Town not backing plan to acquire Sound Avenue land

Broidy in Reeves Park
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The land just west of Park Road/Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive that nearby Reeves Park residents have wanted to see preserved.

A proposal to contribute $75,000 in Riverhead Town funding toward Suffolk County’s proposed acquisition of a 14-acre property on Park Road in the Reeves Park area does not have the support of at least three Town Board members, potentially jeopardizing the land deal.

The property in question is owned by Boom Development, headed by Ed Broidy of Southampton, and is located on the northwest corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road/Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive.

Mr. Broidy had proposed a commercial shopping center for the land back in 2003, at about the same time another commercial shopping center was proposed for the four-acre property on the northeast corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue.

Both proposals encountered community opposition, and the Town Board at the time voted to rezone to residential uses, which led to lawsuits from both property owners. Both lawsuits were decided in the property owners’ favor.

The land on the northeast corner, owned by Kenney Barra’s EMB Enterprises, eventually was purchased by Suffolk County last year for a Sept. 11 memorial park.

But Mr. Broidy instead proposed a settlement of his lawsuit and filed a 16-lot residential subdivision in place of the commercial development. One of the lots is a farm lot fronting Sound Avenue.

In the meantime, Suffolk County proposed purchasing Mr. Broidy’s land for use as a fitness trail. But the county requested that the town contribute about $75,000 for improvements and then maintain the fi tness trail.

Town Board members George Gabrielsen and Jodi Giglio opposed the purchase when the resolution to acquire the land was discussed at last Thursday’s work session.

Mr. Gabrielsen said he doesn’t think the town has enough money left in its Community Preservation Fund to pay for the park improvements, and said the town will also lose the tax revenue from the land if the county buys it. Ms. Giglio agreed, and said she’s concerned about taking more land off the tax rolls.

At a public work session last month, town tax assessor Paul Leszczynski told the board that if the farmed lot received an agricultural assessment abatement, the taxes it generated would drop from $6,710 to $536.

Supervisor Sean Walter represented Mr. Broidy as an attorney many years ago and recused himself from the vote and the discussion, meaning the measure lacked a three-vote majority needed to pass. Councilmen Jim Wooten and John Dunleavy supported the acquisition.

Mr. Wooten said town voters have supported land preservation.

“I think this will pay for itself in the long run,” he said.

“We’ve preserved a lot of land in this town but we’ve run out of money,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

“Then leave the resolution in and let it get voted down [on Tuesday],” Mr. Wooten said. “That way, the county won’t buy it.”

At Tuesday’s regular Town Board meeting, however, the resolution was not in the packet of resolutions slated for votes. Mr. Walter said there wasn’t support to put it in on the agenda and there wasn’t support to approve it. Mr. Broidy said Tuesday that he was not aware the Town Board didn’t support the purchase and was unsure what his next move would be.

He said he would call some town officials to talk more about the property.

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