Officials in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District are looking for the public's OK to sell the Jerusalem Avenue school building to the Nassau Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
The North Bellmore building has been rented on a yearly basis to BOCES for 19 years, for $1.3 million per year. Now, district officials are exploring the possibility of a one-time $12 million sale of the building, where BOCES currently operates educational activities for pre- and elementary school-aged students with disabilities.
“Many people probably think [Jerusalem Avenue] is BOCES building because it's had that sign there for 19 or 20 years,” said Superintendent John Detommaso on Monday. “It's been a long time.”
According to Detommaso, the $12 million would be put into a reserve fund that the Board of Education would use to reduce taxes. Although the payment would not necessarily be “a windfall” for taxpayers, Detomasso said that the impact would be positive, because the district would no longer be responsible for upkeep on the aging Jerusalem Avenue building.
Detommaso added that every time there is a boiler issue at the building, it's “basically a $50,000 job for the district.”
“It needs a ton of work … We've just basically been maintaining it since 1987, without putting any real money into it,” he said. “BOCES estimates that they might have to put $15 to $20 million into the building, which we're not going to do. We can't do it [and] we can't afford to do it.”
The football field and track would remain under the district's control, if the sale were to go forward, and the district would also continue to have access to restrooms, parking areas and the gymnasium during special athletic and outdoor events. For different groups that use the gymnasium and field for events, Detommaso said that the only change would be that paperwork would be filed through BOCES, and not the district.
The next step for the district is a Board of Education public forum, according to Superintendent John Detommaso, at which the board may consider a vote on a resolution to move forward with the sale, based on the input of the community
The forum will be held on April 5 at 7 p.m., immediately before the regularly-scheduled Board of Education meeting, in the Board Room of Brookside School, at 1250 Meadowbrook Road in North Merrick.
“It's ultimately going to be up to the community,” said Detommaso. “We basically want to utilize [the building] the best way we can.”