Supervisor: Town acquiring property that could revive Sports East project

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said Wednesday that the town is in a contract to acquire a possible property for Sports East, an indoor-outdoor athletic facility that was first proposed more than two years ago.

“The board is in a process of acquiring a property,” Mr. Russell said. “The board believes that this site may be a good fit for a facility like Sports East.”

He said the town has not yet closed on the sale so he cannot disclose the specific location.

The developers behind the project spent about two years seeking approvals for the project on Main Road in Mattituck. In September 2017, the Zoning Board of Appeals upheld a notice of disapproval from December 2016 stating the proposed sports facility did not meet the definition of a membership club, which effectively killed the project at that location. Just before that decision, Mr. Russell expressed his support for the project and said he would help the developers find a new location if the Main Road plans did not work out.

In October, owner Paul Pawlowski put the original property in Mattituck up for sale for $1.65 million.

“The supervisor mentioned he had some property of interest and we’re all ears, but they still have to go through the motions,” Mr. Pawlowski said. “Basically, the supervisor did let me know that he has a property that the town is looking at, that’s of interest to put Sports East on, and I said that’s great. We’ll pursue it when the time comes if it’s viable.”

During multiple public hearings over the years, there was widespread support for the facility but also serious concerns of traffic and disruption from neighbors.

The supervisor said he met with Mr. Pawlowski about the new potential property, which is centrally located in town, he said.

“It’s a nice attractive piece of property for the town, so if we can’t make the Sports East concept work, it’s still a nice addition to the town’s inventory,” Mr. Russell said Wednesday night at the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce’s “State of Mattituck.” “But we’re buying it with our first priority to find a site for Sports East.

When an audience member asked how the town benefits by acquiring the property for Sports East, the supervisor reiterated that the land would still be useful to the town, such as for recreational needs. If the Sports East project doesn’t come to fruition, the town would get a “commercial recreational facility that’s desperately needed” and “addresses a very large public need,” the supervisor said.

Mr. Russell was also asked if the town would buy land for other projects, such as affordable housing. He said the town has an affordable housing fund that gives the town options to pursue. He was also asked further if the town would buy land for other commercial development and what are the criteria for the town to buy land for other projects down the line. 

“That would be our challenge to develop and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Mr. Russell said.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated Thursday with additional comments from Supervisor Scott Russell.

Photo caption: Supervisor Scott Russell. (file photo)

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