The landscape is about to change in Smithtown.
The Town of Smithtown will buy the Oasis Gentlemen’s Club for $815,000. The Town Board unanimously approved the purchase at its May 20 meeting.
“This is a great victory for the residents, who’ve asked for this throughout the last two decades, thanks in part to the tireless efforts of the town attorney’s office,” said Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) in an email statement.
The building has stood across from the Bull statue at 490 W. Jericho Turnpike for decades and sits on two lots that are the equivalent to one-fifth of an acre. Smithtown plans to use the land for a public space that will have waterfront access to the Nissequogue River that flows right behind it. The Oasis will close around the middle of June, according to attorney Howard Greenberg who represents the owner, 490 W. Jericho Realty Corp.
The purchase follows years of litigation between the owner and the town. In October, town officials began talks about eminent domain if an agreement wasn’t reached with the bar’s owner.
In a phone interview, Greenberg said the deal is fair and equitable considering the circumstances. The attorney said there had been a lot of back and forth between his client and the town through the years. The club owner was unable to obtain approval from the town for any improvements he wanted to make, even though Greenberg said town administration and attorneys were decent to work with.
He said the decision to sell the business, which he stated is constitutionally protected, was made by his client.
“I think it’s in the best interest of the client and in the interest of the town,” Greenberg said. “You’re not going to find many people that are going to stand up for the rights of this type of business.”
The building that now houses the Oasis has been known by many names through the decades including the Bull Creek Inn. During an Oct. 27 town special meeting, Peter Hans, Smithtown planning director, said the structure predates an assessment done by the town in 1947. That year, it was listed as Cliff’s Tavern Barroom. At the October meeting, Hans said the building is not on the historic sites inventory.
The building has been used for adult entertainment since 1979. Besides Oasis and Bull Creek Inn, members of the Facebook group, You know you’re from Smithtown, New York if:, also remember the business having names such as Habitat and Rosebuds after Cliff’s Tavern Barroom was no longer in business.
During the town’s May 20 meeting, the board also unanimously approved moving forward with a park swap with Suffolk County. Smithtown officials are aiming for the county to acquire the town’s Bill Richards Park next to Blydenburgh County Park; in return, the county will hand over Paul T. Given County Park to Smithtown. The plan will require special legislation authorized by state Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) and state Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James).
“Upon resolution, which includes a park swap with Suffolk County, this will be a sanctuary for both the residents and biotic community at the head of the Nissequogue River,” Wehrheim said.
The town supervisor added that the plans for the property were in line with Smithtown’s Comprehensive Master Plan and the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program “which looks to limit development and safeguard the river corridor area.”
“I look forward to witnessing the community enjoy breathtaking views from shore or canoe of what will be a whimsical oasis at the heart of Smithtown,” Wehrheim said.