Town of Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone and Councilwoman Susan A. Berland announce the Town has completed the purchase of the “Erb Farm” property, a 5-acre former farm parcel that the Town plans to develop as athletic fields.
The recent closing on the purchase from an India-based religious organization capped a six-year effort to determine the most favored use of the property, which at one time was slated to be developed as single-family homes. Area residents originally opposed both the active park proposal and the house of worship proposed by the Sadhu Vaswani as inappropriate uses of the land, at 146 Burrs Lane, before deciding that the athletic fields were a preferred use.
“We appreciate the community’s reevaluation of the park concept originally suggested by the Town’s Environmental Open Space and Park Improvement committee, as well as Sadhu Vaswani’s reevaluation of this location for their house of worship, making the purchase possible,” Supervisor Petrone said. “The Town will now go forward to develop this property in a way that reflects the community’s current desires.”
“I am pleased that we have finally come to an agreement between the community and the seller of the Erb Property,” commented Councilwoman Berland. “The addition of soccer fields on the south side of the Town will greatly enhance both the area and the community-based sports teams that currently have no permanent home in which to practice. I want to thank Supervisor Petrone and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson for their support. I will be hosting planning meetings with the community to get their further input on the use of the property.”
Supervisor Petrone and Councilwoman Berland co-sponsored the resolution to purchase the land and proceed with the plan to build athletic fields. Councilman Cuthbertson seconded the resolution to provide the three votes necessary to approve the measure.
“Throughout the Town, soccer fields are in high demand, and this purchase will help fill a growing need,” Councilman Cuthbertson said. “I am proud to have been part of the effort that will add practice and playing fields to a part of the Town where there currently is a shortage.”
Supervisor Petrone, Councilwoman Berland and Councilman Cuthbertson were joined by representatives from the community group Burrs Neighbors and the Dix Hills Soccer Club in announcing the purchase.
The events that led to the acquisition began in 2007, when the EOSPA Committee recommended that the Town Board hold a public hearing on the possibility of purchasing the parcel. The recommendation came after the Town Planning Board had approved a four-lot subdivision, Burrs Lane Estates, which would have resulted in homes on one-acre parcels and a cul-de-sac road. The community opposition surfaced after the Town held a public hearing on the park proposal, and the Town did not pursue the purchase.
In 2009, the property was acquired by Sadhu Vaswani, which wanted to build a place of worship and related amenities, including parking. The residents felt this, too, was an incompatible use for the property.
The Town, working with the residents and with the religious organization, revived the efforts to purchase the property for active recreational use. In May 2010 the EOSPA committee’s attorney sent a letter to ascertain whether the owner might consider a sale to the Town. In November 2010, the Town received a response that they might be interested in selling.
By July 2011, the Town was in discussion with the owners about the possible purchase price and neighboring residents sent several emails to the Town to urge acquisition of the site. Eventually, noting the residents’ opposition to their house of worship and not wanting to build where they were not welcome, Sadhu Vaswani agreed to accept the appraised price of $1.5 million. The resolution authorizing the Supervisor to execute a contract of sale and to appropriate funding necessary for closing requirements was approved in September 2012.
The Town Planning and Engineering Departments will now work on some concept plans and will seek residents’ input as the effort proceeds.