PORT JEFFERSON — Port Jefferson Mayor Steve Butterfield has called on village officials to enforce ordinances concerning trash piling up in yards and inoperable vehicles.
During the March village council meeting, he shared a story that rekindled their concerns about the need to address the abundance of trash, inoperable vehicles and other unsightly conditions that affect the appearance of the village.
Butterfield had met a former resident of Port Jefferson and Shelby County who had lived out-of-town for a while and was visiting the village. The visitor was appalled at its present condition compared to what it looked like years ago.
“I was walking to my truck in the parking lot at Hussey’s” said Butterfield, “when a car pulled up and someone waved at me. A man got out of the car, asked me who I was, introduced himself and asked if I remembered him. He told me his name and then it all came back to me. Of course I remembered him.”
Butterfield recounted that the two reminisced and the visitor shared photos of people and places in the village from the 1950s.
“We talked about what a nice place Port Jefferson was in those days and all the fun we had going to things like street carnivals, holiday celebrations and local attractions like the go-cart races on the west side of town at George and Mable Leckey’s place” said Butterfield. “Those pictures sure brought back a lot of great memories!”
Butterfield said the old man grew quiet, looked off into the distance and asked him; “What in the world ever happened to Port? It used to be such a pretty place, lots of beautiful homes, well-kept yards and everything looked so nice and neat. I drove around town before stopping by here and I can’t believe how run-down some of the great old homes look. And why is there so much junk and trash sitting around? it looks terrible,” he said.
Butterfield told council he was saddened by the visitor’s parting comments about how bad things looked and wished things were different. He then told those present at the council meeting that the more he thought about it, he too remembered how nice things used to be.
Butterfield then said, “You know what, we already have ordinances in place to deal with this problem, and I think it’s about time we enforced them whether there are complaints to do so or not. Not only do all the trash, old cars and other junk sitting around look bad, it’s affecting the property values here, and some situations pose a threat concerning health and safety issues. It’s about time we work together to get things cleaned up.”
Butterfield suggested that notices be sent to every resident.
“We also need to address open burning of trash and other refuse which is not permitted,” Butterfield said. “Residents can have a small fire ring or pit for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows or just sitting by the campfire as long as it is properly maintained, but we’re seeing a lot of folks taking advantage of the situation. I’ve witnessed people burning everything from magazines to mattresses and fires smoldering for days. It has to end. There are ordinances in place against burning any kind of trash, leaves or other refuse, and the trash cannot be stored in buildings, bins, trailers or trucks. It must be hauled away every seven days. Burn barrels are not permitted either, and those still in place will have to be removed. And while we’re at it, this summer we are going to also crack down on unmowed lawns and patches of weeds. All these things are unsightly and it’s just not fair to those who work so hard to keep their places looking nice.”
In closing, Butterfield noted, “ It is going to take some time to make improvements. This mess was not created overnight, and we plan to work with people time-wise as long as we see that progress is being made, and they are making an honest effort to get things cleaned up. It has worked in other communities in our area, and it can work here as well.”
Anyone with questions or comments about how the clean-up will be carried out or enforced is encouraged to attend the next regularly scheduled Port Jefferson Council meeting, Monday, April 2, at 7 p.m., in the Port Jefferson Community Center.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.