After plans for an apartment complex on the site of the Smithtown school district administration building on New York Avenue fell through earlier this year, a new plan is in the works.
The Smithtown town board recently hired real estate firm Michael Haberman Associates to appraise the building, after Councilman Tom McCarthy (R) proposed the town purchase the property, suggesting the land and building could be used for offices and a park.
At recent town board meetings, residents have been more supportive of this proposal than the former plan. At school board meetings earlier this year residents roasted the administration for a lack of transparency, and argued an apartment complex would not be a welcomed addition to the neighborhood.
“I just want to thank Supervisor Vecchio and the board members,” Smithtown resident Bob Hughes said at the Feb. 23 meeting. “Mr. McCarthy had proposed exploring the purchase of the New York Avenue building and it was approved by the board and we appreciate that. We want to thank you for better transparency than we had with the school board. You’ve taken our phone calls, you made phone calls and you met with us.”
At the March 7 meeting Smithtown resident and local architect Mark Mancini weighed in on the future of the property.
“My thought process would be fully in support of what you’re proposing and I hope that you’re proceeding forward … I think it’s going to be an overall benefit for the town,” Mancini said at the meeting. “I think the whole plan looks like a great idea to us.”
Hughes returned to praise the idea and asked if a timeline had been established yet.
“A lot of the residents think it would be a great thing for the community especially to develop the grass area, the vacant land to a downtown central park for the community, keeping the activities local here to the downtown Main Street which would eventually help to increase patronage to downtown shops and the restaurants,” he said. “Just curious, is there a time frame when you expect to get the appraisal back?”
Smithtown attorney Matthew Jakubowski said it’s not yet clear, but a rough estimate suggested the process wouldn’t begin for a few months.
“We have to look at it from two different approaches: purchasing the building as is and what the possible fair market value is were it available commercially,” he said.
Not everyone in the community is on board with the effort.
“I think it is an ideal spot for condos for young people,” St. James resident Rose Palazzo said at the March 7 meeting. “I believe it’s about time to have affordable condos built. How can our residents forget that these young people would like to have their own home in Smithtown—then when they have a bigger family, they will buy the homes of those residents who are downsizing? It is a win for young people and a win for the town.”