Questions unresolved on Masera deal without developer's answers

Issue may delay May public vote

Randall Waszynski
Posted 2/27/20

West Islip Board of Education held a meeting on Tuesday night at the high school with the intent of hosting the still-undisclosed developer proposing to build a senior-living facility where the …

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Questions unresolved on Masera deal without developer's answers

Issue may delay May public vote

Posted

West Islip Board of Education held a meeting on Tuesday night at the high school with the intent of hosting the still-undisclosed developer proposing to build a senior-living facility where the vacant Emil D. Masera Elementary School sits on Udall Road. Board president Steve Gellar explained that, along with the board and the district’s discussions with the developer, some details were left unresolved, which has ultimately delayed the plan to open a vote to the public regarding the board’s proposal.

“The community has been very specific and [the board has] been very specific on not allowing any variances to the town code, and we were not at that point yet with the developer. So we are going to slow this down,” Gellar said. “What we have been saying up until now is that we hoped to have the vote on the same day as the budget vote in May. With this slowdown with the proposed developer, it is a little more speculative.”

Gellar stressed that any deal made is contingent on voter and Town of Islip approval.

Over 200 residents attended the event, and most of those who approached the podium expressed frustration in regard to the undisclosed developer’s absence. Gellar did express, however, that the developer is a well-known, reputable firm and that the school district has had no previous dealings with this firm.

The proposed development would be a mix of two-bedroom/two-bath rentals and condos. With any rental complex, mandate exists that 10 percent of the units must abide by affordable housing rates. This instance entails that those units’ rent and utilities would equate to $2,400 per month. Gellar explained that “affordable housing” is a legal term.

“It is not our term,” he said. “It is a law that the Town of Islip has passed in accordance with the state law, and a calculation is somewhat involved. It is based on what they see as the median income for that zone, which in this particular case is $124,000 per year.”

The option of building single-family homes was brought up by several residents. Gellar said that option was posed to their bidders, which they returned to propose roughly 34 homes of this kind. He explained that an option of that nature would entail a discrepancy in the realm of $6 to $7 million in sales price as well as up to $500,000 in property tax left on the table.

“We do have a fiduciary responsibility. I certainly understand that people do not want us to care about the money, and it is definitely not the only thing we care about,” Gellar said, continuing on to say that closing a deal of that kind would raise the legitimate argument that the board and district did not abide by their fiduciary responsibility.

In terms of closure, Gellar added that the proposed senior-living project would be much smoother than the single-family route. The property will begin to generate tax revenue once the certificate of occupancy has been issued.

A subsequent meeting has yet to be scheduled.n

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