Grant would help Bayville buy property

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Bayville Mayor Paul Rupp said at the July 24 board meeting that a site plan hearing would be scheduled next month for a proposed seaside inn to be built on the former Steve’s Pier property, at 33 Bayville Ave. The .68-acre North side and .6-acre South side property in the heart of Bayville has continued to be the subject of much discussion over the past few years. For now, it remains an empty lot.

The last hearing focusing on what might be built on the property, which has been described alternately as a seaside inn or a bed and breakfast, was in February 2016. Gregory Andrea, an architect, and developer Craig Kirsch outlined their plans, which included a mini-spa, a small pool downstairs that would open onto a deck, a large gym and perhaps a coffee shop. The restaurant and bar would accommodate 190 people, and 117 parking spaces would be available across the street. The inn would have 23 rooms.

Most residents were not receptive to the idea, and some were quite angry. They said they feared that an inn would not be successful, and would close and eventually becoming an apartment complex. When Kirsch said that was not the plan, several people asked him why kitchens were included in the rooms if the building was a bed and breakfast. Others said that whatever was built there would not survive the winters, when tourists are hard to come by.

Kirsch has been working to amend his plans ever since.

Residents who attended Monday’s meeting said that the conditions on the lot, which is strewn with garbage, are dire. “I instructed the building inspector three months ago to clear the property up and issue a summons,” Mayor Paul Rupp said. “The conditions there and in other areas in the village affect our property values.”

The effort to buy the lot

The village has been trying to find a way to purchase the Steve’s Pier property, whose price these days is close to $10 million, though no exact price could be confirmed. Officials hope to acquire funding from a state grant — the Water Quality Improvement Project, a $2.5 billion grant adopted in the state budget in May. The multi-year grant has two parts — $1 billion to protect drinking water and $1.5 billion to treat wastewater.

The village is applying for $3 million of grant money to acquire the Steve’s Pier property. “If the state grants it, it would provide $2,250,000, and the village would have to provide $750,000 in addition to seeking the funding for the balance of a purchase price over $3 million,” Deputy Mayor Joe Russo said. “It’s a 75/25 grant.”

He added that that isn’t nearly enough money. “So we’d have to get additional funds from the county and the North Shore Land Alliance,” Russo said. “The application is due this Friday.”

The village would like to turn the property into a park, community center or commons.

Bayville’s prior attempt to acquire the property

This isn’t the village’s first effort to buy the Steve’s Pier property. In 2015, it brought together representatives from the state, the North Shore Land Alliance, the county and the Town of Oyster Bay to negotiate with Lenny Gross, who owned the property at the time. Lisa Ott, president of the North Shore Land Alliance and the spokeswoman for the group, said that there was a wide gap between the funds that could be collected by the village and what Gross wanted — $10 million. The North Shore Land Alliance backed out, and the others followed.

Kirsch bought the property in 2016, and created plans that he would like to introduce again soon. He had planned to hold another hearing in March with his revised plans for a seaside inn, but he was advised to cancel it by his attorney. According to Rupp, the attorney said that “everything was not in place.”

Why continue to try to buy the property?

“The village has taken a position by applying for the water quality grant, which will preserve our water below the surface,” said Trustee Robert Nigro. “We have aimed our course as not having that type of development there. Where would the sewage go? It would go into our water.”

“To not take advantage of this opportunity from the state to keep the water pristine would not be wise,” Trustee Michele Principe said. “There is a saturation point. Having something like what is being discussed on the Steve’s Pier property would hurt us.”