Tags Posts tagged with "Village of Port Jefferson"

Village of Port Jefferson

Stony Brook’s SAC bus loop is one of the stops of the SBU to Port Jeff shuttle. Village officials say the cost of the project has put it in jeopardy after the end of the spring semester. Photo from Google maps

The jitney service between Port Jefferson and Stony Brook University is back on the menu for the spring and fall semesters, this time with extra funding from the Port Jeff Business Improvement District and a larger price tag.

The Port Jefferson, Stony Brook University Shuttle before the service was contracted out to Suffolk Transportation Inc.. Photo from Kevin Wood

The new service extends the service for an additional two weeks, from 10 to 12, and will run until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The service also changes one of the pickups at Stony Brook University from the Chemistry Loop to the Hilton Garden Inn.

The BID is putting up $10,000 of its funds for the program, leaving Port Jefferson with just under $20,000 of the bill.

“We are proud to partner with the village in bringing the shuttle service back to our Business District,” said Roger Rutherford, BID president, in an online release.

At the Feb. 18 village board meeting, parking administrator Kevin Wood was seeking $24,608 in funds, per semester, to continue the PJ/SBU Shuttle for the next spring and fall semesters. The program is paid through parking meter funds.

However, Michelle Ferrante, senior account clerk, pointed out that any contract over $20,000 the village signs onto must go out to BID. This wouldn’t be a problem if the village were using its own jitney bus, however, the board voted last year to contract out to Bay Shore-based Suffolk Transportation Service, mainly due to the previous bus lack of Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and the overall failing quality of the previous vehicle. 

The village has also lacked other intervillage public transit options since the BID-run program with Qwik Ride ended. Officials said those small cars had not done the job they needed them to do, rarely being there for people who requested them, and drivers were taking requests from people outside the village to make tips. 

At the meeting, questions were raised whether the Suffolk Transportation was a sole source provider, and if it provides transportation services for Suffolk County.

According to its website, the company operates with Suffolk County public transit under the name Suffolk Bus Corp. The company also operates the paratransit buses, known as Suffolk County Accessible Transit, which ferry disabled people on select routes across the county.

The village board agreed to approve the funds for this spring semester if Wood could keep the budget for the jitney service under $20,000, which meant cutting the number of weeks and hours it ran for.

The program will come under review again come the start of the fall semester.

Wood said the university would not currently consider helping to pay for the program, but said he has plans for the future, including possibly surveying riders and asking where they shopped or dined.

“The program will gain popularity and ridership and, therefore, success,” he said. “We may test run a pay by cellphone so that students also have a contribution to this wonderful service. We would expect rates to be well below any alternative mobility.

Although officials have praised the program for bringing in more people sans cars into the village, Garant said she has questioned the cost of the program, especially since Port Jeff started to contract with an outside company. She said adding extra days and weeks to the program has only exacerbated those costs, and she doubts either the BID or university will either be able or willing to pick up the majority of the tab long term.

“Honestly, the program is in jeopardy in the fall,” she said.” The mayor added she has asked Wood to look into different transit companies or into the village purchasing its own two new jitney buses.  

The new schedule is Thursdays from 3 to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The bus stops at Student Activities Center Loop, Hilton Garden Inn, Chapin Apartments, Wild by Nature Market parking lot, Port Jefferson village on Arden Street and Port Jeff train station.

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The site of the planned parking lot on Barnum Avenue. File photo by Kyle Barr

The Village of Port Jefferson finally has an amount attached to plans for the Barnum Avenue parking lot, coming in lower than had been initially anticipated.

The winning bid for the Barnum parking lot was approved at the Feb. 18 village board meeting, showing Connecticut-based F&F Concrete saying it can do the project at $795,069. The company won out over five separate bids. 

At the same meeting, the board approved the $200,000 in jumpstart grant from Suffolk County that was originally announced last year. Unlike other kinds of grants, Mayor Margot Garant said, the jumpstart funds become immediately available after they are approved.

While all the money is now there for the lot, officials said the village is waiting on the grant to finalize, with the
village needing to show before shovels go in
the ground.

“Ideally, the village would like the project to start as soon as possible so that the lot would be open for our peak season, but that timing has a few factors to consider including but not limited to the weather, execution of the contract, insurance being satisfactory and all county grant requirements being met,” said Joe Palumbo, the village administrator in an email.

With the grant funds, the village administrator said Port Jefferson will be using approximately $600,000 from parking meter revenue. Garant said the parking capital account currently amounts to $800,000. At the end of every year, unspent revenue from the account that’s not used for salaries and other upkeep ends up in the capital account. 

“We have that money in place,” Garant said.

Though village officials had originally anticipated the project would come in at around $900,000, officials were pleasantly surprised to see the winning bid came in somewhat under that amount. 

The parking lot is expected to contain 44 new spots, located off Barnum Avenue and east of the Joe Erland baseball field. Based on residents feedback, the two-way ingress and egress planned on
Caroline Avenue have been made one-way. Surrounding plantings have also been bolstered, but the 32,000-square-foot lot will still include two electric car charging stations and two bioswales bordering the foot entrance onto Barnum Avenue to aid in flood mitigation. Once constructed, the bioswales will look like two dips in the ground with plantings overlaying them. Port Jefferson grant writer Nicole Christian had said those plantings and green initiatives were a large reason the county provided the village the $200,000 grant.  

Mather is one of four separate Northwell hospitals approved for a catheterization lab. The hospitals are looking to compete for services amongst some of the larger health entities in New York state. Photo from Northwell

Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson will soon be joining nearby Stony Brook as one of the few places on Long Island to contain a cardiac catheterization lab to provide less invasive heart-related services.

New York State approved Northwell Health, which includes Mather in its group, to open four cardiac labs at different locations in New York. Alongside Mather, Lenox Health Greenwich Village, Plainview Hospital and Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco have been approved for labs. The lattermost was approved in December.

According to a Northwell release, these labs specialize in using X-ray guided catheters help open blockages in coronary arteries or repair the heart in minimally invasive procedures — ranging from stenting to angioplasty and bypass surgery – that are less traumatic to the body and speed recovery. 

The approval means a big leap for the Port Jefferson hospital, which plans a $11.4 million, 3,644-square-foot addition that will include catheterization and electrophysiology labs. The construction is expected to finish and both labs be open by early 2021.

“With the investment in these four new PCI programs, we are able to advance our mission of improving access, as well as bringing high quality complex cardiovascular services to our patients in their local communities,” William O’Connell, executive director of cardiology services at Northwell Health, said in a release. 

Mather president, Kenneth Roberts, has said in a previous interview with the Port Times Record that a big reason the hospital signed on with the health care network is to have the ability and room to innovate at the hospital and keep up with the times. He echoed that sentiment in a statement.

“With Northwell’s guidance and the diligence of our Mather team, Mather received approval from the New York State Department of Health to provide advanced cardiology programs which include cardiac catheterization, PCI and electrophysiology services,” he said. “Approximately 150 patients every year are [currently] transferred from Mather or St. Charles to have these services elsewhere.”

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The building at 116 West Broadway was once used by the SCWA and by a bank. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Port Jefferson ferry owners have big plans for Port Jeff, which could include removing and replacing existing structures along West Broadway, and potentially, at the ferry dock itself.

Fred Hall, the vice president and general manager for the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, said the company’s intent is to demolish an existing structure owned by the company at 116 West Broadway and install a new, two-story structure where they would move their offices. 

Site plans for the new ferry company office building at 116 West Broadway. Photo by Kyle Barr

Their current offices, right next to the ferry dock, would remain for the time being, but the eventual plans, Hall said, are to demolish them as well. 

That building on West Broadway, which the company bought in December 2018, has sat vacant for a number of years, it once housed a well by the Suffolk County Water Authority, and had previously been a bank. Hall said they asked their architects if any part of the structure could be preserved. According to planning board documents, architects said the base could not support a second story.

“As much as we wanted to preserve that building, we asked our architects and they said virtually all of it needs to come down,” Hall said.

Currently, the ferry company is seeking permits for demolition, which it expects in a matter of weeks, and will start on the building’s removal. 

The new building will stand at 36 feet and 9 inches tall. The village code sets the standards for such buildings at 30 feet, and the company is currently seeking a variance on the building’s height, which should come up in a public hearing at the village’s planning board of appeals Feb. 27 meeting. The building plans show an accounting center, call center and multiple offices.

Documents from the village Building and Planning Department show members from the planning board at the Dec. 23 meeting requested a handicap lift be added instead of a ramp for the front gate and their preferences to break up the “flat, planar aspect of the facade,” by possibly adding recessed entrances and other elements. The next planning board meeting is set for March 12.

While plans for a new office are underway, the ferry manager said the larger issue is trying to reconfigure the pier area to add more space for vehicles and pedestrians.

With offices moved out the way, Hall said removing the existing building next to the ferry terminal will also allow for what he called a “separation of vehicles and walk-on traffic.” Currently, pedestrians offload from the stern of the ferry, but have to walk across the street along Broadway to get access to Port Jefferson. The company has plans for jetways, like what’s usually seen in an airport when boarding a plane, for people to exit or enter the ferry. 

Removing the building, he added, would allow line of sight to the harbor from Main Street. 

The ferry building has been a fixture in Port Jefferson for more than 70 years, having once been a restaurant called The Ferry House, but that aspect of the site closed in 1985, according to Hall. The current building is “cobbled together” of three separate buildings.

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From left, Rotarian Kathy Taveira, teacher Christina Carlson, Narin Karakurum, Principal Bob Neidig and Rotary Club President Paul Vigliante. Photo from Larry Hohler

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson welcomed Port Jeff Middle School sixth-grader Narin Karakurum at its luncheon at Cafe Spiga in Mount Sinai and presented her with its Most Motivated Student of the Month Award.  

Narin was accompanied to the luncheon by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christine Austine, Assistant Superintendent for Business Sean Leister, Principal Bob Neidig, sixth-grade special ed teacher Christina Carlson and Narin’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Karakurum.  

Neidig introduced Narin to his fellow Rotarians, describing her as an excellent student with a GPA in the high 90s for the first two quarters of the school year, who is also well-appreciated by faculty, staff and fellow students because of her generous, sweet and kindhearted nature. 

Narin’s science and coding teacher praised that Narin goes above and beyond class requirements, seeks help when she has questions, and “brings her own background knowledge to the table when discussing different topics.” The teacher recalls during the Thanksgiving Food Drive, Narin “went out of her way on multiple days to bring in large boxes of food for those in need.”  

Narin’s teachers of writing, reading and math, as well as Carlson, who nominated Narin for this award, all lauded her cheerful disposition, her active participation in class, her excellent work ethic and her obvious desire to learn. Furthermore, school representatives said Narin reaches out to help friends and peers and is seen as being mature and bright, yet humble. The principal ended his presentation of this superlative youngster by thanking her for setting a great example for all of those around her and helping to promote a positive and caring school. 

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Second-grader Sophie Franck was one of the first children to use the Port Jeff elementary school's new book vending machine. Photo by Kyle Barr

We all know that expectant feeling of a vending machine when the twin arms uncoil around the prize, whether it’s a soda or snack, waiting for it to clang in the bottom of the bin and placate our hunger.

Librarian Selinda Stout shows the tokens used for the book vending machine. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though in the Port Jefferson elementary school, it’s not sugar and salt suffused snacks plopping into the bin, but a copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” or “The Baby-sitters Club.”

The Edna Louise Spear Elementary School unveiled the new “Bookworm” vending machine Feb. 11 that stocks more than 300 books, with 20 different books for the separate grade levels, both fiction and nonfiction. Instead of using money, the vending machine receives tokens which students get for going above and beyond in the library or in any of their normal classrooms. Though these book vending devices have popped up in several other states like Florida and in upstate schools like in Buffalo, the new machine is one of the first of its kind in Suffolk County.

Selinda Stout, the school’s librarian, said students could get a token for good behavior, especially if they’re trying to read beyond their grade level or deciding to read a new genre. 

“If there’s a teacher who sees a student working hard all week who deserves a token, they can get it from me, then they can come down and choose a book,” Stout said. “I think this will bridge the gap of reading — I think kids will be very excited to take it home themselves, and I think it will bring really good behavior into the library and into the classroom.”

The first seven children to get a book from the vending machine ranged from pre-K to fifth grade. Their choices ran the gamut, with young second-grader Sophie Franck picking “Molly’s Story,” and third-grader Rahym Khan deciding on “Who Is Derek Jeter?” Fourth-grader Elizabeth Yin, whom Stout said was reading “well above her grade level,” chose “More Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids.” Pre-K student Maggie Masone chose “Pete the Cat,” and was aided by Stout who lifted her up to press the buttons. Each book is for the student to keep. 

Principal Tom Meehan joined librarian Selinda Stout and seven other students from pre-K through fifth-grade to release the new book vending machine. Photo by Kyle Barr

The idea came by elementary principal, Tom Meehan, when he was reading news one morning and came across a school in Florida which had installed one of the vending machines. He contacted the school librarian to discuss it, and shortly thereafter she wrote a grant application to the Port Jefferson Royal Educational Foundation, a nonprofit that uses funds to help out the district with special projects or to supplement its curricula when it doesn’t necessarily have the budget available.

Foundation treasurer, Laura Zimmerman, said the foundation thought the vending machine was a great idea and gathered around $4,100 for purchasing and installing it. Overall it was a 10-month process from inception to delivery, but the school kept the machine covered for several weeks until its official unveiling. 

Meehan said the machine is especially important getting books into kids’ hands for them to keep, adding as students get older, “we find they stop reading as much as they used to.” 

Superintendent Jessica Schmettan said if the vending machine proves successful, they could look into putting such a device in both the middle and high schools.

“The more we can get books into a kid’s hands the better,” she said. “This is a great investment for them.”

The Port Jeff Royal Education Foundation will be hosting its major fundraiser April 25 with the Jill Nees-Russell Family Fun Run and is still accepting participants.

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The Port Jefferson Ice Festival Included a multitude of ice based activities, such as watching carvings by Richard Daly and ice skating. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Ice was looking very nice in Port Jefferson last weekend as the village hosted its first ever Ice Festival Feb. 8 and 9, bringing in a professional ice sculptor who made a marvel for nearly every business downtown.

Richard Daly, New York’s only certified master ice carver, came down for both days showing off his skill and artistry. Despite warm weather on Saturday, crowds streamed into the village to witness Daly in his craft, running a chainsaw over huge blocks of ice. Each business had its own individual sculpture, such as a giant burger in front of Gourmet Burgers Bistro and Baby Yoda in front of Prohibition Kitchen. Also, businesses were booked out in tickets for the Mac and Cheese Crawl, where people could sample the cheesy pasta samples from 18 separate businesses.

The event was sponsored by the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District.

All photos by Julianne Mosher

Northville Industries is located on Beach Street in Port Jefferson, where barges full of oil come to dock and unload the fuel, which is pumped through pipelines to a location in East Setauket and then to Holtsville. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Brookhaven has renewed leases on two entities in Port Jefferson Harbor, but one of those operations has local environmentalists a little concerned.

The Town voted unanimously Jan. 30 to renew the lease for the Port Jefferson/Setauket Yacht Club (which is more known as simply the Port Jefferson Yacht Club) as well as the Melville-headquartered Northville Industries for use in its underwater and uplands properties on the eastern end of the harbor. The licensee has operated in that location since 1975, according to Town attorney Annette Eaderesto.

The yacht club’s lease has gone up to $35,100 for 20 years with a 3 percent annual increase. The club’s land includes around .892 acre underwater and 2.723 acres upland, including the club facilities.

“Oil transport is inherently a dirty operation.”

— George Hoffman

Northville’s operation has oil being brought in on ship or barge to the Port Jeff terminal, where it is shipped via either of two 16-inch pipelines up to its storage farm in East Setauket before moving on to a Holtsville terminal via a 12-inch pipeline, according to the company’s website. 

The oil transport company’s lease now increases to $77,322 based on a new appraisal, which includes around $40K for the underwater portion and around $37K for the upland portion. The company has agreed to pay slightly more than what the upland portion was appraised for. The 20-year term is set to increase annually by 3 percent. The company has had the lease since 1975, and the Town attorney said the company has not had any claims against the town.

George Hoffman, the co-founder of Setauket Harbor Task Force, said he had several concerns over the company’s continued engagement with the harbor. His group has been doing more and more testing of the Port Jefferson harbor in the past two years, having just finished the second season of testing. He asked for strict liability regarding the oil transport company.

“Oil transport is inherently a dirty operation,” he said. “There’s always tiny spills, no matter how hard they work there is always going to be problems.”

Eaderesto said Northville does not post a bond in case of any ruptures, and any spills are handled by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Miller Marine Services, a regional company with a site right next to the oil transport company, is there for immediate response. 

Steven Ripp, the chief operating officer of NIC Holding Corp., the parent company of Northville, denied there has been any leaking or spills into the harbor from their operations, further arguing the company would be able to contain any major spills into the immediate area of their operations on the harbor’s east end.

“There are never any minor spills, not even a gallon,” he said. “If there is a spillage whatsoever, we have to immediately report it to DEC and take swift action.”

Northville has been previously cited by the DEC. In 1987, Northville notified the DEC of a gasoline leak at its East Setauket site of approximately 1.2 million gallons that had leaked into the ground over a 10-year period. That gasoline had penetrated into the ground and reached the water table 100 feet below the surface. 

The company had settled with the DEC for a $25 million cleanup plan after the spill. In 2006, after a long and complicated cleanup process, the DEC reported Northville had completed all remediation.

In a later interview, Hoffman said he came away from the public hearing with more concerns, not less, especially concerning the overall health of the Port Jefferson Harbor and the age of the pipelines running over into East Setauket.

“This is going to be potentially 30 years — I didn’t feel comfortable about that,” he said.

When asked, the general manager at Northville, Peter St. Germaine, did not relate anything about the age of the pipe, instead saying it is frequently inspected by the state. 

“There are never any minor spills, not even a gallon.”

— Steven Ripp

A spokesperson for the state DEC said the agency inspects the facilities for petroleum bulk storage and major oil storage facility regulations. Recent inspections were performed in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2018. The DEC also conducts a review of the facility license renewal application, testing of certain tanks and secondary containment areas, and groundwater results from 12 monitoring wells at the East Setauket location, as well as two monitoring wells at the Beach Street site. The wells are sampled every six months.

Eaderesto said the town is able to back out of any lease at any time should the need arise. 

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said he is aware of the need for attention paid to Port Jefferson Harbor, especially considering the effluent from both Stony Brook University and Port Jeff treatment plants flows into the harbor as well.

Ripp said the location received hundreds of barges of oil a year, and through their pipelines run hundreds of millions of gallons, “safely” every year. 

“It is a critical facility for the Town of Brookhaven,” he added.

Northville isn’t the only industrial company to work close to the harbor. Along Beach Street in Port Jeff the Tilcon quarry is constantly operating with heavy moving equipment. The area also includes the LIPA power station to the north of both operations.   

Romaine said his concern was the location and that the lease would conflict with plans of a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource to make Port Jeff a hub for planned wind turbines off the coast of Montauk. However, the town attorney said the lease is just an extension of a lease that has been in effect for several years.

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said she had initial concerns regarding community comments and ensuring proper liability coverage, but those concerns had been assuaged by the town law department, and she thanked the company for, “being a good licensee over the years.”

Both leases for upland and underwater land were set to expire April 30, 2020. The new license terms go 20 years with the availability of two 5-year extension options for the town.

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Port Jefferson Free Library tears down a derelict building at 114 Thompson Street. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Port Jefferson Free Library board and directors have had the difficult task of upgrading facilities while keeping budget neutral. The new plan includes tearing down a condemned structure and seeking means to renovate the Bayles house.

In a release, president of the library board John Grossman said a multi-year planning process called for a building additional with additional parking spaces, though due to the settlement between LIPA and the Village/Town of Brookhaven back in December of the 2018, “the Board determined it would be neither feasible nor fair to the community to pursue that level of funding.”

“We know this is the responsible direction to take so that we can step up to their service needs without incurring significant additional expense,” Grossman added.

Instead, the board voted to demolish the structure at 114 Thompson Street, which the library purchased in 2009. Demolition began Feb. 3.

Thomas Donlon, the library’s executive director, said he wasn’t there when the property was originally purchased, but suspected the library originally had nebulous plans to retrofit the building that never materialized.

The library director said the Thompson property will be regraded and buffered once demolition of the building is fully complete. Costs for that project come in at approximately $60,000.

The LIPA decision has also put a hold on the library’s original designs for a master plan, which Donlon said has been put to the side while the LIPA settlement plays out.

Currently the library rents the building across the street for teenagers and for other meetings.

Donlon said they will now be seeking a permit for renovations to the Bayles house at the corner of East Main Street and Vineyard Place for a designated teen area and additional meeting space. Costs for that project are still largely up in the air while they await that permit and for an architect to draw up designs.

“By moving those activities within the footprint of existing structures, we avoid the growing costs for renting and managing an off-site space,” Donlon said.

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Harbor Grill in Port Jefferson is now under ownership of the people behind the Meadow Club and Curry Club. Photo by Kyle Barr

The owners of a popular catering hall and Indian cuisine restaurant along the North Shore are making their move to West Broadway in Port Jefferson. 

The family of restaurateurs has plans to take over the Harbor Grill, previously known as Schafer’s. The new restaurant would be one of the latest addition to the Port Jeff harborfront. 

Indu Kaur, the director of operations of The Meadow Club, is part of a family of business owners on the North Shore. Photo by Kyle Barr

Indu Kaur, the director of operations of The Meadow Club in Port Jefferson Station, said they had been renting out the space in Port Jeff during the holiday season and hosted their annual Small Business Holiday Party there. 

It was during that time that they realized the potential of the building. 

“We noticed that our clients really liked the space and the overall ambiance,” Kaur said. “It was perfect for smaller parties — we saw a great opportunity.”

In addition to the client’s feedback, Kaur said she liked the layout of the two-story restaurant with an outdoor dining section that boasts views of the harbor. 

“We have been brainstorming a few things, we wanted to move into a new direction and are excited to offer something different to Port Jeff residents,” she said. 

Kaur said they haven’t decided on a name for the restaurant yet, but are leaning toward a water theme being they are close to the harbor as well as incorporating a touch of their business background.  

A chef has already been hired for the new space, and the family is in the midst of finalizing the menu and other aspects of the new restaurant. 

Kaur said that residents can expect Indian cuisine and a fusion of menu items similar to what they offer at their other two restaurants. 

“It’s going to be great to offer new options to our customers,” she said. “It will be a great place to have a nice lunch or dinner.”

In addition, they hope to attract visitors coming in from Bridgeport. Kaur also teased the possibility of adding a brunch menu as a way of attracting more patrons. 

As the family prepares to open the new restaurant, the Meadow Club which was closed due a fire in 2018, is expected to reopen this spring. 

Despite rumors that The Curry Club may close, Kaur said the restaurant will continue to be open and that the famed train cart will remain. 

One of the first events the family will host in the building will be a Valentine’s Day four-course dinner. Tickets for couples are $120 which will include a Champagne bottle and a cocktail drink. Reservations from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. can be made by calling 631-928-3800. The dance floor will be open, and a DJ will be playing all night. 

“We are excited about the move and we are looking forward to helping bring more people into Port Jefferson,” Kaur said.