A new pocket park is being planned in Port Jefferson for the area around the Traders Cove stairway that leads to East Main Street.
The idea for the park all started when customers began complaining to Melissa Hanley, owner of Salon Blonde on East Main Street.
If they parked in Traders Cove — the lot triangulated in the village by Arden Place, East Main Street and Main Street — they had to climb the steep stairway up to East Main to get to her salon.
They would tell her the stairway was too dark, dreary and unsafe — especially in the winter when the sun sets early.
So Hanley and her husband, Sean, decided that something needed to be done. They brought the problem to the village themselves while Mr. Hanley set to work putting together a plan.
“The whole space was neglected,” Mr. Hanley told GreaterPortJeff. “It needs landscaping and lighting. People come into the salon and they were nervous going up and down [the stairs].”
This wasn’t the first time the stairway caught the attention of villagers.
According to Mayor Margot Garant, two years ago, former mayor Sandra Swenk pointed out that the stairway’s state of neglect was becoming a dangerous situation.
That led to an $80,000 repair of the area, where the village had to rebuild columns and reset footing. Some of the larger trees and underbrush were cleaned up as well.
Those repairs, according to Garant, were necessary to make the structure safe to walk on. The remainder of the project to renovate the area was put on hold as the village focused its attention on other matters.
“Then Sean presented me with this beautiful concept,” said Garant. “That put it back on the radar.”
Hanley owns LB Fabrication and Automation in Smithtown, and he took it upon himself to design a pocket park around the stairway, including additional lighting and other upgrades.
“It’s a well-trafficked area,” said Mr. Hanley. “It needs to be cleaned up.”
The idea, according to Garant, is to break up the job into individual pieces.
“We’re looking to tackle it in phases,” she said.
Mr. Hanley will be overseeing the work.
“I’m sourcing everything and pricing everything,” he said. “We’ll go from there.”
Brickwork on both entrances to Traders Cove will be one project, lighting is another job, and the excavation and water feature components can be done by a landscaper as two more parts of the whole.
Renderings of the proposed park show a small pond (more below), but the idea has been enlarged since. There is the possibility of a waterfall being added from the upper level.
Garant imagines that the planting can be done by the village — with input and assistance from residents.
“This is the type of project that should be a community project,” she said.
A post on the Port Jefferson Village web page said that the project would also include seating and signage.
“It’s simply stunning,” the post says.
The concept was presented to both the Village Board and the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District. Both boards responded positively to the plan, according to Garant.
Right now, Hanley says he is pricing out the individual phases and no start date has been set, should it get the go-ahead. The source of funds to pay for the project is still up in the air. If parking revenue funds were to be used, they would only pay for a portion of the total.
“They’re not paying for the whole thing,” Garant said.
According to a statement on the village’s Facebook page, the project would be completed by “a collaborative effort between the Village, Parks, BID and managed parking funds as this is a popular connection to East Main and the Traders Cove Parking Lot.”
The village needs this kind of sprucing up, says Mr. Hanley, as other villages around Long Island are reinvesting in themselves to attract more visitors and businesses.
“In Port Jefferson we’re in competition with Patchogue,” he said.
Reaction to the park design was overwhelmingly positive when the plans were posted online.
“That is really gorgeous,” said Doreen Lamb DiBiase “I love all the efforts being made the last few years to make our little Village so beautiful!”
Ed Dertinger said he can’t wait to use the park to relax.
“Looks great,” he wrote on Facebook. “Looking forward to sitting at one of those benches and reading a book!”