A lot where Kmart was formerly located at 1075 Middle Country...

A lot where Kmart was formerly located at 1075 Middle Country Rd. in Middle Island on Dec. 19, 2018. Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County officials said they will try again to buy a 21-acre parcel in Middle Island and turn it into a new park.

The Suffolk Legislature on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a procedural motion authorizing officials to submit a bid to Garden City developer Wilbur Breslin to buy the land. A shuttered Kmart on the site was demolished two years ago.

Breslin last year rejected a previous offer of about $1.8 million, Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said in an interview. The new offer, which Anker said is "slightly more" than the previous one, will be submitted to Breslin in about a week, and he has 90 days to accept or reject it.

“We have this incredible opportunity to create a community park,” Anker said. "We just need Mr. Breslin to accept the fair-market value of the property, and we’re really hoping he will.”

Breslin did not return phone calls and an email requesting comment.

Suffolk and Brookhaven Town officials last year announced a deal in which the county would buy part of the 75-acre property on Middle Country Road and the town would turn it into a park with athletic fields. As part of the deal, the state Department of Environmental Conservation would purchase a 28-acre section and preserve it for open space. Breslin would keep the remaining 26 acres for potential development.

A spokeswoman said the DEC is in “active negotiations” to buy the parcel, which would be added to the Rocky Point State Forest.

The vacant property has been considered an eyesore since the Kmart closed about a dozen years ago. The body of a murder victim was found in a wooded area of the property in April 2016, shortly before Breslin demolished the shuttered store.

Gail Lynch-Bailey, president of the Middle Island Civic Association, said she was "very excited that this is back in the realm of possibility,” adding that the state's interest in buying some of the land might improve the chances that the property will be sold.

“We’re hoping that the combination of the dual offer would be much more enticing this time around,” she said. “There's still plenty of room for Mr. Breslin, development-wise, on the eastern section.”

Anker said the county and town's portion of the land may be managed by the Longwood Youth Sports Association, which would use the site for its athletic programs and other events. The group runs sports leagues used by about 3,000 children.

“They need ballfields. They don’t have the advantage of some of the schools that can fund ballfields and parks and those types of recreational places,” Anker said. "Middle Island will be approaching built-out, and if we don’t step up to the plate and hit a home run we’re going to lose the game of improving quality of life in Middle Island.”

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