Huntington buys Erb Farm for soccer fields

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After six years, a Dix Hills group has reached its goal -- soccer that will soon enliven a vacant lot with the construction of two athletic fields.

The Town of Huntington announced Friday the $1.5 million acquisition of Erb Farm, a 5-acre parcel at 146 Burrs Lane that will be made into a recreational park.

Residents had opposed soccer fields, but lent their support after a religious group bought the land. The town plans to install a full soccer field and a smaller practice field, along with parking, storage and restrooms, officials said.

"This has been a long time coming," said Allison Brecher, who lives in the area. "It's what everyone was hoping for in the neighborhood."

After neighbors said soccer fields would not fit, the land was sold in 2009 to Sadhu Vaswani, an Indian religious organization. Again, neighbors were opposed, and development stopped.

"We didn't think this was the appropriate place for a large, commercial property," said Michael Neidell, of Burrs Neighbors, a community group formed to oppose the religious use.

Sadhu Vaswani has relocated to Queens. "The neighbors ran them out of town," said John Breslin, the group's lawyer. "In this day and age, you would think that religious tolerance would be a lot better than it is."

A resolution passed in October authorized the town to purchase the site for the same price Sadhu Vaswani paid.Although it was once rejected, the soccer field development is moving ahead as the best reflection of "the community's current desires," Supervisor Frank Petrone said.

An added field will alleviate overcrowding that has made soccer practices difficult, said Ed Williamson, a board director for the Dix Hills Soccer Club. Without a public park in the area, the kids on club teams have had to wait until evening to practice on school fields.

Neighbors still have some concerns about the park. Andrew Vinella, who recently moved to the area, said he was worried there will be lights or outdoor speakers at night, but that has not been decided. Still, he said, the project would benefit the neighborhood and give him a place to take his year-old child to play.

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