Tags Posts tagged with "Rocketship Park"

Rocketship Park

Students in Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s AP Environmental Science class and the Environmental Club with teacher Jonathan Maletta, left. Photo courtesy PJSD

Students in Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s AP Environmental Science class and the Environmental Club took a trip to Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson on Thursday, Nov. 16, as part of a collaborative beautification project between Port Jefferson School District and the Village of Port Jefferson Parks Department.

The district’s athletic director, Adam Sherrard, and the village’s superintendent of parks, Dave Melious, had discussed how Port Jefferson students could give back to the community and promote Port Jefferson pride within the village.

The duo came up with a plan to plant 200 purple and white tulips in front of the basketball courts at Rocketship Park. They were joined by science teacher Jonathan Maletta.

Students in attendance were Olivia Bianco, Anneliese Byrne, Katie Chambers, Eric Chen, Thalia Dorsett, Kyle Erickson, Savannah Florio, Jadie Hernandez, Michael Lipskiy, Madeline Matvya, Noah Mimarbasi, Myeda Nawaz, Gavin Onghai, Alyssa Passarella, Ottilie Philbrick, Brielle Procaccini, Cooper Reale, Mia Savino, Nicholas Smirnov, Carman Stanton, Charlotte Tishim and Julia Weinstein.

File photo

Incidents of vandalism in Port Jefferson village targeting both public and private property have sparked debate among residents. 

During a public meeting held at Village Hall on Tuesday, July 5, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden reported that newly renovated bathroom facilities at Rocketship Park were vandalized just four days after opening. During the incident, a toilet paper dispenser was kicked off the wall.

Fred Leute, chief of code enforcement, outlined the long history of vandalism at this site. He said the bathroom has been targeted several times in recent years. 

In the past, vandals tampered with the paper dispensers, tearing out towels and throwing them around. The renovations made to the bathroom were intended to limit such behavior. 

Leute attributes the vandalism of the bathrooms primarily to boredom. “They’re there and they’re very bored,” he said.

In an exclusive interview, Snaden detailed the precautions undertaken by the village to safeguard the facility from such vandalism. 

“The bathroom was built solid, using materials and concepts that are even done in prison bathrooms,” she said. “Even having done that, there was vandalism in the bathroom.”

This prompted the village board of trustees to institute a closing time of 7 p.m. for both bathrooms at Rocketship Park. The stated purpose of this measure, according to this month’s edition of The Port eReport, is “to protect our valuable asset and ensure that the families visiting Rocketship Park can use our village amenity worry-free.” 

Snaden added that the bathrooms are easy targets for vandalism given the conditions of privacy and seclusion that are inherent to any restroom facility.

“The bathrooms are out of sight,” she said. “As much as people say, ‘Code is out there. Why isn’t code preventing this?’ Well, code cannot follow people into bathrooms.”

Both Snaden and Leute said that efforts to monitor vandalism in the bathrooms and counteract this problem remain ongoing.

Vandalism downtown

Along with the vandalism of the bathrooms, several storefronts have been hit in recent weeks by vandals. Leute said that his department has received three reports of vandalism since June 24. 

Debbie Bowling, owner of Pasta Pasta, said that her restaurant was targeted by three individuals one night who pulled flowers from the flower boxes and tossed them in the street.

“It wasn’t a big financial cost, but it was very disheartening,” Bowling said. “It’s not the first time, unfortunately. We have had Christmas lights pulled off. We have had other plants pulled out and damaged.”

Christine Nyholm is the owner of the Port Bistro and Pub, a location that was also vandalized recently. She had to replace two of her outdoor tables after they were damaged overnight. Nyholm said these acts of vandalism interrupt her business operations. 

“It disrupts us the next day because we have less tables,” she said. “Because the tables are totally broken and we can’t use them anymore, we can’t put them out to feed people.”

Village response

Leute maintained that incidents of vandalism must be reported in a timely manner and to the proper authorities first.

“Call Suffolk [police department], make a report, write down the field report — the central complaint number — and then call us immediately after you have done that,” he said. “We have investigators here. We’ll immediately investigate it.”

These procedures were followed properly after the vandalism of Pasta Pasta, according to Leute. Because of this, two of the three vandals have already been identified by his department. He urged village residents to follow this example during future instances of vandalism.

By holding off on reporting these matters to police, Snaden said the village is limited in its ability to gather the necessary information to investigate the incident.

“We do have cameras throughout the village and that footage is only held onto for so long,” she said, adding, “If we find out about it within a day or two, that footage can be grabbed and we can then start to look to identify and hand that over to Suffolk police.”

On the whole, Leute does not view vandalism as a critical public safety concern, saying that this is not supported by the data provided by the Suffolk police department. The police department could not be reached for comment for this story.

To the business owners who may be at risk of future vandalism, Leute said they can protect their storefronts by moving equipment indoors before closing.

“They really should put away any movable objects, such as small tables or chairs or umbrellas,” the code chief said. “If you put it away and put it under lock and key, they can’t destroy it or turn it over or do any of those things.”

Despite these added precautions on the part of business owners, Snaden reiterated that vandalism is a disruptive behavior that will not be tolerated in the village.

“That being said, we don’t want to minimize this behavior … or any type of behavior that damages anybody’s property,” she said. “We all have to work together and I think step one is putting things away.”

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

The newly configured Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees held its first public meeting on Tuesday, July 5.

Trustee Lauren Sheprow took her seat alongside her colleagues on the board for the first time. After completing her first full day in office, the trustee discussed ways in which she intends to familiarize herself with the mechanics of the village and learn more about the concerns of her constituents.

“I continue to take information in and I’ll continue to seek information from the residents, not because I am not campaigning anymore but because I am really interested in what they have to say,” she said. 

Sheprow will jump headfirst into her first term of office, already securing two important assignments from Mayor Margot Garant: commissioner of communications and commissioner of recreation. Outlining her rationale behind these appointments, the mayor said she intends to tap into Sheprow’s professional experience in public relations and repurpose those skills in service to the community.

“We put her to work as commissioner of communications [because] we want to put her public relations experience and career to work for us,” Garant said, adding, “And also as commissioner of recreation, so that she can help the recs department and because she was a former member of the recs committee.”

As well, Garant congratulated reelected Trustee Rebecca Kassay, who began her second term this week. 

Kassay reported that she received a request to explore code changes related to the planting of bamboo as the roots of this woody grass can cross property lines and create conflicts between neighbors.

“This would address the planting of new bamboo as well as sort of being more clear about when someone has bamboo and it starts creeping over to another property line,” she said. “This is a big issue as far as property values can go and can help prevent neighborly disputes in the future.” 

Trustee Stan Loucks delivered an extensive report on the status of the recreation department as it enters the height of its busy season. He announced that two tennis courts at the country club have been opened for pickleball and will remain minimally open throughout the summer until construction begins at the East Beach bluff.

“We anticipate that the construction of the lower wall along the bluff will be starting sometime in August or early September and if any part of this construction requires working from the top, in other words, working from those tennis courts, then we’re going to have to close those courts,” he said. Loucks added that East Beach and its parking lot will also be closed off during the construction period.

Although golf membership at the country club has exceeded 630 members this year, Loucks said there are no plans to cap membership. He advised community members that while tee times are scarce between 6 and 11 a.m., there are plenty of remaining slots available after this time frame.

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden used her report to address an ongoing issue related to the recently renovated public bathrooms at Rocketship Park. According to her, the bathrooms were vandalized just four days after they were opened, prompting the board to enforce a closing time for public use of the facility.

“The conclusion we all came to was that because of the vandalism that happened four days after opening our brand new, expensive bathrooms … it is best to keep them closed at 7 p.m. and to have a sign to say that they are closed at 7 p.m. due to the vandalism that is occurring,” she said. This signage will assure that the public knows “when they’re closed and why they’re closed.”

Snaden also informed the public that the village has renewed its intermunicipal agreement with the Port Jefferson School District to allow constables on school grounds. She added that the roadway closure at the intersection of Route 25A and Arlington Avenue remains ongoing.

Garant recognized the village employees who worked to facilitate a smooth election day last month. She also acknowledged all of the candidates who ran for the village board and commended them for their continued commitment to the service of the village.

“I thank you for your involvement, for engaging, for getting out and knocking on the doors,” the mayor said. “You make a difference and we hope that you stay engaged.”

Garant also highlighted the monumental act of heroism on the part of a group of Port Jeff high school graduates. As reported on June 30 in The Port Times Record, these grads left their high school commencement ceremony to help extinguish a fire on Arlington Avenue.

“Brave is not even the word,” Garant said. “Community service is an understatement. … This really says what Port Jefferson is all about.” She added, “The fact that we do have a fire department that helps train our kids and that they are ready to serve under any circumstances is just absolutely amazing and encouraging and amazing to me.”

by -
0 192
Mayor Margot Garant speaks of new parking lot at press conference Oct. 10.

Funds are coming from both town and county for the construction of a new parking lot in Port Jeff, yet still the price tag could be high.

At its Oct. 2 meeting, the Suffolk County Legislature voted to grant Port Jefferson $200,000 in a jumpstart grant for the creation of a new parking lot on Barnum Avenue. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) joined village officials Oct. 10 to announce the new funds.

“This is a village that for some time has been leading in innovation and creativity and we’ve been there to support it,” Bellone said. “What this really is about is how do we continue to grow in a sustainable way.”

The new parking lot at Barnum Ave. is expected to have 44 new spots. Photo by Kyle Barr

The new parking lot will be located on Barnum Avenue at the intersection between it and Caroline Avenue. The site is expected to include 44 new stalls, two of which are planned to be charging stations for electric vehicles, which would be a first for Port Jeff village.

“Importantly, this lot is very close to the newly renovated Rocketship Park, which brings down thousands on a daily basis,” Mayor Margot Garant said.

The site will have ingress and egress onto Caroline Avenue in two separate spots and will border the Joe Erland baseball field on its southwestern end. The 32,000-square-foot lot will also include two bioswales bordering the foot entrance onto Barnum Avenue to aid in flood mitigation. The bioswales will look like two dips in the ground with plantings overlaying them.

Nicole Christian, the Port Jeff grant writer, said the fact the project includes these green initiatives was one of the main reasons they got the grant.

Costs for the Barnum lot could cost approximately $900,000, the mayor said. The village will use its own funds to construct the lot, and the grant will reimburse the village up to the set amount.

“Because we need to do prevailing wage, it doubles the cost,” Garant said. “There’s no way around that.”

Other than the recently finished Texaco parking lot in Upper Port, this would be the first new piece of downtown parking infrastructure in more than a decade.

Parking has been an issue in Port Jeff for years. Several years ago, in 2015, the Town of Brookhaven had sold property to a local developer for retail and apartment space. However,  because of a lack of parking for the structure, the town was all set to go forward on an agreement to grant around 30 parking spots from the town’s marina municipal lot near the harbor to the village, which had planned to reconstruct it with more plant fixings and solid boundaries. However, after a disagreement between officials and a resident in Port Jeff, a letter sent to the New York State attorney general by the Brookhaven town attorney provoked a response in December 2017 saying the land was parkland, though purposed for marina parking, and it would require consent from the New York State Legislature.

In the years following, officials tried to hash out some kind of agreement that would grant payment in lieu of parking (PILOP) for those 30 spots. Brian Egan, the village attorney, said talks became mired, with it finally requiring the village to put out a notice of claim before the town agreed to grant the PILOP. However, as another wrinkle to the issue, due to outflow of sediment from Mill Creek into Port Jefferson Harbor, which the town said the village was responsible for paying for dredging, the town only agreed to pay after subtracting the cost of dredging.

Finally, at the village’s Oct. 7 meeting, officials voted to accept a check for $125,800, an amount which subtracts the cost of dredging the outflow from the creek of $34,600.

Although the mayor said the money is nice, parking is much more expensive to build than the money they are granted from the town, and she would have rather had the marina spaces.

“That plus the jumpstart money, that’s half the Barnum lot,” she said.

The lot is expected to go out to bid within the next several months, with full construction to start no later than early spring, according to Garant.

by -
0 223
Kids play on the equipment at Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson Village during its grand reopening event in June, following a renovation headed up by L.K. McLean Associates, which received an award for engineering excellence last week. File photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

Residents of Port Jefferson Village have known for decades Rocketship Park is a special place, but now the engineering firm that handled its renovation has the hardware to prove it.

L.K. McLean Associates announced Jan. 3 it received the Diamond Award in the special projects category from the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York for its renovation of Clinton H. Lee Memorial Park in Port Jeff Village, or Rocketship Park as it’s commonly known. LKMA is a firm with licensed engineers, land surveyors and architects that has been serving the New York Metropolitan area since 1950, according to its website.

The ACEC of New York has hosted annually for more than 50 years its Engineering Excellence Gala — or the Academy Awards of the consulting engineering industry, as the organization’s website indicates. The event is the culmination of a selection process in which more than 60 firms submit projects to be judged on a rigorous set of criteria, including complexity, innovation and value to society. A panel of industry experts, including military and government officials, leadership from ACEC, educators from college and university engineering departments and others, judges the projects. Winners are selected based on the highest average scores in the various categories.

The Diamond Award is the highest level handed out by ACEC.

“As a parent, it was a rewarding experience to work with the village to renovate the park I grew up playing in,” said Chris Dwyer, an associate at LKMA and the project manager for the Rocketship Park renovations. “The park now gives kids of all ages and abilities the opportunity to play and enjoy such an iconic landmark. We are thrilled at such an honor by ACEC.”

The 4,000-square-foot playground was originally built in the 1970s. The idea to overhaul the footprint can be traced as far back as 2013, after vandals destroyed some of the previous equipment. In addition to extra security features, this prompted the village to look into repairs, according to a previous interview with former village trustee Adrienne Kessel. She is chair of the Treasure Your Parks campaign, a group which spearheaded the upgrade project.

“It began with a conversation about adding better lighting, but that wasn’t the answer,” she said. “When we went to fix the damaged pieces, we weren’t able to find them. The equipment was obsolete.”

Village Mayor Margot Garant said she was glad to hear the park would be recognized for its design.

“The recognition for Rocketship is really meaningful because not only is the park beautiful, it was done to allow inclusion for all children to have access,” she said. “So we made it bigger and more beautiful than even we could have imagined it. I am so pleased that everyday residents and visitors can continue to revisit and build their strong family memories at this beautiful family park.”

LKMA served as the sole engineering consultant and site surveyor, and proposed schematic site plans that were eventually developed and used.

“Equipment selection emphasized a meaningful play design, allowing children the opportunity to choose how they play, while seeing connections with play and choice,” LKMA’s announcement of the award said. “A ‘choose your own adventure’ engages children in the five elements essential to meaningful play: physical, cognitive, social, sensory and communicative. The site plan was arranged to maximize parental supervision with clean lines of sight from dispersed seating areas.”

The park has been under video surveillance since it reopened in June and Garant asked that all those who visit the park help ensure it remains clean, free of graffiti, vandalism and litter.

The total cost of the project was almost $900,000, with $500,000 coming from taxpayer dollars, $265,000 from a New York State parks grant and about $120,000 from donations, according to Barbara Sakovich, assistant to the mayor.

Nicole Christian, grant writer for PJV, helps fund projects by finding hidden dollars. Photo from HB Solutions website

Though the hills might not be saturated with valuable nuggets like the gold rush days of old, hidden money exists for municipalities in the form of state and federal grants for countless types of projects.

For the last eight years, Nicole Christian, a grant writer for HB Solutions consulting services, has been finding hidden dollars for Port Jefferson Village and, as a result, has helped to progress projects that might otherwise not have gone forward. Since 2014, Christian, a 2015 “Forty Under 40” honoree by Long Island Business News, has found more than $3 million to put toward a wide range of projects that have or will positively affect the lives of members of the community.

Her work has been instrumental to advancing the village’s upper Port Jeff revitalization plan. Dubbed “Uptown Funk,” the multiphased project has been building momentum since 2014 and aims to transform blighted properties, better connect residents to work, make the streets more walkable and vibrant, and provide an overall better place to live in the area of the village on Main Street between North Country Road and the Long Island Rail Road train tracks, according to Village Mayor Margot Garant,

At the beginning of 2017, Christian secured $500,000 from Empire State Development through its Restore New York Communities Initiative, and a grant of $250,000 from Suffolk County as part of its Jumpstart program, for transit-based improvements around the Long Island Rail Road Port Jeff train station. In December, the village learned it had received another $350,000 Restore New York grant from the state to go towards the upper Port plan, bringing the total Uptown Funk grant money up to $850,000.

“I think Uptown Funk is going to skyrocket this village through its stratosphere,” Christian said in a previous interview. “It’s a destination for young people, families, tourists. I think it’s a fantastic investment for the community, and I think the state knows that too.”

Garant said Christian has been an asset for Port Jeff Village because she is highly personable and understands the community and its needs.

“When it comes to trying to find money, you’ve got to squeeze every ounce of water out and turn over every stone, and that’s what Nicole does,” Garant said. “When you don’t have it in your budget it’s so important to have that lifeline to have someone help you find the money.”

Christian’s impact on the village in 2017 was certainly not limited to development projects. The village closed the iconic Rocketship Park for renovations and began a months-long refurbishment, partly funded by a $265,000 grant from New York State’s parks department. Garant said the village applied for the money multiple times, and prior to the third trip to present their qualifications for the grant, the mayor admitted her hopes were not high.

“We went three times to get money for Rocketship Park and the third time I was like, ‘Guys, I’m not going, why would I go, they never gave us any money the first time,’” she said. “Nicole said, ‘No, you’ve got to go.’”

The village still didn’t get the award, but finished close enough that when the applicant who came in first returned the money, Port Jeff’s application had been next in line.

“I think when you’re a grant writer you have to be persistent,” Garant said.

From left, Leg. Kara Hahn and Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant check out the selection of books in the new Little Free Library at Rocketship Park with a young reader. Photo by Kevin Redding

‘Today a reader, tomorrow a leader’ — Margaret Fuller

By Kevin Redding

Port Jefferson’s newest minilibrary has liftoff at Rocketship Park. In a partnership between the Port Jefferson Free Library and the village board, a Little Free Library was recently installed at the family-friendly park, where adults, teens and children alike can reach into the purple-painted wooden box to pick up or drop off a wide array of books. An official ribbon cutting was held last Thursday, Sept. 28.

The library, shaped like a tiny schoolhouse and currently stocked with children’s titles like “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” was built from a kit and installed by Stonegate Landscape. It stands as Port Jefferson Free Library’s second book exchange program, with the other unveiled in front of the William Miller House on North Country Road in Miller Place last month.

From left, PJFL Director Tom Donlon, Leg. Kara Hahn, Mayor Margot Garant and Chris Graf, president, Stonegate Landscape in East Setauket. Photo by Kevin Redding

Director of Port Jefferson Free Library Tom Donlon led elected officials, including Mayor Margot Garant and Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for what the mayor called a fantastic addition to the town.

“I’m so happy that we can provide some reading for our young children because I think reading a book goes a long way to helping educate them and bring them into the world,” Garant said with giant scissors in hand. “[It’ll make for] a true sense of community, and that’s what makes our village great.”

Donlon said when the park reopened in June, he and the library’s board members knew it was a perfect spot for book-sharing for all ages. “We have families that come here and while the kids are running around, mom or dad or the adult with them might want something to read,” he said. “Giving back to the community is our goal. And you never know what you’re going to find in there … and what adventures await.”

Rocketship Park is located in the Village of Port Jefferson on Maple Place between Mill Creek Road and Barnum Avenue, across from the tennis courts. For more information, call 631-473-0022.

More to come as next location is planned for Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson

Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society Vice President Antoinette Donato unveils the new Little Free Library in front of the William Miller house in Miller Place. Photo by Kevin Redding

Outside the oldest house in Miller Place sits the newest public library on the North Shore.

What might initially appear to be a newly installed, red-and-white mailbox in front of the William Miller House at 75 North Country Road is actually a Little Free Library, where residents of all ages are encouraged to pick up or drop off a book while on the go.

The mini library, which is shaped like a tiny schoolhouse and currently holds between 15 and 20 books ranging from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to “Goodnight Moon,” stands as the most recent free book exchange program to sprout up on Long Island, with others installed at West Meadow Beach and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai last year.

Books inside the new Little Free Library in front of the WIlliam Miller House in Miller Place were donated by the Port Jefferson and Comsewogue libraries. Photo by Kevin Redding

The idea for the book-sharing movement, which has spanned more than 70 countries around the world since the first little library was built by Todd Bol of Wisconsin in tribute to his mother in 2009, is that with a quick turn of a wooden latch, it can increase book access for readers of all ages and backgrounds and to inspire a love of reading and community connection.

Members of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society unveiled their new addition Aug. 9 to a large crowd of smiling faces, which included residents, elected officials and representatives from Port Jefferson Free Library and Comsewogue Public Library. The two libraries partnered with the historical society to buy and sponsor it.

“I woke up this morning and I had the Mister Roger’s song in my head, ‘Oh what a beautiful day in the neighborhood,’” said Antoinette Donato, vice president of the historical society, during the ceremony. “This little library is symbolic of how our community comes together … and a community is strengthened when all the different organizations work well together. So when you reach into that box to put something in or take something out, please remember that you’re also reaching into your community. I hope it’s a very active library.”

Tom Donlon, director of Port Jefferson Free Library, said when he and Debbie Engelhardt, director of Comsewogue Public Library, decided to partner up to bring the program to the Miller Place community, they immediately knew the perfect place for it.

Jack Soldano, who has been selling his comic book collection this summer to raise money to help fix the historic William Miller House, was the first to add to the new Little Free Library’s collection. Photo by Kevin Redding

“Right away we thought of the historical society,” Donlon said. “The society really meshes with our libraries’ goals of education, entertainment, enlightenment and lifelong learning and investigation. We love that it’s here, it’s a great spot and I think it’s certainly going to serve the community very well.”

Engelhardt called little free libraries a beautiful concept.

“Anybody can use it as much as they want and it’s always a mystery when you open that box — you never know what you’ll find,” Engelhardt said. “There are no late fees, no guilt, no stress. If you want to keep a book, you can … we are pleased to partner with the historical society to bring this gem. The books inside will move you and teach you. We say that libraries change lives and, well, little free libraries can too.”

She added that these mini libraries have also proven to energize the spot they’re put in. For the historical society, whose William Miller House is nearly 300 years old and needs between $18,000 and $28,000 to renovate a collapsing roof and a total $100,000 for a full-house repair, any amount of attention to their cause is welcomed.

“What this does for us is it puts us in the limelight again, so that people are aware of us, they come and visit us and are sensitive to our needs,” Donato said.

Fittingly, although the box was stocked with books already donated by the libraries, the first batch of reading material from the public came from 12-year-old Jack Soldano, who spent the summer raising more than $1,000 for the historical society with his very own comic book stand.

Soldano contributed issues of Captain America, Star Wars and Power Rangers comics to join such titles as “Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, “The Stranger” by Harlan Coben and the Grimm fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Over at Heritage Park, next to the Shack concession stand by the playground, the red-painted little free library currently contains more youth-oriented reads. Several books within “The Babysitters Club” series and Walt Disney’s “Fun-To-Learn Library” collection, as well as “Sable” by Karen Hesse, are available for the taking.

Manorville resident Megan Murray, who was at the park with her young daughter, said she’s been a fan of the initiative since a few popped up in her area.

“The concept is great because it’s for everybody, rich or poor,” Murray said. “It’s really sad that so many kids don’t have access to books and I think it’s wonderful.”

Currently there are plans for a little free library to be installed at Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson next month.

By Alex Petroski

It was like Christmas in June for kids in Port Jefferson, as an iconic village park is finally ready for a new launch. Rocketship Park, located on Maple Place between Mill Creek Road and Barnum Avenue, had been closed since the fall for a massive renovation project that saw funds pour in from private donations, fundraising events, grants and taxpayer dollars. At least 200 kids lined the fences June 15 eagerly waiting for the official ribbon cutting to try out the new equipment for the first time, which now includes a tree house, pirate ship and of course, a rocket ship.

The refurbishment effort was done thanks in large part to a three and a half year mission by the Port Jefferson “Treasure Your Parks” campaign, an initiative created to help give a facelift to the more than 50-year-old Clifton H. Lee Memorial Park, which has commonly been known as Rocketship Park. Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket); Jennifer Martin, a representative from Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright’s (D-Port Jefferson Station) office; the 2016 New York State championship runner up Port Jefferson High School girls basketball team, and droves of excited local kids joined members of the Port Jeff Village board and Mayor Margot Garant to cut the ribbon and officially open the park for the summer.

Garant also recognized two Port Jeff kids, Cooper and McKenna Negus, who collected change in a jar and periodically went to village hall to contribute to the fundraising efforts for the park. The mayor said she planned to use the money to purchase a tile to commemorate the generous young donors.

“Everyday we were building this park we’d have kids hanging out on the outside of the fence saying ‘when can we come and play,’” Garant said. “It’s all about the kids right?”

Garant added the park will be under video surveillance and asked that all those who visit the park help to ensure it remains clean, and free of graffiti, vandalism and litter.

The total cost of the project was about $900,000, with $500,000 coming from taxpayer dollars, $265,000 from a New York State parks grant and about $120,000 from donations, according to Barbara Sakovich, assistant to the mayor.

This version was updated June 16 to include the total cost and breakdown of funding for the park renovation. It was edited June 19 to correct that it will still be officially called Clifton H. Lee Memorial Park and commonly referred to as Rocketship Park.

On April 8, Heritage Park in Mount Sinai and Rocketship Park in Rocky Point held their annual egg hunts.

During the sold out event at Heritage Park, children had the chance to take a picture with the Easter Bunny and enjoy refreshments following the hunt.

At Rocketship Park on Hallock Landing Road, children got their face painted and took part in various arts and crafts while listening to music provided by Parties by Ziggy during the event.