Farm Dispute Continues
Commack’s Board of Education continued to discuss the controversy over what to do with Marion Carll Farm at a school board meeting last week.
At the school board meeting Oct. 24, Trustee James Tampellini proposed that a Marion Carll Property Committee be formed to try to figure out what should be done with the estate, a 9-acre property located on the western side of Commack Road, which hasn’t been used in 13 years.
“We just can’t sit here and let it rot any longer,” Tampellini said.
The estate was settled in 1701. The Carll family built its farmhouse in 1860, and Marion Carll, who was born in 1885, lived there for many years.
The property was donated to the Commack School District in the land owner’s will with plans that the estate be converted into a museum and/or used for educational purposes. Carll died in 1968 as the age of 83, and since then the school district has been responsible for the caretaking of the property.
Western Suffolk BOCES had used the location from 1990-2000 for educational and farming classes, but after that, it ceased to be used.
School board Trustee Mary Jo Masciello said that if a committee is to be formed, it must include people who are well-informed of the history of Marion Carll Farm. She also suggested patience in the decision over whether to form a committee of volunteers or not.
Masciello stressed that the board has frequently considered input from the community in the past and that the situation is a difficult one.
Ideas over what should be done with the property include that the estate be restored or that the estate be sold and out of the school district’s responsibility.
The district tried to sell Marion Carll Farm in 2010 to Holiday Corp/Hamlet, but residents voted the sale down.
“The whole goal of this is to move forward with this property,” Tampellini said reiterating his idea of establishing a committee.
Residents spoke up passionately on the issue as well. Commack Community Association President Bruce Ettenberg agreed with Tampellini that a committee should be formed to focus the future of the farm.
However, the district’s hands may be tied at the moment. According to Board of Education President Peter Wunsch, nothing can be done with the property until pending lawsuits are settled. Heirs of the Carll family believe the school district has not lived up to its end of the bargain, and in 2012 they filed a lawsuit stating that the Commack School District did not meet conditions to the will, including that the onsite buildings would be maintained and the land would be used for educational purposes.
Marion Carll was a teacher in the Commack School District and New York City Schools. She retired from teaching in 1924, but continued to participate in community affairs. She helped organize Commack’s first Parent Teacher Association and even served as its first president.