The Hampton Bays Board of Education is seeking $10.6 million in damages from Southampton Town to recoup the costs of services provided for school-age children in the district living with their families in transient motels.
The notice, the first step in a potential lawsuit, lists 18 properties where the board alleges the town failed to enforce its zoning code in the hamlet.
The board filed the two-page notice of claim in the Southampton Town Clerk’s office on Jan. 23, seeking the money “expended to provide services to the students illegally living in the aforesaid transient hotels or motels,” the notice states.
Illegal and overcrowded rentals have been a continuing issue in the town’s most populous hamlet, with many immigrant families living in those properties. The board says its problem started during the 2012-13 school year.
Kevin Springer, president of the school board, who signed the notice, declined to comment on Tuesday, as did Superintendent Lars Clemensen. Town Attorney James M. Burke did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Last summer, the town hired former FBI agent Steven Troyd to lead its new public safety and emergency preparedness department as part of efforts to strengthen code enforcement. In October, a nearly weeklong code enforcement sweep of 42 residences and three motels in Hampton Bays resulted in 215 code violations issued against more than two dozen landlords.
At the time, the Bel-Aire Cove Motel at 20 Shinnecock Rd., one of the properties listed in the board’s notice of claim, was found to have several units with bedbugs, electrical violations, missing smoke detectors, overcrowding and property maintenance issues. It is not clear how many families were living in the motel during the enforcement sweep.
Immigrant advocates have urged officials to find a solution that doesn’t leave families homeless.
“I have to point out that the people who are in these housing situations are part of the economic engine of the East End,” said Sister Mary Beth Moore of Centro Corazon de Maria, an organization that aids immigrants.