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Four new purchase offers made for shuttered Lindenhurst elementary school

The Edward W. Bower Elementary School on Montauk

The Edward W. Bower Elementary School on Montauk Highway was closed in June 2011. Credit: Steve Pfost

The Lindenhurst school district has received four new offers to buy a shuttered elementary school, but some residents are unhappy that the property has yet to be sold.

The new offers are the second set submitted for the Edward W. Bower school on Montauk Highway. The school was closed in 2011 because of its age and sagging enrollment. The building has been rented to several groups but still costs the district more than $100,000 a year to maintain.

The board of education in 2013 voted to hire Islip real estate agent Jamie Winkler to put Bower on the market for nearly $6.5 million. The district received five offers ranging from $2.8 million to $5.2 million. However, plans for the site did not progress any further.

Last fall the board hired Plainview real estate agents Greiner-Maltz to market the property. John Pujia, senior director for the company, last week at a school board meeting made a presentation on the firm's efforts and said the company had solicited 10,000 possible candidates.

Pujia said they have received four offers and proposals for the use of the site: 150 units of multifamily housing; 99 units of multifamily housing for people 55 and older; assisted living with 40 units; and senior housing apartments that would require modifying the existing building and using adjacent fields for a park. The offers ranged from $3.5 million to $6 million, he said, and hinge on the density of the project.

Leaders of the village's three civic associations spoke out at the meeting, questioning the lengthy time to achieve a sale.

"This does not appear to be a board that is interested in selling the building," said John Lisi, president of the Daniel Street Civic Association.

Dave Woods, president of the Heer Park / Meridale Civic Association, said the "entire handling of Bower has had the appearance of being a charade" and questioned how aggressively the property is being marketed.

Denis Garbo, president of the Lighthouse Point Civic Association, estimated the district had lost more than $1 million because of maintenance costs and missed tax revenue.

The civic leaders asked for a roll-call vote to see which board members are against a sale. Board president Donna Hochman declined and said the board had been "very transparent" in the process. However, some board members expressed concerns about a sale.

"We don't want to just get the most money," said Linda Aniello. "We have to make the right decision for the community."

Hochman said all four developers would make public presentations before the board decides on a proposal. Any property sale needs voter approval.

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