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Smithtown gets appraisal for 13-acre school district property

The Smithtown school district administration building on New

The Smithtown school district administration building on New York Avenue in Smithtown. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

An appraisal commissioned by the Town of Smithtown puts the market value of a 13-acre Smithtown school district property at $6.6 million or $6.9 million — less than half of what the district would have gotten in a deal with a developer that fell through earlier this year.

The lower value is for the property “as is,” keeping the administration building and its annex. The higher value assumes zoning changes to allow for multifamily housing to be built there. Both values assume $2 million in asbestos removal costs. The multifamily housing scenario also assumes a $760,000 cost to demolish the buildings.

Town officials have proposed buying the 26 New York Ave. property, which the district says it no longer needs because of falling enrollment, to consolidate municipal offices now scattered across downtown Smithtown. The town would sell some of those municipal buildings and turn grass fields now at the New York Avenue property into a town park.

“We maintain the fields, we consolidate our operations and sell off our buildings: it’s a win-win,” said Councilman Tom McCarthy, who suggested the purchase earlier this year. “These fields, they’d lose some of this if they were selling to a commercial developer.”

But the appraisal by Michael Haberman Associates lists values far below the deal the district reached last year to sell the property for $14.8 million or more to a Nashville, Tennessee, developer. The developer, who planned to put as many as 252 apartments on the site, backed out of that deal after a group of neighbors said the plans were out of scale for their neighborhood.

School Superintendent James Grossane did not respond to a request for an interview Monday, but said in a statement that “the board received an appraisal report from the town. They are reviewing the appraisal and will discuss their options with our attorneys.”

The district has not received an offer from the town, he added, and the Board of Education “has not determined what next steps will be.”

Bob Hughes, a leader of the group that opposed the developer’s plans, said he and his neighbors favored the town plan to consolidate offices and build a park at the site.

“We want to make both sides aware of how important this is to a big segment of the community,” he said. Sale of the old town buildings could “spur other development in the town,” he said, and “that grassy area would make a great central park, which may help out in downtown revitalization also.”

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