Suffolk spokesperson: County looking into purchasing former Dowling College campus

The news of the potential purchase comes as police say four people broke into the building over the weekend.

News 12 Staff

Aug 3, 2023, 9:55 AM

Updated 256 days ago

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A Suffolk County spokesperson has confirmed to News 12 that the county is exploring the purchase of the abandoned Dowling College campus in Oakdale.
The county spokesperson said, "In coordination with Legislator Piccirillo, the County sent a letter of interest to the owners of the former Dowling Campus. The letter is the first step of the process for the County's open space preservation program and we are currently awaiting a response from the owners."
The news of the potential purchase comes as police say four people broke into the building over the weekend.
The break-in is at least the seventh incident in the last few months. There have been over 24 incidents since the school closed in 2016
Police released photos Thursday of the individuals who they say broke in.
Neighbors showed News 12 photos of the damage, including broken glass and boarded-up windows.
Community members say the current owners of the building, Mercury International, need to step up before the historic building is destroyed.
"The history of the Vanderbilts and what the Vanderbilts have done, and you know, the Cuttings and all of these great families that created this beautiful area, it's going away," says Michelle Burke, secretary of the Oakdale Historical Society. "It's breaking away."
David Chan, president of the Oakdale Civic Association, says they hope that the campus could be an open space that the country and state buy. He also says it needs to be protected because it is a piece of history.
Those who live near the campus say the break-ins and vandalism are not isolated. They say the whole neighborhood is changing because of what they say is the inaction of the property owners.
Burke says there have been a lot of break-ins to cars and an elderly woman's home was burglarized.
As News 12 has reported, this has been an ongoing issue and there have been several similar incidents at the campus.
Suffolk County police say they have a presence on the property.
"We also have a lieutenant that's assigned to the details, we have constant patrol checks done, and in the past year we've done over 800 of those patrol checks at the property," says Chief Gerard Hardy, of the Suffolk County Police Department.
The Town of Islip commented about the possible purchase of the former Dowling campus, saying in part, " If there is to be an acquisition by the County, we are hopeful there would be assurances of ongoing support and maintenance of this treasured site."
News 12 reached out to Mercury International for comment and have not heard back as of 10 p.m. Thursday./
Anyone with information on the recent break-in is asked to call Suffolk Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.


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