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Staff Directory

Masera Update

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Ask a Question: maseraquestions@wi.k12.ny.us

 

 

SINCE EASTERN SUFFOLK BOCES HAS VACATED THE MASERA BUILDING, WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE PROPERTY?
The District has been exploring a variety of options for the site. Due to the age and condition of the school, and the likelihood of successfully leasing a third district property (the Kirdahy and Westbrook schools are currently leased to multiple tenants), the Board contracted with Winkler Real Estate to solicit offers to build housing for senior citizens.
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WHAT IS THE SIZE OF THE PROPERTY?
The 11-acre property sits on the west side of Udall Road, just north of Sunrise Highway. The building originally opened as
Paumanok Elementary School in 1955.
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WHEN WAS THE COMMUNITY NOTIFIED ABOUT THE PROPOSED SALE OF THE PROPERTY?
The District notified the community in the Lion’s Pride newsletter that went home to all households in early November 2019. Since that time, information has been posted prominently on the district website. Over the next few months, the Board trustees and central administrators will hold meetings to discuss the future of the property and elicit feedback from the community.
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WHY DID THE BOARD OF EDUCATION CHOOSE TO SOLICIT OFFERS FOR SENIOR HOUSING?
The Board reviewed and analyzed all of the suggested uses proposed by Mrs. Winkler, and decided that senior housing was the best use for the property and would provide the best financial outcome. West Islip is the only hamlet in the Town of Islip that does not have condominium or rental options for its seniors. The District is sensitive to the fact that it is a residential area and a 55-and-older development would stabilize the student population and not be a burden on the school system. However, this use has not been finalized.
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WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE STUDENT POPULATION INCREASED IN THE FUTURE?
Long-term studies were completed by BOCES in 2011 and again in 2016. These studies projected that the student population will continue to decline for the foreseeable future, and then level off. The district owns two other buildings that are presently leased and can be repurposed if the need were to arise.
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WHY DID THE DISTRICT ENGAGE THE SERVICES OF JAMIE WINKLER REAL ESTATE?
After a search, Mrs. Winkler was chosen a number of years ago to market the Westbrook and Kirdahy properties after the elementary schools closed in 2012. Based on the level of success achieved in leasing those properties, Mrs. Winkler was engaged by the Board of Education to negotiate and arrange for the solicitation of offers for the Masera property.
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WHAT IS THE PROCESS THE BOARD OF EDUCATION MUST FOLLOW IN THE SALE OF THE PROPERTY?
Choose a broker. (Jamie Winkler Real Estate was chosen to market the property.)
Advertise the property. (Mrs. Winkler advertised in various venues to ensure widespread solicitation.)
Meet with developers who submitted the best offers. (The Board met with five of the eight developers that submitted offers on the property.)
Present the project to the community. (A public forum was held on December 12, and other community meetings will be held as the project progresses.)
Choose a developer. (TBD)
Hold a community vote in May, at which time residents decide whether to approve the sale.
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WOULD THE PROPERTY BE RENTAL OR CONDOS?
It would likely be a mix-used development, but this option is still under discussion.
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WHAT INFLUENCE DOES THE BOARD OF EDUCATION HAVE REGARDING THE SIZE OF THE DEVELOPMENT?
The Board, like many of the homeowners who expressed their opinions at the December 12 community meeting, did not want an “overbuilt” complex, so one of the conditions presented to the developers who made offers was that they would not be permitted to make an application for excesss density. The District would be attentive to the details of the contract in keeping with the wishes of the community. The town code for senior housing limits development to 10 units per acres for condominiums and 12 units per acre for apartments. The 11-acre Masera property would be limited to 120 condo units or 132 apartments, or some combination thereof.
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WHAT IS THE PRICE RANGE FOR THE UNITS?
This is to be determined, but 10% of the units are required by Islip Town Code to be “affordable”. This means that the price of the units must be achievable for people earning 80% of the median income in the Town of Islip.
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WHAT WOULD BE THE ADDED BURDEN TO THE TRAFFIC ON UDALL ROAD?
The school run by BOCES at the Masera site employed 170 staff. Buses from all over Suffolk County arrived and departed from the site multiple times each day. Additionally, a traffic study will be completed to ensure that any development of the property does not put an added burden on the area.
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WILL THE PROPERTY PROVIDE A TAX ADVANTAGE TO THE DISTRICT?
The sale of the property would generate revenue to the district; the tax advantage is subject to the type of development and terms of the contract.
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WOULD THERE BE PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR HOMEOWNERS WHO WANT TO SELL THEIR HOME AND MOVE INTO THE DEVELOPMENT?
This may be considered as restrictive to outsiders, but can be investigated.
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WOULD THE DISTRICT BENEFIT MORE FROM RESIDENTIAL HOMES AND/OR A SMALL PARK?
There is a greater need for senior housing at this time. Due to the current market and the cost of construction, it would not be cost-effective for a developer to purchase the property to build private housing. The School Board has a fiduciary responsibility to bring in as much money as possible to the District, and a developer would never pay anything close to what we are asking for the site because it would not be cost-effective. A park or other such facility that the district would need to manage and maintain would not generate taxes for the district.
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WOULD THE YOUTH LEAGUES STILL BE ABLE TO USE THE FIELDS ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE PROPERTY?
The entire property would be sold to one developer. However, the District is cognizant of the community’s desire to provide space for our children to participate in club activities and is investigating alternative options to the Masera fields.
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WHAT ARE THE LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN SELLING A SCHOOL?
In union free school districts, the school board decides whether to sell the property. Education Law §1709(11) gives the board the authority to sell the property “at such price and upon such terms as [the] voters shall prescribe.” Although the district has a legal duty to provide certain information to voters prior to a referendum, this does not include appraisal price information.
The terms of the sale are subject to voter approval. The referendum put before the voters should speak in general terms, such as, “the Board of Education is authorized to sell the [referenced] property at or above its fair market value, as determined by an appraisal of the property.”
The school board has a fiduciary duty to secure the best price obtainable – in the board’s judgment – for any lawful use of the premises.
The Commissioner of Education has noted that “A board of education has broad discretion to determine the best price for which a property can be sold, to condition the sale on such terms, as in the board’s judgment, will yield the maximum financial benefit for the district, and to determine the best method of sale to be utilized in a particular case.”
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WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PROCEEDS FROM A SALE?
The District is required to retain the proceeds from the sale of the Masera school in a Reserve for Tax Reduction. Money from this reserve is to be appropriated annually up to ten years to offset the tax levy. Once sold, the property will also begin to generate tax revenue to the District, subject to IDA tax abatements for approximately 10 years (for the apartments only).
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WOULD SENIOR RESIDENTS MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO PASS A SCHOOL BUDGET BY VOTING “NO”?
Many of our senior residents are the most supportive members of our community. They have raised their own families in West Islip and sent their children to West Islip schools (if not having attended themselves). They appreciate this hamlet enough to stay for their lifetime, and recognize the connection between a strong school system and the value of their properties.
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WHAT BENEFIT DOES THE DISTRICT SEE FROM THE SALE OF THE MASERA PROPERTY? DO I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE EXPIRATION OF THE TEN-YEAR TAX ABATEMENT TO SEE ANY TAX RELIEF?
The District will be able to offset the tax levy for up to ten years with the proceeds from the sale of the Masera property. The proceeds are required to be placed in a Reserve for Tax Reduction. The Board of Education is responsible for only one of the variables that affect property taxes: the tax levy. Other variables, such as changes in assessment (the taxable value of each property) and base proportions (how much of the overall assessment is paid by homeowners) are determined by the Assessor's Office. Actual taxes paid on a particular property are determined by taking the assessed value of a property, dividing it by 100, and multiplying it by the tax rate.
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WHY WAS AN ABATEMENT OFFERED TO THE DEVELOPERS AND WAS IT MANDATED BY LOCAL, COUNTY OR STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES?
The Town of Islip Economic Development offers a property tax abatement to developers of apartments (condominiums are not eligible).
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I AM ENTITLED TO A VETERANS' EXEMPTION, BUT I DON'T THINK IT IS BEING CALCULATED PROPERLY AND I AM PAYING MORE THAN I SHOULD.
Call the Town of Islip Assessor's Office regarding anything to do with exemptions. The district does not control or manage exemptions in any way.
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