Fire Island, a narrow strip of land located in Suffolk County, N.Y. off the coast of Long Island, was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. In response to the damage suffered by one grocery store in the luxury village of Saltaire, a small beach community located on Fire Island, the village is currently attempting to reclaim the property from the World War II veteran that has owned it for 25 years, rebuilding it using taxpayers’ money.
The property is owned by 88-year-old Frank Whitney and is the only commercial building located in Saltaire. The village has already filed eminent-domain proceedings in order to claim the land, alleging to raise $2.5 billion from taxpayers in order to rebuild the market.
According to the New York Post, the Whitney family claims that they have been attempting to rebuild the property on their own.
“Our choice was to rebuild. It’s not fair. What they did is not fair,” Whitney said regarding the effect of Hurricane Sandy on his grocery store and the village's subsequent actions.
The village released a statement explaining its reasons for taking the property, claiming that the Whitney family has not made an effort to rebuild the grocery store on their own.
“Throughout the past year we have been trying, without success, to engage the Whitneys in substantive discussions to advance what they now claim to be their primary objective, which is to renovate and continue to operate the market. That said, however, at various times they have clearly stated their inability or unwillingness to undertake the renovation requirement and despite statements to the contrary, no building plans or architectural drawings of any kind have ever been presented to the Village for review,” the Village’s statement reads, via Fox News.
The situation has riled controversy in the community, which consists of only 400 homes. Both the Whitney family and the Village are arguing their cases in a Brooklyn Appellate Court.