An 11-acre site in Jamesport that includes “the most significant Native American archaeological site along Main Road” will be purchased by Suffolk County for $1.96 million.
The county legislature approved the acquisition at its general meeting Tuesday.
“This is a major advance in preserving the character and the history of downtown Jamesport,” North Fork Legislator Al Krupski said.
The site was once slated for the construction of 42,000 square feet of retail, professional office and “bistro” uses in 10 mixed-use commercial buildings, under special permits approved by the Riverhead Town Board in April 2012.
Krupski sponsored the legislation authorizing the appraisal of the property, the first step in the county’s acquisition process. The funds for the purchase will be drawn from the county’s drinking water protection program, generated by a quarter-percent sales tax in Suffolk.
The site is home to Sharper’s Hill and an ancient Native American burial ground. Artifacts from the site have been dated to the transition period between the Archaic Period and the Early Woodland Period, about 3,000 years ago. The artifacts provided “important evidence of the mortuary customs of the little-understood Archaic Period inhabitants,” according to a historic survey conducted by the Town of Riverhead.
While the site will be preserved as a hamlet park — with a parking area, trails and benches provided by the town, the area containing the burial grounds will be identified with signage and will be cordoned off because it is considered a sacred site, Krupski said.
Krupski has also sponsored legislation authorizing the appraisal of 32 acres of farmland adjoining the 11-acre site. The farmland would be preserved through the county’s purchase of development rights program. He said he expects the closings of both transactions to occur concurrently.
“Saving this land was a community effort started long before the county became interested in acquiring the land and it could not have been one without the willingness of the landowner and the support of the Town of Riverhead, the Native American community, the Greater Jamesport Civic Association, Save Main Road and all the individuals who showed up at meetings and wrote letters in support of the acquisition,” Krupski said.
“The town has worked hard in partnership with the community and the county to preserve this land for future generations to enjoy,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said. “It is so gratifying to see those efforts pay off for Riverhead residents and all residents of Suffolk County who come to enjoy the town’s natural beauty. It’s a great addition to Jamesport,” she said.
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