Its funding dropped in the Town of Islip's 2013 budget, the town-owned South Shore Nature Center has started a new chapter, officially reopening under the care of the Seatuck Environmental Association.
Seatuck hosted an open house at the South Shore Nature Center Sunday.
Facing growing anger from residents for chopping the nature center's director and its $82,000 in annual funding, the town board passed a resolution in February to enter into an agreement with Seatuck, an Islip-based nature conservancy, to run programming at the East Islip nature preserve.
The house at the front of the 200-acre property, which T. Decker Orr donated to the town in 1975, was officially named the Orr Wildlife Learning Center during a reopening ceremony on Thursday.
"We're excited about this partnership and looking forward to working with the town to keep the place open to the public for the next 40 years," said Enrico Nardone, executive director for Seatuck.
Programming at the center has been limited since the town ended its funding in January, but the trails have been open to the public for passive uses. Seatuck has overhauled the interior of the learning center, repainting it, shampooing the carpets and sprucing up the taxidermy exhibits. They're working to secure state permits to repopulate the indoor and outdoor wildlife exhibits.
"We're providing a better service than the town provided when we had an educational program and a naturalist living on the property," Councilman Anthony Senft said, adding that Seatuck "has amazing resources and skill at managing these types of facilities."