OSWEGO – The city and the Yacht Club appear to have come to terms on compensation for the early termination of the club’s lease at the city’s International Pier to the east of Wright’s Landing.
City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli gave the following background on, and appraisal of, the situation in a recent interview.
“Initially, the Yacht Club did bring a legal action against the city,” Caraccioli said, “claiming the city inappropriately took the property. We then countersued for eminent domain.”
Caraccioli said “the (State Supreme) Court granted the city’s eminent domain demands. It determined the city of Oswego had met its burden for taking the property back and directed that the city retain ownership of the property. That was done back in Nov. But then the legal action shifts to the issue of just compensation, because under the Constitution, you can’t take property without just compensation. There is case law that supports that a lease interest in property that is taken is valuable and ought to be compensated.”
That just compensation has now been determined and paid, meaning this lengthy and emotional dispute may now finally be over.
“The city hopes that’s what it means,” Caraccioli said. “The Yacht Club did accept the advance payment offer that we made, and they then have to decide whether the advance payment satisfies what they think the just compensation ought to be. They have the right to litigate if they choose to. It’s time sensitive. They would have to exercise that right by April 13 thereabouts. Then, if they don’t, then it would be settled. The city certainly paid a very fair amount, $131,670.52. That is the advance payment offer. And then we enclosed an additional check for $9,390.76, and that was for reimbursement to the Yacht Club for building materials when the city authorized the Yacht Club to build the deck in public space as part of a prior agreement.”
The advance payment “is for the value of our taking back the property and essentially the just compensation to the Yacht Club for that taking,” said Caraccioli. “Just compensation would include being displaced, the amount of rent they were paying, and any comparable properties in the area that they could relocate to. There was a host of criteria. We had to hire expert appraisers. The city hired one and the Yacht Club hired one. Then we came up with a number that we felt, based on our expert’s analysis, what is a very fair offer.”
The Yacht Club can challenge the offer as being insufficient, “but by doing that,” Caraccioli said, “if they are incorrect and the judge rules in the city’s favor on the value, it could cost them more money than it’s worth, because they’d have to pay to city’s attorney’s fees and the expert appraiser fee and all the rest of it. So they have to think long and hard whether they press on with a just compensation claim. But at the very least they are accepting the $131,670.52. I hope that the Yacht Club accepts that, and everyone gets to move on. If they’re off by 30% or greater, then they owe us our fees and costs. They should think about it, but frankly, they shouldn’t think long, because this is an extremely fair offer.”
According to Caraccioli, “It is now the city’s property to do with what it pleases. The Yacht Club is out, and they have been for quite a while now, at least since November.”