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Woodmere school sale goes to referendum

A rendering for the proposal to convert School

A rendering for the proposal to convert School Number Six in Lawrence. (Feb. 8, 2013) Credit: Newman Design

Voters in the Lawrence school district will go to the polls Wednesday in a referendum asking whether the vacant Number Six School in Woodmere should be sold for $12.5 million to a health care group that plans to convert it into outpatient medical offices.

The sale would pump much-needed money into the district's budget, supporters said. The property's addition to the tax rolls would mean an estimated $1 million payment a year -- 60 percent of which would go to the school district, supporters said.

Opponents of the plan said the site is better suited to an educational purpose. They support selling the building to a yeshiva for girls that had bid $10.5 million.

The board of education voted in March 2009 to close the Number Six School, the newest and largest of its elementary schools, because of declining district enrollment.

The board of education voted in January to accept Simone Healthcare Development Group's bid for the property. District voters must approve the sale in the referendum.

If the referendum is approved, the developer would have to apply to the Town of Hempstead for a change of zoning from its current residential designation, an attorney for Simone Healthcare has said.

The existing school building would house medical offices for about 60 doctors, he has said, and would be leased by the Mount Sinai Medical Center's Icahn School of Medicine. A landscaped buffer bordering residential streets would be installed.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the following sites: Atlantic Beach Village Hall, Number Two School, Lawrence Middle School and Lawrence High School.

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