Doubts on Neck Path Buy

       The Springs Citizens Advisory Committee has recommended against the purchase of a 16-acre woodland tract on Neck Path, which was the subject of a town board hearing last month.

       The proposed $2.7 million purchase would be made using the community preservation fund, and the site designated for recreation and the preservation of open space.

       In a resolution passed at a meeting of the committee on Feb. 24, and provided last week to the town board, the group expressed its opinion that adequate open space would be maintained should the property remain in private hands, and a pending three-lot subdivision proceed.

       The subdivision calls for an eight-acre reserve at the back of the property. It would create a 4.5-acre lot with an existing house and pool, and two additional lots of 1.9 and 1.5 acres.

       The property is owned by Catherine Lederer and Rodney Plaskett. The pool would be removed, according to the town’s plans, but the house could remain and be used for public programs.

       Taking that house, and the others that would be built in the subdivision, off the tax rolls would cause a loss of tax revenue, the advisory committee told the town board.  And, it said, “if the house were to remain standing, the town would then become responsible for its maintenance, which over time would be considerable if properly maintained.”

       The group suggested that, should the subdivision proceed, the town could then purchase the two smaller properties “at a fraction of the cost of buying the entire property.” 

       Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc pointed out at a recent town board meeting that the tax dollars needed to pay for the education of even one student living on the property must be weighed against any incoming revenue.

       Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition and management, said at the hearing that the land was in the “Accabonac Harbor critical environmental area,” in the watershed of the harbor, and in a critical area designated by Suffolk County.

       “Reducing development has the potential to positively impact the quality of groundwater and surface waters by reducing contaminants carried into the harbor,” he said.

       The site is adjacent to other town-owned preserved woodlands. “The protection of large blocks of woodland is essential for the preservation of wildlife resources, especially forest interior birds,” Mr. Wilson said. It could provide “an important trail link” between the parcels, and a connection to the Paumanok Path and Jacob’s Farm trails, he said.

       The town board has not publicly discussed the purchase since the Feb. 20 public hearing.