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Port Jefferson

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

By Raymond Janis

Members of the Six Acre Park Committee met at Village Hall May 17 to present their vision to the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees.

Rebecca Kassay, trustee liaison to the committee, presented plans for the park located on Highlands Boulevard. 

“The proposal summary is to create a tranquil, arboretum-like setting with a walking path and replace most or all of the existing vegetation with a variety of native tree shrubs and native plantings,” she said. “The park would aim to provide aesthetic and ecological value throughout the year.”

The committee has met once or twice a month since October last year to arrive at its recommendations. The stated goals of the park are to exercise the body and mind, celebrate the beauty of nature and promote multigenerational opportunities for education. 

There is also potential for active use of space along the far west perimeter of the property, which the committee intends to explore in the second phase, according to Kassay.

The committee has used several well-known parks for inspiration: The High Line in New York City, Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton, Avalon Nature Preserve in Stony Brook, Frank Melville Park in Setauket and Central Park in Manhattan. 

“My personal opinion is that I want to see this move forward. I think it’s a place that we need.”

— Mayor Margot Garant

After the presentation, members of the committee had an opportunity to address the board in turn.

“As we see caterpillars transform into butterflies, so will this 6-acre parkland become a tranquil path of arboretum,” Gerard Gang said. “It will be an asset to the development of Upper Port. Its walking paths will be enjoyed by the residents as well as the employees around the park, exercising both the body and the mind.”

Kathleen Riley shared her enthusiasm for the project, saying the park will be an asset to the village, offering residents a place for quiet contemplation and reflection.

“This arboretum will be a great addition to the village,” she said. “With all of the different amenities that the village has and all of the other activities that this arboretum might have, it will be a great addition.” She added that the park will provide “a beautiful place to walk and be invigorated by the magnificence of trees, surrounded by nature” and that it will serve as “a respite so needed in today’s world.”

“It was really a pleasure to be a part of the committee,” Kelly DeVine said. “I think what’s going to emerge out of this process is going to be an attribute for the whole village.” 

DeVine added that the committee’s emphasis on native plants will help to showcase the richness and diversity of native species: “We all love Long Island, we all love how unique it is. We now can have a place where we can really showcase how beautiful Long Island is.” 

At the end of the presentation, Mayor Margot Garant complimented the committee for the thoroughness of its investigation 

“I think you guys did a very thorough job,” she said. “My personal opinion is that I want to see this move forward. I think it’s a place that we need. I know Harborfront Park is an asset, but it’s very active. This I think is a completely different park.” The mayor added, “I’m looking forward to seeing this come to fruition.”

By Raymond Janis

It seemed like an ordinary morning in Port Jeff village.

A thick layer of fog hung above the harbor, leaving the smokestacks of the power plant only partially visible from Main Street. Traffic was normal, businesses were open to the public and pedestrians strolled through the blocks and public spaces as usual. 

Despite the relative calm of the village, the decks of a Port Jefferson ferry boat were anything but normal. From inside the boat, one could hear the shriek of a madman, the sporadic fire of blank rounds, and the scrambling of passengers as they hid for cover.

None of these scenes were real, however. These were drills carried out by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and part of a tactical defense education program for ferry staff and crew.

Crew members went through multiple rounds of these drills aboard the Port Jefferson-Bridgeport Ferry, Friday, May 13. The training services are designed to educate staff on proper threat mitigation techniques, instructing them how to disarm potentially dangerous individuals in the event of an emergency.

In one training scenario, two crew members successfully ambushed and disarmed the threat on board, above. Photo by Raymond Janis

James McGuire, company security officer and port captain at the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, said the ferry company holds annual defensive training courses to keep staff properly informed and trained.

“We’re doing some security training here just to get our men ready for the upcoming summer season,” he said. “We like to do annual training and the Sheriff’s department is helping us out with that.” He added, “Basically, they’re helping our crew learn defense tactics for potentially unruly passengers.”

Ultimately, if you can’t avoid or deny, then defend yourself. Do whatever you can to stop the threat.”

— Capt. Scott Walsh

Capt. Scott Walsh of the Sheriff’s Office summarized the department’s intent for these demonstrations. In the event of an active threat, crew members are advised to avoid, deny and defend.

“First, avoid if possible and get away from the threat,” he said, “Second, deny the threat access to you — if you’re in a room, then lock the door and do anything you can to deny the threat access.” He added, “Ultimately, if you can’t avoid or deny, then defend yourself. Do whatever you can to stop the threat.”

The guided training between the Sheriff’s Office and ferry personnel lasted over the span of two days. The first day included what the department calls a threat assessment, which included an evaluation of the boat’s layout to identify the proper training strategies. 

“We came here and did some walk-throughs of the ferry with staff to create a plan for any type of emergency scenario,” Walsh said. 

The second day included the tactical training demonstrations. During this program, the staff were guided by department representatives in a variety of formats.

Passengers were instructed to find cover and get to safety, above. Photo by Raymond Janis

“Beyond doing the scenarios and drills, they also did a classroom session with PowerPoints educating them on different types of response techniques,” said a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office. “We’re training everybody on the ferry from top to bottom, from the captain to the first officer, chief engineer and deck hands.” 

In one simulated threat scenario, a man in a hoodie fired blank rounds in the ferry cabin. Crew were instructed first to get any passengers to safety, then to disarm the threat. Hiding behind a locked door, the staff successfully ambushed and disarmed the target, neutralizing the threat on board. 

Andrew Elsalam, deckhand on the ferry, was part of the demonstration. He described his role in the training regimen.

“In this situation, we were instructed to be proactive, to fight and grab anything close to you, like extinguishers and anything that could subdue the target,” he said. “Another crew member and I were behind the door, and as the threat approached my co-worker grabbed the weapon as I grabbed and secured the target, making sure that he was no longer a threat.” 

Elsalam added that training services such as those offered by the Sheriff’s Office give him a sense of confidence when approaching his job. 

“I feel like it’s all about repetition and staying on top of it,” he said. “We do Tuesday drills, such as man overboard, fire emergency and abandoned ship drills. Maybe we can incorporate this into our drills and that way we can become proficient and prepared without having to think twice.”

These training services are available free of charge through the Sheriff’s Office. They are offered for institutions throughout the county that represent a significant public need.

“Sheriff [Errol] Toulon [D] has made it a priority for the Sheriff’s Office to interact and engage with the community,” Walsh said. “The ferry had reached out to us saying that they would like some active threat training, so we were happy to assist with that.”

To learn more about the various programs offered through the Sheriff’s Office, visit www.suffolkcountysheriffsoffice.com.

It was a steady drizzle that made for a wet Port Jefferson lacrosse field where the Royals (5-6) hit a roadblock hosting the 9-2 Bulls of Smithtown West in a Division II match-up May 6.

The Bulls took a 13-0 lead at the halftime break before Port Jeff senior midfielder Blake Roberts scored midway through the third quarter to avert the shutout. Smithtown West’s offensive attack was too much as the Bulls cruised to a 20-1 victory.  

West’s senior attack Ryan Trebing had five assists and three goals. Colin Hansen scored five, and teammate Tom Hyland found the cage three times along with two assists.

The win keeps Smithtown West solidly in third spot in the division, behind Shoreham-Wading River and Mt. Sinai with three games remaining before the playoffs begin May 17.

Port Jeff Village Trustee Stan Loucks discusses the East Beach bluff. Photo from the Village of Port Jefferson website

This week, TBR News Media sat down for an exclusive interview with Stan Loucks, trustee of the Village of Port Jefferson. In the interview, Loucks addressed the relative inactivity at the club, the looming $10 million effort to save it, and the controversy around bluff stabilization.

You are the trustee liaison to the Port Jefferson Country Club. What does that role entail?

The liaison to the country club means pretty much that I’m in charge of everything up here: the golf across the road; the tennis, which we will not have this year because of the erosion of the bluff; and I coordinate with the tenant upstairs. 

Could you inform the readers on how this building was acquired by the village?

In 1978 the mayor of the village was Harold Sheprow. I’m pretty sure the land was owned by [the Estate of Norman K.] Winston. He had a large building corporation up here in Harbor Hills. In 1978 the village voted to purchase not only the country club, but both East and West beaches were involved in that sale for about $2 million. 

Since its acquisition by the village over four decades ago, has this country club been a profitable investment for the village?

The country club has been deemed a self-sustaining, separate entity from the village in that we have our own budget. We have to pay our bills. We had a tennis membership last year of over 300 members and a golf membership of around 500 members. 

The revenue that we take in has to meet our expenses. The village taxpayer, after the purchase of the property and the payoff of the bond, contributes no tax money to the country club whatsoever. Everything up here is basically coming off the backs of the membership.

As a follow-up, is there any kind of rent that the country club pays to the village treasury?

No, we are not renting the property. We are an attraction, I believe, for the village. I believe the village benefits even if you’re not a member. I think they benefit from the fact that we have a country club that’s available to residents at a very, very reasonable rate. 

We have the two beaches that are kind of semi-private. There are nonresidents that can use our beaches because they are members of the country club. The only rent that’s collected is from the tenant upstairs and that rent money goes directly to the village, not to the country club. 

And that tenant upstairs, is that the concession?

That’s the concession. They own Danfords downtown. It has just recently changed hands [to TPG Hotels, Resorts & Marinas]. The Crest [Group] had this for a couple of years and when they sold Danfords, [TPG] took over the tenancy of this building not downstairs, but the upstairs restaurant and catering end of it [known as The Waterview at Port Jefferson Country Club]. 

The downstairs here is pretty much all country club. We have two locker rooms. We have a large meeting room. We have a fitness center and a membership office. That’s pretty much what we have downstairs. Everything else upstairs belongs to the tenant. 

What has been the return on investment over the several decades since the village purchased the country club?

In terms of dollars and cents, really nothing other than the fact that we have in our possession two beautiful beaches, a beautiful golf course — we did have beautiful tennis courts, eight of them. Other than that, the village has received considerable rent over the years. The only thing the village has gained financially is from the rent of this building. All of the money that is made by the golf course stays with the golf course. 

That’s pretty much all the village has gained from this country club, which is a lot. I think property values are certainly affected by what’s going on here. People want to move into this village and I think one of the reasons they want to be here is for the opportunities coming out of the country club. 

Right now, those opportunities have diminished a little because of what’s going on out there with Mother Nature. With all of the upcoming anticipated construction, we decided that we will not have any tennis membership this year. We can’t put people out there and put them in danger on those courts because at any given moment, a massive landslide can just let loose. There’s a huge ravine over there now. The gazebo that they used for their wedding receptions went over the bluff. The bluff is moving in on us. 

To backtrack a little, you said before that it’s kind of a private country club. What does that mean exactly? You’re a public official, so what is the connection between the country club and village? Is this a private or a public entity?

Well, it’s private in that you have to be a member to be on the facility and to play golf or tennis, but it’s public in that there is a public restaurant upstairs. I think very few people realize that, so in my mind it’s kind of a semi-private area even though we own it. 

By we, do you mean the village?

The village. The village owns it. Anyone from the public can come in here and go to the restaurant, but you cannot come in here to play golf unless you’re a guest of a member. The golf course is private just like any other club, but the property itself is not private. You don’t have to be a member to go to the beaches and, as I said, you don’t have to be a member to go to the restaurant upstairs. 

At the time when this property was purchased by the village, bluff stabilization must have been an unforeseen expense. In your view, is this property a depreciating asset?

That’s a tough one to answer. Since I started my term, I have walked that beach down there since 2015 with the Army Corps [of Engineers], with DEC, with other engineers. At that point in time, it was very obvious to me that this bluff was rapidly eroding. 

A lot of it was caused by global warming, storms and the Town of Brookhaven ignoring the repair of the two jetties in Mount Sinai Harbor. It took us from 2015 to just this past year to get the first permits, which are for the lower wall, that have already been approved. We finally got the permits from DEC. We waited a few more months for the Army Corps to approve. Once they approved, we put it out for bid. We got bids ranging from $4.8 million to $6.8 million. The bid was awarded and construction will begin shortly to do the lower wall, which runs from the bottom of the East Beach Road 450 linear feet along the bluff from east to west. 

That’s not going to save our tennis courts. The engineers have told us that the bluff is so steep now that it’s got to eventually level out to about 30 degrees before plantings can really go on there. A lot of our bluff is almost straight down and when it goes, it collapses. Right now the bluff is in a situation where, in my opinion, I don’t think plantings are going to hold on there. There are plans for another wall, what they call the upper wall, that’s supposed to go behind this building. There is an engineering plan in place to put a steel wall all around this facility. I’m not 100 percent sold on the idea that a wall is going to permanently protect the building because, if the bluff keeps on going, it may come in from the sides. 

The plans are in place and the drawings have been made. It has not been voted upon by the board yet to move forward with it or not. The $4.8 million bond for the wall has been awarded. I think the treasurer has figured out that it will cost the taxpayer about $170 a year. However, we are actively applying for help from FEMA. I don’t know how the taxpayers are going to react to it. We’re looking at a total of $10-to-$12 million to save this building, basically. I’m not sure how the rest of the board feels about this, but it’s scary. 

Just to go back to the original question, given all of these expenses, is this property a depreciating asset for the village?

Well, it depends on what you mean by depreciate. If it’s going to cost us $10 million to save it, that to me is a depreciation. It’s a burden that’s going to be put on the taxpayers. I guess, yes. If we lose this building, that’s a depreciation. One the other side of it, $10 million is also a big fiscal responsibility to put back on the village residents. It’s a tough one to answer. The village is receiving rent from the restaurant. I am not sure that the amount of rent that we’re getting is enough to offset a $10-to-$12 million bond. 

Although fewer than 10% of village residents are members here, the other 90% of village residents that are nonmembers will be included in that bond. What would you say to those 90% of resident nonmembers who are being asked to foot the bill to preserve an area that they do not use themselves?

I can only speak for myself here.

I thought we should have had a referendum to vote on the remainder of the repair work. I totally agree with the lower wall because I think the lower wall is going to help protect our beaches. The beaches are used by the entire village.

In terms of the clubhouse, my wife and I come up here every Friday and we enjoy it, but the village residents and the membership do not use the building the way it should be used. I can’t comprehend it. We come up here and always have a good meal and get good service. I sit there every Friday night and wonder why the place is not filled with people. 

We have 8,000 residents in this village. We have 500 golf members this year. The place should be frequented and it’s not. I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not so sure that if it were put to a vote it would be approved. We didn’t think it would be approved when the referendum went out to buy it, but it was. 

Yeah, I think it would be unfair to ask the village residents to pay for something that they do not use. However, I totally approved of the lower wall. I think that’s going to protect our beaches. 

In your view, is it a worthy undertaking by the village to save the clubhouse?

The mayor understands it too. She’s baffled by the same question that I have: Why do the residents not use the facility that’s available to them? They don’t take advantage of the programs that are run up here. Yeah, there’s a charge, but it’s something that you can’t get anywhere else.

I’m biased. I love this club and I’ve been here for a lot of years and I know the club pretty much inside and out. The one question I can’t answer is why people don’t use it. The other question that’s difficult for me to answer is, is it worth it to the rest of the residents who do not belong here? I guess the obvious answer is “no.” I want to save it, but it’s not a decision that one person can make. There hasn’t been a movement one way or the other. 

You would think that at a board meeting, if this was a major concern, that that boardroom would be filled with residents — and it’s not. The residents that were there at the last board meeting, they’re concerned about the park; they’re concerned about my taking over Texaco Park so that we could play pickleball once a week. They’re not concerned about the big, huge, major issue facing this village and that bothers me and it bothers the rest of the board. Where’s the interest? You’ve got a bluff that’s going to take away not only our country club, but residents along this bluff too. And they don’t seem to be concerned. 

Is there a possible incentive to bring more people into the club? Could the village make the course open to the public, like Bethpage State Park?

The possibility is there that you could open it up and make it a public course. I would not like to see that. I see five public courses at Bethpage — I’ve played a lot of them down there. Yes, the Black is gorgeous, the Red is not too bad, but the other courses down there are pretty beat up. I don’t think making this a public golf course will change the feelings of the community at all. They voted to buy the place, but now they don’t want to save it. To me, that doesn’t make any sense at all.

Another big question is: “Can it be saved?” Nobody gives us a guarantee. I am not the engineer, but I’m thinking there’s a potential that when you start driving steel into those areas that it’s going to fracture that bluff. The upper wall design is a very long line that’s being cut into that bluff and I’m not sure they can possibly do it without taking the back deck off of here and I’m not sure, if they can do it, that it’s not going to fracture that bluff. 

Is it possible for this to be more of a collaborative effort between the taxpayers and the village government?

I would love to hear from the taxpayers, the residents — and we haven’t. We believe that we’ve publicized it enough and I know there’s a constant stream of traffic going down East Beach Road [in Belle Terre]. People are looking at the bluff, but they’re not coming to the board meetings. They’re not telling us their feelings one way or the other. To me, it’s frustrating to see that. 

Boy, if I were a taxpayer, I’d be at that board meeting and say, “What’s going on here? We want to know. Where are we at? What are we doing? How much money is it going to cost us? When is it going to happen? Is it going to happen?”

I’d like nothing better than to see that board room filled with people, negative or positive. I want to know why the interest is not there. 

Is there anything else you like to say to the local readers of Port Jefferson? 

I love this village and I love this country club. I want to see the best result that we can possibly get. I don’t have the answers. I just don’t understand why the village and the membership do not use this building. It’s frustrating to me. 

The fate of the clubhouse at Port Jeff Country Club is uncertain. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village

Debate around the future of the Port Jefferson Country Club intensified on Monday, April 4, when longtime local residents confronted the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees during a public session.

Myrna Gordon and Michael Mart both condemned the board for moving ahead with plans to curb coastal erosion at East Beach without first holding a public forum, arguing that an issue of this magnitude requires greater public input. “The bluff touches every resident … and there should be a public forum for this,” Mart said. Gordon added, “This is an important issue in this village … and on this particular issue, the ball was dropped.”

Responding to these charges, Mayor Margot Garant said the bluff projects are time sensitive, requiring prompt action on behalf of the village before its permits expire.

“This is an area regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers and the [Department of Environmental Conservation],” Garant said. “The window of opportunity is closing because our permits are not going to be there forever.”

History of the country club

Philip Griffith, historian of PJCC and co-editor of Port Jefferson historical society’s newsletter, chronicled the history of the country club since 1908. According to Griffith, the club originated as a nine-hole golf course designed for the residents of Belle Terre.

In 1953 Norman Winston, a wealthy real estate developer, purchased 600 acres of land in Belle Terre and added nine more holes, establishing the Harbor Hills Country Club. In 1978 Mayor Harold Sheprow leased the Harbor Hills club for $1 and in 1980 village residents approved the purchase of the property for $2.29 million by voter referendum. In 1986 the club was renamed the Port Jefferson Country Club at Harbor Hills.

“The club is 114 years old and it is not private anymore,” Griffith said in a phone interview. “Once the village took it over, it opened membership to all residents of Port Jefferson. Membership pays a fee and they operate the club not by using the residents tax money, but by membership dues paid to the country club.”

Due to the erosion of East Beach, the clubhouse, which sits along 170 acres of village property with golf, tennis and parking facilities, is in danger of falling down the slope. Village residents and elected officials are now weighing their options. 

Man vs. Mother Nature

TBR News Media sat down with Mayor Margot Garant in an exclusive interview. She addressed the rapid erosion of East Beach, the precarious fate of the clubhouse and the measures her administration is taking to address this growing problem.

“This is a village asset,” Garant said. “We always say that the country club is one of the five crown jewels of the village and I feel I have to do everything I can — and I will continue to do so — to preserve that facility because I think that’s in the best interest of the community.”

Projects to combat erosion have been ongoing since 2015. Intense storms, such as hurricanes Irene and Sandy, prompted shoreline restoration efforts on behalf of the village. However, as officials addressed the damaged beach, they spotted an even more alarming trend along the bluff.

“We noticed that the bluff started to have chunks of land just kind of detach and start sliding down the hill,” Garant said. 

Malcolm Bowman, professor of physical oceanography at Stony Brook University and distinguished service professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, said eroding bluffs have become commonplace for coastal communities along the North Shore.

“It’s a particular problem on the North Shore of Long Island because these bluffs are very steep, they’re very high and they’re made of what we call unconsolidated sand,” Bowman said in a phone interview. “In other words, it doesn’t stick together and it’s only held together by vegetation, which can be very fragile and can be easily eroded.” 

In 2018 Garant filed permit applications with the DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These applications were subjected to multiple rounds of modification, with the approval process lasting over three years. During that period, the bluff continued to wither away.

“Because there’s no protection of the slope, we lost 16 1/2 feet of property in three-and-a-half years, so now the [clubhouse] is in jeopardy,” Garant said.

Man-made efforts to resist erosion do not offer long-term solutions, according to Bowman. Nonetheless, coastal engineering projects can buy valuable time for communities before large swaths of territory get washed away to the sea.

“In the end it’s futile because, basically, you’re buying time,” Bowman said. “You can fight it and you may get another 50 years out of it. And you might say, ‘That’s almost a human lifetime, so therefore it’s worth it.’ The taxpayers of the incorporated village — they’re the ones who are paying for it — might say, ‘It will allow me to enjoy the club for another 50 years and my children, maybe.’” He added, “Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess.”

In a unanimous vote, the Board of Trustees approved a $10 million bond on Nov. 15, 2021, to finance bluff stabilization. The entire project will be completed in two separate iterations: phase I to secure the towline of the bluff, and phase II to preserve the clubhouse.

Phase I: Lower wall

“Phase I is going to consist of hardening the toe of the bluff with steel riprap rock and some concrete, as well as the revegetation of the bluff itself,” said Joe Palumbo, village administrator. “We’re basically creating a seawall there to slow down, or prevent, any further erosion.”

In its initial permit application, the village planned to construct a 20-foot-high steel retaining wall that would run approximately 650 linear feet along the toe of the bluff. However, due to concerns about the wall’s length and height, DEC asked the village to scale down its proposal.

“Part of the modification of the permit required us to eliminate the steel wall for the portion of the property behind the tennis courts,” Garant said. “We originally wanted to go in — I’m going to estimate — 650 linear feet and they pulled it back to about 450 linear feet.” The mayor added, “We went a little back and forth with DEC, saying we don’t understand why you’re making us do that, but we’ll do it because I’m trying to get something started to protect the integrity of the bluff.”

Phase II: Upland wall

After a 4-1 vote to approve phase I, the board is now considering ways to protect its upland properties, including the clubhouse, tennis courts and parking lot. Phase II involves constructing an upland wall between the clubhouse and the bluff to prevent any further loss of property. 

“The upland project will consist of driving steel sheets into the ground behind the village’s [clubhouse] facility, extending past the courts on the lower side and the upper side,” Palumbo said. “Some revegetation in front of that wall and behind the wall will also take place. I believe the wall itself will extend out from the ground about 15 to 24 inches so as not to impede the view that exists there.” 

The Board of Trustees is also exploring the option of demolishing the clubhouse, a less expensive option than building the upper wall, but still a multimillion-dollar project due to the cost of demolishing the building and adding drainage atop the cliff. “I’m trying to get all of that information together to put on the table, so that we can make an intelligent decision about the upland plan while we proceed with advancing the installation of the toe wall,” Garant said. 

Weighing the options

Although the village’s acquisition of the country club was finalized by voter referendum, residents have not yet voted to approve phases I or II. Garant believes voters had a chance to halt these projects during last year’s election process.

“When the Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to borrow the $10 million, that’s when the public had an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute,’” Garant said. “I could have put it out as part of the election that’s coming up or had a separate vote, but the clock is ticking on my permits.” She added, “I feel I have the authority — and my board has the authority — to do these kinds of projects.”

During the interview with Garant, she agreed that bluff stabilization was an unforeseen expense when the village purchased the property. Asked whether the country club is a depreciating asset, Garant maintained that the property has been a lucrative investment.

“It’s not just the building [that we’re protecting], it’s all of the country club’s assets,” she said. “The parking lot is a tremendous asset. I’m trying to preserve some of the sports complexes up there and even expand on them.”

One of the central arguments made for preserving the clubhouse is that the country club raises the property values of all village residents, and that to lose the facility would hurt the real estate market. Jolie Powell, owner of Port Jefferson-based Jolie Powell Realty, substantiated this claim.

“What makes us unique here in the incorporated Village of Port Jefferson is that we are one of very few [villages] that offers these amenities,” Powell said in a phone interview. “It adds value to the community and to prospective homeowners because they want to live in a village that has a private beach, country club amenities and pickleball.” She added, “The country club is essential to a prospective buyer who comes to the village. … They’re looking for amenities and the golf course is huge.”

When asked about the potential costs to village residents, Powell offered this perspective: “I don’t know what that cost will be for the residents, but it will be nominal. Our taxes are so low to begin with compared to every other community.”

Another sticking point is the long-term prospect of golf as a recreational activity. Martin Cantor, director of the Long Island Center for Socioeconomic Policy and author of “Long Island, The Global Economy and Race,” said the popularity of golf has waned in recent decades. He suggests any proposal related to the preservation of the clubhouse should also include a plan to boost recreational activity at the golf course.

“Golf is not as widely played as it was 30 years ago,” Cantor said in a phone interview. “If the village puts up a retaining wall, then it has to also have a development plan or a plan for how it’s going to generate economic activity to pay back the loan for the retaining wall.”

Responding to Cantor, Garant said the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to revive interest in the sport. “Prior to the pandemic, I would say that might be right,” the mayor said. “Since the pandemic, the sport is booming. That program up there is so robust that they have not only paid back the money they owed the village to help them run operations, but they’re now exceeding their budget and have money to put up netting.” She added, “Right now golf is the thing.”

Since bluff stabilization is closely linked to the activities at the country club, Cantor suggested that an economic feasibility study may add clarity to this issue, allowing residents and officials to determine whether preserving the clubhouse is in the fiscal interest of the village. 

“In terms of economics to the village, other than the rent, all of the money that gets paid in the golf club stays within the golf club,” Cantor said. “They have to do a feasibility study on the economics of keeping it open.”

Factored into this multivariable equation are also the qualitative benefits that the clubhouse may offer to the community. Griffith packaged the country club with the library, school district, public parks and other amenities that raise taxes but contribute to the character and culture of the village.

“These are things that add not only to the monetary value, but also the cultural and aesthetic value of the village,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to see those kinds of things eliminated. Each of these amenities — these assets — are wonderful values that make this village what it is.” He added, “It’s not just a home. You’re buying into a community and a community has to offer something beyond your own little piece of property, and that’s what Port Jefferson does.” 

Griffith added that he would like the issue to be put on the ballot so that residents have the final say. “I am in favor of having a public hearing on the matter and then having a public referendum. Let the people decide, just as they decided to purchase the country club.”

Theresa Livingston outside of Harbor Square Mall, where her new Bar Method studio will soon open. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

Something new is heading into Port Jefferson village.

The Bar Method, a workout studio that was designed with high repetition and low impact resistance training, is officially set to open its third Long Island location right in Port Jefferson. 

Theresa Livingston, the franchise owner, said she fell in love with barre almost a decade ago, but during the COVID-19 pandemic realized she wanted to bring this method close to home. 

“As I got older, my joints really started to hurt and it just wasn’t maintainable anymore,” the Selden mom said. “I was looking for something that’s easy on the body and I found barre. It just works.”

Livingston said that in barre practice, one matches the working in the muscle to stretching where you lengthen and strengthen.“It’s just something you can do forever,” she said. 

The Bar Method is all about educating our students, how they can be in tune with their body.

— Theresa Livingston

During the pandemic, Livingston said she started trying The Bar Method through their online classes and she knew it was the right fit. 

Compared to other barre studios, instructors for The Bar Method have “hours and hours” of training, Livingston said. 

“We work with personal trainers, we’re taught proper alignment and modifications, and then we work in the studio to train for months before becoming an instructor,” she added. 

According to the company’s website, The Bar Method exercises also include elements of Pilates, yoga and other strength training workouts fused into a ballet-inspired barre workout. 

But Livingston said one doesn’t necessarily have to have a dance background to succeed and see results. 

“The choreography that we do is easy to follow,” she said, “We have so many different props and equipment that you can use to help and bars in the room or different heights. So, everything can be modified.”

While Livingston was practicing online, she also traveled to The Bar Method’s only two other locations on Long Island — Huntington and Roslyn.

The commutes were long, so she said, “Let’s get one closer to us.”

“I just thought I thought the village would be the perfect spot for this,” she said. “It’s such a community. People live here, they shop here and they want to stay here. So, I just felt like it would be great to have The Bar Method here.”

Livingston signed her franchise agreement in September and officially locked in the space inside Harbor Square Mall at the end of October. 

Located right on Main Street, The Bar Method is planned to take over the back part of the mall with its own entrance right next to PJ Lobster House. Livingston said that when a student walks in, the plan includes a big, open lobby featuring different apparel and retail. Inside, the studio space will have roughly 30 bar spots along with a locker room, makeup area and showers.

Livingston is anticipating a summer opening and for now is looking to get the word out about the method and what it’s all about.

“The Bar Method is all about educating our students, how they can be in tune with their body and know what’s happening,” she said. “It’s a workout that just kind of fits whatever it is they need.”

In the interim, Livingston said that she and her instructors are planning free community lessons that will pop up around the village. 

For more updates on Port Jeff’s new workout spot, interested students can follow on Instagram @barmethodportjeffvillage.

Looking to build momentum after their victory over Stony Brook School three days earlier, the Lady Royals of Port Jefferson hit a roadblock Saturday morning when they hosted West Babylon. 

In this first league game of the season, they fell to the Eagles 18-5. A young team that had only formed in 2017, the Port Jeff roster includes only four seniors, four sophomores and seven freshmen, who will be challenged in the Class D 2022 campaign. The Lady Royals retook the field on March 29 at home against the Smithtown West Bulls, where the Royals lost, 14-3. 

— Photos by Bill Landon 

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With gas prices continuing to surge, another roadblock for the hard-hit tourism industry as well as eager, pent-up travelers, Discover Long Island, the region’s official destination marketing organization has announced a new campaign to highlight the many unique car-free, walkable destinations across Long Island – easily accessible by the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and other mass-transit.  To launch the campaign, the tourism organization has unveiled 10 top picks for tire-less travel experiences that should be on everyone’s 2022 bucket list – from the famous car-free beach haven Fire Island to a fairy-tale colonial village and more. Long Island’s car-free destinations are featured on www.DiscoverLongIsland.com/LIRR – a one-stop-shop for tire-less travel information.

With New York currently the most booked U.S. destination for Summer 2022 travel, the campaign aims at inspiring the region’s expected tidal wave of visitors to explore the wide range of attractions across Long Island– Manhattan’s easily accessible beachfront backyard.  Additionally, the campaign encourages locals and all visitors alike to take advantage of these affordable travel opportunities without the worry of car-rental shortages or skyrocketing gas prices and discover hidden gems, open space oases, and iconic landmarks, right off an LIRR stop.

“The LIRR serves as a crucial transportation artery for Long Island and remains key to our economy and recovering tourism industry – underscored by our nation’s growing gas crisis.  Thanks to the LIRR and a network of ferries filled with nostalgia, no car is needed to have a bucket-list Long Island getaway featuring an award-winning wine country, historic waterfront downtowns and much more,” said Kristen Jarnagin Reynolds, President & CEO of DiscoverLong Island. “With a 600% increase in domestic travel bookings since January, we’re seeing a hunger for new experiences and no hassle travel and LongIsland provides ideal opportunities for both.  Visitors and locals alike can seamlessly explore the many wonders and hidden gems right outside New York City that will make you feel a world away.”

“With spring around the corner, and summer not too far behind, why not plan to ditch the car and the traffic and ride the LIRR,” said Catherine Rinaldi, LIRR Interim President. “The LIRR is safe, reliable, and ready to take you to all the many great outdoor activities, beaches, parks and wineries that LongIsland has to offer.”

The campaign will include robust promotion of attractions and destinations accessible by mass transit across Discover Long Island’s 10 prolific social media accounts, consumer newsletters, Insider’s BlogThe Long Island Tea podcast and more.  As part of their longstanding partnership, the MTA will cross promote Discover Long Island’s car-free experiences and continue to work closely with the tourism organization to develop and promote Long Islandgetaway packages. See the MTA’s current deals on daytrip destinations, outdoor activities and events, HERE.

Additionally, the campaign will highlight Long Island hoteliers that offer their guests free shuttle services to ensure a seamless transportation experience, recently featured in the MTA Away article 8 Carefree (and Car-Free) Overnight Escapes on Long Island.

For access to exclusive deals at the small businesses and attractions throughout the downtown communities highlighted, including Fire Island, Long Beach, Huntington, Port Washington, Greenport, and Riverhead, visitors and residents can download the Discover Long Island’s free Downtown Deals Travel Pass.

  • Fire Island: A World-Famous Car-Free Haven

The barrier island of Fire Island sits just off the coast of Long Island’s southern shoreline and is accessible only by ferry, which visitors can catch with a quick shuttle from the Sayville or Patchogue LIRR stop.  Locals and visitors travel around by foot, bike, wagon, and golf cart at this car-free beach haven. The 32-mile long island is known for its pristine beaches, a relaxing ambiance, vibrant restaurants and nightlife and for being one of the world’s most popular LGBTQ+ destinations. Fire Island consists of 17 unique resort communities including private homes and overnight accommodations. Climb 182 steps to the top of the historic Fire Island Lighthouse, take a guided canoe tour through the Salt Marsh, enjoy public marinas for boating and fishing, camp at Watch Hill, or spend the day at one of the lifeguarded beaches. Find unique gifts and keepsakes at Hanalei and Kula’s boutique in Ocean Beach.  Be sure to stop by CJ’s, home of the rocket fuel for a sip of Fire Island’s famed specialty drink.

  • Gold Coast: Bring a Bike for a Gilded Age Excursion

Long Island’s historic Gold Coast is home to stunning grand estates set against pristine gardens and shimmering coastlines. Tour the mansions of the Roaring Twenties where industry tycoons (including the Vanderbilts and Guggenheims) reigned supreme and served as the inspiration behind The Great Gatsby.  Stay overnight at the luxurious Oheka Castle, often serving as a set for major Hollywood productions.  Take the LIRR to Port Washington, Oyster Bay, and Port Jefferson to easily access eight Long Island estates for a Gilded Age experience, some of which include Sands Point Preserve, Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, Planting Fields, Old Westbury Gardens and more.  Note that some locations require a short walk, bike ride (bring yours on the train), or rideshare from the station.  More details are available HERE.

  • Experience the Seaside Charm of Port Jefferson

Throughout this walkable village right off the LIRR, the salty sea breeze fills boutiques, wine glasses chime from open-air bistros and the marina sunset greets families as they stroll by Ralph’s Famous Italian ices. Stay overnight at Danford’s Hotel & Marina – the nautical New England style retreat has waterfront views of the Long Island Sound and dockside dinning. There is much to explore in this coastal gem. Take a photo with Long Island’s angel wings and take a serene outdoor instagrammable walk at the McAllister Park Pirate’s Cove. Dinner options are as diverse as Long Island’s landscape and include traditional East Coast eats at PJ’s Lobster House, SaGhar for Indian cuisine with a Western twist, Prohibition Kitchen for a New American menu in a trendy atmosphere and more. Don’t miss Roots Kava Bar for a custom tea blend and ancient rituals.

  • Discover the New England Style Stony Brook Village – The Epicenter of the Culper Spy Ring

Visitors will be transported back in time as they take a ride share from the LIRR station to Stony Brook Village, a waterfront shopping district in a Colonial New England setting complete with white clapboard buildings. Fun fact: Stony Brook was the epicenter of The Culper Spy Ring during the American Revolution, made famous by AMC’s hit drama TURN. President George Washington traveled to the area in 1790 by horse-drawn carriage to thank Long Island supporters and the spy ring for their help in winning the war. Stay overnight at the historic Three Village Inn built in 1907 which has six cottages named after Revolutionary War spies that overlook the harbor. While here, visitors can tour the Stony Brook Grist Mill used by farmers throughout the 18th – 20th centuries.  Grab a kayak from Stony Brook Harbor Kayak and Paddle Board rentals for a unique water tour of the historic mills. For a hands-on activity, Stony Brook Chocolate offers workshops for customers to make seasonal artisanal chocolate creations. Check out the The Jazz Loft for some after dinner entertainment. To explore what’s beyond the village car-free, Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn offers complimentary bikes to all their guests.

  • Explore the ‘City by the Sea’: Long Beach

With mile after mile of inviting sands, Long Beach certainly lives up to its name. This barrier island community is just 45-minutes from midtown Manhattan. Long Beach is an upbeat coastal retreat with LGBTQ+ pride, a vibrant surfing community, regular beach volleyball, free summer concerts, food trucks, fishing piers and more. This bustling beach town is best known for its iconic 4.5-mile boardwalk rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which is once again teeming with quirky shops, unique and classic eateries, cyclists, runners, and more. Head to Skudin’ Surf School & Shop for surf lessons, board rentals, and other cool gear or snap a picture in front of the Instagrammable Long Beach Osprey Wings. Don’t worry about toting heavy beach gear either, Beach Comfort will deliver rental equipment right on the beach.  Stay overnight at the Allegria Hotel, a chic boutique delivering a dose of Miami style that boasts a rooftop pool with breathtaking views of the Atlantic as well as the NYC skyline.|

  • Port Washington: Easily Accessible by Train or Boat

Step off the LIRR platform into a restaurant-ladden, historic, waterfront destination where history, luxury and serenity intertwine.  Reserve a party yacht with Long Island Boat Rentals and take a private tour of Long Island’s North Shore and iconic Manhattan landmarks like the Statue of Liberty. Stop by the Port Salt Cave for a little R&R before heading to a live performance at Landmark on Main Street Theatre. The intimate six-room boutique hotel, Fathoms Hotel & Marina, is conveniently located at the end of the Main Street strip.

  • Experience the Nautical Mile then Head to the World-famous Jones Beach

Take the train to Freeport and hop on the N.I.C.E Bus to the Nautical Mile.  The combination of restaurants and workboats, open-air bars and fish markets, live music and foghorns on the Nautical Mile provides a unique blend of nautical charm and street fair revelry.  Visitors can also take the N.I.C.E Bus to the Jones Beach Boardwalk from the Freeport LIRR stop – one of NY State’s greatest escapes.  In addition to swimming, surfing, sunbathing, mini golf, fishing piers and more, the boardwalk provides access to WildPlay Adventure Park where visitors can test their limits.  Be sure to catch a live a-list performance in the region’s only outdoor amphitheater, Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater.

  • Explore Huntington Village, a little microcosm of Manhattan

The area where British troops camped following the Battle of Long Island during the American Revolutionary War is today one of the most popular cultural meccas on Long Island. Named by USA Today as one of the best places to view fall foliage, Huntington also boasts a chic downtown with harbor front dining at Prime, local brews from Six Harbor Brewing Co., live entertainment at the nationally acclaimed venue The Paramount, and cultural exhibitions inside the Heckscher Museum of Art which showcases more than 2,500 pieces of American and European artwork dating back to 1534. Revive Health Studio is the place to go for boutique skincare and holistic services like TuneBed sessions or Red-Light Therapy. The Hilton Inn & Suites Downtown Huntington opening this spring is located directly on Main St. and walking distance from beloved attractions.

  • Head to Riverhead for Family Fun & Local Brews

This bustling downtown not far from the North Fork wine region, is walking distance from the Riverhead LIRR station.  Visitors will find an array of amenities inclusive of family-friendly activities, watersports, craft brewery experiences, and even something fascinating for history buffs. Stop by the Long Island Aquarium for hands-on learning about local and world marine life.  The fully operational distillery Montauk Distilling Co. is just one of nearly a dozen breweries located on the Riverhead Ale Trail where visitors can take tours, enjoy tasting rooms, and shop for locally made products. The Hotel Indigo East End provides guests with free shuttle services, on-site dinner & drinks, as well as posh rooms and décor.

  • Greenport: Named by Forbes as One of the 11 Prettiest Towns in America

Located at the tip of Long Island’s North Fork and right off the last stop of the LIRR’s Greenport Branch, is the walkable harbor front village of Greenport, an adorable historic district and marina filled with live music, charming, vintage boutiques, and restaurants with outdoor terraces.  Its close proximity to Long Island Wine Country and farmland makes Greenport a visitor favorite. Grab a lobster roll at Claudio’s, a staple of Long Islandsummers and relax with a fresh brew at Greenport Harbor Brewing housed in the town’s original firehouse before a walk around Mitchell Park, where kids can take a spin on a 100-year-old carousel (there’s also ice skating in the park in winter) or learn about the rich maritime heritage of Long Island’s East End at the East End Seaport Museum. Chic boutique hotel, The Menhaden, offers complimentary bicycles and shuttle services for its guests with its exclusive Moke. Guests must arrange for rides in the Moke and can do so by speaking with the hotel’s concierge.


Discover Long Island is the region’s official destination marketing and leadership organization charged with furthering the region’s tourism economy, which saw record-breaking highs in 2019 generating $6.3 billion in visitor spending. The organization ensures Long Island’s coveted quality of life, thriving industries, and dynamic destination offerings are promoted on a global level, furthering economic development, and benefiting residents and businesses throughout the region.  Awarded “Best Social Media” in the nation by the U.S. Travel Association, the organization produces engaging content featuring local businesses and attractions for their 10 social media channels which garnered upwards of 10 million views in 2021.  Additionally, Discover Long Island hosts a popular YouTube series, Long Island TV, as well as the Long Island Tea podcast.  To learn more, please call 631-951-3900 or visit www.DiscoverLongIsland.com.

Photo from NYPD social media

Nearly two weeks after the New York City Police Department began the search to find who shoved a revered 87-year-old Broadway singing coach, leading to her death, a woman formerly from Port Jefferson turned herself in to police.

According to NYPD, Lauren Pazienza, 26, turned herself in March 22 and was charged with manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault. Some media outlets have reported that Pazienza now lives in Astoria with her fiancé.

On March 10, New York City police received a report that at approximately 8:25 p.m. an individual approached 87-year-old Barbara Gustern from behind and allegedly pushed the victim. The incident happened in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.

The fall caused Gustern to hit her head, and Pazienza allegedly fled westbound, according to the NYPD. EMS responded to the scene and transported the victim to a hospital.

Gustern, who also coached Blondie singer Debbie Harry, died of her injuries on March 15. According to The New York Times, Gustern was able to give a description of her assailant before her death.

Pazienza’s social media presence included being listed as a communications and events coordinator for French furniture company Roche Bobois on LinkedIn.

A representative from Roche Bobois said she resigned from the company in December of 2021.

She used Zola.com for her wedding website and registry with her nuptials scheduled for June. Both her LinkedIn account and wedding information have been taken down.

Her attorney, Arthur Aidala of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins of New York, said, “We are pleased that the court granted bail to Ms. Pazienza and we expect her to be released in the coming days. We anxiously await the production of the discovery material by the District Attorney’s Office. The Pazienza family joins the rest of the city in grieving the loss of Barbara Gustern.” 

Pazienza, who is a 2013 graduate of Ward Melville High School, is due back in court March 25.

Local gas pump showing the surging price of gasoline.

The skyrocketing price of gas has hit record highs here on Long Island and across the entire United States. TBR News Media took to the streets of Port Jefferson and Setauket to find out how local residents were feeling about it all.

Photo by Jim Hastings

Crista Davis, Mount Sinai

“We’re pretty local, thankfully. I don’t have a far commute, but if I did, that’s something that would surely affect other aspects of my life. I’m fortunate that I live close to everything, but I feel bad for people who have no choice.”




Photo by Jim Hastings

Kenny Dorsa, Selden

“We’re pretty local, thankfully. I don’t have a far commute, but if I did, that’s something that would surely affect other aspects of my life. I’m fortunate that I live close to everything, but I feel bad for people who have no choice.”




Photo by Jim Hastings

Mitch Steinberg, Huntington

“It’s definitely going to make us consider our finances. Conserve a little bit. But we still have to drive to work and do the things we have to do.”





Photo by Jim Hastings

Abby Buller, Port Jefferson Station

Owner of Village Boutique, Port Jefferson

“From my business point of view, all of my wholesalers are complaining about their cost rising and having to pay more to employees. So, the higher cost of employees, gas, oil, freight. If I hear anything more about the cost of freight. When my wholesaler increases my cost of $7 an item, I have no choice. I have to pass that $7 on. I used to live in Queens and drive to Port Jefferson every day. I thank God I don’t have to do that, because that would have been, at these prices, a decision to close this store. 


Photo by Jim Hastings

Walter Martinez, Shirley

“I pay now double what I was paying last year, but I don’t blame it on the president and I don’t blame it on the government. Everything is just going up. And now with this war thing it’s just getting worse. It is what it is. You just gotta stand by and hope for the best. You know, we gotta pay the price. I do regret that I didn’t go for an electric car before.”