Southampton Town officials are nearing a half-million-dollar deal to purchase and preserve a Shinnecock Hills lot where human skeletal remains were found last month after the town upped its offer to the property owner by $60,000, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said Wednesday.
The property owner, listed as KB Southampton LLC, has also agreed to lower its asking price by $75,000, Schneiderman said. The town initially offered $390,000 for the lot, though the owner had asked for $575,000 to cover permitting and construction costs, according to a representative of the owner and tribe members.
A skull, bone and glass flask, which members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation say belonged to an ancestor, were discovered Aug. 13 during construction on the Hawthorne Road site. The remains and the bottle were taken to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office, where an anthropologist determined them to be more than 50 years old. An archaeologist with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said the remains were “likely” of American Indian Origin, a claim tribal members had made since the discovery.
The tribe has agreed to contribute $50,000 to the deal, Schneiderman said. Rebecca Genia, who has identified herself as the tribe’s grave protection warrior, said the Shinnecocks are raising money through a GoFundMe page and she is optimistic they can reach the goal.
That money will likely be used to refill the lot where the builder has dug a foundation hole and repatriate the remains. The town will then purchase the lot in a restored condition, Schneiderman said. He added that the builder has made improvements to the site, including a $21,000 retaining wall.
The current owner purchased the property for $370,000 in March 2018, according to town records. The town plans to use Community Preservation Fund money, which is financed through a 2 percent real estate transfer tax, for its portion of the deal.