From Newsday

Middle Island Kmart tract eyed for parkland

Updated April 17, 2016 11:04 AM
By Carl MacGowan

A contractor demolishes the long-vacant Kmart building in Middle Island on April 5, 2016. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

A Suffolk County lawmaker has proposed buying part of the Middle Island property where the body of a gunshot victim was foundbehind a vacant department store earlier this month.

Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she has spoken to Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine and civic leaders about plans to build a park with athletic fields and open space on about half of the 75-acre site on Middle Country Road. The rest of the property would remain available for potential development, she said.

Community concerns about the vacant property were heightened earlier this month when the body of Alexander Incorvia, 26, was found in a wooded area on the site. Suffolk police last week charged Michael Dirkschneider, 30, of Bay Shore, with first-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the killing. Dirkschneider has pleaded not guilty.

Days after Incorvia’s body was found, developer Wilbur Breslin, a co-owner of the property, began demolishing a Kmart store on the site that had closed about a decade ago. Brookhaven Town officials had threatened to raze the structure if Breslin failed to do so.

Anker said Breslin, in a letter to county officials, said he may be willing to sell about 40 to 45 acres to the county. He would keep the remaining 30 to 35 acres for possible development, she said. Breslin did not return a call seeking comment.

The county legislature would have to approve purchase of the property. Anker said she will soon submit a resolution to appraise the site. She said it may take up to a year to complete purchase of the property.

Anker said civic leaders have expressed interest in having more land for youth baseball, softball and soccer leagues.

“Right now, they just don’t have enough ballfields,” Anker said in an interview. “The builder will hopefully work with the residents and the community to develop the park, which in turn will help to enhance the value of the properties.”

Romaine said town officials would be willing to build a park at the site if the county bought the land. The town and county worked together on a similar plan several years ago to build Heritage Park, also known as The Wedge, in Mount Sinai.

“We would find the money to do that,” Romaine said in a phone interview Friday. “I am certainly prepared to get the town to work on developing a Wedge-like park should the county be able to purchase it from Mr. Breslin.”

Gail Lynch-Bailey, president of the Middle Island Civic Association, said the plan has widespread support in the community.

“We’re hoping that property can be put to good use for sports fields and a place where people can have a good time,” Lynch-Bailey said.