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Lindenhurst residents to vote in fall on closed school’s fate

Lindenhurst residents will vote in October on whether

Lindenhurst residents will vote in October on whether Edward W. Bower Elementary School, which was closed in 2011, should be redeveloped into senior condos. Above, a view of the school on Sept. 28, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

Lindenhurst residents in October will vote on whether a shuttered elementary school is redeveloped into senior condos.

The Lindenhurst board of education last week set Oct. 18 for a public referendum where residents will decide the fate of the Edward W. Bower Elementary School on Montauk Highway.

In December, the board approved 7-2 to sell the property to Engel Burman Group of Garden City. Engel Burman offered $5.5 million to the district to develop the property for 100 senior condo units, plus a clubhouse and pool. The condos would be 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom units marketed for around $400,000 each.

Bower was closed in 2011 due to the building’s age and declining enrollment, with the district estimating that due to needed repair work, closing the building would save the district $1.5 million annually. Sections of the building are leased to several groups but it still costs the district more than $150,000 a year to maintain.

Last week during an informational meeting, some residents questioned the sale of the property, as well as the logistics of its demolition and building of the condos. Questions about asbestos removal, the new exits and entrances to the property and whether the market would support the cost of the condos were just some of the topics directed at Engel Burman attorney Albert D’Agostino of Valley Stream.

Former board member Patricia Ames made a plea for residents to vote for the sale. Ames, who lives across from the property, had previously started a petition to reject another possible developer, who sought to build a storage facility on the site.

Ames pointed out that should the sale be voted down, the process would go “back to the drawing board” and new development offers would be sought. She said her neighbors were largely in favor of the age 55 and over housing.

“Shouldn’t those of us that live there have the most to say about what is going to be placed there?” she asked.

Board president Donna Hochman said the referendum will cost the district about $25,000, with Engel Burman picking up the tab. If the sale is approved by voters, Engel Burman will then seek the permits and approvals it needs to go forward. If the sale is rejected, the board must once again have a realtor look for potential buyers.

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