04/18/13 10:00pm
04/18/2013 10:00 PM

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA COURTESY PHOTO | Scouts on a rope obstacle course.

After hearing nearly an hour of objections from neighbors and others, the Riverhead Planning Board on Thursday afternoon decided to adjourn to May 2 a public hearing on a controversial proposal to built a “COPE course” on a section of the Baiting Hollow Boy Scouts Camp that is only about 100 feet from homes.

The COPE (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) course is a series of 12 rope and wire climbing devices that are hung from twelve 35-foot high telephone poles. One of the devices is a zip line.

The various challenges are designed to meet Boy Scouts of America standards, and are based on attaining seven goals outlined by the Boy Scouts of America: teamwork, communication, trust, leadership, decision making, problem solving and self-esteem, according to the Boy Scouts.

More than 300 Scouts camps across the country have COPE courses, scouting officials said.

But residents of Silver Beech Lane questioned why the Scouts chose to put the course right near their homes, when the Scouts camp is almost 90 acres in size.

Bob Oleksiak, whose home is closest to the proposed course, read a letter from his wife, Mary, who was present, but he said “would be crying” if she read it herself.

Ms. Oleksiak, who has cancer, said that if built, she would see the course from every window in her home, instead of the nature and wildlife she sees now.

“After cancer, I just want to rest and recuperate. This will no longer be a place to heal and recover, it will be my cause of death,” her letter read.

Other neighbors, including former town Councilman George Bartunek and Joe Van de Wetering, said they have no objection to the COPE, just to the proposed location.

“This is not a NIMBY issue,” Mr. Van de Wetering said. “This is an ‘in your face’ issue.”

Fran Rosenfeld, who lives next to the Oleksiaks, said she would never be able to sell her house if the COPE course is behind it.

Richard Amper, speaking on his own behalf and not on behalf of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society nonprofit he helps lead, said the presentation by the Boy Scout representatives at Thursday’s hearing made hardly any mention of the neighbors.

“I can’t figure out why the Boy Scouts are constantly at war with their neighbors,” he said.

The Baiting Hollow camp many years ago proposed to install a cell tower that neighbors opposed, and the Schiff Scout Reserve on Wading River-Manor Road had proposed selling their camp and allowing it to be cleared for a golf course many years ago. Neither proposal came to fruition.

Several other speakers, including former supervisor Phil Cardinale, who is representing the Oleksiaks as an attorney, said the proposal should require a special permit from the Town Board before the Planning Board can vote on the site plan because it constitutes an expansion of a “pre-existing, non-conforming use,” meaning that the use existed before zoning but doesn’t conform to its present zoning, which is residential.

A town planning report from environmental planner Joe Hall said that proposal doesn’t constitute an expansion of the pre-existing use, merely an accommodation for enhancing the existing scout camp.

Mr. Cardinale disagreed, saying that when he was supervisor, projects that were proposed on the non-profit Little Flower campus, which also is a non-conforming, pre-existing use, needed special permits from the Town Board.

He said that if the Scouts are allowing non-Scouts groups to use the course for a fee, that would constitute a new use.

Mr. Grimaldi said in an interview that the Scouts do charge a fee to school and youth groups, but do so only to recover their costs in having an instructor present. He said the course is never used without a Scout instructor present.

Councilman John Dunleavy and others said they felt the Scouts should be made to agree in writing that they would not rent the space out to non-Scout groups if the COPE course is approved.

Mr. Cardinale said COPE courses are used be non-Scouts groups. He referred to a quote from the Baiting Hollow camp’s director Jim Grimaldi in a News-Review article about the COPE course, in which Mr. Grimaldi said the course would also be used by school and youth groups, as well as to information from national Boy Scouts web sites saying that COPE courses are routinely rented out to non-Scout groups.

John Roe, the attorney for Suffolk County Boy Scouts, said he could not commit to that restriction without discussing it with Scouts leaders first.

But he said the Scouts camp at Baiting Hollow has been there for 87 years and “we tried to be a good neighbor during that time. We think the impact from this is going to minimal.”

He said the Scoust camp is only used from July 1 to the end of August for weekday campers, but it is used on weekends sometimes beyond those months.

Mr. Grimaldi said the site in question was chosen because it is the only site on the camp that is flat enough to put the course.

Mr. Roe said the camp property is like a “U” in that it is high on the east and west ends and low in the middle, where Fresh Pond is.

Bill Dunn, the vice president for program at the Suffolk County Scouts, said the COPE course is not an obstacle course in which the objective is to complete it quickly. It’s a course where instructors give directions to scouts who then carry them out.

“This is very disciplined,” he said. The COPE course has consistently been suggested by scout leaders as something the Baiting Hollow camp lacks.

The course is not open to anyone who shows up, he said, and when it is not being used, the various climbing challenges are not reachable without a ladder.

But Mr. Oleksiak said the course will not be secured, because people could enter from private property, and those people could bring a ladder.

Planning Board member Ed Densieski said the board would adjourn the hearing to their next meeting, which is at 7 p.m. May 2.

Prior to the hearing, residents had asked that the date of the hearing be shifted to a night meeting. The Planning Board declined to do so, but said it could have the day time hearing on Thursday and then adjourn it to the night meeting.

tgannon@timesreview.com

04/18/13 6:00am

COURTESY PHOTO | Boy Scouts on a rope obstacle course.

There are two troubling elements in the controversy of the proposed training course proposed for the Boy Scouts of America property in Baiting Hollow. The project would be built close to adjacent property owners.

First, why can’t the Boy Scouts of America learn to be good neighbors? Previously, the Suffolk Chapter proposed to site a money-making cell tower on the property, without regard for their neighbors’ concerns. The Nassau Chapter proposed converting their scout camp in Wading River into a golf course until environmentalists intervened and protected the land, the community and the camp.

What kind of message does this send to the young people the Boy Scouts of America are trying to shape? It sure isn’t the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The scouting organization may not be willing to love their neighbors as themselves, but they might try, at least, to accommodate them. Flat or not, the portion of the scout property abutting their residential neighbors can’t be the only place to erect telephone poles.

The other problematic position to emerge from the Riverhead Town Planning Board’s meeting on the subject was the position of member Ed Densieski. He asked why members of the public should be accommodated at an evening meeting, because they had to work during the day, at the alleged inconvenience of the applicant. Of course, it’s because government is supposed to represent the public’s interest, not the applicant’s. Maybe that’s why Densieski is no longer a member of the Riverhead Town Board. You have to get elected to that body.

Richard Amper, Lake Panomoka

To read more letters to the editor, pick up a copy of the Riverhead News-Review on newsstands or click on the E-Paper.

04/06/13 7:00am
04/06/2013 7:00 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Bob Oleksiak of Baiting Hollow stands at the edge of his Silver Beech Lane property, about 90 feet from where Baiting Hollow Scout Camp officials are proposing to build a rope climbing course for youths.

Bob and Mary Oleksiak imagine that in the near future, the quiet and comfortable moments they’ve come to enjoy together in their backyard, which Ms. Oleksiak calls her “little piece of heaven,” will be interrupted by the constant noise of screaming kids.

Boy Scouts, to be exact.

The Oleksiaks and their immediate neighbors in Baiting Hollow are up in arms over plans to install a COPE (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) course at the adjacent Baiting Hollow Scout Camp off Sound Avenue, owned by the Suffolk County Boy Scouts. The neighbors insist the course structures should be placed somewhere else on the 90-acre camp property — not immediately behind their yards.

A COPE course is a series of rope and high-wire climbing challenges designed to meet Boy Scouts of American standards, according to the COPE Course website. The site says COPE programs are based on attaining seven goals outlined by the Boy Scouts of America: teamwork, communication, trust, leadership, decision making, problem solving and self-esteem.

At a recent Riverhead Town Planning Board meeting, Baiting Hollow camp director Jim Grimaldi described the proposed course as requiring the installation of twelve 35-foot-high telephone poles on property east of a pond called Fresh Pond. He said the location is in “the farthest east part of our property.”

He later told the News-Review it’s the only viable spot on the property for the course, considering the land is flat in that area.

But that puts it within sight of the neighbors, making for some contentious exchanges before an auger has even hit the ground.

“I tried to make an attempt at explaining to the neighbors what a COPE course was, but I don’t take well to being threatened and cursed at, so we stopped the conversation,” Mr. Grimaldi told the Planning Board.

For his part, Mr. Oleksiak denied that he ever cursed at Mr. Grimaldi, though he said in an interview that Mr. Grimaldi had called the police on him for trespassing during one of his regular strolls through the neighboring camp.

According to tax maps, six properties abut the camp land. Mr. Oleksiak said there are markers in place indicating where the course would go and that the markers are only about 99 feet from his backyard. The land is currently woods and some trees will have to be cut down to build the course.

“Why are they putting it here when they have so much land elsewhere that they could put it?” Mr. Oleksiak asked Friday. “This is going to affect 25 homes on Silver Beech Lane. All you’re going to hear is noise.”

“They’re taking away my little piece of heaven,” lamented Ms. Oleksiak, who is battling cancer.

“I can’t sell my home now because the taxes are too high; I’m paying $19,000 in taxes,” said Annmarie Schreiber, who would also have the course running along her backyard. “Now they are going to put a thing like this up and make it a commercial area? I’ll never be able to sell my house. Are they going to charge only $1,000 in taxes? Because that’s what the house is going to be worth.”

Other neighbors also complained to the News-Review.

“The Oleksiaks are going to be exposed to this in their backyard,” said George Bartunek, a former town councilman who lives in the area. “The opinion here is that this is something that could be placed elsewhere to keep it more distant from everybody in the neighborhood.”

The Planning Board has scheduled a hearing on the proposal, which also calls for construction of an archery pavilion farther east on the scout property, on Thursday, April 18, at 3 p.m.

Mr. Oleksiak said he is asking the town to change the hearing to a night meeting because many people can’t attend in the daytime.

The camp director said the land’s terrain is what’s dictating the proposed placement of the course.

“It’s a large piece of property and we’ve been there for a long time, this is our 87th year, but we don’t have a lot of flat property,” Mr. Grimaldi said in an interview Tuesday. “To do the course and to do it safely, you have to have some flat property. There is no other place for it.”

He said the state Department of Environmental Conservation is allowing the group to cut down up to six trees but is requiring them to plant four new trees for every one they cut down.

As for the neighbors’ concerns about noise, Mr. Grimaldi said the COPE course will generally be used by only about a dozen scouts, and maybe two instructors, at a time.

“It’s meant for small groups,” he said. “It’s not like you’re building a football field or something like that.”

Mr. Grimaldi said the tallest pole is 35 feet and no poles are taller than the trees, so the course will blend in with its surroundings.

“You will have to look for it and know that it’s there in order to find it,” he said. “It’s in the middle of the trees and it’s a dozen telephone poles with wires hanging in between them and challenges hanging on those wires.”

He also promised there would be at least a 100-foot buffer between anything the camp builds and the nearest property line, not the 90 feet Mr. Oleksiak counted.

Mr. Oleksiak and his neighbors are also concerned about how the course would be secured when it’s not in use, and whether camp officials plan to build a fence or have lights or surveillance around the course.

Mr. Grimaldi explained to the News-Review that ladders are used to get to the elements of the course and that when the course is not in use, the ladders are not there and there is no way to access the various climbing elements, as they are called.

“There is nothing you can climb on from the ground,” he said.

The Boy Scouts also plan to bring local schools or youth groups to the site, Mr. Grimaldi said, though in those cases a Boy Scouts representative will always be on hand to supervise activity.

“We will always be running the course,” he said. “When we are not there and we’re not running the course, there is no way to access it.”

An archery pavilion is also planned for the property, which involves building an open-air roof over an existing archery range toward the west part of the scout property.

“The fact that the camp has existed for 87 years and we’ve really been free of complaints from our neighbors for 87 years … that record, in itself, should stand for something,” Mr. Grimaldi said. “I think we’ve been pretty good neighbors for 87 years and we’ll continue to be good neighbors for the next 87 years.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

04/04/13 1:35pm
04/04/2013 1:35 PM
Autism Awareness Day

Children in this Baiting Hollow neighborhood gathered on the front lawn of Christine and Chris Springer’s house with blue glow-sticks just after sunset Tuesday for ‘World Autism Awareness Day.’

A Baiting Hollow neighborhood was lit blue Tuesday night thanks to the work of Chris and Christine Springer.

Autism in Baiting Hollow

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Savannah Springer, 11, wears a T-shirt her mother made.

The couple led efforts to decorate their block to recognize the sixth “World Autism Awareness Day.”

Ms. Springer started promoting the annual event locally about five years ago, inspired by the couple’s own child who has special needs.

The family has lived in Baiting Hollow for seven years.

For this year’s event, Ms. Springer went to Home Depot to purchase special blue light bulbs, from which the proceeds goes to “Autism Speaks,” and distributed the bulbs in her Nicholas Way neighbors’ mailboxes, asking them to participate by lighting up their houses blue.

The note also read, “No pressures. No worries.”

All 19 households on the dead-ended block happily complied.

Mr. Springer also purchased blue glow-sticks for area children to wear around their necks or to carry.

Ms. Springer was happy about the turnout to her house just after sunset Tuesday evening.

“In this neighborhood everybody supports everyone in everything we do. We all watch out for one other and the kids watch out for one other. It’s almost like family. You don’t have to worry.”

April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day, but April is also Autism Awareness Month.

The Empire State Building also glowed blue Tuesday night, as did bridges, tunnels and other landmarks all over the world.

photo@timesreview.com

03/22/13 8:00am
03/22/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead native and lifelong Reeves Park resident Jeff Fuchs makes his way up the Sandy-ravaged beach’s access ramp in his SUV after hanging out late Tuesday afternoon with friends. Mr. Fuchs is confident Mother Nature will restore Reeves Beach.

Every summer, Reeves Park resident Brian Noone likes to pack his barbecue grill into the back of his truck and head down to Reeves Beach with his wife and two young children. They spend the afternoons swimming, then build campfires each night, just as Mr. Noone did with his parents and siblings when he was young.

“We live down there,” he said of the routine.

But this year may be different.

At low tide, Reeves Beach, on the north shore of Baiting Hollow, has hundreds of feet of sand stretching in both directions. But come down the ramp at some high tides and the beach is gone, completely submerged under the Long Island Sound, which now reaches up to the ramp and bluffs at the start of the beach.

Mr. Noone said it would be “devastating” to lose parts of the beach.

Reeves Beach at high tide

ERIC BIEGLER COURTESY PHOTO | A strip of Reeves Beach at high tide last week.

“That’s what this community lives for,” he said. “I think this community enjoys this beach more than any other community out there.”

The dramatic erosion that wiped out Reeves Beach is thanks to Hurricane Sandy and a series of winter storms that battered the North Fork this past year, experts said.

Now, town officials and engineers are planning to look closer at the shoreline to figure out how to manage the town’s most damaged beach before summer.

“It looks horrible right now … Reeves is by far the worst,” said Ray Coyne, the town’s recreation department head.

Mr. Coyne said the Riverhead Town beaches at Iron Pier and Wading River have “a lot of debris down there,” but the town will be able to clean and open those beaches in time for the summer season.

But Reeves Beach poses more complicated challenges, like where to put a lifeguard stand on the flooded beach.

“If we had opened it today, we couldn’t even get a lifeguard stand down during one of the [tide] cycles,” Mr. Coyne said, because the water comes right up to the bluffs at times.

He and the town engineers will assess the beach and present their findings to the Town Board in the coming weeks, he said.

Closing the beach for the summer, which would mean no town staffing and no swimming, is a last resort, he said.

“I just want to find out everything that we need to know to open this beach,” Mr. Coyne said. “[Closing the beach] really will not happen unless we have no other options left. If our backs are against the wall.”

Reeves Beach has disappeared beneath high tides in years past, said Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association, which represents about 100 homeowners in the Reeves Park neighborhood near the beach.

“Every year the beach goes through a bit of a revitalization,” he said.

But this year, the beach hasn’t come back.

“This is unprecedented, in my opinion,” Mr. Biegler said. “Who knows how it’s going to correct itself?”

The civic association’s private beach, about 400 feet of shoreline west of the town beach, lost 25 feet of bluff during Sandy, Mr. Biegler said.

“We’re going to have a huge beach [this year], not because our beach came back but because our cliff got chopped off,” he said.

The new Sound shoreline in the area of Reeves Park and beyond now has areas that are completely under water during certain high tide cycles, he said. That means people traveling the beach will need to make sure they understand that their route onto the beach may be sealed off by the Sound hours later.

“You’re going to have to work through this,” Mr. Biegler said. “The whole of coastal Long Island is going to have to work through this.”

Drivers on the beach will also have to be more conscious of high and low tides. He proposed the town send messages to those who got permits to drive on the beach, warning them of the dangers of the new high tide marks.

Mr. Biegler said he was not “alarmed” yet, but he said he had concerns about the beach’s erosion and doesn’t want the town to close the beach.

“Ray [Coyne] is going to have to be creative,” Mr. Biegler said. “He can’t just close the beach … You have to adapt, you have to be flexible, you have to survive through this.

“[Reeves Beach] is a huge resource for the entire Town of Riverhead. As a community we don’t want to see the beach closed.”

The erosion of beaches, including Reeves Beach, is natural, said Stony Brook University professor Henry Bokuniewicz, who has a doctorate in geology and geophysics from Yale University.

The North Shore of Long Island is not one uniform beach, Mr. Bokuniewicz said, but rather a series of “compartments” formed by outcroppings of rocks, jetties and other underwater structures.

“It’s not like the South Shore where much of the shore is smeared together,” he said.

The area of Reeves Beach that was damaged is one such compartment, bordered by a series of rocky groins to the east and a submerged shipwreck to the west that forms a barrier to trap sand, he said.

Erosion normally occurs when rainstorms take sand off the bluffs or waves undercut them and cause large sections to collapse.

But while normal storms may also sweep sand off the beach, Sandy was by no means a normal storm, he said.

“In Sandy, many beaches went down to what’s called ‘pavement,’ ” he said. “All that was left was this hard, packed-down beach.”

Because the storm was so huge and because of nor’easters since Sandy, including February’s record-setting blizzard, the sand that was pulled out to sea hasn’t been redistributed onto the beaches yet, he said.

“If the calm conditions return, beaches can recover in six weeks, but the problem is calm conditions don’t persist,” Mr. Bokuniewicz said. “The clock is trying to get to reset, and it keeps getting pushed back and pushed back and pushed back.”

Mr. Bokuniewicz said he believes the beach will eventually return, though he couldn’t predict when.

“How fast the beach recovers depends on the sand that’s in that compartment [near Reeves Beach],” he said.

But it’s possible that when the beach recovers, it may not be the same, he said.

While some sand may have settled in the compartment, other sand may have been dumped on sand bars far offshore; that sand will likely not come back, changing the shape of the new Reeves Beach, he said.

“It’s really sort of the luck of the draw as to where the sand was redistributed after Sandy,” Mr. Bokuniewicz said. “It may come back, but it may not.”

Mr. Coyne said the town engineers will look at all possibilities, including seeing if the beach will naturally return or filling in the area with sand to restore Reeves Beach.

Mr. Biegler said he favored “a little intervention” if needed in the form of dumping new sand onto the beach, but warned the town needs to be careful.

In general, Mr. Bokuniewicz said he believes it’s “good to … put [sand] back on the beach,” but he warned that the sand may soon be eroded away if another big storm strikes, and he said the measure can be costly.

“Beach nourishment is fairly benign, environmentally, but it is a crapshoot,” he said. “It doesn’t solve the erosion problem, but it treats the problem. You never know when that next event is going to come through and push that sand to the west or push the sand to the east.

“You pay your money and take your chances.”

But not everyone is concerned about erosion.

Riverhead native and lifelong Reeves Park resident Jeff Fuchs, 43, made his way up the storm-battered beach access ramp in his GMC four-wheel drive vehicle Tuesday evening after hanging out with friends at the beach after work.

He said he’s seen the beach come and go from many storms over the years and has no doubt Reeves Beach would return.

“No matter what happens to it the beach it always comes back,” Mr. Fuchs said.

psquire@timesreview.com

This story first appeared in the March 21 News-Review newspaper.

01/04/13 3:00pm
01/04/2013 3:00 PM
Rich Stabile, Long Island Spirits, Suffolk, Nassau, Long Island, LiV Vodka

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | Rich Stabile owner of Long Island Spirits, the only micro-distillery operating in Suffolk or Nassau counties.

Long Island Spirits, the Island’s first and only vodka distillery, has been housed in a turn-of-the-century barn on Sound Avenue since 2007.

The growing distillery and tasting room is located in Baiting Hollow, where visitors can treat their taste buds to local liquor as they overlook an 80-acre potato farm.

In the past two years, Long island Spirits has gone on to produce the first local whiskey and aged brandy as well.

Those who have worked with the company say Long Island Spirits’ burgeoning success is all thanks to head honcho Richard Stabile, the News-Review’s 2012 Business Person of the Year.

“Richard got there first, period,” said manager James Silver of Peconic Bay Winery, which teamed up with Long Island Spirits to produce the island’s first brandy, Sono Rinata, just over two years ago. “He took what everyone was thinking and did it. It was a brilliant idea to put a distillery in this area — especially one rife with material to be distilled. And then he did it so unbelievably well; I don’t know anyone who wasn’t completely jealous.”

Mr. Silver, a shepherd of his own business’ success, called Mr. Stabile “a leader, and a pragmatic, thoughtful, inspired contributor” to the North Fork’s business landscape who “took a risk few would dare to and made it work.”

And he isn’t the only one singing Mr. Stabile’s praises.

Brand specialist Alicia Messina, who has worked for the distillery founder and owner for three years, said Long Island Spirits has found success not only because they have cornered the local vodka market, but because of the type of boss Mr. Stabile has been all along.

“He is greatly appreciative of his employees and constantly lets them know this,” Ms. Messina said. “Rich has created such a wonderful and friendly work environment within Long Island Spirits, and this pays off in the success he has had with his business over the years.”

The distillery employee said Mr. Stabile’s kindness is not limited to his employees, and she added that he is “always quick to help out with charitable events and fundraisers and enjoys reaching out to people in need,” including donating products to events to benefit finding cures for cancer or being involved in golf outings to support local veterans.

“Rich has brought something new to Long Island and found much success in it,” Ms. Messina said of Mr. Stabile. “LiV vodka has been in numerous blind taste-testing competitions, scoring extremely high, and has been recognized for its domesticity and being an economically friendly product.”

In March, the distillery released Pine Barrens Whiskey, the Island’s premier local whiskey, made from a commercially finished beer, instead of peated malt.

“I’ve always been a whiskey fan,” Mr. Stabile told the Long Island Wine Press earlier this year. “But we wanted to do something different with ours. Most American whiskeys are bourbon-style, made from corn, and there’s a lot of ryes out there. We wanted to do a scotch-style whiskey, single malt, but rather than develop our own peated malt, we thought it would be unique if we used a commercially finished beer. Nobody else does this, that we know of.”

For the product, Mr. Stabile teamed up with Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company, distilling down 850 gallons of one of their beers, Old Howling Bastard, for its first batch.

“We spent a lot of time experimenting with Blue Point before we got going,” Mr. Stabile said of the process, “but we’re just blown away with what we came up with.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com

11/17/12 11:26am
11/17/2012 11:26 AM

More than seven hours after a Riverhead man who police said was driving drunk took out a utility pole in Baiting Hollow early Saturday morning a portion of Sound Avenue remained closed to traffic as the town awaits the arrival of a LIPA repair crew, police said.

Police charged Robert Weber, 26, with driving while intoxicated, according to the department. Mr. Weber was alone in the vehicle when it hit the pole at 3:30 a.m., said police. He was taken to police headquarters and held for arraignment.

Late Saturday morning Sound Avenue remained closed between Edwards and Fresh Pond Avenues with traffic diverted to Middle Country Road, said police.

10/06/12 4:00pm
10/06/2012 4:00 PM
Sound Avenue Nature Preserve, Baiting Hollow, Riverhead

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Rudy Goodale, 6, and his brother Gavin, 4, of Calverton play at the Sound Avenue Nature Preserve Saturday. Their mother, Kathy, is on the open space committee.

Riverhead Town’s first nature preserve was officially opened to the public Saturday morning by town Councilman James Wooten, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and members of the town’s open space committee.

Improvements on the 15-acre preserve off Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow — called the Sound Avenue Nature Preserve — include about a mile of mulched trails and native shrub plantings.

Future improvements will include benches, birdhouses and educational kiosks.

A small barn on the property will be cleaned out and used for educational field trips.

The improvements to the site were funded using $75,000 from Community Preservation Fund proceeds. That money comes from a tax on real estate transfers within the town and must be used for farmland or open space preservation.

Plans for the preserve have been in the works since June 2010.

Mr. Wooten thanked all the town departments who came together to help with the project, including the engineering, highway and building and grounds departments.

“We wanted to preserve it but also to let people enjoy it for education, recreation and solitude,” Mr. Wooten said.

“A place to come to for reflection.”

photo@timesreview.com

Sound Avenue Nature Preserve, Riverhead, Baiting Hollow

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The chairman of the town’s open space committee, Charles Cetas (left), and other committee members and town officials Saturday at the preserve.