North Fork Preserve committee seeks feedback on plan

A Suffolk County committee is seeking public feedback on a proposal for what has been dubbed as the county’s “last great park.”

During the North Fork Preserve Suffolk County Park Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday, the committee agreed to organize a presentation about the Northville property sometime later this summer and invite various stakeholders like school officials and representative from the Boys and Girls scout groups.

According to the committee’s March 12 minutes, the current plan for the more than 300-acre North Fork Preserve includes leaving the northern section undeveloped for passive recreational uses such as hiking and developing the southern portion for more active recreation, including RV camping with electric and water hookups, cabins for year-round camping, tent camping, a pavilion, bathhouse, clubhouse with arcade, and communal fire pit, among other amenities.

An area that contains existing structures will be used by the Suffolk County Parks Department as a check-in station, a caretaker residence and a small office area for park staff.

Equestrian activities are also planned for the park, including: an indoor arena, boarding space and corrals. In addition, a wildlife viewing area with a platform overlooking the water is also included in the proposal.

“I’m sure you can find many people that would like to see the entire 300 acres as passive recreation,” said Nick Gibbons of the county parks department. “On the flip side, you may find people who would like to see a greater slice of that pie for active recreation. We’re done with that already, in a sense, because the monies that were used obligate us to go one way or another on this property.”

Riverhead Town Councilman George Gabrielsen said he’ll invite the town’s recreational and open space committees into the discussion.

He also suggested the county consider allowing solar panels on the property, which Mr. Gibbons agreed was a good idea.

During the public portion of the meeting, Laurel resident Joe Slovak asked how the man-made clay tennis courts were going to be maintained and proposed building a bubble over them like facilities in West Hampton and Bethpage so that players could use the courts in the winter.

Another resident suggested the county allow Eagle Scouts to create trails and install markers for cross-country runners, another idea the committee seemed to favor.

The committee, which was created last summer, is expected to schedule its next meetings for June and August. [Check back for the dates]

Email county legislator aide Gwynn Schroeder at [email protected] for more information about the proposal.

[email protected]