06/22/13 8:00am
GOOGLE MAPS | The land Suffolk County is looking to preserve is on the west side of Park Road and fronts Sound Avenue.

GOOGLE MAPS | The land Suffolk County is looking to preserve is on the west side of Park Road and fronts Sound Avenue.

We would like to clear up some misconceptions about the potential preservation of 15 acres of land on the northwest corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road, near Reeves Park.

We are writing to show our support for Suffolk County’s acquisition of the entire parcel, owned by Ed Broidy, as farmland preservation instead of parkland preservation. We feel this would ensure the property will continue to be farmed forever for future generations as a real working farm.

In a current lawsuit settlement between Mr. Broidy and the Town of Riverhead, the landowner would preserve seven acres along Sound Avenue as farmland and be able to build 15 homes to the north, on the remaining eight acres.

[Related: Don't undermine preservation efforts]

Suffolk County is looking to purchase this property to create a park, which would include recreation trails and parking for the facility. This land has been farmed for 200 years and it is almost unthinkable to take a prime-soil farm out of production and replace it with a Suffolk County park. You only have to wonder what county officials were thinking about to put hiking trails in the middle of an open potato field. We have trails at our 2,000-acre Enterprise Park at Calverton property, 300 acres at the newly purchased North Fork Preserve and many other trails throughout Riverhead Town.

The land proposed to be preserved as park would require taking the entire property out of farming permanently and would require not only use of town Community Preservation Fund monies, which have been depleted in recent years, but also ongoing maintenance of the park with town resources — on behalf of all Suffolk County residents.

The Town currently owes over $76 million in debt in open space purchases and incoming CPF funds can no longer keep up with the annual debt service. CPF proceeds come from a tax on property sales. Unless the economy makes a big recovery, our reserves will be depleted in five years. At that time, our taxpayers will be facing a big increase in their taxes, as we would then have to dip into the general fund to make up for the debt payment shortfalls.

This potential debt would rival our suffocating landfill debt. It would be irresponsible to continue to spend money we don’t have. On the other hand, a farmland purchase of development rights by the county would add nothing to this debt, and is by far the better option to see the entire 15 acres preserved.

We would like to see this farm continue for another 200 years. The overwhelming majority of Reeves Park residents we have spoken to support a farmland purchase over the proposed park. On another note, to the Reeves Park residents, if this county park is built, the once-quiet Reeves Beach will be gone forever.

Step up, Suffolk County officials, and listen to our residents.

We had a conversation with the farmer who has been farming there and he indicated he would like to continue to farm the parcel. In speaking with Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, we are all in agreement that this would be the best benefit to the community.

It seems reasonable that an agreement can be reached among Suffolk County, Riverhead Town, the landowner, and the farmer to make this a reality. A win-win for all. It is much more desirable to preserve this entire parcel as farmland in keeping with our rural character, farm heritage and agritourism focus.

We believe preserving this parcel as farmland would be in keeping with the rural character of Sound Avenue and support the Scenic Rural Historic Corridor.

Ms. Giglio, of Baiting Hollow, and Mr. Gabrielsen, of Jamesport, are both members of the Riverhead Town Board.

06/13/13 8:00am
06/13/2013 8:00 AM
GOOGLE MAPS | The land Suffolk County is looking to preserve is on the west side of Park Road and fronts Sound Avenue.

GOOGLE MAPS | The land Suffolk County is looking to preserve is on the west side of Park Road and fronts Sound Avenue, just south of the Reeves Park neighborhood.

Riverhead Town should not dare to scuttle Suffolk County’s plans to purchase 15 acres of farmland along Sound Avenue for preservation.

The property stretches north into the Reeves Park neighborhood, and Reeves Park residents — as well as others across the North Fork and all Suffolk County — have made it clear that developing the state-designated rural corridor is not in the best interest of the neighbors, or the region as a whole.

Yet town council members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen have said they don’t want the town to contribute the $75,000 that would allow the joint purchase to move forward. They argue the town shouldn’t be taking developable land off tax rolls and that Riverhead’s preservation funds are dwindling. But last we checked, housing developments weren’t exactly money-makers. And $75,000 for 15 acres is an excellent deal that won’t break the bank.

The two council members have the power to block the move. Supervisor Sean Walter has recused himself from a vote because he used to represent property owner Ed Broidy as a lawyer. If Ms. Giglio and Mr. Gabrielsen do kill the measure, they would not be acting as fiscal conservatives, as they might believe. They would instead be acting penny wise and pound foolish, as Councilman James Wooten has said.

Too much money and effort have been invested over decades into preserving Sound Avenue as a treasure for all Long Islanders, starting in earnest with the two-lane highway’s designation by the state as a historic rural corridor. There have been years of litigation between the town and Mr. Broidy since the town’s master plan rezoned the land (and other parcels on Sound Avenue). In the meantime, former county legislator Ed Romaine lobbied hard to get support for Suffolk County’s purchase of the Broidy property, with area civic leaders and other residents showing up in Hauppauge to support preservation efforts. This newspaper took the unusual step of running an opinion-based photo spread of rural Sound Avenue on its cover, urging the county to act to protect the corridor. Residents later displayed those photos to county lawmakers in Hauppauge to help win support for the cause.

Throw into the mix developer Kenn Barra, who has recently sold a 4.1-acre property on the east side of Park Road, also fronting Sound Avenue, to the county for parkland. That done, one might have thought preservation of the Broidy land was also nearing the finish line.

But now it seems the deal might be dead — and over a measly $75,000?

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski should step in and pressure Ms. Giglio and Mr. Gabrielsen to vote with their constituents. There may be no better example in this town of open space that should be preserved. It’s been 10 years since Mr. Broidy proposed a 22,000-square-foot shopping center for the site, causing great dismay among preservationists and everyday citizens. It’s now time to put this all behind us.

07/06/11 1:56pm
07/06/2011 1:56 PM

The Long Island Beagle Club property on Edwards Avenue in Calverton could be the next big parcel of land Suffolk County plans to preserve as open space following a July 21 public hearing on the plan.

The county Department of Environment and Energy is proposing to purchase the 150-acre property using money from the Drinking Water Protection Program, which is funded through a voter-approved quarter cent sales tax.

The hearing will be held at the office of the Department of Environment and Energy’s Division of Real Property Acquisition and Management, which is located on the second floor of the Dennison Building on Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge. It is scheduled for 10 a.m.

The Long Island Beagle Club was founded in 1932 and was used to train beagles for hunting. In 2006, a developer was under contract to buy the land and build 73 clustered residential lots on the property. That proposal later fell through and the county took steps toward acquiring the site.

Some residents of the nearby Village Green subdivision had urged that the site be acquired as open space.

County Legislature Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), who introduced the planning steps resolution, said the proposal calls for the county to acquire the property and for Riverhead Town to manage it once purchased.

Reached Wednesday, Mr. Romaine said he did not know the proposed acquisition price. The News-Review left a message with representatives of Suffolk County Executve Steve Levy seeking that information, though that call was not immediately returned.

Town officials say the property has three buildings on it, along with several walking trails. It is located adjacent to land already preserved by the county.

The property is listed on the private real estate web site, Loopnet.com, at a selling price of $18 million. It says the property “features level to gentling rolling topography” and “is suitable for a winery, golf course, horse farm, agriculture, or residential site.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

12/03/10 5:50pm
12/03/2010 5:50 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Suffolk County will announce on Monday plans to purchase 18 acres of "pristine land" in Riverhead for preservation from the Harbes family, according to County Executive Steve Levy. The land, which will be sold for $1.2 million is contiguous with 27 acres along Sound Avenue already purchased by the county.

Suffolk County officials have announced plans to purchase the development rights of 18 acres of “pristine land” in Riverhead from the Harbes family, a $1.2 million move that will ensure the property remains as farmland. The land is adjacent to 27 acres of farmland along Sound Avenue already preserved by the county.

“The purchase of these farmland development rights insures that 45 acres of contiguous farmland will remain protected from development in the Town of Riverhead,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said in a statement Friday. “Our initiative here today helps to continue the tradition of locally grown produce on Long Island’s East End and will safeguard the Harbes family farm’s sweet corn, pumpkin, vegetables, flowers and, recently, grapes for future generations to enjoy.”

County Legislator Ed Romaine, whose district includes the Harbes family farm, was quoted in the same press release saying, “I am happy to co-sponsor this effort to protect the rural character of Sound Avenue and ensure that farming remains a viable industry in Suffolk County.”

The parcel is located on the north side of Sound Avenue, almost directly north of the intersection of Manor Lane and Sound Avenue. The Harbes family will be fully retaining the 10 acres of woodland to the north and four acres on Sound Avenue, including the farmhouse and several farm-related buildings, officials said. The county, however, will have a 100-foot-wide access point on Sound Avenue on the western boundary of the property facing an apple orchard.

gparpan@northshoresun.com