DEC moves to acquire Flowerfield Fairgrounds in St. James

DEC moves to acquire Flowerfield Fairgrounds in St. James

The Flowerfield Fairgrounds in St. James. File photo by Heidi Sutton

By Sabrina Artusa

The eventual fate of Flowerfield Fairgrounds continues to be uncertain, but New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is moving to acquire the property. In November, the DEC ordered an appraisal of the 63-acre Flowerfield site.

Since Gyrodyne, a property management company, started moving forward with a subdivision proposal to turn the fairgrounds into an updated layout suitable for development, St. James residents protested its advancement, stressing concerns over traffic, overdevelopment and the effects on Stony Brook Harbor. 

The DEC is expected to complete the evaluation of the property this year, according to Judith Ogden, board member of the Saint James-Head of the Harbor Neighborhood Preservation Coalition. She said, “Everything is moving along the way we would hope.”

Gyrodyne applied to create industrial lots and a new sewage treatment lot in 2022. 

Ogden and Joseph Bollhofer, also a board member of the coalition, wrote on the fairgrouds website, “We believe that we are well on our way to preserving the character of our community by preventing these massive development projects that would forever change our way of life. This includes some extremely negative consequences, among them intolerable traffic increases, groundwater and harbor contamination and the destruction of the North Country Road historic and scenic corridor.”

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said that he had no objection to the DEC acquiring the property from Gyrodyne, thus allowing the DEC to move forward. The DEC may use some of the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to pay for the acquisition. 

The coalition created a recommended plan for the property, which includes allotted area for commercial development and around 45 acres for open space.

“The first step is to save the undeveloped land, but we also have dreams and hopes for the developed land,” Ogden said. The coalition represents people who want to defend the fairgrounds from overdevelopment, although part of the property is already developed.

In April 2022, the coalition, the Village of the Head of the Harbor and 23 homeowners filed a lawsuit against Gyrodyne, the Town of Smithtown and the Smithtown Planning Board. The lawsuit has stalled the progression of Gyrodyne’s applications. 

Ogden said that many of the petitioners were removed by the judge, but that the lawsuit is advancing: 

“The ball is in [Gyrodyne’s] lap now … there is going to be some movement going forward.”