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Town OKs $1.5M for Cold Spring Harbor land


The public-private partnership working to buy and preserve 28 acres in Cold Spring Harbor took a step forward this week, after the Huntington Town Board authorized spending up to $1.5 million for its share of the bill.

Huntington, Suffolk County and the Old Westbury-based North Shore Land Alliance want to buy 28 acres of the DeForest Williams estate for about $6 million. Under the current plan, the alliance and town would each pay 25 percent of the property's purchase price and Suffolk would pay the rest.

"This significant coastal woodland property has been on the town's potential acquisition list for many years," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said in a statement. The land sits above Cold Spring Harbor and consists of acres of untouched woods.

Petrone said in a statement the board's unanimous vote allows the town to appropriate its share of the purchase cost and authorizes the town attorney to execute a contract of sale and schedule a closing.

"We're delighted the town has been such a great partner in this and they have been a leader all the way," North Shore Land Alliance president Lisa Ott said Wednesday.

Ott said the county appraised the land and then sent its offer to the estate. She said the estate accepted the offer in the May, so "we have a deal." She said she expects they will close on the property this year.

Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport) said Wednesday the acquisition will need final approval from the county legislature. He said the project will be ranked, because the county has limited money for open space acquisitions. The higher the ranking, the more likely it will be approved, Spencer said.

He said he is confident it will get a high ranking, but said it still needs approval from his colleagues.

Ott said the alliance will now refocus on fundraising for its portion of the bill and for a separate parcel it wants to buy.

The land alliance also hopes to purchase a separate $2.5 million 4-acre lot, which would be part of the preserve -- bringing it up to about 32 acres.

The alliance bought a $625,000, one-year option for the land last year, fearing development, after the town approved a 15-lot subdivision on the property that spring.

The alliance said development could cause increased nitrogen in the local waters, erosion and hardening of the natural shoreline -- the building of bulkheads, jetties and the like.