The final component in a complex three-way deal to allow construction of affordable senior housing, a park and a house of worship on two sites in Melville is now complete.
Sweet Hollow Park, the $3.55 million project built on what was the 8.4-acre Meyers Farm property at Round Swamp Road and Old Country Road, was officially opened with the snip of a red ribbon Wednesday by Huntington town officials to the delight of civic leaders, trustees of the house of worship and residents who attended the grand opening. The park features a boccie ball, basketball and tennis courts, a children’s playground and a 2,275-foot walking trail.
“This was a labor of love and I’m so glad it has finally come to fruition,” said Alissa Taff, who led the effort to get the park and is president of the Civic Association of Sweet Hollow, which represents about 2,000 homes in the Huntington and Melville area. “The park is beautiful and something the community can have and cherish forever.”
The Club at Melville senior housing community and the house of worship on Deshon Drive were completed in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
The farm property was purchased in 2003 by Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam-Northeast, a Hindu organization known as the BAPS, with plans to erect a temple on the site. But after objections from area residents who said they preferred a community park on the land, town officials, the BAPS and the Civic Association of Sweet Hollow Inc. devised the plan that transferred development rights from one property to another.
The town board approved transferring 5 acres of development rights from the farm property to an 18-acre site on Deshon Drive. The board then changed the zoning on that parcel from light industry to garden apartment, which allowed construction of 261 units of affordable senior housing on 13 of the 18 acres. The remaining 5 acres were sold to BAPS, which, using the development rights transferred from the Meyers Farm property, built its temple there.
“It was a great exercise in how people with different viewpoints can work together to come up with a solution to a problem with a complex issue,” Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said.
Girish Patel, the public relations director for the BAPS organization, said it was a long wait but worth it to make all parties happy.
“From 2003 when this first came about and we found out the town wanted to build a park, our leader said we have to work with them and find an alternate space in the town,” Patel said. “We waited very patiently, and now they have the park and we are welcome, and we got exactly what we wanted in terms of the size and shape of the house of worship.”