Woodard Square. Crystal Lake Square. If Port Jefferson residents hadn’t banded together to oppose their town, those would be the names of parking lots paved through the middle of a few downtown blocks.
In the early 1960s, Brookhaven Town officials had proposed a parking district in lower Port that would have called for several buildings to be demolished to make way for asphalt, according to the village historical archive. But Port Jefferson residents came together as a property owners association to defeat the idea.
A 1961 map depicting the proposed parking district shows a large lot called Loper-McNamara Square in the location where Port Jefferson’s biggest parking lot, referred to as the “Meadow lot,” is now; a Woodard Square lot on the south side of East Main Street, where it meets Main Street and where the post office and a few other businesses currently stand; a Davis Square lot at residential space between South and Spring streets, near High Street; a lot called Round the Block Square, where the village’s Traders Cove parking lot is now; and a Crystal Lake Square lot on the south side of Maple Place.
The plan was abandoned after homeowners, who were then living in an unincorporated village, reacted negatively to it and formed The Property Owners Association of Port Jefferson, according to the village archive.
The town, under the direction of former Supervisor August Stout Jr. and later Supervisor Charles R. Dominy, held public meetings at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, warranting the property owners to publish flyers that were a proverbial call to arms for neighbors.
“Port Jeff will be sold down the river unless you attend the official public hearing on the parking district,” read one flyer, in relation to a March 21, 1962, meeting. “This is it. Everyone concerned with this problem and the future of Port Jeff must be there.”
Another flyer said the homeowners supported improvement, but said about the parking district proposal, “No, no, no.”
The property owners association that helped derail the parking plan also championed the village’s incorporation.
Later in the same year as that meeting, on a snowy Dec. 7, 1962, residents voted 689-361 to incorporate Port Jefferson.