Island Trees scraps plan to sell 2 shuttered schools
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The Island Trees school district has backed off a plan to sell two shuttered schools to make way for a senior housing complex.
The district considered selling an 11-acre property on Farmedge Road in Levittown to a developer who wanted to build 160 to 247 units for people 55 and older. The property is the site of the Geneva N. Gallow School and Stephen E. Karopczyc School. Both closed more than 20 years ago.
But many community residents opposed the plan, with some saying the district could use the buildings again in the future. Others said they did not support a district plan to move the Island Trees Public Library, which is in the Karopczyc School building.
Superintendent Charles Murphy said yesterday the district will form a citizens committee to study possibilities for the property and propose recommendations to the school board.
The district will mail information about the committee to residents within the next two weeks, Murphy said. The district will ask the committee to consider selling the Farmedge property, selling part of it or doing nothing, he said.
"We're basically rebooting," Murphy said.
The Karopczyc School building now houses the library and school district offices. A Nassau BOCES preschool program moved out of the Gallow building in June and it has been vacant since then.
Island Trees district officials had said the sale would have saved the district $200,000 annually on building costs.
More than 500 residents attended a forum about the proposal on Feb. 10, with almost all opposing the plan. One of the attendees, Brian Fielding, said he felt the community backlash caused the district to scrap the plan.
Fielding, who has two children in the district, said he will volunteer to join the committee. "Let's take our foot off the gas pedal and think about what we're going to do with this," he said.
Murphy said the committee will likely hold meetings through the summer and into the fall and will include district residents, library board members, property owners and seniors, he said.
"We're going to start the process over," he said.
The Island Trees district is one of at least three on Long Island that has recently considered selling a closed school building, with districts in Seaford and Lindenhurst also looking to sell.