Written by Denise Nash Friday, 13 November 2009 00:00
Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi recently announced the formal opening of the 40-acre property formerly known as the Old Mill Horse Farm and newly named the Equestrian Center at Old Mill, located at 62 Route 106 in Jericho, just north of the Long Island Expressway.
The property, which was acquired by Nassau County in October 2008 for $12 million under the $150 million Environmental Bond Act, incorporates a comprehensive and affordable equestrian center designed for use by the general public.
“Old Mill Horse Farm is another excellent addition to the portfolio of properties we have acquired that will benefit the public for generations to come,” said Suozzi. “Importantly, the creation of a public-private partnership at this property helps relieve the burden of renovation, maintenance and management from the public purse while still allowing for public oversight.”
Over the past year, the property, including eight structures, has been renovated by John Russo, president of the Nassau Equestrian Center at Old Mill, which is managing the facility under agreement with Nassau County. The county has no financial obligation to the property and private funding from the Nassau Equestrian Center at Old Mill, Inc was used for renovations, maintenance and upkeep.
The Equestrian Center offers a range of public programs, including pony rides for youngsters, riding lessons for all age groups and summer camps. The facility incorporates two miles of riding trails but also has access to the riding trails in the 550-acre county-owned Muttontown Preserve through a path that runs along the edge of Nassau County Board of Cooperative Educational Services property separating the two locations.
The property is open to the public. In addition to offering a number of equestrian services, parking is free on the property and residents are encouraged to park their cars and walk around the beautiful trails.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the county to make this property a premier equestrian facility and bring the experience of horse riding to the public,” said Russo, whose family has run equestrian centers in Suffolk County since 1964.
Russo has spent the last year renovating the Old Mill property, which has been a horse farm since the 1940s but had fallen into disrepair in recent decades. After the county purchased the land, the remainder of the financial responsibility was turned over to Russo and the county has not paid anything further, according to Bradford Tito, director of Environmental Coordination for Nassau County.
After addressing the press, Suozzi mounted a friendly horse named Chester and explored the property. “I love riding and have not had the opportunity to do it recently,” said Suozzi, who showed that riding a horse is the same as a bike – you never forget. Suozzi rode the horse, trotting at times, and enjoyed the property.
After his ride, Suozzi was given a pin from Commander William Uhlinger from the Nassau-Suffolk Horsemen’s Association and Rough Riders making Suozzi an honorary member of the Horsemen’s Association.
The Environmental Bond Act, passed by voters in 2004 and 2006, is a $150 million program through which the county is purchasing and protecting open space, renovating parks, improving storm-water quality and cleaning up Brownfield properties. The county has preserved 240 acres of farms and ecology sensitive lands throughout Nassau County under the bond act.
Suozzi and Russo were joined at the opening by Nassau County Legislator and Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro, Kathleen Kleinman of the Muttontown Horsemen’s Association, Bill and Virginia Uhlinger of the Nassau-Suffolk Horsemen’s Association, Lisa Ott of the North Shore Land Alliance and Matt Meng of the Long Island Drinking Water Coalition.
For information about the Nassau Equestrian Center at Old Mill, visit www.nassauequesteriancenter.com.