What is the history of Fort Salonga?
The area of Fort Salonga was essentially established by way of a deeded property from Sarah Smith, wife of Richard Smith, to her son Daniel in 1695. The deed identified 100 acres at the western part of Smithtown in an area known then as Fresh Pond. During the American Revolution, the British established a fortification at Treadwell’s Neck called Fort Slongo. This name shifted to Fort Salonga through the 1800s.
What is the history of the Fort Salonga Association?
Fifteen Fort Salonga neighbors met May 31, 1946, at the home of Paul and Julie Whitney to discuss organizing a civic association. The consensus favored this step, as there was a widespread feeling that Long Island was on the verge of a tremendous population growth, with all the prospects that such development brings. Local zoning laws and building codes were inadequate, they felt; the community’s roads needed attention; the Huntington dump was sending clouds of fly-ash through “The Hollow;” and the Long Island Rail Road trains were dirty and late.
A notice dated June 10, 1946, announced a “membership-organization meeting” to be held in the Kings Park school cafeteria on June 19. Approximately 140 attended to give hearty approval to the association idea. Paul Whitney was elected chairman until officers could be chosen, and he appointed nominating and by-laws committees.
A bulletin dated July 1 stated that 125 residents had paid the dues of $2 per family. At that time such a large part of Fort Salonga’s population consisted of “summer people” that the fiscal year — the dues year and the term of officers — was set at September 1 to the following August 31. This permitted election of officers and dues collection before the exodus to the city immediately after Labor Day. On July 30 a membership meeting elected the first slate of officers and directors.
The Association’s first years were busy with organization matters and also initial steps toward solving pressing problems — notably zoning. It was decided that Smithtown zoning demanded attention before Huntington. The Township’s first zoning law, enacted in 1932, gave Fort Salonga one-half acre zoning from the Sound southward to a line roughly parallel to and about half a mile north of Pulaski Road. Below that the zoning was one-quarter acre. After three years of hearings — some of them very lively when developers were present — letters to editors, membership meetings, and petitions, the Smithtown Town Board raised Fort Salonga’s residential zoning to two acres, as the Association had requested. A few years later, however, when threatened with a suit by a few of the largest property owners, the Town Board compromised at the one-acre level, which is what Fort Salonga has now except in small areas where half and quarter acre development had taken place before the zoning was upgraded in 1949.
Early activities included fairs, pet shows, and dinner-dances. An extra dividend resulted from the latter event, for invitations were sent to town officials in both Huntington and Smithtown. The mutual better understanding and respect generated by this friendly contact were important in the Association’s civic efforts.
What these efforts were and what degree of success they had is shown in brief form in a publication the Association distributed in late 1976 titled ‘Thirty Years of Keeping Fort Salonga Green?’
“Many of the problems we have had — and solved — can be expected to recur from time to time. There will always be promoters looking for loopholes in the zoning laws and others who hate trees and love asphalt. As it is with freedom, the price of keeping Fort Salonga green is ‘eternal vigilance.’”
And that’s where the Fort Salonga Association comes in.