07/25/14 2:00pm
07/25/2014 2:00 PM

The North Fork Preserve in Northville has been called the county’s “last great park.” (Credit: Tim Gannon file photo)

With plans for Northville’s North Fork Preserve already taking shape, the county Legislature is set to vote Tuesday on the creation of an advisory committee to make recommendations for development and future use of the park.

Because of the park’s 314-acre scale and the number of proposed active uses — which include camping, hiking and horseback riding — the park stands to have “significant” impacts on nearby communities, according to the resolution introduced by Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue).

The North Fork Preserve Advisory Committee would be made up of 10 members, including representatives from the county and Riverhead Town government, as well as members of local civic group, an environmental group and horseman’s organizations to gather input from the community and make use recommendations, according to Mr. Krupski’s proposal.

In an interview Friday morning, Mr. Krupski said he made the recommendation after hearing from residents neighboring the park, who had voiced concerns about use and infrastructure, including drainage for storm water runoff. Last winter, the county decided to borrow $850,000 to fix drainage problems coming from the property which have plagued an abutting Northville neighborhood for years.

He said Friday that the community is also interested in completing and inventory of natural resources on the parcel “to make sure that everything on the parcel is protected.”

Mr. Krupski said local input is very important, as the “people who live nearby, who are probably are going to use it the most, should have some input as to how it is developed.”

The county purchased of the final three acres of the Preserve in February 2013 with a price tag of $702,000, while the bulk of the property, two parcels totaling 314 acres, were purchased in 2011 for $18.3 million, according to prior News-Review coverage.

Current plans include leaving 133-acres of the northern section undeveloped for uses like hiking or horseback riding, while the southern portion will be used for more active recreation like camping, tennis and basketball.

The three acres most recently purchased contain existing structures on them which will be used by the Suffolk County Parks Department for a check-in station, parks maintenance equipment, a caretaker residence and include a small office area for parks personnel, Mr. Krupski said during prior to its purchase.

“The North Fork Preserve has been called ‘Suffolk’s last great park’ and I agree with that description,” Mr. Krupski said during the final acquisition. “The park, with fishing, hiking, camping and more, will be a highlight of the entire Suffolk County park system.”

Read more about the committee in the proposed legislation:

North Fork Preserve Advisory Committe

06/04/14 8:00am
06/04/2014 8:00 AM
R1205_Preserve_BE_C.jpg

Drainage at the North Fork Preserve is one issue the county is hoping to fix by borrowing money in this year’s proposed capital improvement plan.

The Suffolk County Legislature hopes to borrow more than $70 million over the next three years to fund capital improvements and educational expansion initiatives, including projects from Riverside to Southold Town.  (more…)

12/19/13 2:30pm
12/19/2013 2:30 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A drainage pipe from the preserve? in the front lawn of a home on Sound Shore Road in Northville.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A drainage pipe from the preserve in the front lawn of a home on Sound Shore Road in Northville.

After years of poking and prodding public officials to do something about periodic flooding on Sound Shore Road in Northville — flooding that includes contaminated water, tests have shown — residents in the area will get their wish for an overhaul of an outdated culvert system, courtesy of Suffolk County.

A series of underground pipes directs groundwater from the North Fork Preserve to Northville Beach and, for years, debate has raged over who — if anyone — would be responsible for updating the damaged system, which is believed to have been installed in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration. The damaged pipes run underneath Sound Shore Road and through properties on its north side before reaching the beach.

The 307-acre preserve, previously two separate lots, was purchased in 2011 for $18 million. Suffolk County chipped in the lion’s share of the cost to construct a park, with Riverhead Town using $500,000 in Community Preservation Fund money. Now, with the responsibility of owning the land, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said that updating the sub-par culverts falls to Suffolk, even if the cash-strapped county has to borrow $850,000 to do the work. County legislators approved a measure Tuesday to do just that.

“We’ve inherited quite a problem over there,” said Mr. Krupski. “But now it’s the county’s liability to fix.”

Mr. Krupski said that work to fix the problem, which started to emerge over a decade ago, could begin as soon as this winter, .

According to a 2009 Riverhead News-Review article, a November 2007 report from the Suffolk County Health Department found that during the summer months, fecal contamination was evident in the culvert system, which could be attributable to shallow groundwater, surface water runoff, animal waste “and, potentially, leaching from on-site disposal systems.”

That same county report recommended that people not swim near areas where culverts from the property discharge.

Independent testing completed a year later by the Northville Beach Civic Association, led by former civic president Kerry Moran, found extremely high counts of fecal matter in samples leaching from the culverts, some of which drain directly onto Long Island Sound beaches. One test revealed a fecal coliform number five times the level that would have closed a public beach. Mr. Moran died in 2011 of injuries sustained after being struck by an automobile the year before.

Mr. Krupski said the cost to construct a sump on the preserve originally came in at nearly $1.5 million. However, further discussion led to the current plan, which will still discharge groundwater into Long Island Sound, a plan for which, he said, the county had permission from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Mr. Krupski added that the only contaminants in the groundwater after the pipes are repaired should be animal waste.

John Cullen, president of the civic group for the past three years, said that Northville homeowners affected by the substandard pipe system “were hoping, and still are hoping, that things will be fixed with the water coming off the preserve.”

In recent months, Mr. Cullen said, several meetings with the county Department of Public Works have led to a sense of optimism in that regard.

“The DPW has been very helpful,” he said. “We’re just hoping this can be over and done with.”

01/28/13 5:48pm
01/28/2013 5:48 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County envisions turning the North Fork Preserve in Northville into Suffolk’s last great county park.

The Suffolk County Legislature will take up the purchase of the final three acres of the North Fork Preserve at its Feb. 5 meeting,  where newly elected North Fork Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) has submitted a bill to acquire the land for $702,000.

The bulk of the property, two parcels totaling 314 acres, were purchased by the county in 2011 for $18.3 million. The county plans to create a public park on the land, with the 133-acre northern section being left undeveloped for use as passive recreation like hiking or horseback riding, and the southern portion being used for more active recreation like camping, tennis and basketball.

The three acres still to be acquired contain three existing structures on them, which will be used by the Suffolk County Parks Department for a caretaker residence and check-in station, a barn for parks maintenance equipment and a garage for park maintenance equipment and a with a small office area for parks personnel, according to Mr. Krupski, who co-sponsoring the bill with County Executive Steve Bellone (D-Babylon).

“The North Fork Preserve property is a critical open space acquisition for Riverhead, the North Fork and all of Suffolk County,” Mr. Krupski said in a press release. “The North Fork Preserve has been called ‘Suffolk’s last great park’ and I agree with that description. The park, with fishing, hiking, camping and more, will be a highlight of the entire Suffolk County park system.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/28/12 2:11pm
01/28/2012 2:11 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Auctioneer Jim McBurnie of Riverhead hawks a set of socket wrenches.

Auctioneer Jim McBurnie held an auction of farm, nursery, skeet shooting and catering equipment at the North Fork Preserve on Sound Avenue in Northville Saturday morning.

The 307-acre North Fork Preserve property was purchased by the town and county for $18.3 million last year.

North Fork Preserve was a private hunting and fishing club established in 1984.

There were many familiar faces of Riverhead old timers, local farmers, farm workers and bargain hunters in the crowd. The owners of other nurseries on the North Fork came out looking for usable equipment for their businesses.

John Reeve of Aquebogue said he had his eyes set on new tires stored in a barn that he wanted to use for his backhoe.

McBurnie’s auction company of Riverhead is a family run business of 30 years. They have done many farm equipment auctions and even did the produce auction at Long Island Cauliflower Association in Riverhead.

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08/04/11 5:01am
08/04/2011 5:01 AM

The proposed acquisition of the 307-acre North Fork Preserve property in Northville is being reworked to allow more of the land to be used for active recreation, a move that will require another public hearing on the project.

The Town Board held a public hearing on Nov. 3, 2010, on the proposed joint acquisition of the land with Suffolk County, and later authorized the deal to go forward.

The land comprises two parcels, 133 acres owned by North Fork Preserve Co. and a 173-acre site owned by North Fork Preserve Inc.
Under the prior arrangement, 90 of the 307 acres would be set aside for active recreation uses. The town would pay 10 percent of the cost of those 90 acres, up to a maximum of $500,000, and the county would pay the rest of the acquisition costs of the 307 acres.

The new plan will be subject to a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. It sets aside 2.6 acres of the 133-acre parcel for active recreation and states that the county and town will pay, respectively, 90 percent and 10 percent of the cost of that piece. It also states that the county will pay acquisition costs for the parcel’s remaining 130.4 acres.

For the 173-acre parcel, the new proposal states that the county will pay 95 percent of the acquisition cost and the town 5 percent, and that all 173 acres will be used for active recreation.

The town’s maximum outlay is still $500,000 under the new proposal.

“This will allow for more active recreation on the property,” Councilman George Gabrielsen said. There’s an old clubhouse area on a part of the land that officials decided could support more active recreation such as tennis, volleyball and camping. Otherwise, he said, the land could only have been used for passive recreation, which, he said, is mostly hiking.

“The county told us that they will pay for any improvements for active recreation but we have to maintain them,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

Because county money is being used in the purchase, the site must be made available to all county residents, he said.

tgannon@timesreview.com