New Suffolk waterfront group takes property title from land trust

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Members of the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund mark gaining title to the long-sought, 3.5-acre property Saturday morning by changing the signs that signify ownership.

As far as chores go, this one was done in no time flat.

All it took was the tap of a hammer and the old Peconic Land Trust sign was off the side of a long-empty restaurant. With a few taps on a nail, a new sign bearing a new name, the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund, took its place on what had been the Galley Ho restaurant and a barn.

Over the years the 3.4-acre property overlooking Cutchogue Harbor had been the focus of several development proposals, including condominiums. It will instead become a place for recreational and cultural activities as well as waterfront access.
The waterfront fund organized in 2005 to purchase and preserve the property. To help achieve that goal, the Peconic Land Trust bought the parcel in December 2007 to give the waterfront group time to raise funds to buy it. The two groups completed the $2.4 million deal late last month.

“The New Suffolk waterfront has the potential to become again the heart of the community,” said Barbara Schnitzler, New Suffolk Waterfront Fund chairperson. “We hope that the community and others will stand strong with us as we launch our second phase of fund-raising to appropriately improve this property over the next few years.”

The Peconic Land Trust usually works with conservation-minded owners on finding ways to realize a financial gain without losing the acreage to development. In rare cases, the trust will buy a property intending to later sell it, with building restrictions in place, to a public or private organization

“We are very pleased that we have been able to assist the community in realizing a dream to protect this waterfront, long a source of community pride and interest, and to make it available to them while they undertook a fund-raising initiative to acquire it,” said Tim Caufield, land trust vice president. “We wish the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund all the best as they take on the next phase of life for this important, historic property.”

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