Preservation fund spikes dramatically

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said the new CPF figures were good news on two fronts.

In the first six months of 2013,  money flowing into the Island’s Community Preservation Fund soared more than 205 percent over the same period last year.

That was the largest increase by percentage in CPF money of any East End town.

Numbers released by Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) showed Shelter Island receiving $1.16 million through June as opposed to $380,000 in the January to June period of 2012.

The so-called “2-percent” or CPF fund is financed by a two percent tax buyers pay on real estate deals, with the first $250,000 of the sale price exempted for Island deals. That money goes into a town’s CPF fund and is solely dedicated to open space acquisitions.

CPF money was up across the board for the five East End towns to the tune of 48 percent, or a total of about $49 million for the first six months of 2013, as opposed to $29.6 million for the same period last year.
East Hampton was second to Shelter Island in most money collected, up 59 percent, while Southold had the lowest number, with an increase of about 4 percent.

Mr. Thiele said the news was positive in two ways. “This is good news for Shelter Island for land preservation, but it also shows that the real estate market is recovering nicely,” Mr. Thiel said.

Peter Vielbig, Chairman of the town’s Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board, said there was another reason for the spike in funds. With new tax laws

Supervisor Jim Dougherty welcomed the new figures. “This is very, very good news,” Mr. Dougherty said.

Peter Vielebig, Chairman of the town’s Community Preservation Advisory Board said there was another factor at play  in the robust amount of money coming into the funds coffers. He noted that there was a spike in real estate deals in November and December of last year with buyers and sellers getting ahead of new lax laws slated to kick in with the new year.

“But because the way the collection process works, by the time we get the check it’s usually a couple of months after the sale is made,” Mr. Vielebig said.

January and February collections were “tremendous” he added, a result of the end of 2012 sales. The amount of money coming in dropped significantly in March and April, Mr. Vielebig said, but got much stronger in May, June and July.

“We have some debt we have to keep in mind,” Mr. Vielbig said. “But it’s good to have money to work with when someone comes by with a piece of land we can negotiate with knowing we have the money.”

Mr. Dougherty said that strategy and cooperation were important now in light of the new figures. “There remains a lot of open space opportunities where we have to take the quiet and respectful initiative,” he said.

Last spring Mr. Dougherty and Mr. Vielbig were at loggerheads over acquiring the St. Gabriel Retreat Center property on Coecles Harbor.

Mr. Dougherty said the new numbers were “encouraging, but we’ll still need assistance from the county and others to raise money to make the open space acquisitions I want to make.”

Since the fund was made into law in 1999, the East End has received more than $833 million to buy open space.