Gathered on what was once brownfields and abandoned buildings, village officials formerly renamed Harborfront Park to Mayor Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park on Wednesday in honor of the former mayor who helped lead the charge to revitalize the blighted waterfront to what is now the hub of downtown Port Jefferson.
The dream began more than a decade ago, took fifteen years to realize and has brought a community center, ice skating rink, children’s’ playground, museum and more to downtown.
“It’s a finely crafted quilt,” said Mayor Margot Garant. The recent completion of the Oculus, a circular shade trellis with bench seating, is the eleventh project finished at the park.
Jeanne Garant served three terms, from 1999-2005, as well as two terms as a trustee. She is credited for establishing the park area and the revival of the historic Bayles Shipyard building into what is now the Village Center.
“There were ghosts here,” said the former mayor. “Stories to be told and this will be the anchor of the community, and by golly it worked,” she said.
Port Jefferson has been awarded 30 grants worth over six million dollars. The land, nearly five acres, was acquired for $1.7 million in 1997.
"We could say it took a village," said the current mayor, "but that wouldn't say enough."
Several state and local officials were on hand, including Secretary of State, Cesar A. Perales, who called the park a “destination for a day or a lifetime.”
“I can’t imagine a better way to name this park then after you and your legacy,” said Brookhaven Town Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld.