More than 100 community members crowded a meeting last week to discuss razing a defunct restaurant catering hall on Lake Ronkonkoma, now owned by Suffolk County, that has become an eyesore.
"I want them to clean the property up there," said Fred Gorman, chairman of the Nesconset-Sachem Civic Association, which organized Thursday night's meeting at the Nesconset Branch Library. "Don't make it an embarrassment every time I have someone come in to Ronkonkoma."
The Bavarian Inn, which has been closed for more than six years, is covered by graffiti and its parking area is broken asphalt overgrown with weeds, said Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset). The lawmaker urged Suffolk earlier last month to turn the property into a park, but county officials said his plan was too costly.
County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said earlier last month that Kennedy's proposal could cost taxpayers $600,000.
Kennedy told the audience the county department that oversees its real estate has talked about exploring auctioning off the property. Baird-Streeter has said that the county took ownership of the Smithtown Boulevard property in June 2012 due to tax default.
Kennedy said the property, "with its characterization as an environmentally sensitive wetland . . . has no permissible use."
Kennedy said he filed a resolution to the county legislature in March to take the property out of general holding status and add it to the county park system, to convert it into to parkland. "Once we take that step . . . it takes an extraordinary step to get it out of park status," he said.
But Warren Sulmasy, 80, of Nesconset, said the community should weigh the implications of removing the property from the tax rolls if it becomes an extension of Lake Ronkonkoma County Park, which it borders.
Sulmasy's suggestion that the property could host town homes drew a rash of "nos" from the audience.
Paul Albert, chairman of the board of the Walter S. Commerdinger Preservation Society, said the group would like to maintain it as "a passive park area," with kayaking and canoeing at the lake, along with a museum about the history of the area.
"The lake used to be the Hamptons of New York at one time. If we can get closer to that . . . we can attract quite a bit of tourism," he said.
His resolution is scheduled for a vote on July 24 before the Ways and Means Committee, where community members can voice their concerns at a public hearing, Kennedy said. If the resolution passes in the committee, it will come before the full legislature for a vote on July 30, he said.
"I'm going to continue to lobby my colleagues to get it approved," he said. "One way or another, we have to have the building torn down."