PORT JEFFERSON — The Port Jefferson Council heard the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the sale of some village property located north of the Community Center which could eventually allow for the construction of a new firehouse.
Port Jefferson Fire Department approached council more than two years ago inquiring about the possibility of purchasing 2.67 acres of village-owned property as their current building is too small and will not facilitate the storage of a proposed new fire engine with a larger ladder the department plans to purchase. The new fire station will also provide more space allowing improvements to provide better emergency service for Port Jefferson and other local communities.
The property in question was originally owned by the Port Jefferson Community Club, which folded and donated the property to the village. After discussing a variety of possible solutions over the last two years council finally agreed to sell the property to the fire department for the approximate sum of $22,000 with the understanding that the fire department would also pay for any extra expenses associated with the property changing hands.
The fire department recently employed local attorney Keith Schnelle to oversee the purchase and help move the project along. At the November meeting Schnelle asked what was needed to complete the sale of the land and was told an ordinance would have to be drawn up for council to consider.
On Mayor Steve Butterfield’s recommendation, Schnelle agreed to create a draft with the help of the village solicitor authorizing the sale of the said land and bring it to the December meeting for council to consider and presented to Butterfield. Council then voted and agreed to hear the first reading of the ordinance declaring an emergency disclosing the reason for the sale of the land, where it was located, and how the sale would be carried out. The ordinance points out the village clerk will direct advertising for bids in the local newspaper once a week for five consecutive weeks and that the village of Port Jefferson has the right to consider the proposed use of the property and reject any and all bids deemed unsatisfactory to the council.
After the second and third readings of the ordinance in January and February, and upon passing the draft as submitted and advertising for bids for the sale, council hopes to be able to give the fire department a final answer in May or June and complete the sale.
In other business, council passed an emergency supplemental appropriation of $3,900 from the general fund to pay a variety of bills the village had incurred as well as payment of $135 for the basic utilities.
Council also approved moving $418.91 to the fire department fund from extra funding realized from the collection of money for the 1 mil tax levy voters approved for the fire department.
“We received a little more money than we expected from the levy so we want to make sure it goes where it belongs” Butterfield said.
In other business Pastor Bryan Jones from The Potter’s House Baptist Church asked council about the possibility of council extending their offer to rent the Community Hall for church services after the first of the year; at the November meeting council had already agreed to let the church rent the hall until the end of the year. After some discussion council determined they would have to discuss the subject to determine what options if any might be available noting as long as they continue to rent the community Hall the village will have to maintain it and pay property taxes on it. Church member Joe Sowers then asked if there would be a possibility to continue renting the hall if the church agreed to pay the property tax which amounts to about $2,000 a year. At that point Butterfield appointed council members Loretta Cook, Hazel Reeves, and Sharon Whitehead to look into what choices would be available after the first of the year.
Reeves noted a storm sewer grate and catch basin near Canal and Spring Streets was broken and was in need of repair.
“The cast iron grate is broken and the concrete is crumbling that holds it, I’m afraid someone may damage their car or a kid might fall into it, we need to get that thing fixed” Reeves said. Butterfield said he thought there were replacement grates available in storage and asked for a motion to repair the catch basin. A motion was made and passed unanimously.
In closing Butterfield noted the next council meeting would be held on the second Monday in January (Jan. 8) instead of the first Monday due to the fact the first Monday falls on New Year’s Day.
“Come January we also will have four council seats open, candidates must have resided in Port Jefferson for at least one year, and be a registered voter to be eligible for consideration. I must also remind everyone that if no one runs for council I (the mayor) have the right to appoint members to council.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.