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Smithtown to appraise school district administrative building

The Smithtown Town Board has hired Mineola-based real estate firm Michael Haberman Associates to appraise the Central School District’s administration building.

Town board members agreed unanimously earlier this month to enter talks with the district after a Nashville, Tennessee, business pulled out of a $14.8 million deal to build apartments on the site at 26 New York Ave.

Town and school officials spoke about a possible deal earlier this month but did little more than broach the topic, Deputy Supervisor Tom McCarthy said.

“They want to sell and we’re a possible purchaser,” he said. “We’ll talk after the appraisal.”

McCarthy, who first proposed the purchase, has said the building and the fields behind it could be used for municipal offices and a park. A deal for those uses would likely net less than what district officials initially sought.

A representative for Superintendent James Grossane released this statement last week: “The district is happy to work with the Town in regards to possible land development proposals. Any plans that the district considers for the sale of the property must be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of the school district.”

The proposal for apartments drew opposition from hundreds of neighbors earlier this year, and sale of the property for development remains a volatile issue.

Neighborhood leaders have pressed for the town’s purchase of the site at public meetings. John Zollo, a former town attorney contemplating a run for town board this year on the Conservative and Republican lines, has accused McCarthy and Supervisor Patrick Vecchio of entertaining a town offer only when it became politically expedient to do so.

McCarthy said at a town board meeting last Thursday that he and other board members felt that proposals for more than 250 apartments were “totally out of line” and would have harmed surrounding neighborhoods.

“This board is acting prudently to see if we can purchase it,” he said.

Vecchio tried to temper expectations for the possible deal. “This is a long way from fruition and the building is loaded with asbestos,” he said. “There’s a huge cost involved with renovating the building to accommodate our needs. There’s a good intention to try it, but there’s no guarantee.”

The town will pay $6,500 for the appraisal.

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