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Port Jefferson Board of Trustees

Port Jefferson resident Arthur Epps weighs in on the proposed ethics code at the Jan. 31, trustees board meeting. Photo courtesy Port Jefferson website

By Lynn Hallarman

Village of Port Jefferson officials and residents engaged in an impassioned debate over the proposed ethics code in a contentious Board of Trustees meeting at Village Hall Jan. 31. 

This meeting marked the end of the public comment period for the proposed ethics code. A vote was then held by the trustees, passing unanimously a replacement of Chapter 41 of the Code of Ethics. 

Ethics code

Since the fall, the village trustees have been working toward a sweeping revision of Chapter 41, which establishes standards of ethical conduct for officers and employees of the village. The current Code of Ethics was adopted in the 1970s with few revisions since. 

The purpose of the initiative is twofold: Firstly, to update the code and align the village with current standard practices employed by municipalities across the state that are in accordance with Article 18 of the New York State General Municipal Law. Secondly, to establish a board of ethics for the first time in the village’s history. 

Issues covered by the proposed Code of Ethics include conflict of interest, gifts and tips, use of village resources, annual financial disclosure of certain village officers and employees, disclosure of confidential information and nepotism. 

The draft of the proposed code presented to the public at the meeting included the establishment of village board of ethics. According to this draft, the ethics board would consist of five voluntary members drawn from the community who offer their names and credentials. The mayor then nominates candidates from the pool of submissions. The Board of Trustees considers the nominations for approval. 

The duties of the ethics board include hearing complaints and concerns and issuing an opinion. The board is responsible for educating and training village officials and employees about the ethics code.

The village hired attorney Steven Leventhal, a recognized New York State legal ethics expert, to guide the village through drafting the village’s proposed ethics code and forming an ethics board.

Mayor Lauren Sheprow reminded the public that they can still submit their names through the “Make a difference” portal on the village website for consideration as board of ethics members. Sheprow said that nine people have submitted their names. 

Public comments

Comments from the public about the proposed code were mainly about the structure of the board of ethics and how board members are nominated and approved. Some residents expressed concern about the concentration of nomination power with the mayor. Others felt community members should be able to review the credentials of the people nominated.

Tensions were evident in the comments to the board by village resident William Snaden. He is the husband of former trustee and deputy mayor Kathianne Snaden, who fell short of her bid for village mayor against Sheprow this past election cycle. Questioning the authenticity of the board’s commitment to ethics, William Snaden alleged that the push for an ethics code was a guise for a hidden agenda against the former village administration. 

“Is this a genuine push for ethics? Or is it a disguise for another agenda? Or is this just a taxpayer-funded personal vendetta?” Snaden said. He added, “I hope that you join together in voting ‘no’ for this code as it’s currently written.” 

Amid a cascade of accusations, Snaden questioned the ethics of hiring Leventhal, referring to a Newsday article highlighting a $1,000 fine sanctioned against Leventhal by state Supreme Court Justice James McCormack in 2017, according to Newsday.

“Mr. Snaden mentioned a couple of different issues, none of which he is acquainted with the facts,” Leventhal countered. 

Leventhal disputed Snaden’s accusation, and conveyed to the board that the grievance committee examining the sanction concluded there was “no violation of the rules of professional conduct.” 

Snaden pointed out that the village hired Leventhal as the ethics attorney after Sheprow employed him as the attorney for her campaign bid. Snaden alleged this action was unethical. 

Former Mayor Margot Garant followed Snaden by asking why Sheprow did not disclose to the Board of Trustees her professional relationship with Leventhal at the time of his hiring by the village.

Leventhal responded, “There is no requirement in the law for the mayor to disclose that she had been represented by an attorney in an entirely unrelated matter that concluded before the village hired that same attorney as a consultant,” adding, “There is no conflict of interest.” 

Sheprow explained, “I built trust that was started during the election process, and as I continued to research Mr. Leventhal’s experience, it became obvious that he is the premier expert in legal ethics in New York state.”

Village resident Arthur Epp countered Snaden’s suggestion to the board to scrap the proposed ethics code.

“I applaud this initiative. I’ve said this at a previous meeting, I’ve said it in writing. I’m saying it now. I’m more concerned about the possibilities down the road that might occur. I’m not casting stones at anyone in this room,” Epp said. 

Village resident Xena Ugrinsky told the board that she had been paying close attention to the discussions about the proposed code over the past months. 

“I believe that putting this in place will foster more trust in government. Mayor, I think this is one of the reasons you were elected — the people spoke, and I thank you,” Ugrinsky said.

The board closed the public comments for the proposed ethics code and then weighed the concerns voiced by the public about the nomination process. The code was revised to read: 

“The Board of Ethics shall consist of five members appointed by the Village Board of Trustees,” eliminating the language in the draft that placed nominating power with the mayor. 

The board then voted unanimously to pass the replacement to Chapter 41, Code of Ethics. 

The Board of Trustees will hold the next work session on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Trustees work session on Jan. 10. Snapshot from the trustee's website

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, The Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees held its first work session of 2024. 

The Education & Arts Conservancy 

At the request of Mayor Lauren Sheprow, Lisa Perry, president of the Port Jefferson Harbor Education & Arts Conservancy, kicked off the three-hour work session to discuss the conservancy’s relationship with the village.  

Perry explained to board members that the conservancy is a non-profit working on behalf of the Port Jefferson Village Center and the Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park. The conservancy was established almost two decades ago to help fundraise for village center activities and projects.                                                                                      

“We’ve probably donated over $300,000 either in kind or money over the years,” she said. 

Perry reviewed the many fundraising projects the group has undertaken recently, including grants to purchase the Zamboni for the skating rink, funds for the beautification of the harbor front, and the restoration of Rocketship Park. The group is discussing a possible fundraiser to obtain a bandshell for the harbor front. Perry tells the board that the group is in the process of revamping its mission statement and is hoping to attract new members. 

A discussion ensued about the current written agreement between the conservancy and the village and to establish regular meetings with village representatives.

“The village can’t solicit donations from the conservancy,” village treasurer Stephen Gaffga said. 

Instead, the village and the conservancy can keep an open dialogue and collaborate on projects. 

Village attorney David Moran wrapped up the discussion by informing the board that he had reviewed the agreement stating,“It is fine as is.” 

“I don’t want to over-lawyer a very good agreement and add confusion,” he said.

Revamping tech security

Village clerk Sylvia Pirillo put forth a resolution to accept the proposal by Island Tech Services to enhance the security of the village servers and emails. Emails will be mitigated to ‘.gov’ addresses, and Microsoft SharePoint will be installed for interoffice communications and document reviews.

“This has been a long time coming. We’re looking forward to this very needed change,” she said. 

Pirillo also informed the board that the village received about 60 proposals from vendors to revitalize the village’s website and calls for a resolution to accept a proposal from CivicPlus web designer. 

“We are confident in the choice of CivicPlus and are very excited to move forward,” she said. 

Bluff storm erosion

Sheprow updated the board on storm damage placing emphasis on  the Port Jefferson Country Club bluff. Sheprow reports that two sections of the east side of the bluff were damaged by recent storms, and additional damage occurred on the west side of the bluff from the storm overnight.   

Pirillo put forth a resolution to accept the proposal from GIT Consulting to move forward with aerial drone surveillance of the bluff to help surveyors follow topological changes in the bluff over time. 

“We need to proceed with these sooner rather than later, especially given recent [storm] events,” Pirillo said. 

Code enforcement

A draft letter to be sent to all Port Jefferson business owners from the building and planning department’s new director, Andrew Freleng, was also discussed. The letter encourages owners to comply voluntarily with the village’s building and zoning laws. 

“This is a first letter, is putting everyone on notice,” says Moran.

The draft letter suggests business owners check in with the building and planning department with questions and concerns. The letter can be found in the appendix of the meeting agenda for this work session.  

Ethics guidelines

Attorney Steven Leventhal, ethics counsel to the village, continues the ongoing discussion about new ethics guidelines and the process for forming an ethics review board.

Leventhal describes a four-part process to developing a robust ethics program for the village:

  • Adopt the ethics code.
  • Produce educational materials.
  • Have the board of ethics implement the code.
  • Have a presence on the website for submitting inquiries, accessing the code, and accessing the educational materials.

The Mayor will nominate the members, and the board will appoint them. Community members are welcome to put forward their names or someone else for consideration.

Leventhal further comments that there is an “epidemic of ignorance in ethics out there. It takes a real commitment of understanding [by ethics committee members].”  

Comments from the public about the new ethics guidelines are open until the next board of trustees meeting, scheduled for Jan. 31. Comments can be sent to the village clerk at [email protected]

Conversations over ethics are ramping up in Port Jefferson, where the village board of trustees is nearing sweeping changes to its Code of Ethics.

A public hearing on the code changes took place on Nov. 20, with the village’s ethics counsel, Steven Leventhal, presenting a draft code that would repeal and replace the existing ethics standards within the Village Code. The proposed code changes include three main categories: a code of conduct, disclosure requirements and administration. [See story, “Port Jeff village board, residents mull over ethics code revamp,” Nov. 25, TBR News Media.]

The board reconvened Tuesday night, Dec. 5, for a work session spanning over four hours.

“The primary purpose of tonight’s meeting is to give you, the board, the opportunity to address any questions that you might have to me and to have a discussion and deliberation on any points that need to be resolved,” Leventhal said.

Leventhal and the trustees walked through the code line by line, clarifying and amending various sections of text along the way.

The board will meet again Monday, Dec. 11, for its monthly general meeting. Leventhal pledged to supply the board with a revised version of the draft code, along with a redline version of the text, before the meeting begins.

Residents can continue submitting written testimony to the village clerk until Thursday, Dec. 7.

To view the entire work session, see the above video.

Village of Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay is a declared candidate for New York State’s 4th Assembly District. Photo by Jen Romonoyske, courtesy Rebecca Kassay

Just over a week after Election Day, the 2024 election season is already underway.

Village of Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay has exclusively announced her campaign for New York State’s 4th Assembly District. She is running as a Democrat.

The 4th District seat is currently held by New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson), who unseated former Assemblyman — and Suffolk County Legislator-elect — Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) in 2022, who had occupied the seat since 1992.

Kassay entered the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees in 2020 and was appointed deputy mayor earlier this year. During her tenure in village government, she has served as trustee liaison to the Building Department and Planning Board; the Conservation Advisory, Six-Acre Park and Tree committees; and was appointed the village’s inaugural sustainability commissioner.

Before entering public life, she worked as a youth environmental volunteer program director at Avalon Park and Preserve in Stony Brook. She is also a small business owner, operating The Fox and Owl Inn bed-and-breakfast on Main Street in Port Jefferson with her husband Andrew Thomas since 2014.

Kassay outlined the motivations guiding her campaign.

“I’m running for the New York State Assembly because we need leaders who understand that governance which truly reflects the voices, needs and concerns of their constituents starts with listening,” Kassay said in a statement. “In the village government, there are no national political party affiliations. I am practiced in working with anybody who is interested in pursuing commonsense, balanced solutions to ongoing challenges.”

Kassay described several quality-of-life concerns as “screaming for representation” in Albany, such as housing scarcity and the unaffordable standard of living in District 4. She said the state government must help create housing opportunities while conforming to the existing suburban character of local communities.

“I know that one-size-fits-all plans and mandates have tried to come down from the state, and while they try to address problems, they’re not suitable for the variety of unique communities within our area,” she said in an interview. “We need to find ways that we can support the creation of more housing opportunities for the middle class while preserving that suburban lifestyle.”

The Port Jeff deputy mayor identified various environmental challenges facing the 4th District, offering to leverage her environmental advocacy background toward climate-resilient policies.

“I really look at climate resilience as something that’s part of almost every dynamic conversation that government is having at this point,” she indicated.

Kassay referred to health care as another policy concern, citing soaring health care expenses as a barrier to entrepreneurship and economic development. “A lot of folks here who might set out as entrepreneurs or small business owners might be held back by health insurance as a barrier, so I really want to work to address that and make that more affordable for small business owners and entrepreneurs, specifically, but also for everyone else who is interacting with the state health insurance market,” she said.

Among other ideas, Kassay said she would use the office to pursue greater public investment in mental health services, target the opioid crisis, apply pressure on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for improved services along the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Rail Road and expand coordination between the state and local levels of government.

Kassay’s current term as village trustee expires in July 2024. She stated she will not seek reelection for village office.

“I really look forward to serving not only Port Jefferson village residents but the residents throughout the district of AD4 from Stony Brook and all the way down to Gordon Heights, using the skills and relationships I’ve built at the village level and leveraging those skills all throughout the district,” she said.

To read Kassay’s entire statement, click here.

The Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees is weighing sweeping changes to Chapter 41 of the Village Code, which handles ethics. This was one of the items considered at the Oct. 16 business meeting.

The village’s ethics counsel, Steven Leventhal, is preparing a draft for revisions to the ethics code, to be presented during a scheduled public hearing in just over a month.

Trustee Drew Biondo outlined some reasons for revising the Code of Ethics, including the possible formation of a board of ethics.

“I think the whole purpose of this is to form a body, so that you have a board in place that can hear complaints, concerns, and then issue an opinion — founded or unfounded,” he said.

Mayor Lauren Sheprow said the envisioned ethics board would assist the village government by issuing advisory opinions for ethically complicated matters, such as determinations of possible conflicts of interest.

To resolve ethical dilemmas, “the board would consider the law, the case law, the ethics laws and make a decision,” the mayor added.

Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay inquired about powers to be conferred upon the proposed board of ethics, maintaining that municipal boards — such as the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals — generally exercise greater latitude than advisory committees with decisions that are potentially legally binding.

“In my tenure here, boards are always looked at as much weightier” as “their decisions could then lead to lawsuits,” she said.

Kassay suggested forming an ethics committee, functioning similarly to other advisory committees to the village board, with the potential for upgrading that body into a board, noting, “While you’re working the kinks out, the stakes are a little bit lower as far as the decisions coming out of that body.”

Responding to these concerns, village attorney David Moran said the ethics board would function as an advisory body to the Board of Trustees, which would retain final authority to advance ethical controversies to outside agencies.

“They shouldn’t have the authority to send anything out to another agency, absent the approval of” the Board of Trustees, Moran said, adding that any other scheme would invest “way too much power” in the hands of private citizens appointed to the ethics board.

The board voted unanimously to advance the proposed ethics code changes for a public hearing Monday, Nov. 20. A draft of the proposed code amendment will be made available to the public seven to 10 days before the public hearing.


The board adopted an add-on resolution awarding a bid of $248,907 to Connecticut-based F&F Concrete to perform reconstruction of the Harborfront Park walkways. Over a third of this project is subsidized by grant money.

“This is critical timewise,” said village clerk Sylvia Pirillo. “We need to complete the work and pay for it and have proof of payment submitted so that we don’t lose our grant funding — all by the end of the year.”

The walkway reconstruction will take approximately five to six weeks, with administration officials targeting the first week of December for completion.

“There will be a lot of communication needs for what we’re doing with the farmers market and the closing off of the walkways,” Sheprow said.

The board also adopted a resolution to raise membership rates at the Port Jefferson Country Club. These rate increases were recommended by PJCC general manager Tom Natola and the Country Club Management Advisory Council.


Sheprow publicly thanked the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District for assisting the village in its holiday lighting expenses through a $5,000 contribution.

Kassay reported on a recent grant from PSEG Long Island for trees in PJV. She said the Conservation Advisory Council is exploring possible recommendations to the village board on potentially scaling back the use of gas-powered leaf blowers and other landscaping equipment, citing the issue of noise coupled with related environmental and health effects from the chemical exhausts.

Kassay maintained that the proposal would not ban the use of the equipment altogether but aims to reduce their use villagewide.

She also encouraged village residents to register for the various volunteer committees through portjeff.com/volunteer.

Following a recent Saturday sit-down event, trustee Bob Juliano conveyed several sentiments and recommendations from village residents, including concerns over the parking pilot program for Belle Terre residents, “the proliferation of apartments as opposed to condos in the village” and a question over the order of reports during public meetings.

Trustee Stan Loucks advised those who have not yet removed their vessels from the village kayak racks to do so by the end of November.

To watch the entire meeting, see the video above.

From left, Village of Port Jefferson trustees Bob Juliano and Drew Biondo, Mayor Lauren Sheprow and Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay. Photo by Raymond Janis

Public business picked up at Port Jeff Village Hall on Monday, Oct. 2, as the village board of trustees tackled ethics policy, village finances and forthcoming branch pickup services.

Trustee reports

Trustee Drew Biondo updated the public on the board’s ongoing efforts to introduce a Code of Ethics. During his report, he alleged multiple past ethical violations, emphasizing the need for such a policy within the village government.

“I hope that each of you will come when this [Code of Ethics] is presented and ready to go and listen to what’s going on,” he said. “I think what I’m also going to do is present resolutions calling out the old behavior, resolving never to do it again and making sure that every employee of this government understands what’s expected of them because I don’t think they did.”

Trustee Bob Juliano reported on upcoming branch pickup services. West side branch pickup — from the Setauket line to the west side of Main Street — will take place from Oct. 23 to 27. Midtown branch pickup from the east side of Main to the west side of Belle Terre Road will occur from Oct. 30 through Nov. 3. Services for all residents east of Belle Terre Road will occur from Nov. 6 through 13.

Staff reports

Village treasurer Stephen Gaffga reported that in his review of the village’s recent 2022 audit the village’s capital fund has a negative fund balance. “Basically, it means that more money has been spent than has been put into it,” he said. “The big problem with that is that that has an effect on your other funds.”

To alleviate these fiscal pressures, Gaffga advised the board to consider “severely cutting back on its discretionary capital spending,” tapping into the capital fund only for projects entirely subsidized through grants or deemed critical. “There needs to be a rebuilding of the fund balance,” he added.

Village clerk Sylvia Pirillo reported her office’s ongoing efforts to make agendas for public meetings more comprehensive and accessible. Among the new provisions within the agenda are attachments and numbered resolutions.

Pirillo said the village has also added complete Request for Proposal and Request for Quotation packages to the village website, which may include drawings, specifications and schematics.

“This eliminates the need for a potential proposer to actually come into Village Hall and pick up hard copy documents at a fee,” the clerk said.

More information

The board will reconvene Monday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. To watch the entire recent meeting, including the public safety report, board resolutions and general comments, please see the video above.

The Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees was back before the public Monday night, Sept. 18, for a business meeting spanning roughly two hours and covering a range of local matters.

Parking pilot program

With Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay as the lone dissenter, the board passed an amended resolution 4-1 enabling the issuance of parking permits for Belle Terre residents to park in metered spaces.

In this pilot program, which will last for the remainder of the 2023 calendar year, parking passes for Belle Terre residents will be offered at a prorated expense of $25. This parking pass does not confer access to the PJV resident lot on Arden Place.

Mayor Lauren Sheprow read an email into the record from Village of Belle Terre Mayor Bob Sandak, who characterized the parking pass initiative as mutually beneficial to both municipalities.

“For many years, the residents of Belle Terre have said that they would spend much more time in the village of Port Jefferson if they could have a simple and inexpensive way to park,” the email read. “Any solution you choose to adopt would be much appreciated by the residents of Belle Terre and would, I am sure, prove to be a financial benefit to the businesses of Port Jefferson.”

Outlining reasons for the program, Sheprow said the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District unanimously supported the proposal.

Trustee Drew Biondo considered the parking pass program “cost-neutral and revenue-producing.”

In supporting the motion, trustee Bob Juliano suggested that the pilot program offers 11 weeks to test and evaluate the program: “It doesn’t mean I’m going to approve it going forward, but let’s try it for the 11 weeks and let’s see what it produces,” he said.

Explaining her “no” vote, Kassay indicated that parking accommodations for village employees remain unresolved.

“For years, I’ve heard consistent requests from Port Jefferson business owners asking the village to consider making parking passes available to their employees who are spending $1.50 per hour to go to work,” the deputy mayor said in a subsequent email. “A solution for this concept, as well as the concept of parking permits for nonresident visitors, deserves a great deal of time and discussion from the village board, staff and community at large.”

She added, “I hope the 2024 paid parking season in PJV will begin with a convenient, comprehensive parking permit program for recreational visitors and local employees alike.”

QR code scam

Parking and mobility administrator Kevin Wood updated the board of a recent scam targeting some of the village’s metered parking signs.

“Some group of people or person — most likely this weekend — placed perfectly square, fraudulent QR codes over the existing QR code on some of the signs,” Wood told the board.

Those who scanned the fraudulent code “were offered a flat fee parking rate of $20,” Wood said, adding, “We don’t know exactly how many people were defrauded, but I will tell you we caught it very early Saturday night.”

Wood estimated approximately 12-15 parking signs had been tampered with, maintaining that all fake QR codes had been removed. He added that a detailed report on the incident was sent to the Suffolk County Police Department.

Proposed schedule change

The board debated a proposal to move its regular meetings from Monday to Thursday.

Village clerk Sylvia Pirillo said the existing meeting schedule often conflicts with holidays, adding that there are other logistical challenges for village staff.

“We’re recommending instead the second and final Thursday of each month” for board of trustees meetings, Pirillo said. “We also feel that for staff and for work product that this would be a more consistent schedule. We now have warrants that are once a month, and this would help with the processing.”

Biondo supported the schedule change, saying, “It’s good to try something new. If it doesn’t work, we can caucus and decide to go back.”

Kassay referred to the logic for changing the schedule as “sound.” However, she asked the board to consider public feedback before adopting the change.

“I, as a trustee, have learned that making large, sweeping decisions like this without giving the public a chance to have their voices heard is often greeted quite negatively,” the deputy mayor said.

The board did not hold a vote on the change of schedule.

New treasurer

The village’s new treasurer, Stephen Gaffga, attended his first board meeting Monday night, delivering a brief report on his plans for the office.

Moving forward, Gaffga said he would present monthly financials, including fund balance information, expenses and revenues, also budget transfers. He proposed some changes to office procedures.

“I want to be able to tighten up the procurement procedures here a little bit to be able to allow for more transparency in how the money is being spent — taxpayer money, country club money, capital funds — and to also allow more clarity when it comes to the warrants,” he said. “I think the more information there is, the better.”

To watch the entire meeting, including trustee reports, please see the video above.

Port Jefferson’s temporary village hall was located in leased facilities on the west side of Main Street. Photo from author's collection

After Port Jefferson incorporated in 1963, the village Board of Trustees established a temporary village hall in leased facilities on the west side of Main Street.

Since the easily forgotten storefront location was hardly impressive and the small space soon proved inadequate, a plan for a permanent village hall was advanced in 1964 by Port Jefferson’s first mayor, Robert L. Robertson.

He proposed the construction of an elegant and capacious million-dollar village center that would house both government offices and recreational facilities, including a community swimming pool.

The multipurpose complex would be built on West Broadway, facing Port Jefferson Harbor, on land acquired by the village and once occupied by Loper Brothers Lumber Yard.

While The Port Jefferson Record applauded Robertson’s “visionary” proposal, the Board of Trustees decided not to proceed with the project, pending the completion of a village master plan by consultants Raymond & May.

The master plan, released in July 1965 during the administration of Port Jefferson’s second mayor, Clifton H. Lee, provided a guide for the future development of the village and recommended that the West Broadway tract be used exclusively for Port Jefferson’s seat of government.

Village of Port Jefferson founding mayors Clifton H. Lee, left, and Robert L. Robertson, right, both worked to establish a village hall. Photo from the Lee Family collection

Milton S. Osborne, who had directed the Penn State School of Architecture, also conferred on the project, and supported using the West Broadway site strictly for village hall while building public parks and recreation areas at other locations throughout Port Jefferson.

With a clear goal in mind, the Board of Trustees formed the Architectural Selection Committee which reviewed sketches and interviewed architects before recommending Anthony J. Lorio (1928-2013) as their choice to design village hall.

Lorio proposed the construction of a 7,000-square-foot, two-story, Georgian-style brick building, on a raised podium. Preliminary renderings were displayed throughout Port Jefferson, and residents were invited to offer their opinions.

While most reviews were positive, there were some who called for softening the village hall’s facade. After making minor modifications in his design, and with the trustees’ support, Lorio began preparing working plans for the building.

In April 1966, construction of village hall went out to bid, but all 19 proposals were rejected as too expensive. The Board of Trustees, which had wanted to keep total costs under $200,000, went out to bid a second time in winter 1967 but was frustrated again with the high numbers.

Today’s Port Jefferson village hall, located at 121 W. Broadway. File photo

After considerable discussion, the trustees agreed that construction costs were likely to increase because of the Vietnam War’s inflationary impact and it was best to accept a $264,000 bid before prices rose even more.

Port Jefferson broke ground for village hall in April 1967, but nationwide strikes in various industries so delayed progress locally that the building was not ready for business until May 1968.

Over the years, village hall has become more than just a municipal building and is now a seaside landmark, evoking that sense of place that makes Port Jefferson so special.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of the village.

From left, trustees Bob Juliano and Drew Biondo, Mayor Lauren Sheprow and Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay. Not pictured, trustee Stan Loucks. Photo by Aidan Johnson
By Aidan Johnson

Monday, July 10, marked Lauren Sheprow’s first Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees meeting as village mayor. 

Sheprow led the new board through their business and reorganization meeting, in which the reconfigured village board voted to reject proposed code changes slated for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property on Myrtle Avenue.

Mayor Lauren Sheprow presiding over the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees on Monday, July 10. Photo by Aidan Johnson

Maryhaven Center of Hope

The proposed code amendments were an effort by the previous administration to preserve the historic building on the Maryhaven site. [See story, “For Maryhaven, Port Jeff village board weighs historic preservation, density and conservation,” April 29, TBR News Media website.] 

It would have created a special permit application to allow the village board to designate specific parcels that contribute to Port Jefferson’s architectural and aesthetic character. 

If approved, an applicant meeting these criteria would have qualified for relaxed standards for land use, allowing for additional height and stories without additional clearing.

During the public comment period Monday night, former village trustee Barbara Ransome addressed the continuing concerns over the property.

“I’m hoping that there are no quick decisions about changing codes for potential developers,” she said. “I think we heard at the [May 1] public hearing a lot of concern about the infrastructure, about losing a wonderful area that people feel is just going to be too crowded with that kind of density.”

Trustee Stan Loucks, not pictured, left the village board meeting after learning he would not be reappointed as liaison to Port Jefferson Country Club. Photo by Aidan Johnson


But not all went smoothly at Village Hall.

Trustee Stan Loucks, who ran in this year’s village election alongside mayoral candidate Kathianne Snaden, left directly after the board’s reorganization meeting, skipping the general meeting altogether after Sheprow revealed he would no longer serve as liaison to the Port Jefferson Country Club.

“I feel very strongly that I’ve had an impact on the resurgence of the country club,” Loucks said. He went on to say that he did not think he could “work any further with this board.” 

Village clerk Barbara Sakovich will leave the village government after more than 13 years in that role. Her retirement will take effect July 19. The trustees expressed their gratitude for her years of service. Silvia Pirillo will take over as the new clerk.

Sheprow appointed trustee Rebecca Kassay as deputy mayor and commissioner of environmental stability.

“It is an honor to step into the position of deputy mayor because it helps me better serve the village and work [especially with] flood resilience and climate studies,” Kassay said in an interview after the meeting. 

“I’ve been talking to organizations like [the United States Geological Survey], and having the title of deputy mayor shows that the village is taking these climate resilience issues very seriously,” she noted. “I’m very glad to be representing the village in this way.”

Trustee Bob Juliano will serve as commissioner of public works and parks. Loucks was appointed commissioner of recreation, and newly appointed trustee Drew Biondo will be commissioner of buildings and communications.

Harry Faulknor will continue as the Port Jefferson Harbor commissioner.

Sheprow will serve as commissioner of finance and public safety/court/code.

A motion to appoint Donald Pearce as village treasurer failed — he held the post previously before resigning in 2015. Juliano suggested that while Pearce is excellent to work with, he was displeased that Denise Mordente was not reappointed.

Code enforcement chief Andy Owen delivering his department’s monthly public safety report. Photo by Aidan Johnson

Public safety

The general meeting started with a brief presentation from Code Enforcement Bureau chief Andy Owen and chief of patrol James Murdocco.

Owen clarified that the code department does not save and store private information through its automatic license plate readers, which are used to identify if a car has a valid Port Jefferson parking permit or a meter is paid.

He also announced that foot patrols downtown would begin after this weekend’s Port Paws Dog Festival. Owen said he is also planning on starting a bike patrol unit.

In June, 60 incident reports were written, consisting of noise complaints, traffic conditions and public disturbances.

A total of 206 summonses were written in June for incidents such as uninspected vehicles, missing license plates, parking without a permit or overtime meter parking. 

Murdocco reported there have been over 200 incidents at the Port Jefferson train station since January, with many happening after 9 p.m.

Murdocco also announced the start of an informational Facebook page for the code bureau.

Public comment

During the public comment portion, held before the trustee reports, multiple residents voiced concerns about the potential overdevelopment of the park at Roosevelt Avenue. Myrna Gordon, along with other residents, suggested these developments would not be conducive to the area’s quiet character.

Sheprow announced a planned Parks and Rec Advisory Council meeting on July 26. All residents of the Roosevelt Avenue area are invited.

Michael Mart also touched upon the issue of transient housing — such as Airbnb facilities — in Port Jefferson, expressing a desire for the board to limit the rental time of a house to 30 days per renter.

After a resident asked how villagers could get involved with the different committees and task forces, Kassay said they are currently working on an online forum where residents could enter their information and the committees on which they would like to participate.


Juliano announced he would be starting office hours and that his door was always open. He also said that he gave the interim attorney a proposed code change so that when developers apply through the Industrial Development Agency for pilots or property tax exemptions, they would start at whatever they were paying now instead of at zero.

Biondo shared that he had toured a few of Port Jefferson’s facilities as the liaison to building and planning. He said he would discuss with the mayor and village attorney how they can streamline government processes.

Kassay said the Complete Streets and Walkability Plan is moving forward. She also said the board is still working on mitigating flooding challenges, though the problems cannot be eliminated. However, they are working on a study to see which areas need to be focused on for flood mitigation.

Kassay and Andrew Kelly, from Hauppauge-based VHB civil engineering company, are working on assisting grant writers with the documentation needed to apply to the New York State Environmental Protection Fund to progress to the next step for the planned Six Acre Park, which consists of taking a concept and making “show ready” plans for the park. 

Sheprow announced she had appointed an ethics attorney to update the village’s ethics code. She also said that she has met with representatives from Stony Brook University’s Student Affairs office, and they have expressed interest in using Port Jefferson as a “living laboratory.”

The Board of Trustees also passed a resolution to create a budget and finance committee, and has been working to recruit members of a short-term and long-term rental evaluation working group.

Sheprow added that the board is considering establishing a working group to advise on policies related to the Port Jefferson Power Station to explore declining public revenue and possible repowering.

The board will reconvene Monday, July 24, at 3:30 p.m.

Drew Biondo. Photo courtesy the Village of Port Jefferson

In her first official act as Port Jefferson Village mayor, Lauren Sheprow has appointed Drew Biondo to fill her unexpired term as trustee, which ends in June 2024.

Biondo, a village resident since 1998, is director of communications at Suffolk County Community College with nearly 40 years of experience as a communications executive and administrator in both the public and private sectors.

Biondo was appointed to the Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees in January 2018 and served for five years as a member of the Governance, Planning and Personnel Committee. His responsibilities included setting appropriate priorities and implementing best practices, among other tasks.

Before joining SCCC’s staff, Biondo served as director of communications and press secretary for former New York State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), working as the senator’s chief spokesperson and as a policy advisor.

“I’ve known and worked with Drew in a variety of capacities for more than 20 years,” Sheprow said. “I know him to be very strategic and purposeful in his approach. His time spent on the LIPA board, in higher education, as well as in Senator LaValle’s [office] has prepared him well to be able to serve the residents of Port Jefferson as a trustee.”

Biondo attended Marist College and is a graduate of LIU Post with a bachelor’s degree in communications.