The Village of Sag Harbor will bid on a 16,405 square-foot, waterfront property owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Island Railroad – a piece of land the developers of the stalled Ferry Road condominium property are also trying to acquire through an adverse possession claim.
On June 4, the Village of Sag Harbor received the MTA’s request for proposal (RFP) packet for the sale of the property after having expressed interest in the land for a number of years. While the developers of a proposed luxury condominium project adjacent to the LIRR-owned land, East End Ventures, originally said they were in contract to buy the property from the MTA, after those talks stalled, they filed an adverse possession claim with the county Supreme Court.
That claim has yet to be adjudicated, according to Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and according to the RFP the site is being sold subject to that claim and any purchaser will be substituted as the defendant in that case and must indemnify the MTA and the LIRR in any further claims against the authorities for selling the land.
East End Ventures has also cited the village’s interest in the parcel in a $30 million claim against the village, its attorneys and planning consultant. They argue the village, in the revision of its zoning code, specifically sought to stall plans for the proposed luxury condominium project.
That case is also ongoing.
According to Thiele, the MTA has gone out publicly to bid on the parcel as a part of changes to state laws regarding how public authorities operate.
“There have been a lot of concerns about the way public authorities operated typically,” said Thiele of the public authority reform bill. “There have been concerns over the lack of transparency, openness and accountability.”
Thiele said governing bodies of public authorities are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate, but after that they have been able to operate independently. One change in the legislation, that particularly affects Sag Harbor and this piece of LIRR-owned land, is a new requirement where, when authorities dispose of land, they must publicly offer it in an RFP. Thiele said previously, there were cases where authorities disposed of land to private entities “behind closed doors” without local public input or the knowledge of local government.
Now that the MTA has publicly put the sale of the land out to bid — with a minimum purchase price of $82,500 — Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said this week the village would certainly bid on the property with the hopes of creating a larger waterfront park for residents.
According to Thiele, when the MTA entertains the various bids submitted — the deadline is July 23 — it must not only consider taking the highest financial offer, but must look at the community benefit of any sale.
“Obviously this is somewhat relevant here because there is the potential interest of the village in the property,” he said. “And there would be an overt public benefit to the taxpayers of the State of New York if a public park was created.”