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Woody Brown

Cordwood Landing County Park is located on Landing Avenue in Miller Place. File photo by Erika Karp

It’s a purchase that’s been six years in the making, but now, Miller Place can make room for more open space.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) announced last week that the owner of a 5.4-acre parcel adjacent to the 64.4-acre Cordwood Landing County Park has accepted Suffolk County’s most recent offer to acquire the property for open space preservation.

Previously, the wooded piece of land was slated for residential development. Anker had submitted three separate resolutions in 2011, 2014 and 2016 for the county to appraise the parcel with hopes of expanding the adjacent county parkland. While there are still several steps in the approval process, the legislator will continue to push the acquisition forward.

“I will continue to do everything in my power to preserve this environmentally sensitive parcel,” she said. “Residential development on this property would negatively affect the character of the Miller Place historic district and infringe on the beauty of Cordwood Landing County Park.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said acquiring the land is a remarkable achievement for the county and its residents.

“Residential development on this property would negatively affect the character of the Miller Place historic district and infringe on the beauty of Cordwood Landing County Park.”

— Sarah Anker

“Legislator Anker has been an incredible advocate for the preservation of the open space around Cordwood Landing County Park, and this acquisition speaks volumes to the quality of leadership we strive for in our region,” he said. “Land preservation allows us to protect our environment, and most of all, improve the water quality in the region. I look forward to continue working with our local leaders to make Suffolk County a great place for all our residents.”

The county is currently in the process of obtaining an environmental site assessment survey. The Suffolk County Planning Department and the Council on Environmental Quality will then review the assessment to ensure the site is environmentally sound, in order to move forward with the acquisition. Following review and pending approval by the council, Anker will put forth a resolution to purchase the property. The purchasing resolution will be reviewed by the Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee, and if approved by the committee, the resolution will be voted on by the legislature.

Cordwood Landing County Park is in the heart of the Miller Place historic district and is an important parcel of open space for the local community. It offers extensive hiking trails and access to the Long Island Sound, and the local community, including the Miller Place Civic Association, has been vocal in support for the acquisition.

“The Miller Place Civic Association is very pleased to see the preservation efforts of this property located between our historic district and the nature preserve is moving forward,” Miller Place Civic Association president Woody Brown said.

He added he’s grateful that the owner, developer Mark Baisch, who owns Landmark Properties in Rocky Point, was willing to let the county purchase and preserve the parcel. He also thanked local officials for their involvement.

“We owe a big thank you to Legislator Sarah Anker, who stood with the community throughout the entire process and continued to work diligently to save this precious parcel in its natural state,” he said. “Also, we wish to thank the Town of Brookhaven, Councilwoman Jane Bonner and Supervisor Ed Romaine for all their support and willingness to partner with the county to purchase the property.”

Anker said she is really just happy to have the community behind her.

“I would like to thank the local community for their support,” she said. “I am confident that I will be able to work with my peers to bring this acquisition to fruition.”

Sylvan Ave. Park in Miller Place will see an expansion as a result of a land swap. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Miller Place’s popular Sylvan Avenue Park will soon be significantly larger.

Thanks to a land swap agreement between the Town of Brookhaven and Rocky Point developer SMW Property Holdings, the park will gain land in exchange for parkland in Rocky Point. The site, near Rolling Oaks Golf Course in Rocky Point was originally zoned commercial, when a Burger King restaurant was built, though the town purchased it about 10 years ago with the plan to make it a clubhouse for the golf course. The clubhouse never came to fruition.

“We had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to almost double the size of Sylvan Avenue Park in Miller Place, so we jumped on it,” said Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who spearheaded the effort to make the deal happen.

The Town of Brookhaven submitted a home rule message to the New York State Legislature to allow for the swap, which put the decision in the state’s hands over Brookhaven’s local jurisdiction. This is a requirement in New York State in any deal involving a land swap.

Open space land near Rolling Oaks Golf Course in Rocky Point, is being swapped to make way for an expansion at Sylvan Ave. Park in Miller Place. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Open space land near Rolling Oaks Golf Course in Rocky Point, is being swapped to make way for an expansion at Sylvan Ave. Park in Miller Place. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Also, in New York State, to eliminate parkland in one area, it must be replaced with equal or greater valued parkland somewhere else. The development company offered the area they owned near Sylvan Avenue Park, which is larger than the would-be commercial site they are taking over, to the town for the parkland near Rolling Oaks.

The land swap was approved by the ways and means committee, the rules committee and the State Assembly in Albany last week. Brookhaven’s six board members voted unanimously in favor of the request to the state during a special meeting a week prior.

Miller Place Civic Association President Woody Brown said he appreciates anyone advocating for more park space in Miller Place.

“That’s a heavily used park,” he said. “It’s got a lot of activities on it. Expanding parks in a community is always a good thing.”

Brown offered some thoughts about what he might like to see the additional space at Sylvan Avenue Park eventually used for.

“I always think of central park,” he said. “It’s got your active areas where you can play basketball and baseball and all those kinds of active sports, but then it also has places where one can informally throw a Frisbee or play hacky sack. Then it’s got other areas where one can go and contemplate in nature or fly a kite.”

He said an area dedicated to more relaxing activities as a complement to the existing fields and courts used for sporting activities could improve the park.