Kings Park Civic Association                  

Copy of a press release issued from the New York State Governor's office regarding the formation of the Nisseuogue River State Park on the grounds of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


November 10, 1999


Governor Pataki Announces Protection Of Kings Park Land
Plan Will Create Nissequogue River State Park, Protect 472 Acres of Open Space


Governor George E. Pataki today announced plans for the protection of 472 acres of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center on Long Island. The Governor will direct the transfer of the property from the State Office of Mental Health (OMH) to the State Office of Parks and Recreation (OPRHP) for the development of a new 153-acre state park and the protection of hundreds of acres of environmentally sensitive wetland and wildlife habitat.


"By protecting this valuable property, we are providing New Yorkers with more open space for their enjoyment and ensuring that the most important and environmentally-sensitive lands will be preserved for generations to come," Governor Pataki said. "At the same time, we are integrating this property into the community by creating a balance among development, preservation, and environmental and recreational uses that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs."


The Kings Park Psychiatric Center campus comprises a total of 567 acres, of which State Parks will receive 153 acres through a transfer of jurisdiction from the State Office of Mental Health. The property, known as Nissequogue River State Park, will include the waterfront portion of the property along the Nissequogue River leading into Long Island Sound; two marinas; a Greenway that will connect to existing trails; wildlife habitats including ecologically sensitive river and tidal pools for fish and migratory birds; and a very important freshwater wetland that contains an egret rookery. This newest park also will be contiguous with Town parkland and Sunken Meadow State Park to the west.


State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, "I applaud and commend Governor Pataki for his commitment to the environment, State Parks and the people of New York State. It is with great pleasure that OPRHP accepts the responsibility for stewardship of this newest State Park."
Suffolk County Executive Robert Gaffney said, "This thoughtful plan shows a real commitment to the protection of wildlife habitat and environmentally sensitive land, as well as a healthy respect for the wishes of the community. Under Governor Pataki's leadership, New York State has become a real partner in the effort to improve our quality of life for future generations."
Senator James Lack said, "I want to congratulate the Governor for keeping the 'Park' in Kings Park, and for the foresight to give the Town of Smithtown land use jurisdiction over any development of the remainder of the Kings Park Psychiatric property. The Governor's commitment further reinforces the goals of the Community Mental Health Reinvestment Act."


Assemblyman Robert Wertz said, "After years of hard work I am very pleased to see not only that the property is being preserved but also that the administration has listened to the wishes of the Kings Park and Smithtown communities. Governor Pataki has kept the 'Park' in Kings Park."


New York State Audubon Society Executive Director David Miller said, "Governor Pataki has done it again by finding the right balance between conservation needs and local economic considerations. The Governor's proposal will create a new 153-acre state park with essential breeding bird habitats and wetlands, while at the same time placing restrictive conservation covenants on the remaining property to be sold. It is a remarkable triumph for birds, the Long Island Sound and the conservation of Long Island."


New York State League of Conservation Voters Chairman Paul Elston said, "Governor Pataki has hit another home run for the environment. The decision to protect over 80 percent of the land from development is a tremendous commitment to the local community, to the habitat of the Long Island Sound, and to the preservation of open space on Long Island and throughout the State."
Twenty?five acres of freshwater and saltwater wetlands, as well as a coastal habitat, which is home to a variety of shorebirds, reptiles and amphibians, will be preserved under the Governor's plan. The parcel is a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area and has been nominated as a New York State Bird Conservation Area. The property abuts the confluence of the Long Island Sound and the Nissequogue River. Pristine waterfront property will be available for public access.
The Empire State Development Corporation will be responsible for selling the remaining property with a series of restrictive covenants that will guarantee: maintenance of a 3:1 open space to development ratio; the preservation of mature growth forests; and conservation of an existing Greenway along the eastern edge of the property. Of the 370 acres available for sale, 95 acres will be eligible for development. Any proposal for private development will be subject to local zoning and land use approvals by the Town of Smithtown.


Governor Pataki's plan for Kings Park Psychiatric Center is consistent with the recommendations of the Kings Park Local Facility Task Force and the Kings Park Study Group, two groups that were formed to evaluate potential uses of the property and provide recommendations for its ultimate reuse. The property is being transferred to OPRHP in a manner consistent with the Conserving Open Space in New York State Plan and the State Environmental Quality Review Act.


There will be a public process to discuss opportunities for additional recreational uses, but State Parks will continue the historical uses, such as hiking and fishing, that currently exist at the site. It is anticipated that the Nissequogue River State Park will be open for public use in the spring of 2000. The property will be transferred to OPRHP at the beginning of the new fiscal year, April 1, 2000.


Currently, New York State pays school taxes to the Kings Park School District totaling $1.1 million. New York State will continue to pay taxes on the portion of the property retained by OPRHP and the Office of Mental Health.