Situated in a natural harbor enclosed by tall bluffs on the northern shoreline of Long Island, this five-acre park opened in 2004 on a remediated site formerly contaminated by industrial uses. The surrounding Port Jefferson was settled in the seventeenth century and shipbuilding quickly became a mainstay of the community’s economy. In 1932 a section of the port was purchased by Mobil Oil for a petroleum storage facility. In 1997 the Village of Port Jefferson bought the site, inheriting massive tanks, expansive paved lots, and contaminated soils. The landscape architecture firm Quennell Rothschild & Partners developed a master plan to transform the half-mile stretch of waterfront into publicly accessible open space.
To make the site hospitable, a geotextile mat and millions of cubic yards of fill were used to cap the hazardous subsoils. The upland areas of the site were contoured to create an undulating topography planted with trees and a meadow. Closer to the shore, saltwater-tolerant grasses and rugosa roses, salvaged boulders, and a sand beach create a naturalistic edge. Pathways meander across turf play areas and a shoreline promenade of multicolored gravel and sand passes amidst grassy dunes. An aquatic-themed children’s play area features interactive sculptures of marine animals and boats. A nineteenth century chandlery has been rehabilitated to serve as a maritime museum, a 350-foot-long pier was retrofitted, and an ice-skating rink accommodates cold-weather recreation. Lighting designed to resemble bollards used for mooring ships and a stone and steel sculpture of seamen carrying a boat recall the site’s maritime history.