Tags Posts tagged with "Mayor Margot Garant"

Mayor Margot Garant

The sand dredging component of the East Beach renovations was completed earlier this year. Photo from Margot Garant

As part of the ongoing renovations of Port Jefferson’s East Beach, the village recently completed the bidding process to rebuild of the beach’s retaining wall. 

During the village’s virtual board of trustees meeting on March 1, Mayor Margot Garant announced the milestone — a project that has essentially been going on since Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island in 2012. 

“We’re happy to see this project underway,” she said. “Everything’s in order.”

According to Garant, a construction meeting will be held with village administrator Joe Palumbo in the upcoming week, with plans to start the wall’s renovations before beach season starts. 

Along with East Beach, the retaining wall at Highlands Boulevard will also be included. 

A view of the current retaining wall at East Beach that will undergo a makeover thanks to the village’s bid approval. Photo from Margot Garant

In a recent newsletter from the village sent to residents, it stated that 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 are included in the budget and were part of a bond anticipation note. 

Garant said this action will be a “springboard” as the village awaits DEC permits to finalize the East Beach project. After the retaining wall, revegetation of the bluff at the beach will be next on the list. The village is currently waiting for confirmation to see if it is eligible for FEMA reimbursement as a result of bluff loss at the site during Tropical Storm Isaias. The funds could help pay for the bluff’s restoration.

Earlier this year, sand dredging at East Beach, near Mount Sinai Harbor, was finalized — a project that took nearly a decade to complete, cost several million dollars and was a collaborative effort between the village, town, county, state and federal governments. Close to 80,000 cubic yards of sand was brought back to the beach. 

This retaining wall will continue to help keep the beach looking the way it does now. 

“It’s retention of our assets,” Garant said. “Plus, protecting our environment is critical.”

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The three members of Port Jefferson’s Unity Party running for village reelection are Trustee Stan Loucks, Mayor Margot Garant and Trustee Kathianne Snaden. Photo by Julianne Mosher

This isn’t the time for them to leave their positions, all three members of the Village of Port Jefferson Unity Party said. Work is still to be done. 

Mayor Margot Garant has led the village for over a decade. This six-term incumbent locally practices law and her mother, Jeanne Garant, once served as village mayor. The current mayor said that although she’s been doing this for a while, she’s not leaving her post anytime soon — especially under the current COVID-19 situation.

“The basic underlying decision was I felt it would be irresponsible,” she said. “I couldn’t afford to sit down at a time where there’s still so much instability.”

In 2019, she ran against former Suffolk County GOP chairman John Jay LaValle.

“The last election cycle was important, because I was feeling that people are feeling very apathetic and not engaged,” she said. “And it was great that everybody came out, whether they were for or against, because everybody got educated again on what the issues were. They show that they care about this community.”

Running alongside her are trustees Stan Loucks and Kathianne Snaden, who also said there is more to accomplish. Loucks, who has been on the board for almost six years, has oversight of  the Port Jefferson Country Club which is owned by the village.

“It’s not a time to leave,” he said. “We’ve got a lot on the plate, and we have a lot of jobs to finish. My own opinion is that I have to stay on and see it through.”

Loucks said his responsibilities as trustee, the country club apart, are the recreation and the parks departments — “all of which have a lot of projects going on right now.”

Some of those projects include the  sand dredging at East Beach, finished earlier this month; adding new kayak racks to Crystal Brook Hollow Road beach; and other big projects at the country club. 

“What’s really important to understand is even though we have been in this pandemic, the village is running pretty well,” he said. “We haven’t gone all the way to the bottom of the slide. We’ve got our heads above water.”

Snaden, who is in her second year with her position, said she had just started and then the pandemic hit. 

“A lot of things that I had started, the brakes went on,” she said. “But we’ve made tremendous headway on public safety issues, which is my biggest department.”

She said that although a global crisis was going on, she was able to help curb crime uptown at the train station and put a fence there. 

“The crime up there just plummeted because I just hammered home,” she said. 

Garant agreed, adding that while things outside might seem gloomy, she and her team have worked tirelessly to get more projects done.

“As people are coming out of this pandemic now, things are starting to really blossom,” she said. “Things are opening up for us.”

She said that big projects, like the uptown revitalization project, to smaller tenants opening up shop Down Port, she wants to see all of them through. 

“We just want to keep doing our good work,” she said. 

Garant said that being mayor of the village is “like running a multimillion-dollar corporation, with seven different departments, 9,000 clients — you can’t come in here without the experience.”

She applauded her colleagues for running alongside her. 

“You don’t necessarily have to agree with me on everything, but I’m always going to do what’s in the best interests of this village,” she said. “I try my best to come to a happy medium, and I think that’s basically the philosophy of this board — they’re hardworking. These two here are my left and my right.”

Snaden said that although they’re running together, it doesn’t mean they agree on the same things. 

“We come from different worlds, and we have those different demographics represented here,” she said. “I think anybody that thinks they can just come in without the experience and the knowledge is not seeing the big picture.”

Loucks said they chose to announce their reelections earlier than normal. 

“We came out very early this year, because it’s a different year, things have been kind of treading water for a while,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to do, and it was very important to come out early and start doing it. People know that we’re going to continue — that’s the one thing we all agree on.”

Port Jefferson’s East Beach after the sand dredging was completed this week. Photo by Gerard Romano

The decade-long, multimillion-dollar project to spruce up Mount Sinai Harbor and its jetties is finally looking more complete, as the dredging project was finalized this past week.

In November of last year, the Town of Brookhaven permitted Suffolk County to complete the dredging at a total cost of $2 million with close to 80,000 cubic yards of sand.

A shot from the dredging process last month. Photo by Gerard Romano

“This is just another project where the layers and layers and layers of government all the way up to the federal level worked together,” said Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. 

But the project is more than baskets of sand returning to the local shorelines. After many years of planning, both the east and west jetties in Mount Sinai Harbor were repaired in May 2020. For 10 years, both have been largely submerged at high tide, with water and sand leaking through breaks in the stones and settling into the mouth of the harbor. 

Garant added that after about 60 days, “basketfuls of sand” were brought back to Port Jefferson’s East Beach, which included sand from the postponed Stony Brook Harbor dredging project, to replenish the erosion caused throughout the years. 

“We’re just so thrilled to have our beach back,” she said. 

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the completion of the project was a long time coming.

She said there were numerous issues with the jetties, the inlet and the harbor itself. 

“We rebuilt the fishing pier that has been subjected to numerous nor’easters, built two new jetties and a complete dredge of the beaches,” Bonner said. “I’m hopeful it lasts a long time.”

The same spot in 2018. Photo by Gerard Romano

In November, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers designated that most of the sand be primarily brought to the Port Jefferson side of the harbor. While Bonner admitted she hoped for an equitable split of sand, she’s happy that the goals of keeping recreational boaters and fishermen safe, while enhancing the North Shore’s water quality, have been achieved. 

“All levels of government have put a lot of money and resources into this project,” Bonner said. “It’s a win-win.”

It’s not completely done, though. Garant said the next phase is to repair the retaining wall going down the hill and revegetate the bluff. 

“It’s just an ongoing process of protecting our shoreline,” she said. 

Brookhaven's fire marshal shows what could happen if a tree isn't properly taken care of. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Village of Port Jefferson signed an intermunicipal agreement with the Town of Brookhaven to ensure that if the village is in need of fire marshal services, the town’s marshal can step in instead.

Mayor Margot Garant mentioned there was an issue the weekend of Dec. 5 with needing immediate inspections from the fire marshal, in this case an inspection for the new Port Jeff Lobster House location. 

“We had a shortage of staff this past weekend, which was bad timing with important inspections needed from the fire marshal,” Garant said.

Village Attorney Brian Egan said the language would allow the town fire marshals to step in when their own is shorthanded or short scheduled, effectively cross designating them as village fire marshal under village code.

Egan added that the town did not ask for a reciprocal agreement with village fire marshals designated for work within the wider Brookhaven town.

“That would never realistically occur they’re so small we’re so big — they have no jurisdiction inside village without board approval,” he said.

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James Robitsek, and Setauket Patriot supporters, rally outside Village Hall in Port Jefferson in November. File photo by Julianne Mosher

Right wing Facebook group Setauket Patriots rallied outside Village Hall in Port Jefferson Tuesday night to protest what they claim is a violation of their rights, though officials say they are following the law.

On Sept. 12, the patriots group marched from the Port Jefferson train station down Main Street to gather for a 9/11 memorial across from Village Hall, though they lacked a permit for the march. Earlier in the summer the group hosted a permitted car parade for the Fourth of July following a Black Lives Matter march down main street held in June.

Following the June and July events, the Village of Port Jefferson issued an executive order signed on July 6 by Mayor Margot Garant effectively stopping the village from signing any new permits for marches or protests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Garant had said it was in response to how many people the events were bringing, and not maintaining social distancing while doing so. The village has not granted a parade permit to any group since the moratorium was enacted.

Setauket Patriots organizer James Robitsek said he received a summons with a $1,400 constable fee and $2,800 fine 30 days after their 9/11 event.

“Because it was 9/11, it’s sacred to us,” Robitsek said. “I personally lost friends in 9/11.”

In previous events, the group that regularly supports President Donald Trump (R) on Facebook was relatively low-key in support of the president. Since then, the group has held multiple car parades down Main Street without a village permit which were explicitly pro-Trump. Such events did draw a few confrontations between counterprotesters and caravan-goers in Setauket. Some comments by leaders of these rallies have specifically mentioned Mayor Margot Garant. (To read about those mentions, click here. To read about the last Setauket Patriots caravan, click here.)

On Nov. 24, the night of their court date at village hall, members and supporters of the patriots protested with flags and music across the street from Village Hall, while in court, Robitsek asked for a full dismissal.

“It’s a violation of our civil rights,” he said. “They can’t just pick and choose who they give permits to, and that’s basically what they’ve done.”

Only 10 people were allowed in the court hearing, where Robitsek, represented by Lindenhurst-based attorney Vincent Grande III, rejected the offer of the fine and plead not guilty.

“The courts offer was to plead guilty with a conditional discharge, and to not hold any future events in Port Jeff village,” Robitsek said. “I’m looking for a dismal because I won’t be able to hold any more events in the village and I don’t want that.”

Deputy Village Attorney Rich Harris said that while Robitsek argued that other events were able to be held, like Black Lives Matter protests, the summons was simply for the one event hosted in September.
“It’s not about any about any other events,” he said. “It’s just about the Sept. 12 march.”

Robitsek said he plans on holding a 9/11 parade every year.

Grande will be filing motions by January, and Robitsek said the next court hearing should be sometime in February or March.

This article was amended to add links to previous caravans hosted by the Setauket Patriots.

Volunteers at a previous Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson line up for the Giant Puppet Parade. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! This is an official Bah Humbug notice that the 25th annual Village of Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival is canceled this year. As the festival attracts over 25,000 people on the first weekend after Thanksgiving weekend in December, the COVID-19 pandemic makes safety first the rule for this family favorite event.

“The Village is so disappointed to postpone the 25th Silver Anniversary of our beloved festival founded by former Mayor Jeanne Garant,” said Mayor Margot Garant.

“But we honor and respect the need to protect our public, our cherished volunteer base and the establishments and houses of worship that traditionally open their doors to host the festivities. It is our primary objective to protect the health and wellness of our community and maintain the ability to keep our businesses open and operating safely under the current NY State guidelines.”

“The 25th Anniversary Dickens Festival was in the works right after the close of 2019’s presentation,” said Allan Varela, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council Chair and Executive Producer of the Festival since 2005.

“While we were planning bigger, better, happier and more magical, Covid-19 hit the international stage forcing our hand to cancel this year. Too many people descend on the Village to enjoy the festivities making social distancing impossible. As sad as this is, we simply cannot risk anyone catching COVID. So, the Bah Humbug award will be taken away from Mr. Scrooge and given to Mr. Virus!” he said.

Stay tuned for Dickens plans in the future.

Port Jefferson hosted its 24th annual Charles Dickens Festival In 2019. It won't be back until 2021. File photo by Kyle Barr

The 25th annual Charles Dickens Festival may be quarantined until next year, but Santa himself may be coming down from the North Pole for some socially distanced festivities come December.

Village and chamber officials both confirmed the annual Dickens fest is moving to next year, skipping this year to host their quarter-century event. Though Charles Dickens won’t appear on any of the taglines or advertising, there will still be holiday-based events. 

The village is hosting what’s been dubbed A Touch of Holiday Cheer on the three Saturdays before Christmas. 

“What we really would like to see happen is on the Saturday’s through December, we can find some small ways for having people come down and celebrate the holiday season,” Mayor Margot Garant said. 

Although Garant said that not hosting the festival’s 25th anniversary is “gut-wrenching,” they do not want to create an atmosphere that could become unsafe, since the festival normally brings in thousands of people Down Port. 

“We want to give reasons for people to come down here, celebrate the day, do some local shopping, support our local markets,” she said. “That’s the underlying reason we do Dickens, after all, to be together and hopefully we have something to celebrate come December.” 

A full list of happenings are still being determined, but the chamber has set several events already for the three December Saturdays before Christmas. Barbara Ransome, the executive director of the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said they still plan to do Cookie Land for kids to decorate cookies by appointment at the Village Center. The chamber will host a photo opportunity with Santa on his big red sleigh from 1 to 4 p.m. Children will be staged in front of the sleigh instead of their usual position on his lap so there will be no direct contact. People are also asked for a $5 donation to the chamber.

Garant added the Festival of Tress – with social distancing – is planned on the third floor of the village center, some outdoor concert and plays, as well as a performance from Setauket resident and singer Carolyn Benson. A belle choir is also scheduled for Dec. 5.

“It’s going to be an interesting season,” Garant said. “But I think the one thing that brings everyone together is the holidays, and I think we can all agree on that.” 

More information on chamber events can be found at portjeffchamber.com

Additional reporting by Kyle Barr

This empty building located at 22 Research Way in East Setauket could be Sunrise Wind’s new office site, as well as a training center for those meant to go out on boats to work on the offshore wind project. Photo by Kyle Barr

A potentially huge economic boost for Port Jefferson, Setauket and the whole North Shore could soon be down the pike as more details of a regional wind-power project takes shape.

Sunrise Wind, a combined venture with U.S.-based Eversource and Denmark-based Ørsted, plans to create a 110-turbine, 880-megawatt wind farm 30 miles off the coast of Montauk. Announced back in 2019, project managers and local officials touted Port Jefferson as the new home base for the project, with offices located nearby and a repair ship to be stationed within the harbor itself.

The more than 260-foot service operation vessel will operate out of Port Jefferson Harbor.

Things are moving forward in a big way, according to Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), who confirmed in a phone interview that Eversource has landed a new office space, specifically at a 59,525-square-foot office/warehouse located at 22 Research Way in East Setauket.

Romaine, who recently was on a Zoom call with company representatives, said while the front part of the space is likely to be an office, the back portion of the property is to be a training center for the people who will go out on the ship to work on and repair the massive turbines in the ocean. What’s more, since these offshore wind projects are still progressing with an ever-increasing demand for renewable energy, the supervisor suggested such a facility could gain national significance.

“You’re seeing offshore wind energy far more accepted, particularly with this crisis of climate change,” Romaine said. “This is a shot in the arm to the area, and wind energy will benefit the economics of all northern Brookhaven.”

Sunrise Wind reps have previously talked about their plans to work with Suffolk County Community College for a training program, but in response to questions Eversource and Ørsted reps said in a statement they will have more details in the coming weeks about this new property.

“This facility will serve a major role in our plans to make New York a leader in the U.S. offshore wind industry,” the statement read.

What those in the facility would be training for is to go out on a new 260-plus foot service operations vessel. The ship is planned to hold 60 passengers, and then take trained technicians back and forth to take care of the turbines on the basis of two weeks on and two weeks off. 

Sunrise Wind is also boasting that the chartered vessel is Jones Act compliant, a law that mandates new ships be manufactured in the U.S. The point, company reps said in an email to Romaine, is that offshore wind projects “can drive domestic jobs, manufacturing and investment growth.”

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said she has a meeting scheduled with Sunrise Wind representatives Thursday, but that the idea of the area becoming a nationally recognized hub for such technology would be a “home run.”

To help operate this vessel, Eversource and Ørsted reps have previously stated they would come into Port Jefferson Harbor for a 24-hour period in order to take on crew and resupply. 

The Town of Brookhaven has also sent a letter of support for both the facility improvements in Port Jefferson Harbor. In a letter to Doreen Harris, the acting president of the state Energy Research and Development Authority, Romaine supported the Ørsted/Eversource grant application for a custom pier in Port Jeff Harbor in connection with NYSERDA’s 2020 Offshore Wind Solicitation.

“The arrival of the [Service Operation Vessel] in the harbor, together with the use of the training facility both inland and on the pier, would bring a unique spectacle and new commerce to the area that will have positive ripple effects throughout the community,” Romaine wrote in the letter dated Oct. 7.

Garant said there are multiple benefits for some kind of update to the pier, which is owned by the town. Such improvements could also, in effect, make the Port Jeff power plant property more valuable, something village officials have been aggressively arguing with the Long Island Power Authority, which buys the plants power under contract with plant owners National Grid. 

She said project managers of Sunrise Wind have already done work to try and minimize the impact to the surrounding community, as the vessel will only be offloading people and resources once every two weeks.

“It’s a win-win for so many reasons: Our harbor is being utilized, and wind power is where I think we have to go on a global national scale,” the mayor said.

The project was originally slated to finish in 2024, but company reps have experienced some degree of opposition from those on the South Fork regarding, among other things, where the company can place the high-voltage cables. Instead of having the cables come in through that area, Romaine has proposed the cables come in at Smith Point, come up through Shirley and north up William Floyd Parkway. The town, he said, wouldn’t have the same hiccups as the South Fork had since major cables already run underneath the length of William Floyd, and there are existing buildings that Sunrise Wind can use as substations.

Negotiations are still ongoing, though the Brookhaven supervisor said there will be a hosting fee that will go toward benefiting the local community.

This version of the article corrects the ownership of the Port Jefferson power plant and adds information of the letter Romaine sent to NYSERDA.

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Port Jefferson is saying it's owed concessions Huntington received in their settlement with LIPA. File photo by Erika Karp

Though litigation between North Shore towns and LIPA have ended, the story of the stacks is not yet over, not by a long shot.

The Town of Huntington, with one hour to spare on deadline, approved the settlement with the Long Island Power Authority on its tax certiorari case over its Northport power plant Sept. 4. The agreement cuts LIPA’s power plant property taxes from $86 to $46 million in a 7-year glidepath. The settlement also included an extra $3 million sweetener on top of the deal to be paid in $1 million installments in the next three years. This settlement addition came just a few weeks before the deadline neared.

Though Huntington residents and the local school district will have to deal with the financial impact over the next seven years, Port Jefferson and its residents are in the middle of its own glidepath from its 2018 settlement over the Port Jefferson power plant. Village officials said LIPA is contractually obligated, based in their own settlement, to also grant any beneficial deals to the Town of Brookhaven and Village of Port Jefferson.

Mayor Margot Garant said during the Sept. 8 village board meeting that Port Jeff’s attorney is in contact with LIPA’s counsel to get those same “sweeteners” by repassing their settlement.

Port Jefferson’s case was finally settled in December 2018, reducing the plant’s assessment from $32.6 million to $16.8 million over 9 years. Port Jefferson is currently in year 3 of the glidepath, with the first two years of the settlement effectively rolled into one.

Port Jefferson is in the midst of dealing with the loss of property tax revenue from the Port Jefferson Generating Station. This year’s budget reflects a $50,000 increase from last year in the total amount that Port Jeff has to raise from resident taxes, partially due to the LIPA settlement.

Village Attorney Brian Egan said he has been in contact with LIPA’s lawyers and is just waiting for the power authority to finalize the details of the Huntington settlement. He expects there could be the benefits of an extended payment and the potential to extend payments out over a longer time, adding that he hopes to have greater details of what Port Jeff should be able to get later this month.

In a statement, LIPA officials said that the power authority, Town of Brookhaven and the Village of Port Jefferson “have started discussions to consider amendments to the 2018 settlement agreement for the Port Jefferson Power Station. LIPA intends to provide comparable settlement terms for Port Jefferson residents once the Northport settlement is finalized. Terms will be based on the size of the plant and existing tax payments.”

Egan also touted the village board’s decision to settle their plant’s case earlier than Huntington’s, adding that this means Port Jeff has a more gradual route to weather the drop in property taxes from the plant.

“The mayor and this board bore this settlement on their backs,” Egan said. “It was an early exit on this and Huntington is never going to recoup the costs they did.”

Trustee Bruce Miller said it’s important that Port Jeff receive that extra $3 million that Huntington will also be getting in their settlement over three years. In the past, LIPA has also argued that the plants in both townships may close in the near future. Meanwhile, Port Jeff has argued for keeping the plants running and retrofitting the property with newer technologies.

“We have been speaking with National Grid [which operates the Port Jeff plant] and they have been a little close-lipped,” Miller said. “LIPA, whether they have just been trying to get a settlement from Huntington, has been a little bit intimidating with talking about closing plants and not dealing with us in terms of what a better future will be.”

This post was amended Sept. 10 to add a statement from LIPA.

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for Slate Floral & Event Studio on Aug. 11. The event was attended by family, friends, members of the chamber and Mayor Margot Garant.

The new boutique, located at 158 E. Main Street, Suite 2, in Port Jefferson Village (in the former Reruns location) specializes in custom event décor and unique, whimsical, artisan gifts, many of which are handmade by local artists. Curbside pickup and delivery is available.

Owner Dianne Mutell (pictured with scissors) goes by the mantra that “each of life’s special moments deserve celebration.”

“I have an extensive background in floral & event design … and I enjoy creating unique, one of a kind florals and event decor for clients. Each creation is custom and special, just as each person is,” said Mutell.

The beautiful shop features custom florals, succulents, plants, event decor and design, party planning, artisan wrapping papers and cards, unique paper goods, gift baskets, pots, planters, vases, topiaries, balloons and gifts and also offers Bloom Bar & Flower Crown  workshops.

Operating hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The shop is closed on Tuesdays. For further information, call 631-278-9068 or visit www.slateli.com.