By Anessa V. Cohen
We have been blessed with wonderful and dedicated people manning our Board of Education in School District #15. They work tirelessly to maximize each school-tax dollar received, making them stretch and getting above and beyond what can typically be realized in value to benefit all the children in our district in a positive and thoughtful manner.
They have been given an additional burden of dealing with a mandate to sell the Number Six School property and to find the best solution for the community in the real-estate marketplace. It is not an easy job. We are looking for the highest bid we can get, as well as a buyer that is going to be an asset, not a liability, to our community.
Because the future usage of this valuable property as well as any bid we receive from a proposed buyer needs to be carefully considered for its impact on the surrounding community before accepting any possible offer, we all need to carefully judge how any new use of this property is going to affect our community and in particular our neighbors surrounding the former school property.
Although I try to support all efforts in general made by our school board because I feel they work so hard for our community’s well-being, after a great deal of reflection I have decided to publicly declare my firm opposition to the proposed medical office facility they are presenting for a referendum on March 20.
My opposition to this project is for a variety of reasons. Obviously a medical office facility could and would be a positive element in any community if placed in a proper location. Medical office facilities are heavily trafficked. If this facility were being built on Sunrise Highway or on Rockaway Turnpike, I think we would all be receptive and happy to welcome a facility of this kind to our community.
Peninsula Boulevard and Branch Boulevard, as busy as they may be, are not commercial areas. This facility would also be fronting on Ibsen Street and Church Avenue, two very quiet residential streets with little traffic. To put it mildly, this heavily residential area of one-family homes, where children play outdoors in their front yards, mothers are walking their strollers, and school buses are picking up and dropping off children at all hours of the day, is one of the worst locations that could have been chosen for a high-use medical facility. It is an offense to all the residents living in the vicinity.
Saturdays, a quiet day in this area, when families are either relaxing at home or walking to the various shuls that abut Peninsula Boulevard—from Longacre Avenue in Woodmere, running down the boulevard towards Cedarhurst past Cedarhurst Avenue—would become a pedestrian nightmare. Patients and employees would be driving to and from this facility, which will be open seven days a week and probably some nights as well. People taking advantage of their days off both on Saturday and Sunday would create noise and traffic levels we never had to deal with previously in this residential area. Because of this proposed addition, the status of this section of town would change from residential to commercial overnight.
This area of Woodmere is presently dealing with the horrific effects of Superstorm Sandy this past October 29. Adding this burden of forcing them to absorb a commercial enterprise of this magnitude is one that should not be considered as other than detrimental to this neighborhood.
Time has shown us that many different bids seem to regularly be coming in from a variety of proposed buyers, each one offering more than the previous. We need to turn this bid down and continue to search to find the highest bid possible for the Number Six school property, but also to find the best possible fit of the proposed buyer to the surrounding community. The medical facility does not fit this criterion and we should continue our search by listening to more possible bids by new prospective buyers.
Though I wish school-board officials would reconsider the date they have chosen to hold this election—March 20 is a few days before Passover when so many people have already left town for vacation—I urge the community to take advantage of absentee ballots in advance. Every resident should be able to make their vote count in regard to this issue. Once the issue is decided, everyone in the community must live with the consequences forever! v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.