Suffolk County takes first steps toward acquiring Sound Avenue parcel

The Suffolk County Legislature approved a bill Tuesday that will allow the county to begin taking steps toward acquiring a 4.1-acre parcel at the corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue where a controversial shopping center has been proposed.

County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), whose represents the North Fork, gave the crowd of residents and local leaders a thumbs up after the board voted 17-1 approving the legislation

“It should remain rural and there shouldn’t be any further commercial development on Sound Avenue,” Mr. Romaine told the News-Review this week in an interview. “It is the last rural highway on Long Island. People go out there to experience how Long Island was 50 years ago.”

The legislature approved a “planning steps” resolution, which is the first step in the acquisition process and authorizes the County’s Division of Real Estate to contact property owners, to order appraisals, perform title work, and begin negotiations, officials said.

Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher, chair of the county’s Environment, Planning & Agriculture Committee, said the land’s Council of Environmental Quality rating rose from 7 to 55 after the committee concluded the property would be best suited for acquisition as a “hamlet park” as opposed to open space.

The new rating enables the county to move forward on its acquisition process, officials said.

Reeves Park resident Bob Kelly, whose brother Tom was a New York City firefighter killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, told legislators that building a stripmall “won’t be beneficial” to residents and believes creating a hamlet park would give the community “a peaceful place” to enjoy.

The town renamed Park Road in honor of Tom Kelly several years ago, and a plaque and flag in his memorial was placed there as well.

Mr. Romaine said residents would like to see a wood chip or blue stone parking area, a walking trail throughout the property, lights installed to shine on the 9/11 memorials, benches and a small reflecting pond.

Riverhead Town would manage the park if the owner sold the land to the county, he said.

EMB Enterprises, owned by Kenn Barra, is seeking to build a 28,000 square foot shopping center at that corner, and earlier this year, an appellate court ruling on a lawsuit brought by EMB against a town rezoning of the property stated that the application was approved, subject to an environmental review.

While the owner has not agreed to sell the property to the county, he’s willing to listen to the county’s offer, Mr. Romaine said.

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