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Dec 7, 2018 3:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Brookhaven Town To Fund Downtown Eastport Street Light Project After County Denied Grant

Some portions of the sidewalks on Main Street in Eastport are in poor condition. BRENDAN J. O'REILLY
Dec 11, 2018 1:15 PM

Brookhaven Town officials recently decided to foot the bill to install decorative street lights on a strip of Main Street in Eastport after Suffolk County denied a request for a $133,000 grant to complete the project.

Brookhaven Town Highway Department officials announced at a meeting with Eastport Green Project and East Moriches Property Owners Association leaders on November 30 that the department will fund and install the street lights with $155,000 from its 2019 budget.

The lights will be placed along a 1,000-foot stretch of Main Street—a section of Montauk Highway, which is a county road—from Union Avenue to the beginning of the Seatuck Creek Bridge at the town line.

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said that subcontractor NY Trenchless Inc. will carry out the installation.

“It’s really good news that they’re going to do that,” Roy Reynolds, the president of the East Moriches Property Owners Association, said, referring to Brookhaven Town agreeing to do the work. “I think Eastport’s been neglected a bit over the years, so it’s about time they got some proper funding.”

His association has informally acted as a consultant to the Eastport Green Project, which spearheaded the street light project, he said.

“The goal with the project is not to change into another kind of town—it’s really to make people not just drive through,” Eastport Green Project co-founder Heather Spagnoli said, noting that they want small businesses in the district to survive. “These little changes might not seem like it would make a difference, but it does.”

The Eastport Green Project, a local civic group aimed at beautifying the hamlet, applied for a grant through Brookhaven Town under Suffolk County’s Downtown Revitalization Grants Program in April, but the county eventually denied it in November. Once the denial was announced, Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico decided to ask the town’s Highway Department to include the project in its 2019 budget.

“We believe it’s worthwhile,” Mr. Panico said of the town’s decision to step in. “Eastport is an area that we spent considerable time, money and effort, and the character of the area is something we work to preserve.”

This street light project will take place concurrent to a $125,000 state-funded project to replace the crumbling sidewalks along that same strip. Highway Department officials have been planning to replace the Main Street sidewalks for a while, through a contractor, but Ms. Spagnoli said they held off until they knew whether funds would be approved for street lights.

“They didn’t want to go ahead and do sidewalks and then rip them up to put in street lights,” Ms. Spagnoli said.

Although Main Street is a county road, Mr. Losquadro said that Suffolk County was not planning to fix the sidewalks themselves, leaving it up to the town to figure out. The Town Highway Department is currently asking the county if they are willing to do some, if not all, of the sidewalk construction with the state grant, Mr. Losquadro said.

Members of the Eastport Green Project and town officials plan to walk through the hamlet’s downtown district in January to identify placements for the street lights. Once that is decided, they are hoping to begin construction and installation by the spring or summer of next year, Ms. Spagnoli said.

Businesses lining the project site on Main Street include East End Gaming, Hampton’s Consignment Shoppe, Eastport Luncheonette, Seatuck Stained Glass, Victoria’s Antiques and Eastport’s Little Secret, among others.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Rob Fogarty, owner of East End Gaming, said of Eastport Green Project’s plan. “These people fought a long time for this, and, hopefully, they got what they’ve been fighting for.”

Mr. Fogarty, an East Moriches resident, said that Eastport has been going downhill since opening his business on Main Street two years ago.

“People drive through, and it’s dark and it’s deteriorating. A lot of businesses have left, and it’s kind of almost a place that’s becoming deserted, in a way,” he said, adding that he is planning to make a decision in January whether to keep his business in the hamlet.

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Great that the Town stepped up!
By Mouthampton (417), Southampton on Dec 10, 18 11:12 PM