo by Raymond Janis

Members of the American Legion Post 432, based out of Port Jefferson Station, held a series of services throughout the community to honor the sacrifices made by American servicemen.

The day began at Steven J. Crowley Memorial Park in Terryville. Cpl. Crowley was a security guard for the United States Marines. In 1979 Crowley made the ultimate sacrifice when he died in the line of duty when the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was besieged by a student riot. 

Kevin Powers, sergeant at arms at Post 432, grew up with Crowley. The two later served together in the Marine Corps.

 “He was a good man,” Powers said. “I knew Steven since elementary school and we graduated together. I miss him dearly.”

The memorial service at Crowley Park is an annual tradition at the post. Powers suggested that this event is a yearly reminder of Crowley’s legacy of service and helps to keep a fallen comrade’s memory alive.

“We do this every year,” he said. “It’s an honor to do that for him and for all of the men and women in the service who gave their lives to protect our freedom.”

Ron Romaszka, commander of Post 432, reflected upon his own experiences during the Vietnam War and his brothers in arms who died in combat.

“I lost a lot of guys over in ‘Nam,” he said. “I don’t talk about it all the time. That’s mine and I keep that inside.” On the importance of the day in hand, he added, “Memorial Day has always been a very important day for me. For all of the veterans here, they all have a special feeling inside, and that’s why it’s an important day for all of us.”

Romaszka also touched upon the role of the American Legion in serving veterans throughout the community. “We stand behind every veteran that’s out there,” the post commander said. “For any veteran that needs assistance of any kind, we’re there to assist them. Whether it’s financial, whether it’s medical — whatever it is, we’re there for them.”

The post held a similar ceremony at the Port Jefferson Memorial Park in the village. Trustee Bruce Miller, who also serves as 2nd vice commander of Post 432, shared that freedom is inextricably linked to the sacrifices of American veterans.

“We come to honor the fallen on Memorial Day,” he said. “It is important to look back and remember that our freedom is not free, that we have our freedom because people have fought and died for it.” He added, “It is important to recognize their sacrifice and the sacrifices of those serving today.”

While it may be a solemn occasion, Miller said veterans can find solace this Memorial Day in knowing that American forces are not currently in the line of fire.

“This is the first year in the last 20 that we are not at war,” the village trustee said. “Veterans can rejoice that none of our soldiers, sailors or marines are coming under fire. But as the Ukrainians have shown us, we must always be ready.”

Port Jefferson is a great place to live and people have worked hard to create that freedom. I’m very thankful for their service, for those who have lost their lives, and we honor them.’

— Margot Garant

Mayor Margot Garant offered her own take on Memorial Day. She said she witnessed firsthand the sacrifices of American veterans as several of her family members, including her brother and father, have served.

“I feel that every day in our community is Memorial Day,” she said. “It gives us a time to pause and remember and be thankful for all of the great things that we have.” The village mayor added, “Port Jefferson is a great place to live and people have worked hard to create that freedom. I’m very thankful for their service, for those who have lost their lives, and we honor them.”

The day concluded with one last service at the post, followed by refreshments. To learn more about Post 432 and its various offerings, visit www.americanlegionwilsonritchpost432.org.

— Photos by Raymond Janis

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

By Raymond Janis

Members of the Six Acre Park Committee met at Village Hall May 17 to present their vision to the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees.

Rebecca Kassay, trustee liaison to the committee, presented plans for the park located on Highlands Boulevard. 

“The proposal summary is to create a tranquil, arboretum-like setting with a walking path and replace most or all of the existing vegetation with a variety of native tree shrubs and native plantings,” she said. “The park would aim to provide aesthetic and ecological value throughout the year.”

The committee has met once or twice a month since October last year to arrive at its recommendations. The stated goals of the park are to exercise the body and mind, celebrate the beauty of nature and promote multigenerational opportunities for education. 

There is also potential for active use of space along the far west perimeter of the property, which the committee intends to explore in the second phase, according to Kassay.

The committee has used several well-known parks for inspiration: The High Line in New York City, Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton, Avalon Nature Preserve in Stony Brook, Frank Melville Park in Setauket and Central Park in Manhattan. 

“My personal opinion is that I want to see this move forward. I think it’s a place that we need.”

— Mayor Margot Garant

After the presentation, members of the committee had an opportunity to address the board in turn.

“As we see caterpillars transform into butterflies, so will this 6-acre parkland become a tranquil path of arboretum,” Gerard Gang said. “It will be an asset to the development of Upper Port. Its walking paths will be enjoyed by the residents as well as the employees around the park, exercising both the body and the mind.”

Kathleen Riley shared her enthusiasm for the project, saying the park will be an asset to the village, offering residents a place for quiet contemplation and reflection.

“This arboretum will be a great addition to the village,” she said. “With all of the different amenities that the village has and all of the other activities that this arboretum might have, it will be a great addition.” She added, “It will be passive and active — not an athletic park like Heritage Park [in Mount Sinai], but more on the contemplative end like Avalon.”

“It was really a pleasure to be a part of the committee,” Kelly DeVine said. “I think what’s going to emerge out of this process is going to be an attribute for the whole village.” 

DeVine added that the committee’s emphasis on native plants will help to showcase the richness and diversity of native species: “We all love Long Island, we all love how unique it is. We now can have a place where we can really showcase how beautiful Long Island is.” 

At the end of the presentation, Mayor Margot Garant complimented the committee for the thoroughness of its investigation 

“I think you guys did a very thorough job,” she said. “My personal opinion is that I want to see this move forward. I think it’s a place that we need. I know Harborfront Park is an asset, but it’s very active. This I think is a completely different park.” The mayor added, “I’m looking forward to seeing this come to fruition.”

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

By Raymond Janis

On Monday, May 2, the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees held a public meeting, updating residents on a number of issues facing the village.

Public safety 

Chief of Code Enforcement Fred Leute reported an alleged physical altercation involving a knife attack on Main Street, prompting Suffolk County police to make an arrest. “The victim and the aggressor became involved in a verbal dispute,” the chief said. “The dispute turned physical. The aggressor slashed the victim on the upper left arm with a knife and Suffolk County P.D. responded.” He added, “The victim was taken by ambulance to Stony Brook [University Hospital], treated and released.”

The suspect was arrested by Suffolk police without incident and the background check revealed no gang affiliation or other motivating factors.

Leute announced that he has been coordinating with Suffolk police with regards to the upcoming busy season in downtown Port Jefferson. The village will receive the Whiskey Unit, a two-person police team which will be dedicated to the four busiest nights. A uniformed patrol officer will be assigned to monitor activity on Main Street. There will also be bike patrol officers and other services to promote public safety.

In response to resident complaints of speeding on California Avenue near the East Setauket boundary, village constables had conducted a two-week survey using a speed trailer which monitored traffic speeds along the street. Leute believed that with the introduction of stop signs in the area, speeding has largely been alleviated. 

“While I completely understand there was likely a speed problem previously, I think the stop signs have fixed that problem,” he said. “In short, I don’t think we have a speeding problem there now.”

Resident Ana Hozyainova questioned the efficacy of such a speeding survey to accurately diagnose the problem on California Avenue: “Me going down California with my two children and then turning onto [Route] 25A becomes an issue,” she said. “It’s a lot less of an issue now with the stop signs, but it is still part of the issue.” She later asked that the board consider a plan to reconfigure the street to make it more walkable.

Mayor Margot Garant, replying to this suggestion, said such a measure would not be feasible, at least in the immediate future.

“It took eight years with [the state Department of Transportation] to get the sidewalk on 25A,” the mayor said.

The discussion concluded as Hozyainova and Leute agreed to compare notes and investigate the matter further in private.

Trustee reports

Trustee Rebecca Kassay reported that the Six Acre Park Committee will present its proposal to the board on Monday, May 16, at Village Hall. 

“The overall aim is to have a tree park or arboretum densely planted that replaces a significant portion, or all, of the species that are currently there, which are invasive species with little to no ecological value to native or migratory fauna,” the trustee said. She added, “It’s a rare opportunity to give back to nature in a meaningful way.”

Trustee Stan Loucks began his report with a brief remark about the state of golf throughout the village. “At our country club, our membership is very healthy,” he said. “We have exceeded 550 members this year. It’s down a little bit from last year, but last year was an exceptional year.” He added, “More people are playing golf today than ever before.”

In an email statement, village resident Michael Mart countered Loucks’ opinion. According to Mart, “The figures stated last night regarding his up-to-date number as being just over 550 … changes nothing in regard to the fact that considerably less than 10% of village residents are dues-paying golfers at our village golf course.”

In a phone interview, Loucks responded to Mart’s comments: “He’s absolutely correct,” the trustee said. “It would be a little bit over the top to expect to have 8,000 residents as members of our country club.” He added, “I was only quoting the number of golfers at our club in comparison to previous years and our membership is healthy.”

Loucks also reported that two pickleball courts have been created at Texaco Park.

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden reported a delay in the bathroom project at Rocketship Park. “It’s going to be a little bit longer for some of the equipment, the fixtures to come in,” the deputy mayor said. “We discussed looking into some porta potties in the meantime, so the kids and the families will have bathrooms down there.”

Mayor’s report 

The mayor reported she had a successful meeting with the Six Acre Park Committee: “I want to thank those volunteers for working over the last eight months and pulling together what I think is a fantastic vision for the 6 acres up on Highlands Boulevard,” she said. “I’m looking forward to having them do their presentation to the Board of Trustees.”

Garant also announced that the Upper Port building which formerly housed the PJ Lobster House before its move will soon be demolished. Approval of the demolition permits will be granted “any minute and you will see that building start to come down,” she said. 

On Sunday, June 5, Drowned Meadow Cottage will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate Plundering Day, reopening the building as a permanent Culper Spy Ring museum, the mayor said. 

To access the full Board of Trustees meeting, click here.