As Brookhaven Town gets ready to kick off a transit-oriented hub study in the Port Jefferson Station area next month with the aid of influential Long Island planner Lee Koppelman, members of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Civic Association looked to the north on Monday night as Port Jefferson Village wraps up a comprehensive plan of its own.
Virginia Capon, chair of the village's Comprehensive Plan Committee and a former village trustee, offered the civic a sense of "Monday morning quarterbacking" through the planning process as she has seen it.
The CPC has met nearly over 90 times throughout the process, she said, gathering input and inviting representatives from various levels of government to see how they fit into the plan.
Guest speakers from entities such as the Long Island Rail Road, Department of Transportation, Suffolk County and Town Planning Departments, Department of Public Works, and more all made appearances to the village, Capon said.
Also among guest speakers was Koppelman, who produced the Comsewogue Hamlet Study in 2008 and urged Capon and the village committee to issue a survey to everyone in the study area about what they would like to see in a study.
Adding a blank space at the end for individuals to give their thoughts, Capon said "we got some little booklets," noting the 20 percent return rate as well showed that it proved successful.
Though a survey helped get the pulse of the general public and to their dismay, some guest speakers didn't tell them what they were hoping hear (a LIRR rep reportedly said to "expect no changes" in the next 20 years), Capon told the crowd that in the end, the members of the group should trust their own opinions and instincts – not necessarily the ones that people are paying for.
"Don't rely on consultants too much," she said, pointing to a "big city on the hill" idea she believed Campani & Schwarting leaned toward when coming up with a plan for Upper Port.
The conversation Tuesday night turned at more than one point to the civic group's opinion about the village's proposed plan in its current form – part of which calls for increased density in the Upper Port area, a fear for many residents in the Comsewogue School District.
Capon agrees that the Upper Port Plan – accepted by the village board last month (though not yet adopted) – calls for too much density, writing in a Feb. 4 letter to the village board that the 1,200 units the plan foresees in the future is "inconsistent with what the survey shows the residents want: to preserve our small town character."
While there are likely to be far less than 90 meetings – civic head Ed Garboski noted the need to act "swiftly and responsibly" – residents on the south side of the LIRR track get their chance to start giving input on what kind of character they want along the Route 112 stretch at next month's civic meeting as the process begins.