Funding granted to cover Sandy damage at Downs Farm Preserve

Group for the East End's Missy Weiss prepares soil with Victoria Witczak, 9, of Cutchogue, and her sister Julianna, 3, last weekend at Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue.
Group for the East End’s Missy Weiss running an educational class at Downs Farm Preserve on rain gardens in April with the help of Victoria Witczak, 9, of Cutchogue, and her sister Julianna, 3. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that Southold Town has been awarded a $30,000 grant to cover the costs of damages caused by Hurricane Sandy at Cutchogue’s Downs Farm/Fort Corchaug Preserve. 

The preserve is one of 14 historically significant properties that suffered severe damage to receive such funding, according to a release from Mr. Cuomo’s office.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said hiking trails at the preserve “were hit hard [by the storm],” adding that the town was lucky more damage was not caused to infrastructure.

“The storm disrupted the trails and we had to go out and clear them so it could be used once again by the public,” he said.

The work, which has already been completed, was done over the course of three weeks by the Department of Public works, he said. It comprised of clearing dangerous overhanging trees and limbs that hung above walking trails at the preserve, and was done prior to the summer season, after more pressing damages to the town had been taken care of, he said.

The town is essentially being reimbursed for the cost of the work, Mr. Russell said. The town applied for the grant in October 2013, according to prior Suffolk Times coverage.

The National Parks Service distinguished the 51-acre Downs Farm Preserve on Downs Creek as a National Historic Landmark in 1999, calling it one of the best-preserved archeological sites associated with 17th century Indian life in the region, according to the NPS.

The preserve encompasses a fort site of the Corchaug Indians, and is being used today for recreational activities and a site for stewardship programs and educational programs with local clubs and schools, lead by the environmental advocacy nonprofit Group for the East End.

Other areas in Suffolk County to receive grant funding include Tupper Boathouse in Southampton, Caumsett State Park in Huntington, and Oak Beach Community Center in Babylon.

Congressman Tim Bishop called the Southold farm, and Southampton’s boathouse, “important pieces of the history of the East End,” adding that he is “glad that we are able to sustain them for the enjoyment of future generations.”

[email protected]