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Feb 5, 2019 5:13 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town's Purchase Of Former Hampton Bays Chamber Building Poses Challenges For Potential Tenant

The former Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce building on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays. VALERIE GORDON
Feb 6, 2019 10:48 AM

A proposed stewardship agreement between Southampton Town and a Water Mill-based nonprofit looking to take over the former Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce building is on the brink of falling through—much like the building’s second floor.

Talks began between Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone and Kim Covell, president of the Flying Point Foundation for Autism—an organization that provides supporting programs and services for children with autism—back in September. In exchange for occupying the building, the foundation was willing to help tackle the ever-growing price tag associated with the building’s repairs.

Extensive required renovations, estimated to cost between $150,000 to $200,000, include fixing the roof, the entire second story, and replacing the 1960s building’s original heating, electrical and ventilation systems. Additional repairs, which Mr. Zappone said are not as critical, include repaving the parking lot, and repairing broken shingles and leaky windows.

In May—eight months after the chamber relocated to the Southampton Town Senior Center on Ponquogue Avenue—Mr. Zappone had said that the 1,356-square-foot building’s second floor was “compromised,” and incapable of bearing weight.

Now, after looking into the history of the property, the Town Board has discovered that it was purchased under conditions that mirror that of a Community Preservation Fund purchase, meaning that although it’s not a historic building, the property was acquired for historic preservation purposes, Mr. Zappone said.

It’s unclear whether those limitations allow for the foundation to expand upon the building’s footprint, which Mr. Zappone said was included in a plan submitted by the organization’s board of directors last year.

“I don’t know if what they want to do is doable,” he said, noting that Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. is in the process of investigating the property’s allowable usage. “Until we get a clear answer to that, it’s hard to decide what our next step will be.”

In the meantime, the deputy supervisor said that the Southampton Town attorney’s office is working to have the property appraised to potentially exchange it for another Montauk Highway property, which would allow the town to build Main Street access to Good Ground Park.

Town Attorney James Burke did not immediately return phone calls on Tuesday morning.

According to public records, in 2018, the building was valued at $112,300, whereas the 0.9-acre property was valued at $572,600.

Under New York State property law, in order for the town to trade the property for land that would lend itself to park access, the newly acquired lot must be of equal or greater value, Mr. Zappone said. “You can’t exchange it for lesser value,” he added.

In a letter last month, Ms. Covell, who is an assistant editor at the Press News Group, expressed disappointment in the town’s consideration to exchange the property, noting that her organization’s vision for the parcel would benefit the “severely underserved” special needs community in Southampton.

The nonprofit’s vision was to create a hub where people with developmental disabilities could seek opportunities for employment, recreation, socialization, education, exercise, counseling, and appropriate housing.

“Adults with developmental disabilities are entitled to no less than the other citizens of our community. The services we wish to house are no different than those provided for our senior citizens at various sites throughout the town,” Ms. Covell wrote. “It is unfortunate that our definition of the ‘highest and best use’ for property automatically defaults to the most money that can be squeezed out of it.”

However, Mr. Zappone stressed on Monday that the nonprofit’s vision is not off the table.

“Any purposeful use is an improvement over the current conditions of that site,” he said. “The building is in a wonderful location and it’s not serving the community well. It’s not being the asset that it could possibly be. We just don’t know which of the options is doable.”

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It is an unsafe structure and should be demolished before it becomes an expensive liability issue.
By A Great American (78), East Quogue on Feb 7, 19 2:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
The dummies who run this Town !
By themarlinspike (257), southampton on Feb 8, 19 10:25 AM
This headline is misleading. The Town purchased this structure over a decade ago. The headline reads as though this is a new purchase.

The reason the building is a mess is because the Town has done little to nothing to maintain it since purchasing it. There have been many problems which the town has ignored. The reason the tenants left is because the building was falling apart and the Town refused to maintain their own property. A continuing pattern.

No reason this building ...more
By bb (862), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 19 10:39 AM
From what I have observed, most of the leaders in the Town Administration either don't know or don't care about anything going on in Hampton Bays. I have an email from Frank months ago discussing the history - why is it now news to the the Town Board? They sweep the problems under the rug or kick the can down the road long enough to retire and get their pensions. This is just one of many examples. This building is on prime real estate on Main Street - so much for the "revitalization of Main Street". ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 19 6:25 PM
The Chamber is clearly struggling. Their move got them out from under the ridiculous bills to keep that place heated, mowed etc.

Yes, revitalization makes a great headline.
By bb (862), Hampton Bays on Feb 13, 19 11:30 AM
A hub for the our adult population with special needs is much needed. If the town does not feel this property is appropriate, what solution do they have in mind?
Surely, a center like this is for the public good.
By jane rogers (4), sag harbor on Feb 9, 19 10:59 PM
This looks like a great location for Flying Point as transportation is always complicated for the Developmentally Disabled population. The "Hub and Spoke" model where the DD population can do a variety of activities and the Center and also work jobs within walking distance to the Center and also work jobs in the community.

The Yang and Tan Institure at Cornell University has done much research on the value of the DD population to the work population - http://www.yti.cornell.edu The Center ...more
By Mike Sweeney (1), SOUTHAMPTON on Feb 10, 19 3:58 AM
4 members liked this comment
The Town failed Hampton Bays by allowing this building to fall into disrepair on Main Street notwithstanding whether or not they allow a not-for-profit to use the building. The condition of this building is the result of years/decades of neglect. The Town has a budget of more than $100 million dollars and should not burden this not-for-profit with the repairs. I also find it troubling that it appears that the Town Administration pulled the rug out from under the organization at this point. They ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (372), Hampton Bays on Feb 10, 19 7:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
Oh something the town let rot away and now is gonna try and save it. Comical that town board. Mr. Zappone has nothing to worry about he is a double dipper anyway. Kennedy takes out Bellone and Scalera takes out Schneiderman things will start looking a lot better for us on Long Island
By watchoutnow968 (41), Southampton on Feb 11, 19 10:43 PM
Future Stars, Summer Camps,