Tags Posts tagged with "Mayor Margot Garant"

Mayor Margot Garant

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Former Port Jeff Village Historian Robert Sisler leaves behind a lasting impact. File Photo

By Wenhao Ma

Port Jefferson Village mourned the death of its first historian and a proud, devoted community member earlier this month. Robert Sisler died July 2 at the age of 88.

Sisler was a Spanish teacher at Port Jefferson High School from 1953 to 1984 and headed the school’s Foreign Language and Reading departments. He served as a member and eventually became the chairman of the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals. He was also the chairman of the Harbor Committee, a village trustee and the deputy mayor in addition to being the first historian of the village.

“[Sisler] was a constant lover of the village…his love turned into action.” —Nomi Solo

“He was an integral and driving force for exploring, recording and documenting our local history,” Mayor Margot Garant said in an email. “His writings and lifelong work of preserving Port Jefferson will ensure that our children for generations to come will learn about our ship-building heritage, our car-building years and our influence and impact in the American Revolution.”

As a historian, Sisler wrote several books on the early years of Port Jefferson. Topics included shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing, moral ethics, the development of radio and television at RCA Radio Central in Rocky Point and other historical articles for TBR News Media.

Jack Smith, historian from the Cumsewogue Historical Society, shared an anecdote about one of his experiences with Sisler. He said he read an article on an automobile factory in Port Jefferson about eight years ago. He then contacted the author, who was Sisler, hoping to invite him to the society’s annual Heritage Day, which is meant to celebrate the history of the community, to give a group of fourth-graders a lecture. Sisler agreed.

“He was always willing to share,” Smith said. He recalled on that day Sisler didn’t just come talk to the kids about the factory, but brought his own old car. “It’s a very generous thing,” he said.

The historical society once received a unit brick from Sisler as donation, according to Smith. The unit brick is different from normal bricks because it’s shaped like the letter “U.”

“We always had a nice relationship,” Smith said. “He’s a very nice man … he knew so many different things about Port Jefferson.”

Sisler’s most recent contribution to Port Jefferson was the restoration of the two centuries-old Roe houses, named for the family of the first settlers in downtown Port Jefferson, according to the village’s historical society. The original owner, businessman Phillip Roe, used his resources to help George Washington pass information in the Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War.

The reason for Sisler to restore historical sites, according to Nomi Solo, who said she had known Sisler since the 1970s, was because it’s better for people to experience the history themselves than to look at the remaining pieces in a museum.

“He was a constant lover of the village,” Solo said. She added that Sisler was instrumental in the construction of the Village Center.

“His love turned into action,” she said. “He was a very, very, very caring individual. It’s a loss for the community.”

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Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Joseph Wolkin

When they opened up their eyes, they saw the signs.

Port Jefferson Village residents were furious when a New York State agency added three highway-sized road signs on Route 25A, a state road, essentially in the middle of the night earlier in July. The signs were part of the I Love NY campaign from the Empire State Development office.

“They’re outrageously huge,” Mayor Margot Garant said. “They’re metal, they’re huge and they plopped them on the middle of our sidewalks without any notice.”

Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski
Blue road signs promoting the I Love NY campaign sprung up in Port Jeff on Route 25A this month, but will be replaced with smaller ones following community outrage. Photo by Alex Petroski

Garant, who was caught off guard by the road signs, immediately contacted the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). After she had several meetings and phone calls with state officials, the community also spoke up. After an overwhelming volume of pleas heard by state officials, the signs were removed Saturday and, according to Garant, will be replaced with significantly smaller ones in the coming weeks.

According to the mayor, community members emailed the governor’s office and requested the signs be taken down. Additionally, a Twitter campaign was created in order to showcase the town’s fury over the signs. The three styles of large, blue signs featured the slogans “Welcome to New York,” “Explore New York History,” and “Experience New York Attractions,” with prompts to visit www.iloveny.com, a site geared toward tourists visiting the state.

“Apparently, the explanation I got was it was a [New York State] project that was on a deadline and I would probably think they wanted the deadline to be around the Fourth of July since it was right before it,” Garant said. “Because it was a heavy push with little explanation, as a result all of the communities [involved] went nuts. We had no input and weren’t given any notice. We just woke up one morning and there were these massive signs.”

Chyresse Wells, a spokeswoman for the Empire State Development office acknowledged their plan to replace the signs following the backlash.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with local leaders which addresses their concerns but continues to promote the world-renowned I Love NY campaign,” she said in an emailed statement. “New York State tourism has generated a record-breaking economic impact of $102 billion across the state, supporting over 894,000 jobs and generating $8 billion in state and local taxes in 2015.”

State road signs in Port Jeff Village being taken down after community outrage. Photo by Drew Biondo
State road signs in Port Jeff Village being taken down after community outrage. Photo by Drew Biondo

Village Trustee Bruce Miller received input on the issue from parents of parochial school students at Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church regarding the poor and deteriorating quality of signs on lower Myrtle Avenue.

While Miller said road markings have been criticized, he did not know there would be several large signs placed on Route 25A. He added that little has been done to address the problem of deterioration of existing signs, an issue he said he has presented to the board of trustees in the past.

Bruce D’Abramo, another village trustee, tweeted his satisfaction to the removal of the signs in response to the news that Montauk was having its signs downsized as well.

“Port Jefferson Village rejoiced as our NY State signs came down as well,” D’Abramo said. Montauk, East Hampton and Port Jefferson were three of several Suffolk County communities saddled with the giant signs with alleged little notice.

Reporting contributed by Alex Petroski.

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The improved Port Jefferson Village website includes new features like paying parking tickets online. Image from village website

Port Jefferson Village is now accessible to residents and visitors in ways it never was before.

The village launched its upgraded website in June after countless hours of research, planning and development, and at this point the hard work seems to have paid off and then some.

“We just really wanted a much more vibrant [site], something that gives off the vibe of the village and we also felt that there was not a place where residents could get information that they really needed,” Mayor Margot Garant said in an interview last week.

A view of the website from a mobile device. Image from village website
A view of the website from a mobile device. Image from village website

Village officials interviewed half a dozen companies, Garant approximated, before settling on a collaboration between two that just happened to operate out of the same building on Main Street. The project cost the village about $40,000 all told, Garant said.

Kendra Beavis of Moka Graphics and Drew Linsalata of The Gotham Bus Company put their heads together to handle the data and design of the site. Garant said during the process she realized how much of an advantage it would be to have people who work right in the village working on a site that would serve as a gateway to Port Jefferson.

“We wanted a nice hometown look — they get us,” Garant said.

The new site has features tailored to residents. Information about recycling bins, leaf pickup, birth and death certificates, along with the ability to sign up for recreational events or pay for parking or even parking tickets were some of the highlights Garant mentioned which should serve to improve the residents overall web experience.

Though the list is much longer.

Garant said the village essentially crowdsourced ideas by asking various departments what they most frequently receive phone calls about on a daily basis. Now, most answers are a click away.

Another component had village employees like Jill Russell, who handles media relations for Port Jefferson, enthusiastic about the upgraded site’s features for visitors.

“I think one of the things that I really pushed with the site, the missing link was the visitors’ side,” Russell said in a phone interview Wednesday. Visitors can now get a feel for restaurants in the area, activities and other events before they even arrive in the village.

“I, for one, am very excited,” Russell said.

Garant and Russell both expressed excitement about another possibility that is still in the works for the site — information for prospective business owners about requirements and permits for opening a business, and eventually even listings of available spaces.

The site is not complete as more information and features are still being added.

Check out the new village website at portjeff.com on desktops or mobile devices.

Port Jefferson Village Board denies use of floating docks to extreme water sport

FlyboardLI, a company behind an extreme water sport, wants to operate out of Port Jefferson Harbor. Photo from Jimmy Bissett

FlyboardLI, a company behind a fairly new extreme water sport, has been denied approval to operate out of Port Jefferson Harbor any longer.

It had been previously working out of the harbor without approval of the Port Jefferson Village Board or a proper permit since May this year.

The board decided at a meeting on Monday evening that there were too many liabilities attached to the activity. Trustees said the harborfront park has always been a passive park, and they want it to remain that way.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Bissett was disappointed to hear that the village would not be approving his proposal.

“I bring people into the town, it’s a very popular activity,” Jimmy Bissett, owner of FlyboardLI said. “I had more than 500 customers last season, and I am doing very well this season.”

Invented by Franky Zapata, a competitive jet skier, the sport offers a fusion between wakeboarding, surfing, kite surfing, and Jet Skis. It involves strapping into a pair of boots, which are connected to a long hose. The rider can control the hose to float on the water, submerge underneath it or soar above it.

The sport gained popularity after a 2012 YouTube video of the first flight ever went viral. The video now has more than 15 million views.

The Village Board was unanimous in its decision to deny a trial period for FlyboardLI in the harbor. Bissett had also requested three parking spaces and the use of the floating docks in the harbor as part of his application.

Members including Trustee Larry LaPointe said he felt that there were more liabilities at stake to comprehend. He questioned if someone on a Flyboard struck a resident who was paddle-boarding, or damaged a boat in the harbor, whether the village would be held accountable.

Mayor Margot Garant said she had mixed feelings on the application.

“I think it’s a great attraction, but I feel that the harbor is a passive place, for activities like paddle-boarding and fishing.”

The board noted that FlyboardLI had participated in the village’s last two maritime festivals and at both, the activity seemed to be a big success. Board members also noted that the floating docks in the harbor Bissett wants to use for the business currently have no activity on them.

But the board felt that the potential cons would outweigh the pros for the village.

Bissett started the company last summer in Riverhead, but he first became involved with the sport in 2012, when he was in Arizona. He wanted to bring the activity back to his native Long Island to share it with residents here.

Last summer, while operating out of Peconic River in Riverhead, Bissett ran into some problems with the Town of Riverhead. He decided in the next season to bring FlyboardLI to his hometown of Port Jefferson.

Bisset explained that every participant has to be sign a liability waiver, and that the company is fully insured. The company offers several session options. The 15-minute session starts at $99.