Last August, CAST hoped to move from its small headquarters on Front Street in Greenport to the former Greenport United Methodist Church around the corner on Main Street in the village.
CAST needed the space and room to grow, as the services it provides — from counseling to a busy food pantry — had grown enormously during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the move was not to be, as opposition from neighbors of the former church argued that CAST’s mission — helping those who need help — did not fit in their residential neighborhood.
A CAST statement put it bluntly: “As a small, nonprofit organization, CAST does not have the resources to challenge the immediate neighborhood’s litigious, vocal and completely unjustified opposition expressed to the Village Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, which made it clear that CAST was unwelcome there.”
Nine months later, CAST appears to have found a new home — in a different former Methodist Church.
In a press release, CAST announced Friday it is in contract to purchase the former Southold Methodist Church on Main Road in the business hamlet. After being shuttered as a church, the building became the Southold Opera House whose new owners had great plans to introduce opera and music programs to the town.
But the pandemic crippled the opera house’s programs and it was put up for sale in January. By all appearances, the issues that shot down CAST’s move in Greenport – because the former church was in a residential district, variances were needed, along with resolving thorny issues like parking – don’t apply with this planned relocation to an existing commercial district.
“We are hoping to close in September,” said Cathy Demeroto, CAST’s executive director. “We are really excited about it. It’s a great location. It fits all of our needs for the services we provide, including plenty of parking in the rear of the building, a food pantry, a sharing room, a kitchen for our culinary program and ample office space. We don’t have any of that right now.”
She said the sale price is $2.8 million.
“Where we are now we have no private interview space,” she added. “This space has ADA compliant bathrooms and entrances. It’s walk-in ready for us. And more than half of our clients are outside of Greenport.”
Included in the sale is the former church parsonage, which is immediately next door to the east. “We have not decided what to do with that yet,” she said. “There is so much need for rental housing, or maybe it could be staff housing or for programing.”
A twist to the sale is that the building can be used for music programs up to 10 times a year for three years. A downstairs studio will be shared with the community, for things such as dance classes or lectures.
“We want it to be open to the entire community,” she said.
In the release, Marc Sokol, CAST’s board president, sounded a similar theme. “After searching for an appropriate home for CAST for many years, this property is a dream realized, providing all we need to serve the North Fork community while also offering cultural and arts opportunities for all to enjoy.”
In the release, Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said the new location is perfect.
“For decades, CAST has provided vital services to North Fork residents in need,” he said. “I am excited that CAST will finally have a permanent home centrally located to meet the needs of the community.”