Former Middle Island Kmart site remains ‘barren wasteland’
We aren’t giving up…
There’s a battle brewing over the future of a Middle Island property that was once the site of a Kmart.
Developer rejects Suffolk County’s offer to buy former Kmart land for park
Town and county officials in 2017 announced a deal in which the county would buy 21 acres, and the state would purchase 28 acres and preserve it as open space.
Garden City developer Wilbur Breslin has rejected Suffolk County’s latest offer to buy land he owns in Middle Island, dealing a setback for plans to build a park on the property.
The county had offered Breslin about $1.8 million for the 21-acre parcel on Middle Country Road, formerly the site of a Kmart store. Breslin rejected a similar offer for the site last year.
County and Brookhaven Town officials and Middle Island residents had hoped to build ballfields for local youth sports leagues on the property. Under the deal, the county would purchase the property, and the town would build the park, which would be managed by a community group.
County Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said Breslin’s asking price was more than what the county could offer. By law, the county’s offer could not exceed an appraisal conducted to establish the site’s value.
“He wanted more money. He basically wanted the county to pay more for the property. I said that’s impossible,” Anker said, adding Breslin has talked to Brookhaven officials about his plans for the site. “They may be negotiating a development and he wants to develop that property.”
Breslin did not return phone and email messages seeking comment.
The vacant property, which spans a total of about 75 acres, has had a troubled history since the Kmart closed more than a dozen years ago. The body of a murder victim was found in a wooded section of the parcel in April 2016, days before Breslin demolished the abandoned store.
Town and county officials in 2017 announced a deal in which the county would buy 21 acres, and the state would purchase 28 acres and preserve it as open space. Breslin would keep the remaining 26 acres for potential development.
Middle Island Civic Association president Gail Lynch-Bailey said Breslin’s rejection of the county offer was “very disappointing.”
“I think we should look elsewhere for a field of dreams park,” she said. “What‘s the point? This is more than a decade of looking at this horrible, blighted property in the middle of our community, and it’s just wrong.”
Anker said she would ask the Legislature to prepare a new bid for the property next year. “Maybe the third time’s the charm,” she said.
Town Councilman Michael Loguercio said he, Breslin and Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine have discussed development ideas for the site, which is zoned for residential and commercial uses. But he said Breslin has not filed a formal application for the property.
“We’re talking about bringing a quality project that would include business and recreational. It would include open space and some housing. Unfortunately, this gets hindered by offers from the county, which doesn’t have any money,” Loguercio said. “He hasn’t brought anything to me that I feel would be the right opportunity for the community.”
Longwood has a unique opportunity to transform a long blighted parcel on Middle Country Road in Middle Island into a Field of Dreams Park and to preserve some wonderful open space, too. The NYS DEC will buy the northern 28 acres and add it to the Rocky Point Forest Preserve. Suffolk County will purchase the southwest 21 acres and the Town of Brookhaven will build a community park there — similar to the Heritage Park in Mt Sinai, with a walking trail, playground, ball fields, gardens and more. But none of this can happen if realtor owners Wilbur Breslin and Fred Colin turn down these purchase offers, which expire March 31, 2019. Please contact them NOW and tell them to say YES! Accepting the dual offers will save the woodlands and move the park forward. Breslin and Colin MAY still develop their 25 acres to the southeast with senior housing and restaurants. But we do NOT want the mega housing plan they are considering with over 500 rental units. This will destroy the woods, clog Rt. 25 and overwhelm our schools. Wilbur & Fred: become Longwood’s heroes and say YES!
Suffolk to resubmit bid for former Kmart property in Middle Island
Legislator says officials have increased their previous offer of about $1.8 million to developer Wilbur Breslin for the vacant property, which would become a park.
Suffolk County officials said they will try again to buy a 21-acre parcel in Middle Island and turn it into a new park.
The Suffolk Legislature on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a procedural motion authorizing officials to submit a bid to Garden City developer Wilbur Breslin to buy the land. A shuttered Kmart on the site was demolished two years ago.
Breslin last year rejected a previous offer of about $1.8 million, Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said in an interview. The new offer, which Anker said is “slightly more” than the previous one, will be submitted to Breslin in about a week, and he has 90 days to accept or reject it.
“We have this incredible opportunity to create a community park,” Anker said. ”We just need Mr. Breslin to accept the fair-market value of the property, and we’re really hoping he will.”
Breslin did not return phone calls and an email requesting comment.
Suffolk and Brookhaven Town officials last year announced a deal in which the county would buy part of the 75-acre property on Middle Country Road and the town would turn it into a park with athletic fields. As part of the deal, the state Department of Environmental Conservation would purchase a 28-acre section and preserve it for open space. Breslin would keep the remaining 26 acres for potential development.
A spokeswoman said the DEC is in “active negotiations” to buy the parcel, which would be added to the Rocky Point State Forest.
The vacant property has been considered an eyesore since the Kmart closed about a dozen years ago. The body of a murder victim was found in a wooded area of the property in April 2016, shortly before Breslin demolished the shuttered store.
Gail Lynch-Bailey, president of the Middle Island Civic Association, said she was “very excited that this is back in the realm of possibility,” adding that the state’s interest in buying some of the land might improve the chances that the property will be sold.
“We’re hoping that the combination of the dual offer would be much more enticing this time around,” she said. “There’s still plenty of room for Mr. Breslin, development-wise, on the eastern section.”
Anker said the county and town’s portion of the land may be managed by the Longwood Youth Sports Association, which would use the site for its athletic programs and other events. The group runs sports leagues used by about 3,000 children.
“They need ballfields. They don’t have the advantage of some of the schools that can fund ballfields and parks and those types of recreational places,” Anker said. “Middle Island will be approaching built-out, and if we don’t step up to the plate and hit a home run we’re going to lose the game of improving quality of life in Middle Island.”
Many thanks to our members who participated in MIFD’s 70th Anniversary Parade. We looked great marching down Middle Country Road in our red, white and blue. And it was wonderful to hear the crowd saying “Thank You” to both the FD and the civic!