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Huntington Town plan to expand Coltrane property on hold

Ron Stein at the Coltrane House in Dix

Ron Stein at the Coltrane House in Dix Hills, Aug. 11, 2017. Stein holds drawing of what the house will look like after renovations. Credit: Chris Ware

Huntington Town Board plans for a public hearing to consider purchasing a property next to the John and Alice Coltrane House in Dix Hills have been canceled amid neighborhood objections.

Town officials had planned to use the property as a passive park and staging area to serve the Coltrane House on Candlewood Path.

The hearing was pulled after town officials learned residents opposed the possible purchase and did not have updated information about proposals for the musician’s home and adjacent property.

“I attended a Ripley Manor Civic Association meeting and it was clear to me the community was not apprised by the Friends of the Coltrane Home foundation of this hope for the town to purchase the property next door and did not have an update as to what’s going on with the historic property itself,” town board member Susan Berland, sponsor of the resolution, said.

Members of the Ripley Manor Civic Association, which started a petition Aug. 1 aimed at stopping the purchase, could not be reached for comment.

Town officials purchased the 3-acre Coltrane property at 224 Candlewood Path, in 2005 to create Coltrane Park and transferred ownership of the house to Friends of the Coltrane Home, a nonprofit that has been working to raise funds to restore the house for use as a museum and cultural and educational center.

Coltrane, a saxophonist and composer, lived in the Dix Hills home with his wife, jazz pianist Alice Coltrane, and family between 1964 and 1967. John Coltrane, who died in 1967, wrote his masterpiece “A Love Supreme” while living there.

The town’s Environmental Open Space and Park Fund Advisory Committee in June recommended that the town buy 225 Candlewood Path, the property next to the Coltrane house, and a public hearing was scheduled for Tuesday to consider the purchase.

Ron Stein, president of the Friends of the Coltrane Home, said the purchase of the second property was supposed to be a “public benefit” by creating a barrier so residents would not have to see vehicles parked in front of the site. But he acknowledged that more could have been done to keep the community updated.

“Communities are always fearful of change and the Coltrane home represents a big unknown,” Stein said. “They are wondering what’s going to happen; it’s understandable that without real clear information that there is going to be fear and concern.”

He said the nonprofit will be seeking more community input as they develop a plan for the home through meetings and quarterly updates, and that eventually a community advisory committee will be established to provide feedback and help in planning.

“Our job going forward is to do a much better job at communicating to the community what’s going to happen,” Stein said. “There have never been any plans to move the town’s Coltrane Day celebration to the neighborhood or to hold concerts at what would have been the expanded park because it would not be appropriate for the residential area.”

Stein said maintenance on the site continues. The removal of mold in the basement and a large trash container should be complete by the end of the year. The town is addressing some exterior issues including repairing a fence and front gate.

“Things are moving much slower than I’d like, but they are moving forward,” Stein said.

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