The Village of Sag Harbor was notified this week by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that they were not the successful bidder on a 16,405 square-foot, waterfront property in Sag Harbor owned by the Long Island Railroad that the public authority put up for bid early this summer.
On Tuesday, MTA spokesman John Coyle confirmed the village’s bid was denied, but declined to say who the property was awarded to, stating that at this point the selection was internal and would have to be confirmed by the MTA board in October.
“It was primarily a matter of compensation,” he said of the decision to not sell the parcel to the Village of Sag Harbor.
While Coyle declined to name the winning bidder, he did acknowledge just two entities placed bids for the purchase of the property. Earlier this summer, both village officials and representative of East End Ventures, which like the village owns property adjacent to the MTA parcel, confirmed they would bid on the property.
East End Ventures principal Emil Talel declined to comment, saying he would like to wait until contracts are finalized for the purchase of the land.
According to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, the village’s deposit check of $5,000 was returned with the denial letter this week. The MTA sought minimum bids of $82,500. The Village of Sag Harbor, said Gilbride, offered $90,101, and was advised by the village attorney that the offer was as high as they could go for the land, which they hoped to use in conjunction with adjacent beachfront to create a waterfront park for village residents.
Gilbride said he questioned whether or not public benefit, not just monetary gain, was weighed by the MTA, which he noted is required in legislation passed this year on the state level regarding public entities selling what is essentially public property.
He added that this Thursday, the Village Board of Trustees will meet and hire an attorney to commence eminent domain proceedings to acquire the land, although whether those proceedings would be against East End Ventures or the MTA, he could not say.
“I have records dating back to 1886 where the village board and representatives from the Long Island Railroad negotiated so the LIRR could take that property from the village and create tracks to Long Wharf to stock the whaling ships,” said Gilbride. “That was a former village road.”
He also questioned why the MTA would award the property to a company currently in violation of the village code. East End Ventures, which is developing the West Water Street condominium project, has been the subject of controversy with several millions of dollars levied against that development by contractors who have yet to be paid for their work.
The company has also sued the Village of Sag Harbor over a second condominium project they hoped to develop on Ferry Road, next to the MTA parcel, in a $30 million claim that has yet to be adjudicated. They charge the village, in changing its zoning code, sought to prevent the development. This summer, a fence was erected around the Ferry Road parcel without village approval and the company has since been cited by the building department.