Developer Kenn Barra is reportedly mulling over a $1.277 million offer from Suffolk County to purchase a 4.1-acre parcel on the corner of Park Avenue where Barra has proposed a 27,000-square foot strip mall.
Barra, who received the county's offer in May, received a 90-day extension last week to consider the county's offer, and has until Nov. 22 to make a decision.
The parcel is of significant importance to the Reeves Park community, many of whom attended a when the Legislature unanimously approved planning steps to appraise the property.
Several sources who have been following the development closely confirmed the $1.277 million price tag, though neither Barra's lawyer, Pete Danowski, nor Pam Greene, the director of the county department in charge of making and negotiating the offer, would confirm it.
While those interested in preserving the parcel would eventually like to see it turned into a hamlet park — a memorial for Thomas Kelly, a former Riverhead resident and New York City firefighter who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, sits on the corner of the property — several interviewed said they believe Barra is biding his time.
"Nothing in these negotiations gets done until the 13th hour," said Eric Biegler, president of Sound Park Heights Civic Association, which encompasses Reeves Park, the neighborhood down Park Road leading to Reeves Beach and the Long Island Sound.
"[Barra] is doing his homework, dotting his 'I's' and doing his due diligence to how the offer is," Biegler said. "He'll get a private appraisal of the property, which will obviously be higher than what the county appraised for. And then he'll go back and ask for more money."
But whether or not he'll accept is another story.
Barra has stated in the past that if he were reimbursed by the county for the cost of the land and all his expenses, which he estimated at $1.6 million, he would sell outright. Danowski said that Barra's "costs keep rising," indicating that the $1.6 million price tag has since risen.
Danowski added that his client understands the concerns of Reeves Park residents, though "you do need a tax base in town."
"We appreciate preserving land, but at the end of the day, if it's worth it to preserve the land, the county should pay fair market value for it," he said.
Along with Biegler, Dominique Mendez, co-founder of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, called a potential park on the corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue a "win-win situation."
"It would benefit the town, the residents, and Mr. Barra," she said. "It would benefit everyone who drives by and the downtown economy. There are plenty of places in Riverhead for retail, and he would get a very nice chunk of change for it. It's a damn good deal for him."