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SCWA to sell building to keep rates down

The Suffolk Water Authority voted Monday night to sell its engineering building in Oakdale for $1.8 million -- the first major step toward shedding a number of surplus tracts to keep rates down.

The buyer of the 13,280-square-foot building is Softheon, a company now in Hauppauge, in the business of automated processing of health insurance payments. Softheon's offer for the building, located on the north side of Sunrise Highway a quarter-mile west of authority headquarters, was $400,000 higher than the second bid. The authority bought the building in 1992 for $700,000.

Jeff Szabo, the authority's chief executive, said the sale will require the relocation of about 65 authority employees. He said the engineering department will be relocated to vacant space at the authority water testing lab in Hauppauge.

The pine barrens unit will move to offices in Westhampton, while the computerized geographic information system unit will move to the construction building adjoining the Oakdale headquarters -- moves that will cost about $350,000, authority officials said.

The sale is part of the authority's effort to pare down more than 40,000 square feet of unneeded office space and 400 acres of surplus property.

"This not only gives us revenue to offset future capital costs but it also eliminates the cost of operating that building," said James Gaughran, chairman of the water authority board.

The authority is also considering selling eight of 12 acres on the northeast corner of Old Nichols Road, which it once considered for a corporate headquarters. Authority officials are still reviewing options that the potential buyer has proposed.

But the authority has also taken off the list of potential sales a tract of less than an acre on Harrison Avenue in Miller Place that Brookhaven officials have expressed interest in as a vest pocket park.

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