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Public hearing to focus on future of Dowling College campus in Oakdale

The Dowling College campus in Oakdale closed in

The Dowling College campus in Oakdale closed in 2016 after it declared bankruptcy. Credit: Johnny Milano

Plans to preserve the shuttered Dowling College campus in Oakdale will be discussed in a public hearing on Thursday, officials said.

Property owner Mercury International LLC’s bid to protect the exterior of some buildings while using the facilities in special ways will go before the Islip Town Planning Board.

The company is still examining how best to use the 25-acre property that was purchased for $26.1 million in August, said Don Cook, Mercury’s director of operations.

“We’re looking at everything right now,” Cook said.

Mercury has applied for a planned landmark preservation district to preserve the Idle Hour mansion, the Performing Arts Center, the Kramer Science Center, the Vanderbilt well and the love tree, officials said.

It is seeking a wide range of possible special uses for the property, including a degree-granting or vocational school, farmers market, mooring wharf for boats and “pretty much what Dowling had before,” such as a catering hall, a theater, dormitory and a dance studio, Cook said.  

The planning board will solicit public comment and make a recommendation to the Islip Town Board, which will decide on the zone change at a later date, town senior planner Sean Colgan said. If the zoning is granted, any modifications to historic structures would have to be approved by town officials.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting at Town Hall West in Islip is scheduled as a small group of Dowling College alumni are looking into reopening the liberal arts college that closed and declared bankruptcy in 2016.

Cook said the plan for the property has not changed since a public meeting held in February.

“We’re hoping for the community cooperation, and we’re looking to work with the community to make this place active again,” Cook said.

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