Suffolk County, Brookhaven fire department could partner

Land Purchase Pondered

Independent/Peggy Spellman Hoey

Officials are considering the purchase of a parcel of land located across Union Avenue from the Eastport Fire Department. The department has concerns over the property being developed because it could cause congestion affecting how the department’s trucks would get in and out of the firehouse.

In a recent letter, the board of fire commissioners requested the Town of Brookhaven, where the parcel is located, purchase the property to save it from development. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said he is looking for a partnership with Suffolk County for the purchase, though the fire district, which maintains the property by cutting its grass, could also chip in.

The undeveloped parcel is often used by the fire department for overflow parking during events such as its annual chicken barbecue in August.

Eastport Fire Commissioner Tom Collins said the department wants the parcel preserved and does not want to see it commercialized.

Collins said the department owns a piece of land, which is across the street from its headquarters adjacent to King Kullen, that it would be willing to trade off to a developer to use for parking. However, the district wants to see the lot across the street from the firehouse preserved to reduce traffic congestion. “I think that is the biggest concern of the fire department,” he said.

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming said she is working with Romaine’s office and said a three-way partnership would be a good thing.

“I want to support the fire department in any way that I can,” she said, noting the potential purchase is only in the exploratory phase. “We are trying to meet the fire department’s needs based on vacant land availability.”

Romaine, a former legislator, said the purchase would have to first go through the legislature and be rated to determine if the land can be acquired. If it is rated high enough, the next step would be for it to be appraised. Once that is done, officials would have to determine if it could be purchased. He said it would be nice to have the parcel preserved because many residents see it as an unofficial village green.

“I think it’s important and I am behind this 100 percent. I hope we are capable of doing this,” he said.

Brookhaven Town records show that the parcel, which is just shy of two acres, is owned by Eastport Commons LLC of Hauppauge, according to Kevin Molloy, a spokesman from Romaine’s office. A real estate sign located on the property at the corner of Union Turnpike and Montauk Highway lists Alexander Tsunis as a contact for the property.

The advertisement states that the property is roughly four acres and is zoned J-6, which means that its development could make way for a mixed-use structures, including businesses. Romaine said the property received approval for the construction of a bank and a pharmacy prior to his becoming supervisor.

Tsunis was not immediately available for comment. Collins said it is possible that the district could come up with some money for the joint purchase of the parcel.

“That would have to be hashed out with the attorneys,” he said.