Southold Town has told the U.S. Coast Guard it wants to purchase its shuttered station on Fishers Island. The proposal comes as the town moves ahead on plans to refurbish the barracks used to house the State Troopers who patrolled the island until they pulled out earlier this fall.
The refurbishing of the barracks is part of the town’s role in maintaining a police presence on the island. Since Oct. 31, when State Troopers left the barracks, Southold has sent two officers in five-day deployments to police the island.
Currently, the officers are living out of a town-rented house and working out of office space in the island’s community center while a trailer is being upgraded to be used as a police headquarters. The rent for the house is $110,000 a year, Supervisor Scott Russell said Monday as he outlined plans for patrolling the island, which is part of Southold Town.
In the interview, Mr. Russell said the town has told the Coast Guard it wants to buy its former station, which the Coast Guard will sell through the General Services Administration.
Several years ago, that station — which consists of a small house and a waterfront ferry dock — was shuttered as part of a consolidation with other small stations across the region. The Coast Guard maintains large stations in New London and Montauk.
Mr. Russell said buying the former Coast Guard station could fit well into the town’s overall plans for the island. At this point, he said it is not known if the State Troopers will eventually return or if policing the island will remain a town responsibility into the future.
“The property is a key parcel which sits on a deep water harbor with bulkheads and a nice, old renovated building,” Mr. Russell said Tuesday. “It is surrounded by property already owned by Southold Town. It would be ideal if we can utilize it as part of a satisfactory solution for the New York State Troopers to return to, but we are proceeding with the purchase either way.”
Mr. Russell cautioned that buying federally owned property through the GSA could take years. He said exact costs for both the refurbishing of the barracks and the purchase of the Coast Guard station are not yet known. “All we ask for is patience as we diligently pursue the property,” he added.
Earlier this year, the town and the State Troopers went back and forth on the status of the barracks, with the state saying conditions there were poor and not suitable as either living quarters or police headquarters. Over months of conversations about what a renovation of the barracks would entail, the state pulled out on Oct. 31. The following Monday, Southold Town police took over.
In an interview, Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said the two-officer deployments to the island would continue. “The officers have had very positive experiences while on Fishers Island and have been welcomed by all island residents.”
He said once the trailer the town moved to the island is ready, it will become a makeshift headquarters. He noted that sending two officers to the island takes them out of routine patrol duty in Southold proper “and forces us to operate at minimum staffing more than we have had to in the past.”