The former Long Island Beagle Club property in Calverton will soon be home to the Warrior Ranch Foundation, an organization that works for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Suffolk County officials announced the 10-year agreement for the Edwards Avenue property Tuesday.
According to the agreement, an annual lease payment is waived but the foundation will be responsible for maintenance costs and $100,000 worth of capital improvements, such as installing a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and upgrading electrical wiring.
Barns formerly used as dog kennels will be restored to house a maximum of 15 horses and the foundation will also establish pastures and rings for grazing and training the animals.
Founded in 2016, the Warrior Ranch Foundation helps veterans and first responders through equine therapy, providing opportunities to groom, feed and exercise horses to facilitate healing.
The ranch also focuses on rehabilitating horses for adoption and providing new training for aging and retired racehorses.
“With over 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States and 22 veterans committing suicide every day, there is a great need in this country to assist our veterans in coping with the invisible wounds of war,” Eileen Shanahan, founder of the Warrior Ranch Foundation, said in a statement. “Horses have an amazing capacity to help heal humans emotionally and at the Warrior Ranch, we tap into the natural instincts of our veterans to serve and protect.”
Programs will be offered to veterans, first responders and their families that focus on reducing loneliness, depression and post-traumatic stress.
County Executive Steve Bellone praised the organization’s efforts.
“I have seen firsthand the amazing work being done for veterans and first responders at the Warrior Ranch and couldn’t be more excited that they will be able to use this property, which has been vacant for decades, to help our heroes,” he said.
Suffolk County acquired the 150-acre former Beagle Club property in 2012 for $8.9 million. It had been the subject of a series of contentious public meetings in 2014, when Long Island ABATE, a motorcycle advocacy group, sought to use space on the property for its meetings.
Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said this use is more appropriate for the nearby residential area.
“Community input is always encouraged and welcomed,” he said in a statement, thanking residents for their input. “I believe the activities conducted by the Warrior Ranch Foundation at the park will meld well with stakeholders goals and I look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship between the community, Suffolk County and the organization.”
Under the agreement, the public will have equal access to the facility at no cost to the taxpayers.