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Margot Garant

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Mayor Margot Garant was reelected by Port Jefferson residents for a seventh term.

Along with fellow trustee incumbents, Kathianne Snaden (936 votes) and Stanley Loucks (930 votes) the Unity Party announced their victory win Tuesday night.

Garant took home 913 votes, while candidate Barbara Ransome — on the Alliance for All ballot — had 513. Suzanne Velazquez, who ran alongside Ransome, received 552 votes.

“I can’t even believe this,” said Garant to her crowd of supporters the night of the win June 15. “I’m so lucky to be here with you guys, to be serving you in this beautiful village.”

Suzanne Velazquez and Barbara Ransome on voting day. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Ransome, who serves as the director of operations for the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said that she and her campaign-mate were saddened by the loss.

“We worked hard to have a high integrity campaign,” she said. “We were disappointed because our hopes were that people really wanted change and that didn’t happen.”

But she and Velazquez took the high road, calling Garant after the results were announced to congratulate her on the win. 

“I told her the chamber will still be a great partner to the village,” she said. 

Velazquez agreed, and said she was thankful to all the people who supported Team Alliance for All.  

“I’m proud to have the opportunity to run for village trustee, especially walking the various neighborhoods, meeting and talking with our neighbors,” she said. “As mentioned in our campaign, both Barbara and I are involved in our community and will continue to be — always trying to make Port Jefferson a great place to live, work and play every day. We have and hope to continue our good, working relationship with Village Hall to make Port Jefferson Village the healthy community we all want it to be.”

Garant, who has been the village’s mayor for 12 years, said she is grateful to serve the community for another two years. 

“Sixty-five percent of the voter population that turned out said we are doing a great job,” she said. “So, we’re going to advance this community together. I want to thank our opponents for bringing out the issues, and for engaging our constituents. We are now putting our heads back down and going back to work.”

When announced, Snaden and Loucks were overjoyed. Loucks made a point to thank the mayor, too.

“Margot is the one who needs to be thanked,” he said. “She held the group together — and it wasn’t an easy year, it was a very difficult year.”

He said he’s honored to live, and help lead, this village.

Mayor Garant with her parents. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“We’re living, in my opinion, in the best village anywhere — not only on Long Island, but in New York state,” he said. “You’ve got everything here — and Margot has led us through it.”

Snaden, who was reelected to her second term, also thanked the mayor for her support from the beginning.

“I knocked on Margot’s door three years ago and I said I want to make a difference. I want to help. What can I do?” she said. “And she sucked me in — and I thank her for that because there was no turning back at that point. It opened up doors that I was able to see where I could help. I grabbed it and I ran with it. And the support that you guys all give me is what keeps me going every single day.”

John Reilly also scored 869 votes as judge in the Justice Court.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Port Jefferson Village officials headed to Centennial Beach on Saturday to unveil its new beach cleanup incentive. 

Partnering with Remsenburg-based nonprofit Relic Sustainability, the group has collaborated several times with the county and the Town of Brookhaven to create cleaner beaches for everyone to enjoy.

“Our goal is to collaborate with the town, businesses and community members in combating beach pollution that is a growing issue on the coastline of Long Island,” Alex Kravitz, COO of Relic, previously told TBR News. 

On Saturday, June 12, county, town and village officials joined the group to celebrate Port Jefferson’s first basket station right at the entrance into Centennial Beach. These stations give beachgoers the opportunity to take a basket on the beach, pick up trash and deposit it into a trash receptacle. This is part of Relic’s Coastal Collaborative project, which encompasses 10 preexisting stations across Long Island, including one at Cedar Beach that was unveiled by the town in April. 

Kravitz said the plan is to add more stations across Long Island and at different county parks. 

Spearheaded to bring into the village by Trustee Rebecca Kassay, she said the baskets will help people make good choices while out and about, as well as at home. 

“It’s so important to put in steps like this, to empower individuals to be good stewards of their community,” she said. “This station is so simple, people see it, they get it right away, and it’s a prompt to remind people that it is so easy to do something so good and so important for our ocean, for our sound and for our harbor.”

Kassay added they are planning on bringing two more stations to other beaches in the village. 

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said the stations will be great for children to learn how important it is to keep the beaches clean.

“I think it’s great for families, cleaning up a beach, cleaning up a park — its instant gratification for the kids that are participating, it shows them the impact they can make right then and there.”

Brookhaven Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) applauded the groups for bringing the baskets in.  

“I think that this is really great leadership from the village in setting up this kind of thing, and helping to show people ways that we can change our own behavior,” he said. 

The first station at Centennial Beach has been sponsored by the Fox and Owl Inn — which Kassay owns. Relic said they are continuously looking for sponsors for the other baskets that will soon pop up.

Relic also sells organic apparel that gives back to local waters. For every T-shirt sold, they plant five oysters back into Moriches Bay. 

The clothing items are available at relic-design.com.

The long-awaited retaining wall at East Beach is finally done after a total makeover of the decaying former wall. 

Back in March, the project was awarded to Galvin Brothers and Madhue Contracting, both of Great Neck, as a joint venture for a total of $474,830. The expenses for the structural repairs were included in the budget and were part of a bond anticipation note. 

This came as part of the ongoing revitalization of East Beach, which included sand dredging, and soon a revegetation of the bluff. 

According to Mayor Margot Garant, the wall was finished on time and as expected by Memorial Day weekend.

“I think the community is really happy with it,” she said. “It’s important that we got this wall completed.”

Garant said they are continuously keeping an eye on the wall and watching the upper slop to make sure everything stays in place.

“When there was a monsoon [that weekend],” she said, “Everything stayed intact.”

Stan Loucks, Margot Garant, Kathianne Snaden, Barbara Ransome and Suzanne Velazquez at Tuesday’s debate. Photo by Julianne Mosher

For two hours on Tuesday night, dozens of people sat inside the Port Jefferson Village Center to watch the highly anticipated election debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters. 

Incumbents trustee Kathianne Snaden, trustee Stan Loucks and Mayor Margot Garant sat alongside Barbara Ransome and Suzanne Velazquez to answer questions from the audience surrounding village issues and how they will work toward them if elected.

Two trustee seats are up, with the two incumbents and Velazquez vying for the spots. Ransome, the director of operations with the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and a past village trustee, is looking to take over Garant’s seat as mayor.

After opening remarks, the first question up was regarding uptown revitalization. Garant said, “Everyone knows uptown is a very challenged business improvement district.” With a master plan in place, she and her team have helped initiate the start of building mixed-use spaces as of three months ago — bulldozing the vacant Bada Bing location to start construction with the Conifer Realty apartments. More plans are being implemented to continue the growth and revitalization of Upper Port, which will continue to take time and planning.

Ransome added that during her tenure with the chamber, membership has increased by 50%. By working with landowners, landlords and closely with Stony Brook University, she said the village is a vital place to conduct business.

“There has always been a line of communication to try to encourage businesses to come down into the village as well in Upper Port,” she said. 

The topic of cannabis became heated when all five participants had different views on smoking or ingesting the plant within the village. Garant noted that under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) legislation, cannabis can be ingested or smoked and for dispensaries to operate, but the village has until the end of the year to opt out. As of right now, Garant has not made a decision because she said it is a “tough decision.”

“Cannabis dispensaries are clean and safe,” she said. “People will want to go to other places and purchase it and come back, but I think it might be an incentive for uptown redevelopment. So, I’ve not closed the door on this. I’d like to hear from my community before I make that kind of decision.”

The village currently has a code which prohibits the use or smoking of tobacco or cannabis products on any village-owned property, which includes village parks but excludes the golf course at the country club. 

“We know when we’re on a golf course in the open space, some of the ladies and gentlemen like to enjoy a smoke,” she said. “If we cannot enforce one type of tobacco, it’s difficult to enforce another type of tobacco. So, we’re looking to make it the policy of membership — when you join the country club to prohibit the use of cannabis as a policy when you become a member.”

Ransome said that is called “privilege.” 

“It should be an even-lane regulation,” she added. 

Loucks believes there should be absolutely no use of cannabis anywhere within the village, while Snaden looked at the issue from both a financial and public safety point of view. 

“It could be an opportunity for our town,” she said. “There are tax implications there where we would receive tax revenue but, as the commissioner of public safety, I have a lot of concerns.”

Velazquez, too, was concerned about the close vicinity of the middle and high schools, but also as a health care professional who acknowledges the positives medicinal marijuana could have on a person. 

Things got heated again when the discussion of bus shelters and the future of transportation came up. Garant said previously there were issues with graffiti and homeless people using the shelters as a home, along with the loss of the Stony Brook shuttle during COVID. However, she said the shuttle is coming back with the university sporting 50 percent of the bill. 

Snaden, who is also the liaison to the village parking and transportation departments, said that the bus will help continue to bring business back.

“I think it’s very important for businesses to have students and staff and anybody else on that shuttle route come into the village to patronize the businesses and the restaurants without their vehicles,” she said. 

Velazquez agreed, but was upset by the lack of places for people to sit while they waited for their buses, and that Port Jefferson is the only train station on Long Island that has removed its benches.

“I think that we should make sure that we have places for people to sit,” she said. “Seniors, the disabled or just people wanting to enjoy. I think we should have bus shelters and benches at the train station for everybody to use — not just select who should be allowed to rest.”

Snaden rebutted, noting the reason benches were removed at the train station was because of the multitude of complaints that they received of criminal activity going on around the benches. 

“It’s not about selectivity,” she argued. “We do not discriminate as to who can sit and who can rest. We welcome everyone to this village, and we help them in any way that we can. We cannot have crime, we cannot have drug deals, we cannot have what was going on at the train station.”

For public safety concerns, Loucks started off with how proud he was that the Suffolk County Police Department Whiskey Tour would be patrolling the village at night, afterhours. 

“They have a little bit more clout than our code officers,” he said. “Our code officers are somewhat restricted with what they can do but are always the first ones there.”

Snaden, who throughout her two years as trustee has implemented several different policies for public safety including the “See Something — Say Something” campaign, as well as a new kiosk for code enforcement to be readily available during their tour. 

Ransome argued that when the officers are off duty is when trouble arrives, especially when the bars are let out. She said she would prefer officers to be touring during later hours. 

“I think that we need to change our shifts on our codes so that they are working in conjunction with Suffolk County,” she said. 

Snaden responded that she is working on making the now part-time officers full time. 

“So that would help with those hours, and for them to work closer with Suffolk County later hours into the evening,” she said.

The LIPA power plant and water quality in the harbor were also discussed, with everyone equally acknowledging the importance fiscally of the plant and of renewable green energy. Loud music was asked about, and what the village can do to better control noise after dark, as well as political signs outside of businesses in the village.

When the conversation about the Port Jefferson Country Club came up again, Loucks noted that as of that day, the club had 700 new members. 

“I believe the country club is the crown jewel,” he said. “If you’ve not gone up to the country club and walked around the facilities, you really don’t know what you’re missing.”

Ransome agreed, but argued about the senior citizen discount that was taken away, as well as allowing more walkers on the property.

“I think we need to do a better job with our contract we have with our current vendor there, which is The Crest Group, because right now we’re only getting $20,000 a month from the rental of that facility, which is extraordinarily less than what happened when Lombardi’s was there,” she said. 

Loucks argued back that when the Lombardi Group left, the space was empty. 

“No one wanted to go up there,” he said. “$20,000 per month goes directly to the village — the village residents pay absolutely no tax money to support the club. Zero. It is a self-sustaining country club.”

Other topics included the marrying of Upper Port and downtown, planning committee critiques, the Gap store vacancy and its parking, also the continuous Lawrence Aviation impact and its future. 

To watch the whole debate online, visit the Village of Port Jefferson’s YouTube page. 

Residents can vote on Tuesday, June 15, at the Village Center at 101A E. Broadway between the hours of 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. 

Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Port Jefferson Village residents have the opportunity to vote on Tuesday, June 15, from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. at the Village Center, located at 101 E. Broadway. Two village trustee positions will be accounted for, as well as the mayor’s position.

On the ballot are five residents: incumbents Mayor Margot Garant, trustees Kathianne Snaden and Stan Loucks; newcomer Barbara Ransome will be up against Garant, with running-mate Suzanne Velazquez vying for trustee. 

Alliance for All

Suzanne Velazquez, who’s running for trustee, and Barbara Ransome, vying for the mayor spot.
Photos by Julianne Mosher

While new on the ballot, Ransome and Velazquez aren’t new to the area. Running under the Alliance for All party, the duo believes new leadership is needed.

As a member of the Port Jefferson community for 37 years, Ransome previously held trustee and deputy mayor positions under former Mayor Jeanne Garant. She said she decided to run because she believes there needs to be change.

“We have had an administration now that’s been in for six terms, and it’s long enough,” Ransome said. “We feel that there is sometimes a level of complacency that can happen when you have someone in for too long of a time. So, we feel that we could bring fresh eyes, and new perspectives.”

Ransome was in village government from 1995 to 2008. She was owner of a flower shop in East Main Street for 13 years, and now owns and operates a bed and breakfast, The Ransome Inn.

For the last decade, she has held the title of director of operations for the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. 

“What I bring to the table is not only my commitment of service over self, but my experience,” she said. “I’ve never wavered in my experience and working with the village.”

She added that there is an “atmosphere in the village, that there is privilege with certain situations, and we just want to be able to evaluate and reassess the operational departments in the village to make some positive changes.”

Ransome said that since beginning her professional career in the village in the early ’90s, there are still problems people are complaining about. 

“So, I believe when we’re elected, we can kind of go through some of this and explore why these things haven’t been done differently, or better,” she said.

One of Ransome’s biggest criticisms is of village code enforcement. 

“I think we can be a lot better with our ambassadors, that the code enforcement officers should be stronger ambassadors,” she said. “There should be a stronger presence. In the morning, when the bars are let out, where we have a lot of mischievous activities, we shouldn’t have to tell our code people to be more visible, they should be more visible. They shouldn’t have to be directed to see things if they’re so well trained.”

If elected, Ransome would leave the chamber to be a “full-time” mayor.

“I certainly feel I have the energy to take on this position,” she said. “I am in a very unique and good position where I can do this.”

As part of the Alliance for All campaign, Ransome and Velazquez created flyers in three languages prominent in the village — English, Spanish and Chinese. 

“We got a very positive response, people are looking for change,” Ransome said. “I think it’s past due. I just felt now that this is my time, and I didn’t want to wait another two more years.”

A horticulturist by trade, she said her running is like a winning plant which grew in great conditions.

“In the realm of that industry, there are things that are there are plants that are called proven winners,” she said. “That’s why I’m a proven winner. You can plant me, and I grow really well. This plant does very well in this in this area.”

Velazquez is a clinical associate professor at Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare, an administrator and village business owner. A mom of a senior in the Port Jefferson School District, she said she was raised by the mantra: “Service to humanity is the greatest work of life.”

“I’ve always been invested in community service and public service,” she said. 

 She said her skills in social work make her a great candidate for the ballot. 

“That’s where I’m bringing the experience of skills to help improve the health of our community,” she said. “Looking at how can we improve, how can we move forward, and continue to move forward and make positive changes for everybody.”

Velazquez is a former president of the chamber, a member of the Port Jefferson Historical Society, a member of the PTA and is involved with the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. 

A child from a military family, she said she moved around a lot growing up. But when she married her husband, they knew Port Jefferson was where they wanted to stay. 

“Port Jefferson is really where I’ve laid my roots,” she said. “Because I’ve been here for the longest I have ever been in one place in my whole life.”

Velazquez said listening to people, building relationships and engaging in the community are skills that she uses in her daily life that can be used in problem-solving crisis situations in local government. 

“I’m lending my ear and my voice right to the residents,” she said. “If they’re going to entrust me with the village, you have a professional ear and voice.”

Velazquez, if elected, wants to dedicate her platform to the “three e’s”: economic health, emotional and physical health, and environmental health. 

The village should be fiscally responsible in strengthening Port Jeff as a place of opportunity and prosperity for all members, residents and businesses; improve public safety; foster a sense of belonging and inclusion of all voices; create recreation opportunities and quality of life programs; and protect and enhance natural resources — redevelop resources to better serve the needs of its community members. 

The Unity Party

Above: Trustee Kathianne Snaden, Mayor Margot Garant and Trustee Stan Loucks, incumbents.
Photo by Julianne Mosher

Incumbent Mayor Margot Garant would be heading into her seventh term if reelected. She said that having someone take over right now wouldn’t make sense because there would be a lot they need to catch up on.

“It would take somebody new literally two years just to catch up,” she said. 

Mayor for 12 years, she said that the projects she has helped with do not happen overnight.  And while the Alliance for All party demands change, Garant said the Unity Party is the change. 

“There’s a lot on the horizon. In my opinion, the consistency or the continuity is really important because these are not small issues,” she said. 

Projects like the Ørsted wind power, National Grid and LIPA, and the electrification of the LIRR and Upper Port’s revitalization have been decades in the making. 

“That doesn’t happen overnight — that’s 12 years of being in front of them,” she said. “It’s our job to listen. I think we do a great job. We don’t always agree with you, but we will never ostracize you. We will always try and bring your viewpoint to the table and incorporate it as best we can.”

Garant said she chose to run again because she felt it was important to continue getting the village through the pandemic. 

“The executive team that we have in place is exceptional,” she said. “People should be really proud of what we have here, we have something very special. I’m committed to keeping everything moving forward to large projects.” 

Garant said the last time a Garant — her mother and former mayor Jeanne — left office, the village’s taxes went up 70%. And with over a decade under her belt, the daughter doesn’t want to leave anytime soon.

“We have a lot going on here, and I love what I do,” she said. “And I want to just keep on doing it.”

Trustee Kathianne Snaden moved to the village 16 years ago and became involved with the local government because she wanted answers to a problem she saw in the school district. She began attending every board meeting she could get to, work sessions and joined the parking committee. She studied the village inside and out. 

She ran and won her current trustee position in 2019, but COVID-19 happened right in the middle of her term. Snaden decided to run again to continue the work she is proud to have accomplished and continue moving forward. 

“I’ve made great strides with public safety and the relationship with the Suffolk County Police Department, and went through a year of a pandemic,” she said. “So, I’ve really only had one year in to actually be able to do things in a normal way. I’m not done. I want to continue to improve and learn.”

As liaison to public safety, parking committee and zombie house task force, she thinks that the last two years have been successful. 

“I am proud of the work that I’ve done addressing the public safety issues. We see fast results because of the team that we have in place,” she said. 

Snaden said that when calls were coming in about troublesome zombie homes in the village, she immersed herself into the situation, visited the spaces, took notes and took action. She worked with Pax Christi Hospitality Center when homelessness was a problem near the train station.  

“I want to continue doing that to be the voice, to be an open line of communication with the residents and the school district for public safety purposes and for the families,” she said. 

With Snaden’s public safety initiatives, including the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, the crime rate in the village has remained low.

“We have a vibrant business community, which brings people from all over from all walks of life, and all behavior statuses,” she said. 

Snaden also helped implement code officers on bike patrol, a walking code ambassador dedicated solely to Main Street and a “whiskey tour” of officers at night.

“I think that’s a huge accomplishment on the part of code and public safety,” she said. “And I’m proud of that.”

Trustee Stanley Loucks has been a resident of Port Jefferson for 41 years. For 23 of those years, he worked in the village one way or another. 

With the country club, for four years he served on the tennis board, five on the board of governors and eight on the management advisory committee. The last six years, he has served as village trustee and is currently deputy mayor. 

Retired after decades in education, he has devoted his life now to serving his community in the village and as liaison to the country club and parks department.  

“I’m proud of my accomplishments up at the country club,” he said. “ I introduced the bond to build a new maintenance facility up at the country club, we put in a new irrigation system, we created a new fitness center, renovated the locker rooms, increased our membership twofold. Over the years, I just want to continue to improve. I’ve got ideas about going forward with pickleball up at the country club and many more ideas to come down the road.”

He said that changing the current administration now could halt these plans, especially after having successful programs down at the Village Center. 

“We don’t run a single recreation program that’s not filled with a waiting list,” he said. “We use every facility we could possibly use — our beach camp programs are stuffed, our tennis programs, golf programs are up.”

An earlier mayoral candidate, Melissa Paulson, a small-business owner, has recently dropped out of the race and said she supports the mayor’s Unity Party now.

There will be a meet-the-candidates night on Tuesday, June 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Village Center. 

The print version of this story said Suzanne Velazquez is a clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook, but she is a clinical associate professor. This article has been updated. 

Mayor Margot Garant was joined with all the different groups who made the new Barnum Avenue parking lot possible this week at a official “ribbon cutting.” Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Barnum Avenue parking lot is officially open and ready to be used. 

As part of the village’s downtown revitalization project, the lot was upgraded to include 46 new parking spaces, an electric vehicle charging station and filtration system to mitigate flooding and stormwater runoff. 

On Tuesday, May 11, village officials, along with the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the county and state, celebrated its grand opening.

“We are very, very proud of this new parking lot,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “This is the first new parking lot in the Village of Port Jefferson in over 50 years. I think that’s amazing.”

And it started about six years ago when there was a vision to remove an eyesore and put in something new. 

Located east of the Joe Erland baseball field, an old, vacant building was once located on the property. 

The Barnum Avenue parking lot. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The several-year-long process to remove the building, clean it up and turn it into a free municipal lot that is futuristic in its amenities finally came to fruition in March of this year. 

The new 32,000-square-foot lot includes 46 new spaces oriented diagonally, including two handicap spots and two EV charging stations. The lot has a one-way entrance, to help alleviate traffic congestion. 

Almost entirely technology-driven, the lot is free to everyone — all a visitor has to do is register with the barcode scan. 

“We’re trying to encourage most of our merchants and their employees to park here for free to keep all the high proximity spots available for patrons,” she said. “That way, they can have a better turnover at your shop or your restaurant.”

Garant added that last week, the village had over 4,800 parking sessions with a revenue just under $12,000.

“That means we are back to a pre-pandemic number, folks,” she said. 

The lot came to be thanks to a $200,000 jumpstart grant from Suffolk County back in 2019. The funding also helped make the lot eco-friendly, adding bioswales bordering the foot entrance on Barnum Avenue to aid in flood mitigation. Those bioswales help with stormwater runoff.

“Being conscious of stormwater runoff, and what it can do — the damage it can cause to the harbor — and making sure that when we add asphalt, we are collecting the water and it’s not bringing contaminants into our bays and waterways, that was critically important to this project,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).

Overnight parking not permitted and will be tracked.

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This summer, the above concession stand will become a new taco shack at Port Jefferson’s East Beach. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The vacant concession stand at East Beach will be the new home to a taco shack this summer.Prohibition East Beach is planned to opened on Memorial Day or shortly after, weather permitting. 

Lisa Harris, owner of Prohibition in the village, said she found out she won the bid last week after she submitted a thorough plan, complete with renderings and a menu.

With the recent upgrades that included a sand dredging and a new retaining wall to the resident-only beach — located by the Port Jefferson Country Club — Harris thinks a food stand will be the icing on the cake in revitalizing the local beach.

“The beach was always popular, but I think because people were staying home for the past year, the beaches have become so important,” she said. “I love seeing the village investing energy and resources into a space like this.”

Back in April, the village put out a call to food and beverage providers encouraging them to submit proposals for a snack concession stand. Mayor Margot Garant said the spot has been vacant for close to 25 years. 

Over the years, the village tried to encourage residents to utilize the beach, including family fun nights that never stuck. 

“I’m looking forward to bringing back some of the traditions that bring our families together down at the beach,” Garant said. “Now, we’re open and we want to see people come in, come back and enjoy the beach in the summertime.”

Garant added this year is a “trial year.” 

While other business owners inquired about the stand, during the bid process, Harris seemed like the best fit thanks to her involvement in the village and owning of several businesses in Upper Port. Along with Prohibition, she owns Torte Jeff, the pie shop, which recently combined with her donut store, East Main & Main.

That’s why she’s calling the stand Prohibition East Beach.

“Prohibition has a good reputation [on Main Street],” she said. “And I worked really hard at maintaining that.”

So, making this small shack an extension of her popular bar and restaurant was a no-brainer — and the Main Street spot will act as the commissary to the new space. All the food will be cooked there and then sold out of the East Beach location.

Her concept is a casual taco spot with a beachy vibe. The concession stand will be cleaned up, with benches and bistro tables next to it. 

Harris plans on stringing lights, giving it a cool, laid back atmosphere. She wants to set up speakers and maybe have some steel drum music down the line.

“I love this beach,” she said. “Every time I come down here, I always wondered why there wasn’t a beach concession down here. So, I’m really excited about it.”

File photo by Heidi Sutton

The candidates are offically on the ballot. 

Last month, local resident and nonprofit owner Melissa Paulson announced she would be running against incumbent Margot Garant.

Village clerk Barbara Sakovich confirmed that as of Wednesday, May 12, Paulson officially dropped out of the race. 

However, Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, announced this week she would be running on the mayor ticket, with fellow chamber president, Suzanne Velazquez.

For the village’s election on June 15, the candidates are now as follows: 

Margot Garant and Barbara Ransome for mayor; incumbents Kathianne Snaden, Stanley Loucks and newcomer Suzanne Velazquez are running for two trustee positions.

County Executive Steve Bellone, center, speaks at the April 20 press conference. Police Chief Stuart Cameron, left, and Suffolk County Police Department Commissioner Geraldine Hart were also in attendance. Photo from Suffolk County

In response to the 50 mass shootings that have occurred throughout the country in the last month, the Suffolk County Police Department is enabling supermarkets and big box retailers to connect to a camera system set up to provide the police with video access to schools.

Using a resource called SHARE, which stands for Sharing to Help Access Remote Entry, businesses can plug their closed-circuit systems to the police department’s Real-Time Crime Center. The connection, which will have no cost for businesses, is designed to provide critical, up-to-the-minute information to police in the event of an active shooter.

“We know from previous active shooter events that seconds matter,” said SCPD Commissioner Geraldine Hart at a press conference on Tuesday announcing the initiative at the Suffolk County Police Department Headquarters in Yaphank. “Seconds can save lives.”

The ability to see inside a building would give the police intelligence that they could pass along to first responding officers, providing a description and updated location of a person or people who had weapons.

“One of the things that keeps me up as county executive is the idea that we could have one of these shootings here in our county in Long Island,” said County Executive Steve Bellone (D) at the press conference. The SCPD, which has been “at the forefront of efforts to address the possibility of mass shootings is, once again, announcing a continuation of these efforts.”

The collaboration between these stores and the police could go a step further, giving the police access to electronic controls that would allow them to open electronic doors remotely for emergency responders, helping them get to victims sooner and giving them a chance to maneuver around a perpetrator.

“We value partnerships with the community,” Hart said. “The goal is to keep people safe.”

Since 2016, the Suffolk County Police Department has done 420 active shooter presentations. On May 2, the SCPD will hold an active shooter drill at a King Kullen in Middle Island, which is the first time the police will conduct such an exercise in a supermarket.

The SCPD has also held 67 stop the bleed training classes for residents, which teaches people to treat wounds and practice applying tourniquets.

The SCPD will have the “ability to see inside those stores if, God forbid, an active shooter situation arises,” Bellone said.

In 2019, Bellone, Hart and Police Chief Stuart Cameron announced the SHARE program at West Babylon high school, which gave police the ability to tap into closed circuit TVs at area schools.

“This is one of the best things we can do to help save lives in an active shooter situation,” Bellone said. “We’re going to do everything we can on a local level to deal with the possibility of mass shootings.”

Bellone called the number of mass shootings in the country, which exceeds one per day, “insane,” and urged Congress to adopt “common-sense gun safety measures.” Rather than wait for a provision that might solve or prevent all the problems, Bellone urged Congress to take action immediately to reduce the risk of events that rob families and the community of loved ones amid senseless violence.

The police would only access cameras in the event of an emergency or a potentially dangerous situation.

Last month, the Village of Port Jefferson — which has had cameras hooked up to the Suffolk County Real-Time Crime Center for over two years — was able to help police find and arrest Joseph Garcia of Port Jefferson Station for the alleged shooting of David Bliss Jr. on Main Street. 

“We were proud to partner with the Suffolk County Real-Time Crime Center a few years ago to take advantage of this program that keeps our streets safe,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “It’s proven to create a quick response and help reduce crime in our village.”

Businesses and Suffolk County residents can gather more information at: SCPDShield.org.

Additional reporting by Julianne Mosher

Photo by Julianne Mosher

The former Café Bada-Bing finally went “bada-bye.”

Steps away from the train station in Port Jefferson, construction crews began to knock down the former vacant bar on April 12.

Last known as the Bahia Bar & Discotec, the plot will soon be home to a new mixed-use site with 45 units of housing and more than 3,000 square-feet of ground floor commercial space to be called Port Jefferson Crossing.

The company behind the build, Conifer Realty, LLC, joined village officials as demolition began.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Village Mayor Margot Garant put her hard hat on and got behind the bulldozer, to help knock down its first wall. 

“This is a revitalization project that’s been going on now for many years,” she said. “We’re finally out of the planning process and into the building process.”

This is the first step toward giving Upper Port its much-needed facelift, including revitalizing the train station, building affordable and safe housing for young people and senior citizens close to the LIRR.

According to the IDA, Port Jefferson Crossing is a $24 million project that will construct 45 units of residential workforce housing in the heart of Port Jefferson.

The affordable housing component will be given out based on a lottery system, and will be located at 1609-1615 Main Street, currently the site of two vacant buildings.

“The public private partnership with the Brookhaven IDA, Suffolk County and the Village of Port Jefferson is instrumental in bringing Port Jefferson Crossing to fruition,” said Roger Pine, vice president of Development of Conifer, in a statement. “This is a long-term partnership that will bring continued revitalization to areas most in need in Long Island.” 

Garant added that this project was a collective effort of several state agencies to bring life back to uptown, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) complimented the mayor for her efforts. 

“Some good things are happening,” he said. “You’re making things happen here on the local level. You’re doing the things necessary to create   vibrancy, to create opportunity to create a place that people will flock to here, right around this train station.”

He said that a mixed-use building like this one will make the region more attractive to young people.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“We need to build a growing sustainable innovation economy,” he added. “You’re at the fore-front of doing that work and making it happen. And certainly, building more affordable housing in our downtown is key, not only to revitalizing and creating more vibrancy downtown, but to creating a prosperous economy.”

The land-clearing demo will take about two weeks before its ground-breaking event and the actual building.