The East Hampton Town Board is considering buying the former Child Development Center of the Hamptons building on the property the town owns on Stephen Hands Path at less than a third of the price the building was appraised for just over two years ago.
During its work session on November 20, town attorney Michael Sendlenski informed the board it could purchase the building for $800,000 — a fraction of the $2.6 million the 20,000 square-foot building was appraised for when the board explored buying it a few years ago. According to Mr. Sendlenski, the purchase would enable the town to end its ground lease with the nonprofit CDCH, a charter school that specialized in offering special education services and closed in 2016 in the wake of mounting financial problems and declining enrollment.
That 30-year lease, which sunsets in May of 2032, allowed CDCH to rent the land the building stood on for $1 year. According to Mr. Sendlenski, the nonprofit has attempted to sublease the facility, which under its contract with the town must be used as a school for special needs children, but has been unsuccessful and is in default with its lender as a result.
If the town board moves ahead with the purchase, he said it would then issue an RFP, or request for proposals, from a public benefit corporation or nonprofit to manage the building and pay for its ongoing maintenance. If the town does not move forward with the purchase, Mr. Sendlenski said the bank would likely foreclose on the building and challenge the provisions of the lease agreement that require it be used for special education purposes.
“To me, this sounds like we have finally achieved what our initial goal was when we looked at purchasing the property and I would completely support moving ahead with this,” said Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc. “I think it would be a great asset for the town.”
The other Town Board members expressed support for the purchase as well. Mr. Sendlenski said the board could consider a resolution at its December 6 meeting, including a bond resolution to push the purchase forward, ideally before the end of the fiscal year.
“I think the RFP is going to be important — how we word it, how broad we make it or how narrow we want to make it,” said Councilperson Sylvia Overby, noting the RFP would dictate the potential types of public services that could ultimately find a home on town-owned property.