The 100-acre waterfront site, once approved by the Town of Riverhead for 500 condominiums, has been acquired for preservation by Peconic Land Trust. File photo: Peter Blasl

Broad Cove, a 100-acre waterfront parcel on Flanders Bay in Aquebogue, has been acquired for preservation by the Peconic Land Trust.

The land, a former duck farm, long sought after for conservation, will eventually be available for passive recreation, while also providing climate change resiliency, wildlife habitat, and water quality protection in this part of the Peconic Bay Estuary, the organization said in a press release. The property is adjacent to Indian Island County Park.

The purchase was on December 31, 2021. The acquisition was made possible by the trust securing six lines of credit from supporters of conservation to raise the $11.5 million for the purchase and $500,000 for carrying costs, according to the release. The organization said it purchased the property from Walo LLC “at a bargain sale price.”

A proposal to build out the site as a mixed-use resort had been submitted to the Town of Riverhead. The owner received an acceptable offer from a developer interested in implementing the plan but agreed to hold off on signing the contract to see if a conservation outcome for the land could be achieved, according to Peconic Land Trust.

The property is zoned Tourism/Resort Campus, which allows development of hotels, country clubs, resorts, restaurants and catering halls accessory to hotels and taverns. At one point years ago, under prior zoning, the site was approved for development of 500 condominiums.

The Broad Cove site has been on state, county and town acquisition lists for decades.

“We are thankful to the people of Walo LLC for working with us to see a conservation outcome for this incredible property,” Peconic Land Trust President John v.H. Halsey said. “We also thank our supporters for stepping up at this time to loan the Trust the funding to complete the acquisition quickly. By acting when we did, we were able to secure the conservation future that has alluded this property for so long,” Halsey said.

“Our family is thrilled with this outcome,” said Andreas Weisz, managing partner of Walo LLC – whose grandfather, Stanley Weisz, acquired the property over 30 years ago. “My grandfather always wanted to see the land preserved, what we called the duck farm. We see this as his legacy, his pride and joy,” he said.

“Over the past six months, as we were working out the details, I’ve spent so much time walking the land and have come to appreciate how special it is – peaceful, and the crystal-clear waters of the canals. Ideally, this is what this land should be – a nature preserve and a place for people to come and enjoy the woods, the water. I look forward to visiting in the future with my family,” Weisz said.

Laurence Oxman of East End Real Estate, who represented the seller, said even as they were negotiating with Peconic Land Trust they were receiving offers from developers and his clients “turned down significantly higher offers from several reputable national resort developers and decided to go the conservation route.”

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has expressed an interest in partnering with the Peconic Land Trust to protect the property, Peconic Land Trust said.

The 100-acre property includes 25 acres of tidal wetlands and 8,000 feet of shoreline on Terry Creek and Broad Cove in Flanders Bay. In addition, the property features upland woods and open fields.

Before closing, all the existing buildings and structures on the property were removed. This conservation effort was overseen by Trust Project Manager Julie Wesnofske, who worked with Pete Moore of The Corcoran Group, who represented the land trust, and Oxman, who represented the seller.

Broad Cove is located on Flanders Bay, which is part of the Peconic Estuary, an Estuary of National Significance. The property is situated within the state-designated Peconic Pineland Maritime Reserve and has been included in every New York State Open Space Conservation Plan since the original in 1992 through the most recent in 2016.

Suffolk County has been pursuing conservation for decades. The area is zoned for Tourism/Resort Campus. High impact use and development of the property would have had negative impacts on water quality, fisheries, wetland health and habitat, the Peconic Land Trust said.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.