Town of Smithtown officials have tried to negotiate a fair price for two Kings Park properties for years and are now considering bringing down the hammer.
Smithtown town board voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing Aug. 14 on utilizing the process of eminent domain to forcibly take ownership of two vacant lots off Pulaski Road, which are currently owned by Matthew and Marguerite Lupoli. The measure is being considered as a step toward securing Kings Park’s downtown revitalization.
“Actually, the appraisal for eminent domain came back offering the Lupolis more than they wanted initially for the property.”
– Ed Wehrheim
“My hope is that we don’t have to go there,” Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said. “We’ve done an eminent domain appraisal. Actually, the appraisal for eminent domain came back offering the Lupolis more than they wanted initially for the property.”
A June 4 real estate appraisal of the two adjacent wooded lots determined the fair market price to be approximately $270,000 for the roughly 12,800 square feet, according to town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo. The property is located south of Park Bake Shop off the intersection of Pulaski Road and Main Street.
“It’s never going to be anything other than an open field or parking lot,” Garguilo said. “Those are the limited possibilities due to the lots’ size and condition.”
Wehrheim said the town attorney’s office will continue to reach out to the property owners in attempts to negotiate a purchase price.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the public hearing scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 14 will move forward. Based on the hearing, the town board can make a determination on the use of eminent domain and then make a formal offer on the property before taking the matter to court if needed.
Smithtown town officials have been eyeing these wooded lots for municipal parking dating back to 2013.
A petition started by Park Bake Shop owners, Lucy and Gabe Shtanko, in 2013 received more than 600 signatures from Kings Park residents asking town officials to purchase the lot for municipal parking. Wehrheim said a 2014 appraisal determined its fair market price at $230,000, but Matthew Lupoli wasn’t interested in selling at that time.
There is a town municipal parking lot across the street from the Kings Park Fire Department on Main Street, next to the Kings Park branch of The Smithtown Public Library.
“It’s never going to be anything other than an open field or parking lot.”
– Nicole Garguilo
The western portion of Main Street — dubbed Restaurant Row — is the one area that could possibly use more municipal parking, according to the results of a 2018 market analysis study of downtown Kings Park presented by Larisa Ortiz, urban planner and principal of Larisa Ortiz Associates, to the town board Jan. 25.
“The municipal lots are inconvenient for restaurants,” reads the 62-page report.
The Restaurant Row area, which includes several eateries such as Cafe Red and Relish, averages 4.7 parking spots per 1,000 square feet of retail space. This is less than the two other areas of Main Street — known as the “civic heart,” near the Kings Park library and Long Island Rail Road station, and “car-centric
retail,” which is centered around Tanzi Plaza and the Kings Park Plaza shopping center.
Ortiz’s other suggestions for improving the current parking situation in the downtown area included restriping several existing lots — such as Relish’s — to accommodate more spaces and increase their efficiency.