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Legislature committee approves spending for Jamesport park

A Suffolk legislature committee Monday unanimously approved spending $1.9 million to buy 11.21 acres in the heart of Jamesport to create a hamlet park there.

The property, on the north side of Route 25, known as Sharpe’s Hill, will include walking trails, benches, parking and a kiosk explaining the history of Jamesport. It will also detail the archaeological significance of the site, which includes an American Indian burial ground.

The bipartisan vote in the environment and planning committee sends the measure to the full legislature next Tuesday, where sponsor Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said he expects approval of the full body.

Local backers, who have been pressing for county purchase for more than decade, say that the project, to be funded by the county’s quarter-cent sales tax program, is important to preserve the historic and rural nature of the North Fork community.

“It’s very vital that the rural character be preserved and saved,” said William C. Van Helmond of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association.

The proposed hamlet park is also bordered on the north side by 33 acres of farmland which the county has already authorized for the purchase of development rights.

Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) questioned the $175,000-per-acre cost of the acquisition, saying it “seemed a little high.” However, county real estate officials say the county offer was subject to two separate appraisals, screened by a review committee, and based on the commercial zoning of 10 acres of the 11-acre site, owned by RDG Jamesport Owner LLC. Cilmi voted for the purchase.

While not making a financial contribution to the sale, the Riverhead town board has committed to doing work to create the park site — trails, benches and parking — and maintaining it once complete.

The legislative committee also approved two other resolutions to authorize appraisals of other sites. One is the 4.6-acre Capt. J. Hawkins House on Montauk Highway in Moriches for potential acquisition as a historic and cultural park that would be maintained by Brookhaven town and restored and operated by the local historical society. The 3.4-acre site is owned by Whiskey Road-Stone Point Group LLC, which abuts other publicly owned property.

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