Suffolk County Outlines Plans for Coindre Hall Park Restoration

Coindre Hall boathouse/ HuntingtonNow photo

Suffolk County sent a contingent of officials to Huntington Wednesday night to detail its restoration work at Coindre Hall. They met with a crowd of about 150 residents, including a group that has challenged the county’s plans, as well as those who supported the county’s efforts.

The officials were brought to the meeting at Harborfields Public Library by Suffolk County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi, who represents the 18th District.

In addition to physical repairs, the goals over time include returning the use of the pier by fishermen and kayakers, possible lessons in rowing and sculling to the general public, an exhibit and shellfish hatchery, and possible use of the area by maritime law enforcement.

Plans do not include, Parks Commissioner Jason Smagin said numerous times,  turning the area into a launch site for party boats, providing shuttle service to and from Huntington, boat races, expansion of catering services already available in the Coindre Hall building, or other activities that have floated around on social media.

For months, questions have surrounded the plans to restore the 30-acre county-owned property, which include repairs to a seawall, a pier, the boathouse and more.

Nick Gibbons, a county parks principal environmental analyst, said the boathouse, which was previously used by rowing teams from Sagamore Rowing, St. anthony’s and Huntington High School, was “degraded, in poor condition,” with the teams having to stop using the boathouse out of safety concerns.

The county also plans repairs of the main building’s gym, which is used by town recreation programs, classroom, and other work in the building, which houses the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society, Splashes of Hope, a non-profit that creates artwork used in hospitals and elsewhere, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Lessings Hospitality Group.

Other repairs include work on the porte cochere, or covered entrance this year and next, and parking lot, Terry Maccarrone, coordinator of community-based programs for the parks department said, with the boathouse and pier work to follow. Robert Hardie, assistant county architect with the Department of Public Works, said the county would begin working on the underpinnings of the boathouse this spring.

Gibbons noted that state Department of Environmental Conservation rules on wetlands applied to a section of the property, including a manmade pond that was once used for recreational purposes when the grounds were used by a school.

Richard Martin, county director of historic services, detailed the story of the property, starting with the completion of the building in 1912, when the property included 60 acres, through its use by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic order whose founder was Father Andre Coindre, and  its eventual purchase by Suffolk County and addition to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Also representing the county were Emily Lauri, principal contracts examiner for the Parks Department, Joseph Brown, commissioner of the Department of Public Works, and Robert Whelan, principal civil engineer for DPW.

A volunteer committee makes recommendations to the county about projects and needs. Its meeting schedule:

(Wednesday @ 7PM
 Coindre Hall)
(Wednesday @ 7PM
 Coindre Hall)
(Wednesday @ 7PM
Coindre Hall)
(Wednesday @ 7PM
Coindre Hall)




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