The leaders of Quogue Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350 have sold their longtime home and headquarters and are moving to Westhampton Beach, a deal that essentially closes the books on attempts to prevent the lot that sits in the heart of Quogue Village from falling into private hands.
William Hughes, commander of the post, confirmed this week that the 4.4-acre property at 125 Montauk Highway in Quogue was sold for $1.4 million to the 125 Montauk Highway Group LLC late last month. The land was previously listed for $1.8 million.
In turn, the nonprofit—which will keep both its Post 5350 charter and name—purchased the property and building at 101 Old Riverhead Road in Westhampton Beach, the old Finn McCool’s restaurant, for $1.38 million, according to Mr. Hughes.
“You have to remember that those numbers aren’t straight up,” Mr. Hughes said, explaining that his group’s new home comes with a slew of problems left behind by its previous owner, listed as EK Riverhead Partners LLC, that must be addressed by the VFW. The building, Mr. Hughes explained, is in disrepair and had multiple renovations—some completed, some abandoned—that did not have the proper permits secured from Westhampton Beach Village.
EK Riverhead Partners, which has its offices listed on West 29th Street in New York City, does not have contact information listed, and a representative from the group could not be reached this week.
Mr. Hughes said he is hopeful that the VFW’s new location will draw more interest from members of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, who are based at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and just up the road from his group’s new headquarters. Membership in the Quogue outfit has dwindled to about 125 members, mostly veterans from Vietnam and earlier wars.
Mr. Hughes said he has had informal conversations with members of the ANG about the possibility of joining Post 5350 and believes that there will be a handful of younger veterans interested in signing up.
Post members will not be able to move into their new facility right away, however, due to the need for extensive renovations. Mr. Hughes said he was hoping to sell the property in Quogue at a higher price and, therefore, must now raise about $100,000 to remodel their future headquarters.
To help raise money for the renovations, the post started a GoFundMe campaign, which has received more than $5,000 so far. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/hta6i4 or by mailing checks to VFW Post 5350, P.O. Box 79, Quogue, NY, 11959.
Members are also planning a handful of fundraisers next year, including a Valentine’s Day event, a spring outing at the Boardy Barn in Hampton Bays and the group’s annual golf tournament.
For Mr. Hughes, the effort is not just about the money. He said the fundraising goals will cover only what’s necessary to get the Westhampton Beach facility up and running, and then the post can again focus on its main goals.
“It’s about having a great place for old veterans and new veterans, and to continue serving those veterans and the youth in the community. That is our mission,” he said.
Post members originally listed their Quogue property, which is zoned for residential use, for $1.8 million earlier this year. Some locals tried to lobby both Quogue Village and Southampton Town to join forces and purchase the land, which includes a clubhouse, a covered picnic area and a baseball field.
But after a handful of meetings with village and town officials went nowhere, Mr. Hughes began looking elsewhere.
“It’s a shame,” Mr. Hughes said this week. “They let this one go at a bargain price.”
Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius and Mary Wilson, the manager of the town’s Community Preservation Fund, toured the property this past spring, with the town later making an offer that was rejected by the post. Both Ms. Wilson and Mr. Hughes have refused to disclose the amount of the offer made by the town. Quogue Village never made an offer for the property.
The future of the land remains unclear. Mr. Hughes said the man representing 125 Montauk Highway Group LLC in the purchase will be out of the country for the next three weeks due to a family emergency. Mr. Hughes would not disclose the individual’s name, and representatives of the LLC could not be reached for comment this week.
Over the summer, Quogue residents made more than a dozen suggestions about what could be done with the Montauk Highway property, which, if developed, could accommodate up to three single-family homes. VFW officials had secured a special exemption permit from the village in order to build their headquarters there.
More than 100 people gathered inside the Quogue Community Theater in June to discuss the proposal. Ideas shot down by the village included configuring the property for a baseball field, making it a playground, constructing tennis courts or building a community center on the land. Residents argued, in vain, that Quogue’s purchase of the land would allow the village to decide its future rather than a private developer.