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Thursday, November 27, 2014
Battling over Number Six
Opposition organizes against proposed medical facility
By Jeffrey Bessen
Courtesy Newman Design
The proposed medical center site plan shows where the existing playground would be relocated (arrow), along with the planned parking lot and landscaping.

Opposition to the potential sale of the Number Six School has coalesced into an ad hoc organization made up of concerned homeowners and parents calling themselves the Community Coalition of the Five Towns.

Organized by Woodmere resident Joshua Schein, the group, which Schein said has several hundred members, strongly opposes the planned sale of the closed elementary school to Simone Development Companies.

The Lawrence School District voted in January to sell the 80,170-square-foot building and its 6.7-acre site to Simone for $12.5 million. Simone plans to lease the property to Mt. Sinai Hospital, which would turn it into a 60-doctor, 30-specialty medical facility and urgent-care center. The sale is subject to a public referendum scheduled for March 20.

Calling the proposed facility a “mega-medical center,” the coalition claims that it is not an appropriate use of the site, at 523 Church Ave. in Woodmere, because it is adjacent to a residential neighborhood and would eliminate the recreational space the community uses.

Simone’s plan calls for paving the grass ball field and basketball court area to create 456 parking spaces. The existing playground would be maintained, but moved from its current location, near Peninsula Boulevard, to what would be a landscaped area by Church Avenue.

“I would rather see something that benefits our community and our children, such as a library or community center,” said Schein, adding that the already heavy traffic, along with the vehicle volume the medical center would generate, would also be a problem. “Traffic is a tremendous concern,” he said, “and not just the roadways the developer is talking about, but the side streets as well.”

According to figures provided to Lawrence’s Board of Education and Simone by Greiner-Maltz, the Plainview-based real estate broker the district hired to market the Number Six School, the property could generate approximately $1 million a year in taxes for the district, the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County. “The facility will be the fourth-largest taxpayer in the school district, and taxes will amount to tens of millions of dollars over time,” said attorney Ben Weinstock, who represents Simone.

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