After decades of controversy, litigation and negotiation, its curtains for Smithtown’s Oasis Gentlemen’s Club, formerly the Bull Creek Inn.
The Town Board of Smithtown has voted unanimously to purchase Oasis for $815,000, a figure agreed upon after evaluations by both the town and the owner — and a string of negotiations.
Howard Greenberg, a Smithtown-based attorney who represented the club for decades under multiple owners, said the current owner was satisfied with the sale price.
“It was long and contentious,” Greenberg said. “But ultimately ended up being a fair disposition.”
More than a decade prior to negotiating the price tag, the legality of the business was contested in court. Smithtown officials argued that Smithtown zoning laws prevent Oasis, an adult business, from operating within 500 feet of public park areas.
Greenberg countered that the town zoning rules were unconstitutional, which a judge would not declare.
To put this matter to bed, Greenberg said Oasis, limited the nature of it’s adult entertainment “so the dancers weren’t totally nude,” meaning the establishment’s offerings were “considered expressive under first-amendment litigation.”
For many years following this change, Supervisor Ed Wehrheim said complaints about Oasis’ business and its prominence at the entrance to Smithtown across from its iconic Whisper the Bull statue remained a “common theme” he’s encountered from residents.
The town was prepared to begin the eminent domain process.
“There was a fair number of residents that thought that establishment should either be closed down or moved,” he said.
Wehrheim said once the sale closes within the next couple of months, the town will proceed with its plans for its acquired property.
“The purpose of the purchase is we are in the process of making a park trade-off with the county,” he said.
In that deal, Suffolk County will take over Bill Richards Park while Smithtown will acquire Paul T. Given Park across the river from Oasis to redevelop the parkland at the head of the Nissequogue River.
According to the supervisor, the transfer will be a timely process.
The park transfer bill will be introduced to the state legislature by Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick for approval. Then the process of appropriating funds will begin.
“It’s gonna be a multiyear project,” Wehrheim said. “The end result down at the end of the line will be beneficial to Smithtown and to the residents who wanna use that park.”
Greenberg said the town’s plans to purchase the property for park redevelopment instead of entering litigation for eminent domain saved both sides time and money.
“We avoided another three years of litigation by resolving this.”
Despite the finality of the pending sale, Greenberg said Oasis’ imminent demolition is “a disappointing end to an era of legally constitutionally protected first amendment entertainment in the Town of Smithtown.”