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Port Jefferson Village

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Last weekend’s festival was really n(ice).

After a snowstorm caused the original date of the 3rd annual Port Jefferson Ice Festival to be moved, hundreds visited the village to risk the cold and enjoy the season.

Originally scheduled for Jan. 29 and 30, the festival was moved to Feb. 5 and 6 after nearly 2-feet of snow rocked the North Shore.

But despite the lack of snow this week, the event was still a winter wonderland with freezing temperatures.

Sponsored by the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District, the festival had everything: ice carvings done by Richard Daly, New York’s only certified master ice carver; characters from “Frozen”; horse-drawn carriage rides; and a mac ‘n’ cheese crawl. 

Cheesy pasta connoisseurs were able to buy tickets beforehand for the crawl, which consisted of nearly a dozen village restaurants that sampled off all different types of macaroni and cheese dishes. Shops like Barito, PJ Lobster House, Prohibition and P.J. Harbor Club showcased their own variations of comfort food — from spicy queso sauces to Gouda-baked goodness.

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John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson. File photo from Mather Hospital

Update: The virtual public hearing has been postponed to Thursday March 3, 6:30 p.m.

A public hearing for the Mather/Northwell Hospital Master Plan will be held by the Port Jefferson Village Planning Board on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Major aspects of the proposed master plan will include expansion of parking; updates to the emergency and surgical departments; modification of traffic patterns, and more.

The plan would be completed in three or four phases: In phase one, Mather/Northwell looks to: expand its northern parking area; expand and fit-out its emergency department; begin expansion of its surgical department; relocate and build-out its heliport; construct an exterior storage building; and complete North Country Road improvements.

As the result of traffic studies, a new traffic signal is proposed for North Country Road. In phase two, Mather/Northwell would complete the interior of their newly expanded surgical department. 

In phase three, Mather/Northwell proposes to expand their main lobby on the south face of the building. If there is an increased need for parking in the future, Mather would build a parking deck over a portion of the existing south-east parking lot as the plan’s phase four.

Phase one’s northern parking expansion is proposed for the northeast corner of the property, where there are currently multiple acres of woodland and walking trails. 

In comments requested by the Planning Board, the Port Jefferson Village Architectural Review Committee suggested that the parking structure — not the expansion of the northern parking lot — should be the first form of parking expansion.

The comments read, “These issues do concern the fabric, both built and natural, which make up the architectural character of a neighborhood. We also wish to state that we do not object, and in fact strongly encourage, the building of a parking structure of the type shown. We suggest that it should be a first strategy, and therefore in lieu of the additional clearing/removal of natural habitat and walking trails which is proposed.” 

In Planning Board work sessions, Mather/Northwell has expressed that they hope not to build the parking structure because of the expense it would add to the project.

At Thursday’s virtual public hearing, viewers will be given a presentation about Mather/Northwell’s master plan and then be able to give comments via Zoom. 

The Zoom meeting link, project map, and more can be found at portjeff.com/virtualmeetings in the Planning Board Materials section. Anyone wishing to submit comments about this project may do so by emailing or sending a letter with comments to Cindy Suarez at the Planning Department, [email protected]

Comments may be received prior to or within 10 days of the Feb. 10 public hearing. The meeting will be recorded and posted to The Village of Port Jefferson’s YouTube channel.

Towards the conclusion of the Feb. 3 Planning Board work session, board Chair Ray DiBiase said, “Let’s see what the public has to say.”

The Drowned Meadow House was once home to a family of Culper Spies during the Revolutionary War making it a local historical structure. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Village of Port Jefferson is looking to turn the Drowned Meadow House into a museum.

Located on the corner of West Broadway and Barnum Avenue, the small, gray-colored structure is a piece of Port Jefferson history that many say needs to be recognized.

“This building is a surviving Revolutionary War structure, and we feel that alone is absolutely fabulous,” said Georgette Grier-Key, historian and consultant to the project, during the Jan. 18 Board of Trustees meeting. “But we also cannot negate the fact that the historical landscape, and the cultural resources of the village is very unique and rare.”

Grier-Key went on to speak about the history of the Roe family, along with the other Roe structures and places in the village that had a significant impact on American history — particularly the American Revolution.

The Revolutionary War-era Roe House, now known as the Drowned Meadow House, was originally constructed circa 1760. Phillips Roe, a member of the Culper Spy Ring, was known to have lived there. 

During the virtual presentation, the historian broke down what the plan is to make the house an official museum, along with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit certification.

“The reason that museums are important is because they are incorporated under education law,” she said. “So, we are an extension of the education system, we have that charge, and it allows us to do things very differently.”

Mayor Margot Garant noted that the cottage is the sister building to the current chamber of commerce building. Brothers Nathaniel and Phillips Roe owned the properties in the 18th century.

With the help of village historian, the late Robert Sisler, both structures were saved as they were known to be special. Eventually, in 2013, a letter was found that verified the brothers were in fact part of the Culper Spy Ring — a local network of spies active during the Revolutionary War organized by Major Benjamin Tallmadge and Gen. George Washington during the British occupation of New York City.

“That letter, known as the ‘Letter of Significance’ comments about the brothers Roe, and how the spy ring intelligence is coming directly from them,” Garant said. “The letter confirms the village’s history and bring us front and center to Washington’s Culper Spy Ring.”

Grier-Key added that people have come from all over the world to look at these letters.

“As we continue to move the building forward in a fashion that is self-contained, and proves it can handle itself as a museum, we foresee a strong educational future,” Grier-Key said.

She added that over the years, the community locally and at large have accepted the building and love it. Collections have been compiled, too, of what Phillips Roe’s life would have looked like during that time, thanks to dozens of donations of various valuable artifacts. 

Showcases of what clothing looked like, thanks to the late Nan Guzzetta and her collection, would be another exhibit the museum would host.

Mark Sternberg, another local historian working on the project, disclosed that many documents and further proof that the brothers were instrumental in the spy ring, and the war, have been discovered as recently as this summer and would be part of the first exhibit at the museum.

“We’re continuing to uncover documents to put the structure in the middle of the George Washington’s Spy Ring,” said historian Chris Ryon. “Now everybody knows Port Jefferson as a shipbuilding community, but it’s more than that — it’s a nation building community.”

Grier-Key added that the plan to gain museum distinction of the cottage is a continuous five-year plan. 

“2026 is a very important year for us and for our country, that we have the 250th anniversary celebration of the American Revolution,” she said, adding that the museum could help bring business Down Port by shopping and eating after a visit.

The presentation was read to the village board to start a plan to help get the museum designation, as it has to go to the New York State Board of Regents to get a charter and become a museum. 

Although the cottage hasn’t been sitting vacant all this time and has been transformed during the holiday season, it transforms into Santa’s Workshop as part of the Dickens Festival, the building would have to be dedicated to a year-round basis of having archival exhibits and interactive learning programs.

And the next step is for Grier-Key to send out a proposal to start the charter process. 

“As Port Jefferson village continues to modernize, being able to retain — and not only retain but celebrate our history and put that at the forefront,” said trustee Rebecca Kassay. “This is one that we feel very strongly about not letting change, only in the sense that we’re inviting this great team and inviting more people to learn and engage in the origin of this village as in reference to the Revolutionary time period.”

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Applications for the community garden raised bed lottery are available now until Jan. 31. Photo from Rebecca Kassy

After a successful first year, the Beach Street Community Garden in Port Jefferson is gearing up for its 2022 season. 

Trustee Rebecca Kassay, who spearheaded the concept last year, said that applications are currently open through Jan. 31 to obtain a raised bed at the plot.

“The raised garden boxes at the Beach Street Community Garden are ideal for first-time gardeners and seasoned gardeners alike,” she said in a statement. “The garden regularly hosts educational programming. Community gardens are a great way to grow food, meet your neighbors, and connect with the land.”

Claire Gearns, age 10, is one of those first-time gardeners who has taken advantage of the community garden with her father, Rich.

“It’s fun to do and it’s a new hobby for me and if you didn’t get to try it, you should definitely try it out,” she said. 

“As new gardeners we had so much fun growing our own vegetables and can’t wait to get our fingers in the soil again,” Rich added.

Right now, there are 20 raised beds available for rent and will be processed through a lottery. Community members who were the first group in the 2021 garden said that it was a great experience that brought everyone together.

Photo from Rebecca Kassay

“The highlight of this past year for me was participating in the Beach Street Community Garden,” said Isobel Breheny. “My family and I grew so many fresh vegetables that we were able to share some with others. I made new friends and had so much fun! It was relaxing and a great stress reliever to tend the vegetables each week. And in addition, I went to workshops to learn how to grow better vegetables for next year.”

Shannon Handley added that she, her husband and their two children also took a plot this past summer.

“We were able to walk with our dog to our plot every morning to check on and harvest our zucchini and cucamelon,” she said. “It was an amazing experience and helped us to foster a love of vegetables, gardening, and community in our kids. We are so excited for the 2022 season!”

The garden, located in a previously vacant lot that was once a playground, became a sustainable haven in 2021 when nearly two-dozen volunteers cleared the space out and assembled 24 raised beds to plant all different types of fruits, veggies and herbs.

“I live in a condominium community and really don’t have the space for a garden,” said Gwen Gnadt. “This gave me the option for a garden. I was able to plant so many things and had quite an abundant crop.”

Christine O’Reilly added that the community garden was and is a great way to learn from others.

“There were varying levels of expertise amongst the gardeners, so there was a great opportunity for information and vegetable sharing,” she said. 

For those who are interested in applying for this year’s raised bed lottery, they can visit portjeff.com/communitygarden, download and complete the lottery form, and mail or drop off the completed form to Port Jefferson Village Hall by Jan. 31.

Raised bed lottery winners will be notified via email by Feb. 15.

Individual or family use raised beds are available for rent for $40 per bed for residents or $75 per bed for non-residents annually with four communal herb/flower beds for registered gardeners. All beds have timed drip irrigation and are surrounded by deer fencing. 

Four of the raised beds have higher sides for gardeners with different abilities.

Community members hold up lanterns and sunflowers during a vigil to honor Aida Ramonez who passed away at age 11 on Jan. 5. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Port Jefferson community has come together to mourn the loss of one of their own, 11-year-old Aida Ramonez who died unexpectedly Jan. 5.

On Saturday, Jan. 15, several dozen people gathered on the lawn of the First Presbyterian Church in the village to pray and remember the vibrant, young girl who was taken far too soon.

“Aida was something else,” said her mother, Lolita. “She was extremely outgoing. She would stick up for her friends, was anti-bullying and absolutely loved animals and her life.”

The Port Jefferson middle schooler had moved with her family from Mastic Beach just three years prior to her death, but in the short amount of time she graced the village, she touched the lives of dozens of people — young and old.

Aida Ramonez enjoying live music at Port Jeff Brewery. Photo from Lolita Ramonez

During Saturday’s vigil, classmates of the sixth-grader held onto sunflowers, Aida’s favorite flower. Small white lanterns were lit, decorated with purple ribbons while prayers were said and “Amazing Grace” was sung. 

Nicole Jacobs said that Aida befriended her daughter in school after the Ramonez family moved to the district. The two girls would go trick-or-treating on Halloween together and visit the water park in the summer. 

“She was very wise for her age,” Jacobs said. “She was so compassionate. Very loving and free-spirited. She was such a good kid, finding the positive in any situation and who sought out the kids who didn’t always fit in.”

But along with being the girl who chose to be a friend to anyone and everyone, her true passion was animals, Lolita said. 

“We nicknamed her the chicken whisperer,” she laughed, fondly.

Lolita went on to remember how one of the family’s chickens fell ill. The chicken, who barely approached anyone else, trusted Aida and allowed her to feed its medicine. 

“She’d massage the chicken and say, ‘Don’t you give up on me!’” Lolita said. “She wanted to be a vet.”

The chicken survived and is thriving to this day. 

Aida also loved art — it was one of her favorite subjects in school along with science. 

“She was an incredible artist and was an excellent student,” Lolita said. “She even made it to the honor roll at the end of their marking period. She was so proud of that.”

Aida’s former fifth-grade teachers at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School, Laura Kelly and Paige Lohmann, said in a statement that Aida had “so many wonderful qualities and gifts that made her stand out.”

“Her love for her family, care for animals and loyalty to her friends were most important to her. At such a young age, Aida believed in using her voice to speak up for causes that she believed in. She had a keen sense of who she was and how she can make a difference in the world through her thoughtful words and caring actions. We will always remember Aida and her high hopes and dreams for life and the world around her,” the teachers said.

During Saturday’s event, Robert Neidig, assistant superintendent of Port Jefferson School District, remembered his student.

Sunflowers are given to Aida’s mother, Lolita, during the vigil. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Aida, although she was a quiet young girl, had such an intense focus of maturity about her,” he said. “She once wrote that one of the things that made her happiest was being kind to others. It is this endearing quality that helped brighten up the spaces that she inhabited and allowed her to have such an enormous impact on our entire community.”

Neidig went on to mention, that the outpouring support of the community standing together on that cold Saturday was a true testament of what Aida always preached — kindness.

Mayor Margot Garant said that although tragedy strikes, the vigil proves how Port Jefferson comes together in times of need.

“The ceremony was moving and shows that here in Port Jefferson when we lose a resident, young or old, our community is impacted as if it were our very own,” she said. “This is what we mean by ‘Port Jeff Proud,’ and ‘Port Jeff Strong.’”

Trustee Kathianne Snaden’s daughter is in Aida’s class and she said it breaks her heart to see the community lose someone so young and so vibrant.

“My heart and prayers are with the Ramonez family,” she said. “If there is any silver lining, it’s seeing the community as a whole come together to support and uplift Aida’s family, and showed we can help each other in a time of need. We are stronger together, and I hope that the outpouring of love that day brought some peace to her family. We are here for them.”

Along with the vigil, a Meal Train was created for the family the day her death was announced, Jan. 6. 

Jacobs, who helped create the link, said that within two hours of it being posted, the first four weeks were booked with different types of meals to be dropped off at the Ramonez home. The Meal Train was then extended an extra two weeks, and booked in only one hour.

“People have been reaching out every day asking how they can help,” Jacobs said. “More than 40 gift cards were left on my front porch to be given to the family.”

Lolita said she and her family are overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and knows that Aida would be “flattered beyond belief.”

A selfie in front of Aida’s favorite place — the beach. Photo from Lolita Ramonez

“Aida was a free spirit who loved the ocean,” she said. “She was not afraid of death or any of life’s phases.”

One of Aida’s favorite songs was “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.” She loved fishing, anime and gymnastics. 

“She was an adrenaline junkie,” Lolita said. 

Her mother added that Aida’s remains have been cremated and her ashes will be thrown into the ocean in Puerto Rico — one of the places she loved to visit, along with Ecuador. 

“She would like her friends and loved ones to remember her with joy, especially when they go to her happy place, the beach,” she said. “She will be with them always in spirit and would love for everyone to stay positive and accomplish their goals.” 

Aida is survived by her mother Lolita, father Juan and older brother Grayson, as well as everyone near and far who’s lives she touched.

To continue helping the Ramonez family following this loss, Nicole Jacobs is collecting gift cards to be regularly delivered to them. Community members who would like to send their condolences can email [email protected] for more information. 

Indu Kaur, right, with her sister Kiran Wadhwa at SāGhar in Port Jefferson. File photo by Julianne Mosher

Soft spoken and modest, Indu Kaur has been quietly helping out her community, all while managing and operating three local businesses — two of which opened in the midst of a global pandemic. 

Kaur, owner of SāGhar in Port Jefferson, also works alongside her family with their two other establishments — The Curry Club in Setauket and the newly renovated The Meadow Club in Port Jefferson Station. 

A resident of Setauket, her sister Kiran Wadhwa said that while she lives a few minutes out of the village or station, Port Jefferson is her second home. 

“She just wants to always lend a helping hand,” Wadhwa said. “Her goal is to make the community better.” 

Indu Kaur with blueprints of her new restaurant after purchasing The Harbor Grill. File photo by Kyle Barr

Joan Nickeson, community liaison to the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, said that Kaur is a member of several different boards and groups that all service Port Jefferson and its surrounding areas. 

“She is a model of entrepreneurship,” she said. “I am thoroughly impressed by her talent, grace and forward-thinking perspective.” 

Nickeson added that along with being a PJSTCC member, she is part of the Port Jefferson Chamber and the Three Village Chamber of Commerce. Kaur is also secretary of the Cumsewogue Historical Society, and owner of the historic Baylis-Randall house, next to The Meadow Club.

“She is looking to refurbish it and establish space for photos and archives of local history of, not just The Meadow Club, but the Baylis-Randall house, historic Port Jefferson Station and Terryville,” she said. 

While working full time at SāGhar in the village, dishing out delicious Indian and American cuisine and cocktails to locals and visitors alike, Wadhwa said that Kaur also does finances for The Meadow Club and handles all of its operations. 

“She burns the candle at both ends to improve her restaurant and catering hall,” Nickeson added. 

This past June, Kaur and Wadhwa hosted the Port Jefferson high school’s prom at The Meadow Club, as well as Port Jefferson Chamber’s Health and Wellness Fest in October — two opportunities that brought both sides of Port Jefferson together. 

And all of these things were implemented over the last year and a half — while dealing with and overcoming the coronavirus.

“Although women-owned businesses are somewhat rare in the restaurant/hospitality industry, Indu Kaur has managed to open two unique properties during a pandemic — The Meadow Club and SāGhar,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket). “She is a role model for women aspiring to be restaurateurs. She has a can-do, work-hard attitude that she attributes to her immigrant family.”

Kaur previously told TBR News Media that after a fire devastated The Meadow Club in 2018, she and her family spent more than two years repairing it and turning it into the picture-perfect venue it is today.

But in the midst of rebuilding and construction, the pandemic hit — also as Kaur signed the deal on taking over the former Harbor Grill (Schafer’s) in the village. 

“Two years ago, we thought we were done,” Kaur said last November, just as The Meadow Club was starting to unveil. “But now we’re excited to bring our gem back to Suffolk County.”

Indu Kaur, left, with her family. Photo from Kiran Wadhwa

Hahn added that Kaur “had the courage and perseverance to rebuild The Meadow Club and reopen it bigger and better in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Incredibly, she also simultaneously opened SāGhar, a new restaurant in Port Jefferson Village with rooftop dining. It was this open-air rooftop that helped her stay open throughout the pandemic.”

An empathetic business owner, Hahn said that Kaur would always put the needs of her customers first — even as she struggled herself throughout the troubles of maintaining her establishments during a trying time. 

“Even though she was incredibly busy with two businesses, she never forgot the hardship of her employees and the brides and grooms who were displaced by the fire, and did her best to help them find new jobs and wedding venues,” Hahn said. “Indu is an unstoppable force and a tremendous asset to our community.”

And on top of all that, Kaur would personally drive meals — more than $30,000 worth of food — to first responders throughout the pandemic to make sure they had nice hot meals and to say “thanks.”

Kaur still stays philanthropic, donating meals and food to homeless shelters and families that lost their jobs due to the pandemic. 

And she’s a great neighbor, Port Jefferson Village trustee Rebecca Kassay said. 

As of late, Kaur has taken it upon herself to create welcome bags for residents moving into the newly opened apartment buildings in town. 

“These lovely gift bags full of local vouchers, coupons, gift cards and information about the Port Jefferson business community help to tie new residents into our vibrant community,” Kassay said. “Indu so often weaves people together in the most beautiful ways, and we are endlessly grateful for her thoughtful and inclusive efforts.”

Kassay added that Kaur is a “gift to this community.”

“Between the glowing positivity she emanates, her incredible organizational skills and her generous spirit, it is no wonder that her business and community efforts find deserved success,” the village trustee said. 

Kaur’s sister agreed. 

“She always gives 100% — whether it’s for her friends, family, businesses or community,” Wadhwa said. “There is no one else I can see being any more deserving of this nomination for Person of the Year than Indu.”

Stan Loucks, a lover of the outdoors, kayaking in the Adirondacks. Photo from Ron Carlson

Port Jefferson Village trustee Stan Loucks puts his all into everything he does. 

A resident of Belle Terre for more than 40 years, he has been involved with different aspects of the village for nearly a quarter of a century. 

Retired after decades in education as the athletic director of the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district, he has now devoted his life now to serving his community in the village as liaison to the country club and village recreation. 

But along with his constant community service, he also took on the role as trustee six years ago and was reelected this past summer for another term.

“I’m proud of my accomplishments up at the country club,” he told TBR News Media in May as he began campaigning. “I introduced the bond to build a new maintenance facility up at the country club, we put in a new irrigation system, we created a new fitness center, renovated the locker rooms, increased our membership twofold. Over the years, I just want to continue to improve. I’ve got ideas about going forward with pickleball up at the country club and many more ideas to come down the road.”

With the country club, he has been on the tennis board, the board of governors, as well as on the management advisory committee.

Stan Loucks with other village officials at the Fourth of July parade this year. Photo from Peggy Loucks

Longtime friend and former employee Ron Carlson said that Loucks’ service to the village covers over two decades. 

“His service began as a volunteer for the country club management advisory committee,” he said. “He initially served as greens chairman, and several years later was appointed president of the CCMAC.”

Carlson added that after 12 years as a volunteer, he decided to further his commitment to the village, run for trustee, was elected and became appointed as deputy mayor. 

In his role as trustee, he is responsible for overseeing the operations of both the recreation department and the country club, including management of all programs, beaches, parks and the operation of the Village Center. 

As country club liaison, he oversaw the construction of the new maintenance facility, renovations to the golf pro shop and snack bar, fitness center, card room, golf scoreboard and patio area.

Carlson said that during those builds, he would not give commands — he’d be in the trenches with the contractors doing work. 

“It’s not something he takes lightly,” Carlson said. “Nobody has ever gotten involved like he does.”

He added that over the past 20 years, Loucks “has given thousands of hours to the benefit of all village residents. He is well liked and respected by all who know him and is a true leader and gentleman.”

Carlson, who has worked in the village for 50 years, said that he has “never witnessed a trustee more involved and more personally engaged in projects involving the village.”

“He dives right in and does it himself,” he added. “He gets involved personally.”

Mayor Margot Garant, who named him deputy mayor last term, said that he’s personable and an advocate for his community. 

“You cannot help but like him,” she said. “He’s a perfect fit for public service.”

Peggy Loucks, his wife, said that since he worked so long in education, he always loved kids and sports — which eventually led him to become involved with the village’s recreation department and its activities. 

“When he’s elected or asked to do something, he’s extremely dedicated,” she said. “He’s a really hard worker.”

Stan Loucks during the Village Cup Regatta this summer. Photo from Peggy Loucks

She joked that although he’s been retired, he works so much for his community that she still barely sees him. 

“He cannot sit still,” she said with a laugh. “You just can’t stop him from working.”

Peggy Loucks thinks that to him, getting involved is not just a job — it’s a passion that he lives for. 

“He feels that people should be giving back to the community,” she said. “We love it here, and he’d give you the shirt off his back.”

Carlson agreed.

“Recognition of his 20-plus years of outstanding community service is long overdue,” he said. 

A rendering of the new mixed-use complex to be built on the corner of Main Street and North Country Road in Port Jefferrson. Photo from The Gitto Group

The Gitto Group is one step closer to starting the construction on its latest project in Upper Port. 

Vice President Rob Gitto said that earlier this month the group received approval from the Village of Port Jefferson and the Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency to finally close on an economic development package that will assist as the developer constructs a mixed-use project on the corner of Main Street and North Country Road. Gitto said the complex will include 36 rental units and two retail spaces below. It is to be located where the PJ Lobster House originally stood, as well as a former florist shop.

“We’re excited to have another project in the village,” Gitto said. “It’s a very important corner and we’re looking forward to building a nice product.”

The Gitto Group has built another development uptown, The Hills at Port Jefferson Village, which has been at a steady full capacity since opening. These projects are part of the continuous plan to revitalize Upper Port.

According to the IDA, Port Development, an affiliate of The Gitto Group, plans to demolish the two buildings, 4,400 square feet and 1,800 square feet respectively, and replace them with a three-story building totaling 48,660 square feet, spending $15 million to replace the now-vacant buildings. 

The complex will have 32 one-bedroom apartments of approximately 750-850 square feet each and four two-bedroom units of about 1,200 square feet. 

Resident amenities will include a fitness room, lobby and lounge spaces, an indoor garage, and a private outdoor patio and lawn/garden area.  

The ground level of the proposed building, within walking distance of the LIRR’s Port Jefferson station, will include 1,800 square feet of commercial/retail space.

“There is currently a high demand for rental housing in the Town of Brookhaven and the Port Jefferson area and this project will add to the supply,” said Frederick C. Braun III, chairman of the Brookhaven IDA. “Also, this development will make a positive, long-term economic impact on the village and further the revitalization of Upper Port.”

The project is expected to generate 133 construction jobs and five full-time equivalent permanent jobs. Construction is expected to take 18 months.

Gitto added that people will begin to see more movement on the property now that approvals have been secured. 

“We are starting the preliminary work,” he said. “We’re getting ready for demolition but we won’t be able to start construction until March.”

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Port Jefferson Free Library. File photo by Kyle Barr

The Port Jefferson Free Library Board of Trustees recently announced that one seat is due to expire. 

Trustee Jennifer Schaefer’s term expires January 2022 and she will not be seeking re-election. One petition has been filed by Carl Siegel who will be running unopposed.

Carl Siegel. Photo from Port Jefferson Free Library

Siegel served two five-year terms on the board of the Port Jefferson Free Library from 1994-1999, and again in 2016-2021. He was involved in multiple projects and initiatives including the creation of the Children’s Library and the Adult Reading Room. 

He states that experience gave him a strong understanding of the building development, its fiscal requirements and challenges, and he gained a solid understanding of the village population’s needs and priorities. 

Siegel is a retired English teacher who was employed at Port Jefferson High School for 23 years and taught dozens of literature courses over the past several years in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University. 

The Port Jefferson Free Library’s annual meeting and election will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. 

Voters must be of at least 18 years of age, a resident of the Port Jefferson School District and a member of the PJFL Association with a library card in good standing

The 25th annual Charles Dickens Festival drew in hundreds with Port Jefferson village transforming into the Dickensian era last weekend.

After a halt in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community was able to travel back in time (again) decked out in their most festive attire. 

“It’s just such a wonderful destination for the holidays,” said County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket). “It’s unique, it’s special and it’s great thing for businesses.”

Characters like the dusty chimney sweeps, Father Christmas, Dickens Mayor, the Town Crier and of course, Scrooge, performed on the village streets and posed for photo ops with visitors and residents, alike. 

The festivities began on Dec. 4 at 11 a.m. with a parade down East Main Street, headed by village officials and former mayor Jeanne Garant and concluded Sunday night.

“We are so proud and grateful that we can bring back this great tradition to the village,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “Not only does it bring an economic boost to our merchants and kick off the holiday season, but it brings good will and merriment to all. I am proud to carry on this tradition and keep it alive in hearts for all near and far.”

— All photos by Julianne Mosher