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Suffolk moves to redevelop St. Ursula Center in Blue Point

The St. Ursula Center in Blue Point on

The St. Ursula Center in Blue Point on Oct. 18, 2011. Credit: Erin Geismar

Two Democratic Suffolk lawmakers filed a resolution to authorize appraisals to purchase the 8.3-acre St. Ursula Center in Blue Point as a mixed-use hamlet park.

Legis. Robert Calarco of Patchogue and William Lindsay III of Bohemia have introduced the bill to explore a possible joint county, Bayport-Blue Point Public Library and Brookhaven Town effort to buy and run the site. A vote could come at the legislature’s July 25 meeting.

The center, the longtime national headquarters for the Ursuline Sisters, is up for sale to pay for living costs and health care for sisters who retire and move into assisted living facilities. The center is a 35,000-square-foot building with a 1-acre cemetery, 3 acres of marshland, majestic pines and walking trails. It is zoned for 1-acre residential use.

“It’s definitely a heavy lift because there are so many moving parts,” Lindsay said. “It’s not a slam dunk, but everyone is pushing hard to see if we can make it happen.”

The concept would be for the county to do the appraisal and acquire the land. The library would seek a referendum to authorize bonds for the building and renovations. The town would develop and maintain the remaining acres for an active park.

Brookhaven Town Board member Neil Foley, who is spearheading the effort, said he is also looking at the possibility of upzoning the current library to office space to make the site more valuable. He said he is seeking a meeting with officials from the local school district, which officially holds the title to the library. The library district has a separate tax levy that pays library operations.

“I’d only want the county to move forward if the library is part of the mix,” Calarco said. “It’s an opportunity that might never present itself again.”

Michael Firestone, the library director, said the library’s board of trustees would have to vote to hire consultants to do a feasibility study to determine whether acquisition and needed renovations would be affordable.

Gus Nuzzolese, the realtor for the order, said, “We’re targeting all types of users and developers in the residential area. We’re looking for buyers who have the credibility and wherewithal to close on the property at the highest price for a community-oriented use.” He wants to close on the property within nine to 12 months.

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