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Sale of shuttered Deer Park school nears closing after four years

The George Washington School at 220 Washington Ave.

The George Washington School at 220 Washington Ave. in Deer Park, four years after the town voted to sell it. Credit: Newsday/Rachel O'Brien

The shuttered George Washington School in Deer Park is expected to be in the hands of a developer within months, more than four years after school district residents voted to sell the property.

The developer Engel Burman plans to build 200 apartments for seniors. 

In 2014, school district residents voted to sell the former school, now closed more than 28 years ago.

The 10-acre parcel was originally slated for one-bedroom apartments with dens, but the Babylon Town Board changed its code in May to allow two-bedroom units for seniors, in time for this $30 million development.

The project, the “Seasons at Deer Park,” will include 14 residential buildings for residents 55 and older. The rent will be about $2,000 per month and 40 units will be designated as affordable, according to plans submitted to the town.  

It will include a recreational building with a swimming pool and a building to be used for school district offices.

The developer will also build a single-family house to sell on Bowling Lane, which is on the same lot.   

 After the school closed decades ago, a day care center rented space in the building and the town ran a community center. After the building was sold, the community center was closed and a new program opened at the Memorial School building on Homer Avenue. The day care center, Little Scholars Child Center, left the building in June 2015.

Engel Burman has all the necessary town approvals and is awaiting final approval from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to dispose of its wastewater through Suffolk County Sewer District 3, said the developer’s attorney, Chris Kent of Farrell Fritz.

“We’re probably a month away or so,” he said, adding the school district is looking to close in May or June.

Once the county health department greenlights the plan, Engel Burman will apply for a town building permit, Kent said. Construction is expected to take 18 months once it begins, according to Bram Weber, a Melville-based lawyer for the developer. 

That can’t come soon enough for some residents, including Lamont Wilson, who leads the group Concerned Citizens of Deer Park.

He lives on Skidmore Road near the school and is one of many to call the property an eyesore. 

“Right now, that school’s just sitting there, idle,” he said. “We need something there.”

Wilson is also concerned with vandalism and other potential criminal activity and had asked the school district to install a fence around the property, a request officials denied.

Speaking through a representative, Superintendent Eva J. Demyen said, “The district has increased security measures during all hours of the day at Washington in partnership with the Suffolk County Police Department. A fence does not deter vandalism.” 

Another resident, Donnell Cooke, lives on Tell Avenue near the school, and wishes the community center hadn’t been closed years ago before the sale was complete.

“It was basically a place for the kids in the neighborhood, they have a place to go,” he said.

The district  representative said programs left the school when it “was unsafe for any occupancy” but didn’t elaborate on what made it unsafe. 

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the property's developer.

Looking back and ahead

2014: The year Deer Park voters passed a referendum to sell the George Washington School property

350: Number of parking spots the project will have

200: Number of apartments developer Engel Burman expects to build

18:  Number of months construction is expected to take

14: Number of buildings that will house the 55 and older residents

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