Local Ocean, Greenport's saltwater fish farm, was auctioned off on Tuesday after shareholders failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. YNN's Karen Tararache spoke with the new owner who says he currently has no idea what the future holds for the farm.
GREENPORT, N.Y. -- "It's just a disaster across the board and when I asked them last week and they said we still don't have your pay this week and they had seven days by law to pay you," said Sean Welsh, a former Local Ocean employee.
It would take Welsh four weeks before he received his paycheck for his work as a fish tech employee at Local Ocean.
"The underlying fact of the matter is, I actually did like this job a lot and that's what the full disappointment of it was," he said.
After hundreds of thousands of dollars were owed in back taxes, Local Ocean's warehouse laid off 19 employees. The property was also auctioned off on Tuesday for $3 million. The same owner who originally held the mortgage, Michael Spielman, bought the property.
"If anybody wants fish you're welcome to a million each, come back and pick them up it would be fine with me," Spielman joked.
While the 1,600 square foot warehouse was purchased by Spielman in the 1980's, Local Ocean bought the property from him in 2009. The space was turned into a green saltwater fish farm, distributing bass and flounder to local stores like Wegmans and Price Chopper. But after today, the future of this fish farm is up in the air.
"I normally deal with situations as they happen so I don't really make plans," Spielman added.
Greenport Town Supervisor, John Porecca said, "There has to be some type of exit plan for the town. You just can't get rid of the fish and just bury them it’s an environmental issue."
Porecca is also concerned with how the saltwater will be disposed of if Spielman chooses to halt all fish farm activity, adding, "You just can’t dispose of it in the Hudson River, you can tank it out maybe put it out in the ocean somewhere.”
And while many wonder what will become of the massive property off of Route 9, others said they are relieved.
"I'm totally relieved, we've been worked up about it, we are already late on rent," noted Welsh.