Romaine adds another $5M to open space fund

Suffolk County added $15 million to its capital fund last Wednesday to allow for the acquisition of more open space and farmland development rights. That number is up from $10 million last year. 

“About 6% of Suffolk County is in farmland,” County Executive Ed Romaine said at a press conference at Garden of Eve farm on Sound Avenue.  “We want to make sure that continues.”

Mr. Romaine pointed out that Riverhead Town and Suffolk County were pioneers in open space and farmland preservation dating back 50 years to 1974 —  when then-county executive John Klein purchased the first parcel for preservation in Riverhead.

“He had the wisdom to realize that developers were buying up farmland and that if they continued, we would not have any farming,” Mr. Romaine said. 

Mr. Romaine noted that the county is currently in contract on another land purchase in Riverhead — not far from where the press conference took place — that would preserve 33 additional acres at a cost of $2.5 million.  

“The money they are spending on Riverhead goes a long way,” town Supervisor Tim Hubbard said. 

County Legislator Catherine Stark said the money will be focused specifically on farms and on keeping farms together.

“When you have a willing seller and you are competing with developers who want to buy large swaths of what’s left, it’s very important to have contiguous farms,” Ms. Stark  said. “It creates a whole farm belt.”