County inches toward buying Sound Avenue land

The Suffolk County Legislature on Tuesday approved planning steps toward acquiring 15 acres on the northwest corner of rural Sound Avenue and Park Road in Riverhead — a site proposed for development that locals have been rallying against for years.

The county resolution states that the land would be potentially purchased as a “hamlet park,” using money from the county’s Drinking Water Protection Program.

The planning steps initiates appraisals, surveys and title searches on the land.

The 14.8-acre property is owned by developer Ed Broidy’s Boom Development. Mr. Broidy had wanted to build a 22,000-square-foot shopping center six years ago, but the town later changed his property’s zoning along with several other parcels on the road and intersection to prevent commercial development.

His and other planned developments at the intersection have caused major outcry from residents of the nearby Reeves Park community who wish to preserve one of Long Island’s last rural corridors. Their sentiments have been reinforced by elected leaders and this newspaper’s editorial page.

Mr. Broidy was one of three landowners to file separate lawsuits against Riverhead Town as a result of that rezoning. But whereas developer Kenn Barra’s EMB Enterprises, which had proposed a shopping center on the northeast corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue, and R&K Precision Autoworks, which owns land on the south side of the intersection, both prevailed in their lawsuits, Mr. Broidy instead entered settlement talks with the town and was set to develop the property residentially. Area residents weren’t comfortable with that plan either.

Mr. Broidy told the News-Review in November that he was not opposed to selling his land to the county.

“Obviously, if I got enough money from the county, why should I build?” he had said.

In county documents pertaining to the potential acquisition, County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), the bill’s sponsor, describes the proposed use of the property as a “Memorial Park consisting of trails, benches, a 9-11 memorial to serve as a quiet area for reflection, as well as ball fields on the northern portion.”

There are at least three Reeves Park families with relatives who were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Designated as an historic corridor, it is imperative that Sound Avenue remain as such, and any commercial development such as convenience stores, gas stations and food establishments are more appropriately suited for Route 58,” Mr. Romaine said in a press release.

Riverhead Town would not be expected to contribute to the acquisition costs, but it is proposed to partner in management and maintenance costs, according to Mr. Romaine.

The county also is considering buying Mr. Barra’s property on Park Road. Mr. Barra had initially stated publicly that he would not let the county appraise his land because he wanted to build on it, but recently changed his mind, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said.

[email protected]

Looking to comment on this article? Send us a letter to the editor instead.