Discord arose among East Hampton Town Board members this week over a bid to purchase town-owned offices at 300 Pantigo Place.
The town has received a bid to buy four of seven office units in the building for $1.2 million—or $300,000 apiece—on the condition that the seller would lease the space back to the town for free for one year. The bid amount came in far below what town officials expected after setting a minimum of $3 million for the seven units last year. An appraisal of the property at that time came in at $4.4 million, according to Councilwoman Theresa Quigley.
The office complex currently houses the town’s Planning Department, Building Department, Natural Resources Department, Ordinance Enforcement Department, Planning Board office, fire marshal’s office, assessor’s office, tax receiver’s office and information technology office. The seven units cost about $70,000 a year to run in maintenance costs alone. The town could save $40,000 a year if the four units are sold, according to Budget Officer Len Bernard.
The idea behind selling the space is to move those town employees to the main Town Hall campus on Pantigo Road. Supervisor Bill Wilkinson recommended renovating the old Town Hall, a brick building located behind the new shingled Town Hall, and creating office space there for the employees.
“I had a thought that I would like to rehabilitate that building, have an exterior that resembles the new Town Hall and move everybody that was in our Pantigo facilities into the rehabilitated building so that we could participate as a campus running the Town of East Hampton,” he said.
The $1.2 million bid, which came in about three weeks ago, was technically withdrawn by the potential buyer, who said he was “nervous” about the economic climate and the board’s uncertainty on selling the property, according to Ms. Quigley. But she added there might be some wiggle room.
“I am hoping that if I could get the board to at least say ‘go forward,’ I can convince them to go forward,” she said.
Ms. Quigley declined to disclose the potential buyer.
Two Town Board members had some questions about the bid. Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said she wanted to take a look at an appraisal of the property and “see if it was a good deal for us.” And while he agreed with Mr. Wilkinson that it would be advantageous to have all town employees working at the same campus, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc noted that officials didn’t even know how much it would cost to renovate the old Town Hall building. He also pointed out that there weren’t any designs or site plans drawn up to do so. “We should definitely be working on a plan right away,” he said.
Regardless, Councilman Dominick Stanzione said he supported the sale, as did Ms. Quigley and Mr. Wilkinson. Ms. Quigley noted that an appraisal price is often not a “realistic” price.
But with Mr. Stanzione’s absence on Thursday, Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc blocked, temporarily, at least, a resolution seeking a request for proposals to renovate the old Town Hall building so that town employees who currently work in the Pantigo Place condos could be relocated there.
Mr. Van Scoyoc said he didn’t support the RFP because there wasn’t a thorough discussion of what the Town Board was looking to do.
Ms. Quigley countered that the RFP was just a request and any proposal would be reviewed by the Town Board before being approved. Mr. Wilkinson expressed frustration at the resolution being stalled.
“Okay, we’ll put the clock on that, we’ll just slow everything down in this town,” he said. Mr. Van Scoyoc began to interrupt, but Mr. Wilkinson asked to continue speaking.
“I said, we’re going to slow everything down in this town,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “Everything’s been looked at. We want to now look back over the last 24 months and review those items too. Fine. Just understand, the clock is on you guys.”