Robins Island owner comes through for New Suffolk Waterfront fund

RANDEE DADONNA FILE PHOTO | A view of the property Robins Island owner Louis Moore Bacon will take title of.

The billionaire who owns Robins Island has provided a private stimulus package to the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund in the final days before the group’s $1.5 million mortgage was due.

With key financing from Louis Moore Bacon and a state grant, the mortgage has been paid in full. Mr. Bacon, a hedge fund manager who purchased the 434-acre island out of bankruptcy in 1988, will take title to the southernmost acre of waterfront to construct a boat shed and a small parking area. Mr. Bacon currently owns the land on either side of a town boat ramp. The one acre is adjacent to the building serving as a base for the island’s support staff. The property fronting Peconic Bay includes a small inlet used to berth several boats, including a Vietnam War-era landing craft.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the waterfront fund said Mr. Bacon’s company, Robins Island Holdings LLC, “will work with the Peconic Land Trust, ensuring the property’s maintenance, preservation and scenic views in perpetuity.”

The fund was established in 2005 by New Suffolk citizens to preserve 3.4 acres overlooking Cut­chogue Harbor. The remaining 2.4 acres, including the former Galley Ho restaurant, a historic barn, a community garden and a portion of the beach on the south side of the site, will stay under the waterfront fund’s control.

Fund officials did not disclose the financial details of the agreement, but did say in the release that “the generous support of Robins Island Holdings LLC, combined with a grant from NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, allows the Waterfront Fund to pay off its mortgage and devote its energies toward long-anticipated improvements and renovations on the property.”

The land, formerly the site of a boat yard and a restaurant, was purchased by the Peconic Land Trust in 2007 during the time the waterfront fund became a nonprofit organization and began to raise the $2.4 million needed to acquire the property.

After raising $1.5 million on its own and receiving a $1.5 million loan from The Conservation Fund, a national preservation group, the fund took title to the property in December 2010. The deadline for repaying the loan was this June. The group recently received a $400,000 grant from the state parks department, leaving an outstanding balance of $1.1 million.

Members of the waterfront fund declined to comment on the deal beyond a prepared statement from chairwoman Barbara Schnitzler, which said, “The board is grateful for Mr. Bacon’s generous, continuing support of this project.

“We are so pleased that our acquisition fundraising is behind us,” the statement continued, “and we can get to work creating the community asset that so many people have supported, financially and through their volunteer efforts.”

Mr. Bacon, founder of Moore Capital Management, is quoted as saying he considers it “a privilege to participate in this outstanding community preservation project working with The New Suffolk Waterfront Fund and Peconic Land Trust. Together, we have crafted a long-term solution to a threatened property and developed a viable conservation alternative which both preserves and protects a critical viewshed for the residents of New Suffolk and the North Fork. This collaboration is a continued expansion of ongoing private, public and nonprofit efforts that are becoming the template for preservation in the future.”

According to the waterfront fund’s website, their plans now include moving forward “with the rehabilitation of the north portion in line with the vision we have long held, which includes a community center/snack bar, transient dockage, a small marina, recognition of our maritime history, etc.”

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