Commack school officials have filed a response to lawsuit filed by Marion Carll's heirs over possession of the historic farm, one that could dramatically change its future.
Superintendent Donald James informed Commack residents the school district filed a response to the , at the June 14 Board of Education meeting. The district has asserted the historic 9-acre farm rightfully belows to the Commack School District, and the restrictive uses placed on the land by Marion Carll's will should be removed.
"We care about every single person here feels about that property," Board President Mary Jo Masciello said to residents at the board meeting. "But we must do what is legal."
James read a two-page statement prepared by Commack Board of Education to nearly 100 district residents gathered last Thursday night. It gave a detailed history of the property and stated its response would be available to the public, and its was published on the district's website.
In the district's 24-page response to the lawsuit, written by attorney Scott Karson of Lamb & Barnosky LLP, school officials fight the Marion Carll heirs' claim that they have failed to maintain the property as a museum and use it for educational purposes:
The District admits that it has at all time acted in good faith and made all reasonable and appropriate efforts to comply with the conditions and restrictions imposed by the Will, the Deed and Correction Deed, and denies that it failed to comply with the conditions and restrictions at all relevant times...
However, the school district admits that various buildings on the "Marion Carll Property" are in disrepair and need of rehabiltation, on page 7, mostly due to its budgetary constraints.
The district gives a detailed outline the including its effort in 1977 to put aside necessary fund from its yearly operating budget to renovate the barn, which was met with public criticism, and to expand The Hamlet Golf Community in June 2010.
In defense again the lawsuit, school officials claim that "despite severe economic limitations faced by the District, it has, for more than 40 years, tirelessly endeavored in good faith to comply with the conditios prescribed by the Will, the Dead and the Correction Dead, and has done so to the best of its ability."
Commack School District argues because it did not fail to carry out Marion Carll's Will to the best of its ability, the will's clause that would revert the property to the heirs does not apply.
The district also makes an affirmative defense of keeping Marion Carll Farm, claiming New York State Supreme Court can remove the restrictive uses imposed on the land and more than two years have passed since the clause in Marion Carll's Will that would allow the land to revert to the heirs expired.
The district asked the courts to dismiss the heirs' lawsuit.
In addition, it said a judge should decide the property belongs to Commack School District and should be free from the restrictions in Marion Carll's will, which mandated the land be used for the public and educational purposes.
The district's request to be rid of the restrict use of the land, on page 21 of their response, reads:
Accordingly, the Court should render a judgement pursuant to section 1955 of the Real Property Actions & Proceeding Law discharging the restriction in its entirety and authorizing the District to convey, lease, mortgage or otherwise dispose of the poerpty free of the restriction, and that the purchaser under such disposition shall take free of the restriction, as well.