DEC Acquires Landmark Setauket Property for Conservation

For Release: Friday, April 21, 2017

Purchase Protects Historic Landscape and Long Island Sound
Water Quality

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
(DEC) has acquired 17 acres of woodland in the historic
maritime hamlet of Setauket. The property will be added to
Patriots Hollow State Forest, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos
announced today.

“The use of Environmental Protection Funds to purchase this
parcel shows Governor Cuomo’s continued commitment to
protecting our waterfront resources. New York State is
fortunate to acquire a property so central to Setauket’s
environment and history,” Commissioner Seggos said. “American
patriots working for General Washington during the
Revolutionary War likely walked some of these lands as they
helped chart the country’s future. Adding acreage to Patriots
Hollow State Forest helps preserve the natural history of a
region that was so central to the creation of America. I want
to recognize everyone who played a role in today’s
acquisitions, especially the Fitzsimmons family.”

The property, the former Fitzsimmons Farm, is located in the
Old Setauket Historic District within the watershed of the Long
Island Sound. Its protection is cited in the 2016 Open Space
Conservation Plan, released by Governor Andrew Cuomo in
December, as a priority acquisition for protection of the Long
Island Sound Watershed. The $3,400,000 purchase was paid for
with funds from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund

The purchase adds 17 acres to Patriots Hollow State Forest and
will be managed for watershed protection, forest health, and
passive recreation in accordance with a Unit Management Plan
that will be developed in the near future with community input.

Patriots Hollow was established as a State Forest in 2010 with
DEC’s purchase of 30 acres from the Diocese of Rockville Center
for $5,450,000. That acquisition was paid for with funds from
the Northville oil spill settlement and a grant from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency through the Long Island Sound
Study Stewardship Initiative.

The Fitzsimmons family first settled on North Country Road in
1939 and relatives remain there in the historic family home

The Patriots Hollow addition was assembled by the Fitzsimmons
family piecemeal beginning in the early 1950s. The parcels had
been used for potato farming and the Fitzsimmons family
continued to rent the property out as farm land until farming
was discontinued. The parcel has remained open land since the
1950s and the former farm fields have reverted to young
successional forest consisting of native pioneer species such
as red cedar, gray birch, and poplar and non-native species
such as black locust and Norway maple.

The Fitzsimmons property is a crucial link in a string of
green, recreational, educational and historic spaces that
stretches from the New York State Department of Transportation
(DOT) Greenway Trail on the south side of Route 25A to Frank
Melville Memorial Park on the Mill Pond and Long Island Sound.
Linking the two are Detmer Farm, town of Brookhaven parkland,
Patriots Hollow State Forest, and Patriot’s Rock. Adjacent are
Gelinas Junior High School and Setauket Elementary School.
Historic structures include the Jayne Tavern, Setauket
Neighborhood House, Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, Caroline
Church, and Setauket Presbyterian Church.

The fate of the Fitzsimmons property on North Country Road has
long concerned the Three Village community because of its
potential for residential development, which would have
increased runoff entering the watershed and Long Island
“Today is a great day for our community!” Said State
Assemblyman Steve Englebright. “The acquisition of this last
large wooded parcel within the Old Setauket Historic District
will preserve in perpetuity the rural character of the Main
St-North Country Road corridor, our area’s first road. Left in
its natural state, this forested landscape will help to protect
the water quality of Conscience Bay and the greater Port
Jefferson Harbor Complex as well as our groundwater. Thank you
to the people of the DEC for working to prioritize protection
of this important woodland and keep our community green and

“The Fitzsimmons family’s donation of land represents, not only
a tremendous generosity on their behalf, but a generosity to
the community at large and for future generations,” Brookhaven
Town Supervisor Edward Romaine.

“The 17-acre addition to Patriots Hollow State Forest ensures
the pristine beauty that has been passed down from this
preserve’s name sakes to successive generations will continue
in perpetuity,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn who
represents the area that includes Patriots Hollow State Forest.
“On behalf of residents within the Three Villages, I thank New
York State for continuing its commitment to preserving open
space, improving the area’s water quality and fostering
healthier communities with respect to both our environment and
local recreational opportunities.”

“As the Environmental Protection liaison to the Brookhaven Town
Board, I am excited to celebrate Earth Day by drawing attention
to the natural resources in our community,” said Town of
Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie M. Cartright. “There are many
things we can do as individuals and together in our communities
to better care for our natural resources and to preserve and
repair the beaches, waterways, wetlands, and open space in the
First Council District. I encourage you to get involved with
groups in your neighborhood, environmental programs, and sign
up to participate in the Great Brookhaven Clean Up, both in
celebration of Earth Day and all year long.”

“The preservation of this beautiful woodland marks the
successful completion of a group of three open space
initiatives which include both DEC’s acquisition of Patriots
Hollow State Forest, utilizing Natural Resources Damages
funding, and the preservation of Detmer Farm under Suffolk
County’s Farmland Preservation Program,” said Peter A. Scully,
Deputy County Executive. “The Fitzsimmons parcel is the final
piece in a puzzle that the community and its elected officials
have been working on for nearly two decades. Congratulations to
all involved, and heartfelt thanks to the Fitzsimmons family
for their willingness to see this land preserved.”

“The Three Village Community Trust is delighted that this
17-acre property adjoining Patriots Hollow has been acquired,”
said Three Village Community Trust President Cynthia R. Barnes.
“We are very grateful to all who have made this happen. The
Trust for years has been urging its acquisition — important as
the last large unprotected parcel in the Conscience Bay
Watershed and the Old Setauket Historic District. It is very
meaningful that it extends Patriots Hollow State Forest from
Setauket’s 25A “Main Street” to the Main Street of the original
seventeenth century settlement.”

“One of the things that makes living in Setauket so delightful
and exceptional is the mix of residential and preserved space,”
said Setauket based nature author Carl Safina. “It’s important
not only for the physical beauty of the area but also for the
birds and other wildlife that make life here so interesting. We
(he and his wife) are really pleased and gratified that this
natural beauty we enjoy so much will be a permanent feature of
our neighborhood.”

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