Port Jefferson Harbor storage facility turned into park

A sign welcomes people to the Village of A sign welcomes people to the Village of Port Jefferson. (March 22, 2011) Photo Credit: Jasmin Frankel

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A former gas and oil storage tank facility on Port Jefferson Harbor has been transformed into a village park, featuring walkways, an ice-skating rink and a children's playground.

The park is set to be dedicated at 11 a.m. Wednesday at ceremonies marking completion of a major revitalization project at the 5.5-acre site. New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales is expected to join Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine and Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket) at the dedication.

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The decadelong reconstruction was supported by 30 state grants worth a total of more than $6 million. The renovation included widening of the recreational pier and construction of the Oculus, a circular trellis with benches adjacent to the park.

Former Mayor Jeanne Garant, for whom the park is to be named, said the parcel had been contaminated when it was a Mobil storage tank facility. The facility closed decades ago and stood abandoned for years until 1997, when village residents voted in a referendum to purchase the property for $1.7 million, said Garant, mother of current Mayor Margot Garant.

Village officials and residents rejected calls for new parking and decided to develop the park, she said. "That was my feeling, that we should convert this beautiful piece of land to a park," she said. "Even though we need parking, I just felt that people needed access to the water."

The project included the conversion of Bayles Shipyard into a Village Center. Ships had been built at the site since the 19th century, Jeanne Garant said.

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"I feel that is where people really want to go, is to a village with a soul," she said. "This was the prime place where they did this shipbuilding since the very primitive days in the 1840s. So I said, 'Our history was here.' "

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