North Hempstead Town is moving forward with plans to redevelop a vacant property that once housed a blighted New Cassel school, which was demolished four years ago.
The town board voted unanimously 7-0 at an April 17 meeting to more than halve building permit fees to pave the way for the town Housing Authority’s proposed plans to build affordable housing units for seniors age 55 and older.
This is a key step in the Housing Authority’s redevelopment process, which hinges on a land swap with North Hempstead Town. In exchange for the former Grand Street School property, the Housing Authority will grant an easement to the town on a nearby property, which will become parking for the town’s community center in New Cassel.
The town board will likely vote on the land swap at its May 8 meeting, said town spokeswoman Rebecca Cheng.
Town officials said that plans for the affordable housing development were not yet available. The Grand Street School, which was built in 1926, once served as an elementary school, and then as a day care and community center before sitting vacant for decades and then being torn down in 2014. The demolition cost about $700,000, according to a town news release.
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth previously said that while the demolition was bittersweet, the school had become an “unsightly and dangerous structure in the community.”
The vacant school had previously been categorized as a brownfield site, which is a property that may contain hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency granted the town $200,000 to remediate the contaminated school.
The town first acquired the title to the school in 1978, before eventually transferring it to a nonprofit foundation. The town then reacquired the property in 2012.