Tags Posts tagged with "Mayor Margot Garant"

Mayor Margot Garant

Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Sapphire Perara

The Village of Port Jefferson approved a permit for protesters to march down Main Street June 18. 

Leaders of the protest filed an application for the protest earlier last week. Village officials said during their June 15 meeting that, originally, the protesters wished to organize by the basketball courts and make three laps of the downtown area. Considering the disruption this would cause, officials said they would allow the protesters to park in the Perry Street parking lot by the Port Jefferson train station, march down Main Street and eventually stop in front of Village Hall in order to make speeches. The protest is set to convene after 4 p.m, then start the march at 5 p.m. and end at 7 p.m.

Malachai Moloney, the speaker of the house for the Black Student Union at Stony Brook University, is at the head of facilitating and promoting the protest. He said the point of the march in PJ village is to give people more insight and perspective into how black communities feel on Long Island, especially in the wake of the deaths of black people nationwide before and after the killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd while in police custody May 26.

While village officials were concerned that those gathered wouldn’t leave the area after the time the application and flyers denoted, during the village’s live broadcasted meeting on YouTube, multiple people who claimed they were organizers for the protest said they intended it to remain peaceful, and that they would disband after holding speeches at Village Hall.

Along with the application, there is a fee attached that Mayor Margot Garant said helps to offset costs for additional village code presence. Village Clerk Barbara Sakovich confirmed protesters dropped off a check for that application fee the morning of June 15.

“It’s in our best interest to let this group organize peacefully rather than not organize peacefully,” Garant said. “At that point we would have another kind of organized protest of a different tonality.”

She added that the safety of the community “is of the utmost importance, only secondary to following the law.”

Moloney said the group originally planned to host the rally Friday, June 19, otherwise known as Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when a U.S. general finally read out orders in Texas that all slaves were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted. However, village officials emphasized to Moloney and other organizers it could not be hosted then. The airways have been abuzz due to the connotations of President Donald Trump (R) originally planning a rally on that date in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of the Tulsa race massacre that took place June 1, 1921. 

Otherwise, the protest organizer said he felt the village was only protecting village commerce and could do better to respect the opinions of the protesters.

“They want us to protest in a manner that’s convenient for them,” he said. “A protest is not supposed to not be disruptive.”

Other protests in neighboring communities have not necessarily filed permits, but village trustees said the fact organizers did file an application shows a degree of willingness to cooperate.

“We certainly appreciate reaching out and filing a permit for the event application — it is a very good thing — it’s appreciated by the village and we appreciate their goodwill,” said village attorney Brian Egan.

Moloney said the group used GoFundMe to fundraise for the $400 in fees to the village. He said the protesters were willing to do that but added that groups of counterprotesters who have already said online they likely will show up in response to the march are not filing an application or paying the village to convene. Moloney said its unfair how the onus is on marchers to follow the proper procedure, while those looking to decry their message will not go through that same process.

The village has not recieved any applications to convene from counterprotesters, and officials said the village has not given any other groups permission to assemble on that day.

Police and code enforcement have been notified, officials said. Main Street will be closed while the protesters make their way down Main Street, similar to how the roads are blocked during events like the Easter parade when it makes its way down to Harborfront Park. 

The village also stipulated in the permit that masks must be worn, and on the protests’ flyer it also states everyone is expected to wear masks. 

Garant said the question of social distancing was up to state mandates, which already stipulated that masks must be worn when people are unable to socially distance themselves. 

According to Suffolk County officials, the county has already played host to around 100 protests. So far, police have said, nearly all protests have remained peaceful. 

This article has been amended June 17 to clarify no others groups have been authorized to assemble.

From left, Port Jeff chamber president Mary Joy Pipe, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Salon Blonde owner Melissa Hanley, Mayor Margot Garant celebrate the start of Phase Two reopening June 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

With Phase Two reopening coming to fruition Wednesday, June 10, Port Jefferson village has looked for several ways for business owners to get their wares and services outside.

Debra Bowling, owner of Pasta Pasta in Port Jeff, set up tables outside for Phase Two reopening. Photo by Kyle Barr

Village officials have already talked about setting up areas in parking lots to allow for more outdoor dining space. At its June 1 meeting, the village voted to waive all dining table application fees for the upcoming season. Mayor Margot Garant said the village has been working with a host of restaurants to figure out how they may go about offering outdoor services. 

The mayor said the village is allowing space for restaurants who normally have no space for outdoor dining in right-of-ways, walkways and parking lots.

By midday Wednesday, the town was jiving. With a steady stream of cars rolling down Main Street, and with customers sitting under canopy eating outdoors, many owners said Phase Two was turning out to be a much better scenario than Phase One.

During a tour of Suffolk downtowns, including Port Jeff, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said the difference in allowing construction in the first reopening phase and allowing salons or outdoor dining has been significant.

“After going through an unprecedented event, these are the activities that give people a sense of normalcy,” Bellone said. 

Restaurants are setting up in formerly public places, such as Ruvo East and Old Fields which are laying tents in the space behind their restaurants. C’est Cheese and The Pie are also doing outside dining behind the main building on Main Street. Prohibition Kitchen will be using the parking lot behind its building as well.

Manager of The Pie, Jessica Janowicz, said though they will be setting up a tent behind the business Friday, each week has seen a slow progression in sales. Wednesday showed a big difference, with a steady stream of customers doing takeout since the place opened. 

Other restaurants will be using pedestrian walkways for its outdoor space, including Salsa Salsa, which will have some space in the alleyway next to the shop. Pasta Pasta and Toast Coffeehouse are laying out tables at the top of the stairway along East Main Street.

Debra Bowling, the owner of Pasta Pasta, thanked the Port Jeff chamber and the village for working so quickly with permits and signage. Her restaurant now has several tables and a flower box in front of her shop, and in over 30 years of working there, it’s the first time she has seen it do outdoor dining.

Alana Miletti of Fame and Rebel speaks about Phase Two with County Executive Steve Bellone. Photo by Kyle Barr

Some restaurants that have access to the outside, including Nantuckets, Gourmet Burger Bistro, The Steam Room and SaGhar, will use their current outdoor space as long as it can be open up to the sky. Danfords has its outdoor space on its dock and now has an agreement with the Town of Brookhaven for some use of the Mary Bayles Waterfront Park.  

A member of the village fire marshals did not respond to requests for comment about guidelines for safety in walkable areas.

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce released a letter dated June 5 to the Village of Port Jefferson mayor and trustees asking that retailers be allowed some latitude for “outdoor merchandising.”

“The consumer would have the ability to ‘shop’ in a less confined area and the retailer would be creating more opportunities for sales,” the letter states. 

Director of operations for the chamber Barbara Ransome said she has had positive feedback from village trustees on the proposal. 

Garant said they are working up guidelines that should be released sometime on Wednesday, but those were not available by press time. Retailers will have the option to have a table in front of their shops, but they will need to keep 3 feet of sidewalk clear and ensure that they do not block doorways or fire exits, as mandated by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for outdoor dining. 

Code Enforcement will be inspecting businesses and restaurants to ensure they’re not blocking too much of the curb or that they’re adhering to the CDC distancing guidelines. 

“We’re trying to keep it so that it’s nice looking and it’s not an overload of stuff,” Garant said. 

Alana Miletti, the owner of the boutique shop Fame and Rebel, said she has survived in the grueling months of the pandemic thanks to her active social media helping facilitate online orders. Though on Wednesday she said with customers able to browse, even in a limited capacity, she had not had a moment’s rest fulfilling orders since the store opened.

“People couldn’t wait to come out,” she said.

Now with Phase Two salons and haircutters are finally able to open. Melissa Hanley, the owner of Salon Blonde, said she managed to survive during the nearly three full months she was shut down thanks to federal loans. Being back in action, however, means a world of difference.

“It’s been scary — we’ve been struggling a little bit,” Hanley said. “It’s such a relief. This is my life so, to be back in business, I’ve waited a long time for it.”

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Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Port Jefferson village continues to plan for a number of ongoing projects. Here’s some notes from the June 1 meeting.

• The village has voted to waive all dining table application fees and outdoor dining public hearings, and permits would be effective for the full 2020 season. One example officials gave was Tiger Lily Cafe, which has one outdoor table setting but could expand to host more of its services outside. The village is still working out details with some restaurants, such as Ruvo East and Old Fields, to use residential parking lots as outdoor dining space for shops looking to participate.

• As the Port Jefferson Fire Department will not be making a decision on the annual July 4 parade until mid-June, the board voted to push back the fireworks show, normally held at East Beach, until potentially later in the summer. Mayor Margot Garant suggested the dates of Aug. 1 or 2 to coincide with potential graduation plans with the Port Jefferson School Districtm although no dates have officially been set as of yet. Fireworks by Grucci, which normally hosts the village’s fireworks displays, notified officials they would see no problem in providing the displays at a later date.

• Bike racks have already been installed at the small park by the village center, and now there are new bike racks next to the basketball courts near Rocketship Park. 

• A new electric vehicle charger has been installed at the parking lot in front of Rocketship Park. So far there have been 31 charging sessions with each session averaging a total of 1 hour and 21 minutes. The village plans to install another charging station at the Barnum Avenue parking lot once the lot is finally constructed.

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Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant. File Photo

On a daily update video, Mayor Margot Garant announced the village would be closing all on-street Main Street weekend parking starting Mother’s Day weekend, May 9 and 10.

Main Street in Port Jefferson empty of traffic on a weekday. Photo by Sapphire Perara

The mayor cited the two hospitals within village bounds, St. Charles and Mather, with “hundreds of residents on the front lines on a daily basis.” Two weeks ago, Suffolk County Police said they issued a summons answerable to the village to a man they said allegedly wasn’t obeying social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic. The mayor said at the time people in Harborfront Park were being “belligerent” to code enforcement and police alike and were refusing to both wear masks and keep apart.

Reports of groups of motorcyclists gathering together on main street, and other pedestrian traffic with people not wearing masks, have left officials concerned that residents and visitors are possibly spreading COVID-19 as warmer weather incentivizes more outdoor activity. 

All businesses are limited to curbside pickups on the weekend. Code enforcement will be patrolling “in an army,” the mayor said, to enforce social distancing directives, as well as checking in on businesses to make sure they are also following guidelines stating no sit-down eating.

On Sunday, the village is bringing back the farmers market, this time in a new location in the parking lot behind what was once the Gap clothing store, just north of Arden Pl. New guidelines dictate cars can only pull one way in and one way out, and all visitors must be wearing a mask. Only one person is allowed at a stall at a time. Guidelines may change, the mayor said, if rules aren’t followed.

“It’s going to be a test — it’s going to be up to you,” she said.

Otherwise, village beaches remain open to Port Jeff residents, and all cars are asked for residents’ identifications before they can park.

 

Village Fears Future Coronavirus Closure Protests

Harborfront Park in Port Jefferson. File photo by David Luces

Though the majority of local residents are doing their best to practice social distancing and comply with state executive orders, Suffolk County police said others have been belligerent and uncooperative in suppressing the spread of coronavirus.

Police said 6th precinct officers responded to Main Street in Port Jefferson Sunday, April 19, at around 1:30 p.m. There was a report of a large group of people not practicing social distancing. 

Police said one individual refused a request to social distance or put a mask on. He was taken to the Sixth Precinct and was released with a civil summons returnable to the Village of Port Jefferson for failure to comply with the executive order.

Port Jefferson village Mayor Margot Garant said in the April 20 trustees meeting that Sunday saw large groups of people down in Port Jefferson, with many congregating on Main Street and in Harborfront Park. Many were not wearing masks. The park along the waterfront was temporarily closed after the incident when cops arrived.

“Sunday was a very difficult day in the village — it was a sunny day and people had cabin fever,” the mayor said. “Between groups of motorcycles, people showing off muscle cars …  we did have to close down Harborfront.”

She said such actions by locals and visitors means they could be spreading the virus not only to others, but also to police and code enforcement, which she said should be especially respected now since they are “part of the front line.”

The fear, village officials said, was a kind of political backlash and further gatherings. In other states, there have been protests about closures of businesses and amenities. While nearly every state, both Republican and Democrat-led, now has some sort of lockdown laws in place, these protests have taken on a political edge to them, with President Donald Trump (R) in some cases explicitly supporting the rallies, despite health officials warning it may spread SARS Cov-2 even more.

Some of these protests have blocked roadways and reportedly even restricted health care workers from getting to hospitals.

“Knowing there are certain groups that are causing rallies, this will not be getting better for us,” Garant said. “This situation is not going to get better for us, this is a destination village.”

Currently, the village is working on staggered shifts, and suspects some projects slated for 2020 may be put on hold, though the Toast stairway project is moving ahead, with only sprinkler systems yet to be installed.

Otherwise the village has instituted a spending freeze, and any expenditures have to go through administration staff before they get approved.

The mayor added village tax bills are still being generated, and will be due June 1.

 

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Village Hires Deputy Village Attorney/Prosecutor

Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Port Jefferson village is still moving ahead with its budget agenda, this year seeing a revenue decrease thanks in part to the LIPA settlement reducing the assessed value of the Port Jefferson Power Station.

The Port Jefferson village board held a budget hearing over the Internet, even including a live rendition of the national anthem by Port Jefferson student Nicholas Rodriguez, who played Oliver during the annual Charles Dickens Festival.

However, the new format did not allow for any public comment. This was in accordance with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) executive order suspending portions of the public meeting law due to the coronavirus crisis.

The proposed 2020-21 budget includes $9,992,565 in total appropriations, a 3.19 percent decrease from last year’s amount of $10,310,869. This takes into account a 3.5 percent Increase in the tax rate, a $111,088 decrease in assessed value of the Port Jefferson Power Station, as well as a $145,000 decrease in ambulance charges since that is now handled by the Town of Brookhaven.

“Cutting our budget by over $300,000 was not an easy task,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “In cutting that budget we were effective in consolidating some departments.”

One of the changes she referenced was moving one clerk typist into the position of a retiring typist, at a lower salary, without replacing the original with a new employee. 

As regards other village employees, the village assessor, who was on an hourly rate, has become salaried at $30,000, resulting in an increase of $26,019 from what he was getting paid this last year.

The board is also hiring a full-time internal deputy village attorney as a prosecutor, for a total expense to the village of $102,000. Garant said the board agreed this was needed to help prosecute offenses more effectively, also bringing in more revenue for the courts.

“We were just not getting any real effect as a board,” the mayor said. “We collectively agreed bringing on a staff full time will have more direction over individuals.

Village attorney Brian Egan said this will aid in prosecutions of village code infractions. He added that New York State’s new discovery laws, which require municipalities to present all evidence to the defense within a short time after being charged with a crime, have been difficult on small entities like Port Jeff. The new prosecutor will be in charge of handling that side of things.

“This is to really put an emphasis on our code enforcement to go out and aggressively prosecute code enforcement violations,” Egan said. “Having a full-time deputy village attorney … will benefit [the village] all the time.”

This year, the village is looking to raise $6,451,427 from taxes, a near $50,000 increase from last year.

“Because our LIPA assessment is frozen at a settlement … the assessed value shifts from the power plant to the shoulders of our residents,” Garant said.

In terms of capital projects, there are several on the horizon for the upcoming fiscal year, including building the $795,069 parking lot on Barnum Avenue. There are also plans to renovate the Highlands Boulevard retaining wall in the next two to three months using funds from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York gained through state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). Additionally, the village has gained Suffolk County grants to renovate the bathrooms by Rocketship Park and in the lower floor of Village Hall, to fix lingering issues, make them Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and heat the outside bathrooms so they can be used in the winter. Additionally, an $80,000 drainage project on Longfellow Drive is expected to start this year.

The village has also recently received permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for securing the bluff on East Beach, which has been rapidly eroding over the past several years. The mayor had expected they would need to take out a small bond for that project. Another bonded project will most likely be the digitization of village records at both the building and planning department and the clerk’s department. Such a project may cost upward of $200,000. 

The village currently has a AA bond rating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palumbo said they would have to look at alternatives.

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

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

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

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Stony Brook’s SAC bus loop is one of the stops of the SBU to Port Jeff shuttle. Village officials say the cost of the project has put it in jeopardy after the end of the spring semester. Photo from Google maps

The jitney service between Port Jefferson and Stony Brook University is back on the menu for the spring and fall semesters, this time with extra funding from the Port Jeff Business Improvement District and a larger price tag.

The Port Jefferson, Stony Brook University Shuttle before the service was contracted out to Suffolk Transportation Inc.. Photo from Kevin Wood

The new service extends the service for an additional two weeks, from 10 to 12, and will run until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The service also changes one of the pickups at Stony Brook University from the Chemistry Loop to the Hilton Garden Inn.

The BID is putting up $10,000 of its funds for the program, leaving Port Jefferson with just under $20,000 of the bill.

“We are proud to partner with the village in bringing the shuttle service back to our Business District,” said Roger Rutherford, BID president, in an online release.

At the Feb. 18 village board meeting, parking administrator Kevin Wood was seeking $24,608 in funds, per semester, to continue the PJ/SBU Shuttle for the next spring and fall semesters. The program is paid through parking meter funds.

However, Michelle Ferrante, senior account clerk, pointed out that any contract over $20,000 the village signs onto must go out to BID. This wouldn’t be a problem if the village were using its own jitney bus, however, the board voted last year to contract out to Bay Shore-based Suffolk Transportation Service, mainly due to the previous bus lack of Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and the overall failing quality of the previous vehicle. 

The village has also lacked other intervillage public transit options since the BID-run program with Qwik Ride ended. Officials said those small cars had not done the job they needed them to do, rarely being there for people who requested them, and drivers were taking requests from people outside the village to make tips. 

At the meeting, questions were raised whether the Suffolk Transportation was a sole source provider, and if it provides transportation services for Suffolk County.

According to its website, the company operates with Suffolk County public transit under the name Suffolk Bus Corp. The company also operates the paratransit buses, known as Suffolk County Accessible Transit, which ferry disabled people on select routes across the county.

The village board agreed to approve the funds for this spring semester if Wood could keep the budget for the jitney service under $20,000, which meant cutting the number of weeks and hours it ran for.

The program will come under review again come the start of the fall semester.

Wood said the university would not currently consider helping to pay for the program, but said he has plans for the future, including possibly surveying riders and asking where they shopped or dined.

“The program will gain popularity and ridership and, therefore, success,” he said. “We may test run a pay by cellphone so that students also have a contribution to this wonderful service. We would expect rates to be well below any alternative mobility.

Although officials have praised the program for bringing in more people sans cars into the village, Garant said she has questioned the cost of the program, especially since Port Jeff started to contract with an outside company. She said adding extra days and weeks to the program has only exacerbated those costs, and she doubts either the BID or university will either be able or willing to pick up the majority of the tab long term.

“Honestly, the program is in jeopardy in the fall,” she said.” The mayor added she has asked Wood to look into different transit companies or into the village purchasing its own two new jitney buses.  

The new schedule is Thursdays from 3 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The bus stops at Student Activities Center Loop, Hilton Garden Inn, Chapin Apartments, Wild by Nature Market parking lot, Port Jefferson village on Arden Street and Port Jeff train station.

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The site of the planned parking lot on Barnum Avenue. File photo by Kyle Barr

The Village of Port Jefferson finally has an amount attached to plans for the Barnum Avenue parking lot, coming in lower than had been initially anticipated.

The winning bid for the Barnum parking lot was approved at the Feb. 18 village board meeting, showing Connecticut-based F&F Concrete saying it can do the project at $795,069. The company won out over five separate bids. 

At the same meeting, the board approved the $200,000 in jumpstart grant from Suffolk County that was originally announced last year. Unlike other kinds of grants, Mayor Margot Garant said, the jumpstart funds become immediately available after they are approved.

While all the money is now there for the lot, officials said the village is waiting on the grant to finalize, with the
village needing to show before shovels go in
the ground.

“Ideally, the village would like the project to start as soon as possible so that the lot would be open for our peak season, but that timing has a few factors to consider including but not limited to the weather, execution of the contract, insurance being satisfactory and all county grant requirements being met,” said Joe Palumbo, the village administrator in an email.

With the grant funds, the village administrator said Port Jefferson will be using approximately $600,000 from parking meter revenue. Garant said the parking capital account currently amounts to $800,000. At the end of every year, unspent revenue from the account that’s not used for salaries and other upkeep ends up in the capital account. 

“We have that money in place,” Garant said.

Though village officials had originally anticipated the project would come in at around $900,000, officials were pleasantly surprised to see the winning bid came in somewhat under that amount. 

The parking lot is expected to contain 44 new spots, located off Barnum Avenue and east of the Joe Erland baseball field. Based on residents feedback, the two-way ingress and egress planned on
Caroline Avenue have been made one-way. Surrounding plantings have also been bolstered, but the 32,000-square-foot lot will still include two electric car charging stations and two bioswales bordering the foot entrance onto Barnum Avenue to aid in flood mitigation. Once constructed, the bioswales will look like two dips in the ground with plantings overlaying them. Port Jefferson grant writer Nicole Christian had said those plantings and green initiatives were a large reason the county provided the village the $200,000 grant.  

Master ice carver Rich Daly will create ice sculptures like the one above throughout Port Jefferson Village. Photo courtesy of Rich Daly

By Melissa Arnold

Now that the holidays are over and the excitement of the new year is beginning to fade, it can seem like the dull gray of winter will last forever. But there’s still plenty to enjoy in the colder months on Long Island, and Port Jefferson is pulling out all the stops to celebrate wintertime at its first Ice Festival next weekend.

Sponsored by the village’s Business Improvement District, the Ice Festival was inspired by a similar event held about nine years ago, said Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant.

“We’ve been looking at new ways to advertise the village beyond the holiday season, and one of our members, Marianna Ketcham, approached the board with the suggestion that we revisit the ice festival idea,” Garant said. “People come to Port Jeff because of its close proximity to the water — they want to visit the harbor and take a stroll. We wanted to create an upbeat, active event that would encourage people to come out in the winter as well.”

The village’s merchants were eager to jump on board, Garant said, with special event sales. The highly anticipated Mac and Cheese Crawl sold out weeks ago, but those lucky enough to get tickets will enjoy hot and cheesy pasta samples from 18 different eateries. Some will also offer mac and cheese for purchase throughout the weekend.

“I hope all those who come to visit and shop, realize how much we appreciate their support toward small businesses on Main Street USA,” said Port Jeff BID interim president, Roger Rutherford. “Make sure you find time to come down Port for the Ice Festival to take part in the many different festivities.”

Hop on a horse-drawn carriage and enjoy the village’s icy blue lights. Take part in some marshmallow toasting at the corner of Main and E. Broadway and meet costumed characters including your favorite ice princesses and snow friends. Then warm up with some ice skating at the RINX at Harborfront Park. Periodically throughout each day, professional skaters will entertain and share their expertise with live demonstrations. 

Of course, no ice festival would be complete without an ice sculpture or two, but Port Jefferson isn’t stopping there. They’ve invited New York’s only certified master ice carver, Richard Daly of Ice Memories Inc., to create dozens of brilliant, backlit works of art for the festival.

Each participating business will have an ice sculpture on their property with a theme they’ve chosen themselves. Keep an eye out for Baby Yoda, ice skates, a giant slice of toast and more.

Visitors will also have the chance to watch Daly work. He’ll do multiple live carvings throughout the weekend, including a four-person sleigh and a 3,000-pound throne that you can actually climb on (carefully!) for pictures. Don’t be surprised if he makes it look easy — the Mastic Beach resident earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 as the world’s fastest ice carver. To break the record, he created 60 sculptures in just two hours, 52 minutes and 12 seconds using 18,000 pounds of ice.

“The work that Rich does is just beautiful, and the sculptures will be incredible all lit up,” said Port Jefferson trustee Kathianne Snaden. “It’s unbelievable how he can create these complex works of art from a block of ice.”

Daly carved his first ice sculpture while in culinary school at Johnson and Wales University. He developed an immediate passion for the craft and was competing on a national level just six months later. “What’s not to like about getting to play with a chainsaw and a blowtorch?” joked Daly. “I can’t even tell you how many sculptures I’ve done in a year. I’ve lost count.”

Each sculpture for the Ice Festival will begin with a sketch. They’ll be carved from 300-pound blocks of crystal clear ice that are fused together by adding a little water. Daly is bringing 25,000 pounds of ice with him for the weekend, he said. 

“I’m looking forward to doing the live carving demonstrations,” he added. “It’s fun to be able to talk with people and answer questions while I work.” 

Ideally, the village is hoping for seasonally chilly weather and even some snow for the festival. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be postponed until the weekend of Feb. 22.

“It can be challenging to be innovative with our events, especially in colder weather, but the Ice Festival really captures the season,” said Barbara Ransome, director of operations for the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great opportunity to increase foot traffic in the area and show everyone that Port Jeff is a great place to be regardless of the time of year.”

Port Jefferson’s Ice Festival will be held throughout the village on Saturday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Join them for a weekend of winter fun! For further information, call 631-476-2363 or visit www.portjeffbid.com/ice-festival.