Four Towns civic association represents residents from 4 Townships; Islip, Babylon, Huntington and Smithtown, because they all surround the Pilgrim state property. The group was initially formed to monitor the development of this former state hospital land.. In March, 2017 this Heartland project was approved by the Suffolk County planning board. Then the Islip Town Board ,which controls local zoning of the former Pilgrim Psych center property, finalized their approval. The full proposal is to build 9000 apartments , 26,000 square feet of office space and 560,000 square feet of retail space on the land . Currently construction has been approved for 3500 apartments. Initially, the Islip Town zoning required one house per acre for this land, but this was modified on behalf of the development.
All across New York state, state managed hospitals were closed and the land put up for sale under the guidance of Governor Pataki. The basis for selling them was to recover enough cash to fully pay off the New York state bonds that were used to fund and maintain the buildings. Thus most of the land was not set aside as public space, however the Brentwood campus of Suffolk Community College was created from a parcel of land from Pilgrim State in the 1980s. NY put 452 acres of Pilgrim State Hospital up for bid in the late nineties.
A jail was built on the land by Governor Hugh Carey. It was later closed, AS PROMISED, by Govenor Mario Cuomo because of the civic protests. Then it was suggested that an intermodal transfer station be built so tractor trailers could pick up freight delivered by LIRR trains running on the Deer Park line tracks. The trucks would then head out to Commack road and the expressway . The local civics fought this land use and were successful in changing the location.