Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County officials are combining efforts and funds to protect 15 acres of wooded property in Mount Sinai. The land combines with previous purchases to save a total of nearly 60 acres of land from any potential development now or in the future.
The $1,653,300, 15 acres purchase, which was formerly owned by the Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai, is in addition to 44.3 acres that had been acquired by both parties in 2014. The purchase was made based on a county bill passed in 2017.
“My hope is that purchasing this parcel will help protect the environmental integrity of the area and provide our community residents with another county park to visit and enjoy the natural beauty of Long Island,” Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said at a Nov. 23 press conference announcing the purchase. “We’re happy to see government at different levels working together — this is how you get things done.”
The county is picking up 75%, or $1,239,975 of the cost, while the town is covering 25%, or $413,325 of the total. The money used to purchase the land was taken from accounts meant to preserve open space. Officials said the property was at risk of being bought and developed on.
Anker added that with the current pandemic, the county has seen a rise in the number of people visiting parks and adding more land will only increase residents’ options.
The now fully acquired 59.3 wooded acre lies over a groundwater aquifer and is within the watershed of the Long Island Sound national estuary, serving as a source of freshwater for the estuary system.
Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said he was also happy to partner with Suffolk in such land preservation deals, as with the combined funds they have “the financial resources to ensure this happens.” The deal also means nobody can come in to develop on the property.
“We want Brookhaven town to look like Brookhaven town, and not like Queens,” he said. “The way we do that is by saving our groundwater, preserving our open spaces and having habitats for animals — along with all the things that are important to protecting our shoreline.”
Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the land holds a unique significance to her family. Her husband, John Sandusky, grew up in Mount Sinai and traveled those woods as a young man.
“We’ve seen a whole lot of development,” Bonner said. “Some of it good — most of it bad … the last thing Long Island needs is another housing development and more traffic.”
The Little Portion Friary, bordering the new land purchase, was bought by Hope House Ministries back in 2015 and is now being used to help people fight addiction.
Both county and town reps touted open space purchased using joint ventures between the two municipalities, including Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. The county has recently purchased other parkland in the local area, including Pine Lake in Middle Island and Chandler Estate in Mount Sinai.
The next step, Anker said, is to clean up some of the trails in the newly purchased parkland.