Twenty years ago there was a huge hole in the ground behind an empty and neglected mansion on the north side of Main Road in Greenport.
With approvals in place for 350 condominiums, the property owners were busy digging out an artificial pond. Critics saw it as a scam, suggesting that the pond was little more than a commercial sand mine.
Perhaps the critics were correct, for when the digging stopped so did the entire condo project.
A drive through the Soundfront property today offers an entirely different view. The mansion, Brecknock Hall, has been restored to its former glory. There are indeed condos behind it, but also cottages, apartments and senior citizen health and social facilities, the combination of which is not found anywhere else on eastern Long Island.
That bothersome hole in the ground has become the Peconic Landing life care facility. The $124 million project opened in 2002.
Employing more than 200 people and generating $1.2 million in annual property taxes, most of that going to Greenport School District, Peconic Landing has become a powerful and smoothly running economic engine locally. But the dollars and cents tell only part of the story.
Management, staff and residents are active members of the community, financially generous and freely giving of their time and talents. It’s a unique place playing a unique role — and so it has earned the title of The Suffolk Times’ Business of the Year.
“I’m in full agreement,” said Paul Connor III, president and CEO of Eastern Long Island Hospital, which has a close relationship with Peconic Landing. “That’s a great choice.”
In its role as a health care provider, Peconic Landing consistently wins high marks from the various regulatory agencies that oversee its operation, said Mr. Connor. As a life care facility, Peconic Landing offers those 62 and older the full spectrum of health care, from assisted living to an on-site nursing home. Residents buy their cottages or apartments.
“It all points to an organization that’s focused on its community and residents and continues to achieve high levels of service,” Mr. Connor added.
When the facility was first proposed, former Greenport School superintendent Charles Kozora was deeply concerned about the potential tax impacts. Facilities with not-for-profit status often generate little to no tax revenues.
But long before Dr. Kozora retired in 2009, Peconic Landing had become one of the largest individual contributors of school tax funds, now generating just under $750,000 a year.
In addition to the economic impact, “They’ve brought in a highly educated populace and are very supportive of education,” said Dr. Kozora. One of many examples is the community’s donation of free dictionaries to every Greenport third-grader during the past five years.
“I can’t say enough about them,” Dr. Kozora said. “They’re just wonderful and a delight to share time with.”
He’ll get no argument on that from Greenport Mayor David Nyce.
Peconic Landing has annually contributed profits from its May Mile run-walk event to Greenport Fire Department.
“At every turn, from their board of directors to the residents, they have been extremely helpful and a great neighbor to the village all the way through,” said the mayor. “They’re a fantastic neighbor and a magnificent resource for the entire community.”