After many years of conservation efforts and in the face of impending development, 100 acres on Flanders Bay in Aquebogue, next to Indian Island County Park, have been preserved for the “bargain sale price” of $11.5 million, according to the Peconic Land Trust.
The nonprofit organization announced last week that it acquired Broad Cove, part of a former duck farm, and it will soon be available for passive recreation, such as hiking, walking and kayaking, while also providing climate change resiliency, wildlife habitat, and water quality protection in the Peconic Bay Estuary. The property includes 25 acres of tidal wetlands and 8,000 feet of shoreline on Terry Creek and Broad Cove in Flanders Bay, as well upland woods and open fields.
“We were fortunate that the seller was very interested in seeing a conservation outcome and willing to hold on while we were able to bring together the funding through the six lines of credit,” John v. Halsey, president of the Peconic Land Trust, told Behind The Hedges. “They say timing is everything. By getting the loans from our donors, we have essentially bought time to pull together the long-term funding needed to permanently protect Broad Cove.”
In addition to the $11.5 million raised for the purchase, the trust also put aside $500,000 for carrying costs.
While the parcel topped government acquisition lists for decades, there was a new sense of urgency due to a recent proposal to the Town of Riverhead to build a mixed-use resort there, as the area is zoned for Tourism/Resort Campus.
“High impact use and development of the property would have had negative impacts on water quality, fisheries, wetland health and habitat,” the land trust said in a statement.
While it was not clear why earlier conservation efforts never came to fruition, Halsey said, “We do know from experience, especially with significant tracts of land, that making the deal work is challenging – ultimately, it’s about understanding the goals, needs, and circumstances of the seller and getting to yes.”
The owner had received an offer from a resort developer but agreed to wait on signing the contract, while the land trust worked toward conservation. Broad Cove is adjacent to Indian Island County Park in the hamlet of Aquebogue.
The land trust was able to close the deal on December 31, 2021. All existing buildings and structures on the property were removed before the closing.
“Our family is thrilled with this outcome,” said Andreas Weisz, managing partner of Walo, LLC, the listed seller. His grandfather, Stanley Weisz, acquired the property over 30 years ago. “My grandfather always wanted to see the land preserved, what we called the duck farm. We see this as his legacy, his pride and joy.
“Over the past six months, as we were working out the details, I’ve spent so much time walking the land and have come to appreciate how special it is — peaceful, and the crystal-clear waters of the canals. Ideally, this is what this land should be — a nature preserve and a place for people to come and enjoy the woods, the water. I look forward to visiting in the future with my family,” he continued.
Broad Cove Importance
Flanders Bay is an embayment within the Peconic Estuary, an estuary of national significance. The Broad Cove property is located within the State-designated Peconic Pineland Maritime Reserve. It has been on every New York State Open Space Conservation Plan list since the first in 1992 through the most recent in 2016, the land trust said.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has expressed an interest in partnering with the land trust to protect the property.
“We commend our colleagues at the Peconic Land Trust for their work to protect this one-of-a-kind parcel,” according to a statement from DEC Acting Regional Director Cathy Haas. “This acquisition is a great step toward permanent protection of a landmark property and DEC looks forward to continuing to work with Peconic Land Trust in their ongoing work.”
Halsey thanked supporters for “stepping up at this time to loan the Trust the funding to complete the acquisition quickly.”
Julie Wesnofske, the trust’s project manager, worked with Pete Moore of The Corcoran Group and Laurence Oxman of East End Real Estate, to get the deal done.
Readers can support the trust through private donations. “We want to grow our existing revolving fund so that can use our own funds to do more projects like this,” Halsey said.
The Peconic Land Trust also recently raised funds to purchase 15 acres of North Fork farmland off Deep Hole Creek in Mattituck as it became of ware of plans to develop a seven-lot subdivision there.