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The Village of Port Jefferson

Fred Leute (right) presented certificates of commendation to code officers during a general meeting of the Port Jefferson Board of Trustees on Monday, Feb. 6. File photo by Raymond Janis

Fred Leute, the code enforcement chief in the Village of Port Jefferson, has been suspended with pay.

In an email, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden, the village’s public safety commissioner, confirmed Leute’s suspension. 

“Chief Leute has been suspended with pay until further notice,” Snaden said. “The department is running smoothly, and the village is safe and in good hands.”

The news comes just days after Leute delivered the department’s monthly report on public safety during a Board of Trustees meeting held Monday, Feb. 6. 

Mayor Margot Garant said in an interview that Leute “had the opportunity to resign, and if he didn’t resign, then he has been informed that he will be brought up on the [New York Civil Service Law Section] 75 disciplinary charges and potentially have a hearing.” 

When asked whether any particular incident precipitated the suspension, Garant declined to provide further details. “I cannot disclose anything that’s led up to this,” the mayor said. “He has rights. There’s a procedure to follow — being brought up on charges and having the hearing that he’s entitled to.”

Asked whether she or the village board had decided to suspend, Garant said, “The Board of Trustees was fully informed in exec session — and the labor attorney as well. There is no technical vote that has to happen until a hearing officer, after the hearing, makes a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.” She added, “Based on that recommendation, we will then take further action.”

Section 75

Village residents ‘have to assume that the person being charged is not guilty, and they shouldn’t expect any details until the hearing process has proven otherwise.’

— Ken Girardin

The state law requires that an employee covered under Section 75 “may not be removed or otherwise subjected to disciplinary penalty except for incompetency or misconduct shown after a hearing upon stated charges.” 

Ken Girardin, a fellow at the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy, has extensively researched the Section 75 disciplinary review process. In an interview, he said the guidelines have been in place for nearly a century, laying out the ground rules by which a public employee can be charged and disciplined.

Section 75 “sets a process where those charges can be laid out and answered in a court-like setting, where an employee can bring witnesses in his or her defense,” he said, offering elected officials “an opportunity to decide whether that discipline should be meted out.”

Girardin suggested a degree of confidentiality is embedded within the review process to protect the due process rights of public employees.

“With respect to the public, there’s always a tough balance between keeping the public apprised of what’s going on and respecting employees when charges have not yet been substantiated,” he said. “But with respect to transparency, the public has an absolute right to know whenever an employee is disciplined” following a Section 75 hearing.

Along with transparency is the matter of cost, which Girardin stated can quickly add up. Between the expense of paying a hearing officer, prosecutor, stenographer, potential witnesses and the suspended employee, he said municipalities must weigh the costs of going through with a hearing.

“The cost becomes a part of the calculation with employee discipline,” Girardin said, adding that mounting costs often increase the likelihood of a settlement, “the terms of which the public should know.”

Given the sensitive nature of the dispute, Girardin maintains that village officials are in a difficult bind, simultaneously weighing competing values of promoting transparency while respecting due process.

“To be fair, it puts them in a really weird spot,” he said. “Because it is a personnel matter, where someone is potentially still without fault here, it’s really hard for them to talk about it.”

For village residents who may wish to stay informed about a potential disciplinary proceeding, Girardin implored them to wait patiently and to respect the procedures put in place.

“They have to assume that the person being charged is not guilty, and they shouldn’t expect any details until the hearing process has proven otherwise,” he said.

A moment in village history

In Leute’s absence, deputy chief John Borrero has assumed the role of acting chief. Garant ensured that the transition within the code department was relatively smooth.

“Everything is pretty automated up there,” she said. “We’re… assuring the ladies and gentlemen of the code bureau that they’re going to continue to get the support that they have always gotten from the administration and from the executive team here.” 

Leute’s suspension also came shortly after Garant announced her retirement from public service. When asked if there was any connection between the two matters, she said they were unrelated.

“Unfortunately, this is the way the timing worked out,” the mayor said. “It is just a coincidence,” adding, “I wish that the timing had been altogether different.”


Photo by Aidan Johnson
By Aidan Johnson

Mather Hospital has recently come under fire after removing trees, including walking trails, to expand its northern parking lot among other improvements. 

On Sunday, Sept. 18, a small group of protesters gathered near the hospital parking lot, most of whom were from the local environmental group, EcoLeague, founded by Holly Fils-Aime with friends about a year and a half ago. 

Despite receiving objections from EcoLeague, the Audubon Society and multiple citizens, Mather Hospital went through with plans to clear its forest area. “They kind of just plowed ahead because I think they were pretty sure that the [village] planning board would approve it,” Fils-Aime said. [See The Port Times Record’s June 16 story, “Port Jeff planning board approves environmental review of Mather expansions.”]

Feeling that they had no other option, Fils-Aime, along with Ana Hozyainova, a recent candidate for village trustee, decided to sue the hospital and the Village of Port Jefferson. While Fils-Aime and Hozyainova hoped for a class-action lawsuit, they struggled to find others to join their cause, citing fear of consequences among residents. 

EcoLeague is also concerned that the cutting down of the woods will harm local species of animals and that Mather Hospital’s construction of a parking lot will act as a “heat sink,” raising local temperatures. 

Additionally, critics suggest adding impermeable surfaces may exacerbate the ongoing flooding issue in Port Jefferson. 

“As we take away permeable land from all of the hills around the village, the water runoff just runs down into the village harbor,” said Paul Ryan, another member of the protest. “With the combination of heavy rainstorms, along with less permeable land and sea [level] rise, we’re going to end up with more flooding in the village.”

In response to this criticism, Mather Hospital and Northwell Health released the following statement to TBR News Media:

“Mather Hospital and Northwell Health have thoroughly evaluated potential impacts of the project upon environmental resources in coordination with the Village of Port Jefferson as part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process. Regarding the removal of the trees, the hospital has committed $25,000 to the Village of Port Jefferson to plant trees within the village.

“With the completion of this project, our campus will foster an environment that represents the excellent care our physicians and team members provide. Especially in a pandemic era, we must ensure our infrastructure stays at the forefront of health care innovation and modernization. This expansion allows us to continue to serve our community at the top-tier level it deserves.”

The Village of Port Jefferson could not be reached for comment for this story.

— Photos by Aidan Johnson

Dragon boats were back in the water during the 8th annual Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Sponsored by The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, this event is a way to foster community togetherness. It also serves to promote Asian and Asian American culture and customs. 

Barbara Ransome, the chamber director of operations, said dozens of community organizations and business groups participated during the event, bringing together hundreds more community members. 

“This is six months in the making,” Ransome said. “It’s a tremendous amount of organizing, not only with the teams … but all of this entertainment. It’s wonderful to see this all going well, flawlessly and without a hitch.”

A total of 23 teams participated in the boat races. Among the organizations represented in the dragon boat competition were Stony Brook University, Suffolk County Police Asian Jade Society, Mather and St. Charles hospitals, and club teams from as far as New York City, among others.

The day kicked off with the ceremonial “Dotting of the Eyes.” During this ritual, team captains and local officials painted a dragon head. Among them was Port Jeff village trustee Rebecca Kassay, who described the rush of this ceremonial gesture. 

“It was a beautiful moment to dot the eyes and tongue and forehead of the dragon,” she said. “You feel connected with the people around you, and I think that’s something we’re missing these days. To be a part of something where you’re connecting with others is really special.” 

This year was Kassay’s first dragon boat festival. For her, the event was an opportunity to celebrate the community’s rich culture and diverse people. “I am so delighted to see so many people come out, the diversity of people here, and the enthusiasm of everyone here for this cultural event on Port Jefferson Harbor,” Kassay said.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) also made an appearance. He seemed overjoyed by the festival’s sizable turnout and the many people he encountered throughout the day.

“I’m excited to see our friends here, especially my friends from Long Island Youth Development and the Chinese School at Stony Brook,” he said. “We are excited to enjoy the awakened spirit of Port Jeff Harbor for another year.”

Kornreich also recognized the festival as a cause for celebration. He described the invaluable contributions of Asian Americans and their steadfast commitment to building a stronger community.

“The Asian American population here in our area is growing,” he said. “They have a huge presence and enrich our community so much with their culture and with their friendship, as with their dedication to the community.” He added, “They’re an amazing group of people, and we’re just excited to enjoy this day with them.”

The East Setauket-based LI Youth Development Inc., or LIYD, is a nonprofit organization founded in 2021. The organization is dedicated to supporting the community youth through extracurricular programs. LIYD instructors host weekly sessions to reinforce these skills regularly.

“We started as a way to help teach kids around our communities about different topics and subjects,” said LIYD member Luke Hou. “For example, we have a bunch of different clubs inside of LIYD that each teach their own thing, like tennis club, art club, music club and so on.”

David Wu, one of Hou’s team members, discussed how the lessons of teamwork and cooperation learned from the dragon boat competition harmonize with LIYD’s organizational principles. “Although this is our first year competing, through the practices it has been pretty fun,” he said.

Several dance and choral groups gave moving performances throughout the day. These often paid homage to the cultural and linguistic traditions of the performers.

In 1916, Joseph Vandall opened his own meat market on East Broadway at what was previously Lester Davis’ store. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Joseph Vandall was a well-known resident of Port Jefferson and one of the village’s prominent businessmen.

In 1892, he was hired as a butcher at Lester Davis’ Meat Market, which was located on today’s East Broadway. After purchasing Davis’ shop in 1916, Vandall found that he needed more space for his growing business.

Vandall bought land to construct a modern store in 1923 and broke ground the next year. The building was situated on the south side of East Broadway between the Harbor View Hotel and Smith’s Plumbing.

The brick and concrete structure, known locally as the Vandall Building, provided room for three shops on the first floor. A large meeting area, Vandall’s Hall, filled the entire second floor.

The Vandall Building opened in 1925 and was occupied on the ground level by Vandall’s Meats and Groceries, Lerch’s Music Shop and Azenaro’s Fruits and Vegetables.

While these establishments were important to the local economy, Vandall’s Hall quickly gave the building its identity. Soon a landmark in Port Jefferson, the hall became “the” place for a variety of events including dances, fundraisers, recitals, musicals and wedding receptions.

Among the booths and exhibits at Vandall’s Hall during the Second Industrial Show, March 1930. The event promoted local businesses, their products and services. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

In February 1929, local businessmen exhibited their products and services at Vandall’s Hall during the village’s first Industrial Show. Sponsored by the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, the event proved so popular that another show was held in March 1930. 

In one of the more unusual uses of the Vandall Building, a miniature golf course, requiring all of the space on the second floor, opened at the hall in November 1930 but closed the following year.

In 1932, the Port Jefferson Moose Lodge leased the hall and, in turn, rented the venue to other groups, reducing Vandall’s active involvement in the business.

Following Vandall’s retirement in 1940, the South Bay Consolidated Water Company moved its Port Jefferson office into what had been Vandall’s Meats and Groceries. The Suffolk County Highway Department rented the entire second floor for its quarters, ending the hall’s days as a place for social gatherings.

After Vandall’s death in July 1945, the Vandall Building was sold and rented to various tenants with one redefining the East Broadway property. 

Max “Mac” Snyder opened an Army & Navy Store in the Vandall Building on Sept. 3, 1954, days after Hurricane Carol wreaked havoc in Port Jefferson.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1912, Snyder had moved to Brooklyn in 1932 with his wife Florence. The couple and their children later relocated to Valley Stream before being drawn to Port Jefferson.

Snyder saw the village’s downtown near the waterfront as an ideal location for his store, believing that harbor improvements, suburbanization, population growth, road construction and cultural tourism would bring potential buyers to Port Jefferson.

The Vandall Building was located on the south side of East Broadway. (Left to right) Lerch’s Music Shop, Azenaro’s Fruits and Vegetables, and Vandall’s Meats and Groceries. Photo by Arthur S. Greene. Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive.

These customers found a variety of merchandise in Snyder’s store, which was stocked with clothing, footwear, fishing rods, camping gear, marine supplies and military items.

Snyder also developed a niche market, advertising his store as a skin-diving center where sportsmen could purchase scuba equipment, wet suits, masks, fins and snorkels.

Snyder became so well known in Port Jefferson that the Vandall Building was soon called “Mac Snyder’s,” supplanting the original owner’s name in the local vocabulary. 

By 1968, Snyder’s Army & Navy Store was still on the ground level of his building, but the first floor was also occupied by a laundromat. The Mary Beth dress manufacturing company, which specialized in piecework, filled all of the second floor.

While the Vandall/Snyder Building had survived hurricanes, a fire on Jan. 21, 1968, left the property in ruins. What remained was later demolished.

The blaze brought an end to a building but not to one business. Just months after the fire, Snyder opened a new Army & Navy Center in Port Jefferson at 214 Main St., opposite what was then the Brookhaven Town Tax Office.

The approximate site of the former Vandall/Snyder Building is now occupied by what was formerly Ecolin Jewelers, across from Brookhaven Town’s Mary Bayles Park.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media
By Aidan Johnson

The Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees held its monthly meeting Tuesday, Sept. 6, to discuss current plans and issues throughout the village.

The meeting started with a reminder from code enforcement chief Fred Leute to drive carefully down the streets. Now that school is back in session, more wet weather and leaves will likely be on the ground.

Trustee Rebecca Kassay announced that she and Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden have been working together to make the village more walkable and bikeable. These efforts will make it easier to travel around Port Jefferson without using a vehicle.

Kassay also shared that she and Snaden have worked to replace dead street trees this fall with more aesthetically pleasing and ecologically friendly ones.

Kassay said they have been meeting to discuss issues regarding uptown parking. “We’ve been looking at hopefully partnering with some of the medical office space uptown so that we don’t have to pave any additional space uptown — and take it from there,” she said.

After concerns were brought up to the trustees about ticks a few months ago, Kassay has been discussing the issue with the Stony Brook University disease center. The village will be putting information on its website and working with local media to spread awareness about the issue, as well as reaching out to schools to see if they can give the items to nurses and coaches. The village has also been offered tick handbooks, tick identification cards and tick removal kits.

Next meeting, Kassay intends to discuss the timeline and action plan for the village to work on flood mitigation.

Kassay also announced that the Beach Street Community Garden program scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 7, has been rescheduled due to inclement weather. The new date is to be determined.

Trustee Stan Loucks announced that the drought Long Island has faced has started to impact the golf course, which has had 300,000 gallons of water put into it every night. 

“Our conditions up there have gotten to the point where some of the fairways were turning brown, so this rain we’re getting today is kind of a godsend,” Loucks said. He added, “All of our water comes out of on-site wells. The wells up at the country club have reached the level where we’ve been put on restricted watering. We’ve only been able to water our greens and tee boxes for the last 10 days or so, so this rain is coming at a perfect time.”

The golf course will be closed this week on Thursday and possibly Friday while the aeration process takes place.

The country club’s early bird program starts on Saturday, Oct. 15. However, the membership rate fees are to be determined.

Loucks also asked that nobody walks down to East Beach, due to the Bluff Stabilization project. Still, he assured everyone that considerable progress had been made already. Snaden would later add that drone footage of the progress is available to view, provided by Charmaine Famularo.

Tennis courts 7 and 8 are still open and will stay open through September and possibly through October.

Loucks said there are plans to build a permanent barbecue on the patio behind the scoreboard on the golf course.

Finally, Loucks shared that the annual village golf outing will be taking place on Thursday, Sept. 22. The outing is open to all village residents, along with anyone who works in the school district, is a member of the fire department or a business owner in the village. The cost of the outing is $50.

Trustee Lauren Sheprow announced the first meeting of the Recreation and Parks Committee would take place on Thursday, Sept. 29.

The next meeting of the Country Club Social/Hospitality Task Force will take place Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Port Jefferson Country Club at 6:30 p.m.

Concluding her report, Sheprow shared that the village’s internal communication audit is still underway. She looks forward to meeting with the other trustees individually to discuss it.

Snaden reported that the Port Jefferson high school homecoming game has been moved to Saturday, Oct. 22, due to an issue regarding the number of football players on the team. The parade will now take place on Oct. 21 at night. Instead of floats, the students plan to decorate their vehicles with lights. Due to scheduling conflicts, there will not be the Caroline Field events that have been held in the past, but Snaden hopes to bring them back next year.

Snaden went on to report that code union negotiations are continuing. Also, the Architectural Review Committee is looking into an application for a new “Sea Creations” sign to be put on the front of the Harbor Square Mall on Main Street. Additionally, St. Charles Hospital wants to build a retaining wall in its parking lot for expansion. 

Mayor Margot Garant reported that the trustees, with members of the planning and zoning boards, attended a walkthrough of the Port Jefferson Crossing Apartments at 1615 Main St., and were very happy with the amenities that they saw. There is also a 3,000-square-foot retail space. 

Station Street is expected to be installed sometime in mid-September. Overall, Garant is happy with the direction Upper Port is taking.

File photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

Staff shortages, a growing issue nationally, have made their way to the Village of Port Jefferson.

Earlier this month, the Port Jeff Village Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of Joe Palumbo, the village administrator. This departure comes on the heels of various other vacancies throughout the village government.

Public sector staffing shortages are not unique to Port Jefferson. Americans are voluntarily quitting their jobs at record numbers, likely compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruptive effects on the workforce. Climbing quit rates nationwide have given rise to a phenomenon called the Great Resignation. 

In an exclusive interview, Mayor Margot Garant gave her thoughts on the issue of staff shortages, outlining the challenges of keeping positions filled.

Mayor Margot Garant, above. Photo from Port Jeff Village website

‘The challenge we have in general when filling these positions, of course, is competing with the private sector.’ — Margot Garant

“The challenge we have in general when filling these positions, of course, is competing with the private sector, which is allowing for a much more flexible work environment,” she said. 

Garant said the recent departures from the village government are out of her control. The private sector often offers higher pay with a better work-life balance. 

“We cannot do a work-from-home program because people are bound to the collective bargaining agreements, which doesn’t give us that flexibility,” the mayor said.

The civil service system also imposes a set of strict criteria that complicates the staffing of small municipalities, according to Garant. To remediate these concerns, the administration has emphasized hiring and promoting internally, and dispersing responsibilities between multiple offices, a maneuver Garant said can save time and energy.

“Right now, we’re looking to absorb some of the responsibilities of the village administrator between Barbara Sakovich, our clerk; the treasurer’s office; Kevin Wood, who’s in charge of all our technology; and Rich Harris in the Building Department,” Garant said, adding, “We are also bringing on a new deputy clerk. … That is an appointed position, and we’re thrilled to have that happen because she knows us, she’s a resident and it’s a promotion from within.”

Village resident Ana Hozyainova closely followed the issue of staffing shortages during her recent candidacy for trustee. In an interview, she criticized consolidating multiple responsibilities to a single person, arguing that this practice leads to conflicting obligations and confusion for village employees.

“The head of the [building] department, who resigned in March, was replaced with a temporary person who shares a prosecutorial role in the village administration,” she said. “To me, these two positions should not be combined because one role is a prosecutor who addresses negligence or incompatibility with the code, and the other helps to resolve those things.”

Hozyainova said that a growing number of vacancies on various boards are also causing concern, adding that she is most alarmed by the vacancies in the Building Department.

“The Building Department provides permits and helps the village residents and businesses navigate the building code,” she said. “There is no plan reviewer at the moment, no senior planning person, and these are essential positions that help interface between the businesses, the residents and the government.”

Hozyainova believes there may be unnecessary delays for residents and business owners if these positions remain unfilled: “When there’s a lack of those positions on a permanent basis, the communications start to break down and the permitting process is extended unnecessarily.”

Hozyainova fears staffing shortages will result in two principal consequences: a lengthier permit application process and rising costs.

“At the moment, many of the plans are being sent to an external agency for review,” she said. “An external agency generally costs more than an internal agency.” With too many transient agents, she also believes there is less institutional memory within village government, which can be exhausting for permit applicants.

Garant presented a contrasting judgment, stating that the critical positions within her administration are in place. With these spots filled, she maintains that there will still be an effective administration and delivery of village services. 

In areas where diminished services may be of concern, the mayor said outside consultancy firms can operate as a “stopgap” at a reasonable expense to the taxpayer.

“We’re very careful not to give them carte blanche,” Garant said. “Usually, we’re very conscious of making sure that compensation does not exceed the amount we would be spending on the individual employee.” She added, “Nine times out of 10, we’re actually saving money because we’re not responsible for the benefits package for the outside consultant.”

On the whole, Garant suggests difficulties staffing a small municipality are inevitable given growing nationwide economic uncertainty.

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.


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.

By Aidan Johnson

Amid the warm summer weather, music filled the air on Saturday, July 30, at the second annual Port Palooza. 

Frank Doris, member of Grand Folk Railroad (left) and Kevin Wood, event creator (right).

Kevin Wood, the creator of this new local tradition, brought multiple bands together into one event at Harborfront Park in Port Jefferson. Wood, a Port Palooza performer himself, was happy to share that there was no cover charge to attend. He dedicated his first song to Dom Famularo, a jazz drummer and close friend of his. 

“Being a part of the village and my role in the village of Port Jefferson inspires me to just give back to it,” Wood said. He added that the event also helped raise money for a good cause. “Port Palooza is about bringing musicians together with one another and, most importantly, raising money for animal rescue and recovery through Jaeger’s Run, our partner in this.”

Jaeger’s Run Animal Rescue Inc. is a nonprofit organization coordinated by Lisa Jaeger. It helps in the rehabilitation of sick, abandoned and injured wildlife and domestic animals.

Lisa Jaeger, coordinator of Jaeger’s Run Animal Rescue Inc., above.
Photo by Aidan Johnson

“Port Jefferson was kind enough to showcase us at the Port Palooza this year,” Jaeger said. “All of the funds that are raised are going into our animal rescue and rehabilitation [programs].”

Jaeger could hardly express the gratitude she felt after receiving the funds. “When it comes to animals, people are very generous,” she said. “It makes me feel good that people appreciate the volunteer work that we do and the timeless hours we put into it. Events like this help us to continue the work we’re doing.”

Each band that performed had its own unique sound. Grand Folk Railroad, one of the bands in attendance, played covers of popular songs such as “Ooh Child” by the Five Stairsteps. 

The group, which consists of Mike Christian, Susan Schwartz-Christian, Gary Schoenberger, Bill Resvanis and Frank Doris, has been around for about 13 years.

“We played at last year’s event, and now we’re back again this year,’’ Doris said. “We got a really good reaction, and it’s always fun to play.”

Susan Schwartz-Christian, member of Grand Folk Railroad, autographs an electric guitar. Photo by Aidan Johnson

Cole Fortier, who has performed in both festivals, said he enjoyed being a part of it once again. 

“I was the opening slot today,” he said. Commenting on the time he had, he added, “I’ve been kind of running around, but I’m living it up. It was really exhilarating.”

While Port Palooza was successful, the event had to overcome its own set of obstacles.

“We came across a few problems,” said Walter Parbudin, a volunteer at the festival. “The skin at the top [of a drum] ripped, so we couldn’t even play it. We found out at 11:30 a.m., and the show started at noon, but I had to go out to Selden to get a new one before the show started. However, the event went really well.”

As much as Wood enjoys putting together these events, he feels that he needs some time off. “I just did the dog festival, and now this one,” he said. “I have to hibernate and rest for six months.”

However, when he is ready to hold another event, the people of Port Jefferson will be ready to partake in it.

Photos by Raymond Janis

After a roadway closure spanning nine months, construction resumed last week at the intersection of Arlington Avenue and State Route 25A.

The construction project signals progress and a cooling of tensions between the Village of Port Jefferson and the New York State Department of Transportation. The initial roadway obstruction was created in September 2021 as part of the DOT’s sidewalk initiative along 25A. Under the original design, a sidewalk was added through the intersection along the pavement and changes were made to the grade, causing vehicles to get stuck at the bottom of the slope.

Seeing this as a public safety hazard, village officials closed down the intersection to traffic, igniting an intergovernmental dispute between the village and DOT.

Recently, travelers along the 25A corridor noticed significant digging, uprooting of pavement and movement of dirt. Stephen Canzoneri, public information officer for DOT Region 10, detailed the progress of the reconstruction efforts.

“The New York State Department of Transportation is working to address longstanding terrain issues at the intersection of Arlington Avenue and State Route 25A in the Village of Port Jefferson and expects work to be completed by the end of the summer,” he said in an emailed statement.

Responding to the ongoing construction, Joe Palumbo, the village administrator, offered thanks to DOT and to state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) for expediting the reconstruction efforts. The Palumbos are not related.

“The Village of Port Jefferson is delighted to see active construction taking place to redesign the intersection of Arlington and West Broadway,” Joe Palumbo said in an email. “The village would like to thank Senator Palumbo for his help in getting this project started and NYSDOT for seeing the need for the redesign and executing the new plan.”

To read more about the background to this dispute, see The Port Times Record’s March 24 story, “PJ Village clashes with DOT over Arlington Avenue obstruction,” available on the TBR News Media website.

Amid picturesque weather, a convoy of fire trucks, tractors, music and dance groups and assorted vehicles marched through the streets of Port Jefferson for this year’s annual Fourth of July parade. 

Hosted by the local fire department, the procession included a large collection of first responders. Joining PJFD were fire departments and ambulance corps representing Terryville, Setauket, Mount Sinai and Centereach, among many others. 

Also in attendance were dance groups that twirled and danced between fire units. In a strong display of patriotism, various community groups, volunteer organizations and hospital employees made appearances as well.

Hundreds of spectators lined the village blocks to watch the spectacle as it unfolded during the late morning. The parade lasted nearly two hours in its entirety.

— Photos by Raymond Janis