After tabling its purchase for several months, members of Suffolk County's Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee approved a measure to acquire the 150-acre former Beagle Club property on Edwards Avenue in Calverton using open space funds.
The recent moves to table the purchase came following a December rejection by the full legislature. And as EPA Chairwoman Kara Hahn, D-East Setauket, has led an effort to halt all new land acquisition considerations while the county (which was approved by the committee Monday as well), those in limbo have been considered by some to be jeopardized as well.
"This took a lot more work than it should have," said Dick Amper, executive director of the . "Parcels less valuable than this have routinely been approved once they reached the contract stage, and it's just the availability of funding under the new program that's causing legislators to hang up on it."
The 'new program' refers to the county's requirement to pay for its open space as it purchases them, as of Nov. 30 of last year. Previously, Suffolk was able to bond against future revenues.
The price tag for the Beagle Club property is $8.9 million, and some legislators - for one, Legis. Lou D'Amaro, D-Huntington Station - had said that as while reconsidering how it decides to purchase open space in the future.
"There may be 20 other properties coming down the line right now that are vitally important beyond this particular property we're considering today," said D'Amaro, the vice chair of the EPA Committee, at a Jan. 30 meeting.
The EPA committee voted unanimously - with D'Amaro seconding the measure - to move the Beagle Club purchase for consideration in front of the full legislature at its March 27 meeting.
"I think Democrats realized that their core constituents were beginning to get upset with them," said North Fork Legis. Ed Romaine, R-Center Moriches, the only Republican on the EPA Committee who sponsored the measure.
But Hahn said Monday night that a change in the property's rating is what ultimately swayed her. Amper and other environmentalists brought it to the Suffolk County Planning Department's that the parcel's rating was incorrect, boosting the property's rating from 24 to 34. A minimum score of 25 is required for consideration.