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Port Jefferson Country Club

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The Port Jefferson Country Club, 44 Fairway Drive, Port Jefferson will host the Port Jefferson Lions Knights of the Blind’s 25th annual Golf Classic for Charity on Thursday, Oct. 15. The event includes lunch/brunch, on course refreshments, a cocktail reception/dinner and an awards ceremony. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to local charities including Hope House, Angela’s House, local soup kitchens, Friends of Karen, Maryhaven Center of Hope, Veterans of Foreign Wars and more. To register, visit https://birdeasepro.com/portjeffersonlions. For further information, email [email protected]

By 2020, the courts at the Port Jefferson Country Club are nearly at the edge of the bluff. Photo by Royce Perera

I have spent my lifetime fighting to protect our land, water and the air we breathe in every few seconds of our lives. So, it was especially meaningful to meet Sapphire Perera, a young person in our community whose deep caring for and connection with our environment has propelled her to play a role in its protection.  

One of Sapphire’s talents is writing, and she uses this skill to spread awareness and inspire others to action. Our local newspaper, TBR News Media, has given Sapphire Perera an opportunity to use the platform of a column in the paper to inform us about environmental issues. This is a good thing because young people can introduce fresh ideas and outlook to environment-related issues and breathe new life into our motivation to protect and improve the environment that sustains us.

— State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket)

By Sapphire Perera

The beauty of the Port Jeff shoreline should not blind us to the growing problem of land erosion. Similar to the fact that the majestic stone figures of Easter Island should not hide the ecological disaster that overcame their island. All over the shores of Port Jeff and Long Island, there are eroding bluffs. While people just see these eroding bluffs as being steep cliffs of sand that can be climbed on, they pose a much greater threat to our environment and to the buildings that line the top of the land. 

In 2012, satellite images show much more room left between the Port Jefferson Country Club’s tennis courts and the bluff.

Ever since 2012, the residents of Port Jeff have been trying to solve the issue of the eroding bluffs. The lack of vegetation and increasing deforestation have only made the erosion worse. To combat this problem, the village has planned on constructing seawalls and barriers and are still waiting for permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. They also hope for Suffolk County to dredge the area surrounding Mount Sinai harbor and return sand to the beaches. Currently, the Town of Brookhaven is in the midst of reconstruction of the jetties at the mouth of Mount Sinai Harbor. The jetties had been worn down over time, leaving them not as effective as they used to be, with holes and submerged rocks allowing sand to run over and through. Previous Port Times Record editor Alex Petroski wrote about the eroding bluffs in Port Jeff [“Eroding Port Jeff beach causing concern for village,” June 1, 2017], and his article included pictures of the bluffs of Port Jeff and Belle Terre. In February, my brother Royce Perera captured the image of these bluffs from a similar angle with his drone. If you compare the two pictures and examine the bluffs near the country club, the worsening erosion of the bluffs is clear. Bluff erosion has only gotten worse and without any deterrents or solutions, more land continues to end up on our sandy beaches.

Most recognize the problem but are ignorant of how the erosion of these bluffs has continually gotten worse and how human interaction can increase the rate at which erosion occurs. Many factors contribute to erosion but in recent years, there have been intense storms, strong winds and frequent human interference. While erosion is a natural process, coastal erosion on Long Island’s North Shore has been designated “critical” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As sand is continually sliding down the bluff to the beach, it is taking away land from the Island. Currently, the Port Jefferson Country Club tennis court is facing this problem because erosion of the bluff has come dangerously close to it. As more and more land disappears from the bluff, there is more of a chance for erosion to occur less stability. 

Sapphire Perera

Personally, when I have visited the beach, I have witnessed young kids and young adults walking up and down the bluffs. While this is perceived as a harmless act, these people are actually acting as catalysts to the process of erosion. The weight of that person pushes down more sand and destroys plants that hold the sand together. Sometimes there is garbage thrown down onto these bluffs which ends up destroying vegetation. Vegetation is one thing that helps maintain the structure of the bluff since it is holding particles together through the roots.

In order to protect the land and preserve the tennis courts at the country club, the Town is inching closer to finalizing reconstructing the jetties with hopes that it will be a barrier against erosion from tides, currents and waves. Other ways that would prevent erosion include the diversion of surface runoff away from the bluff, minimized paved areas that increase runoff and a decrease in additional weight on the bluff edge, such as pools, buildings or storage sheds.

Anthropologists now say that the grandeur of the Easter Island statues exists at a huge cost, namely the permanent destruction of the Island. We in Port Jefferson must learn from others’ mistakes and curb human activity in order to conserve Port Jeff’s beaches, water and land. 

Sapphire Perera is a junior at Port Jefferson high school. This is the first of a planned column series by her called “Turtle Island,” which refers to the Native American mythology about North America existing on the back of a great turtle that bears every living being on its spine.

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Lanscaping for new pickleball courts is already underway at the Port Jefferson Country Club. Photo by Kyle Barr

Pickleball is on the plate for the Port Jefferson Country Club, and while bids still have to come in, village officials said courts in the village proper that were previously considered are currently off the table.

In previous years, some residents called for pickleball courts at other places in the village. Local Port Jeffersonite Myrna Gordon was one who pleaded for such a sport to be accessible in the village. 

She said restricting the courts to the country club has severely limited the number of people who could use them.

“Most people don’t realize that we stand alone up there.”

— Stan Loucks

“Why would you charge village residents for this recreational program?” she said in an email. “No fees should be charged to any village resident for use of the now being built pickleball courts.”

Landscaping has already started at the country club just west of the tennis courts on the left-hand side of The Waterview building. Despite calling the landscaping and removal of bushes and trees “environmental devastation,” she asked why there wasn’t more consideration for a pickleball court next to the basketball courts near Rocketship Park or in the Texaco Avenue Park in Upper Port.

Stan Loucks, the vice mayor and liaison to the country club, said in a phone interview Jan. 24 that the village originally intended to modify the basketball court off of Barnum Avenue and paint lines for pickleball with removable nets available for certain times when not being used for basketball. However, that idea came under “considerable opposition” from people who wanted it to be maintained for children’s use.

Gordon had been one of those critics, writing in a letter to the editor it was “eliminating a space where culturally diverse people come to play pick-up games,” adding the space was already highly utilized. She instead asked why pickleball could not be built next to the basketball courts, but Loucks responded, saying space was a major consideration.

Gordon, in previous letters to the Port Times Record and in talks to the village board, had suggested placing the court structure at the Texaco Avenue Park, which was recently constructed along with the neighboring parking lot. 

Loucks said there was no room for such a court at the park, and it would also take redrawing up plans that were already approved.

The penned-in court complex going in at the country club is measured out to be 64 by 116 feet for three pickleball courts, though a normal-sized, regulation court is only measured at 20 by 44 feet. The Texaco park contains a small play set and basketball court, along with a walking path and some spare seating.

“No fees should be charged to any village resident for use of the now being built pickleball courts.”

— Myrna Gordon

Pickleball is cited as one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. It’s played on a smaller court than tennis and uses paddles instead of rackets to volley a plastic ball back and forth across asphalt courts.

Bids are supposed to come back for the pickleball courts Feb. 6, and potential contractors have already done a walk-through of the property. Loucks is waiting for those bids to come back on a project that could cost anywhere between $85,000 and $128,000, which also includes partially completed landscaping at the country club, at a cost of several thousand to the club itself.

The rest of the funds, the trustee said, would have to be bonded for. Most likely, since the country club cannot issue bonds, the village would apply for the bond and then the country club would use its funds to pay it off. A similar agreement was worked out when the country club installed a new irrigation system for the golf course, which cost around $2 million, or just over the total amount of the club’s entire yearly budget.

The pickleball courts, Loucks said, are a way of hopefully generating more revenue for the country club.

“Most people don’t realize that we stand alone up there,” he said. “We’re trying to make end’s meet — we’re hoping pickleball brings in some additional revenue.”

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Site plans for the pickleball courts Photo by Kyle Barr

Port Jefferson village has put out bid requests to add several pickleball courts to a portion of the tennis space at the Port Jefferson Country Club.

Deputy Mayor Stan Loucks said the game has picked up in popularity, and has been reported as one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. 

The Sport and Fitness Industry Association reported that participation in the sport has increased by close to 10 percent over the past three years, with a total of 3.3 million participants in the country, compared to 2.815 million in 2014.  

The game of pickleball is often compared to an enlarged game of ping pong, or a shortened game of tennis. Instead of rackets, players use large paddles to get a plastic perforated ball across a net. Unlike tennis, serves are underhand. It can be played one-on-one or two-on-two.

Many people attribute the sport’s popularity to it being relatively simple. It doesn’t require a lot of rapid body movement but requires good hand-eye coordination.

Loucks, the liaison to the country club, said original plans were to include the pickleball courts to the west of the current tennis courts, but that would have required extra revetments and erosion mitigation along that end of the bluff. The new designs show the three new pickleball courts to the north of the existing tennis courts, about 32 feet from the existing parking lot. Original estimates for the project range from $85,000 to $128,000, a total that combines both the landscaping and the building of the asphalt courts. Excavation started for the courts Jan. 7.

The village has struggled in recent years to get permits from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to build new revetments and structures to halt erosion on the bluff near the country club. Loucks said they are losing a few feet of bluff every year, making it precariously close to taking out the tennis courts. Mayor Margot Garant said the DEC is finalizing everything, and they are hoping to get those permits back “soon.”

“I think it’s a great move — we’re not losing any parking area,” Loucks said. 

The pro shop for tennis will also cater to pickleball players. The village set the membership rates for pickleball at $400 for a resident, $500 for nonresidents, and each will pay a $50 annual assessment plus a $135 minimums fee. Country club members interested in playing pickleball will be charged an additional rate of $300.

Loucks said he hopes the sport will be popular.  The only other two local pickleball courts are a private space in the Village of Belle Terre and a public court in Centereach.

“I’m hoping to 50 to 100 members the first season,” he said.

Final deadline for new bids is Feb. 6. After that the village will choose a contractor and then more work can begin. Loucks said that while asphalt companies don’t open their doors until April, he expects the project to be done by the beginning of May.

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Both children and adults beat the wind and rain and celebrated Halloween at the Port Jefferson Country Club Oct. 31. Photo by Kyle Barr

Despite gusting wind and spits of rain, some children still managed to hit the streets Halloween night for some old fashioned trick or treating. But for parents and their kids looking to avoid that, the Port Jefferson County Club opened its doors to people of all ages during its annual Halloween party.

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Vilage officials have been paying attention to the Port Jefferson Country Club lower parking lot. Photo by Kyle Barr

Port Jefferson village officials hope $12,000 is enough to cover the Port Jefferson Country Club parking lot and area around the golf pro shop with camera surveillance.

At its Aug. 19 meeting, village officials agreed to put together $12,000 from various budgets to replace seven cameras around the country club parking lot. These cameras will be at 4K resolution to better enable reading license plates in case that data needs to be forwarded to village constables or Suffolk County Police. The money will also go toward adding a new system to use the upgraded cameras at the country club.

“The system we got there is five years old — the cameras have always been cloudy there,” said Kevin Wood, the Port Jefferson parking and mobility administrator. 

At the meeting, the village officials went back and forth on the cameras’ price tag, but Wood argued 4K is the way of the future.

“The 4K costs have gone down tremendously, even since we did Texaco a year ago,” he said. “We’re at the point where we don’t consider anything but 4K, it’s that close to the cost.”

The board unanimously voted to install the new cameras, and Mayor Margot Garant said she is looking to take some money out of the country club, the parking and main budgets.

In previous meetings, trustee Stan Loucks made a point of trying to stop people from parking in the country club’s lower parking lot and walking down to the beach to fish.

“We believe that a lack of cameras at the lower lot creates additional problems down at the east beach,” he said at the Aug. 19 meeting.

In May, the village announced it had hooked up its camera system to Suffolk County Police Department’s real-time crime center. The system is used by police to tap into local cameras and use that data in conjunction with databases to catch criminal activity.

Wood said they expect the cameras to be installed by mid-September.

Port Jefferson Country Club hosted a sectional qualifying round July 15 for the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship, featuring local talent with the hope of making the cut to compete in the final round at Pinehurst (North Carolina) Resort and Country Club Aug 12-18.

The qualifier was one of 96 tournaments held across the country, and with 84 golfers vying for the top three spots to make the cut, Brent Ito of Ann Arbor, Michigan tied with Ethan Ng of New York City to finish at 7-under. Andrew Chambers of Boca Raton, Florida finished 5-under, to round out the top three.

Ward Melville alum and Port Jeff resident Gerald Mackedon, a junior at St. John’s University, shot a 68 in the first round followed by a 72 in the second, coming in at 4-under for the tournament to secure the first alternate position for the championship in Pinehurst.

Port Jeff resident Jon Sherman survived the first round with a 75 and shot a 79 in the second to finish at 10-over.

Port Jefferson resident and 2019 graduate Shane DeVincenzo, who earlier this season won his second consecutive Suffolk championship, went on to place second in the New York State championship round June 3 at Cornell University. DeVincenzo shot a 77.

Matthew Mirocco, another Ward Melville graduate, finished the day shooting 80.

Complete results can be found here.

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Golf holes at the Port Jeff golf course were vandalized with what’s believed to be gasoline. Photos from Brian Macmillan

The morning of April 9, Brian Macmillan, the golf course superintendent at the Port Jefferson Country Club, walked out onto the green of the village golf course and smelled something like gasoline. Five of the greens at the course had been hit with the substance.

Dead grass after the substance had seeped into the ground. Photo from SCPD

The five holes, namely numbers 8,12,13,14 and 17, had been vandalized between the hours of between April 8 at 7 p.m. and April 9 at 7 a.m. with a substance suspected to be gasoline of some type. The unknown perpetrators had released the substance in random patterns at each of the greens near the holes. Macmillan said he suspected the perpetrators did not do it by accident since each site of vandalism was specifically the greens instead of the grasses between. He added he had no notion why a person would commit the act, but suspected it was an intentional act to hurt the country club.

“This was pretty intentional and aggressive,” the golf club superintendent said. “Ninety-eight percent of the people in the club wouldn’t have anything to do with their motive.”

Suffolk County police was contacted that morning, and Macmillan said they arrived very soon after they had been called. While police have been in contact with the country club asking questions, the superintendent said they have not received any updates on the ongoing investigation. 

While the holes were sectioned off for the day when the club learned of the vandalism, they have since become playable again.

Port Jefferson village trustee Stan Loucks, the liaison to the country club, said each hole had taken excessive damage. The village has since contacted seven different golf course renovation and construction companies to find a person to schedule repairs. Currently the cost to the village is unknown, and they hope it will be covered under insurance for the course.

Suffolk County Police said the damage is estimated to cost $10,000.

Loucks said April 15 the village had contracted out to East Northport-based Delea Sod Farms to handle the repairs, which would start April 22 and should take two to three days.

“This was pretty intentional and aggressive.”

— Brian Macmilla

Macmillan said the substance permeated through the ground a foot and a half down. Repairs will require removing the damaged grass as well as the impacted soil below it. He added the country club has a nursery green used to replace portions of the holes that are damaged through heat stress and disease, though he said he had not expected to use it for a situation such as this. 

Loucks added the village will likely use extra sod from holes 14 and 17. The impacted holes will be unusable during repair but will become playable again afterward, with the affected areas sectioned off during play. 

A slumping bluff is raising eyebrows in Port Jefferson Village.

Bids are being accepted, and will continue to be through April 16, for a project that village officials hope will stave off erosion at Port Jefferson East Beach Area and Pavilion that is endangering a tennis court.

Port Jeff has been trying to figure out how to deal with its shrinking beach and slumping bluff at least as far back as early 2016. The new plan of action is to build a wall — it’s yet to be determined whether it will be built out of steel or a revetment of rocks — at the base of the bluff. Overhead images of the beach accessed via Google Earth show the shoreline nestled between the Long Island Sound and a bluff that leads to the grounds of the Port Jefferson Country Club clearly shrinking over the years. Officials are concerned about tennis court No. 4 at the country club, which has inched closer to the edge of the bluff as the beach has eroded.

Erosion of East Beach in Port Jefferson is causing trees to slump down an adjacent bluff. Photo by Alex Petroski

“The Village of Port Jefferson’s shoreline suffered significant structural damage, resulting from multiple state-of-emergency storm events,” said a Jan. 17, 2017, letter from GEI Consultants, a privately-owned consulting firm contracted by Port Jeff, to the village regarding its concerns about erosion.

After the East Coast was hit with four storms classified as Nor’easters by the National Weather Service in March, a walkway and pavilion on the eastern end of the parking lot at the end of Village Beach Road was severely damaged, and many trees can be seen uprooted and horizontal at the bottom west of the road.

“That whole area East Beach is just a disaster,” Trustee Stan Loucks said during a March board meeting after taking a look at the area.

Trustee Bruce D’Abramo called it “scary” to see how badly the beach is eroding.

In an article entitled “Forgotten North Shore vulnerable to sea level rise” published by TBR News Media in January, R. Lawrence Swanson, the interim dean and associate dean of the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, said staving off erosion of bluffs is a complicated problem on the North Shore that will require more research from New York state.

Several strong March storms caused damage at East Beach in Port Jefferson. Photo by Alex Petroski

“What can be done in the way of resiliency to preserve the character of the North Shore and yet also protect individual properties on the Sound — both those on the cliffs and those on the barrier spits?” he wrote. “Is hardening the bluffs and beaches at great expense the answer? Do we let nature take its course? Do residents on the barrier beaches have rights to the sediment of eroding cliffs in much the same way that downstream California claims rights to Colorado River water? If hardening of bluffs is allowed, will there be enough sediment at the toe to maintain a beach to reduce wave run-up? New York State needs to examine this issue and develop guidance that works for all.”

He warned that construction of sea walls can hinder the natural process of erosion from the base of North Shore bluffs, reducing the materials available to maintain barrier spits, or formations caused by the lateral movement of water along a shoreline, subjecting bluffs to “over washing.”

“Beaches fronting the bluffs will disappear so that waves will be beating directly on the seawalls,” he said. “This is a regional issue that cannot be solved property by property or even on a town-by-town basis. With the state of development on the North Shore, some form of intervention or adaptation is probably required; nature cannot be left totally unchecked, given the grim climate projections for this coming century.”

After 15 years in business, Lombardi’s on the Sound is no more. File photo

Change is on the horizon at the Port Jefferson Country Club.

After a 15-year partnership with property owner Port Jefferson Village, Lombardi’s on the Sound is no more. The family-owned catering business with other locations in Holbrook and Patchogue will no longer serve as the proprietor of the hall located on the golf course on the shores of the Long Island Sound.

The village board unanimously passed a resolution at its March 5 meeting approving the transfer of the catering license at the facility from Lombardi’s Caterers to The Crest Group LLC, a Port Jefferson Station-based real estate group, effective immediately. Crest’s hospitality division also includes Danfords Hotel & Marina, a longtime staple in Port Jefferson Village. The country club catering hall will be rebranded as The
Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club and is set to reopen in early April, according to Christina Whitehurst, director of sales and marketing at Danfords.

“It was time for a change for both them and us, but I can’t speak for what changed for them as far as their business plan,” village Mayor Margot Garant said. “Lombardi’s sold their business — bulk sale. We simply had to approve the new vendor to assign the agreement. We felt Danfords knows the village and would prove to be a good working partner, treating both our members and residents as VIP clientele.”

Garant said village personnel are meeting with Danfords staff throughout March to coordinate plans, names, menus and events.

“We will make a joint announcement on all when everything is ready to launch,” Garant said. “We are excited to reclaim our country club.”

The mayor added that the menu at the rebranded hall is “to be announced,” but to expect it will be compatible with a country club setting.

Guy Lombardi, one of the business owners who also oversees the kitchens at Lombardi’s various locations, said they made the decision because they wanted to focus more on their other locations, adding that he expected Danfords would do a great job with the location.

“I loved that place,” he said of Lombardi’s on the Sound. “I loved to go there. The mayor does a great job there. It was just time to move on. It was a great run. We’re going to miss the people.”

“We would like to express our most sincere gratitude and appreciation for allowing Lombardi’s on the Sound to provide you the exemplary food, service and catering experience during our 15 years at the Port Jefferson Country Club,” the company said in a statement on the Lombardi’s on the Sound website.

Whitehurst said in a phone interview Danfords would welcome back employees who had jobs at the country club catering hall, and also indicated those who had previously made reservations for events at the country club should get in touch.

“We care about our reputation and how we do business and how we treat our guests and the level of service we deliver, so no matter what it is, we’re not going in there like we’re in and out,” Whitehurst said when asked about duration of the contract. “We want to continue to have the same track record like we have at Danfords.”

Five years remain on the 20-year lease being assumed by Crest, according to the village.