With the absence of Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione at an East Hampton Town Board meeting last Thursday leaving the four remaining board members split evenly along party lines, “no” votes — and an abstention — by the two new Democratic board members made it impossible for Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley to gain approval for three of her initiatives.
At a work session two days earlier, the board had discussed selling four of the town’s office condos at Pantigo Place in East Hampton to a buyer who had offered $1.2 million for the lot, well below a maximum appraised value of $628,571 each, and under an original minimum sale price set by the town of $428,571 each. The buyer, Andrew Sabin, told The Star last week that he had withdrawn the offer, but might still consider going forward.
The plan, advanced by Ms. Quigley and Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, called for the town offices occupying those condos to remain in place for a year, rent free, per the terms of the sale, and then to move to renovated quarters in the old town hall building, now largely empty.
But Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc, a builder, had questions about the proposal, from the sale price to whether it was feasible to rehabilitate the aging town hall, a portion of which has been condemned, within a year. No building plans have been developed, though Supervisor Wilkinson said he had had an engineer look at the site.
Under the proposed terms of the condo sale, which is contingent on an immediate closing, should the town offices need to remain longer than a year, the rent would cost $15,000 to $17,000 per month.
At the meeting last week, Ms. Quigley offered a resolution calling for the town to issue a request for proposals for “architectural services for the renovation of the old town hall,” with a deadline of March 15 for submissions. The specifications would have been made available to interested architects today.
“We haven’t developed specs yet,” Ms. Overby said. Mr. Wilkinson said that he had recommended a large open workspace. “I’d like to have a little discussion about what the needs are,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. Both voted against the resolution.
The vote prompted the supervisor to comment. “The clock is on you,” he told the two Democrats. “We’re going to slow everything down in this town,” said Mr. Wilkinson, who has often complained about the “pace of play” in town government. “Everything’s been looked at. We want to now go back over the last 24 months?”
“I don’t mind making decisions in a thorough way and having the public agree with it. . . .” Mr. Van Scoyoc said.
Mr. Van Scoyoc’s no vote, and Ms. Overby’s abstention from a vote to approve changes to the town code regarding home improvement contracting licenses, also caused Mr. Wilkinson to complain. Ms. Overby said she was abstaining because the issue was on a list for the board to discuss but it had never been brought up. “A freaking halt,” Mr. Wilkinson said under his breath.
Another town code change, that would extend to three years the length of time that planning board, zoning board, and architectural review board approvals remain in effect, was the third measure that failed to pass, in a 2-to-2 vote.
It was estimated that the town could lose $27,000 in fees by extending the validity time, and Ms. Overby said that she disapproved of the change “because of taxpayer cost.”