On Tuesday night, following an executive session of the Sag Harbor Village Trustees, the board agreed to hire attorneys Denise Schoen and Brian Lester to explore countering an agreement by the Long Island Railroad’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to sell 16,000 square feet of property adjacent to village-owned waterfront to a condo developer rather than the village.
The decision followed a contentious village board meeting where, despite public support for the purchase, Trustee Tiffany Scarlato publicly opposed a continued fight for ownership of the parcel. Scarlato, who also voted against hiring Schoen and Lester to explore the matter further, cited legal concerns as the impetus for her decision. She noted East End Ventures, the company that has sought to adversely possess the MTA parcel as a part of their 18-unit luxury condo plan, is an applicant in front of the village’s planning board.
“I think the board has to do some serious thinking about the potential costs of engaging in litigation with a current applicant and the benefits of doing that,” said Scarlato.
Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. strongly urged the board to cease conversation on the subject until it had adjourned into executive session.
At Tuesday’s village board meeting, several members of the community, including Save Sag Harbor board member April Gornik, Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean and American Hotel owner Ted Conklin all expressed their gratitude to Gilbride for pursuing the property. In late July, Gilbride sent the last of several letters from the village to the MTA requesting they sell the property to the village, which has expressed interest in turning an adjacent waterfront parcel next to the Lance Corporal Haerter Veteran Memorial Bridge into a public park.
This week, Gilbride received a letter from vice president of the LIRR Christine Rinaldi announcing the authority intended to sell the property to East End Ventures at fair market value and that an easement granted to the village in 1915 was extinguished in 1930 when state Route 114 was rerouted and the parcel in question was no longer used for highway purposes.
“As a condition of the sale, East End Ventures has agreed to grant an easement to the general public across the property for the construction of a walkway,” writes Rinaldi in the letter, although the details of the easement have yet to be finalized.
“Don’t think for one minute that I am rolling over,” said Gilbride on Tuesday night. “I told [Rinaldi] I intend to vigorously fight for this for the residents.”