By Stephen J. Kotz
Sag Harbor Village this week gave Lou Grignon, the owner of the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard, 30 days to vacate a parcel of village-owned waterfront land has used for the past 20 years as a boat storage area.
The village issued the eviction notice after negotiations to reach a new lease agreement failed. The yacht yard’s 20-year lease for the property ended on May 31.
On Wednesday, Mr. Grignon, who owns the buildings adjacent to the village property he has been leasing, said the village’s decision would effectively put him out of business.
“If I don’t have room to store boats, I don’t have room to be a boatyard,” he said, adding that he typically stores about 130 boats on the property each winter.
He said he had hired attorney Dennis Downes to represent him as he seeks to stay at the site.
“Mr. Grignon had an opportunity” to sign a new lease, said Mayor Brian Gilbride. “It’s time for the village to move forward and get that property back.”
Mr. Gilbride said the village had options for the property, which could range from using it as a park, for a parking lot or a place to expand the Sag Harbor farmers market, but he said nothing had been decided yet.
Mr. Grignon said he had been paying $15,592 a year for the boat storage area in the last year of his lease. He said the village told him an appraisal found the property should be rented for $20,000 a year.
“So I put forth an offer of $20,000 a year for the first year, which is roughly a 25-percent increase,” he said. Mr. Grignon added that he sought a 10-year lease with a 10-year option to renew with annual increases of 2.3 percent.
“That was right on par with cost-of-living increases and everything,” Mr. Grignon said. “Not to mention that we just went through the worst recession in history.”
The village countered with an offer for a five-year lease, with the first year at $22,500 and annual increases of 5 percent, he said.
“This is a dollar and cents issue,” he continued. “For them to raise the rent 33 percent and then 5 percent more a year doesn’t make sense. We’d have to power wash a lot of boats to make it work.”
The property, which was once used by the Mobil Corporation to store fuel oil, was contaminated by leaks from storage tanks. It was turned over to the village for a nominal fee under an agreement that there would be no buildings constructed at the site.
Mr. Grignon said the site had been used as boatyard dating to 1797 and is the only boatyard outside the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge.
Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait said the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan requires that the village try to maintain water-related uses and businesses. He said it would not be suitable for parking because that is not a waterfront use and it is too far from the business district.
“This village is a maritime village. The last thing you want to get rid of is the boatyard,” said Dr. Tom Halton, a committee member at Monday’s meeting.
“What’s in the best interest of the people of Sag Harbor?” asked Mr. Grignon. “Do they need more parking or do they want a boatyard?”