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Pot Jefferson Masonic Lodge

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

The Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees held a public meeting on Monday, Aug. 15, to explore various issues related to parking, public spaces and upcoming programs.

Parking

Kevin Wood, the parking and mobility administrator, gave an hour-long presentation to the board on the state of parking in Port Jefferson. Wood was delighted to report that the addition of 25 parking spaces on Barnum Avenue has increased the village’s parking capacity for the first time in decades.

“By building that Barnum parking lot and dedicating those 25 spaces, we came up about 8% on managed parking,” he said.

Despite added capacity, conflict over space persists. Wood reported a recent physical altercation over a parking space, which he considered informative in seeing “how people value parking so much.”

Wood said his department has implemented new technologies to alleviate competition over spots. Today, over 70% of metered parking is done digitally using cellphones. Currently, the village uses 11 meters with over 100 QR-code touchpoints for its metered parking.

“If somebody actually wants to use a meter, they still can, but we keep pushing the pay-by-cell,” Wood said, adding that digitally metered parking has generated revenue for the village and has facilitated the payment process.

With regards to public safety, Wood reported that there are now security cameras covering all parking lots in the village 24/7. He also discussed the possibility of further modernization of parking through automatic license plate reading, which he considers a more efficient way to handle parking.

Wood believes that as the activities at the Village Center expand, there will be a greater need to direct out-of-town visitors on how to find parking options.

“I can’t create parking spaces where they don’t exist, but I really feel that … we should have a dedicated person just to help part time to be out on the street by the Village Center when there’s an event,” he said.

Trustee reports

Mayor Margot Garant reported that the board has entered into deliberations with members of the Masonic Lodge located on Main Street to potentially acquire that property. The Freemasons are interested in deeding the property to the village, according to the mayor.

Motivating this transfer of the property is the Freemasons’ desire to preserve the historic character of the building and to promote community-minded use of the facilities there, she added. For these reasons, Garant advocated converting the lodge into a theatrical education studio used almost exclusively for those purposes.

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden, the trustee liaison to the planning department, reported that during a recent meeting of the Port Jeff Planning Board, some members expressed concerns over plans for the Six Acre Park. Relaying the comments of the members in attendance, Snaden said: “They’re looking for, in a nutshell, more of an active-type park. They’re concerned about the density of the apartments uptown, how many more bodies are up there and the need for active space.”

Responding to these comments, Garant said that a grant search has already been conducted and that one grant under consideration “would be perfect” for moving forward “with the plan as we have adopted for the Six Acre Park.”

“Put it in a memo or make it part of some other formal presentation to us because the Board of Trustees has adopted the vision presented and I think we’re pretty firm on that,” the mayor advised the Planning Board.

Snaden and trustee Rebecca Kassay both reported their coordinated beautification efforts through the replacement of dead and dying street trees villagewide.

“I walked around and made maps of where all the dead or dying trees are,” Kassay said. “We had a great meeting about the next steps … looking at which native trees might provide color and blossom and things like this.”

Kassay also reported that there will be a free public program for the Beach Street Community Garden on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 6:30 p.m. 

Trustee Lauren Sheprow reported the progress made toward the new Recreation and Parks Committee. A draft charter for the committee is currently in the works, and Sheprow has already received recommendations for volunteers and is hoping for more in the near future.

The Board of Trustees will reconvene Tuesday, Sept. 6, for a public meeting at 5 p.m. at Village Hall.

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The Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum will be open to the public during Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell

By Rebecca Anzel

Port Jefferson Village’s second annual Heritage Weekend is this weekend. The event features more than 15 cultural and historical locations for residents and visitors to explore on Saturday, Aug. 20 and Sunday, Aug. 21. Each stop is set to include presentations with interesting information, historical photos of the village that used to be known as Drowned Meadow, and fun, interactive activities.

A Heritage Weekend kickoff event will be held on Friday, Aug. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. aboard the Lettie G. Howard historic fishing schooner. Tickets are $45 per person or $80 per couple. Money raised will support the cultural events featured during Heritage Weekend, as will funds donated by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

This week, check out attractions that will take place at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, Port Jefferson Masonic Temple and Christ Church Episcopal. Check out parts one, two and three of our Heritage Weekend preview series.

Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum

Fire department equipment on display at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, which will be open to the public Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell
Fire department equipment on display at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, which will be open to the public Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell

On the second floor of Port Jefferson’s fire department on Maple Place is a museum housing 130 years of history. The collection of equipment, helmets, uniforms and pictures dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and tells the story of how fighting fires in the village’s four square miles has evolved. The exhibit will be open to the public during Heritage Weekend.

“It’s a small museum — just one room — but it’s got a lot of history in it,” Third Assistant Chief Jim Sarubbi said. “It represents what this department is all about — tradition and dedication.”

Some of the department’s nearly 100 members will be on hand over the weekend to escort event attendees to the museum and around the firehouse to check out the historical artifacts. The museum will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Port Jefferson Masonic Lodge

The freemasons’ purchased their current building, which was constructed in 1854, from the Presbyterian Society in 1912. Photo courtesy of Suffolk Lodge Number 60
The freemasons’ purchased their current building, which was constructed in 1854, from the Presbyterian Society in 1912. Photo courtesy of Suffolk Lodge Number 60

On Main Street, a two minute walk away from the fire department, is the Masonic temple. Also known as Suffolk Lodge No. 60, it was organized in 1796 and chartered in 1797.

The group is hosting an open house and Q-and-A session from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Visitors will be able to learn more about Freemasons and the fraternal organization’s history, and view historic photos and other artifacts while there, former Master of the lodge Gary D. Gudzik said.

Christ Church Episcopal

Christ Church Episcopal’s first service was June 3, 1888; a fire uniform at the museum. Photo from Christ Church Episcopal's
Christ Church Episcopal’s first service was June 3, 1888; a fire uniform at the museum. Photo from Christ Church Episcopal’s

Locals know Christ Church Episcopal as the little white church up on the hill. Built in the 1880s on land purchased from P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus, the members of the yellow pine church on Barnum Avenue will be hosting a yard sale during Heritage Weekend.

Irene Choate, the event’s organizer and head of the church’s women’s group, said housewares and small appliances will be on sale in Christ Church Episcopal’s air conditioned recreation room, where refreshments will be served. Senior Warden Gene Seiler will be answering questions about the church’s history and giving tours to interested visitors.

“We look forward to seeing potential new parishioners,” Joyce Bock, the church’s communications officer, said. “We’re a tiny church, but we have a big heart. All are welcomed and we mean it.”

The yard sale will be on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The church’s services are at 9 a.m. on Sunday.