Plan calls for changes to Jamesport State Park

Undeveloped Jamesport State Park would become a passive-recreation and environmental-education preserve and be renamed under a draft master plan.

The park would be called Hallock State Park Preserve if the recommendations are adopted by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation after a hearing next month. The agency wants to change the name because the park is not in Jamesport, but in Northville, and Hallock is the name of a large pond on the property as well as the family that once farmed the acreage.

The preserve designation would protect the pond, bluffs along Long Island Sound and other natural features.

"It's going to be hiking, nature interpretation, bird-watching, fishing from the shoreline," said Ronald Foley, the agency's regional director. While launching canoes and kayaks and scuba diving in the Sound would be permitted, swimming would not. "It's too expensive" to provide lifeguards and swimming facilities, Foley said, and swimming beaches are available at Wildwood and Orient Beach state parks.

But "access to the water and swimming is an important component," said State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who has obtained almost $1 million to help construct the park's environmental education center. He said then-Gov. George Pataki arranged to acquire the property in part to provide access to the water.

The hearing will be held May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Hallockville Museum Farm at 6038 Sound Ave. in Riverhead. Approval is expected by fall and full development is expected to take 10 to 15 years.

The state bought 525 acres north of Sound Avenue from KeySpan in 2002 for $16 million. Long Island Lighting Co. acquired the site in 1973 to build a nuclear power plant. In 2005, the state declared the northernmost 220 acres Jamesport State Park and Preserve and sold the rest as protected farmland. That yielded $3.5 million that can only be spent to develop the park.

But parks officials said they were not sure if the $3.5 million and the money obtained by LaValle would cover all the costs of developing the park. And the agency that is looking at closing up to 91 parks to save $11.3 million this year is not likely to have money to operate an additional park in the near future.

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