The Real Facts About The John & Alice Coltrane Home

A response to the misinformation being circulated about the John and Alice Coltrane Home by Mr. Gavilla

As both president of The Friends of the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills and someone who sees the tremendous value in restoring and preserving our essential history here on Long Island, it is sad to see a cultural site as vital as the John and Alice Coltrane Home exploited for political purposes. Further, the deliberate circulation of misinformation diminishes the conversation and legitimacy of those disseminating it.

It is always unfortunate when misinformation is being used for political gain. To be clear, the John and Alice Coltrane Home has no political affiliation, and in fact has strong support from both parties, including Mr. Gavilla’s.

Here is the upshot: contrary to the misinformation being circulated….

  • The Town of Huntington did not overpay for the Coltrane property,
  • the Town Board collectively, and not Berland was responsible for the purchase of the historic site,
  • the property and Home are in far better condition today than at purchase,
  • we expect the Home to be open to the public within 3 years.

The Facts:

  • The developers purchased the Home and the 3.5 acre property in August, 2002 for $500,000 and it was purchased by the Town from the developers in December, 2005 for $975,000, 3 years after the original purchase (and not “a few months later”) and at the height of the real estate market. The original purchase price was significantly lower than other comparable sales in the neighborhood in 2005. (Housing prices were going up nearly 18% per year across Long Island at that time.)
  • As would be expected, the Town Attorney negotiates purchases based on fair market values of properties and as appraised by respected and licensed professional firms. The original purchase price paid by the developers years earlier would have been largely immaterial. Contrary to what Mr. Gavilla is alleging, the price paid by the Town would have been in line with the fair market value.
  • The price paid by the Town was consistent with comparable sales at the time, if not less. In 2005, a 1 acre parcel (24 Candlewood Path) on the same street sold for $1.2 million. A year earlier, in 2004, a 1.05 acre parcel (22 Candlewood Path) sold for $850,000, and a 1.3 acre parcel sold for $745,000. The Coltrane Home parcel would have been valued for the land based on 2 parcels, and not 1.
  • The developers had gone through the lengthy process (3 years) of pre-approval for a 2 parcel subdivision, which would have permitted 2 homes on the 3.5 acre property. That process was costly and time-consuming, and as subdivided property is worth more – as a realtor would appreciate, further increased the value of a site.
  • Long Island market values increased on average over 53% during the 3 year period from 2002 to 2005, with appreciation in highly desirable Dix Hills exceeding those averages (according to FRED economic data from the Federal Reserve).
  • In other words, the Town did not overpay for the property, and allegations to the contrary are unfounded.
  • The EOSPA (Environmental Open Space & Park Fund Advisory) Committee, in 2004, seeing the extreme importance of the historic site, recommended that the Town Board appraise the property and acquire the site.
  • With tremendous support from local and town residents, the region and around the world, the Town Board unanimously and enthusiastically supported the purchase of the historic parcel seeing its value for generations to come. The Town board, and not Councilwoman Berland, was responsible for the purchase, with a tremendous outpouring of support here and abroad. 
  • Gavilla’s claim regarding the Home — “13 years later it is in worse shape” than when it was purchased — is utterly false and has no credible basis. Mr. Gavilla was not in or at the Home when it was acquired in 2005 when the Home had been abandoned for three years. If so, he would know that in 2005 the property was horribly overgrown, there were holes in the roof of the home, there was massive water damage, rotted soffits and more – issues that have been resolved under careful scrutiny by historic preservationists (although much more needs to be done to ready the Home for the public). Nor has Mr. Gavilla been in the Home since, and so remains completely ignorant of the condition at this time. The Home is in far better shape today even as work continues, and the Home and site will be a source of pride to the community when completed.

Working closely with our partner – the National Trust for Historic Preservation – we are looking to open the Home within three years. It is tremendous undertaking. It remains extremely unfortunate that Mr. Gavilla has chosen to seize on a nationally designated historic property that is intended to celebrate the lives of two of America’s finest musicians and model humanitarians representing American excellence who could inspire so many young people here; two pioneering African Americans whose contributions are revered by so many musicians today and will be for generations to come. What a shame.

It is not my intention to make this an attack on Mr. Gavilla.  Mr. Gavilla has been invited to speak directly with us to get the facts of the situation, and he earlier agreed to do so. While he has not followed through on this, I once again invite Mr. Gavilla or others to speak directly with us about this project. Open-minded dialogue elevates all of us.

More importantly, we invite and welcome all those with positive intentions to engage in meaningful and positive dialogue about this historic and important project.

Ron Stein, President
The Friends of the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills