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John Klein Quoted in Newsday, "Kings Park: Land Swap May Save Woodland"

Dec 8, 2006Local Government and Land UseReal Estate Law

Media Source: Newsday

In an effort to save pristine woodland on the property of a nursing home that borders Sunken Meadow State Park, State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) has suggested the organization swap some of that land for a parcel in nearby Kings Park Psychiatric Center to build a proposed comprehensive care facility.

Working with local civic groups, Flanagan suggested that Saint Johnland give up the forested area surrounding the nursing home in exchange for an already-developed portion of Kings Park. The woodlands eventually would be added to Sunken Meadow State Park.

'I think this represents a wonderful opportunity to preserve some beautiful and pristine land and still provide much needed congregate care to the community,' Flanagan said.

The proposal met with a lukewarm response, according to Flanagan. Saint Johnland's attorney John V.N. Klein said the organization's board of trustees were concerned its facilities would be separated, defeating the purpose of having one large complex. Saint Johnland, a not-for-profit organization, has been providing health services to the community for 150 years.

'However,' Klein said, 'the board of trustees will continue to listen and respond to the senator's concept at any time.'

The land swap is an alternative to Saint Johnland's original plan, which has been stalled for 18 months since it filed an application with the Town of Smithtown to build a 100-unit senior care [CORRECTION: Saint Johnland has proposed to build a new comprehensive care facility with approximately 240 units for senior citizens. The number of units was incorrect in a story Friday. PG. A13 ALL 12/9/06] facility on 250 acres of its property.

The application spurred the town to institute a moratorium on all new nursing and other elder care facilities while it updated town codes to conform with more modern ideas of assisted living, according to planning director Frank DeRubeis.

The town is considering two types of uses. The first would be a traditional nursing facility, a single building less than 100,000 square feet.

The second use would apply to facilities such as the one Saint Johnland is proposing: senior facilities with multiple levels of activities, including nursing, adult day care, assisted care and more independent residential homes such as apartments and condominiums. DeRubeis said it could take up to a year to approve the code.

Klein said Saint Johnland's proposal would encompass everything from highly skilled nursing care to full independent living. 'If the code amendment is adopted, Saint Johnland will make an application under that section,' he said.