The Town of Oyster Bay Town Board voted 5-2 to approve the bid for sale of its 50 Engel St. property at its Jan. 9 meeting. The interested buyer was Hicksville Bus Lot LLC, the highest of two bidders with a $3.1 million offer. The firm plans to park school buses on the 2.28-acre lot.
“A contract is now being prepared by the Town Attorney’s Office, which, once agreed to and signed by both parties, will go back before the Town Board for final approval,” said Marta Kane, a spokesperson for the town.
Per terms of the adopted resolution, final approval might also be subject to a public referendum if enough residents sign a petition.
The parent company is Trans Group, based in Spring Valley, Rockland County. It owns a number of transportation companies on Long Island, including Educational Bus Transportation, which serves the Hicksville School District. A call to Trans Group for comment and more information was not returned.
The property was bought by the town in November 2013 for a reported $2.5 million, and was recently appraised for $2.72 million. Director of Finance Rob Darienzo explained at an October meeting that the property was purchased with Save Environmental Assets (SEA) fund money, “and any amount in excess of what the original purchase price was would go into the general fund and could be used however is deemed necessary.”
DaRienzo said that voters gave their approval to three SEA fund authorizations last decade, totaling $120 million. “Part of that money was to be used for the acquisition of open space…and part of it was meant to be used for the improvement of existing park facilities and open space,” he noted.
DaRienzo stated that of the moneys realized from the sale of Engel Street, $2.5 million would have to go back into the existing SEA Fund for use authorized by the fund—or be used to pay down the debt.
Councilman Tony Macagnone had opposed the sale of Engel Street from the beginning, and voted no on Jan. 9.
“The people of Hicksville asked for a parkland, and that’s why we spent money on that property,” he said. “We got rid of the asphalt plant, and I’m very proud of that. But I still think the people of Hicksville deserve a park.”
For decades, an asphalt plant owned by Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving stood on the site.
Councilwoman Michele Johnson also voted no, explaining that though she was comfortable with the sale in the past, “at this time I don’t feel it has to be done.”
Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said, “I want the money that’s coming from the sale to go to Hicksville. It belongs to the Hicksville community. I’m going to vote ‘aye’ in good faith that we’re going to do right by the community.”
Added Councilman Lou Imbroto, “And I will also second Councilwoman Alesia’s sentiments regarding some of the money from the sale of the Hicksville property. That money should stay in Hicksville, or at least a portion of it should be earmarked for open space in Hicksville.”
Supervisor Joseph Saladino had emphasized the economic benefits of selling the property to a private concern and putting it back on the tax rolls.
According to the Nassau County Office of Assessor website, the property, before earning exempt status, had the following tax liabilities for 2014: $41,595 in special district taxes; $17,158 in county taxes; $16,735 in town taxes; and $57,131 in school taxes (for the school year 2013-14).