Editorial: Saving Sound Avenue

10/27/2011 6:00 AM |

Many people across the North Fork are breathing a sigh of relief with word this week that developer Kenney Barra, owner of East Wind Caterers in Wading River, has agreed to sell his 4.1-acre parcel on the corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue to Suffolk County for preservation.

This deal will ensure that this stretch of Sound Avenue, part of one of the last purely rural corridors on Long Island, will remain as open space and not become the site of a shopping center. Mr. Barra could likely have made much more money developing the land, as he had long planned to do, and his neighborly sacrifice should be recognized and appreciated.

Without Mr. Barra, there could have been no sale of the property to the county.

The Reeves Park community should also be recognized, especially its civics and the Kelly family, which have championed a plan to turn the parcel into a memorial park dedicated to the late Lt. Thomas Kelly, an FDNY member from Reeves Park who was killed in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, and the other Sept. 11 victims.

With the town’s legal options exhausted, Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine began a push in September 2010 to have the county preserve the site. It was a last ditch effort, and a long shot, but Mr. Romaine forged ahead, shepherding the process through the Legislature. Just over a year later, his efforts paid off.

The entire North Road, including Sound Avenue, is truly a sight to see. Its miles of open fields and woodlands, farm stands, antique trucks and centuries-old farm houses leave quite an impression on visitors from points west. Out-of-towners and locals alike would otherwise have to travel hours, through tunnels and over bridges, for a such a unique and romantic glimpse of old-time Americana.

Opposition to a 28,000-square-foot shopping center and other proposals at this particular corner of Sound Avenue has never been about NIMBY neighbors. This rural corridor is a treasure belonging to all Long Islanders. Town officials and western Suffolk lawmakers were able to recognize that last year, with lobbying by Mr. Romaine and help from passionate locals who toted a handful of photos of Sound Avenue by Times/Review photographer Barbarellen Koch to a meeting of the Legislature.

Their success is nothing short of remarkable.