Commack residents are demanding answers from Commack school officials as to why they haven't filed a response to the Marion Carll Farm lawsuit as a deadline rapidly approaches.
Commack Civic Association President Bruce Ettenberg sent a letter via email to Commack Superintendent Dr. Donald James late Thursday night demanding a community meeting be held discuss issues related to Marion Carll's heirs lawsuit.
who seek to repossess the historic property, claiming the school district has failed to use the land for educational and public purposes. The the deadline approaches.
In the letter dated May 31, sent via email, the civic association writes:
The Board knows the community does not want to lose the Marion Carll Farm and is under a duty and obligation to act in the community's best interest. We believe the failure to follow the community's wishes is a breach of the Board's duty.
If the District is not willing to meet and discuss the matter with us then we are prepared to take legal action against both the District and personally against each trustee and the Superintendent. We hope such will not be necessary.
Commack Civic Association members voted unanimously to send this letter to Commack School District and David Steiner, New York State's commissioner of education, at their monthly meeting Thursday night.
Residents are upset that Commack school officials have publicly said they have no intention of responding to the Marion Carll heirs' lawsuit. They point to an opinion written by Patch blogger and lawyer Jim Tampellini, in which he discusses possible legal arguments the district could use to defend itself from the lawsuit.
In his blog post, Tampellini claims the Commack School District may be able to defend itself from the lawsuit and gain full control over the Marion Carll property by making two potential arguments: claiming a statue of limitations and adverse possession.
Under the statue of limitations, Tampellini says Marion Carll's heirs claim could be lost under a 10-year statute of limitations period provided by Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law. The heirs' lawsuit states the property hasn't been used for Carll's purposes since the beginning, and the property hasn't been used for educational purposes since the BOCES leases ended in 2000. Both are more than 10 years old, limited the heirs' claim to the land.
Tampellini also writes that under adverse possession:
In this instance, an argument can be made that because the Marion Carll Farm automatically reverted to the Carll Heirs once the District breached the Deed’s restrictions back in 1990 when it first started to use the property, as the property was no longer given or appropriated for a public purpose by its legal owners, the Carll Heirs. The same holds true even assuming the first breach occurred in 1993 (when Ms. Ketchum died) or 2000 (when the BOCES lease expired), since these dates are still well past 10-year limitations period.
Commack school officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Commack Civic Association's letter or Tampellini's opinion on Friday.
Ettenberg said the Commack Civic Association would like Commack school officials to answer the questions that Tampellini raises. The letter requests a written response from the district by June 5.
The Commack Civic Association members have been speaking with several attorneys, according to Ettenberg, who may be willing to help them bring forth a lawsuit if the district does not answer.