Stony Brook University requested $30 million from the New York State Legislature to pay off part of a $167.5 million judgment, or court order to pay money, resulting from the improper seizure of 245 acres west of campus.
The money is a portion of the university’s unspent capital improvement funds, money set aside for construction projects such as the improvement of buildings and infrastructure, among other potential projects.
According to Elaine Crosson, the vice president for external relations at Stony Brook, SUNY Central and The Division of Budget have also contributed to paying the judgment.
Stony Brook acquired the land in question through eminent domain, which allows the government to seize private property for public use after paying fair market value for the property. Fair market value is generally the comparison of the property in question to similar properties to determine its value.
The dispute arose in 2006 after Stony Brook University purchased 245.5 acres of 316 acres from Gyrodyne Company of America, Inc. for $26.3 million.
However, the company, which is involved in real estate, estimated its Flowerfield property at $125 million.
As a result, Gyrodyne, feeling underpaid, filed a suit against the state and won. Since Stony Brook was to use the property, New York State felt the university should pay for the penalty.
“The $26.3 million payment was based on the fair market value appraisal rendered by state experts at the time,” Crosson said.
Appraisers use several methods to determine a property’s value including cost approach, sales comparison and possible income.
According to Crosson, it is unknown whether the previous administration foresaw a lawsuit with Gyrodyne, which would jeopardize the money saved to fund the university’s capital projects. Crosson said this is why the university proceeded with the purchase of the land through the state.
The amount of money used to pay the judgment would be enough to build four Computer Science Buildings, a nearly $40.8 million project being constructed on the school’s west campus between the lot between the Light Engineering and current Computer Science buildings.
The situation also brings into question the judgement’s effect on additional capital projects throughout the university taking place either currently or in the future. No comments were made in regards to this.
Currently the property is home to Stony Brook’s Center of Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT), which opened in March 2009.
According to the CEWIT’s website, its mission is to “keep the region at the Forefront in Wireless and Information Technologies.”
The university is still working toward paying off the judgment. It’s not clear how long it will take before the fine is settled.