By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON If Rich Winter wants the 58 acres of Sullivan West land adjacent to the Delaware Valley school in Callicoon, he’s welcome to them.
On Thursday, the SW board accepted Winter’s $205,000 bid for the property in an 8-1 vote, with Noel van Swol opposed.
“We have the right to reject,” van Swol told his colleagues at the meeting.
At van Swol’s recommendation, the district had hired forester Tim Hoffmann to assess the merchantability of the standing timber on the acreage, rumored to be close to $100,000 in value.
Hoffmann instead estimated a value of $5,672.35.
While another forester’s report had yet to be delivered to the district, most board members felt it was time to make a decision.
“I don’t know that we would gain more [by waiting], to be honest,” Rose Crotty remarked.
Superintendent Ken Hilton expressed some amazement that Winter had kept his bid in play after the board tabled a decision two weeks ago in order to determine the timber’s value.
“I thought it was gracious of him” to maintain his bid, said Hilton, in light of the fact that Ilwon Kang had bid more than $100,000 less for the property. (Kang, who has plans to develop the DV school itself, withdrew his bid when he learned he’d have to compete for the land in an auction.)
Winter, however, told the district he would only maintain his $205,000 bid until Thursday’s board meeting, and Hilton and several board members worried that any further delay would endanger the bid.
Nevertheless, van Swol urged the board to have Hoffmann revisit the property with Fremont Center resident Tony Wayne, who had told van Swol the timber could really be worth upwards of $30,000.
“I do trust Tim, but there’s this difference of opinion,” van Swol explained, worrying that if left unexplored, “people will be saying ‘the taxpayers have been cheated’ for the next 50 years.”
Plus, van Swol reiterated his contention that the property is worth more than $205,000.
“I don’t believe in a distressed sale,” he stated.
The rest of the board remained unconvinced, however, and Winter now has until early July to finish due diligence on the property and make a decision whether to purchase it or not.
Winter, a NYC executive and Callicoon resident, recently told the Democrat he’s interested in the land for part of his beef cattle farm.
Meanwhile, Kang continues his due diligence on the DV school and both the Narrowsburg school and nearby acreage. His decision deadline is just before Winter’s, but Hilton expressed confidence that at least Narrowsburg will see a sale closing “well before that.”
“What about DV?” asked van Swol, speaking of the building.
“I don’t know,” replied Hilton. “I’m not as clear about that.”