Tags Posts tagged with "Port Jefferson School District"

Port Jefferson School District

Port Jefferson school district teacher Robert Farenga, with seventh graders Milo Gugliucci, left, and Dean Zaltsman. Photo courtesy PJSD

Port Jefferson school district hosted an inaugural summer coding camp for Port Jefferson Middle School and Earl L. Vandermeulen High School students. The five-day camp, which took place at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School, was supervised by Robert Farenga. 

Students were encouraged to hone their skills in educational tools such as Scratch, a block-based visual programming language, to more advanced 2D and 3D cross-platforms, such as GDevelop. The attendees also learned to create animation, PC and mobile games on the open-source game engine. 

Farenga was excited to engage the students in the stimulating environment while advancing their critical-thinking skills. As he oversaw two students working together on a basic drop-coding project in Scratch, he was brainstorming lessons in writing code to advance the fundamentals in their coding skills, readying them for high school computer science courses.

Photo by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

The Port Jefferson School District athletic department is offering athletic camps to Port Jefferson elementary, middle and high school students.

Camps include basketball, cheerleading, kickboxing, martial arts, tennis and more.

With athletic coaches, teachers and upperclassmen as instructors, the goal of these camps is to teach the fundamentals of the sport while incorporating essential life lessons, such as teamwork and sportsmanship, all while having fun.

Registration for the camps is available on the athletic department page of the district website at portjeffschools.org.

Newly-graduated Royals display their diplomas. Photo courtesy PJSD

The Earl L. Vandermeulen High School Class of 2023 received their diplomas during the 129th commencement exercises on Friday, June 23. 

Principal John Ruggero welcomed those in attendance while Student Organization President Lola Idir led the Pledge of Allegiance. The string orchestra then performed the National Anthem, followed by congratulatory words from Student Organization President Amy Whitman. 

Members of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s Class of 2023 during the school’s 129th Commencement ceremony. Photo courtesy PJSD

Dr. Frank Andriani, father of student Frank Andriani, gave a heartfelt address acknowledging the district for providing opportunities to students and preparing them for the world once they graduate.

Superintendent of Schools Jessica Schmettan then addressed the Class of 2023. Class President Alexa Ayotte presented the traditional class gift, and Valedictorian Olivia Schlegel shared kind words with her fellow graduates.

Ruggero then presented the Class of 2023 to Superintendent Schmettan and Board of Education President Ellen Boehm. Each student walked to the podium for their diploma while Ruggero highlighted their personal achievements and postgraduation plans. 

The newly-graduated students then stood and tossed their caps in the air, marking a successful conclusion to their high school years.

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, above. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Residents of the Port Jefferson School District narrowly rejected yet another proposed capital bond during the Tuesday, May 16, school elections. Just 34 votes decided the outcome as the community voted down the district’s proposed $15.9 million capital bond by a 708 to 674 margin. 

The “no” vote comes just over six months after the community rejected a pair of capital bonds totaling nearly $25 million. The deferred investments in school infrastructure now raise questions about the school district’s long-term future.

“It’s disappointing that a small bond with critical updates failed by a small margin,” PJSD Superintendent Jessica Schmettan said in a statement. “Our community is clearly divided on how to move forward.”

Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant has been an ardent supporter of these proposed school infrastructure improvements. In an exclusive interview, she expressed her displeasure with the outcome.

“I would have hoped that the members of the community would have a little bit more vision and understanding of the consequences of not investing in our district and our facilities,” she said. “Nevertheless, the schools remain a major selling point in this community.”

The mayor added, “We want to remain positive, support our district and all the programs, making sure the facilities remain safe for our kids. I’m sure the Board of Ed will continue to do that, although they are working with less and less resources every year.”

In preparing this year’s capital bond proposal, the school board had scaled down its financial request to the voters by about a third, eliminating the proposed artificial turf field at the high school that was part of the December proposal. 

Given the challenges of getting these bond projects approved, Garant expressed uncertainty about how the voters can ultimately pass these infrastructure projects.

“I’m not real sure,” she said. “Maybe they put it up with each budget in the years to come, one small bond initiative at a time. But then you’re not doing a long-term project plan.” 

She added, “I’m not really sure if it’s the messaging or just the community’s misunderstanding of the impacts. People [are] making large, generic statements instead of looking at this very carefully.”

The bond’s rejection resurrects long-standing questions over declining student enrollment and public revenue, with some community members beginning to advocate for a possible merger with a neighboring school district.

Garant rejected this thinking, noting the substantial costs associated with such a plan. “I think that would be this community’s gravest mistake,” the mayor said. “Their school tax dollars would immediately almost double.”

She added that there are other unsettled questions over a potential merge, including what to do with the PJSD’s existing properties and whether a neighboring district would even accept its students. “It’s a very long process, and it’s not a solution when you have the opportunity to make a long-term investment to making things better.”

Despite the outcome, Garant said the community should closely assess its priorities and begin to chart a path forward. 

“I think the [school] board is resilient, and the community is resilient,” she concluded. “We’re going to encourage them because they were very, very close, and we just have to keep trying.”

Polling sites for this year’s school budget and BOE elections. Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, left, and Comsewogue High School. Left file photo by Elana Glowatz; right courtesy CSD

Port Jeff and Port Jeff Station/Terryville residents will head to the polls this Tuesday, May 16, for elections that will help shape the complexion and trajectory of their public schools.

Port Jefferson School District

Taxpayers of Port Jefferson School District will weigh in on another proposed capital bond, this time a $15.9 million infrastructure package to upgrade aging and outdated facilities at the high school. The bond vote comes just over six months after district residents rejected a pair of capital bonds in December, which together had totaled nearly $25 million.

District officials suggest the new bond proposal reflects public input and voter feedback received during last year’s election cycle, eliminating the proposed artificial turf athletic field at the high school and scaling down the financial request by about a third. 

“We listened and we pared it down,” Jessica Schmettan, the district’s superintendent of schools, told the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees during a May 1 public meeting at Village Hall. “It may not be as small as what people would have liked to have, but we really feel like this will get us ahead.”

Among the proposed capital improvements would be updated heating and cooling systems; demolition of the exterior music portable and relocation of music rooms; renovations to locker rooms and related athletic spaces; and repurposing of existing team rooms to accommodate tech ed and makerspace facilities.

Given the logistical constraints of getting these projects approved through voter referendum, the district also aims to restructure its long-term payment strategy, building up capital reserves and incorporating infrastructure investments into future annual budgets.

For more information on the bond proposal, visit www.portjeffschools.org/bond/home.

District voters will also decide upon the proposed annual budget for the 2023-24 school year. At $47.1 million, total appropriations are up slightly from $46.1 million the previous year. The tax levy increase for district taxpayers is 1.98%, which is within the allowable limit.

This year’s election for the district Board of Education will be uncontested, with only two candidates running for three-year terms each. Incumbent trustee David Keegan is seeking reelection, while Shannon Handley, a BOE candidate in 2021, pursues the open seat of trustee Ravi Singh, who is not running for reelection.

Voting will take place Tuesday in the cafeteria at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Comsewogue School District

The proposed 2023-24 annual budget at Comsewogue School District shows $110.8 million in total appropriations, with a tax levy increase of 3.7%. A second proposition will be on the ballot, which, if approved, would authorize the school district to withdraw $4.5 million from its $15 million capital reserve established in 2019.

The proposed capital improvements include the completion of the roof at Comsewogue High School; renovations to the high school’s courtyard; theatrical lighting at John F. Kennedy Middle School; and masonry work at Clinton Avenue Elementary School to fix leaks.

These enhancements qualify for state aid, according to district officials, who estimate these expenses will not affect the tax levy.

In the election for Comsewogue’s Board of Education, incumbent BOE president Alexandra Gordon and trustee James Sanchez are running unopposed.

Voting will be held Tuesday, May 16, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the gymnasium at Comsewogue High School.

File photo by Raymond Janis

Residents deserve better than one-party rule

In the May 4 edition, the editorial board highlights that the Brookhaven landfill is a major issue in this year’s Town of Brookhaven elections [“The landfill election”]. We need bold leadership to tackle Long Island’s decades-long solid waste crisis. This is an issue of economic, environmental and racial justice that we can no longer afford to ignore.

Carting our garbage off of Long Island to another community is not a sustainable solution. We must reduce our waste, and this cannot only rest on individual households, but also on businesses and producers. We can incentivize waste reduction with pay-as-you-throw programs. We can also utilize the knowledge of experts like Stony Brook University’s research associate professor David Tonjes, whose work on waste management provides guidance on how we can address this crisis with innovation and ingenuity. We are capable of long-term, sustainable policy, but only if we have the political and moral courage to do so.

It is clear to me that the current Town Board are not the people to meet this moment. The past decade of one-party rule in Brookhaven includes a botched rollout of the recycling program, our roads in disrepair, and gerrymandering our council districts to bolster a weak incumbent in the 4th Council District. They have left us with a solid waste crisis, used nearly $250,000 of our taxpayer dollars to pay an EPA fine for air quality violations in 2020, and ignored the voices of the directly impacted residents of North Bellport time and again. They do not deserve to be reelected in 2023.

Outgoing Supervisor Ed Romaine [R] must be held accountable for his role in the failures of the Town Board he has led. Romaine is seeking the office of Suffolk county executive, and he must be questioned about the harm he has had a hand in creating in the Town of Brookhaven. We as voters must consider if he is fit to handle higher office, given the mismanagement of our municipal government under his leadership.

We deserve better elected officials than we currently have in our town government. The communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the landfill crisis deserve to be listened to by our representatives. There is too much at stake to accept the status quo and small-minded thinking of the current Town Board. It is time for bold solutions that meet the urgency of the moment. It is time for change.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

Still no funding for Port Jeff Branch electrification

Funding to pay for a number of transportation projects and pay increases for transit workers were items missing from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s [D] $229 billion budget.

There is no new funding to advance Hochul’s three favorite NYC transportation projects: the $8 billion Penn Station improvements; $7.7 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2; and $5.5 billion Brooklyn-Queens Interborough Express light rail connection. Also missing was funding to advance the $3.6 billion Long Island Rail Road Port Jefferson Branch electrification project. All Port Jefferson LIRR riders have to date is the ongoing LIRR diesel territory electrification feasibility study.

There was no additional funding to pay for upcoming 2023 NYC Transport Workers Union Local 100 contracts for LIRR and Metro-North Railroad employees. The MTA only budgeted for a 2% increase. NYC TWU president, Richard Davis, will ask for far more so his 40,000 members can keep up with inflation. Both LIRR and MNR unions, with thousands of members, will want the same.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Maryhaven: a breakdown of process

Our village process is broken. Let’s take the Maryhaven project as a recent example of what’s wrong.

This proposed development should have been brought to the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees via the Planning Board, which is responsible for overseeing all building-related matters.

But during the recent public hearing, we learned from the developer that he’d been in discussions with the mayor, deputy mayor and village clerk for well over a year, despite the fact there was still no proposal before the Planning Board. The first time the rest of the trustees heard about the project was when it was announced by the deputy mayor at a public meeting on March 6 of this year.

It’s likely the village attorney was also aware of these talks. As previously reported in this paper, he was pressing the village to be “proactive” and change the code to rezone the property in order to clear the path for the developers, whenever they were ready to apply. To that end, he proposed the May 1 public hearing. The attorney also suggested that if the code modification wasn’t suitable to the residents as is, there would be an opportunity to make adjustments. That is not entirely accurate.

We know this from our experience with the Mather Hospital expansion. Before the project came to a public hearing, the village made several decisions, from seemingly irrelevant (at the time) code changes to the most crucial, allowing the hospital a variance for extra clearance. The latter resulted in 2 precious acres of forest being cleared.

The impression the village gave at the time was that residents would still have a chance to weigh in. But when that time came, despite nearly 70 letters protesting the clearing of the forest and all the objections raised at the hearing, it was too late.

The Planning Board’s position was that its hands were tied by all those prior decisions, and it did not have the tools to consider the objections. In other words, we should have been paying attention when Mather first announced the master plan.

So forgive us if we’re skeptical when the village attorney tells us that we’ll have an opportunity to comment on the project overall at a later date.

Ana Hozyainova, President

Holly Fils-Aime, Vice President

Port Jefferson Civic Association

Declining public revenue in Port Jeff

The spirit of New York’s Freedom Of Information Act is transparency and access. Its introduction states, “The people’s right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality.”

The issue of the future tax revenue from the Port Jefferson Power Station is critically important to both the Village of Port Jefferson and the Port Jefferson School District. So, it is surprising to me that the LIPA settlement agreement is not made available on the village or school district websites. And when I asked the village that a link be included, I was told that the village attorney advised the village not to put it on the website. I would have to complete a FOIL application. I did so. It had no redactions, and nothing in the document contained any confidentiality clause. The Town of Huntington puts its Northport Power Plant LIPA agreement on its website. So what is the objection to making the Port Jefferson agreement accessible to all on our websites? Would they prefer to have the fewest taxpayers know its full terms and potential consequences?

While both the village and school district are quick to tell us how little our tax bills will rise when promoting 30-year bond proposals, their assumptions are highly suspect given the lack of any reasonable assurance that the LIPA benefit will survive beyond the glide path expiration just four years away. Both the Port Jeff and the Northport agreements state that any extensions under the same terms beyond the 2027 expirations are dependent on power needs of National Grid. With repowering off the table, and the state’s goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030, it would seem there is little likelihood of any significant extension beyond expiration. The Port Jefferson Village budget for 2023-24 reveals LIPA taxes covering 36% of property taxes while the school district budget includes LIPA representing 42%.

It’s time for the village and school district to face the elephant in the room and (1) make critical information available on their websites and (2) for any discussion of potential costs to taxpayers, include calculations that consider a potentially abandoned power plant and taxpayers having to face 60%-plus tax increases to make up the LIPA loss.

Robert J. Nicols

Port Jefferson

Time to put the brakes on spending

Port Jefferson and Belle Terre residents are facing a school district budget and bond vote Tuesday, May 16, at the Port Jefferson high school from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m.

It’s a rather hefty price tag being proposed: $47 million for the proposed 2023-24 budget and close to $16 million additional for a bond focused entirely on enhancements to the high school.

While district residents have been more than generous in past years in support of our schools, maybe it’s time to ask if spending over $50,000 each year to educate a student is really feasible. (That’s the amount when you divide the proposed 2023-24 budget by the 933 students in the district, as suggested by Deputy Superintendent Sean Leister as a simple approximation of the per pupil costs, at the village board meeting on May 1.)

Perhaps this is the time to put the brakes on this spending and take a hard look at the future of the high school and consider alternatives.

Charles G. Backfish

Port Jefferson

We need to say ‘no’ to the school bond

Port Jefferson School District residents will be asked May 16 to approve an almost $16 million bond entirely for the benefit of the high school building. The more crucial question to be asked is: “Why are we considering this enormous expenditure when our high school student population is still dwindling?”

According to the school district’s own numbers — found on the district website or online (Long Range Planning Study, Port Jefferson Union Free School District 2021-22) — our enrollment numbers are declining precipitously. On page 18 of the report, our high school’s total enrollment grades 9-12 by 2031 will be a mere 233 students. Divide that number by the four grades in the school and your average graduating class size by 2031 would be only 58 students.

Port Jefferson high school’s small size cannot be compared to that of a prestigious private high school. Even most of the top private schools like Choate, Phillips and Exeter keep their total high school enrollment over 800 students. Most parents want a high school atmosphere that is academically, athletically and socially rich for their children — a true preparation for college. A high school with less than 240 students can’t realistically provide that.

Our high school is presently functioning with the classroom configurations it has had for decades. Before we invest many millions to move art, tech ed and music to the main building to create team and trainer rooms, let’s first focus on what we do if the high school population keeps dwindling, as the district study projects. 

Perhaps we could maintain a strong pre-K through 8th grade school system here and investigate tuitioning out our high school students to Three Village and/or Mount Sinai. This solution has been used successfully by many small school districts. Other larger local districts are facing declining enrollments as well, undoubtedly because of the high home prices and high taxes presenting an obstacle to young families seeking to move to this area. Given that reality, neighboring school districts would welcome our high school students.

Right now, we need to say “no” to the school bond. Before we spend almost $16 million on the high school building, we must find a solution to this ongoing decline in enrollment. To keep ignoring this serious issue is unfair to our already stressed-out taxpayers — and equally unfair to our future high school students.

Gail Sternberg

Port Jefferson

Experience matters

Kathianne Snaden is running for mayor and Stan Loucks is running for reelection as a trustee for the Village of Port Jefferson. They have worked together on the village board for four years. 

Kathianne has shown to be tireless and dedicated to the betterment of every facet of our village. She has opened the doors to the internal workings of government by live streaming the board meetings, originating the Port eReport and the practice of responding to every and all questions from everyone. As the liaison to the Code Enforcement Bureau, she is totally committed to improving public safety and was responsible for increasing the presence of the Suffolk County Police Department. Kathianne is also our liaison to the Port Jefferson School District. This is an important relationship that was absent and created by Kathianne. 

Stan Loucks has been devoting his retirement years to the Village of Port Jefferson. Prior to his election to the village board in 2015, he was on the tennis board, the board of governors, the greens committee and the Port Jefferson Country Club management advisory committee for a total of 20 years, including chair. Stan has been the liaison to the parks and recreation departments, deputy mayor and liaison to the country club. 

He is a hands-on person who will always be directly involved in any issue related to his duties. He has been directly responsible for numerous projects and improvements such as renovation of the golf course; building a new maintenance facility, driving range, fitness center, membership office; upgrading village parks; initiating relationships with our schools and much more. 

Kathianne was TBR News Media Person of the Year in 2019, and Stan was Person of the Year in 2021. Seems like they would be the team that we would want to represent our village.

Experience, knowledge, integrity, dedication and hard working are qualities that we need.

Jim White

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is a former Port Jefferson Village trustee.


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Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s Olivia Schlegel, Class of 2023 valedictorian, and Kathleen Zhou, Class of 2023 salutatorian. Photo courtesy PJSD

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School is proud to congratulate Olivia Schlegel as its Class of 2023 valedictorian and Kathleen Zhou as its salutatorian.

Olivia Schlegel is excited and happy to be valedictorian, seeing it as her greatest high school accomplishment. In her high school career, she has taken 12 Advanced Placement courses, five honors courses, is a National Merit Finalist, an AP Scholar with Distinction and received summa cum laude on the National Latin Exam. 

She is the class treasurer of the school’s Student Organization, editor on the school newspaper, The Current, and a member of the Latin Club, National Honor Society and Varsity Club. She also performs with the school orchestra. She is an All-County and All-State varsity swimmer, gives swimming lessons, works as a lifeguard, babysits in the community, and her community service projects include beach cleanups and gift wrapping for holiday collections. She is also a recipient of the Presidential Community Service Award.

Olivia looks forward to attending Colgate University in the fall. Olivia’s words of wisdom for her classmates are to “always work hard and stay dedicated.”

The best is yet to come, according to salutatorian Kathleen Zhou. Kathleen is a well-rounded student who has taken advantage of many of the high school’s offerings, including 13 Advanced Placement courses and six honors classes. She is also a member of the school’s Interact Club, National Honor Society, Science Olympiad team and varsity tennis team. Outside of her school day, Kathleen is a cellist with the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and has donated 120 hours of her time in volunteer service to the Port Jefferson Library. She also created a prototype of a visual aid app targeting people with visual impairment in the global high school entrepreneurial competition Diamond Challenge. She has been named an AP Scholar with Distinction. 

Kathleen will join the freshman class at Emory University, where she will double major in biology and chemistry.

Congrats, TBR News Media

Dear Leah,

You must be very proud of your continued recognition from the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest from your team’s work by receiving 11 awards this year. This is also a testament to your success as the founder and publisher of a weekly newspaper.

I believe hometown papers are an essential means to keep residents updated on what is happening in their community as they report on local government, schools, sports, entertainment, news and other items of interest.

I join with all of your readers in congratulating you and your staff and look forward to your continued success.

Rob Trotta

Suffolk County Legislator (R-Fort Salonga)

13th Legislative District

Sunrise Wind projections questionable

The Sunrise Wind project, as we were told in a March 23 TBR News Media article, “will use windmills to provide power to about 600,000 homes.” But what does this mean, exactly? It appears that 600,000 may have been selected as an arbitrary number, which may represent the number of homes that will derive 100% of their power requirements when all of the windmills are generating power at their maximum capacity, although this is not specifically stated in the article. But this raises the obvious question: For what percentage of the time will this be the case? We can only guess.

A much more helpful and meaningful terminology, in my opinion, would be to present these concepts in terms of energy, rather than power. Power is the rate at which energy is produced, or expended. To state that a windmill farm can produce a certain amount of power under ideal conditions, but neglect to mention the percentage of time this may be in effect, is to provide a very limited ability to understand the issue. A much more useful characterization would be to specify the total amount of energy generated in a fixed time, such as a year, compared to the total amount of energy required. For example, we might say something like, “The Sunrise Wind project will provide 45,000 MWh per year, which is 22% of the total energy required by Suffolk County.” (These are, of course, made-up numbers.) In this way, the complex variability of the wind strength becomes included in the energy notation, making the whole issue considerably easier to understand and evaluate.

Surely this issue is well understood by Sunrise Wind, and why they would choose to muddy the waters, as they have, is a matter for speculation. As Honest Abe Lincoln would have told us, a windmill farm can provide some of the power some of the time, or possibly all of the power some of the time, but it can provide none of the power most of the time.

George Altemose


More Maryhaven discussions needed

We may be missing the forest for the trees in the process by which the Village of Port Jefferson is approaching this initiative to make an amendment to a long-standing village code for the Professional Office (PO)-zoned Maryhaven property. Residents had their first opportunity to hear and provide feedback as to what was being proposed at the standing-room-only public hearing during Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, May 1. 

Comments and concerns ranged from: Do what it takes to preserve the Maryhaven building; and, we need to know exactly what the plan is prior to a zoning change; to, have the Architectural Review Committee and Conservation Advisory Council been involved? Because we’ve known about the sale and vacancy for a very long time as a village; and, questions and concerns over the potential density as permitted via the draft code amendment (192+ units/~19 units per acre), coupled with the lack of a full environmental review (SEQRA) and sewage treatment related to the project. Other questions? Why didn’t we work with the owner of the property to secure an historic landmark designation and has water runoff into the neighborhoods below been considered? 

The bottom line is that these questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Engagement with the developer by a select group of village officials had been ongoing, but the announcement of the pending sale (March 6, Deputy Mayor Snaden) followed by the public hearing request (April 3, Mayor Garant) ostensibly came from out of the blue for the rest of us and now we are playing catch up and the residents are as well. 

There should have been more discussion about this building in the public sphere — years if not months ago; i.e., the ARC, CAC, Port Jefferson Historical Society, all could have been engaged. 

Is it too late? We will see. But because the developer is working within a “timeline” as described by the mayor, this has suddenly become an urgent, time-sensitive matter. The public hearing remains open for three weeks. 

I’d like to hear the public’s response to this and encourage feedback. What I heard May 1 was important, if not concerning. Please contact me at [email protected] if you have additional feedback.

Lauren Sheprow, Trustee

Village of Port Jefferson

Maryhaven: a potential spot zoning case

I was surprised to learn at the May 1 standing-room-only public hearing that the mayor, deputy mayor and village attorney have been in discussions with the developer for the proposed Maryhaven project for well over a year. Yet the first time the residents were made aware of this proposal was at a March 6 Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees meeting.

 While I applaud the Board of Trustees for their interest in preserving the historic Maryhaven building, their solution — changing the village code to achieve this goal — seems like the classic definition of spot zoning. This is the practice of singling out a specific property for a special zoning designation that differs from surrounding properties — an approach that is controversial and subject to challenge. During the hearing, the village attorney and mayor repeatedly said the purpose of the zone change was to preserve this historic building.

 Significant concerns were raised about the scope and scale of the Maryhaven redevelopment that would be facilitated by the “relaxing” of existing limits in our code. Many good alternatives to the proposed code change were offered both by residents and trustees Lauren Sheprow and Rebecca Kassay. But there was near universal opposition to changing the village code to accommodate this project because of its potential for adverse impacts to this property and for other parts of the village.

If the village is serious about historic preservation, we need to explore code changes that would apply to more than just a single property. Also, funding opportunities for historic preservation should be vigorously researched and a report issued so that the village can make fully informed land use decisions.

Virginia Capon

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer formerly served as Port Jefferson Village trustee and chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee.

Character assassination in PJ mayoral race

I came home from the May 1 Village of Port Jefferson public hearing elated. Village Hall was packed with residents who were there to weigh in on a code change that would affect the development of the Maryhaven building, encompassing people from all political stripes. Yet, here we were engaging in civil discourse and united in the goal of trying to find the best solutions for our community.

So I was stunned when I received a letter, the very next day, which can only be described as a character assassination on one of our mayoral candidates. The unsigned letter, which had no return address, purported to be from a “concerned villager,” and proceeded to attack trustee Lauren Sheprow in a vile manner.

I have the pleasure of knowing both candidates and refuse to believe either of them would ever condone such ugly politicking.

Last year, when we had an unusually competitive trustee campaign, the candidates remained civil. I trust Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden to maintain an even higher level of courtesy and respect, and am confident she will publicly condemn this offensive attack on her colleague.

Going forward, I hope all candidates will urge over-ardent supporters to refrain from personal assaults and focus on issues villagers care about.

Kathleen McLane

Port Jefferson

Snaden: a seasoned leader

It has recently come to my attention that we have an open mayor’s seat in the Village of Port Jefferson’s election taking place this June. Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden is running for the open seat, as well as newly elected trustee Lauren Sheprow.

We need to be mindful that the mayor’s office is no longer a place where a neophyte can just step in. The village is a small city, with two major hospitals, a train station, deep water harbor, school district, two business districts, large federal FEMA grants and major redevelopment projects underway uptown. It takes a seasoned, experienced person to be able to run this village and the $11.37 million budget in place.

Having been a trustee for less than one year, Sheprow does not bring experience to the table. She is rather in the middle of a very large learning curve, seeing to the day-to-day “ins and outs” of village policies, New York State law and municipal government — never mind the obligations of the mayor’s office. She has in fact, confessed herself on many occasions in public meetings that she hasn’t done a budget before and hasn’t run a public hearing.

On the other hand, you have Deputy Mayor Snaden, who has been working for years under the tutelage of Mayor Margot Garant. Snaden is a seasoned, experienced proven leader, with her own perspective and innovative ideas who is ready to take control.

In this election cycle, Sheprow would keep her seat if she loses her bid for mayor and would remain a trustee. If, on the other hand, Sheprow is elected we will have in office a neophyte mayor, and we will lose Snaden as she gives up her trustee position to run for mayor. 

So, I ask you: Why would we vote for a rookie and lose the lead pitcher, when we can have them both on our team? Don’t forget, the last time a Garant [Jeanne] left office to an inexperienced mayor, our taxes went up. Let’s not let history repeat itself.

Lauren Auerbach

Port Jefferson

Vote ‘no’ on the May 16 school bond vote

My name is Teri Powers. I’m 63 years old, widowed, a resident and homeowner for 37 years.

Currently, we are on the LIPA tax burden (glide path), in which we have experienced increases in our tax bill, but the lion’s share of this burden is a result of that settlement, which will increase our current taxes by over 35% by the year 2027.

The Port Jefferson School District Board of Education is proposing a $15.9 million capital bond vote on Tuesday, May 16, at the high school between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. A similar bond vote was defeated in December 2022. Please renew your enthusiasm and defeat this bond again.

Teri Powers

Port Jefferson


We welcome your letters, especially those responding to our local coverage, replying to other letter writers’ comments and speaking mainly to local themes. Letters should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style, good taste and uncivil language. They will also be published on our website. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include an address and phone number for confirmation.

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Royals notch first win over Bellport

Eager to pick up their first win of this early season, the Port Jefferson Royals did just that, winning 11-5 in a Div. II road game against Bellport on Thursday afternoon, April 20. 

The team’s young talent made its mark. Sophomore Ryan Filippi led the way for the Royals with four goals and three assists. Teammate Rowan Casey, a freshman, scored three goals and had two assists. Sophomore Patrick Johnston had three assists and scored. 

Senior Matthew Buonomo scored twice with an assist, and Jonah Pflaster also found the net. Port Jeff’s freshman goalie Owen Whiffen had 12 saves in net.

The Royals will look to make it two in a row with another road game on Monday, April 24, when they face Sayville (3-4) at 5:00 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon

Slippery slopes

The Village of Port Jefferson and the Village of Belle Terre need to get together about the views from Port Jefferson Harbor. The views to the west side of the harbor are of busy commerce while the east side has historically been a beautiful natural bluff, with houses discretely sited, until the advent of the McMansion. The new buildings are becoming an eyesore, but worse, the steep slopes are eroding.


Michael Schwarting

Port Jefferson

Earth Day is every day

Celebrate Earth Day, April 22, every day. Besides recycling newspapers, magazines, glass, plastics, old medicines, paints and cleaning materials, consider other actions which will contribute to a cleaner environment. 

Leave your car at home. For local trips in the neighborhood, walk or ride a bike. For longer travels, consider public transportation. MTA NYC Transit subway, bus, Long Island Rail Road, the buses of Suffolk County Transit, Huntington Area Rapid Transit (HART) and Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) offer various options funded with your tax dollars. They use less fuel and move more people than cars. Many employers offer transit checks to help subsidize costs. Utilize your investments and reap the benefits. You’ll be supporting a cleaner environment and be less stressed upon arrival at your destination. 

Many employers allow employees to telecommute. Others use alternative work schedules, avoiding rush-hour gridlock. This saves travel time and can improve gas mileage. Join a car or van pool to share commuting costs. 

Use a hand-powered lawn mower instead of a gasoline or electric one. Rake your leaves instead of using gasoline-powered leaf blowers. Pollution created by gas-powered lawn mowers or leaf blowers will surprise you. 

A cleaner environment starts with everyone.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Silence on upcoming school bond vote

Did you hear that? No? Neither did I.

I’m not hearing much about the Port Jefferson School District’s nearly $16 million bond that’s up for a vote soon. It’s the same day as the budget vote on Tuesday, May 16, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School cafeteria.

School tours? Not a word.

Postcard in the mail? Nope. But it must be coming. It’s the law.

Robocall? My phone’s not ringing.

Why the different tactic from last fall’s failed bond proposal when the rusty pipes and other wanted design changes were highlighted for the public? 

Even a recent Facebook post about the school district presenting at a coming Port Jefferson Village public board meeting mentioned the budget and omitted the proposed bond. The district, I was told, must present the budget at the village board. But, apparently, not so much the bond. Further inquiries were being made.

You see where this is going.

You say budgets? Boring! 

You say $16 million bond and some folks might be interested in attending … and voting.

So what is going on here? What’s the secret? Why the silence?

Silence works.

Silence is the sound of a harried resident with no student in the district unaware and uninformed about having their voice heard and their vote recorded on an issue directly affecting their increasingly strained pocketbook. Silence is the enemy of a fair and open government and process. Silence should never be condoned.

Omission, too, is a form of silence. A laryngitis. And it’s happening right before our ears.

I’m reminded of the school district administration’s postcards sent last fall announcing an important meeting for residents that conveniently omitted the then bond proposal. Remember? The district omitted the word “bond” on the postcard, I suspect, to not rally budget-strapped residents. The district, I’m sure, will deny my interpretation but optics matter.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat. It’s happening again.

Now, the school district is presenting its school budget to the village board and public attendees on May 2 at Village Hall. The proposed $16 million bond should be given equal time, public discussion and attention and not just passing mention as a part of an annual budget presentation. The bond amount, time and date of the vote should be plastered across the village including on a banner across Main Street.

When the district is purposefully transparent, it will have rightfully earned my vote, and maybe yours too. I hope they do.

Until they do, sign up at www.myvillagemyvote.com to be reminded about upcoming important budget votes and elections. If they won’t do it, residents can.


Drew Biondo

Port Jefferson

Legitimate issues with wind and solar power

The letter by George Altemose [TBR News Media, April 13] raises some very legitimate issues with wind and solar power. Politicians are often happy to say that power will be 100% carbon free by a certain date. Such claims as Sunrise Wind providing power for about 600,000 homes as Altemose recounts makes clear the claim is about making electricity generation carbon free; the much more difficult issue is to make all energy use carbon free. Currently, electricity generation amounts to one-third of the energy used by New York state, and of that, about half is already carbon free, coming mainly from nuclear and hydro sources. The other energy uses are about one-third for transportation and one-third for everything else, such as heating buildings and industrial uses. The national goal is to decarbonize electrical generation at the same time that other energy requirements are shifted to electricity, for example, electric vehicles and heat pumps. 

Electrical power generation has to be matched with the demand. As Altemose points out, wind and solar are intermittent sources and there are times when more power is needed than they can produce. It is important that the system includes sources that provide a baseline power such as nuclear, and also power that can be turned on when needed such as hydro. Altemose mentions several forms of energy storage systems that would need further development to address the shortfall in renewable energy. Another key component is the ability to import power from other regions where the wind may be blowing or the sun shining, and for this the grid must be modernized and upgraded. The Inflation Reduction Act includes $65 billion to upgrade the grid and make it more resilient. Once the grid is improved then market forces for electricity should help to distribute energy from the whole country to where it is needed. A high voltage DC line can carry power 1,000 miles with only a few percent losses. 

Additional power will need to be added to the electrical system, to account for electric vehicles and heat pumps. Estimates are that this is comparable to the percentage increase in electrical demand that happened when air conditioning became more widespread. It will happen over tens of years and all systems must be improved over that time scale.

This transition to green energy will not be easy, and the fossil fuel companies will continue to fight it tooth and nail, but we must do it to keep the Earth a good place for humankind. The U.S. has put more CO2 into the atmosphere than any other country, including China, so we must lead the solution of this worldwide problem, and it is good for business to do so. 

Peter Bond, Stony Brook 

Gene Sprouse, South Setauket