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Oyster Bay plans not to convert community center into offices

The town has decided not to move government

The town has decided not to move government offices to North Massapequa Community Center, which was damaged in a fire in January 2016. Credit: Ed Betz

A plan to convert the fire-damaged North Massapequa Community Center into town government offices has been scrapped, Oyster Bay officials said.

The building could reopen as soon as May or June following repairs, Deputy Supervisor Gregory Carman said in an interview.

As recently as January the town was considering moving about two dozen Department of Public Works employees to the building at 214 N. Albany Ave., from 150 Miller Place in Syosset. In February, the newly appointed Supervisor Joseph Saladino announced that all relocation plans — including the community center — were on hold pending a review.

“The supervisor made the decision not to relocate personnel to that building,” Carman said. He said the administration was responding to area residents who wanted to see the building continue to be used for its original purpose.

“The community was interested in having it as a community center rather than seeing us convert it to office space,” Carman said.

The center has been closed since a Jan. 18, 2016, fire caused an estimated $750,000 in damage, which town spokeswoman Marta Kane said in an email included structural damage but was mostly from smoke and water.

Kane said that about 20 programs that had been taking place at the center, including senior programs and cultural and performing arts workshops, were moved to other locations, including town community centers in Massapequa, Farmingdale and Woodbury.

The town government has to leave the Syosset facility, where about half of its nearly 1,200 full-time employees work because it sold it in 2013 to Oyster Bay Realty LLC, which includes Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group as one of its partners, to fill a budget gap.

Carman said the town is not in a rush to relocate as it can stay on the site rent-free until next year and has the option to rent the property for an additional three years.

The Town Board approved using architect Douglas A. Wilke of Glen Head for the design, bidding and construction phases of the project for $79,500 at its April 4 board meeting. Last year the board approved using Wilke for initial work following the fire and paid him, “about $33,000,” Kane said.

This year Wilke was chosen in a competitive bid held at the request of the insurance company, which is paying for 100 percent of the costs, Carman said.

Carman said all seven bids received came in with similar dollar amounts but that Wilke had an edge because he designed the original building.

“We felt that we could get the job done quickest and fastest through him,” Carman said.

North Massapequa Community Center

Year built: 1972

Square feet: 6,704

Date of fire: Jan. 18, 2016

Estimated damage: $750,000

Sources: Nassau County, Oyster Bay


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