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Smithtown schools may not sell headquarters property

The Smithtown school district's administrative offices, seen here

The Smithtown school district's administrative offices, seen here on Nov. 1, 2016, may not be for sale after all. Credit: Ed Betz

Smithtown Central School District may not sell its New York Avenue headquarters to the town — or to anyone else.

“The Board of Education has made no decision as to what direction it wishes to pursue with respect to the New York Avenue property,” a district spokesman said in an email Monday, repeating the message a Board of Education lawyer had for town attorney Matt Jakubowski in a late August letter.

Town officials said earlier this year they were interested in buying the 13-acre property, which includes a historic house and playing fields, for possible use as a park and as a central site for municipal offices now housed in buildings spread across downtown Smithtown. An appraisal commissioned by the town valued the property at $6.6 million or $6.9 million.

The lower amount was for the property “as is,” keeping the district’s administration building and its annex; the higher amount was for the property after demolition.

Both value amounts are far below the $14.8 million the district would have received under a deal last year with a Nashville, Tennessee, developer that wanted to build as many as 252 apartments on the site. The developer backed out of that deal after neighborhood opposition to the scale of the plans. District officials, facing declining enrollment, retained realtors to market the site in 2015.

Councilman Tom McCarthy said in a Town Board meeting Sept. 5 that the district’s current position was clear: “They don’t want to sell to us,” he said.

Under the building consolidation plan sketched earlier this year, the town would have sold some its satellite buildings. Democratic candidate for Town Supervisor Bill Holst at the Sept. 5 meeting asked town council members to move forward on that aspect of the plan by commissioning an appraisal of the buildings, which he said was a crucial first step toward generating “some real revitalization here in this area,” he said.

McCarthy said that appraisal would be premature. “If we can get them to the bargaining table, I’m sure the board would be more than willing to do the appraisal,” he said.

District officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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