The 14-acre Bianchi/Weiss Greenhouses Superfund site in East Patchogue, remediated by the Department of Environmental Conservation in 2016, will now take a bow as a preserve, managed by the Post-Morrow Foundation.
“The closing was last Friday,” said Legis. Dominick Thorne, who has worked on this project with Post-Morrow vice president Tom Williams for a year.
The land went into tax lien and the county took it over. “We had to purchase the land and paid $10,000,” Williams said.
“Our idea is to leave it as is, clean up the edges, put up a fence, and install a walking trail around the circumference,” he said.
It’s been a long haul for the Bianchi/Weiss Greenhouses site to get to this finish line.
The site, previously used for commercial growing purposes from 1929 to 2005, was undeveloped and zoned for residential use. In December 2006, during site demolition of buildings by the present owner, concerned neighbors contacted local officials about potential health concerns, namely pesticides. A DEC cleanup was conducted between 2015 to 2016.
“The property was brought to my attention by [Suffolk County Economic Development and Planning commissioner] Sarah Landsdale when I first came to office,” explained Thorne. “They gave me a briefing of their land bank properties, so I chose Bianchi Weiss and the former Blue Point Laundry site.”
Landsdale suggested a collaboration with Post-Morrow.
“She called me out of the blue and asked, knowing our goal was land preservation, ‘Would you be interested?’ The county wanted to get it off their Land Bank list to care for it. We brought it to our board and insisted on an indemnity clause,” Williams said.
The purchase will save residents $22,000 in taxes that have to be paid every year on property, Thorne said.
There were three Zoom meetings conducted by Thorne and one in-person meeting with local constituents.
“About 30 or 40 came to each one,” he said. “They didn’t want houses, they didn’t want solar farms, they wanted open space. It was literally a year’s worth of ‘can’t do this, can do that,’ but I want to give kudos to Economic Development—they really worked hard.”
Williams said the name would change. “We were thinking about naming it after [Bellport biology teacher and Environmental Defense Fund co-founder] Art Cooley, but we haven’t made a decision yet. Some cleanup will start this spring.”