Will CHSD Sell Jerusalem Avenue School?

DOUGLAS FINLAY

Members of the Board of Education of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District listened to attendees challenge the board’s plan to sell the school building to Nassau BOCES, which currently leases the building for $1.3 million annually, at a special meeting set up to discuss sale of its Jerusalem Avenue School in North Bellmore.

fieldJerusalem Avenue school field is of vital importance to the school district

While BOCES has leased the school for pre-k and other educational services for the last 19 years, several in attendance asked why the district wasn’t reviewing other potential buyers, such as developers who could bring vastly larger sources of revenue to the district than the $12 million agreed to by the district and BOCES.

District Superintendent John DiTommaso maintains that revenues from the sale would be put into a reserve fund for tax reduction that would go specifically toward lowering annual tax levies in the district for the next 10 years, while lowering budgetary constraints over the same time period.

“Should the board be exploring other possible bidders to keep taxes in the Bellmore-Merrick district”? one attendee asked. Still another asked if the board has solicited other bids. District Superintendent John DiTommaso responded “no.”

Concern was palpable among attendees John Ferrara and Joann Erhard, who told the board they didn’t want the district giving the “asset away.”

“Stop & Shop was going to build a super center at the corner of Jerusalem Avenue and Newbridge Road, but couldn’t purchase the county’s traffic building” to expand the acreage needed to build the new center, Erhard said. “Why not contact them?”

Ferrara suggested that in five-to-10 years BOCES could put the school building up for sale to a developer for $80 million or more, and the Bellmore-Merrick district would receive none of the tax revenues.

While it was noted to the board that “no developer would take that property without the fields,” bolstering an outlook that BOCES couldn’t sell the property if it wanted to, another attendee, identified only as Joe – touting commercial real estate experience – disagreed, saying developers could purchase the school building without the fields.

READ BOCES’ REACTION TO ATTENDEE CRITICISMS  – AND WHAT SALE IS CONTINGENT UPON – in April 27 magazine issue coming to your mailbox

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