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Seaford delays school sale referendum

The vacant Seaford Avenue School on Sept. 30,

The vacant Seaford Avenue School on Sept. 30, 2012. Board members voted 6-0 Tuesday, May 20, 2014, to approve a request from BK at Seaford LLC, a subsidiary of The Engel Burman Group in Garden City, to change the zoning from residential to senior citizen housing. Credit: Steven Sunshine

The Seaford school district has postponed Tuesday's referendum on the proposed sale of the vacant Seaford Avenue School property to a private developer for $5.2 million.

The board of education voted unanimously to delay the referendum at a special meeting Thursday night at Seaford Manor Elementary School attended by about 100 people.

The board's postponement will allow the contract to be amended with covenants that would require the 112 proposed condominium units to be owner-occupied, for purchase only and not for rent, and for residents 55 and older. It would also ban school-age children from living there. Developer BK at Seaford Llc, a subsidiary of The Engel Burman Group, indicated in a letter received by the board Tuesday that it is willing to put those conditions in writing and requested that the referendum be postponed, school officials said.

The sale of the 5.66-acre property would save the district about $100,000 in annual maintenance costs and create $500,000 in additional annual tax revenue, Superintendent Brian Conboy has said. Previously rented out, the building has been vacant since 2010.

The district will continue to pay for maintenance until the developer gets the necessary zoning approval from the Town of Hempstead, the school district's attorney Christopher Venator said Thursday. He added that the district has agreed to give $400,000 toward asbestos abatement of the building after negotiating with the developer.

Some residents have opposed the plan because of the density of the housing complex, possible traffic and parking issues, and the probable loss of three baseball fields on the property. Others have said the additional tax revenue and senior housing are needed.

"I thank you for listening to us and delaying the vote," said Phil Franco, president of the Seaford Harbor Civic Association, while expressing lingering dissatisfaction. "The people in the community are not comfortable with 112 units," but would support 75 units, he added.

Residents requested all documentation pertaining to the sale be posted on the district's website.

"Publish what you have," said Lorraine Devita, who has lived in Seaford for almost 39 years, adding that she wanted to see the asbestos abatement report. "If you're claiming transparency, prove it."

Conboy responded, "We're not trying to hide any reports." The documents would be available at the district office upon request, he said.

The board is expected to review the amended contract and select a new date for the referendum at a meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Manor Elementary School.


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