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Long IslandTowns

Port Jefferson may remove parking garage proposal from master plan

Port Jefferson officials may strip a controversial parking garage proposal from an updated master plan under consideration by the village board, Mayor Margot J. Garant said.

The draft comprehensive plan, which would set land-use guidelines for the village through 2030, said a garage may be needed to address potential parking shortages in a bustling downtown business district popular with tourists.

Many residents oppose a downtown garage, questioning its cost and location near Port Jefferson Harbor. In an interview Friday, Garant said the board plans to vote next month on removing the garage proposal from the plan.

"My administration is never going to be building a parking garage in Port Jefferson Village," Garant said. "It's not anything we're interested in doing. It doesn't make sense."

She added that an unrelated proposal to allow possible development of a vacant 6-acre parcel in the village's Highlands section also may be taken out of the document. Her announcements followed a contentious public hearing last week at which hundreds of village residents discussed the 162-page draft.

In addition to parking, the plan listed dozens of recommendations to address village needs, such as expanded housing options, upgraded sidewalks, and additional parks and playgrounds.

The village board plans to hold a second public hearing on the master plan in August, Garant said. Written comments may be submitted until Aug. 1.

Village resident Donald Pawluk Sr., an opponent of the parking garage, said he wasn't convinced the village board would drop the proposal. He added that the draft master plan, written by a consultant the board hired, differed significantly from one crafted last year by a village-appointed committee, of which he is a member.

"The mayor and the trustees want to take the credit for the plan," Pawluk said. "They also should take the blame for the plan, because it's going to create more problems than it solves."

Committee members issued a statement before the meeting, saying it should be postponed because the village board had failed to hold a required hearing on the committee's plan.

Chairwoman Virginia Capon, a former village trustee, said the committee plan strikes a "better balance" between growth and conservation.

Garant said the village was not required to hold a hearing on the committee plan.

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