Walter: Rechler still owes town $250,000 from failed land deal

Due to what he described as an “oversight,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said he believes Rechler Equity Partners, the development group that walked away from a 255-acre purchase of town-owned land in Calverton last year, owes the town $250,000 for pulling out of the deal.

“If you read the contract in a certain way, it’s pretty apparent we should have received that $250,00 when Rechler cancelled,” Mr. Walter said Friday after making the announcement in a press release. “Our attorneys went back and looked at it and they’ve come to the same conclusion, that that $250,000 is ours.”

“We’ve made a demand of [developer] Gregg Rechler,” the supervisor continued, “and if Rechler doesn’t pay I’m going to be looking for our lawyers — on Rechler’s dime, not the town’s dime —  to recover the money.”

He said that due to an “oversight” it was recently discovered that a title company had a $250,000 letter of credit on hand, but that it had expired in May.

When asked whose fault it was, exactly, Mr. Walter said he wanted to emphasize that the buck stops with him.

“I take full responsibility for this, and I’m [angry] that I didn’t know about this,” he said. “And I will get that $250,000. It should have been collected, but when you’re in charged of a $60 million-plus budget you rely on certain people to do certain things.

“Unfortunately, you can’t be the attorney for the town at the same time,” he said.

Mr. Rechler couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

He had sent a letter to the Town Board in late October of 2010  informing officials his group’s decision to pull the plug on the $18 million contract to buy 300 town-owned acres at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, at which he envisions building a hi-tech industrial park over 10 years.

He blamed the deal’s demise in part on town officials.

The developer cited “a sluggish economy and a Town Board that was not willing to adapt to the changing economic landscape,” as reasons for the decision.

Mr. Rechler could not be immediately reached for comment Friday afternoon.

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Read more in the Aug. 18 News-Review.