About a half-dozen residents formed a line quickly behind a microphone and then several others stepped up to speak, mostly to air their gripes with the proposed plans for the closed Number Six School at the town hall-style meeting on Wednesday at Lawrence Middle School.
The Lawrence School District voted in January to sell the 80, 170-square foot building and its 6.7-acre site to Simone Development Companies which will lease the property to Mt. Sinai Hospital for a 60-doctor, 30-speciality medical facility and urgent care center at 523 Church Ave. in Woodmere that would employ a total of nearly 150 people.
Simone will purchase the property for $12.5 million. The sale is subject to a public referendum voted on by school district residents. That vote is scheduled for March 20. Should the sale be approved the property would go back on the tax rolls is expected to generate approximately $1 million in annual taxes for the district, Town of Hempstead and Nassau County.
An estimated 65 percent of that money would go to the district, according to school officials. Benjamin Weinstock, the attorney for Simone, said that each district household would pay $100 less in annual school property taxes. “The facility will be the fourth largest taxpayer in the school district and taxes will amount to tens of millions of dollars over time,” Weinstock said.
Joshua Stein, the organizer of the newly formed Community Coalition of the Five Towns, an ad hoc group that opposes the plan, said that what he called a “mega-medical center” is overdevelopment of an area that has existing traffic problems and would reduce recreational space in the neighborhood.
“We are very concerned about this very large medical complex with thousands of patients, employees coming early in the morning, the general concern is safety,” said Schein, adding that a close second is the increased traffic volume generated by patient and employee vehicles, delivery trucks and services that will converge on the site. “We are talking about roadways that are jam packed already,” he said, mentioning Rockaway Turnpike and Peninsula Boulevard. Schein also thinks that the increased traffic could spill over to other roads in the area.