The Suffolk County Legislature last week approved the purchase of 4 acres of beach overlooking Reeves Bay in Flanders by the Southampton Town Trustees, the first such acquisition that the board has made since being given the ability to do so last year.
The stretch of beach, located on Fantasy Drive and at the end of Long Neck Boulevard, fronts on Flanders Bay and is a popular gathering spot despite having long been privately owned.
Suffolk County seized the land several years ago for the non-payment of taxes and will now sell it to the Trustees for $41,000. The Suffolk County Legislature approved the sale last week, on September 9, and the approving resolution is now awaiting the signature of County Executive Steve Bellone.
The Trustees said this week that the sale will ensure that the beach remains a viable access point to the bay for residents and also will provide an important depository for sand dredged from navigation channels.
“It’s a nice, long stretch of beach,” Trustee Eric Shultz said. “The reason we were keen on getting this particular piece is that, number one, the public uses it as a bathing beach, and also it’s an area where we can deposit sand when we do dredging in that area. The sand is good for the beach, and it helps us keep our waterways usable and healthy. It’s a win-win in that regard.”
The beach was broadened substantially just last year following a county dredging project targeting two canals off Reeves Bay and adjacent the Fantasy Drive beach. That work deposited several tons of sand at the site.
The county has commonly sold land seized for the non-payment of taxes to towns and villages for public benefit for many years but, until recently, the Trustees representing Southampton, East Hampton and Southold towns were unable to participate, because they were not recognized in the state statutes governing towns. In 2013, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle sponsored twin bills declaring that the Trustees in the three towns are actually municipal corporations, giving them the ability to enter into contracts of sale with the county.
“It enables us to pick up some nice wetlands parcels,” Trustee Ed Warner Jr. said at Monday’s meeting of the Town Trustees.
Mr. Shultz said the Trustees have not been in talks with the county about any other land transfers, though he noted that fellow Trustee Bill Pell has identified several small wetlands parcels, also owned by the county, that the board might be interested in acquiring.
The sale of the Fantasy Drive beach was sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.
The county typically sells those properties it seizes for non-payment to towns or villages, for whatever it is owed in back taxes.