Tags Posts tagged with "Station Street"

Station Street

Mayor Margot Garant has responded to concerns about seating availability at Port Jefferson train station.

The village mayor believes the issue of seating availability cannot be divorced from public safety. “We were getting a lot of complaints about the homeless population,” Garant said. “They were using the off and on ramps and sleeping in them. And our ridership — whether it was people from Port Jeff Station or Port Jeff village — they were complaining to us about the safety at that time of getting on and off the train, especially in the early mornings and in the evening hours.”

During the 2019 redesign of the Port Jefferson train station, the village had discussed both seating availability and public safety with Long Island Rail Road. During those deliberations, the mayor said LIRR had pitched an idea to add redesigned benches to prevent individuals from sleeping on them.

“The discussion was held at that time about what the renovation plans would look like and I believe they had commented to us that they were introducing some of these other types of benches which would allow for seating but don’t allow for overnight sleeping,” she said, adding, “Since then our complaints have gone down, I would say, like 85%.”

‘So, yes, seating should be made available if they can’t sit inside the booth or they want to sit outside, but it may be the type of seating that does not allow for you to lie down on it and that’s for a reason.’  — Margot Garant

Despite the decline in complaints from residents, there remains the problem of user-friendliness at the station for some riders. As reported last week, there are only two outdoor seating areas at the station, which can present an unnecessary obstacle for people with disabilities and the elderly.

Garant acknowledged that greater accommodations at the station should be made to ensure these populations can rest comfortably while waiting for a train.

“I feel for the complications that people have,” she said. “So, yes, seating should be made available if they can’t sit inside the booth or they want to sit outside, but it may be the type of seating that does not allow for you to lie down on it and that’s for a reason.”

The quantity and style of seating at the station is largely determined by LIRR, according to the mayor. The decision to add armrests along the benches, however, was a coordinated decision between LIRR and the village to curb sleeping at the station.

“Yes, there was a conversation with respect to that because we’re trying to prevent people from using the station as a sleeping area,” Garant said. “There is a significant, conscious effort in making sure that when our ridership gets up there in the early morning to take the train to work, they are not having to step over people or deal with a certain population up there that’s going to panhandle and make them feel unsafe. That was a conversation that we had.”

Garant added that user-friendliness has not been part of her agenda primarily because she does not see the public demand to alter the present layout of the station. 

“In three years, nobody has come to us at a public meeting or raised this as a concern of theirs that they feel that the station is not user-friendly for them,” she said. “It’s not something that was brought to our attention.” She added, “Since we worked with Pax Christi and the station was renovated, it’s been a very peaceful coexistence.”

Because the railroad is not a village property, the mayor also said she is limited in her ability to change the layout. However, she agreed that if this becomes a persistent problem for riders and residents, then she would coordinate with LIRR to remedy it.

“We will certainly discuss with the Long Island Rail Road — because it is not our property — what we can do together to try and alleviate that concern,” the mayor said. “I have to be honest, that concern has not come to my desk in over three years.”

Station Street

Questions surrounding the layout of the station will continue as the village embarks upon its latest project to introduce Station Street, a one-way thoroughfare that will begin at Main Street, cut east near the parking lot and end at Oakland Street. This planned terminal will mitigate congestion on Route 112 and facilitate traffic coming in and out of the station.

Three-dimensional renderings of the proposed Station Street plaza. Graphics generated by Campani & Schwarting, courtesy of Mayor Margot Garant’s office

The Station Street project has been in the works since 2016, when the village approved a master plan to revitalize Upper Port. As part of joint efforts between the village, the Town of Brookhaven, LIRR and the state Department of Transportation, the proposed Station Street would create a plaza that will help channel traffic from the main thoroughfare, alleviating congestion as drivers enter the village. 

“We did a traffic study,” Garant said. “The traffic study and the DOT comments said the more that we can get people off of Route 112 as they’re going toward the east to work at the hospital, the better.” She added, “That will eliminate a lot of the buildup, the people waiting in line to get into Port Jeff village.”

The plan, if implemented, would eliminate two traffic concerns for the village. First it would relocate the bus stop currently placed along the train crossing into Station Street, eliminating a public safety hazard for people getting off of the bus. Relocating the bus stop will “make it much safer, get the pedestrians off that train intersection there and alleviate the traffic,” Garant said.

The plans would also introduce a driveway into the train station parking lot, where taxis and cars will have a better drop-off and pickup area. Behind the scenes, these plans are falling into place, according to Garant. Although still without a developer, the plans have been put out to bid and contracts are expected soon.

“The bid is out right now for contractors to come in and do the installation of that street,” the mayor said. “Everything is lining up and the plan is coming to fruition as we speak.”

by -
0 1148
Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

With nine projects currently on Port Jefferson Village’s plate, the board decided July 20 to put over $2 million worth of beach, road and facility improvements into a 5-year bond anticipation note, known as a BAN, anticipating more surplus and grant funds in the following years.

The nine projects are worth $2,364,216, though all are in various phases of development and the end costs on several could change. With grants and the use of otherwise existing funds, the village anticipates it will need to pay off $1,241,416 over time.

Denise Mordente, the village treasurer, said a BAN is a 5 year loan that has lower interest rates than a normal bond, with this one being at 1 percent. In that time between when a BAN becomes a bond, the village is anticipating to have paid off significant portions of what they owe through the grant funds or other surpluses.

Projects include:

• $118,562 for the Highland Boulevard retaining wall project

• $519,745 (with a $450,000 grant) for an expansion of Public Works Facility and creation of a emergency command center

• $399,250 for the East Beach retaining wall

• $711,150 (with existing $350,000 bond and $350,000 grant) for Station Street project

• $141,056 (with a $49,000 grant) for Rocketship Park bathroom renovations

• $125,603 (with a $73,800 grant) for Village Hall bathroom renovations

• $180,000 for the Longfellow Road drainage project

• $814,069 (with an existing $300,000 bond, $200,000 grant and $314,069 in parking funds) for Barnum Parking Lot project

• $230,000 for the digitization of planning department records

For this year’s budget, Port Jefferson’s $9,992,565 in appropriations was a 3.19 percent decrease from last year’s total amount. Not only that, but Port Jeff’s settlement with LIPA over the assessed tax value of the Port Jefferson Power Station meant the village will need to raise $6,451,427 from taxes, a near $50,000 increase from last year.

Mayor Margot Garant said in previous years the village has had its surplus carried over from year to year, which has been used to fund these projects, especially when grants often take a significant amount of time before the village can be reimbursed on said projects. This year, with the loss of revenues from the first and second quarters due to the pandemic, the village anticipates much less of that surplus into next year.

“We have a lot of projects in the works, but what we don’t have is a lot of surplus money,” she said during the livestreamed July 20 meeting. “We are three years into the LIPA glidepath and last quarter losing $350,000 due to COVID, we still closed last year’s budget with a surplus, but it’s just not the money we used to have.”

The village is currently working to pay off two other existing bonds, while one other BAN on the village books will be made into a bond this August. That original $1,480,000 BAN was created in 2016 to finance the purchase of a vehicle for the department of public works, renovate Rocketship Park and purchase the dilapidated structure on Barnum Avenue that will soon become a new parking lot. As the BAN becomes a bond, that $1.4 million has been lowered down to $720,000, and will be a 2 percent interest rate. The first payment of $85,000 will be due in 2021.

The two older debt services the village is paying off include a 2011 and 2013 bond with a total outstanding debt of $4,040,000, which are expected to be paid off in 2029. Both of those bonds were refinanced in 2019, which saved the village about $37,000 a year, according to Mordente.

The village currently has an AA bond rating.

The board also tackled the difficult question of potential future staff layoffs due to the loss of funds this year. Trustee Bruce D’Abramo suggested the village makes active strides in its budget and potentially even borrow money to reduce layoffs.

“I would like to see us make up for the projected revenue from the courts, from parking and from the Village Center — I’d like to see us borrow that money and make our 2020-21 budget whole for the rest of the year and not lay any of our good employees off,” D’Abramo said.

Both Mordente, in speaking with the village’s financial advisers, and Village Attorney Brian Egan argued that current municipal finance laws wouldn’t allow for Port Jeff to borrow in that way. 

“Everyone’s in the same boat, they’re up against that same issue,” Egan said, who added the village will monitor bills in Albany that would allow municipalities to gain access to additional funds.

D’Abramo confirmed the village should be thinking about such in the future.

“I would like the board to think about this, so we can keep all of our employees,” he said.