Huntington Town Board members recently approved the sale of a parcel of land to the owner of a commercial building in Huntington village.
The property that was sold is adjacent to 30 Stewart Ave. and is part of a larger parcel that also contains the municipal parking lot next to the Huntington Elks Club. Although it is undeveloped, the 7,000 square feet of land the town is selling is paved and had been actively used by the property owner.
With parking such a hot button issue in Huntington village, it’s hard to believe the town would give up land that potentially could be put to use to create additional spaces. In this case, town officials said that an elevation drop from the existing municipal lot makes it unsuitable. Further they contend that the existing lot is underutilized because of its remote location.
What the town failed to do is produce a shred of evidence. Asked how the town had evaluated the purchase, a town spokesman said it was being done now – using online resources. Apparently the only evaluations done were for the purpose of appraising the property so that it could be used by the property owner to satisfy parking requirements for a commercial/residential development. Yes, apartments.
We can’t say whether the engineering and cost required to develop this land for additional parking is unreasonable. We’d like to hear it from a qualified planner or engineer. As far as the existing lot being underutilized, it is in an area seeing a lot of construction. Most significantly, the Ice House apartments recently opened right next door. When the buyer of the town land moves ahead with apartments and commercial space right next door, demand will increase even further.
The lack of transparency that led to this sale is disturbing. It could well be a good deal, but the backup to support it isn’t there. The very fact that parking is involved should have been a red flag to the town, signaling they needed to make a strong case supporting the sale. Instead, it was voted on at an afternoon meeting in the summer.
The sale is subject to permissive referendum, meaning a petition could force a vote asking the public to approve the sale. Maybe then the town will make its case.