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State park in Northville designated a passive preserve

Undeveloped Jamesport State Park has been renamed Hallock State Park Preserve and will be used only for passive recreation and environmental education, under a master plan approved this week.

But Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who has obtained almost $1 million to help construct an environmental education center at the park, says swimming should be allowed at its Long Island Sound beach.

He said he will try to block next year's budget for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation unless it yields. "It runs against common sense to have a beach and water and not have swimming," LaValle said Thursday.

But parks regional director Ronald Foley said there's no money for lifeguards and facilities for swimming, which is available at an adjacent Riverhead town beach and at Wildwood and Orient Beach state parks. Parks officials also noted the agency is slated to lose an additional 220 jobs by the end of the year.

The agency changed the name of the 220-acre park as part of the master plan because it is in Northville, not Jamesport. Hallock is the name of a large pond on the property as well as the family that once farmed the land.

The preserve designation will protect the natural features. Allowed uses will be hiking, bird-watching, fishing from shore, launching canoes and kayaks, scuba diving in the sound and horseback riding.

The plan calls for construction of a main park road and parking lot and, over 10 to 15 years, construction of a shore access road, park office and nature center and developing a trail system. Foley said "one of the first priorities will be to build the access road so people can get in to use the place."

The state bought 525 acres north of Sound Avenue from KeySpan in 2002 for $16 million and in 2005 declared the northernmost 220 acres Jamesport State Park and Preserve and sold the rest as protected farmland.

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