Southampton is looking to buy waterfront land in Flanders, including the crumbling old Seven Zs

Asked to weigh in on the potential acquisition of the former Peconic Health and Racquet Club building, which once housed the Seven Zs diving school, on Flanders Road, Southampton Councilor John Bouvier exclaimed: ” Finally!”

Buying the property has been a goal for years and he recalls previous attempts to buy the land. “It was mentioned when I took office,” said the city councilor, elected in 2015.

City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed $1.14 million purchase on Sept. 13 at 1 p.m.

But that’s not all in sight in the hamlet.

A second hearing will relate to the acquisition of a $2.34 million piece of land just across the water.

Located on a peninsula jutting into Reeves Bay opposite the marina, home to the Griffing House at 1040 Flanders Road, it comprises 4.5 acres.

Illustration: Southampton Press

According to the City of Flanders Heritage Report, in the 1880s Samuel Griffing took over the family farm on the peninsula originally known as Otter Hole Neck and then Methodist Point. Griffing started the area’s first duckling farm, and by the turn of the 20th century the farm was raising over 5,000 ducklings a year. Her father, John, had purchased her from the estate of Captain Charles Smith in 1861.

A limited company named Direction Lending bought the property in 2020 for $1 million and then transferred it to a second LLC, 1040F. He is listed in arrears for 2021, with an unpaid tax bill of $12,524.

There appear to be seven structures on the property. Generally, under the provisions of the Community Preservation Fund Act, buildings on preserved land must be demolished, but CPF Director Lisa Kombrink said: “We are definitely going to leave the big white house that you can see from State Route 24. The rest will be assessed. .” The money for the purchases comes from the CPF, which is dedicated to preserving green spaces, historic properties and farmland.

The now graffiti-covered building at 1140 Flanders Road is likely to be bulldozed under CPF regulations. According to city property records, the owner, Island Properties & Associates LLC, purchased the 3.1-acre parcel in 2007 for $450,000. City records show it is $31,855 behind for 2021.

In 2014, the owner sought to create a health spa on the site when an earlier plan to raze the already dilapidated structure and build 16 condominiums was scrapped. The spa treatment plan was also abandoned.

The Zaleski family owned the business there prior to this purchase and ran a diving school and shop. Bouvier remembers working there during the summer as a teenager. He met one of the family members while diving under Ponquogue Bridge and decided to sell some diving gear.

“It’s a beautiful property that has fallen into disrepair,” he said. Officials have been working on the purchase for a long time, Bouvier recalled. In 2019, the municipality had the property appraised and made an offer, but it was rejected.

“This building has been vacant since my daughter was born, a high school student,” Councilwoman Cynthia McNamara said. ‘It will be a beautiful day when it falls and the magnificent view of Reeves Bay becomes visible from Flanders Road,’ she said.

The building’s continued deterioration was alluded to last year, when Lorraine Paceleo, vice president of the Bay View Pines Civic Association, told city council, “The scourge of our community is overwhelming.

She encouraged the members to use their imaginations and imagine the beautiful sight that could be seen if ownership of the Seven Zs “mall” was acquired publicly. “If you could buy it with the CPF money and turn it into a marina and open up this property, tear down this mall…the view would be truly breathtaking.”

A property purchased by CPF cannot be converted into a commercial location such as a marina, by law.

Both properties are eligible for inclusion in the city’s wetland preservation target area. The resolutions setting the public hearings note that each is “an indispensable and fragile natural resource that is extremely important to the environmental and economic health of the city.”

The description continues: “The rich assemblage and complex variety of wetlands, ranging from small wet depressions, interdune swales and vernal pools, to vast marshes, swamps, bays, creeks and ponds, support a multitude of functions and values natural resources, making them essential for maintaining the city’s ecology and biodiversity, and fulfilling important flood protection and pollution control functions, while providing a large expanse of natural space. picturesque.

Not everyone is thrilled with the purchase, according to social media posts. Concerns have been raised over the removal of commercial property from tax rolls in a hamlet which already has a thin tax base.

Angela Huneault, vice-president of the Flanders Riverside Northampton Civic Association, said on Thursday the news was so fresh she was still pondering. She plans to discuss procurement at the next FRNCA meeting. “I want to hear what the community has to say,” she said.

This opportunity will be offered on September 13 at City Hall, starting at 1 p.m.

This article was published on August 25 by The Southampton Press. It is reproduced here with permission.

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