Lake Ronkonkoma has a long history of being both a popular recreational mainstay and one of the Island's most well-known haunted locales. Folklore about a dead Native American princess attracts ghost hunters and fans of the occult. Popular website, Long Island Oddities, provides information about the lake which is said to claim the life of one young male every year.
Search YouTube for Lake Ronkonkoma and you get over one hundred and twenty five hits. The Curse of Lake Ronkonkoma provides the most details; invest the 9.58 minutes for in depth look the history of the lake including first hand information from long-time lifeguard
However, the only thing resembling a haunting in the perimeter of Long Island's largest lake is the old Bavarian Inn. Boarded up and left to the lake's demise, the derelict restaurant and catering hall once served German and Continental faire to generations of Long Islanders.
Suffolk County Legislator John M. Kennedy, Jr. represents the 12th district. He and his wife Leslie held their wedding reception at the historic Inn and have attended countless affairs lakeside including Eagle Scout and civic events.
"The area has been subject to ground water cycles during a 7-10 year time period; anecdotal reports show flooding went back to the 1930's," he said.
Repeated basement and property flooding have caused the eatery to close down. "Water was coming up and was close to the electrical system [in the basement], a fire was imminent, if not an explosion," explained Kennedy.
He says the closure of the popular haunt came about by way of a Fire Marshall.
In the few years since it was shut down, in addition to flooding, the Bavarian Inn has been entrenched in tribulations that include a fire, break-ins and heroin addicts using it as a place to get high.
"They owe Suffolk money – the last time I looked $150-$160 tax arrears," Kennedy shared.
The property is presently sitting in limbo as one of the mortgage holders Business Loan Center filed Chapter 11.
"One they've emerged, they will go ahead pay the delinquency," he said.
Attorney Dennis Ahearn of the Kings Park firm Ahern & Ahern represents the Huber's who owned and ran the Inn for many years.
Vincent Tramontana is the present owner of the restaurant/catering hall; however the Huber's continue to hold notes. Tramontana is in the middle of a Foreclosure procedure and Kennedy believes that once his interests are cut off by the Supreme Court, title will be put back into the Business Loan Center.
"What we are talking about with Leg. Kennedy would be that hopefully the county would purchase it, pay off the bank and us," explained Ahearn.
Ahearn is not alone in his sentiments. Kennedy supports the county takeover, particularly since the parcel abuts county parkland. Known for its natural splendor; kayaking, fishing, swimming and hiking are popular sports for lake aficionados.
"My ultimate objective is to have it come into the hands of the lender and the parties that have an interest; perhaps a collaboration for acquisition with the feds, county and the state – have all parties come together," Kennedy said.
Three town lines, Smithtown, Brookhaven and Islip lead to the lake. Much like the multiple landowners, mortgage holders and interested parties, a large number of entities reign over its jurisdiction. Three town boards, multiple legislators, the county, Albany and environmental groups will ultimately weigh in on the Bavarian Inn property.
Optimistic Lake Ronkonkoma community members put forth their dreams for the Bavarian Inn property in a proposal called The Lake Walk (which will be featured on Sachem Patch within the week).
They hope to call the parcel Bavarian Park, which would ultimately be the centerpiece of a lake walk connecting three parks.
George Schramm is President of the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Association.
"The Civic supports the concept of better access to the lake for recreational, education and environmental purposes," he said. "There are limited points of access, the Lake Walk could help make it more accessible – making it a focal point again for Lake Ronkonkoma residents and those in surrounding areas."
As the water table calls the shots along the Smithtown shores of Lake Ronkonkoma, politicians, environmentalist and outdoor enthusiasts look forward.
"The state of New York has capital acquisition funds, $6 million to contribute," informed Kennedy. "It (the property) does not belong in any commercial purpose – the Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Association has begun to put improvements around the lake a boardwalk, fishing areas – we want to encourage that."