County park meets sleepaway camp in Northville

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County has reached an agreement to purchase the bulk of the 311-acre North Fork Preserve property in Northville for open space.

When it finally opens to the public, the North Fork Preserve hunting club property in Northville will boast camping sites and cabins, tennis and basketball courts, said Suffolk County officials who this week unveiled portions of their unique vision for the site.

“They are going to make sites for campers and they are going to build cabins, which people can stay in for a week, on the southern park,” said County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), who represents the North Fork.

The county has decided to essentially break the 307-acre land into two sections, a 133-acre northern section that, with the exception of 2.6 acres, will remain undeveloped and will be used only for passive recreation such as hiking and horseback riding, and a 173-acre southern section that will be used for more active recreation, Mr. Romaine said.

The site already has ponds that can be used for fishing, as well as tennis and basketball courts, along with a clubhouse that was used by the North Fork Preserve hunting club, Mr. Romaine said, adding that trails wind through the northern site, which runs along the Long Island Sound.

“The conceptual plan proposed by the county’s parks department will offer amenities that the county has never before had the ability to offer at one location,” Mr. Romaine said.

The county, which is under contract to buy the 307 acres for an as yet undisclosed sum, recently decided to make more of the land available for active recreation than previously planned. Riverhead Town is expected to contribute up to $500,000 toward the acquisition of the active parkland.

The Town Board has scheduled a public hearing on Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. on the revised preservation proposal for North Fork Preserve that calls for additional active recreation use.

The county is also hoping to have an equestrian center on a 40-acre portion of the property on which Riverhead Town purchased the development rights for farmland preservation, Mr. Romaine said. Officials say this is a permitted use on land that’s in the farmland preservation program.

In addition to the park plan, Mr. Romaine said the county Department of Public Works plans to build a sump to relieve persistent flooding that homeowners in the Northville Beach community say comes from the Preserve property.

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