Suffolk legislator looks to sell ‘Cornell building’ on Griffing Avenue

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The building that houses Cornell Cooperative Extension and Legislator Ed Romaine's offices on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead.

South Fork county Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) introduced a bill in the county Legislature last week urging the county to study the feasibility of selling its Kermit W. Graf Building on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead.

But his North Fork counterpart, Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), whose office is located in that building, doesn’t think that’s a good idea.

“Right now, the only county office in that building is Legislator Romaine’s office, and his office could potentially stay there, but 90 percent of the building is not used by the county. It’s used by Cornell Cooperative Extension and the USDA,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

He stressed that his bill merely calls for a feasibility study into whether it would be a good idea to sell the building.

“We don’t need to necessarily be landlords, particularly at a time of crisis,” he said. “So if we don’t need it for county purposes, it could potentially be sold to another owner who could potentially rent it to Cornell and the USDA.”

The county is facing a $500 million budget deficit and is considering selling buildings it actually occupies, Mr. Schneiderman said.
But Mr. Romaine said County Executive Steve Bellone has already commissioned an analysis on potentially selling all of the county’s buildings, and the Graf building wasn’t even in the top 30.

“It’s not feasible to do it,” Mr. Romaine said. “Jay is looking in the right direction, and I support selling buildings, because we have 1,400 fewer employees than we did eight years ago, However, we should sell or lease older buildings and consolidate our offices.”

The Graf building wasn’t built that long ago and the county is still paying debt on it, Mr. Romaine said.

The Legislature has yet to take any action on Mr. Schneiderman’s bill.

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