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Port Jefferson Country Club

The owner of The Bench Bar & Grill in Stony Brook is bringing his experience and menu items to the Port Jefferson Country Club beginning in April. Photo by Alex Petroski

Members of the Port Jefferson Country Club and village residents alike may soon have a new favorite local spot to grab breakfast and lunch.

Port Jeff Village’s country club has reached an agreement with the owner of Stony Brook bar and restaurant The Bench Bar & Grill, located on Route 25A. He will take control of the operation of the club’s grill room beginning in the spring. The village has been searching for a proprietor for the vacant restaurant for several months, and after a thorough vetting process, according to village trustee and liaison to the country club Stan Loucks, The Bench’s owner Jeff Capri was the ultimate choice. The grill room will be called The Turn at PJCC after its grand opening, which Loucks said is expected to be April 15.

“He’s got a very successful background,” Loucks said of Capri in a phone interview. “I’m very confident … we’re pretty excited to have this guy on board.”

Loucks said the grill room has been renovated to get the partnership off on the right foot, as new flooring at a cost of about $7,900; tables and other furnishings for about $6,300 and new kitchen equipment have been installed. The village board also approved the purchase of a new bar top for about $4,000 and about $2,600 in electrical upgrades, during a meeting Jan. 24. General carpentry at a cost not to exceed $17,600 and plumbing improvements not to exceed $5,300 were approved Dec. 19.

“It’s the first time we’ve had this kind of a facility upgrade to make it more attractive and comfortable for the membership,” Loucks said. He said the agreement between the village and Capri is a three-year contract, which includes a minimal rental charge to be collected by the village that can go up based on success of the establishment in year one, but allows Capri to collect all of the proceeds from food sales. Loucks said the arrangement is meant to establish a service for members and village residents, not as a means to gain revenue for the club or village.

“We’re not looking to make money on this, we’re just looking to provide a good experience for membership — it’s not a revenue stream for us,” he said.

The menu has not yet been finalized, but Loucks said the plan is to serve burgers, sandwiches, French fries, wraps and more on what he referred to as an “extensive lunch menu,” available from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. most days. Traditional breakfast items will be served from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. He said he and a committee had lunch at The Bench to sample some of their best items during the vetting process, and he’s looking forward to having the food regularly available at
the club.

Loucks called Capri and his wife Barbara “true professionals,” and said they have been involved in the renovations and setup of The Turn at PJCC every step of the way.

“He and his wife Barbara have been dynamite,” Loucks said.

Loucks added Capri is in the process of getting a liquor license approved for the location, and happy hour deals a couple of days per week are being discussed. The grill room will not be open for dinner, because the club already has a contract established with Lombardi’s on the Sound for evenings.

Capri did not respond to a request for comment.

A group of community members is discussing the possibility of a public pool in Port Jefferson Village. Stock photo

By Alex Petroski

As a waterfront village, a group of more than 120 community members think Port Jefferson is missing one major and logical element: a place to swim. Led by Todd Pittinsky, a four-year village resident and Stony Brook University professor, a group interested in bringing a public pool to Port Jefferson is mobilizing, gaining support and preparing to present ideas and data to the village board.

The where, when and how are still up in the air, according to Pittinsky, but one thing that is unquestionable is the public interest in the project. Pittinsky created a Facebook page called Port + Pool as a way to gauge support for his vision. At the time of print the page has 123 followers.

“When we moved here it was the one thing we couldn’t find,” Pittinsky said in an interview. He said he has a 3-year-old son he’d like to have the opportunity to teach how to swim, though creating a place where the community can gather and enjoy together is also one of his goals. In a Dec. 17 post on the page, Pittinsky spelled out some of the major benefits he believes a public pool would bring to the community. He cited health benefits of swimming for exercise, the importance of teaching kids how to swim especially on Long Island, a possible boost in property values, additional revenue for the village and a place for kids to spend their time productively as some of the possible positive outcomes of his vision.

The group hasn’t decided if an outdoor or indoor pool would be best, but Pittinsky said several members would like to be able to use it year-round. He added he has seen designs that incorporate both lanes, for people who want to swim laps for health reasons with areas designated for play for kids, all incorporated into one. Currently Edna Louise Spear Elementary School has an indoor pool though it is only open to the public twice per week.

Pittinsky said it is too early in the process to start discussing possible costs, but his goal is for the Facebook group to eventually be involved in fundraising for the project to offset some of the potential cost for the village, should the ball truly get rolling. The group has brainstormed five potential locations, though they haven’t gained permission from any of the necessary parties just yet. He suggested the Port Jefferson Country Club as a possible spot because it is already open to the public and they are trying to increase membership. Other possibilities include a floating pool within Port Jefferson Harbor; somewhere uptown where revitalization projects are beginning and apartment buildings are being constructed; Roosevelt Park, which the village is in the process of repurposing; or  even Danfords Hotel and Marina.

At least one member of the board of trustees is willing to explore the idea along with the community. Stanley Loucks sits on the board, and is also the liaison for the country club.

“This is a marvelous idea — a swimming pool at the country club would be a major plus for the club members as well as the Village,” Loucks said in an email. “A pool facility is probably the only missing attraction in Port Jefferson. I personally retired from a school district that had two competition-sized swimming pools that were used 24/7. The potential for programs for all age groups is endless not to mention the free swim fitness aspect. It would seem the country club would be the natural location if this were to become a reality. I can tell you from my experience, this endeavor would be extremely expensive; however, would certainly pay for itself over time.”

Julia Bear, a Poquott resident and a member of Pittinsky’s group, said she would be in favor of a public pool in Port Jefferson.

“There are few pool options close by to the Three Village/Port Jeff area,” she said in an email. “A community pool is a great family alternative that meets the needs of kids and adults of all ages. In particular, it provides older children with a nice alternative to the mall. Overall, I am very supportive of this endeavor, and my hope is that it will bring the community together and perhaps we’ll even get into better shape in the process.”

Another group member, a Port Jefferson resident and Stony Brook ecology professor, pointed out the potential environmental dangers if everyone in a community had their own pool at their home.

“If each homeowner builds their own outdoor pool, it is a waste of water, energy, and resources, and we are all more isolated from each other,” Joshua Rest said in an email. “If a village builds a pool, then we all share in the cost, the environmental impact is reduced, and we build a community of strong swimmers.”

Pittinsky said his plan is to hold an informational meeting later in February to gauge public interest and figure out where to go from here. For more information or to support the project, visit www.facebook.com/portpluspool/.

Mackedon and Woodruff with their winners trophies. Photo from Port Jefferson Country Club

By Joseph Wolkin

Entering Port Jefferson Country Club’s 2016 club championship spanning the first two weekends of August, South Setauket’s Gerry Mackedon had a winner’s mind-set. Before he even stepped foot onto the course, he believed he could come away with the win.

Golfing shortly after he started to walk as a toddler, Mackedon grew up a golf addict. His work ethic on the course has remained constant over the years, providing him with the skill set needed to become one of Long Island’s top prospects from an early age.

The 18-year-old walked onto the green with a pep in his step, looking to win on the course his father, Bill Mackedon, has worked at as the head golf professional for nine years.

“It was extremely hot and humid,” Mackedon said of the championship day, Sunday, Aug. 14. “I think the heat index was over 100 degrees. It was tough, but it was all worth it in the end. The conditions don’t really bother me. I just go out there and play. Everyone plays in the same conditions, so they don’t really bother me as much as others.”

With father by his side, the younger Mackedon he was able to win the tournament, one of several he has been triumphant at throughout 2016.

“My dad has always been there,” Mackedon said. “He hasn’t just been supporting me, but he’s been teaching me the important parts of life — and not just with golf. It’s good to have him next to me, having him teach me everything.”

The Ward Melville High School graduate helped lead his school team to the Suffolk championship this past season. During the Long Island Cup against Manhasset at Bethpage Black, Mackedon shot 2-over-par 73, leading the Patriots to a 415-427 victory.

Gerry Mackedon, who will be playing golf at St. John’s University. Photo from Gerry Mackedon
Gerry Mackedon, who will be playing golf at St. John’s University. Photo from Gerry Mackedon

Mackedon had been on the radar of college coaches throughout his high school career. When the time came to decide where he will play collegiate golf, he opted to attend St. John’s University, which offered him a scholarship to play at the Division I level.

“I don’t need to feel recognized,” Mackedon said while discussing his scholarship. “I just like to go out there and play my best. I just want to enjoy the game and have fun.”

While Mackedon remains humble about the opportunity to play golf in college, his new coach, Mal Galletta, is thrilled to have him with the Red Storm.

“Besides knowing his family a little bit — that’s a big factor for me also — I start recruiting kids during their junior year,” Galletta said. “By then, I have an idea of what kind of student they are.”

As far as the golf end, the coach said he watched Mackedon in person for the first time in a tournament playing at a junior event.

“He shot a 64 that day, so that was a pretty big eye-opener, especially when you can shoot that low on a challenging golf course,” he said. “And it’s not only watching his demeanor on the golf course, you have all these ingredients.”

For Mackedon, the goal is to compete on the PGA tour. Practicing day in and day out, he believes the goal is attainable.

“I practice for hours every day, play every day,” Mackedon said. “I played in lots of tournaments over the summer. … Golf is a very large and important part of my life.”

In August 2015, Mackedon played in the Met Open Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck. He finished tied fourth out of the 17 amateur competitors who made the cut at that tournament, his best result in a USGA-supported event.

The Port Jefferson Country Club’s ladies championship was won by Donna Woodruff, of Port Jefferson. The deputy director of athletics at Stony Brook University, she scored a total of 245 to come home with the trophy.

“It being the club championship, every year you look forward to it,” Woodruff said. “It’s an opportunity to compete, and if you’re fortunate enough to play well over the three rounds, it’s nice to have an opportunity to contend for the championship.”

Woodruff considers herself an avid golfer. Though she didn’t grow up playing golf, her brothers and father began to play after she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990, and then the game appealed to her. As she began to learn how to play, the skill level came naturally.

Winning the tournament for the second straight year, Woodruff now has four championships at the Port Jefferson Country Club, something she never expected would happen when she started playing.

“It is a great opportunity to represent the club as its champion,” Woodruff said. “I feel honored to have done that; the competition for all of us is a great thing. Several people have the opportunity to win the championship, and I was just glad that I came away this time as the winner.”