COMMACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – One of the last historic big homesteads in Commack, Long Island may vanish.
CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reports on the big fight underway about what to do with it.
Buried in the heart of Commack is Marion Carll Farm.
“It’s an 1860 time capsule of a family that was on this land since 1701. The archeological and historical value is through the roof,” said Cynthia Clark, co-director of Marion Carll Farm Preserve Inc.
Behind a gate is a farmhouse, a horse and carriage barn – nearly 10 acres. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, which describes it as a “symbol of the important agricultural development of central Long Island.”
“My grandmother was friends with Marion Carll. This is the last piece of Commack history,” Clark told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.
The property was willed to the Commack School District with several stipulations, including maintaining the buildings as historical museums. That is not being done.
“There are gaping holes in the roof, there is still water pouring in through the roof,” Clark said.
A glimpse inside shows pictures of a family, clothing, medicine, furniture and history, frozen in time.
“This is beyond a nightmare. It is redeemable but work has to start very quickly …
Cynthia Clark is with the non-profit Marion Carll Farm Preserve, which wanted to restore the place as a working organic farm using profits, grants and donations. Instead the Commack School District approved a proposal to lease about six acres of the property along Commack Road there to Long Island University for a veterinary school.
The lease money will be put towards shoring up just the farm house but some locals question if this is enough.
“Absolutely not. The school district has negotiated right now somewhere in the range of 1,250 a month worth of rent,” Michael Hoddinott said.
“$1,250 isn’t going to do anything to save that house and without the house there simply is no farm.”
The district agrees it’s only a start.
“One thing you have to remember is the school districts primary purpose is educating children so to divert funds from that to maintain a historical property is a difficult proposition,” Jarrett Behar of the Commack BOE said.
Clean up on the grounds started, but for now the state has put a stop work order in effect until proper documents are in place however, the district says it is meeting the terms and spirit of the Carll will.
The superintendent says LIU’s vet program will include field trips and opportunities for Commack students to learn.
“LIU responded to an RFP from the Commack School District to restore the Marion Carll Farm and our proposal was unanimously selected. Working with the Commack School District and New York State Department of Education, we will invest in the property, relieve a burden on Commack taxpayers through lease payments, and develop innovative programs which will benefit the region. As we are currently in the accreditation process, we cannot provide more detail, but look forward to doing so as this effort advances,” Long Island University said in a statement.
“Make no mistake, though we are still in the process of gaining all the necessary State approvals, I, the Commack School District, and the people of Commack have made a commitment to using the property as Marion Carll intended in her will. Further, funds from the lease, as well as other savings associated with LIU’s support of the Property, will allow us to stabilize the existing house and barn and properly catalog and preserve the contents of those buildings. It is flatly disingenuous to indicate that the District does not have the will or the wherewithal to engage in the plans set forth above in a way that will benefit the students and residents of this community while simultaneously living up to the spirit of Mrs. Carll’s, Commack’s first teacher, Last Will and Testament. We very much look forward to the coming years and the benefits and history we can share with our students and community,” said school district superintendent Dr. Donald James.
For more information about the proposal, click here.