Smithtown Town Council members will seek a new appraisal for two privately owned lots south of Kings Park’s Park Bake Shop for possible purchase and conversion into municipal parking lots.
Kings Park business owners have long complained that there is not enough parking for their customers. Adding parking on the hamlet’s “Restaurant Row” near Main Street and Old Dock Road was one of the recommendations a planning consultant made last month, after being hired by the town to study local market conditions.
Town officials approached property owner Matthew Lupoli in 2014 about purchasing the lots, with room for roughly 40 vehicles, but “the owner did not wish to move forward” with a sale, town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo said.
Town Attorney Matthew Jakubowski said in 2014 that the lots were appraised at $230,000, but Lupoli wanted $279,000 to sell.
Then-town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio also opposed a purchase, saying that residential taxes should not be used to benefit private business owners. Vecchio said at the time that local businesses should have bought the land themselves through a business improvement district.
Current Supervisor Edward Wehrheim has promised a more aggressive approach to economic development and signaled last week a willingness to at least consider a town purchase. “It would be very helpful for all those businesses,” he said at a town council work session Tuesday. “Parking is a severe problem.”
Lupoli is more interested in selling than he was three years ago, Wehrheim said, based on conversations the supervisor had with Jakubowski.
Jakubowski did not respond to a request for comment.
Councilwoman Lynne Nowick also supported a possible purchase. “When we all ran, we promised to help the downtowns, and we need to work on that,” she said at the work session. Nowick was skeptical of the cost in 2014, but she said in an interview last week that she changed her mind after hearing from constituents.
Kings Park Civic Association president Linda Henninger said she supported buying the lots “if the numbers work.”
A purchase “will not only make it easier and safer for our residents to park and shop, thereby benefiting local business, it is also consistent with Kings Park’s goal to revitalize our downtown,” she said.
Lupoli did not respond to a voicemail left at his office.