Tags Posts tagged with "Port Jefferson Village"

Port Jefferson Village

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Port Jeff Village is asking residents to use the online parking sticker portal. File photo by Elana Glowatz

In an effort to eliminate lines and gatherings at Village Hall, the Village of Port Jefferson has created an easy-to-use portal online for residents to acquire their parking permits. 

Resident parking permits for homeowners and tenants must obtain a new 2021 parking sticker to be able to park in all municipal lots. 

In pre-COVID times, residents would fill out their forms at the clerk’s office, but instead the village is asking residents to apply online. 

Available on the village’s homepage (portjeff.com), a portal to apply for a new parking sticker asks applicants to provide a driver’s license, list their physical Port Jefferson address, and their vehicle registration.

Should the applicant’s license be listed to an address other than the physical Port Jefferson location, two documents — including a utility bill, automobile insurance, bank statement, notarized letter from their landlord, or voter registration card — are required as proof.  

Residents who would prefer to fill out the application on paper can download the form online, fill it out, attach copies of the required documents and mail it to the village’s clerk’s office. 

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Alexa DeSimone brought her own creativity to bear in crafting her cookie at the Port Jeff Village Center Dec. 5. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It was a sweet day for Port Jefferson children and their families. 

On Saturday, Dec. 5, The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Cookieland event inside the Harbor Cove Room at the Village Center. 

Kids of all ages were each able to decorate two large sugar cookies with sprinkles and icing to celebrate the holiday season. 

“The chamber is encouraging shoppers to come and enjoy our beautifully decorated village,” Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the chamber, said. “We wanted to create a level of normalcy with COVID compliance, mindful of safety and mindful of the holiday spirit we all need.”

Packages of individually wrapped cookie decorating kits at the PJ Chamber Cookieland event. Photo by Julianne Mosher

For $15, La Bonne Boulangerie bakery of Port Jefferson provided the kit, with tickets available for purchase through the chamber’s website. Four tables were spread out throughout the room, with protective barriers between guests. Masks were worn at all times, and proceeds supported the chamber of commerce nonprofit. 

Holbrook resident Andrea DeSimone brought her 8-year-old daughter, Alexa, to decorate the snowman and snowflake-shaped cookies. 

“I figured it would be something fun to do,” she said. “Especially since it’s not nice outside.”

Due to the inclement weather on Saturday, a socially distanced visit from Santa surprised families inside the room, instead of the originally planned photo opportunity outside with his sleigh.

Alexa was thrilled to play with the provided decorations.

“My favorite thing is putting on the frosting and getting it all over my hands,” she said with a laugh. “I’m having so much fun today.”

Families who missed out can still get tickets for the next two events on Dec. 12 and 19, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. 

Debra Bowling, owner of Pasta Pasta in Port Jeff, set up tables outside for Phase Two reopening. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Half a year in, how are things going?

There are signs of normalcy returning. The world outside the home is slowly coming back to life. I just returned from the first general membership meeting of a local chamber of commerce that was held in person for the first time in six months and not via Zoom.

I must say, it was wonderful to see people whom I routinely work with in three dimension. We all felt like hugging, but we didn’t. We stayed apart and we were outside, under a three-sided tent. By having the fourth side open, the meeting qualified as “outside.” So we sat at picnic tables, four apiece, or stood outside the tent, and we wore our masks, which we intermittently unhitched as we sipped our coffee graciously supplied by Starbucks. And we got some real business accomplished even as we enjoyed the new reality of it.

New stores and businesses are opening. Three cheers to those optimists who are starting up during a pandemic-caused recession. Clearly they feel the time is right for them. There were over half a dozen that just joined the chamber, some of them pivoting from their prior businesses that did not sustain them. Owners of established stores in Port Jeff Village were looking better than glum.

Children are receiving some combination of regular education, in person and remotely, which makes them and their parents and teachers a lot happier. Restaurants have largely managed to survive thanks to outdoor dining and curbside pickup, but now their owners worry about the coming colder weather. Outdoor heaters will be allowed, a la Paris, with appropriate permits from local fire department officials to ensure safety. Shoppers with masks and hand sanitizers are routinely grocery shopping. Following medical guidelines, we have learned how to cope in such situations.

A few residents are even taking vacations to destinations mainly within driving distance.

As we wait for vaccines and anti-COVID medicines, we seem to have come to some semblance of equilibrium with the virus. Of course we are greatly helped in this by the low numbers of those falling ill in New York.

That is not to say that we have forgotten the thousands who have died or their families who will suffer the pain of their loss for a lifetime. Nor do we disregard the many unemployed and the men, women and children on food lines. So many people are holding their breaths with rent coming due and monthly bills to be paid, yet there is no Congressional relief funding in sight.

Churches and community organizations have mobilized to offer food. Local governments have stepped into the breach, and to some extent, offered financial help. The U.S. Small Business Administration and regional banks have also provided low interest financing. Nonetheless, for some there is true panic. And for many, salaries, hours of work and budgets have been reduced.

Behind the scenes, we at the newspaper and website offices are busy at work. We believe the latest relevant information we bring to the public and the sense of community that is defined by functioning local media are essential to coping in these unprecedented times.

While our offices continue to be closed to the public, we still maintain our five-day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours. Some of our staff work remotely part or all of the time, and unwillingly we have thinned our ranks. We can be reached by every sort of communication: telephone, email, texting, Facebook and just by knocking on our door. If the purpose for your visit is compelling enough, we will let you in, as long as you are wearing a face mask and that you maintain correct social distancing.

As we support our communities, we offer our resources and help to you, our readers and advertisers. For example, for several months we have run lists of restaurants open for curbside pickup and of other essential businesses open to the public at no charge. If we can help you with our communications platforms, please just ask us. If it is possible for us to do so, we will.

Even as we struggle to survive, we are committed to serving you.    

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for Slate Floral & Event Studio on Aug. 11. The event was attended by family, friends, members of the chamber and Mayor Margot Garant.

The new boutique, located at 158 E. Main Street, Suite 2, in Port Jefferson Village (in the former Reruns location) specializes in custom event décor and unique, whimsical, artisan gifts, many of which are handmade by local artists. Curbside pickup and delivery is available.

Owner Dianne Mutell (pictured with scissors) goes by the mantra that “each of life’s special moments deserve celebration.”

“I have an extensive background in floral & event design … and I enjoy creating unique, one of a kind florals and event decor for clients. Each creation is custom and special, just as each person is,” said Mutell.

The beautiful shop features custom florals, succulents, plants, event decor and design, party planning, artisan wrapping papers and cards, unique paper goods, gift baskets, pots, planters, vases, topiaries, balloons and gifts and also offers Bloom Bar & Flower Crown  workshops.

Operating hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The shop is closed on Tuesdays. For further information, call 631-278-9068 or visit www.slateli.com.

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The site of the planned parking lot on Barnum Avenue. File photo by Kyle Barr

The Village of Port Jefferson finally has an amount attached to plans for the Barnum Avenue parking lot, coming in lower than had been initially anticipated.

The winning bid for the Barnum parking lot was approved at the Feb. 18 village board meeting, showing Connecticut-based F&F Concrete saying it can do the project at $795,069. The company won out over five separate bids. 

At the same meeting, the board approved the $200,000 in jumpstart grant from Suffolk County that was originally announced last year. Unlike other kinds of grants, Mayor Margot Garant said, the jumpstart funds become immediately available after they are approved.

While all the money is now there for the lot, officials said the village is waiting on the grant to finalize, with the village needing to show before shovels go in the ground.

“Ideally, the village would like the project to start as soon as possible so that the lot would be open for our peak season, but that timing has a few factors to consider including but not limited to the weather, execution of the contract, insurance being satisfactory and all county grant requirements being met,” said Joe Palumbo, the village administrator in an email.

With the grant funds, the village administrator said Port Jefferson will be using approximately $600,000 from parking meter revenue. Garant said the parking capital account currently amounts to $800,000. At the end of every year, unspent revenue from the account that’s not used for salaries and other upkeep ends up in the capital account. 

“We have that money in place,” Garant said.

Though village officials had originally anticipated the project would come in at around $900,000, officials were pleasantly surprised to see the winning bid came in somewhat under that amount. 

The parking lot is expected to contain 44 new spots, located off Barnum Avenue and east of the Joe Erland baseball field. Based on residents feedback, the two-way ingress and egress planned on
Caroline Avenue have been made one-way. Surrounding plantings have also been bolstered, but the 32,000-square-foot lot will still include two electric car charging stations and two bioswales bordering the foot entrance onto Barnum Avenue to aid in flood mitigation. Once constructed, the bioswales will look like two dips in the ground with plantings overlaying them. Port Jefferson grant writer Nicole Christian had said those plantings and green initiatives were a large reason the county provided the village the $200,000 grant.  

Clothing items and other miscellaneous items left near the Port Jefferson train station. Photo by Kyle Barr

At 7 in the morning, the Port Jefferson Train Station is largely deserted. At such an early hour, the morning frost glistened as the sun peaked over the horizon. It’s 39 degrees outside. By 7:30 a.m., the few commuters who travel on the morning’s last scheduled peak train simply stuck their hands in their pockets and waited outside. They were not drawn to the warmth and seats found in the nearby station office.

Port Jeff resident Gordon Keefer arrived at around 7:25 with his small dog, a maltese, carried in the bag beside him. He walks to the station from his home and takes the train from Port Jeff to Penn Station several days a week, but he can’t even remember a time when there were benches outside of the station or on the platform. He said the ticket building gets crowded when the temperature drops low enough, but he’s never seen it be too much of a problem.

“There’s a pro and a con to that,” he said about the prospect of benches. “Otherwise you would have some of the ‘regulars’ coming by.”

Many of those who stood outside waiting for the train did not feel too concerned about the lack of seating, but many understood “why” they weren’t there. As Port Jefferson village, Brookhaven town and Suffolk County continue to look for means to help the homeless population in Upper Port and Port Jefferson Station, village officials said there wouldn’t be any outdoor seating until they can get more support from the state and MTA.

“I hate to think those who are less fortunate are not afforded the same opportunities.”

Michael Mart

At the last Port Jefferson village meeting Jan. 6, one resident’s call for benches at the local train station led to a heated argument between him and local officials.

Michael Mart, a local firebrand, asked why the station lacked outdoor seating compared to other stations on the line. He said the lack of benches was very unfair to the elderly or infirm who want to use the station.

“I hate to think those who are less fortunate are not afforded the same opportunities,” Mart said. 

According to an MTA spokesperson, the LIRR coordinated with the mayor and other local residents to not include the benches when the train station was remodeled “as they were attracting homeless and others who could compromise the safety of customers and cleanliness of the station.”

There are 12 benches in the station’s ticket office, which is open from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily except Thursday when open until 7:15 p.m. 

Mayor Margot Garant said that although the current master plan does not eliminate seating at the train station, she does not support benches that would facilitate the homeless loitering or sleeping on them. Brookhaven Town’s Quality of Life Task Force held a public meeting in December to discuss what’s currently being done, but members described the need for further legislation at every level of government that could better get the homeless population off the streets and into shelters. 

“I have been doing this for 11 years, every concern [with which] people have come to me I have addressed and done everything I can do about it,” the mayor said. “But I will not tolerate the people panhandling, making beds … We have a task force of 40 people around the table, we have been working on this every other week.”

She added there have been multiple calls about homeless in the area, from those sleeping under the tracks, in planters, or in the area surrounding the parking lot. Remnants of clothes and other discarded items are evident in the gravel lot behind what was once known as the Bada Bing restaurant. 

Pax Christi, a temporary homeless shelter located just feet from the station for men aged 16 and up, has come up in conversation during meetings multiple times recently. It’s one of the few shelters in the area that provides lodging for those who need it, but it can only contain people for a short time, as per state law. Residents have complained about people going outside into Pax Christi’s backyard through an unlocked security door, where they say they have harassed and heckled those standing on the platform.

The village has moved to create a higher fence between the platform and the Pax Christi building. The shelter’s director, Stephen Brazeau, told TBR News Media he has no problem with such a fence.

Part of the issue, the mayor said, is due to a lack of MTA police presence at the station, adding there are only a handful on the entire length of the northern rail lines. The MTA has said more officers will be deployed along the LIRR, but no number has yet been specified, the spokesperson said.

Sal Pitti, the president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association and member of the town task force, said the problem is perhaps even more prevalent on his side of the tracks.

“I’ve gotten hundreds of complaints about benches at the train station, we don’t need them,” he said. “The task force physically told the MTA don’t put benches back there.”

“The majority of problems stem from homeless mentally ill people, people who prefer living on the street without restrictions to people who want to use the system to get out of that.” 

Barbara Sabatino

Barbara Sabatino, who along with her husband once owned the Port Jeff Army Navy surplus store before it closed in 2018, said homeless who used to occupy those nearby benches across from her shop at the station negatively impacted her business.

“The majority of problems stem from homeless mentally ill people, people who prefer living on the street without restrictions to people who want to use the system to get out of that,” she said.

Members of Suffolk County Department of Social Services have said one of the hardest tasks of trying to help the homeless is to build trust, and to convince homeless individuals to be taken to a county shelter. It takes time, patience and having the right person there at the right time. 

Mart said part of the issue is too many people have the attitude they don’t wish to deal with or interact with the homeless. 

“If we feel uncomfortable dealing with people that are different, then that’s another issue, and that’s what I’ve seen most up there and heard everywhere else,” he said. “To deprive everyone else of an opportunity to use the train station comfortably is unfair.”


Lisa Harris inside her business Prohibition Kitchen in Port Jefferson. Photo by Lisa Harris

By Leah Chiappino

Port Jefferson resident Lisa Harris is on her way to becoming a household name in the village. 

Having first opened the popular “Instagrammable” donut shop, East Main and Main, in June 2017, she has since launched three more businesses in 2019, starting with the eclectic Prohibition Kitchen in April, followed by the pie shop Torte Jeff in October and the southern, family-style restaurant, Fork and Fiddle, in December.

Harris’ experience in the service industry goes back 20 years. She became the second owner of Caffe Portofino in Northport in 2007 and quickly grew “concerned” by the fact that her customers were ordering high-carb, unhealthy foods every day. Looking for a healthier option, she began to develop a breakfast cookie. Eventually, she signed a contract with a supplier and expanded the Morning Sunshine Breakfast Cookie to 200 stores before selling it to health snack company Lesserevil. Struggling to find consistent foot traffic, she eventually sold Caffe Portofino as well.

A Miller Place native, Harris moved to Port Jefferson three years ago with her husband, working part-time in food consulting. 

“She believes in her community and I’m so fortunate that she’s investing here.”

Margot Garant

“I thought I had reached my tenure in the food business,” she said. 

One day she began talking with a friend about the businesses missing in the village. They realized Port Jeff was missing a donut shop. Harris and her husband agreed they would open one if the space became available. Sure enough, the right spot appeared, and they sold out every day for the first week after opening East Main and Main.

With the business doing so well, a friend mentioned to the landlord of the building that houses Prohibition Kitchen that they were looking to expand. “I’m not sure where they got the idea but that was the rumor,” Harris said with a laugh. When the landlord approached her to sign a lease, Harris confirmed she was happy with the current location, but realized she could use donuts “to create something fun, creative and electric for the area.”

Described as “illegally good food,” the restaurant serves items such as the Dirty Mother Clucker, a chicken sandwich on a donut and a donut grilled cheese. They also offer other eccentric items such as PJ Wings and mashed potato egg rolls.

Months later, the space for Fork and Fiddle became available and Harris once again jumped on it.  

“I dislike the idea of seeing great space remain vacant too long,” she said. 

She traveled to Nashville with her business partner, Thomas Fazio, where they got the idea of a southern tasting experience. The larger space gives them room to have private parties, live music and seat more people than Prohibition. 

“We’re really trying to create a Sunday dinner, southern family-style atmosphere,” she said. 

They offer a 14-course tasting menu and Sunday brunch, as well as smaller tasting experience and a traditional menu with items like lobster and grits, pork loin and deep-fried apple pie.

Harris one again fell in love with a vacant space and opened the pop-up pie shop just in time for Thanksgiving. 

“Port Jefferson is trying to rebrand as a more progressive village in doing things like pop-up shops,” she said. “I thought a pie shop was a great idea, but I didn’t know if it would work year-round, but after the holidays I decided to continue the business year-round and expand to dinner pies for the winter.”Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant offered tremendous praise for Harris’ impact on the village. 

“She believes in her community and I’m so fortunate that she’s investing here,” she said “What sets her apart from the rest is the way she treats her staff with special respect and esteem. We are very proud to have Lisa Harris and all her esteemed businesses.”

Harris has become involved with the Business Improvement District (BID) and has coordinated the Mac & Cheese crawl as part of the upcoming Ice Festival. 

“Lisa Harris has been a great asset to the village of Port Jefferson, as well as the Business Improvement District,” James Luciano, the secretary for the BID said. “Her passion has revived abandoned locations in the village and the pride she puts into each business is exceptional.”

Harris admitted she is pondering opening even more locations and hopes to bring in more partners to help her expansion. 

 “I always say I’m not looking to expand, but deep down I know that’s not true,” she said. 

She attributes the success of her businesses to “a tremendous amount of goodwill from the community, that comes from a creative, high-quality product with professional service … The response from the community with one business enabled me to start a second, third and fourth business in the same town.”

She claims that while the rents in the village are important to negotiate properly with landlords, adding they are “not disproportionate to another village district such as Northport or Huntington.” 

“If you build a destination, the customer will come anywhere,” Harris said.

This article was amended Jan. 16 to correct Harris’ ownership of Portofino, who her cookie company was purchased by, and the name of her business partner.

Port Jeff Village trustee Kathianne Snaden has made waves in her first year as village official. Photos by Kyle Barr

The smaller into the levels of government you get, the less visible an official usually is.

That’s not much of the case with Port Jefferson Village trustee Kathianne Snaden. 

The number of events and meetings she has been willing to attend has been far above average, especially for a trustee of a 3 square-mile village on the North Shore. She’s often seen at school meetings, Business Improvement District meetings and other gatherings involving Brookhaven Town. But beyond her short yet active time in village government, those who have interacted with her said it’s Snaden’s willingness to reach out to the village community and be there for questions, and her willingness to get her hands dirty, that’s giving her renown.

“I believe people like Kathianne are the future of this village.” 

– Margot Garant

“There’s very few people who will come to the table, roll up their sleeves and do what they were going to do,” said Mayor Margot Garant, who has known Snaden since she originally came to the village. “I believe people like Kathianne are the future of this village.” 

When she first came to Port Jefferson, she was a single mother of two, originally hailing from upstate around the Finger Lakes region. After she met her husband Bill, who originally hailed from Connecticut, she was inexorable in her desire to stay in the village. 

“Kathianne is unlike many people, if she sees something isn’t right, she will figure out how to get involved and make it better,” Bill Snaden said. “She does not do something unless she knows she can do it 100 percent.”

Snaden has become more involved with the community over time, having immersed herself with the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption. She and her family were big players in putting on the recent Greek Festival and other church events. 

“I have always appreciated what she does for Port Jeff village,” said Louis Tsunis, Greek church parish council member, who said he has known her for around four years. “I have a lot of gratitude for what she does for the community.”

Snaden became involved in local politics after the school district received a shooting threat in 2017, shortly after the dreadful shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Her husband said since so little information was available, his wife helped organize a town hall-style event for residents to get the information they needed.

Kathianne Snaden, right, at the annual Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson. Photos by Kyle Barr.

Running for trustee in 2018, Snaden lost by only four votes, though instead of bowing out, she refocused her efforts, attending numerous board meetings and becoming even more involved in village activities. 

Garant said one moment, in particular, this year exemplified Snaden’s passion for the community. When a tragic incident at Port Jeff Liquors in October saw a man shot after nearly assaulting the owner with a sword, Snaden, along with fellow trustee Stan Loucks, was there soon after the police, calling the school district constantly as she knew there was a bus that usually drops off students in front of the library’s teen center. 

“Her response was immediate, her communication with the school district was immediate,” the mayor said.

As a mother of three, with one child in each of the Port Jefferson School District’s three buildings, she started her public office career with children and young parents in mind, her husband said, looking to bridge the oft-perceived disconnect between the district and village.

Attempts to bridge that gap was epitomized with the recent homecoming celebration, one that Snaden helped facilitate. PJSD trustee Tracy Zamek worked with Snaden on the celebrations that brought hundreds of students and alumni to Caroline Field. Zamek said she has found more collaboration between village and district since Snaden came on board.

“I feel like she’s a connection with the school, she’s the liaison someone I can go to, bringing ideas or issues,” she said. “Homecoming was a great school community event that helped build that bridge between the village and the school. I look forward to continuing to build that bridge, and I think trustee Snaden will be a key piece in building it as well.”


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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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Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

The Village of Port Jefferson has hired a new village administrator whom officials expect to be able to work with the board, residents and all municipal entities.

The village board voted unanimously, with Deputy Mayor Stan Loucks absent, to bring in Joseph Palumbo of Carle Place as new village administrator at the Sept. 23 board meeting. His first day is set for Oct. 7 with an annual salary of $135,000 on a six-month probation period. 

The village board have decide to bring in Joseph Palumbo of Carle Place as new village administrator. Photo provided by Joesph Palumbo

Palumbo will be leaving his job of 16 years with the New York Liquidation Bureau, a number of those as managing director of operations. According to his resume, his duties included “direct operational authority over virtually every aspect of the NYLB operations.”

“I was impressed with him,” said trustee Bruce D’Abramo.

Palumbo comes with a bachelor’s degree in political science from New York Institute of Technology and an associate’s degree in business management from Briarcliff College.

Mayor Margot Garant said she especially liked his energy and his “role up your sleeves attitude.” 

In a phone interview, Palumbo said he had worked in municipal government once before as a legislative assistant in the Town of North Hempstead, work he called “one of the better jobs I’ve ever had.” After working 16 years in various positions at the Liquidation Bureau, he said he was looking to get back into the work of local government, seeing the administrator job as a good mix between managing personnel and working with and for local people.

The mayor added she wanted someone who is going to make the effort and bring together the separate village operations.

“We wanted someone in the field with the employees — going up to DPW checking out what they want, talking with them, helping them with their schedules, helping them with their fleet management issues,” the mayor said. “That’s what I think this village needs right now.”

Palumbo said he didn’t like working behind a desk.

“I like to be out and about,” Palumbo said.

Previous clerk and administrator Bob Juliano was discharged from his position after 19 years of working in the village. The move was controversial among residents, some of whom said he had been a respected member of the village administration. He was also made to leave his position a few years before he could receive full retirement benefits.

Village attorney Brian Egan said Palumbo will be filling the position of administrator and not that of clerk. The administrator acts as the effective chief operating officer of the village, with responsibility for all the municipal departments answering to the mayor and board of trustees. On the other hand, the clerk is a statutory position that includes all procedural and formal roles of a village, including supervision for death certificates and permits, as well as being chief election officer in the village.

Assistant to the mayor and Deputy Village Clerk Barbara Sakovich has been in the role of acting clerk as the village worked to find a replacement. Egan said Sakovich will remain as acting clerk for the time being, but that officials will be looking for a full-time clerk in the near future.