Town of Smithtown officials are one concrete step closer to paving the way for municipal parking in Kings Park’s downtown business district.
The town board voted unanimously Aug. 14 to enter a contract of sale to purchase two vacant lots off Pulaski Road for a price of $280,0000. If all goes smoothly, the purchase may fulfill the five-year wish of area residents who petitioned the town to buy the property in November 2013.
“We’re very pleased, we are going into contract,” Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said. “It will be a huge advantage to the business community there.”
Originally, the town had scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 14 on whether it should pursue the process of eminent domain to take ownership of the two lots owned by Queens residents Matthew and Marguerite Lupoli.
“It will be a huge advantage to the business community there.”
— Ed Wehrheim
“It was a little bit of a tussle with the property owner who resides in Queens, but he’s willing to sell it,” the supervisor said.
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 town’s first purchase offer on the property was rejected by the owners, according to Wehrheim, but the second offer of $280,000 was accepted.
The supervisor said he is hopeful that the funds necessary to purchase the land will come from Suffolk County’s coffers, citing lengthy conversations with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). The measure will have to be approved by the county Legislature.
“It looks positive,” Wehrheim said.
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.
“It was a little bit of a tussle with the property owner who resides in Queens, but he’s willing to sell it.”
– Ed Wehrheim
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.
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 Kings Park downtown area included restriping several existing lots — such as Relish’s — to accommodate more spaces and increase their efficiency.
In addition to Kings Park, Wehrheim said the town board has received a real estate appraisal of the Irish Viking pub in St. James and remains interested in purchasing it to create off-street parking for the Lake Avenue business district.