The site of the former Bel-Aire Cove Motel on Shinnecock...

The site of the former Bel-Aire Cove Motel on Shinnecock Road in Hampton Bays, seen here in March, now appears destined to become a park. Credit: James Carbone

Southampton Town recently scrapped two redevelopment proposals for a blighted Hampton Bays motel following pushback from community members who have won their quest to preserve a site that now appears destined to become a park.

The Southampton Town Board approved a resolution on Oct. 24 to cancel a request for proposals for the purchase and redevelopment of the Bel-Aire Cove Motel — which used to be low-income housing — on Shinnecock Road.

The decision, approved by a 5-0 vote, eliminates both choices the town presented earlier this year: a 16-unit senior housing condominium or a 12-unit condominium hotel in which owners would have bought the units that would have been used as rentals nine months a year.

The vote also leaves the town on the hook for a $1.2 million loan that was used to acquire the property, according to Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. 

The board’s reversal comes more than a year after it issued a call for bids for the property's redevelopment in connection with the Hampton Bays Waterfront Revitalization Plan adopted in 2019.

John and Daria Roulett, who live about ½-mile from the former motel, organized a petition earlier this year against the redevelopment and spearheaded a March rally at the site as part of a grassroots campaign.

That same month, residents crowded a town hall public hearing, many holding signs that read, “Save our bays,” “Protect our water” and “Option 3,” to urge the town board to scrap both redevelopment proposals.

“From the beginning, we really just thought it shouldn’t be developed,” John Roulett, 66, said in an interview.

At the Oct. 24 meeting, the board separately approved a resolution to sign a $57,042 contract to hire LiRo Engineers, Inc. to handle asbestos removal at the site — an initial step toward demolition of the property's dilapidated structure.

Schneiderman expressed disappointment in the outcome and said he still believes the “boutique” or condo hotel proposal by First Dunes Inc. makes more sense than a park.

Town officials indicated that plans now are for the site to feature a kayak launch in the adjacent creek known as Penny Pond.

“It would have been a template for how to revive the economy in Hampton Bays,” Schneiderman said of the rejected plans. “But again, the community seems to want something different."

Southampton paid $1.06 million to buy the property through a $1.2 million loan from the town’s general fund in 2019. The loan also covered surveying, closing and other costs. The town planned to reimburse the general fund after selling the property to a developer.

But Schneiderman said the town will have to "forgive" the general fund loan and pay for demolition costs, fixing a bulkhead and maintaining any future park.

The supervisor said surplus from the proposed sale also would have created a fund for blight mitigation in Hampton Bays totaling about $400,000 that now isn't available.

Councilwoman Cyndi McNamara, the Republican candidate for supervisor, said the property likely will be subdivided with half transferred into the Community Preservation Fund program — which is typically used for land preservation. She said money from the CPF program then could be used toward the demolition cost.

“The vision is for the whole thing to be a park,” she said. “We would just like to keep part of it as a town property because you can’t have things that make money on CPF property.”

By keeping part of the property municipal, the town can host events like art shows and have food trucks, McNamara said.

The redevelopment also had faced pushback from the Southampton Town trustees who act as stewards of an adjacent property and didn't want the former motel sold to a developer.

Former Hampton Bays Civic Association president Geraldine Spinella said she's cautiously optimistic about the site’s future as a park.

“Until we actually see that building get taken down, you don’t really know what’s going forward,” she added.

Southampton Town recently scrapped two redevelopment proposals for a blighted Hampton Bays motel following pushback from community members who have won their quest to preserve a site that now appears destined to become a park.

The Southampton Town Board approved a resolution on Oct. 24 to cancel a request for proposals for the purchase and redevelopment of the Bel-Aire Cove Motel — which used to be low-income housing — on Shinnecock Road.

The decision, approved by a 5-0 vote, eliminates both choices the town presented earlier this year: a 16-unit senior housing condominium or a 12-unit condominium hotel in which owners would have bought the units that would have been used as rentals nine months a year.

The vote also leaves the town on the hook for a $1.2 million loan that was used to acquire the property, according to Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. 

The board’s reversal comes more than a year after it issued a call for bids for the property's redevelopment in connection with the Hampton Bays Waterfront Revitalization Plan adopted in 2019.

John and Daria Roulett, who live about ½-mile from the former motel, organized a petition earlier this year against the redevelopment and spearheaded a March rally at the site as part of a grassroots campaign.

That same month, residents crowded a town hall public hearing, many holding signs that read, “Save our bays,” “Protect our water” and “Option 3,” to urge the town board to scrap both redevelopment proposals.

“From the beginning, we really just thought it shouldn’t be developed,” John Roulett, 66, said in an interview.

At the Oct. 24 meeting, the board separately approved a resolution to sign a $57,042 contract to hire LiRo Engineers, Inc. to handle asbestos removal at the site — an initial step toward demolition of the property's dilapidated structure.

Schneiderman expressed disappointment in the outcome and said he still believes the “boutique” or condo hotel proposal by First Dunes Inc. makes more sense than a park.

Town officials indicated that plans now are for the site to feature a kayak launch in the adjacent creek known as Penny Pond.

“It would have been a template for how to revive the economy in Hampton Bays,” Schneiderman said of the rejected plans. “But again, the community seems to want something different."

Southampton paid $1.06 million to buy the property through a $1.2 million loan from the town’s general fund in 2019. The loan also covered surveying, closing and other costs. The town planned to reimburse the general fund after selling the property to a developer.

But Schneiderman said the town will have to "forgive" the general fund loan and pay for demolition costs, fixing a bulkhead and maintaining any future park.

The supervisor said surplus from the proposed sale also would have created a fund for blight mitigation in Hampton Bays totaling about $400,000 that now isn't available.

Councilwoman Cyndi McNamara, the Republican candidate for supervisor, said the property likely will be subdivided with half transferred into the Community Preservation Fund program — which is typically used for land preservation. She said money from the CPF program then could be used toward the demolition cost.

“The vision is for the whole thing to be a park,” she said. “We would just like to keep part of it as a town property because you can’t have things that make money on CPF property.”

By keeping part of the property municipal, the town can host events like art shows and have food trucks, McNamara said.

The redevelopment also had faced pushback from the Southampton Town trustees who act as stewards of an adjacent property and didn't want the former motel sold to a developer.

Former Hampton Bays Civic Association president Geraldine Spinella said she's cautiously optimistic about the site’s future as a park.

“Until we actually see that building get taken down, you don’t really know what’s going forward,” she added.

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