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Owl Hill Estates & Preserve

Owl Hill estate is located south of Sunken Meadow State Park in Fort Salonga. Photo from Douglas Elliman Real Estate

A county legislator continues his commitment to saving a historic property in Fort Salonga from developers.

Suffolk Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said the county earlier this month made an offer to the owners of Owl Hill Estates & Preserve to acquire its Fort Salonga property for $6.3 million. The owners have yet to accept the offer.

Trotta said the goal is to keep the property as open space for walking and hiking trails and “making Long Island stay Long Island and not making it look like Queens.”

“We really don’t need to tear down every forest and build,” he added.

Owl Hill is located at 99 Sunken Meadow Road, bordering Sunken Meadow Park and wetlands. The property spans nearly 27.7 acres. In 2017, the property was up for sale for the first time in more than six decades at a price tag of $6.45 million. The current owners bought the property with plans to subdivide and build up to 17 homes.

According to Trotta, the property is a critical watershed and conservation area with mature woodlands and wildlife habitat. One of the largest continuous tracts of open space in the Town of Smithtown, it may have significant archaeological resources.

Trotta said that a nonprofit or possibly the state would maintain the 6,500-square-foot mansion that sits on the property if the county acquires the land. The developers have also presented a plan to the Town of Smithtown where the home would remain untouched.

Earlier this year, Suffolk County Legislature passed a resolution to authorize an appraisal of the land under the county’s Drinking Water Protection Program.

Keith Macartney, president of the Fort Salonga Association, said civic members are concerned about the possibility of development on the property and hope the owners will accept the county’s offer.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property, and it’s among properties that have been left alone that people can enjoy and the wildlife can enjoy,” Macartney said.

Among the civic members’ concerns is increased traffic in the area, especially with the future development of the Preserves at Indian Hills, which falls in the Huntington portion of Fort Salonga. Macartney said building more homes would be “a travesty.”

In a 2020 The Times of Smithtown article, Corey Geske, Smithtown resident and scholar, said the property’s historical importance is on par with Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay. The first patent lawyer in the U.S., Edmund Wetmore, commissioned architect Henry Killam Murphy to design the estate home. One of Murphy’s notable works includes designing the campus of the University of Shanghai.

Attorney Vincent Trimarco Sr., who represents Owl Hill Estates & Preserve, confirmed the owners received the county offer but he said he didn’t have knowledge as far as whether they were considering it. The owners still need to appear before the Town of Smithtown Town Board regarding final approval of the subdivision. The attorney said that if the owners are approved, the houses will be part of a clustered development and several acres of the property would be left as open space.