Levy negotiates $57M Legacy Village sale price 
Contract sent to Legislature the day before it closed out public hearing

The Suffolk County Legislature made it clear last month that it wouldn't vote on a resolution to declare 255 acres of county-owned land in Yaphank surplus until a deal was in place to sell the land to the builders looking to develop the site.

One day before a public hearing on the matter was set to resume, the Legislature learned a deal had been struck. A contract delivered to the Legislature Monday shows that County Executive Steve Levy has offered to sell the land to the Legacy Village Real Estate Group for $57.5 million.

The group -- a hybrid of the Katter development company and the Beechwood group -- has proposed the construction of 1,000 affordable housing units on the site, which would also be developed for commercial, industrial and recreational purposes. The plan calls for a 5,500-seat arena and outdoor stadium, 90-room hotel, retail stores, four restaurants, 70 rental apartments and 50,000 square feet of office space.

The sale price computes to about $225,000 per acre.

Under the terms of the proposal, the developer would owe the county $1.5 million with the signing of a letter of intent to sell. An additional $1 million would be owed within four months of the passing of the bill currently before the Legislature -- legislation which approves the sale and declares the land surplus.

Getting to that point may prove to be a bit challenging. Presiding officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said he believed the Legislature, which on Tuesday closed out a public hearing that lasted two meetings and included nearly six hours of public comment, needed more time to review the sales contract. The bill will now go before the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee.

"We're certainly not ready to vote on this now," Mr. Lindsay said.

Several legislators and members of the public questioned moving forward with a sale when there has been no recent appraisal of the property. Regina Seltzer, an attorney who spoke out in opposition to the project on both days of the public hearing, said doing so could open the county up to a lawsuit, a claim the Legislature's counsel disputed.

Deputy County Executive Christopher Kent said an appraisal was done on the property in December 2006, a date that didn't sit well with Legis. John Kennedy (R-Nesconset).

"I'm glad to hear there was an appraisal," the legislator said to Mr. Kent, who declined to discuss how much the appraisal deemed the land worth. "But if the appraisal was done in 2006, you'd have to agree that's quite the stale appraisal."

Mr. Kent said a new appraisal could still be done.

Most of the public comment Tuesday was from building tradesmen in support of the project and environmental and civic leaders opposed to it. Several representatives of the Long Island Lizards lacrosse team spoke in approval of the project, saying they look forward to one day calling the sports stadium home. A representative of the Long Island Housing Partnership testified to the need for affordable housing, saying the project would help provide a solution to that problem.

Longwood Board of Education vice president Daniel Tomaszewski drew the most questions from the Legislature over his concern that the number of school-age children Mr. Levy has said the project would generate -- an estimate he said is "too conservative."

Mr. Levy has stated in several public settings that the proposed one- and two-bedroom units would result in fewer than 100 new students in the district. Legis. Louis D'Amaro (D-North Babylon) said Mr. Levy has indicated to him that the project might generate "a couple-hundred" new students.

Mr. Kent said the county examined 14 condo complexes in the Longwood School District and learned they produced a total of 4,434 children.

"That's .15 children per unit," he said.

Legacy Village will again take center stage in the county next week. Suffolk's Council on Environmental Quality is expected to discuss the project at a meeting Wednesday.