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Residents discuss proposed Seaford school sale

Seaford School District Superintendent Brian Conboy relays questions

Seaford School District Superintendent Brian Conboy relays questions from the crowd to developers during an Informational meeting regarding the proposed sale of the vacant Seaford Avenue School. (Oct. 4, 2012) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

More than 350 people crowded into the auditorium at Seaford High School last night to weigh in at a sometimes-heated special school board session on the proposed sale of Seaford Avenue School to a developer who would demolish the structure and build condominiums.

Some asked pointed questions at a microphone or applauded to questions submitted by cards proposing alternatives such as a community center.

Roberta Grogan, 48, of Seaford, said she reviewed the contract of sale before the meeting.

"The contract doesn't have anything in writing that says it's a 55-and-over community that speaks to what they said today," she said. "My concern is the density of the complex. It isn't consistent with our community."

A referendum is scheduled Oct. 16 on the sale of the school and a 5.66-acre property for $5.2 million to BK at Seaford Llc, a subsidiary of The Engel Burman Group. If approved, the Garden City developer would be able to build 112 condominium units for residents 55 and older.

The sale would save the district about $100,000 in annual maintenance costs and create $620,000 in additional annual tax revenue, Superintendent Brian Conboy said last week.

Jerry Carano, 47, of Seaford doubted the assessment of the low-traffic impact on Waverly Avenue. "There's one street to get out of here," he said. "They can't support that kind of traffic over there. That's a pipe dream."

But others thought the proposal would help make good use of the land. "It's good for seniors who want to sell their homes and downsize," said Barbara Florio, 65, of Seaford. She said that with the proposed senior community, "They're not bringing in more children into the development, overcrowding schools."

The 1939 building was last used to educate Seaford students in 1981. It served as the home of Five Towns College from 1982 to 1992, when it was leased to Nassau BOCES until 2010. Since then, the district has been unable to find a tenant, reducing its revenue by about $400,000 a year, Conboy said.

Refurbishing the building would cost about $5 million to $6 million, he said.

State law requires that revenue from the sale be placed in a reserve fund to be used over 10 years. That revenue, plus new property taxes, would be used to retain, restore or expand programs for students and improve facilities, Conboy said. If the sale is approved, the developer must obtain zoning approval from the Town of Hempstead. Any reduction in the 112 units would reduce the school district's take by $49,500 per unit, but its total sale revenue cannot fall below $4.95 million, Conboy has said.Steve Kreiger, a principal at The Engel Burman Group, said that in addition to the 112 condo units, the proposal includes an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse and 217 parking spots, almost twice as many as the number of homes.

Conboy talked about the recent history of the property and how the topic was discussed at more than 25 school board meetings since September 2010.

With Aisha Al-Muslim

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