Healthy Environment, Strong Communities, Accountable Government

Preserve the Overton Property

Coalition of enviromental and civic organizations calls for the protection of open space in Coram, Gordon Heights, Medford area

The Overton, or Coram Ponds Preserve consists of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows that stretch for four hundred and fifty acres miraculously undeveloped and undiscovered.

This property is a natural treasure which overlies the source of some of the Island's purest drinking water.

The triangle, bordered by Route 112 to the west, Granny Road to the south and Mill Road to the east, boasts endangered species, rolling topography of the Ronkonkoma moraine, and a past steeped in Revolutionary and Native American actions history.


Ecology

The NY Natural Heritage program lists the Overton Triangle as containing 4 ponds, wetlands, and an oak-pine heath. The New York State endangered tiger salamander breeds in three of four of the vernal ponds found in the southern portion of the triangle. The triangle is home to a large variety of animals including: bobwhites, scarlet tanagers, and myriad warblers.

Further, these lands, possess great importance as open space and serve as a crucial piece to a much larger greenbelt system.

The triangle is the largest significant area of pine barrens outside of the core preserve.


History

According to tradition the name of Coram was taken from the Indian Wincoram who lived in the area known as Coram hills, where the Overton Property is now located, until May 1703.

Two of the earliest colonial settlers to this triangle were the Reverend Noah Hammond who built the first Baptist church and ran a school in his home in the northern section of the triangle. David Overton built his home around 1740 at the south end of the triangle.

As the storm clouds of the Revolution approached these men and their sons became patriots supporting the American cause. In 1780 it came to General George Washington's attention that the British had stored 300 tons of hay at Coram to be used by the British Cavalry. In one of the most daring exploits of the Revolution in Brookhaven Town General Washington in a letter to Benjamin Tallmadge ordered the hay destroyed, and approved the capture of Fort St. George at Smith Point.

The Americans led by Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge marched up David Overton Road passing the Overton Farm. Overton's youngest son, Nehemiah, joined the group and according to family tradition, was the first to set the hay afire.


Drinking Water

The Overton Property is located in Hydrogeological Zone III (which contains Long Island's highest quality ground water and was recommended in Suffolk County's SGPA Plan for special protection) and is in a Special Groundwater Protection Area (SGPA).

Despite its crucial importance to our drinking water, real estate developers have proposed 5 separate developments which will carve up and decimate the area. To add insult to injury the Town of Brookhaven has approved the transfer of 210 additional units to the property.


Preservation Plans

The Neighborhood Network is working with a coalition of environmental and civic groups to protect the Overton property. The proposed means for preserving this site include outright acquisition, conservation easements, and planning that would transfer density from the preserve to appropriate centers of growth.

The vision from the Coalition for acquisition includes leveraged funding through partnerships between the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York State, and various private sources. The design for the Preserve includes maintaining wild lands, retaining secret, unexplored corners -- surprises of nature, returning Overton Road to its former rustic value, weaving sites of history while preserving habitat for endangered and diminishing species of plants and animals.

A working colonial farm and visitor center is envisioned at a former farm to the north of Overton Road, which links the 450 acres to the south with more than three hundred acres of county-owned wetlands and woods to the north, and ultimately, to the Town of Brookhaven's historic Davis House. These eight hundred acres ultimately link up with other surrounding greenbelts to the north and east.


What You Can Do

Please call or write State, County and Town officials. Urge them to pursue a joint plan for preservation by acquisition. Call or write today.

NEW YORK STATE
Governor George Pataki
Executive Chamber
Albany,New York 12224
518-474-8390

Click here for State Legislators' addresses.

SUFFOLK COUNTY
County Executive Gaffney
P.O. Box 6100
100 Vets Hwy. Building
Hauppauge,NY 11788
631-853-4000
robert.gaffney@co.suffolk.ny.us

Legislator Brian Foley
27 Havens Ave.
Patchogue, NY 11772
631-854-1400
Brian.Foley @co.suffolk.ny.us

TOWN OF BROOKHAVEN
Supervisor John J. LaValle
3233 Rte. 112
Medford, NY 11763
631-451-6640

Neighborhood Network
7180 Republic Airport, East Farmingdale, NY 11735 Tel: (631) 963-5454
Advocates for Long Island's Environment