The heirs to the Marion Carll Farm are seeking to regain possession of the historic property donated to the Commack School District more than 40 years ago, and school officials may willingly hand over the deed.
Commack School District was served with a 13-page lawsuit, filed March 16 in Suffolk County Supreme Court, from the heirs of the Marion Carll Farm who seek the return of the historic property.
The Marion Carll heirs claim the district has failed to maintain the property as a museum and use it for educational purposes, as outlined under stipulations of the donation.
Under the provisions of Carll Will, Commack school district was "to maintain the buildings there on as historical museums" and "utilize the land as a type of farm school, school or camp for benefit of the children... ."
However, the Marion Carll Farm has been shuttered, largely off limits to the public since it was donated to the school district in 1969 with one notable exception. , building a one-room schoolhouse for educational programs and renovated a few of the barns.
Since then, Commack School District has struggled to maintain the property, as several of the buildings are falling into state of disrepair. Laura Neumann, assistant superintendent for business, announced the property has cost the district $125,935.87 for the current 2011-12 school year, mostly in legal fees.
Superintendent Donald James said he district has been served with the lawsuit, but has yet to respond.
"We are studying it. We are preparing a response after consulting with the board," James said at the April 19 board meeting.
Commack Board of Education has tried to find potential future use and development of the Marion Carll Farm.
Newsday reports a 2010 proposal to sell the farm to a Plainview developer that proposed to restore the historical buildings and build homes was rejected by district voters. Also, the district has also been in the midst of negotiations to sell the property to a nonprofit school for children with disability and an equine therapy program. However, neither plan has come to fruition.
Commack School District's attorney made clear at the April 19 board meeting, "the Board of Education has instructed me not to spend significant legal fees defending this action. I will of course abide by that request."
The action, or lack there of, could result in the property being given back over to Carll's heirs. This action, the attorney said, would not need any vote of approval.
Arthur Goldstein, a Huntington-based attorney representing the heirs, spoke to Newsday about the impending lawsuit. He said while the heirs have not decided what they would do with the property, if received, they plan to meet with community representatives to gather their input.