Fire district land sale approved

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO Voters in the Riverhead Fire District authorized the district to sell the former Riverhead Building Supply properties on Ostrander and Union Avenues for $1.3 million Tuesday.

Voters in the Riverhead Fire District authorized the district to sell the former Riverhead Building Supply properties on Ostrander and Union avenues for $1.3 million.

There were 35 votes in favor, four opposed and one vote that was challenged, according to fire district secretary Bob Zaweski.

Meanwhile, another land exchange involving the Riverhead Fire District took a step forward at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, when the board voted to let Supervisor Sean Walter execute all documents required to transfer town-owned land off Route 58 to the fire district in exchange for the former fire headquarters on Second Street.

The fire district has a contract to sell the Ostrander Avenue property — which was donated to the fire district in 2000 by Riverhead Building Supply — for $1.3 million to Atlantis Marine World, which is hoping to use it for parking, according to Dennis Hamill, chairman of the Riverhead Board of Fire Commissioners. The property encompasses seven tax map parcels and is about four acres total, he said.

By law, voter approval is needed to sell fire district property, Mr. Hamill said. With the approval in hand, that deal can now move forward, he said.

In addition to the $1.3 million, the district will begin to collect tax payments on the property as it once again becomes privately owned, Mr. Hamill noted. “It’s a win-win situation,” he added.

“The generosity of the Goodale family should be acknowledged,” Mr. Hamill said, referring to the owners of Riverhead Building Supply.

Initially, the fire district intended to build a new fire headquarters on the property, but later determined that traffic in that area was not suitable for a firehouse. The district instead got voter approval in 2007 to build a new $14.7 million fire headquarters on Roanoke Avenue.

A fire in August 2009 destroyed one of the Ostrander Avenue buildings and the fire district subsequently demolished all of the structures on the seven parcels and put the land up for sale.

Atlantis has been using one of the Ostrander Avenue lots for parking for several years under an agreement with the fire district.

The other deal involves land the town owns that has been leased to the fire district for years. It is used as a firematic training site, as well as for annual motorized drill competitions. The district has sought to acquire the land for years. It has access of Route 58 and also abuts town land at Stotzky Park.

The land was technically owned by the town-run Riverhead Water District, and the Town Board on Tuesday passed a resolution transferring ownership to the town.

The Second Street firehouse was replaced by the new Roanoke Avenue headquarters and the district has been trying to sell it. Town Board members have said they would like to use the facility for the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, even though ambulance officials have repeatedly said they don’t want it because it’s not in a good location for an ambulance barn.

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This post was originally published Oct. 19, 2010