Riverhead Charter School to Purchase Aquebogue Farmland

Aquebogue, Riverhead Charter School
The nearly 72-acre property, fronting on both Sound Avenue and Church Lane, are to be sold in mid-2024 to the Riverhead Charter School.
Courtesy of Town & Country Real Estate

A nearly 72-acre farm in Aquebogue will soon change hands as the Riverhead Charter School, already a neighbor, has signed a contract to purchase the property.

“This is a win-win for the community,” said Raymond J. Ankrum, the school superintendent, adding that it is not only a benefit for the schoolchildren, but for property owners to have a school in their area that is sending its graduates to Louisiana State University, New York University, Clark Atlanta University and Moorehouse College.

Ankrum told Behind The Hedges Tuesday that the charter school, which is based in Calverton, is in contract to buy the property for $4.5 million, and the charter school, which is funded by tax dollars, will make the purchase with its reserves.

The overall plan would see the high school relocated from its current building on a neighboring property, where it has a long-term lease, and build a new school on the 12.3 acres that have its development rights intact. The plan is to build a new building in 5-7 years, along with athletic fields.

Down the road, the superintendent adds, the school may move seventh to 12th grades into the space, as well as make good use of the farmland. “We are planning on possibly having a farm-to-table program. We think approaching it this way could be a value add to the greater community,” he says.

Susan Berkoski of Town & Country Real Estate represented both sides of the deal, which the school hopes to close in mid-2024.

“I’m so pleased to have played a role in this,” Berokoski said in a statement. “Ray Ankrum, the Riverhead Charter School’s superintendent, along with his board, had the vision and perseverance to connect the dots. It goes from one steward to the next. These 72 acres are beloved by the current owners, and I’m sure they are thrilled to know they will be cherished by the next, and those who can only benefit from them.”

Aquebogue, Riverhead Charter School
The 71.8-acre property is technically made up of four separate lots with 12.3 acres on Sound Avenue that can be developed.Courtesy of Town & Country Real Estate

Owned by Potato Acres LLC, the property has been in one family since the 1990s and is cultivated, border-to-border, as an income-producing sod farm.

Technically four separate lots equaling 71.8 acres, the property falls within the Riverhead Town’s Agriculture Protection Zoning District. Three of the lots, which add up to the 12.3 acres and have the development rights intact, front on Sound Avenue.

There is a long history of education in the neighborhood. “The beautiful school that borders the 72 acres to the west, has been a school since the ’20s or ’30s,” says Berkoski told Hedges on Tuesday. “Then it was closed, then it became something else and then new owners reverted it back to a center of education.”

“Church Lane is a country mix of farms and residences, connecting Sound Avenue and Main Road, with two of the oldest churches marking either end, providing a sense of history and tradition,” the listing description of the area said.

The school entered into a contract to purchase the property a few weeks ago, after the property was put on the market about 15 months ago.

“Selling land is not quick, especially something this size,” Berkoski said. “Then of course, it’s more than just a big piece of land,” she added noting that because the development rights were sold on the majority of the land, the buyer had to be very specific. “There was a lot of interest, but people are very particular at this level. The fat had to be perfect.”

“We would like to congratulate the school and its board for their forward-thinking,” Town & Country’s CEO Judi Desiderio said in a statement. “We hope that other school districts take note and follow suit wherever possible. Future generations depend on it.”

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Aquebogue, Riverhead Charter School
Currently, the property is being used as a sod farm.Courtesy of Town & Country Real Estate