Offer to Buy Bus Depot Site

The Cedar Street Committee, which has been fighting a potential bus depot on the East Hampton High School campus near where members live, announced this week that it had offered to help pay for the district to buy a feasible depot parcel owned by the Town of East Hampton, to the tune perhaps of $2 million.

According to Jeffrey Bragman, the East Hampton attorney who represents the committee, the school board had been told as far back as February that “our group is offering to substantially assist in‚ or maybe even cover the cost of” the purchase of town land on Springs-Fireplace Road for a depot. He said the board had not revisited the offer in earnest, or made it public.

“I think it’s important for the public to know that a substantial offer is on the table, one which could spare the taxpayer any additional money as far as the school having to purchase the land from the town,” he said.

But J.P. Foster, the school board president, did not remember the committee’s offer that way. “It was mentioned so long ago that I honestly don’t remember all the details,” Mr. Foster said by phone this week.

 What he did remember, however, was that the committee offered to buy the development rights to the Cedar Street property instead, with a stipulation that the school would never be able to build on the land. “We as a school board were simply not interested in that deal,” he said.

The $2 million figure came up at last week’s school board meeting when John J. Ryan Sr., a board member, said in reference to the town land, “We would have to pay $2 million or $2.6 million, or whatever the property costs, at a cost to the taxpayer. If we can save the taxpayer this burden and build safely on property already owned by the school, why shouldn’t we consider this?”

The school board president said he would be very interested in pursuing the group’s purchasing the Springs-Fireplace Road land, which sits on an old scavenger waste site. “If Jeffrey wants to talk to our lawyer and they can figure out a structure for the sale, then sure, we’d love to discuss it further. I don’t know anyone who would turn down free money.”

It was reported last week that during an East Hampton Town Board meeting Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the town had not been able to “come to a conclusion with respect to the school’s acquisition of the property,” and suggested the town should consider “marking the property for sale to the highest bidder.”