By Donna Deedy
Avalon Park & Preserve is expanding its recreational trails to extend from its existing location on Harbor Road over to a 28-acre farm along Stony Brook Harbor. When completed, the public will have access to a boardwalk that overlooks a marine sanctuary on the Long Island Sound.
The new site, which is currently private and not yet open to the public, is located directly east of Harmony Vineyards in Head of the Harbor.
The Smithtown Town Board voted March 5 to approve the project, known as Shore Farm. Additional state and town approvals are needed before Head of the Harbor can issue its permit. No time frame has been reported for the project’s completion.
The park currently encompasses 76-acres and is comprised of five distinct natural habitats populated entirely with native fauna. People are excited about the expansion.
“Avalon is an excellent steward of their lands,” said Joyann Cirigliano, president of the Four Harbors Audubon Society. The area, she said, is officially designated Important Bird Area for migratory birds. “The park provides a full range of bird habitats: field, forest, edge, shore and fresh ponds.”
Cirigliano said that the park is particularly good at keeping out invasive species, which allows scrub brush to thrive. The scrub, she said, is an important habitat for the warbler and other edge birds, a population in decline.
Avalon Park & Preserve was created in 1997 by the Paul Simons Foundation to celebrate the life of Paul Simons. Paul is the son of Renaissance Technology founder James Simons. He and his wife Marilyn and family planned the park to honor Paul’s love of nature after his life was prematurely interrupted at age 34, when he was killed by a car in a biking accident near his home in the Three Village area. When complete Avalon Park & Preserve will encompass roughly 104 acres.
The park, though it is privately owned, is open to the public from dawn to dusk 365 days a year. In addition to its trails, the park offers yoga classes and stargazing programs at an on-site observatory, when conditions permit. The Audubon society hosts bird walks in the park. Information can be found on Avalon’s website.
“We have been involved with Avalon Park from the beginning and are most excited about the expansion and the joy and happiness it brings to so many people,” said Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization in nearby Stony Brook.