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Apr 24, 2018 3:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tempers Flare Over Rose Hill Road Deal Between Southampton Town Trustees And Water Mill Homeowner

The Rose Hill Road trustee property before the agreement.
Apr 26, 2018 1:41 PM

On Monday, emotions ran high as a group of residents spoke out against a deal struck earlier this year that allows a homeowner to encroach on a portion of a property owned by the Southampton Town Trustees in return for maintenance and upkeep of the property—so high, in fact, that the Trustees agreed to take another look at the deal.

Hayground Cove, which is located near the end of Rose Hill Road, is a Trustee-owned, 0.61-acre property with a boat ramp on the northern edge of Mecox Bay. The property was recently obtained by the Trustees from Southampton Town in a land swap for a parcel near the traffic circle in Riverside, and the intent was to create a town park.

But as concerns grew over the cost of maintenance and the Trustees’ inability to staff a park, the Trustees signed a 15-year agreement handing over the day-to-day responsibilities to the adjacent homeowner, Randy Frankel, who agreed to dredge the boat ramp, which fills with sand regularly, plow snow, pave the driveway and parking area, and care for the landscape.

In return, Mr. Frankel is permitted to move a line of trees down the middle of the property and utilize nearly a quarter of an acre of the parcel to set up a circular driveway.

On Monday, Water Mill resident Johanna Halsey, whose grandfather David Halsey deeded the parcel to the town in the first place, said she and other family members were unhappy with the arrangement.

“What happened on Rose Hill Road was never, ever, the intent of my beloved grandfather, who gave the land to the town so that all could enjoy it,” Ms. Halsey told the Trustees at Monday’s meeting. “I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed my family is.”

Ms. Halsey explained that in 2006, a previous property owner tried to seize the town-owned land for his own use, but the family was assured it would be protected.

After hearing about the deal between the Trustees and the current homeowner, some residents on Monday demanded an explanation.

Residents like Tim Maran, a 67-year resident of Water Mill who currently lives in Southampton Village, described the deal as an “atrocity.” He told the Trustees that he hired an attorney to look at options for getting the property back into the proper hands.

“I can’t possibly imagine how this town has enhanced and enriched a private property at the expense of the freeholders of the community,” Mr. Maran said.

Former Town Trustee Fred Havemeyer echoed Mr. Maran’s statements on Monday, looking each member in the eye. “This is a disgrace,” he said. “This is the most inappropriate, stupidest thing that anybody can imagine that a board would let happen to this town.”

Mr. Havemeyer told current Trustee President Ed Warner Jr., who served on the board with him, that what he did was an outrage. “This is shameful,” he said. “This board action is the most shameful thing I have ever seen.”

Current Trustee Bill Pell interrupted the public portion of the meeting, during which the residents were voicing their displeasure, to express regret for his vote on the measure in January, and said that he should have looked into the plans more closely before voting.

Town Trustee Ann Welker, who had just taken office shortly before the measure was voted on in January, also expressed regret. “It’s hard to be on this side of the table,” an emotional Ms. Welker told those in the audience. Referring to the property in question, she said, “This spot means so much to me, as it does to you.”

She went on to say that she visited the site to look at the work being done to the property and was at a loss for words.

The deal to allow Mr. Frankel to move onto a portion of the property was initially discussed in October 2017, before Ms. Welker was on the board. Even when she voted on the measure in January, Ms. Welker said, she did not have all of the facts.

“What I know now, and didn’t know on January 17, I wouldn’t have voted for this,” she said.

Mr. Warner told the perturbed crowd that nothing was given away in the deal, and that the Trustees still own the property.

The idea, he said, was that having Mr. Frankel dredge and improve the property into more of a park-like setting for people to enjoy, at no cost to the Trustees, would be positive for the community.

Town Trustees Bruce Stafford and Scott Horowitz also said they thought the community would react positively to the improvements.

Mr. Warner added that the Trustees could back out of the deal with Mr. Frankel at anytime—although the 15-year agreement appears to remain in place as long as Mr. Frankel maintains the property in accordance with the terms of the contract.

And after hearing from the public, both Mr. Warner and Mr. Horowitz said they might need to revisit the arrangement. “One thing my father taught me is to be a good listener,” Mr. Warner said.

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I have remained silent on this matter for a time but now must voice my opinion. The Trustees gave away OUR LAND ! Period , end of story. The homeowner in all probability will violate the terms of the deal and the Trustees will lack the necessary funds to sue to enforce the terms agreed upon. All one has to do is to look at the "letter roads" in Southampton Village, the roads were sold to the Village for a nominal fee with the proviso that shall be maintained as roads so the public may access the ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 24, 18 5:58 PM
Bruce, scott, how could you think the residents would be happy losing half of the land there. Only two, maybe three boats and trailers can use it now.
How with a good conscience could you five think this is good for the freeholders?
Bruce looked very bored to be there, Ann the crying doesn't help. Ed and scott don't seem they made a TERRIBLE mistake.
Right the wrong IMMEDIATELY. Do not wait the 90 days.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 24, 18 6:18 PM
Shameful, disgraceful, and unadulterated breach of the public trust.

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 24, 18 8:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
The offer to dredge the boat launch are and plow the road is the biggest sham ever. The trustees were duped. This guy basically wrangled away a few million dollars worth of public property based on the house price of 32 million.

Rule number one as a trustee. Public Land is not for sale - even if there was no exchange of money involved. Or was there?
By Harbor Master (114), Sag Harbor on Apr 24, 18 8:58 PM
What GOOD have the Trustees done? Self righteous jerks looking out for themselves on the premise that they are protecting the waters. THIS is so wrong in so many ways.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Apr 24, 18 10:42 PM
What GOOD have the Trustees done? Self righteous jerks looking out for themselves on the premise that they are protecting the waters. THIS is so wrong in so many ways.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Apr 24, 18 10:42 PM
If not one of these Trustees didn't really know all the facts about this, and voted yes I have serious doubts they are competent enough to be trusted with other issues more complex than this. They are either in the pockets of the rich homeowners or they are either stupid or lazy. They seemed to be easily outwitted . Eventually, they will unwittingly cave to a homeowner or homeowner group and give our lands and bay bottom away protected by the Dongan Patent and say Oops, we didn't know all of the ...more
By scalloper (17), quogue on Apr 25, 18 12:26 AM
2 members liked this comment
and thank you to the Halsey family and Tim Maran and others for stepping up.
By scalloper (17), quogue on Apr 25, 18 12:28 AM

Still speechless that the Trustees were so asleep this winter that they voted unanimously for this blatant wrong-headed boondoggle move.

How does one find the words?

Does the public have to attend every meeting from now on, until the ship has a captain and crew that can avoid all the shoals and rocks ahead?

Very disappointing to say the least.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 25, 18 7:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Trustees need to right this massive wrong , no matter what it takes! Never ever make a deal with the devil and expect it to work out for all. The devil is only about himself. I hope this serves as a huge lesson. Learn to simply say NO to people who can outsmart an outwit with their money, Too much BS happening around here regarding ppl with big money getting what they what at the expense of the local people.
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Apr 25, 18 6:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
And if this homeowner has any bit of human decency, a conscience or any true appreciation of this area, he will do the right thing an simply GIVE THE PROPERTY BACK to the Community !!!
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Apr 25, 18 7:00 AM
3 members liked this comment
Easier said than done I think. What the Trustees did was asinine, but they did sign a 15-year contract with the homeowner that gave him the lot line modification in exchange for doing the maintenance. Based on that contract and the board's vote, it appears he has now spent considerable money moving trees, walls etc. So it's not a simple matter of just giving the property back. Moreover, despite what the trustees said at their meeting, they do not appear to have any easy way of breaking this contract. ...more
By GlassHouses (64), anywhere on Apr 25, 18 3:56 PM
Do we know how much money the homeowner has spent so far? Im sure it is easier said than done but never say never.

I ask this because Im reminded of all those kind an generous people who have made substantial donations that benefit the community. A recent example would be Douglas Ellimans $50,000 donation to Good Ground Park.

Perhaps Mr Frankel has a good conscience and will realize how upset the community is for the massive mistake our Trustees have made....
By toes in the water (884), southampton on Apr 26, 18 7:22 AM
An independent audit by the New York State Comptroller's Office would not be unreasonable. Are there more such transactions that have slipped under radar?
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Apr 25, 18 10:46 AM
The original owner next door has some interesting setbacks on his property. Did Marty Shea approve that?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 25, 18 1:41 PM
Maybe Linda and Anna knew things that we weren't privileged too??? Who Knew???
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 25, 18 2:45 PM
The trustees will get sued again before this is over.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Apr 25, 18 4:39 PM
What Watermill needs is a dog park, Town of Southampton sponsored sailing wind surfing lessons - and community oriented flea markets. Followed by the ice cream truck, and those lovely porta potties - right in the middle of the David Halsey Memorial Park. ...They are never going to get this dunder headed land swap undone without getting crushed by the legal team of Mr. Rose Hill.
By Harbor Master (114), Sag Harbor on Apr 25, 18 8:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
hang the man and flog the woman that steals the goose from off the common,
but let the greater villain loose that steals the common from the goose.
the law demands that we atone when we take the things we do not own,
but leaves the lords and ladies fine that take the things that are yours and mine.

English nursery rhyme 1600's.
By sstorch (49), water milll on Apr 26, 18 6:07 AM
By sstorch (49), water milll on Apr 26, 18 12:54 PM
By J. Totta (106), Sag Harbor on Apr 26, 18 8:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
I can't get over Welker's sobbing and claims of ignorance. She abstained from voting on the fee increases when people showed up to oppose them stating that the discussion started before she joined the Board. Now she is claiming she voted on something without full knowledge because the work session for it was held before she was on the Board. Why didn't she abstain as she did for the fee increase? It's your job to get caught up and know what you are voting on. The "I'm new" excuse is getting old...either ...more
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Apr 26, 18 8:42 AM
It might be a good idea to run a title search - the original gift deed may have a reverter clause

Trustees may be in violation of gift.

Halsey family gets land back and can donate land to the Peconic Land Trust - or anybody who does not abdicate their obligations

Who was Counsel for the trustees?
Who was Counsel for the neighbor?
Was the transfer recorded - were the promises recorded?
Who was the responsible trustee on this project ???these things do not ...more
By Rem1618 (9), Remsenburg on Apr 26, 18 11:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
trustees need more land not less
By kuali (32), southampton on Apr 26, 18 12:28 PM
never heard of anything like this. Billy Pell full of it he knew Damn well what he did.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 26, 18 2:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
I never realized that the town had a public ramp on Mecox. At first I was "on the fence" over the deal, that was until I saw what the town property looked liked before the agreement. If case anyone wants to see a before picture here is a link to a pic from 2016.


According to the original 27East article on this issue it was stated "also allowing the homeowner to move a line of trees down the middle of his property to the middle of ...more
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 26, 18 3:17 PM
Forgot to ask.

Has anyone submitted a FOIL request to the Trustees for the agreement? It would be nice to see exactly what is in it. It would be nice to see if it covers what happens if the homeowner doesn't do the agreed upon items, or it the propery is sold. If the trustees didn't have the money to maintain the existing property, where are they going to get the money to remove the circular driveway and move the trees back. 27East, sounds like something a good community newspaper would ...more
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 26, 18 3:28 PM
What happened to the millions of dollars collected for sand that the trusties had?
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 26, 18 9:26 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 27, 18 7:22 AM
Forgot to thank the Halsey family for their very generous gift to the people of Southampton. Thank you very much.

So the land was deeded to the Trustees on 12/11/17 and they pass this agreement on 1/17/18. WOW! They barely waited a single month. If the Trustees were worried about the maintenance why did they accept the property?
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 27, 18 9:51 AM
They were scheduled to pass this agreement on 12/18/17 but that meeting was cancelled.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Apr 27, 18 11:59 AM
If a family gave this land to the Trustees so that it benefited the entire community on December 11th and on December 18th the Trustees planned to hand it over to someone else whose specific intent was to keep the community away from it, seems like a run of the mill flim-flam. If that wasn't disclosed, and it sounds like it was not by the sound of the local family and their friends - it's totally scandalous.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Apr 27, 18 1:50 PM
Just curious, how would the homeowner keep the community away from it?
By Sturgis (611), Southampton on Apr 27, 18 2:08 PM
Slime, I don't know when the family gave the land to the Town, but the Town signed it over to the Trustees on the 11th. I posted all of the corresponding resolutions from both the Town and the Trustees in the comments of the previous story which the Press has a link to at the top of this page.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Apr 27, 18 7:00 PM
Transfer induced by fraud on behalf of the trustees ???

That time line is very tight - who knew what when??

Overturn the transfer and donate to Peconic Land Trust

Neighbor probably had designs on property for quite some time and when they heard it was going to the trustees ........

Got FOIL ??

This gets worse as more info comes out.

All the excuses about “ I did not know “ sound even worse.

Regardless of what knowledge folks ...more
By Rem1618 (9), Remsenburg on Apr 27, 18 12:02 PM
First these guys start the year by jacking up the cost of all of our permits now their giving away the land we can access. The whole board of Trustees needs to go.
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Apr 27, 18 12:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
The agreement has an automatic renewal clause - should have been objected to.

Who reviewed this ?

The semi annual dredging obligation allows an out if all state & local permits cannot be obtained - there should be a best efforts std applied to the obligation to obtain the permits - otherwise the neighbor can use the failure to secure permits to get out of the semi annual dredge obligation

Heck as of late the trustees cannot even open the cut when Req themselves.

I ...more
By Rem1618 (9), Remsenburg on Apr 27, 18 1:25 PM
Our Trustees are appointed because they spend time near the water. That's like getting your pilot's license because you work in a high rise. There is nobody here who can objectively be a Trustee. It's too complex and everyone has an agenda.

It's hard to fathom how this topic went through committee and resulted in an affirmative vote. There is more to this story. Frankel bought these guys somehow.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Apr 27, 18 1:45 PM
1 member liked this comment
I always thought the analogy, fox guarding the hen house was appropriate for the trustees.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Apr 27, 18 2:07 PM
Any word on when the investigations by the Suffolk DA and NY Attorney General will commence?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 27, 18 2:13 PM
SlimeAlive - The property was given to the town (don't know when). The town gave the land to the Trustees in Dec. 17 in exchange for Trustee owned land in Riverside for the new traffic circle.
Rem1618 - FOIL - Freedom of Information Law/Request. 27East already did it and included on the webpage. Thanks 27East.

Wow. Ok 27East time for some corrections. This encroachment is nothing like what was stated in your original article which stated "allowing the homeowner to move a line of trees ...more
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 27, 18 6:27 PM
Your conclusion --

"The way I read the agreement is that it can only be canceled after the 15 year term or for cause."

appears to be correct per clause E) on PDF p. 6/14, as attached to the article at the top of the page.

Not sure which is more depressing:

-- sleepwalking by all the Trustees
-- scale of loss to we the people
-- Warner statement about being able to back out at any time

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 27, 18 9:57 PM
Agreed and it was voted in unanimously. I almost wish that there were some underhanded dealings, because the alternative is that the board is clueless.

I think they need a name change. Remove the Trust and we has a Board of Ees; add a Y and remove a E and we have the Board of Yes; and then there is always the good out standby the Board of Lemmings.
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 28, 18 10:23 AM
I missed what eventually could become the worst part of the screw up - the right of first refusal.

Just ask the White family how that can cut against you.

Seriously who reviewed this document ????

Time to research how to overturn the transaction.
By Rem1618 (9), Remsenburg on Apr 28, 18 8:42 AM
Section I of the agreement mentions a "Boundary Line Agreement dated June 7, 2011". Does anyone know what's in it?

Did the board ever see a site plan of the encroachment? While the descriptions of the properties involved in the agreement are described perfectly in a legal sense, they don't provide an intuitive, i.e. visual, depiction. Someone told 27East "the homeowner to move a line of trees down the middle of his property to the middle of the Trustees’ property". Whoever said ...more
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 28, 18 11:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
How the hell are you going to reverse this ?? You have to rely on the good graces of the homeowner . That'll happen right ? In the end , you made the homeowner richer at the peoples expense . The further this goes south the more it is going cost us . This will be big in the next election . The trustees that voted for this should just consider stepping down
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Apr 29, 18 9:20 AM
"Dirty Hands" perhaps?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 29, 18 7:40 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Rem1618 (9), Remsenburg on Apr 29, 18 6:03 PM
Fortunately it is not a transfer of land only a transfer of use. It makes it slightly better, but not by much. There is a little sliver of public land between the road and of bubble of the circular driveway. As per the agreement, the homeowner put down nice thick sodded grass. My thinking is that the community organizes a weekly weekend tail gating barbecue. We get a couple of F350 duallys and picnic tables, maybe a live DJ, a little volley ball or bocce ball or someone said that Water Mill needed ...more
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 29, 18 8:41 PM
Possibly can be reversed as Trustees violated the gift.

The consideration for the gift of land was that it would be for the public - not horse-traded. They did not fully carry out their side of the deal -,ie they did not “pay for it.”

Transaction is invalid - property was not paid for / full agreed upon consideration was not given

Therefore subsequent deal is no good - Trustees did not have land to give.


If Before the gift was made ...more
By Rem1618 (9), Remsenburg on Apr 29, 18 6:03 PM
Have the Trustees stated or does anyone know what the estimated yearly maintenance cost for the park would be. It would be nice to know what the Quid for the quo was. What is the extent of the "dredging" required? The agreement states only "so that the bottom of the boat ramp is kept in a condition that is deep enough to allow boats to launch from a trailer". That is vague enough to drive a truck though. How about using a specific depth. Are we taking about a 16' Jon boat on a roller trailer or ...more
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 29, 18 9:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
In case anyone is interested, here is the Boundary Line Agreement, from June 2011, that was referred to the most recent agreement.


It was between the previous homeowner and the Town of Southampton. Among other things, it denotes the homeowner's encroachment onto the town's land. Per item 2, ". ZARO hereby acknowledges that the hedge, block apron and columns and any improvements within the area as shown on the aforesaid survey do, ...more
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on Apr 30, 18 6:25 PM
Did they have a building permit for the changes? Was the DEC notified of all the renovations and drywells so close to wet lands?
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 30, 18 8:06 PM
2 members liked this comment
This is interesting

my 4/29 comment speculating on the possible paths to overturn the transaction was deleted on the desktop comments section yet I can still see it on the mobile edition.

I also included commentary on the abject lack of commonsense and stupidity

I guess the responsible partys must have complained and asked that it be removed.

Interesting that potentially a public servant / public figure was upset that their failure was highlighted and criticized ...more
By Rem1618 (9), Remsenburg on May 1, 18 4:43 PM
TRUSTEE MEETING town hall 1pm. BE there, speak your peace...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on May 2, 18 11:34 AM
Monday May 7.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 2, 18 5:24 PM
Are the Trustees going to do a final land survey now that the work is done? If not, I think that they should. According to my calculations (see links in my previous posts) there should be ~33 ft. between the park's northern property line and the most northern portion of the circular driveway. After visiting the park, the good old tape measure says the actual number is ~24 ft. It IS ~33 ft. to the cobble stone part of the driveway, but there is a row of Evergreens to the north of the circular driveway ...more
By longtimelocal (59), Southampton on May 2, 18 7:43 PM
Johanna, take back the property and put up a nice house with a RAMP. Trustees won't have to cut the grass or plow snow...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on May 5, 18 2:49 PM
how did this happen? maybe this can explain. the lawyer went and got the police and they would have dragged me out in handcuffs if i tried to finish reading it, so here it is: "Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity ...more
By sstorch (49), water milll on May 7, 18 3:27 PM
deep gratitude for all who came to voice their protest.
nuff said.
By sstorch (49), water milll on May 7, 18 3:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Having the POLICE show up was over the top!!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 7, 18 5:00 PM
Sad to see that there were no questions answered and we were limited to 3 minutes , many, many questions were asked that deserve answers including but not limited to , WHY DID THIS HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE???!! It does not increase our access and the "savings" to the Trustees are minimal. Did Bruce Stafford approach the homeowner and propose this scam or did the homeowner approach the Trustees and Bruce handled it because Mecox is his area. Why did the Trustees' attorney sign off on a 15 YEAR deal, ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on May 7, 18 5:13 PM