NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Imagine holding a slice of pizza that extends past the end of the table, across the room, and out the window until it tapers to a point. Imagine the shadow that this slice of pizza casts on the ground and you have the final barrier to the sale of the Eastside Grill.

You won’t find pizza on the menu at the restaurant, but a 13.75-square-inch wedge of land is all that is separating Daniel and Gail Yacuzzo from finalizing the sale of the property they have owned since 1984.

Debra Flynn, former manager of the Colony Club in Springfield, has agreed to buy the popular eatery, keeping the staff, menu and ambiance pretty much the same.

Somewhere during the title search, however, the transaction hit a snag. It appears that in the course of a past renovation, some clapboard and insulation were added to the side of the building so that it overhangs the edge of the adjacent city parking lot.

Although the foundation of the restaurant sits entirely on its own footprint, at high noon the Eastside Grill casts a teeny-weeny shadow on city land.

To resolve the problem, the city is offering to declare the land surplus and sell it to Yacuzzo for $13.94.

Yacuzzo declined comment.

Assessor Joan Sarafin said she was asked by Mayor Mary Clare Higgins to estimate the value of the land in question. Land values within Northampton vary widely, Sarafin explained.

For example, the assessed value of a square foot inside the Eastside Grill is $93.72. Sarafin figured the parking lot land to be worth about $16 a square foot. “It’s a little piece that’s not good to anyone else except the person who’s buying it,” she said.

Higgins came up with the figure cited in the resolution, but Sarafin does not know how the mayor calculated the amount.

Hampshire County Registrar of Deeds Marianne Donohue called the situation “ridiculous” but said that title companies have become very strict in recent years.

As Donohue explained, the seller must hire a lawyer to make sure the property is unencumbered.

The overlap was apparently discovered during that process. A surveyor submitted a mortgage loan inspection map delineating the property boundaries.

“I’m sure Dan’s gone to a lot of expense to get this problem resolved,” said Donohue.

According to Donohue, property sales are often made for the legal minimum of $1 when people simply want to transfer the rights to relatives or friends. Since she took office in 1984, however, Donohue has never seen an actual sale for as low as $13.

“If it were me, I would probably go and tear that piece of roof off,” she said.


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