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Questions raised about Brookhaven's plan to sell a town-owned marina to Port Jefferson

Some boaters and civic leaders are raising questions about Brookhaven Town's proposal to sell a marina and parking lot to the Village of Port Jefferson for $8 million.

Critics of the deal said they fear non-village residents may have to pay higher fees for boat slips and launches at the 8.8-acre park. Some also questioned whether the sale is legal without state approval.

The village board last night unanimously approved the purchase. The town board plans to vote on the proposal next month, Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said Monday.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot J. Garant has said the property could be a "cash cow" for the village. Officials have said they plan to cover debt service for buying the property from revenue generated by meters at the 299-space parking lot and boat slip fees that may increase by up to 62 percent.

Herb Mones, of Stony Brook, said the town should seek more public input before voting on the plan.

"I am completely shocked that the town would attempt to alienate parkland and all of those facilities from the public and without a series of public hearings that would give the public a chance to weigh in," Mones said. "Port Jeff village is getting a gift. It's a like a Christmas present."

Romaine has said most of the proceeds from the sale would be used to pay down town debt. He said Monday state approval is not needed because the property would be transferred from one municipality to another.

He said existing covenants would bar the village from charging different fees. "Whatever's charged to town residents must be charged to village residents," he said.

Romaine said he planned to discuss the sale Monday night at a civic meeting in Setauket. The town has scheduled a public information meeting to discuss the plan at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 at Brookhaven Town Hall.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of Stony Brook and the Setaukets, said many boaters may have to give up their slips if the village raises rates.

"The problem's going to be that the working-class people of Brookhaven may not have the access and the affordability that the marina has offered," he said.

Garant said Monday no final decisions have been made on fees, and non-village residents will not be barred from using the park.

"I think people are willing to pay more for better service," she said. "We're not making this private. It's still open to the public."

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