No more free parking
SAYVILLE—A parking lot on N. Main Street, adjacent to the Sayville Plaza, has been closed off since Monday, April 1.
The Town of Islip used to lease the property in order to provide extra parking spaces for Main Street businesses. But, a little over a year ago, the town stopped doing so. Caroline Smith, an Islip Town spokesperson, wrote in a recent statement: “The town board didn’t feel comfortable entering into an agreement with [the owner] because [their] property taxes, due to Suffolk County, are in arrears.”
There was concern at the time that the property’s owner would prevent people from parking in his lot, or perhaps even start towing cars, like the owner of the Sayville Plaza did to non-customer vehicles for a short time a couple of years ago.
Nevertheless, parking continued—until earlier this month.
Eileen Tyznar, president of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce, read a statement on the issue during a chamber meeting earlier this week. “[The chamber] learned that due to the property owner’s failure to pay taxes, there is a large sum of money owed on this property,” the statement read. “With that being said, the Comptroller’s Office is currently evaluating the property to determine if the county can begin the process of taking the tax deed by the end of the spring.”
A specific date has not been established yet, the statement adds. “Once the county takes the tax deed, there is an option to transfer the property to the Town of Islip. This would be the town’s decision. Looking at this situation optimistically, we know that the town has acknowledged the need for additional parking at this location in the past via lease agreements with the current property owner. It may be in the chamber’s best interest to contact the Town of Islip supervisor and councilmembers’ offices in regard to our request for the town to have the property transferred to them.”
Nick Wartella, a longtime Sayville resident and Rotary Club member, said the parking lot has been mostly empty for decades. Wartella moved into his home on Gillette Avenue in 1972. He regularly visited the Sayville area before making the move and recalls a building foundation being constructed on the lot, before being torn down sometime in the 1960s.
Wartella also remembers a farmers market being held in the parking lot in the 1990s, before it moved to the Islip Grange Park on Broadway Avenue. “It’s been mostly empty for almost 50 years,” he said. Wartella added that the lot’s longtime owner, Jeremiah Brown, is famous in the community for being “uncooperative.”
Brown upset many local residents when he had an old copper beech tree that stood in his N. Main Street parking lot cut down. The tree was estimated to have been over 100 years old.
This publication reported on the incident in the article, “A tree is felled in Sayville,” published on Sept. 22, 2016. The report notes that Brown did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Sarah Vito, an assistant manager at Cornucopia Health Foods, said the property’s owner hasn’t reached out about the parking issue. “From what I’ve heard, [the owner] is basically holding the lot hostage until the town either buys the property or gives him more money [for rent],” Vito said.
Another employee at Umberto’s of New Hyde Park Pizzeria said the owner hasn’t reached out, either. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” she said.
Shortly after Islip Town stopped renting the parking lot, a sign was temporarily placed on the property, advertising that prospective buyers or renters should call 631-472-4443 about the 1.6-acre lot. No representatives responded to phone calls at past or present time.
More than a year later, when the parking lot was blocked off, a sign for Atlantic Property Services, a Melville-based real estate agency, was placed on the property. The agency did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.
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