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Aug 4, 2015 4:33 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Fire District Breaks Silence, Explains Plan To Buy Ponquogue Avenue Property

The Hampton Bays Fire District is buying the 0.7-acre property located next door to their substation at 100 Ponquogue Avenue. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Aug 5, 2015 10:26 AM

Hampton Bays Fire District officials revealed this week that they are looking to borrow $300,000 in reserve funds so they can buy a boarded-up home next door to their Ponquogue Avenue substation for training purposes.

Fire Commissioner Rob King—after explaining that he was reluctant to share details last month because the terms of the sale were still being negotiated—said Monday that the plan is to tap the district’s Land Reserve Fund so it can purchase the 0.7-acre property at 100 Ponquogue Avenue.

A related plan to sell a portion of another fire district property to Southampton Town will more than cover the purchase price of the Ponquogue Avenue property. The $300,000 would be used to finalize the purchase, and then be reimbursed when the sale to the town is completed—resulting in no cost to district taxpayers, Mr. King said.

The property, which sits directly north of the fire department substation, is now owned by Southampton Town Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty, who lives in Hampton Bays. A single-story house that sits on the property has been boarded up since a fire gutted the structure about 10 months ago.

Mr. Finnerty said he approached fire district officials several months ago to see if they would be interested in the property. After negotiations, district officials said Mr. Finnerty offered to sell them the property at a discounted price, $235,000, so they could have it and the building for training purposes. Mr. Finnerty declined this week to say how much he is selling the lot for, noting that a contract has not yet been signed.

While the deal has not been finalized, Mr. King noted that contracts have been drawn up and that they expect to close on the property soon.

In the separate land deal with Southampton Town, the fire district has agreed to sell a portion of a 1.9-acre property it owns on the north side of Main Street, across from the main firehouse, to the town for $400,000, according to Mr. King.

The town needs part of that property—where the fire department’s Christmas tree is annually decorated—so it can eventually construct a walkway to Good Ground Park, a planned 36-acre park that will feature an outdoor amphitheater, a pair of playgrounds, hiking trails and a new boulevard lined with stores and parking spots. Earlier this summer, town officials said they hope to have at least part of the estimated $4 million park open to the public by next summer.

Once that land deal is finalized, perhaps before the end of the year, fire district officials will reimburse the Land Reserve Fund while also clearing an estimated $165,000 in the process, according to Mr. King.

He emphasized that the fire district would not have looked to buy the property at 100 Ponquogue Avenue if the town had not offered to acquire a portion of its land on north Main Street. The district will retain part of that property, including the area that is now utilized to house the department’s antique fire truck. “I didn’t want taxpayers to pay a dime for this,” Mr. King said regarding the deal.

David Van Scoy, the fire district secretary, published a legal notice in the July 9 issue of The Press stating that the Board of Fire Commissioners adopted a resolution on July 1 allowing it to spend up to $300,000 “for a parcel of land within the Fire District for the purposes of said Fire District …”

Fire district officials initially would not explain their reason for wanting to borrow the money. On Monday, they shared details of the proposal, and said they withheld the information earlier because they did not want to jeopardize the ongoing negotiations.

“In all honesty, we were just waiting for everything to get together,” Mr. King said. “We were just doing it to protect the people of Hampton Bays.”

He added that the only reason district officials published the notice last month was so they could pay Mr. Finnerty for his land and not have to wait for the town to finalize its purchase.

When contacted Tuesday, Mr. Finnerty said he was surprised that district officials were willing to share such details. “When these things occur, they try to keep things quiet, because they don’t want a speculative frenzy,” he said.

Regardless, Mr. Finnerty said he was pleased to be able to sell the land to the fire district, even though he probably could have made more money by selling to a developer. “I guess it makes sense for the district,” he said. “At first, I hadn’t really considered the sale, but, the more I thought about it … [I think] it makes a lot of sense for the district.”

Once the Ponquogue Avenue deal is finalized, the Hampton Bays Fire District will own four properties within its protection district. It already owns the 2-acre lot on which the main firehouse now stands, the lot directly across the street and the 4.4-acre substation property.

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“I didn’t want taxpayers to pay a dime for this,” Mr. King said regarding the deal.

Well too bad that's not reality. Taxpayers are footing he $400,000 bill for buying the land on the N. Side of Mtk Highway - then you're spending "up to" $300,000 on a derelict house to be used for "training purposes" which just so happens to be owned by an appointed official.

So the Fire District comes out with a minimum of $100,000 after costs, Mr. Finnerty sells his derelict ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Aug 7, 15 10:28 AM
A burnt out house on a main rd in Hampton Bays is worth 150k. There is no way its worth 300k. In fact there are many houses in HB fully intact for 3ook. Another scam on taxpayers
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 7, 15 11:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Aug 7, 15 4:32 PM
When is the next fire district election?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Aug 7, 15 5:30 PM
never mind found it:
"Long Island's fire districts are independent public taxing agencies. Their commissioners, who collect no salaries, are responsible for drafting district budgets, determining fire protection policies and buying equipment. The districts raise operating funds mostly through property taxes.

Residents in Tuesday's elections do not vote for budgets as they do in school district elections; fire district budgets have already been adopted by the boards of commissioners.

Following ...more
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Aug 7, 15 5:43 PM
Have you read the article? It says it was sold for 230 thousand. Where in HB are you getting a house for 230k that is in good condition. Somebody call the wambulance.
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Aug 7, 15 7:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Its a piece of land with a burnt out house on a main rd. It's worth 150k at the most. It's not a house. The county has a training facility why do they need to train in a dangerous burnt out house?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 8, 15 9:01 AM
Have you seen the property? @chief1. The inside got burned up a little. Structure still standing fine and everything. Go find something else to complain about. Dangerous burnt out house what do you think the firemen run into when a house is actually on fire? Would you like them to train on a new house? And you saying they can go up island to train but then you will be right on here saying they are wasting tax payers money by traveling to a training facility. Just a complete complainer.
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Aug 8, 15 1:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
And if you think that would of sold for 150k you need to get with times
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Aug 8, 15 1:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 8, 15 3:43 PM
Where's the fire?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 8, 15 3:43 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 8, 15 6:03 PM
islander6615 is obviously a HB volunteer, a bayman, and a works for either the water district or highway dept- that you Vinny W??
By PoliticallyIncorrect (45), earth on Aug 9, 15 7:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yeah thats right I'm a complainer. When you move out of your mommas basement, and pay taxes than you can open your pie hole. Where do these morons think this money is coming from?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 9, 15 6:07 PM
Chief1 never heard of someone from Southampton so concerned about HB. Huh sounds suspicious to me .
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Aug 9, 15 7:05 PM
Hmmm maybe i live in Hampton Bays genius. Please explain why a fire district needs 3 garages full of vehicles, and multiple pieces of land? Are you expecting the whole town to catch on fire?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 10, 15 7:11 AM
there are reach around going on all over town between the "lucky" or "chosen" few

i'm just glad i can get the full story through reader comments
its almost like this website can be run by the readers
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Aug 10, 15 8:10 AM
I love the new station in town. I live south side of town and if there was a train I would be screwed. Now we need 27 east to do an article on how much of a dump red creek park is. Now that was a waste of tax payers money. Can't even play on half the stuff down there. Town just builds and forgets.
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Aug 10, 15 8:56 AM
Yes, that is true. That is why the idea of a "fishing pier" is a bad one. Not that fishing piers are bad things, but having a pier for out of towners for free and not budgeting the garbage truck to come clean at least every other day, while the concession stand at ponquogue is a wreck.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Aug 10, 15 9:20 AM
Pretty selfish view davidf, but very typical of hamptons elitist. Maybe one of those out of towners was a war veteran. Maybe people should stop serving in the military, because it's protecting selfish jerks in the hamptons.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 10, 15 5:59 PM
Let's add the firemen do not go into the houses when they go on fire... House goes on fire in this town the house burns down.. Enough with this crap you have two firehouses and 10plus trucks give me a break
By bigblue84 (89), Hampton Bays on Aug 10, 15 7:02 PM
You can argue all you want about firehouses and equipment. But big blue you have no idea what your talking about with the volunteers. I've experienced first hand the bravery and dedication of the fire department. Had a chimney fire years back and they where here in no time. Not only did they put the fire out but they brought fans in to get the smoke out of the house.
By fish sticks (53), hampton bays on Aug 10, 15 7:44 PM
Thats kind of funny you say that @bigblue84 because I witnessed the opposite when the house down the road caught fire on Saturday. The firemen went in put the fire out and the house was still standing when they left. Great job hbfd keep up the good work.
By Bob174 (3), Hampton bays on Aug 10, 15 10:29 PM
Still a lot of questions here:
1. Is the seller of the prop a member of the FD?
2. What is appraised value of property?
3. What additional expenses are planned to turn a burned out house into a training facility?
4. Do they need 3/4 acre lot for training?
5. The town already has a fire training facility in hampton bays, and the county has one in yaphank
6. This IS costing the taxpayers $$- if the FD is selling a property then take the proceeds and RETURN the $$ to the TAXPAYERS!! ...more
By PoliticallyIncorrect (45), earth on Aug 12, 15 8:26 AM