Tag Archive | "LIRR"

Sag Harbor Village to Bid on MTA Parcel

Tags: , , , ,


Next Friday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Island Railroad will auction off a 16,405 square-foot, waterfront property in Sag Harbor – a piece of property both the Village of Sag Harbor and condominium developers East End Ventures plan to bid on.

The property, which is adjacent to village beachfront and East End Ventures property, where they hoped to develop the stalled Ferry Road condominiums, is already the subject of an adverse possession claim by East End Ventures.

That claim has yet to be adjudicated, and according to the MTA’s request for proposal, in addition to the purchase price at a minimum bid of $82,500, whoever takes ownership of the land will become the defendant in that case and must indemnify the MTA and the LIRR in any future lawsuits over the sale of the property.

This week, East End Ventures principal Emil Telal said that after unsuccessful negotiations with the village through the MTA to allow the developers to purchase the land and offer the village easement for a proposed waterfront park, he is prepared to offer a full easement to the village and has instructed his attorney Dennis Downes to do so.

“What was offered originally was a full easement in two stages,” said Telal on Tuesday, with the complete easement guaranteed once the Ferry Road condominiums were approved. That condo project is currently tied up in litigation between East End Ventures and the Village of Sag Harbor after the developers filed a $30 million claim against the village last year. They argue the village, in the revision of its zoning code, specifically sought to stall plans for the proposed luxury condominium project.

That case has yet to be decided.

On Tuesday, Telal said he would have offered the full easement initially if he had been directly involved in negotiations “to illustrate our good intentions.”

“People can walk there, people can sit there and this was my decision on the matter because I didn’t feel it would interfere with anything we would build there one day,” said Telal, adding he believes the village is attempting to purchase the property to further frustrate East End Ventures, which needs ownership of the parcel for access to the waterfront, which would enable them to construct docks, if approved, at the site as part of their development plans.

“Why would you buy it, if you can get it for free,” he asked. “It is an unbelievable disservice to the Village of Sag Harbor. They are going to throw away a minimum of $82,000 and we are confident we will win our adverse possession claim.”

Telal claimed East End Ventures could ultimately get the land for nothing, with the Village of Sag Harbor having to cover tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses as the new defendant in the case, should they be the winning bidder of the parcel.

Telal believed he had a deal to purchase the property from the MTA and expected the contract to be finalized when the village expressed interest in the property as well, which trustees have said they hope to develop with adjacent beachfront into a waterfront park.

However, according to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who is also the attorney for the Village of Sag Harbor, state law regarding public authorities like the MTA has changed, and part of that change requires authorities to publicly auction properties they are trying to dispose of, rather than make deals behind closed doors.

On Tuesday, Telal noted as a part of the original plans for the Ferry Road condominiums, East End Ventures had already planned on creating a public waterfront park at the site at their own expense.

“All of this can be resolved before next Friday,” he added.

On Tuesday, Mayor Brian Gilbride said the only easement the village was offered in negotiations was for an eight-foot wide public walkway.

“It was not total access,” he said. “That was what we wanted – total and complete access.”

Gilbride said East End Ventures does not own the property at this point with the adverse possession claim yet to be decided and therefore a full easement is not something Telal is in a position to negotiate. He added that he is confident the village will be the winning bidder.

“Once all these cases are dismissed, I would absolutely be willing to sit down and work with this developer,” continued Gilbride. “This board is working as hard as we can to get things up and running in the village. That is what is great about Sag Harbor.”

Sag Harbor Village Expected to Bid on MTA Property

Tags: , , ,


webDisputedHighway


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.”

Becoming Transit Independent on the East End

Tags: ,


By Kathleen Cunningham Faraone, President


Recent MTA tax assessment increases levied on East End Businesses, followed by an announcement that LIRR rail service in our region is likely to be reduced or even eliminated, has East End elected officials speaking out with one opposing voice. The time has come for us to leave the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and establish our own Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to meet the public transit needs of the East End Towns. The goal would be to gain what might be called “transit independence” for our region; the ability to make our own decisions about how our transit dollars are spent and to define, develop and operate our own transit services.


Are our local politicians tilting at windmills or is it possible the goal of transit independence is reachable? Five Town Rural Transit, Inc., a citizen-based transit advocacy group formed in 2004 and made up entirely of East End residents, believes the answer is unequivocally yes. In the past five years, 5TRT and the Towns have defined a new level of coordinated rail & bus transit service for our region known as the East End Shuttle. And last year this concept was validated in a study conducted for us by the prestigious US/DOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe). According to the Volpe analysis, a slightly modified version of the “Shuttle” concept would be technically feasible and it would cost less to develop than 5TRT originally projected.


5TRT also revealed that East End taxpayers already send over $60 million per year to the MTA in various tax assessments, without receiving a commensurate level of rail service. In fact, the lion’s share is actually used for transit in New York City, not on the East End. Further, the Suffolk County bus services we receive are funded out of County tax dollars. Inexplicably the MTA makes no contribution to bus services in Suffolk County, even though they do in Nassau County and New York City. This County bus service costs East End taxpayers another $3-4 million per year. In this case, at least, we do receive services, although they are in need of improvement and not coordinated with rail.


Could our tax dollars be better spent? Again, the answer is yes. According to Volpe, the entire East End Shuttle concept could operate for less than what we currently pay the MTA each year for the LIRR limited service we receive!

So, the questions of whether we could define and operate a better East End transit service and where the operating dollars would come from have largely been answered. We have a feasible new transit concept and we are already paying for it. The problem is we are not receiving it. Why is that so?


For reasons that are hard to comprehend because of our rural nature, the East End is in the jurisdiction of two New York City based organizations that collectively control our public transit situation. They are the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). NYMTC is a metropolitan planning organization (MPO). It is the gatekeeper for federal funding of transportation projects in its jurisdiction, as mandated by federal law. The MTA, in contrast, develops and operates the transit services in its jurisdiction, including the limited Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) service on the East End. As you might surmise, these two organizations are dominated by “urban” transit interests and needs; few funding dollars or transit services are focused on the “rural” needs of the East End. We represent only 2% of their metropolitan service population area and we receive far less than 1% of their investments. Simply stated, we have no clout.


In order to become transit independent, the East End needs to leave the jurisdiction of these two unresponsive agencies and form our own counterparts. This is not as far-fetched as it may seem. And there are precedents. For example, the Cape Cod region was granted MPO status by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and then established the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) in order to develop and operate its own transit services. The East End could take the following approach:


First, through what we believe would be a New York State DOT approval process, we could establish a Rural Planning Organization (RPO) to legally replace our current status as an insignificant part of NYMTC. Let’s call it the Peconic Transit Commission (PTC), and it would be comprised entirely of East End elected officials, employers and residents. The PTC would become the new gatekeeper for funding transit projects on the East End.


Second, we would then form our own Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to legally replace the MTA. Our NYS legislators Fred Thiele, Marc Alessi and Ken La Valle have collectively filed legislation to establish the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority (PBRTA) for this very purpose. The PBRTA would eventually become responsible for developing and operating the East End Shuttle.


Establishing our own East End RPO and RTA would make the East End transit independent, but it would not be insure better services. We will also have to work very hard though our U.S. Representative Tim Bishop to acquire the needed one-time federal development funds to establish a new system. Receiving funding for transit is a highly competitive process in Washington. But the time is now.


Locals Outraged Over New MTA Tax

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


“Isn’t this taxation without representation? I thought we already went through this,” said Sag Harbor Variety Store owner Lisa Field when asked what she thought of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new payroll tax.

The tax, signed into law earlier this month, will require local businesses, including hospitals, schools and governments, to pay a 34 cent tax for every $100 of payroll. Suffolk County is set to pump millions of dollars into the MTA to help shore up the authority’s $1.8 million deficit. From the halls of the state assembly to the sidewalks of Main Street, people are saying the MTA is unfairly taxing Suffolk County residents for a service they rarely use and the county is in essence funding the New York City transportation system.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele contends the MTA package was made “behind closed doors” with officials, hailing from the New York Metropolitan area, leading the negotiations.

Back in March, Thiele seemed certain the tax wouldn’t be voted through, but the state legislature indeed passed it on May 6, after state senator Brian Foley of Long Island swayed the vote, allowing the package to pass by two votes in the senate.

“Between March and now a lot of arm twisting went on,” explained Thiele.

“I thought we were pretty effective in putting up a unified decision,” stated Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman of the efforts made by local officials to oppose the payroll tax. “We have lost the power, and all of this money is leaving Long Island and going to New York City.”

Schneiderman maintains the East End is underserved by the MTA. Although the county contributed $250 million to the transit authority last year, the MTA currently runs just three trains on weekdays from the East End to New York City.

Geoff Lynch of the Hampton Jitney said the transit system works well in New York City because the authority services a small geographic area with a high density population. But on the East End, he added, a smaller population is spread out over a wide geographic area.

According to a press release from Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine, the county will pay around $520 million when the new MTA taxes and fees are enacted or about $347 per resident per year — on top of the taxes residents already pay toward the MTA. Schneiderman believes only 10 percent of Suffolk’s population, or 150,000 people, ride the LIRR.

“The county will pay around $3,000 to $4,000 per rider. We could lease each of them a car and we could forget about the trains,” argued Schneiderman.

When asked if East End residents will get more LIRR service in exchange for their contribution to the MTA payroll tax, Sam Zambuto of the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) said no.

“[The Payroll Tax] allows the LIRR to maintain the existing level of service and eliminates the service reductions that were slated for implementation,” Zambuto reported. “It also reduces the fare increase from an average of 26 percent to an average of 10 percent.”

MTA representative Kevin Ortiz said even with $1.8 billion in funds procured from the payroll tax and other fees, the MTA will still face a small deficit in the upcoming year. Ortiz argued that the new funds would bring additional wages to the county because the MTA uses the services of  subcontractors in Deer Park, and other Suffolk locations. He added the MTA’s capital plan would create $11.8 billion in wages and salaries in the 12 counties it services.

“They have to look at the big picture,” said Ortiz of Suffolk residents.

But local residents, from hospital administrators to business owners, say they are having a hard time seeing the “big picture.”

“Everybody that is in business out here will be subject to this new tax,” asserted Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris. He added that the tax will cost the village administration upwards of $10,000.

Southampton Hospital faces an even steeper tax burden because of its large payroll. Marsha Kenny, the director of public affairs, said the hospital had already closed its books for the 2009 budget when they learned of the tax. The hospital expects to pay $140,000 to the MTA this year.

Len Bernard, the Sag Harbor School District Business Manager, estimated the school will pay between $46,000 to $50,000 for the tax, though the state has promised to reimburse school districts.

“I am not at all confident the state will give funds to reimburse the school districts,” remarked school superintendent Dr. John Gratto. “I am concerned that if they do reimburse the school district for the tax it will come at the expense of general state aid.”

“I can point to every single line item on the budget and tell you how it benefits someone in the community, but I can’t with this,” continued Gratto. “We are just subsidizing New York City.”

Responding to the outrage of local communities over the payroll tax, the Suffolk County Legislature voted on Tuesday, May 12, to create a commission to conduct a feasibility study on Long Island seceding from the State of New York.

“We want it to be on the ballot next year as a non-binding referendum to create the State of Long Island,” said Schneiderman. “Every year we give the state about $8 billion but we only receive around $5 billion in services.”

Schneiderman conceded, however, that a state hasn’t successfully seceded since the 1860s, when West Virginia split from Virginia.

“I think this is more symbolic,” said Schneiderman. “We want to send a message to Albany that the present situation is unacceptable.”

Thiele believes Suffolk County constituents are feeling increasingly overburdened by state taxes, especially in light of the economic downturn.

“I have never seen a recession end by taxing people more,” he declared.

It may be that the MTA payroll tax will have a trickle down effect, with implications not just for business owners but patrons of Long Island restaurants and retail establishments as well.

“A lot of businesses in the area increase their prices in the summer and decrease their prices in the winter,” said Tora Matsuoka, co-owner of Sen and Phao Thai Kitchen. “Prior to finding out about this tax, [and a new beer and wine tax] my feelings were that we wouldn’t readjust our prices, but it is something we are considering … taxes in New York are stringent and I think it is driving people out of the state.”

Police Blotter: Tractor Accident Temporarily Shuts Down LIRR

Tags: , , , ,


On Wednesday, February 19, the Southampton Town police reported a motor vehicle accident that occurred on Tuckahoe Road at the intersection with County Road 39, in Southampton. An accident investigation revealed that a tractor trailer operated by Jason Lee Poling, 35, of Michigan attempted to negotiate a right turn onto Tuckahoe Road from County Road 39, but impacted with a Long Island Rail Road crossing gate support pole causing the rear axle to lodge on one of the support pilings and the tractor trailer became stuck across the railroad tracks. The LIRR was immediately advised to halt train traffic in the area and Tuckahoe Road was closed to vehicle traffic. Once the vehicle had been removed, the LIRR service reopened.

Michael Rincon, 20, of Hampton Bays was arrested by Sag Harbor Village Police on Thursday, February 19. Police say Rincon was observed driving a 2000 Ford Focus down Jermain Avenue, and was reportedly speeding at 41 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone. When stopped by police, a Department of Motor Vehicle scan revealed that his drivers license was revoked on January 6, 2009, for driving while his ability was impaired by alcohol. His license was suspended, pending prosecution by the court. On Thursday, Rincon was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor, and speeding, a violation.

According to Southampton Town Police, a Sag Harbor resident reported on Thursday, February 19, unknown suspects shot the front siding and roofing, along the north west side of his employer’s Southampton residence with numerous pink paintballs. The victim stated the incident caused a substantial inconvenience because he had to wash the paint off the residence.

On Saturday, February 21, Marshall Crowley, 68 of Hampton Bays was arrested by Sag Harbor Village Police on the charge of failing to appear in court. Southampton Village Police picked up Crowley at the Sag Harbor Village police station, where he had been temporarily held. Crowley was then turned over to the East Hampton Town Police Department, where he was held until his arraignment.

Some driveway lights were ripped out of the ground on a North Haven property, says a report filed with the Southampton Town Police. The victim told police the damage exceeds $250. Police have no leads at this time.

Javier Viteri Calle, was arrested by Sag Harbor Village Police on Saturday, February 21. Calle was charged with driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, and unlicensed operator, a violation. According to police, Calle was observed driving on Hampton Street, when he failed to keep to the right side of the road and drove his vehicle in the wrong lane of traffic. Police say Calle failed to pull over when the police car’s overhead light was turned on. He allegedly continued to drive on the wrong side of the road. Shortly after the sirens were used, in conjunction with the overhead lights, Calle was pulled to the side of the road. Once Calle was stopped on Hampton Street, the police say they ascertained that Calle was intoxicated by alcohol.

An East Hampton resident reported on Thursday, February 19 someone threw a brick through the passenger side window of her car and stole her handbag while it was parked at a non-profit Bridgehampton organization. The victim told police there were several items in her handbag, including her debit and credit cards, $40 dollars in cash, her driver’s license and her check book. She also informed police the bag was worth $120. The victim believed the damage to her window will cost close to $300.

On Wednesday, February 18, at 10 a.m. Jason Katalinas, 23, of South Berlin, N.Y., was arrested for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the second degree, a misdemeanor. According to Southampton Town Police, Katalinas was observed operating his 2000 Chrysler on Route 114 in North Haven and stopped for a tinted windows violation. A driver’s license check revealed that his license had five suspensions. During the traffic stop, a passenger was found to be in possession of a small quantity marijuana. William Katalinas, 21, of Afton, N.Y. was arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation. Both men were arraigned in Southampton Town Justice Court.

According to Southampton Town Police, an unknown person or persons, chopped down several trees at a Sagaponack residence between Saturday, January 31, and Saturday, February 7. Police say no evidence was left at the scene. The victim reported the location is a summer community with no permanent residents.

A North Sea resident’s car was allegedly stolen from his driveway, along with his wallet, between Saturday, February 21, and Sunday, 22. According to a report filed with the Southampton Town Police, the car keys were in the unlocked vehicle.

A Water Mill resident was driving through Sag Harbor when, he says, his Volvo was struck by a silver Cadillac on Noyac Road. The police searched the area but failed to find a car matching the victim’s description.

Southampton Town Police say on Tuesday, February 17, a North Sea resident was issued a bad check by a prospective renter. The victim told police he had posted an advertisement on the Internet for a room he was renting in his home during the summer. He then received a reply from the suspect. The suspect later sent the victim four moneygram money orders for $1,000 each. The suspect allegedly informed the victim she was sending her belongings to the residence ahead of time and the shipment would be C.O.D., or cash on delivery. The victim deposited the money orders into his bank account and was told it would take three to five days to clear. On Wednesday, February 18, the suspect contacted the victim and told him she needed the money back to pay the shipping company prior to the shipment. The victim supposedly sent $650, of his own money, through Western Union, but then later discovered the money orders were void.