Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

November 06, 2023

Dan Keefe | (518) 486-1868 |

State Parks Announces Transformative Plan for Nissequogue River State Park

Site of Former Mental Hospital Campus Occupies 521 Acres on Long Island's North Shore

Long-Term Plan Envisions Building Removal and Renovation, Creation of Recreational Facilities

York Hall officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced today final adoption of a long-term master plan at Nissequogue River State Park that will expand recreational opportunities, protect natural resources and honor local history on the sprawling grounds of what was once one of the largest state mental hospitals on Long Island.

"Nissequogue River State Park is one of State Park's more challenging sites, given the age and condition of the numerous buildings at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center, which closed in 1996," State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said.  "After three years of careful study and community input, State Parks has crafted a sweeping vision to transform it to provide more recreational opportunities for visitors, as well as protect natural resources, honor the center's local history as a place of healing, and serve as a social anchor for the surrounding community."

The plan envisions:

  • Renovation of York Hall, a Colonial Revival-style theatre building built between 1930 and 1932, into a performance space and event venue. The building is currently being stabilized. After being nominated by OPRHP in March 2023, the National Park Service officially listed York Hall in the National Register of Historic Places on October 23, 2023.
  • Creation of multi-use fields, including universally accessible playgrounds and dog runs in the southern portion of the park.
  • Development of a concession area, potentially in Building 83, a former firehouse.
  • Development and improvement of hiking trails.
  • Creation of a farmers' market at Building 5, a former laundry and maintenance facility.
  • Development of a botanical garden at the former superintendent's residence.
  • Creation of a museum to the hospital's history.

State Parks held several community meetings during drafting of the master plan, and coordinated input from the State Historic Preservation Office, state Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as others. A copy of the master plan can be found online here.

The master plan does not establish a budget for the work but estimates improvements will cost tens of millions of dollars to implement. The pace and sequencing of projects will be determined by the availability of funding.

Nissequogue River State Park occupies 521 acres in the Hamlet of Kings Park, Town of Smithtown, Suffolk County, on the North Shore of Long Island. State Parks acquired 153 acers of the former psychiatric center in 2000, and the remaining 368 acers in 2007. Originally called the Kings County Farm Asylum, the facility first opened in 1885. It grew over the decades and by the mid-1940s, contained more than 8,500 patients. The facility closed in 1996 as part of the statewide deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients.

With more than a mile of shoreline, the park hugs the north shore of Long Island where the Nissequogue River meets the protected cove of Smithtown Bay within the Long Island Sound. The Nissequogue River is a River of Special Significance and one of the largest coastal wetlands on Long Island's highly developed North Shore. Portions of the river have been designated a Scenic and Recreational River by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Currently, the park includes recreational fields, hiking trails, a kayak launch, and a boat dock and marina.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 79.5 million visits in 2022. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Joins us in celebrating our Centennial throughout 2024, and connect with us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and the OPRHP Blog.