A plan to sell Oyster Bay Town-owned property to New York State is faltering in the state Assembly even as town officials scheduled a special meeting this week to address it.
Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino last week pushed for the sale as a way to protect the environment but the bulk of the property is park land or zoned for recreational use and is already is protected from development.
The town board last week approved a home-rule message in support of a bill introduced by Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) to sell 52.2 acres to the state at fair market values. Before the Legislature can take action on some issues affecting a local government, the local government must formally approve it in what’s known as a home-rule message.
A sale would require an independent appraisal of the two parcels that make up the land. The property is valued at $29.4 million, according to the Nassau County Department of Assessment’s website.
The town board plans to hold a special meeting on Thursday to approve a revised home-rule message due to changes in bill.
Saladino last week said at the town board meeting that it wanted to “permanently preserve these small amounts of open space.”
“These are properties that are sensitive to the recharge of our groundwater, sensitive to many species and plants and animals,” Saladino said.
The largest parcel is 43.2 acres of land, mostly zoned for recreation, known as Goat Hill that is adjacent to the James H. Vernon elementary school and Route 106 in East Norwich. The other is 9 acres of park land in Plainview betweem Manetto Hill Preserve and a housing development.
Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), chairman of the Assembly environmental conservation committee, criticized the effort.
“I was searching for a public purpose for this initiative and I don’t see it,” Englebright said. He said it could create an “adverse precedent” for municipalities to sell parks to the state.
“To start to sell open space in any of our towns and municipal jurisdictions that is already preserved, in order to preserve it, is an illogical premise and a breach ultimately of the public trust,” Englebright said.
With the legislative session ending next week, Marcellino’s chief of staff, Kirk Ives, said Monday their office was still waiting for a revised bill from the town.
“I tend to think it’s not going to happen,” Ives said about the likelihood of it being passed, noting there was no sponsor in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. Ives said it could come back next year after the language is worked out. “Something like this you want to take a more long-term view on it,” Ives said.