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Oyster Bay Town seeks buyer for property in alleged bribery scheme

Bids on the lot at 50 Engel St.

Bids on the lot at 50 Engel St. in Hicksville -- seen on June 22, 2017 -- are due by Dec. 7. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay officials are seeking a buyer for a parcel that played a role in indictments of a contractor and former town officials.

Bids on the 2.27-acre lot at 50 Engel St. in Hicksville are due by Dec. 7. The Town Board at its Nov. 14 meeting approved declaring the property surplus and soliciting buyers.

Supervisor Joseph Saladino announced the town would sell the property after the June 29 indictments of Elia Lizza, chief executive of Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, and others including former Supervisor John Venditto. Lizza allegedly paid bribes to the late Oyster Bay planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito to facilitate the town’s purchase of 50 Engel St. and the rezoning of a nearby property that was to be developed as a senior housing. Lizza, Venditto and the other defendants have pleaded not guilty.

When the town purchased the property in 2013 for $2.5 million, it was considering it for recreational uses. More recently, the town was considering using the property to relocate some of the Department of Public Works facilities at 150 Miller Place in Syosset. In 2013, the town sold the Syosset property to Oyster Bay Realty LLC, a company that includes Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group as one of its partners. Next year the town will begin paying rent on the Syosset property and must leave it in 2021.

“How can we declare it surplus if we don’t know what we are doing . . . with our facilities at DPW and can we rightfully declare this as surplus if we still need it?” Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia asked at the meeting. Saladino said, “We’re looking at all our options” and that the board needed more information to make a decision.

Since 2014, the town has paid Hauppauge-based Nassau Suffolk Engineering & Architecture PLLC $549,620 to study moving the Syosset facilities, town records show. That included preliminary plans for constructing a $12 million, four-floor, 56,000-square-foot building at 50 Engel St. that was to house five town departments, including public works and the highway department, town spokesman Brian Nevin said in an email.

For years, 50 Engel St. was an asphalt plant used by Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving and was considered a blight by area residents.

Councilman Anthony Macagnone, who was absent from the Nov. 14 meeting and had opposed the sale when it came up at an October meeting, said last week Hicksville residents should get a park at 50 Engel St.

“Make it a park like they asked for,” Macagnone said.

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