The sale of residential property owned by the Village of Massapequa Park caused some sparks to fly at this week's village board meeting.
The property, located on East Cedar Street, two and a half acres in size, is comprised of vacant plots of land that could accommodate up to three homes, provided the buyer is able to procure the needed variances to have them built, according to Village Attorney Kevin Walsh. The sale price of the property, according to Mayor Jmes Altadonna, was $270,000.
“We own a piece of property that we bought years ago,” he said. “We originally were going to move the Village Hall’s gas tanks there, but instead we re-did them right here behind the Village Hall, so we didn’t need it anymore. There is also a commercial section of the property that we’re retaining, if we decide to have a Police Department, depending on Nassau County finances.”
Local resident John O’Brien, a regular attendee of the Board meetings, and member of the Village Ethics Board, who had actually negotiated the original sale of the property to the Village, took exception to the fact that the sale had gone through without a public hearing held first. However, Altadonna countered that viewpoint, saying that such a step was unnecessary.
“There’s no reason to do that,” he said. “This is just the residential part, not the commercial part. We have no use for the residential part.”
Altadonna said after the meeting that the Village had overpaid for the combined residential and commercial property to the tune of approximately $1.5 million dollars many years ago, an error he attributed to O’Brien’s part in the negotiations.
“He overpaid for the property back then...quite honestly, we can’t even sell it for what we paid for it...it’s useless,” he said. “We never should have bought it in the first place. I’ve never seen anybody buy property that’s not contiguous to the Village. This property is in no-man’s land. He personally negotiated the price with his friend, yet he questions us tonight.”
O’Brien, a former Village Trustee and Deputy Mayor of Administration, had negotiated the sale of the property under the Mayoral regime prior to Altadonna approximately 13 years ago, and said that the deal he made was in the best interests of the Village and a solid price at the time.
“The price that the Village paid at the time for the property was the fair market value,” he said. “I also feel that, when Mayor Altadonna’s administration took office, they didn’t properly utilize the property. They built some storage for salt and other things on the commercial part, but otherwise they’re not using it for anything.”
O’Brien also contended that Altadonna was not selling the residential part of the property for what it is actually worth.
“I feel he should be getting closer to $500,000,” he said. “If the buyer can get the variances, he can build three homes on that lot...that will be worth a lot more than the $270,000 the Mayor is selling it for now.”
Altadonna also gave an update on the Village’s restoration progress in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, saying that most of the Village is back to normal, save the area by the water, which was the hardest hit by the superstorm.
“Things are coming along...we still have to work on Colleran Park,” he said. “We’ve had significant damage there, and we still have to get plan to address the erosion; we need to clean that park up. We can’t go in there now, so we’re waiting on that.”
A brief update to the Village’s attempts to open its own Massapequa Park-based Emergency Medical Center was also given, with Altadonna saying that talks between he and North Shore University Hospital, who is potentially slated to run it, are still ongoing.
“We’ve had correspondence as recently as this week,” he said, responding to rumors presented by a resident that North Shore would instead be opening a facility on the grounds of South Oaks Hospital in Amityville.