Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town officials gathered Monday to celebrate the conclusion of a decadelong effort to buy a 16-acre property for a planned park in Selden.
Elected officials crowded around a table at Brookhaven Town Hall to watch County Executive Steve Bellone sign a bill formally purchasing the Boyle Road parcel for $1.264 million from the Middle Country School District. The land will be combined with two adjacent tracts to form a 24-acre county park managed by the town.
Backers of the park plan said there had been times when they feared the effort never would come to fruition. County officials struggled with questions over how to fund the purchase; in 2011, then-County Executive Steve Levy vetoed a bill authorizing negotiations to buy the land.
Ultimately, Suffolk officials decided to purchase the parcel using funds from the county's Drinking Water Protection Program.
"People have been talking about this for 15 years," said Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle, who had worked on the effort as an aide to two county legislators before joining the town board in January. "You never thought it was going to be possible, but you keep working."
Legis. Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), a key backer of the plan, credited community support with convincing lawmakers to complete the purchase.
"It's going to be a jewel in the Selden-Centereach area," Muratore said. "The community got behind us 110 percent."
The town has agreed to spend as much as $8 million to build baseball and softball fields, a multipurpose field, basketball and tennis courts, parking and a track at the park. Construction is expected to take five to eight years.
"This is our field of dreams," Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said. "We hope to make many more."
Bellone cited the park as a blueprint for county and town cooperation on efforts to improve the quality of life for residents. "That's really a classic example of what the county should be doing, what the town should be doing," he said.
County legislature Minority Leader John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) said the park will be used extensively by local sports leagues and fill a need for athletic fields in the community. "The fields here in the Town of Brookhaven get used tremendously," he said.