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Manhasset homeowner wins fight against town

The Pai family have lived in their Manhasset home only about a month, but already have learned it's possible to fight town hall and prevail.

Over the summer, John Pai was in contract to purchase his Andrew Street house for $590,000 and had put down a $60,000 deposit. But because the house is next to North Hempstead Town Hall, officials wanted to use the space for extra parking or offices. The town outbid Pai with an offer of $625,000 cash.

Neighbors who said they wanted the house to go to a family waged a battle. Meanwhile, Pai, wanting better schools and more space than he had in his Rego Park condo, continued his search for an ideal home. "Eventually I gave up and I was looking at other homes," Pai, 37, said Monday. "I kind of forgot about it and then we got the call."

The call came last fall from his real estate agent that the town had backed out of the plan, allowing Pai, a computer consultant, to purchase the house for his original bid.

"We were very happy with the outcome," said next-door neighbor Bill Riggin, 49. "It's still a neighborhood. You'd rather have a family there than it become a business."

Pai closed on the deal Oct. 26 and moved in early last month with his wife, 2-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son.

Riggin said the town's proposal to buy the house had seemed like a questionable expense in this economy. "Instead of an expense for the town, it's income for the town now," he said, adding that the Pais will be taxpayers who will use public schools.

Town officials did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Pai said the Manhasset district was his top reason for moving: "You always try to do better for your kids."

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