A plan for the historic remains to be decided upon, but a lack of proposals and the rising cost of ownership of the property have the Commack School District feeling the pressure.
The district said it received no responses to its request for proposals concerning the farm, which was deeded to it in 1969 by former owner Marion Carll with the intent that it be used for educational purposes. The district released the request on September 2 with a deadline of November 8.
"The bid for proposals for the Marion Carll property netted no responses. None that came in to buy it, to lease it or even for us to give it away," said district superintendent Donald James at the board of education's Nov. 17 meeting. "It is quite a disappointment that we received no bids. The financial burden of the property is becoming substantial, particularly with the 2 percent tax cap being implemented next year. I'm not exactly sure how we're going to continue the upkeep."
According to a presentation at the meeting, the district puts the total expenses of the farm’s maintenance at $106,073.43 as of Oct. 31 of this year. Most of the costs are legal expenses.
Bruce Ettenberg, president of the Commack Community Association and the , said his group objected to the way the request was written.
“We could not answer the RFP because of the conditions set forward in that document,” he said. He added that several private corporations, both not-for-profit and for-profit, have expressed interest in the property, but said he cannot name them yet.
Ettenberg said he wants the county to take over the property so that his group can maintain it. He noted a resolution submitted by county legislator John Kennedy that proposed using money from the Drinking Water Protection Program to secure the farm for historic and educational purposes. That proposal is in committee.
“We hope that the board will join us,” Ettenberg said, adding that the board has not expressed a shared vision for the land. “We’re going to have to wait until January when the legislature reconvenes and the new supervisor takes office.”
He said his group is working with the Huntington Historical Society, the Peconic Land Trust and the Rotary Club of Commack-Kings Park to protect the property, which was established in 1701 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the meantime, Ettenberg said he is out in the community collecting signatures to raise awareness about the problem, with 2,500 residents on board so far.