By a vote of 641 to 33, Lido Beach and Point Lookout residents voted overwhelmingly on Aug. 22 to allow the operator of a local fishing pier to purchase an adjacent piece of property from the Lido/Point Lookout Fire District for $750,000.
The move paves the way for Ted Wondsel, owner of Ted’s Fishing Station, to purchase the property — essentially a dirt road used for parking — at Lynbrook Avenue and Bayside Drive.
Wondsel has run the popular waterfront establishment, which also includes a bar and grill, since 1999, and had been hoping to retain ownership of a small piece of land owned by the fire district that separates the bar and parking lot in order to maintain access to the business.
The land — which is about 50 by 100 feet — bisects Wondsel’s waterfront property. For decades, previous fishing station owners have used the land for parking. Wondsel also had an agreement with the district to use the land, which provides access to the property.
The property was put on the Town of Hempstead map as a street in 1928, but was never dedicated as a public road.
In 1953, the town transferred ownership of the property to the fire district to allow for emergency access to Reynolds Channel. A few years later, the town reclaimed ownership, only to transfer it back to the fire district last year. Finally, in June, fire commissioners said that they had no use for the land, and began seeking buyers.
Wondsel offered to buy the land for $750,000, saying that losing access to the property would hurt his business. He entered into a contract with the district that hinged on voter approval, though many residents said that they supported the deal.
“If you saw the piece of the land that was actually for sale, you came to realize there’s actually no use for it other than Ted’s,” said Tracy Fleming, a Point Lookout resident. “And why not have Ted continue what he’s been doing for years? It’s not like anyone other than Ted would benefit from the piece of land. We’re happy that Ted got it.”
“Ted’s is just a great place,” added Point Lookout resident Melissa Amery. “It fosters a sense of community within Point Lookout and the greater barrier island. It’s a hidden gem.”
Last month, resident Peter Bollo offered the district $1.4 million for the land, if Wondsel agreed to remove an underground fuel tank, among other conditions, according to a letter Bollo sent to a fire commissioner.
His offer was not considered, however, because the fire district had already entered into a contract with Wondsel, officials said. Bollo criticized the district for not putting the sale of the property out to bid.
“The fire district isn’t subject to the general municipal law, so they don’t have to go to public bid,” said Andrew Mahony, an attorney for the fire district. “The requirements are essentially that they have to declare the property a surplus, they have to sell for market value — which they’re doing, backed up by three appraisals — and they have to get voter approval.”
Fire Commissioner Chas Thompson said that commissioners held two meetings to inform the public about the sale and vote.
“It’s a local spot — most of the residents from Point Lookout come here,” said resident Robin Amato. “It’s just a happy place in town, and we’re all super happy that the vote was yes.”