Peconic Land trust closes on Deep Hole Creek parcel; community contributed more than $650K

Last week, with the community’s help, Peconic Land Trust achieved a goal it had been working toward since last year: closing on the purchase of Mattituck’s Deep Hole Creek parcel.

The land conservation organization became the interim owner of the 15-acre waterfront property along New Suffolk Avenue last Tuesday, according to Peconic Land Trust senior project manager Holly Sanford.

As interim owner, the trust will protect the land until it can find the right conservation buyer to maintain or cultivate it, Ms. Sanford said.

“We have a stewardship department that will be monitoring and managing the land,” she said. “We will have a process where we will need to get an appraisal, because we are intending to sell this to a conservation buyer … There’s a lot of work here ahead of us to find a qualified buyer.”

The trust hopes to put the property on the market as soon as the end of the year, Ms. Sanford said.

“We have to assess the value as well as the costs that have now been put into it and that will continue to be incurred over the next couple of months before we’re able to list it, so we don’t have a specific price yet,” Ms. Sanford said. “We were hoping to turn it around by the end of the year, if that’s possible … we’re hoping, but it could be a year and a half.”

The trust chose to purchase the land so it wouldn’t be lost to development, Ms. Sanford said.

“The trust became the interim owner because there was no immediate conservation buyer at the time this was going to move forward, we needed to move swiftly to acquire the property, or we would have lost it forever to development,” she said.

The project came to the trust’s attention after community members learned through a series of public hearings that the property was on the verge of becoming a seven-lot subdivision.

The purchase was funded by over $650,000 in community donations, with the trust taking out a line of credit to cover the rest. The Suffolk Times reported in November that an anonymous donor covered the cost of the interest on the purchase and, Ms. Sanford said, will continue to do so until the land is sold.

Southold purchased development rights to the property at $69,000 per acre using Community Preservation Funds in November. Back then, the total cost was estimated at $821,000 for the 11.9-acre easement, which was below the value indicated in the town’s commissioned appraisal, according to a November resolution.

The property was listed at $3.1 million, The Suffolk Times reported in November. Peconic Land Trust declined to share the purchase price. Ms. Sanford said she would wait for that information to become public domain.

Ms. Sanford emphasized that the purchase was made possible through a collaborative effort of Southold Town, community members and the property’s previous owners, the Koehler family.

“Everybody has to realize it’s a collective collaboration,” Ms. Sanford said. “Thank you to the Koehler family, for being open to conservation, to the town for acknowledging the importance of protecting this property and the community who really initiated the whole project by contacting the trust and providing the necessary funds to close the shortfall,” she said.