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Getting ready for Port Jefferson Station hub study


Town officials, planner talk about process at civic meeting


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Above, Brookhaven Town Planning Commissioner Tullio Bertoli told the crowd in the Comsewogue Public Library that a member of his staff would be working exclusively on the Port Jefferson Station development study. Below, Lee Koppelman said a citizens advisory committee would help steer the plans. Photos by Elana Glowatz

November 28, 2012 | 04:09 PM
The wheels on a transit-oriented development study in Port Jefferson Station have started to turn. While the study will not be fully launched until February, officials visited the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association meeting Tuesday night to talk about how the process will work.

Long Island planning expert Lee Koppelman, who produced the Comsewogue Hamlet Comprehensive Plan in 2008, said he was excited about working on "phase two." The new study will focus on plans for development on the area's Main Street — Route 112 — from the Port Jefferson train station south to Route 347.

Koppelman, a professor in Stony Brook University's Department of Political Science and director of SBU's Center for Regional Policy Studies, said a citizens advisory committee comprised of residents with expertise on local issues such as transportation will help move the study along and provide a "continuity of effort." That group would ideally meet at least once a month. In addition, the planners will be in touch with local architect Michael Schwarting, who is working on Port Jefferson Village's plans to revitalize the strip between North Country Road and the Long Island Rail Road station, to help tie the hamlet's project into the village's effort.

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Brookhaven Town Planning Commissioner Tullio Bertoli told the crowd in the Comsewogue Public Library that a member of his staff would be working exclusively on the Port Jefferson Station development study.

According to Lou Antoniello, civic treasurer, the hamlet's roads are "bursting" and it is about 95 percent built out already. He said with these conditions, "it's important that we don't haphazardly add to what's already here."

Virginia Gibbons, vice president of the Cumsewogue Historical Society, said, "Without history, you don't have a sense of place," and she would like to see the history of the area preserved.

The planners said their effort will involve preserving historic designs throughout the area. To that end, civic member Frank Gibbons pointed them to the historical society, which has photos of the community from the 1930s and 1940s that could provide examples and direction. Bertoli agreed that these would be important to look at.

One man said he was excited about the development study, but was skeptical about whether the area would be built up the way the residents want it to be. "Who is going to be building these buildings and investing this money?"

Koppelman replied that the system for approving new development is more of a problem than developers, who will go where they see potential and opportunity to accomplish something. But he commended Bertoli, saying with the planning commissioner's work at the town, there are fewer projects that wait tremendous periods for approval.

The planner said one of the positives is that Brookhaven's new supervisor, Ed Romaine, who was at the civic meeting, will be following the process from beginning to end. He also said if this new study has as much input from the community as the previous hamlet study, "this plan has to be a great success."

Romaine said at the beginning of the meeting that he will make sure everyone's voices are heard and the plan is something the community supports.

Civic President Ed Garboski expressed faith in the community's ability to change and shape the area around the tracks and down Route 112. He called upon the attendees to get involved.

He said, "I want to be able to go up there and meet with you and have a drink or have a cup of coffee or take my wife to the store and not look over my shoulder or step over bodies or anything like that."

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