When Patrick McHeffey moved into the Patchogue in 2017, he wasted no time embedding himself in the village quickly joining the Community Development Agency.
“When we get down to the community level of government, especially in a village, there’s much more that brings us together than that which drives us apart,” McHeffey said. “We all want our potholes filled and our garbage and recycling picked up. We all want to feel safe using our streets, whether we’re pushing a stroller, using a walker, or choosing a bicycle rather than a car.”
Since becoming a villager, McHeffey has been racking up frequent stroller miles himself. He and his wife, Sophie, have two children, Rex, 3, and Rory, 10-months.
Earlier this month, the 34-year-old was appointed to Patchogue Village’s Board of Trustees, in which he is the youngest member. He filled the seat vacated by Lori Devlin, who is now serving as village clerk.
Now in his fourth term with the CDA, McHeffey serves as the body’s chairperson of the audit committee and is an active member of the Protecting the Environment (PEP) in Patchogue committee.
McHeffey said he draws inspiration from trustee Joe Keyes, who spearheads the PEP committee, and is dedicated to advancing Patchogue’s green initiatives.
“I think the environment has always been a key to Patchogue’s success,” McHeffey said. “And I think the work of Trustee Keyes and the PEP committee, they’ve just furthered that with their green initiatives and it’s made us sort of a regional leader in green initiatives.”
McHeffey said he looks forward to seeing the Johnson Controls project, approved by the village just two months before his trustee appointment, implemented.
“That was something that I was really happy to see take on, as it makes us look more sustainable and more financially resilient at the same time,” he said. “And we’re talking about years into the future.”
McHeffey’s to-do list: sewers and sidewalks
Looking forward, McHeffey wants Patchogue to have more of what every Long Island town and village knows is worth its weight in gold: sewer pipes.
“It’s one of our greatest assets and something quite unique in our region,” he said of Patchogue’s sewer system. “It’s a key component of building a vibrant, walkable and sustainable community. But the growth of Patchogue has outpaced the growth of the sewers, and that leaves us with a real opportunity to do something good.”
McHeffey said the village must pursue funding from county, state and federal governments. “Every year that we don’t do it is an added cost because prices of course always go up,” he said. “We just need to keep the conversations going.”
More sewer lines, McHeffey said, would not only benefit Patchogue today, but surrounding communities, the environment and future generations.
Throughout his time with the village thus far, McHeffey said he is most proud of upcoming sidewalk improvements to the bus and train stations on Division Street, for which he said he was an advocate.
“The sidewalks were outdated,” he said. “They were not safe for all users and some of the ramps were not accessible for all users.”
He said the project is a necessity to better serve residents and visitors to the village alike who do not drive cars.
some McHeffey history
McHeffey grew up in Center Moriches where his family owns Nettie’s Country Bakery.
His job at the bakery, which he continues to work, draws on his Bachelor of Science in accounting from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree in urban affairs from Boston University. As one of the many family members behind the counter, he has worn the hat of accountant, web manager, business strategist and occasionally baker.
Two years ago, he developed a website while working at the bakery called Gathered to connect local producers with consumers. “It didn’t really do much for a while,” he admitted. “And then the pandemic hit.”
McHeffey said he and his family saw the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and realized they had a tool that could serve their community in this time of need. “We partnered with other small, local producers to make sure that people’s pantries were stocked and that money continued to flow through our local economy,” he said.
“We also created something called a FoodShare, which was a way for those with the means to purchase a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk for those in need. Working with local experts like PJ Balzer, Catherine Guiterrez, and my sister, Maureen McHeffey Nunez, we were able to get hundreds of loaves of bread and gallons of milk into the hands of families in need.”
McHeffey said Gathered fulfilled approximately 7,500 orders from the start of the pandemic to the end of last year.
The experience is one that McHeffey can draw on as he tackles greater responsibilities in the village.
“I think that what we saw very quickly was the importance of local economies,” he said of his work with Gathered. “A lot of us in the small business scene have this feeling that this is an important piece in the community. I felt really fortunate to be able to do what I could.”