AG jumps into Freeport ballfield fray

Petition filed to stop sale to warehouse developer

Cleveland Avenue fields in Freeport, LI and New York AG Letitia James (Google Maps, Getty)
Cleveland Avenue fields in Freeport, LI and New York AG Letitia James (Google Maps, Getty)

Letitia James is accusing Freeport Village of skipping a base as it looks to hit a home run with a land sale to an industrial developer.

The New York attorney general filed a petition seeking to halt the sale of the nine-acre Cleveland Avenue ballfields, Newsday reported. The petition doesn’t contest the sale on the grounds of the development plans, but on the lack of an environmental review.

The petition claimed the village board said a potential warehouse development wouldn’t have adverse effects, but failed to do the study that would show as much. The petition noted the development would destroy open green space and community recreation space, as well as increase stormwater, flooding and pollution.

“It’s important that we always review the true impacts of large-scale developments to ensure our communities are not unduly harmed,” a statement from the AG’s office said.

Village officials said they would defend the sale, claiming the petition was without merit.

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At stake is a warehouse distribution project expected to stretch across 15 acres. The village agreed to rezone the site and sell the property to California-based Panattoni Group for $49 million.

The village was negotiating with Amazon at one point for the e-commerce giant to acquire the land for a distribution center. Those talks have since broken off, however, and Amazon has signaled a retreat in its industrial real estate activities.

The ballfield is also at the center of a dispute between the village and its school district. Last year, the village sued the Freeport Union Free School District for $45 million. Both sides have claimed ownership of the land for the past seven decades, which have been used for baseball teams and other local sporting clubs.

A judge has yet to determine ownership of the property in that dispute, which could be another factor that halts the sale.

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— Holden Walter-Warner