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How Will Upper Port Jefferson Fare in 2013?

We saw what happened in 2012. What will happen this year?

There was a lot of attention given to Upper Port Jefferson in 2012 but will the plans officials have come to fruition in 2013?

Traditionally the area covers the business district along Main Street between the Long Island Railroad and North Country Road but it also encompasses a swath from Texaco Avenue to Oakland Avenue to the east and west.

Officals, residents and business owners all has a voice in the debate over what to do with the area, some louder than others.

A revitalization plan promised by the village of Port Jefferson for the area gained clearer focus at the beginning of the year. Michael Schwarting and Frances Campani, architects and village residents, presented a proposal that studied the area and proposed architectural and zoning changes to the village board back in February. A traffic study was then conducted and the entire plan, according to a recent report, is still on track.

In the meantime, that is within the area encompassed by the revitalization plan.

Many locals are concerned that the multi-family apartment complex will represent another attempt to install workforce-type housing on a site in the area. While developers said that the apartments will be marketed to professionals, like Stony Brook University professors, graduate students and medical personnel from St. Charles and Mather hospitals, the proposed apartment complex still bothers many who live in the Comsewogue School District.

Students living south of North Country Road attend Comsewogue, even though the property is within the village of Port Jefferson. This, according to many opponents, puts undue strain on the district. They complain their concerns fall on deaf ears and that the district is not included in the details of the proposed revitalization plan.

Crime has also been a major issue in 2012. Complaints from residents and business owners say that the area is a sort of no-man’s land, ignored by the village and Suffolk County Police. Stabbings, fights and assaults are frequent and homeless people loiter around the businesses and the Long Island Railroad station.

Community members have expressed their frustration with lack of security and fear when they drive through or visit the area.

Talk of establishing a Neighborhood Watch in the area sparked some debate but no consensus on the idea. Meanwhile, crimes like graffiti, drug use and robberies still go on. La Paz, a bar in the area has attracted negative attention because of the frequent fights.

Pax Christi, a local homeless shelter for young men near the Long Island Railroad run by Hope House, has also been the target of criticism.

People have said it attracts the wrong element who come to Upper Port Jefferson looking to get a place to stay, some drunk or on drugs. When turned away they end up wandering the streets of Port Jefferson. The chairman of Hope House, Charlie Russo, an attorney from Belle Terre, addressed the public last January, sharing startling facts about increasing homelessness on Long Island and trying to dispell myths about how Hope House handles its residents.

During the meeting Russo faced public criticism about the program. In the ensuing months, the village has met with Suffolk County officials and the organization to address the problem.

The village also responded. In February, it announced that the village constables were making an effort to meet every train that came into the station and walking the platform to help bolster the security in the area.

Criminals and vangrants drift back and forth across the railroad tracks on Route 112 (Main Street) making it a necessity that the village work with Port Jefferson Station residents on any solution.

A Hub Study, launched by the Port Jefferson-Terryville Civic Association will address the area around Route 112 south of the Long Island Railroad. The planners are also working with architect Michael Schwarting, who is working on the Port Jefferson village revitilization plan for Upper Port Jefferson since the two areas are congruous. The Hub Study is expected to begin in February of this year.

Many are hopeful that the planning and extra attention paid to the area will help change things. Others are skeptical. In the coming year there will be debate and conversation around Upper Port Jefferson as plans move forward but to what end? Will the area be free of the crime and vagrancies that plague it now? Will the rezoning and planning help to transform this community?

We're curious about where you see Upper Port Jefferson heading this upcoming year. How do you think will it fare in 2013? What do you want to see done? What would you like to be able to do there in a year that you can't do now?

Earl January 04, 2013 at 04:34 AM
The focus RIGHT NOW needs to be on the crime and getting the homeless the hell out of here. Nothing good will come of the area until this has been completed. I swear all the ones in charge of trying to do something here are totally clueless!!
Earl January 04, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Oh and we certainly do not need an apartment complex built here.
Erin Hatch January 04, 2013 at 02:43 PM
We looked at buying a home in Port Jefferson Station, right near the train tracks, but the people wandering the streets gave me second thoughts and to look elsewhere. Such a shame, a beautiful area, gorgeous home with access to so many businesses, and Mather hospital right across the street. All it took was a drive through the neighborhood on a weekend afternoon to scare me away from it.
Earl January 04, 2013 at 04:23 PM
See perfect reason things need to be cleaned up first. No one wants to move or visit here for this very reason. If I even wanted to sell my home, no one in their right mind would even buy it!
Annie Gurl January 04, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Having purchased a home in the area, I am concerned about the crime statistics and some of the folks I see loitering in the area. Although I can walk to the LIRR station, I frequently do not, due to safety concerns. A three-story apartment complex sounds like a real eye sore. Take a look at the three-story complex on Middle Country Road in Coram which dwarfs everything else in the area. Allowing that land where the proposed complex is to remain as is or as a park makes more sense to me. And more police presence in Upper Port is essential...how many times a month do I see cars going the wrong way on one-way Perry Street?
Americanivory January 05, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The Port Jefferson Station-Terryville executive board (some of the members) are in total support of this three story multi family apartment complex - why? No one can figure it out - we already have three apartment complexes, that have reported crimes, and at least four condo complexes - really do we need more multi-family homes? Who the heck is going to live by the train station - not the professionals. Go to Brentwood and look at the Fairflied Gardens next to the Train Station and see who lives there and how many are section 8! What this town needs is to focus on cleanung up the mess allowed to have been made - and the politicians and covoc association needs to get their heads out of the sand and face what reality is in PJS and Terryville and moving down into PJ Village. We do not need multi family housing, who is paying for these children that will overload our heavily burdend schools? Who wil pay for these families to use our resources - fire, police, ems? Us, the taxpayers that's who!! Why aren't these proposers looking to utilize the abandoned, foreclosed homes in the area? Help working families and professionals to secure mortgages, low interest loans to remodel, renovate these homes!! No more building in our town - use what we have and clean up the crap that has taken over our town!!! I agree the property in question should be made into a nice park, maybe use the park for music, fairs, etc in the nice weather.
Mels Ditties January 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM
What the town SHOULD have done (years ago!) with the Texaco Ave properties was to pave the empty lot, add some of those parking meters they are so fond of, and create a parking lot....The lack of parking in the area definitely had a negative impact on the businesses in the area....On street parking (parallel parking, which is a skill that most of us Suffolk County folk do not posses, combined with the constant traffic that would just as soon run into/over a car attempting to park than to stop for 30 seconds and allow them to complete the parking) is just not enough to support the shops in the uptown area...If people can't park, they can't shop..if they can't shop, businesses don't make money...businesses don't make money, businesses close.. (just an FYI, the owner of the empty lot had offered the town the use of the land for YEARS and they turned her down over and over and over)... Even enforcement of parking rules (eg. 1 hour limit til 6pm each day) would have helped, as many many of the Tara's customers park and spend hours in the bar leaving their vehicles on the street, instead of using the parking lots to which Tara's has access directly behind their business...Once in a blue moon, PJ Code would come by and chalk tires, very seldom to return to actually ticket these cars.... Keeping fresh, viable businesses alive, would have helped keep the area profitable...
Mels Ditties January 05, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Enforcing Town Codes.... Enforcing the PJ Town Codes would also have helped the area tremendously.... Simple things like: loitering, public intoxication, public lewdness (including, but not limited to, urination) open containers....Code enforcement regarding stores: eg. no pool halls in PJ, prohibiting residential living in commercial shops, enforcing codes EQUALLY among shop owners (not willy nilly picking on some and ignoring blatant violations by others)... There USED to be a great code officer who patrolled regularly and moved vagrants, drunks, loiterers out of PJ proper (eg. to the south side of the trains tracks)...He has gonna off to sunny warm pastures, leaving behind no one to carry on his enforcement...truth be told, code is afraid of patrolling the area... If you allow flagrant violations to continue over and over and over, you have to expect things to get worse...If those who thumb their noses at the laws (codes) are allowed to do whatever they want, why would they stop?...All you get is more people who see the area as one where they can get away with almost anything... All of that creates an area where people lock their car doors and they drive (swiftly) thru the area, let a lone actually stop and walk/shop in the area...
Mels Ditties January 05, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Revitalization Plans: For years the PTB have been spending tens of thousands (probably more) of dollar to create "pie in the sky" revitalization plans, including lovely parks, plantings, walking paths, etc. etc. etc...These plans would be lovely if this was totally open space, BUT there are buildings & businesses and people who live & work in this area and these plans ignore these facts....and therefore have virtually no chance of becoming reality...One town meeting after another (years apart) showing off these plans, without any real detail on how to actually make these things happen are simply ways to appease those who cry out for help & change...
Mels Ditties January 05, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Rumors have floated around the town for years that the REAL plan is Eminent Domain What is eminent domain? How is it defined? Eminent domain, broadly understood, is the power of the state to seize private property without the owner's consent. Historically, the most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are public facilities, highways, and railroads. Traditionally the power of eminent domain has been exercised for the construction of large public projects, but its use is beginning to be broadened to projects involving not ‘public use’ but ‘public benefit.’
Mels Ditties January 05, 2013 at 07:46 PM
So if you follow the reality of what the town has done (or more accurately, what they haven't done) over the past several years: eg. NOTHING but letting things get worse & worse & worse, the action of Eminent Domain seems closer to more than a rumor...By letting the area rot, businesses close (almost the entire block between Linden & Sheep Pasture, on the west side of Main is "Available for Rent/Lease" for years!,,,as is the east side of Main from Napa to North Country)) buildings get rundown...Property owners don't receive rent/the monies needed to repair/improve their buildings...they see their property values fall into the gutter...so it makes them so very ripe for the Em Domain pickin'....The justifications being improvements of highways (rt. 112/25a), train stations (uh duh, Port Jefferson LIRR Station) and for projects for "public benefit" (see definition above for how these factors are valid justifications for Eminent Domain).... Sad as that may be, it is somewhat comforting to believe that Eminent Domain IS the plan, rather that believe the alternative, which is the town just doesn't give a ^&%...
Mels Ditties January 05, 2013 at 08:07 PM
With regard to the proposed apartment building (to be located on Texaco ave, covering the defunct Car Wash, the empty lot & the old cabinet maker building) it just may be the only hope of rejuvenating / cleaning up the area... Purchasing the properties & building the apartment building will cost the builders millions of dollars (the Car Wash alone, had an asking price of over $1 mil)...If they are willing to make an investment like that, they certainly are going to push the town to enforce whatever codes exist in order to have their investment get them the best return...(just FYI, the complex target tenants are Stony Brook grad students & professors...Port Jeff already houses many many many of the Stony Brook professionals - hence one of the reasons Port Jeff is now Seawolves territory..they live here & spend here!)...IF this project is successful, others will follow...If others follow, the area WILL become revitalized!....Perhaps at the cost of the aging buildings that exist on Main St. in that area now, but that seems to be acceptable collateral damage....
Donna January 06, 2013 at 06:04 AM
This area is going to be the next Huntington Station because the amount of illegals moving there is ridiculous. There is no solution to this except for INS. Although, they can certainly clean up the area but the fact remains LI is very segregated and PJ/PJS is quickly becoming a barrio. Pax Christi should open a new building somewhere in a wooded area of L.I. away from citizens like in Northampton or something.
Donald Zaros January 11, 2013 at 03:08 AM
Another track on Eminent Domain is to use the Tranfer of Development Rights obtained by law in the Pine Barrens to increase existing density limitations for money paid to the Town and TDR owners for density increases above existing zoning.
Frank Raffaele January 11, 2013 at 05:58 AM
I'm curious as to how developers will "market to professionals" while at the same time not market them to "unprofessionals" without discriminating.
Donald Zaros January 21, 2013 at 04:33 AM
The developers want professionals but they also want HUD money. If the per centage of affordable HUD sponored housing is high the required limit on the resident's income will be limited to 80% of local average income. Therefore if they get a raise and surpass the 80% limit they will be asked to move. When they earn enough to own a car instead of a bycycle they probably would have to park their car on the street next to the sidewalk. Hopefully the village side will not put up parking meters.
John W Kelsch Sr October 29, 2013 at 04:34 PM
I notice now, at the end of October 2013, nothing has been done other than a variance change allowing the owner of the anticipated three story project like building to only leave a 10 foot wide sidewalk for the up town residents in an area where the prescribed 20 feet would have been safer. Its obvious this administration does not really care or support "UPTOWN". No, nothing new for the residents or shop owners uptown in 2013, other than the promise of more congestion.

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