Written by Daniel Offner Wednesday, 05 February 2014 00:00
After reviewing several proposals for the 11.3 acre property that currently houses the Geneva N. Gallow and Stephen J. Karopcyc schools, the Island Trees School District has announced it plans to sell the property to a developer for construction of 160 to 247 condominium units for residents ages 55 and up.
Presently, the school district spends over $200,000 a year to maintain both Gallow and Karopcyc school facilities, which have been closed for conventional classes for more than 20 years. According to school officials, the sale of the property will not only reduce maintenance costs by $200,000, it will also provide at least $500,000 per year in new tax revenue. The district will gain $700,000 per year by relinquishing the property, plus money made from the land sale.
All of the new housing units will be built solely for sale as condominiums, and will include sufficient parking located inside the development to ensure there is no overflow of parking outside the site. Although the development will be for residents 55 and older, there are no restrictions against children. Any student enrollment increase brought as a result of the new development is anticipated to be minimal and maintained in the district’s current schools.
While school officials have determined what the project will entail, they had not finalized any contract with the developer as of press time. Should the district approve, any revenue from the sale will be placed into a reserve fund.
“It’s not a done deal yet,” said Island Trees Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy. “We still need to iron out a few things with the [Island Trees] Public Library Board.”
The sale will require the district to relocate the Island Trees Public Library, SCOPE Preschool and school district offices. The district offices will move to Michael F. Stokes Elementary School, and the SCOPE pre-school program to the J. Fred Sparke Elementary School.
But plans moving the library in particular raised concerns.
“For a community with a large library, this might not seem so detrimental,” said Levittown resident Laura Giunta, regarding the district’s plan to hire an architect to design space for the library inside the Memorial Middle School. “The Island Trees Public Library is significantly smaller than libraries in neighboring communities. Any decrease to the size of the library’s location will have a major negative impact on the library, which already is in need of expansion.”
Through a Facebook survey, the district found 97 percent of residents polled use the library’s services.
“With so many Island Trees residents using the library, the school district has an obligation to see to it that our community has the best library it can,” Giunta added.
According to Murphy, the plan will potentially improve the Island Trees Public Library.
“With a proposition like this, it is imperative we have the community on board,” Murphy said. “We want to make sure it is full steam ahead before we sign any contract.”
Although the trustees have identified one proposal that they feel serves the best interests of the community, it has yet to agree to anything.
On Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m., the Island Trees Board of Education will meet at the high school, to discuss the proposals with the community.