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Letter:

First, I’d like to commend the Island Trees School Board for abiding by its fiduciary responsibility to the residents of the district in exploring a possible sale of the Farmedge property. There is nothing wrong in doing preliminary research into the possible benefit of a sale on taxes and school funding.

 

First, I’d like to commend the Island Trees School Board for abiding by its fiduciary responsibility to the residents of the district in exploring a possible sale of the Farmedge property. There is nothing wrong in doing preliminary research into the possible benefit of a sale on taxes and school funding.

 

That said, I am against the sale of the property. There were a lot of arguments opposing the sale and development of the land that currently includes the Gallow and Karopczyc school buildings—many of which hold a lot of weight. 

 

My main concern is that the argument for selling is that the upkeep of the buildings costs the district about $200,000 a year (out of a $40 million budget)– which translates to about $30 per household based upon my limited knowledge of the specific budget numbers.  That is a small price to pay to hold onto the land, even if nothing is done with it.

 

There is the possibility of the district finding a new tenant to help offset the cost of maintenance. Or maybe the district and the town can cooperate on some sort of public park and community center – like was recently done in neighboring Plainedge.

 

To be fair, the board also argues that new development on the property would help increase the tax base, which would provide additional funds for other activities/projects for the school district. That benefit would take years to materialize and could potentially be unrealized if the proposed residences include school age children. And, no doubt any increased funds would go towards new spending as opposed to reducing taxes.

 

Our area is already overdeveloped. I’d much rather have a fraction of my tax dollars go to support an open field that my kids and the community can use and where the library can be housed, rather than handing it over to a developer and lose all control over it.

 

The people in attendance at the forum on February 10 spoke loud and clear, they are not in favor of a sale. I can’t imagine any other proposals for a residential development that would win over the majority of Island Trees residents. At this point, I’d hope the school board upholds its fiduciary duty and not waste any more money on studies of what to do with the property.

 

John Garger