Most at Island Trees meeting oppose sale of schools

Island Trees school district officials are considering selling Island Trees school district officials are considering selling property on Farmedge Road, the site of Geneva N. Gallow School, pictured here, and Stephen E. Karopczyc School. Both closed more than 20 years ago. A developer wants to build a senior housing complex on the site. Photo Credit: Google

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Island Trees parents and Levittown residents questioned a district proposal to sell two shuttered schools to make way for a senior housing complex at a forum Monday night.

Island Trees School District officials are considering selling an 11-acre property on Farmedge Road, the site of Geneva N. Gallow School and Stephen E. Karopczyc School, both of which closed more than 20 years ago.

Seven bidders submitted proposals for the site, and the leading bidder -- whom the district declined to identify -- wants to build 160 to 247 units for residents 55 and older.

More than 500 residents attended a forum about the proposal at Island Trees High School, with almost all opposing the plan. Some parents said they felt the district could use the buildings again in the future, while other Levittown residents said they were concerned the sale would displace the Island Trees Public Library, which is inside the Karopczyc school.

Brian Fielding, a father of two children in the district, said he and many other parents oppose the sale to a private developer. He said the project needs "more research and more studies" before a deal is brokered.

"I don't want to see it happen," Fielding said. "A lot of opposition is out there."

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The project would need to be approved by a public referendum, Superintendent Charles Murphy said.

He said the sale would benefit the district because, in addition to the money from the sale, it would save $200,000 annually on building costs and would increase school tax revenue. Murphy said the Island Trees library could be moved to Island Trees Memorial Middle School.

The meeting was intended to allow district officials to hear from the public, Murphy said. The district isn't ready to announce more details about the proposal because it is still negotiating with bidders, he said.

"We think the tax benefit is terrific," Murphy said. "It's an economic boom for a lot of people."

The Levittown proposal is one of at least three plans on Long Island to turn a closed school into senior housing.

BK at Seaford LLC, a subsidiary of The Engel Burman Group in Garden City, is seeking a zone change to allow for the 112-unit The Seasons at Seaford senior-living development, located on the site of the former Seaford Avenue School.

The Lindenhurst Board of Education also has received four offers from developers for a shuttered elementary school. Three of the four proposals involve building senior housing.

With Denise M. Bonilla

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