New Suffolk Waterfront Fund will purchase 3.5 acres on Cutchogue Harbor

RANDEE DADDONA FILE PHOTO A stretch of the 3.5 acres the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund plans to purchase.

The New Suffolk Waterfront Fund is ready to purchase 3.5 acres of prime land overlooking Cutchogue Harbor after securing a short-term loan for $200,000 from The Conservation Fund to cover the gap between the  money the group has raised and the property’s $2.4 million price tag.
The group announced it was ready to make the purchase at a party for its donors and volunteers at the former Galley Ho restaurant on the waterfront property Saturday night. The group’s chair, Barbara Schnitzler, said that more than 500 people have donated to the fund and that many members have already pledged to help pay down the 18-month loan.
The property, which is at the end of New Suffolk Avenue at the scenic center of the small former scalloping community, was a former marina and boatyard, as well as the site of the country’s first U.S. Navy submarine base. The Peconic Land Trust purchased the land from the Raynor family in 2005 and has been holding it for the Waterfront Fund, which was in the process of receiving its non-profit status and was not yet able to begin fund-raising at that time. The Land Trust had given the Waterfront Fund until this December to raise the money to take control of the property.
“They’ve been great.  The Land Trust has mentored us through this, leant us the money and gave us time to start our plan. They’ve been our partner,” said Ms. Schnitzler. “Now they’re going to use the money to go do another project someplace else.”
The group plans to preserve the waterfront’s beauty and historic nature and support environmentally sustainable public access and recreational, educational and commercial activities on the site.
The Waterfront Fund has estimated that it will cost between $60,000 and $70,000 annually to maintain the property, and is now looking for volunteers with expertise in program development and fund-raising to help sustain the organization for years to come.
This past summer, the Waterfront Fund operated some slips at the former marina behind the Galley Ho and used part of the property for small boat storage. They also ran a community vegetable garden and put picnic benches and barbecue grills on the beach.
“We want to make sure how we develop it is consistent with our mission,” Ms. Schnitzler said.
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