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Route 112

Prospective local officeholders participate in a Meet the Candidates forum hosted by the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association in 2023. Photo courtesy Joan Nickeson

Major party candidates for three local offices went before the public Tuesday evening, Sept. 26, for a Meet the Candidates forum at the Comsewogue Public Library hosted by the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association.

Brookhaven Town Council

Vying for Brookhaven’s 1st Council District, which encompasses Port Jeff Station/Terryville, incumbent Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) is defending his seat against Republican Party challenger Gary Bodenburg, a special education teacher at South Huntington School District.

Kornreich was first elected to the Town Board in 2021 following a special election for the vacated seat of former Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station).

Kornreich served on the Three Village Central School District Board of Education and as president of the Three Village Civic Association. His professional background is in construction and real estate finance.

“I understand the economics of what drives boom and bust cycles, and how to evaluate our current stock of real estate and what can make a project viable,” he said.

Bodenburg, along with his role as an educator, has conducted local advocacy work for at-risk youth, serving on several committees within the Comsewogue School District.

“I have always been somebody that is willing to help and put my hat in the ring with anything that goes on in our community, and I’m looking forward to expressing that in this capacity as well,” he said.

On land use, Bodenburg objected to the trend of developing new apartment complexes in and around PJS/T.

“I do believe there’s a need for housing,” he said. “Once I’m able to get involved in it and I can see a little deeper, a little clearer, it makes it a lot easier.”

Kornreich said the board needs to incentivize redevelopment, citing mixed-use development as a potential means for making redevelopment economically viable.

“If it were up to me, we wouldn’t add any new residences — I think we’re already at our carrying capacity,” the councilmember said. “We all know traffic is a nightmare, but in order to revitalize these areas, we have to be able to make it work financially for the developers.”

Given some local concerns over traffic impacts from new developments along the Route 112 corridor, Kornreich supported commissioning a comprehensive traffic study to assess interactions between proposed developments.

He warned against the trend of privately commissioned impact assessments. “I think at the town, we have to stop allowing people to just hire their own experts to tell [us] what they’re being paid to say,” the incumbent said.

Bodenburg acknowledged the value of impact assessments, though he warned against studying at the expense of progress.

“I think we need to fully evaluate anything that we’re doing, but there does come a point in time where we can’t continue to just study things and we have to make actual action,” he advised.

When pressed on growing density pressures within the hamlet, Bodenburg said he has been coordinating with a real estate developer and revitalizer interested in working with the town to develop properties and expand affordable housing opportunities for residents.

“We have to be a little more creative than we have been in the past, and I think that that is something that we need to look into,” he said.

Kornreich said the region offers limited residential opportunities for young families with an “insatiable” demand for affordable housing.

“The way that we can address this at the town level is pretty straightforward,” he said. “We have control over local zoning … so we could offer incentives to developers who are going to put affordable units in their development.”

But, he added, “For these projects to work, that’s where we need the state and federal government to do things like providing low-interest loans.”

Suffolk County Legislature

Former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and former NY-1 congressional candidate Anthony Figliola (R-East Setauket) have both stepped forward to fill the now-vacant 5th District seat of former Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).

Figliola, whose professional background is in government relations with related advocacy work for the proposed electrification of the Port Jeff Branch line of the Long Island Rail Road, centered much of his platform around the electrification initiative.

Electrification would cause “less particulates going into the atmosphere,” he said. “Also for economic development, with the revitalization of Port Jefferson Station and all the [stations] along that from St. James all the way to Huntington.”

Englebright served in the county Legislature from 1983-92 and the state Assembly from 1992-2022. A geologist by training, he concentrated his platform around green energy and environmental protection.

“I sponsored most of the laws that set the stage for the creation of a renewable energy program for the state,” the former assemblyman said. “Green energy initiatives are critically important for our future.”

When asked about the future of the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site in Port Jeff Station, Englebright endorsed the idea of relocating the existing rail yard to the property while eliminating the grade crossing on Route 112.

“The whole idea of having a rail yard there and getting rid of the at-grade crossing on 112 is very much with the concept of having a workable and safe environment,” he added.

Figliola said the community is currently on a path toward a renaissance with the site’s eventual redevelopment. He emphasized the need for public input as these local transformations continue.

“Whatever happens, the community needs to be a part of it,” he said. “As your legislator, I will certainly take the lead in working with all the various agencies to ensure that your voice is heard.”

This year’s election comes amid a countywide debate over wastewater infrastructure. When asked about the Republican majority’s recent decision to block the advancement of the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act from reaching the November ballot, Figliola advocated for more sewer infrastructure.

“I am absolutely for finding dollars where available,” he said, adding, “If the voters so choose that they want to have an extra tax, that’s something that I would be for in the Legislature — for the voters to make that decision.”

Englebright objected to the Legislature’s reversal on wastewater, saying it jeopardizes tourism and agriculture, the county’s two largest industries.

“I do not believe that at the last minute — at the 11th hour — this initiative should not have been given to the public,” he said.

Town supervisor

In a race to succeed outgoing Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) — who is running against businessman Dave Calone (D) for Suffolk County executive — Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville) is squaring off against SUNY Old Westbury adjunct professor Lillian Clayman.

Panico was a practicing attorney and served as senior deputy Suffolk County clerk before entering town government. He served on the Brookhaven Planning Board before his election in 2010 as councilman for the 6th Council District, an office he has held ever since.

Clayman is a Port Jefferson resident who served three terms as mayor of Hamden, Connecticut, before becoming an organizer for health care union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and later as chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. She currently teaches labor and industrial relations.

Clayman indicated that effective public administration starts with proper personnel decisions. “I surround myself with people who I think are smarter than I am,” she noted.

To streamline the town’s existing administrative structure, she proposed revamping the Building Department, citing voluminous paperwork and other complications within the permitting process.

While Panico referred to himself as “very similar to Supervisor Romaine,” he suggested some differences in administrative approach.

He proposed staffing his administration with “people who want to work, people who care about their jobs, no one looking to clock time or [collect a] pension and people who are honest.”

Each candidate was questioned on how his or her administration would handle the impending closure of the Brookhaven Town Landfill, located on Horseblock Road, and the precipitating loss of public revenue for the town budget.

Panico supported a more aggressive recycling campaign with greater pressure on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for regional sustainable planning.

“What we need to do is enhance recycling and get the DEC to go forward with a comprehensive plan to promote markets for recycling,” he said.

While acknowledging that land use is the primary function of the town government, Clayman said the town has a secondary responsibility to promote environmental protection.

“Brookhaven is supposed to protect the air that we breathe,” she said. “Brookhaven is supposed to protect the people who live around the landfill, who have since 1974 been living with that garbage.”

She added that expanding composting activities within the town would reduce the waste volume entering the landfill.

Voters will decide on these candidates in just over a month: Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Graphic courtesy Valentin Staller

During a meeting of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce on Monday, June 20, the developer of the Jefferson Plaza project presented his vision for its future.

Valentin Staller, vice president of the Hauppauge-based real estate firm Staller Associates, delivered a presentation on the proposed redevelopment of Jefferson Plaza, a property that has been in the family for over half a century.

The history of Jefferson Plaza

Jefferson Plaza shopping center is located on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. The property was first developed in the late 1950s by Erwin and Max Staller, Valentin’s grandfather and great-grandfather, respectively. For a period, the shopping center was a popular and prosperous commercial hub serving the Port Jeff Station and Terryville communities. However, the plaza experienced its share of setbacks as the area underwent a steep decline.

“The whole commercial corridor began to suffer its challenges,” Staller said. “Certain negative elements within the commercial corridor made it really hard to do business.” He added, “Unfortunately, the pandemic only exacerbated things.”

In 2014, the Town of Brookhaven released the Port Jefferson Station Commercial Hub Study, a 135-page document outlining a comprehensive plan to revitalize the area, emphasizing mixed-use commercial and residential zoning with pedestrian walkability. After being approached by, and entering into negotiations with, the Town of Brookhaven, Staller Associates began to seriously consider redeveloping the property. 

Under the current plan, the site would include a main street, food hall, fitness center, apartments and more. Graphics courtesy Valentin Staller

A redevelopment plan

Staller’s plan includes 49,400 square feet of commercial space, including restaurants and a proposed food hall. The plan accommodates 280 apartments “with a heavy skew toward one-bedrooms.” Staller also said 80% of the apartments will be offered at market rate while the remaining 20% will be designated for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, “a tremendously underserved community as it relates to housing on Long Island,” he added.

When the developers began planning for the redevelopment of the property, they quickly entered into conversations with Suffolk County about extending sewers into downtown Port Jeff Station.

“We recognized immediately that for any redevelopment to occur, whether it’s this property or any other property in the corridor, a connection to sewers is vital,” Staller said.

The goal of the project, according to Staller, is “to create a dynamic, mixed-use suburban environment.” The developers have already undergone several iterations of their site plan with the Brookhaven Planning Department. 

Under the current site plan, the development “is designed to create a much more neighborhood business feel than what exists today and create a more walkable downtown type of environment,” he said. There are also plans to accommodate a fitness and retail center in the plaza. 

At the core of the project is a proposed main street that would include retail stores, restaurants and a food hall. The main street would be distinguished by its “exceptional landscaping and distinct pavers” that are both pedestrian-friendly and promote outdoor dining. 

“We want to be able to close it off for events,” Staller said. “We want to work with the Terryville Fire Department so that we can have things like farmers markets, Oktoberfest, winter holiday markets and St. Patrick’s Day right on our main street.”

Opposite the main street, there are plans to have what Staller calls “the innovation center.” This venue would serve as a gathering space for engineers, entrepreneurs and programmers.

“We want this to be sort of a mini economic development hub right here in this community,” he said. “We want to bring in Stony Brook [University]’s growing engineering department.”

At the south end of the site, Staller proposes to build apartment complexes that are “designed to be tucked away into the site” to avoid pushing up against and obstructing existing neighborhoods in the area. 

Three-dimensional rendering of the proposed redevelopment project at Jefferson Plaza. Graphic courtesy Valentin Staller

Impact on the community

Staller believes the development will stimulate economic activity in the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville community. In order to qualify for a market-rate apartment, Staller said, a prospective tenant must first demonstrate that he or she makes three times the rent before income taxes. 

“If you add all of that together, with 80% [of the apartments] at market rate, there’s a lot of disposable income that is concentrated in this community,” he said. This disposable income, he suggests, will inject $7 million per year into the local economy. 

Jefferson Plaza is uniquely situated near several major employment hubs on Long Island. Among these are Mather and St. Charles hospitals and Stony Brook University. Staller believes that this redevelopment plan will work due to the demand for housing that these centers generate.

Staller summarized his vision as follows: “We’re talking about a major investment in the built environment with purpose-built outdoor dining, great building materials, high quality architecture and landscaping.”

The developers are still at least two years away before they can begin building. In the meantime, there remains much to be worked out with Brookhaven and Suffolk County.

To read about how the local civic association has embraced the redevelopment project, see the TBR News Media March 31 story, “Reimagining Jefferson Plaza.”

Photo by Colleen Kelly

By Jennifer Corr 

Chants like “My body, my choice” echoed through big cities like Washington, D.C., and Manhattan Saturday as part of the Rally for Abortion Justice, and that same passion made it to what is known as Resistance Corner at the junction of Route 347 and Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. 

The national Rally for Abortion Justice movement, according to the Women’s March Network, comes after comes after the Supreme Court’s rejection of an emergency request to block the Texas Heartbeat Act. 

Coming into effect Sept. 1, the bill bans abortion at the point of the “first detectable heartbeat,” which could occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy — a point that many are just finding out they’re pregnant. At least 13 other states failed to attempt enacting similar bans after being blocked by courts. 

“I believe in a women’s right to choose,” said protester Bryan Campbell, who was pushing a stroller occupied by his infant. “I think it’s ridiculous what’s going on in Texas and I’m here to support the women in my life: my partner, my friends, my daughter. This is for their future and for everyone’s future.” 

Campbell was one of hundreds of men, women and children who gathered on the busy corner, holding signs in protest of such laws. Some even took to dressing up as characters from the “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a best-selling novel and TV series that depicts a totalitarian society that treats women as property. 

Donna Reggio was among those dressed in red robes and white bonnet. 

“It’s a dystopian fantasy that’s no longer a fantasy,” she said. “We’re going backward with women’s rights and we’re here to show that we don’t want to go there anymore.” 

Before Roe v. Wade — a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 that protected a women’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restriction — only more affluent women had access to safe and legal abortions. However, it is estimated that between the 1950s and ’60s, the number of illegal abortions, either self-induced or done through often dangerous or even deadly procedures, ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million a year.

Rally organizer Shoshana Hershkowitz, of Long Island Social Justice Action Network and Suffolk Progressives, was on Resistance Corner Saturday to make sure her daughter did not grow up with fewer rights than she was able to enjoy throughout her lifetime. 

“Our own congressman [Lee Zeldin (R-NY1)] tried to overturn Roe in the past year,” she said. “We can’t just think of this as a somewhere-else situation. It was happening right here.” 

That’s why the LISJAN and Suffolk Progressives joined with grassroot organizations like Long Island Progressive Coalition, Long Island Activists, New HOUR for Women & Children – LI, Show Up Long Island, NY02 Indivisible, Planned Parenthood, among others, to prevent impediments in a woman’s reproductive rights from happening anywhere — including here in New York. 

“We just put out the word to the different Facebook groups and [other various groups] who are invested in keeping our rights and getting women in office,” said Kat Lahey of Long Island Rising, adding that several speakers including Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) were also in attendance. “You can see that there’s a high demand to keep women’s reproductive rights.” 

But not all were in support of the movement. Along with some disapproving remarks made by drivers who were passing by, one woman stood on the other side of the highway holding a sign, with photos of babies, that read “Please love me, I love you.” 

The woman would not disclose her name, however she did share that she goes to her local Planned Parenthood every Saturday morning to pray. She said she was especially upset about New York State’s allowance of late-term abortions. 

Yet the 2019 law, passed on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, only allows late-term abortions when the mother’s health is in danger. 

When asked about the counterprotester, Hershkowitz said that she was more than welcome to cross the road and speak with herself and other organizers. “But I’m not changing my mind,” she said. 

It was not the first time that groups like New HOUR and LISJAN gathered on the corner, as they also showed up for issues ranging from gun safety to the Trump-era ban on refugees from majority-Muslim countries. 

“Our community has come quite accustomed to gathering in this space and standing up for what we believe in,” Hershkowitz said. “So really, it’s like we almost have muscle memory because of having to gather here for so many years.”

Route 112 was proposed for a bike route connecting the Port Jeff and Fire Island ferry. Photo by Kyle Barr

The New York State Department of Transportation is proposing to establish a bicycle route on Route 112 in partnership with the Town of Brookhaven. The resolution was passed unanimously 7-0 Jan. 16.  

Bicycle Route 112 would be a signed on-road bike route between the Port Jefferson Ferry on the North Shore and the Fire Island Ferry on the South Shore. 

The NYSDOT has proposed to Brookhaven that it would utilize certain portions of Town roadways to maximize the safety of the bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists instead of using segments of Route 112 that are unsuitable for safe bicycling. 

A representative from the NYSDOT declined to comment on the proposed bike route stating that the Town and agency plan to have further discussions later in the year on the matter.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said the addition of the bike route, which would begin in her district, will be a positive one. 

“The development of a bicycle route between the Port Jefferson Ferry and the Fire Island Ferry is a positive infrastructure addition to the community for multiple reasons including improved safety for our cyclists,” she said in a statement. “To create greater connectivity between the two ferries and the North and South shores is an added benefit that will increase access and encourage more people to travel between one ferry to the other via bicycle.”

As part of the plan, the NYSDOT would fabricate and install all signs associated with the bike route at no expense to the Town. Brookhaven will periodically inspect the signs and inform the NYSDOT of any replacement signs required and the NYSDOT will fabricate the replacement bicycle route signs. 

Bike Route 112 would utilize Columbia Street from the Town boundary at the Long Island Rail Road to New York Route 25A at Hallock Avenue; Wincoram Way between NY 25 and NY 112; Granny Road between NY 112 and Old Medford Avenue; Old Medford Avenue between Granny Road and Katy Street; Katy Street between Old Medford Avenue and Weidners Lane; Weidners Lane between Katy Street and Shaber Road; Shaber Road between Weidners Lane and Suffolk County Road 83; North Ocean Avenue between the Sunrise Highway South Service Road and the Village of Patchogue boundary line at Lakewood Street.

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The corner of Route 112 and Route 347 in Port Jeff Station has hosted enough protests that those who have come out every year to demonstrate have dubbed it an unofficial name, “resistance corner.”

On Jan. 19 members of that resistance came out for the 7th Annual Long Island Rising V-Day Flashmob and the 2019 Long Island Women’s March Rally and protested for hours despite the impending cold. Holding signs representing a smorgasbord of progressive talking points, from women’s reproductive rights to ending the current government shutdown, many of those who attended said while the U.S. House of Representatives and New York State Senate turning blue are good changes, major change needs to come from the White House.

“Today we celebrate the women’s wave that stormed the face of the government, and we come out here to show the world in solidarity against a misogynist right wing agenda to demand change,” said Port Jefferson resident and protest organizer Kathy Greene Lahey.

“We come out here to show the world in solidarity against a misogynist right wing agenda to demand change.”

— Kathy Greene Lahey

Lahey works for Long Island Rising, a progressive advocacy group that has helped organize the three Port Jeff protests as well as several others across the Island. The group also collected women’s health products to be distributed to those in need. The protest was held in conjunction with two other women’s marches in Manhattan.

In 2017, after the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R), thousands upon thousands went to Washington, D.C., to protest the 45th president’s inauguration with many other smaller protests popping up all across the country. Since then, the protests have been exasperated by controversy over alleged anti-Semitism among one of the Women’s March original national leaders. The original Port Jeff Station protest in 2017, held in conjunction with the national Women’s March movement, drew a crowd of several thousand. The protest has dwindled to a few hundred this year, yet many of those who came out to protest were as adamant as ever.

Some dressed up for the event. Rachel Cara wore the red shawl and headpiece from the web television series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“I’m really upset about the treatment of women, minorities and the LGBT community,” Cara said. “Especially recently with the separation of families, Christine Blasey Ford’s testimonies [about then U.S. Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh] and how she was ignored by Congress.”

Lisa Jackson and her 15-year-old daughter Gloriana attended the protest. Gloriana, who’s in a wheelchair, held a sign that read, “I March to the streets ‘cause I’m willing and I’m able …’”

“It’s a very, very crazy administration, and we can’t have him anymore in our White House,” Jackson said. “We can’t have this divisiveness and separation and misogyny that’s rampant. She should be growing up where her rights are as equal as everyone else’s.”

 

Paul Mauro’s mugshot. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County police arrested a man March 9 for allegedly robbing a Coram 7-Eleven in February.

A man entered 7-Eleven, located at 1671 Route 112, on Feb. 26 at approximately 1:20 a.m. and approached the counter as if he was going to purchase merchandise. When the clerk began to ring up the items, the suspect punched the victim in the face, knocking him down to the ground. The victim hit his head on shelving and then the floor, knocking him unconscious. The suspect then hopped over the counter and stole cash from the draw and other items before he fled on foot southbound on Route 112.

An investigation by 6th Squad detectives led to the arrest of Paul Mauro, 31, of Rocky Point,  at approximately 1:50 p.m. at the 6th Precinct.

Mauro was charged with second-degree robbery and  with an active parole warrant. Mauro was held overnight at the 6th Precinct.

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File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police 6th Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that critically injured a pedestrian in Port Jefferson Station Oct. 17.

A man was crossing Route 112, south of Joline Road, when he was struck by a southbound 2010 Honda Civic at approximately 5:30 a.m.

The pedestrian was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was admitted in critical condition. The pedestrian’s identification is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The driver of the Honda, Edward Ortega, 43, of Islip, was not injured.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police 6th Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that seriously injured a construction worker in Coram Aug. 14.

Gloria Taylor was holding a sign to slow or stop traffic on the east side of northbound Route 112, which was under construction, when a 2000 Isuzu box truck traveling northbound drifted to the right near Pauls Path at about noon. The truck struck Taylor, 55, of Islip. She was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital in critical condition.

The driver of the Isuzu, Dominick Sconzo, 19, of Selden, was not injured. A safety check was conducted on the truck, owned by Casa Piazza, located at 509 North Bicycle Path in Port Jefferson Station.

Danny Bonilla Zavala, 19, of Selden, was charged with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Police have arrested 19-year-old Danny Bonilla Zavala for driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene after a man was killed in a Port Jefferson Station motor vehicle crash on Aug. 21.

Bob Hidalgo was driving a 2011 Toyota Corolla southbound on Route 112 near Sagamore Hills Drive when his vehicle was struck by a 1995 Nissan Maxima traveling southbound on Route 112 at 5:10 p.m. Bonilla Zavala, the driver of the Maxima, of Selden, fled on foot and was apprehended a short time later by Sixth Precinct Police Officer Matthew Cameron.

Hidalgo, 31, of Coram, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician’s assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. His wife, Taisha Hidalgo, 30, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Bonilla Zavala was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson for treatment of minor injuries he sustained in the crash. Major Case Unit detectives charged Bonilla Zavala with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death. Bonilla Zavala was held at the Sixth Precinct and is scheduled for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip today.

The vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is continuing. Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact Major Case Unit detectives at 631-852-6555.

This version correctly identifies Danny Bonilla Zavala, who was arrested and charged with a DWI and leaving the scene of an accident. He initially misidentified himself to police. Additional charges are pending.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives and Sixth Precinct Crime Section officers are investigating multiple incidents of criminal mischief that occurred on Aug. 10.

Approximately eight vehicles and one residential garage door were vandalized with white spray paint some time around 2 a.m. The markings included tags related to the Young Guns gang, which is associated with the Bloods. The vandalism occurred on Himmel Circle, Hawkins Path, Route 112, Avalon Pines Dr. and Iroquois Ave. in Coram.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652, Sixth Precinct Crime Section at 631-854-8626 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.