Great Neck Village Hall could be sold within two years to school district

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Great Neck Village Hall. (Photo from the Blank Slate Media archive)
Great Neck Village Hall. (Photo from the Blank Slate Media archive)

Great Neck Village Hall could be sold to the Great Neck school district within two years, the school board president and village mayor said Tuesday, putting a timeline on an idea that has been floated for years.

Mayor Pedram Bral announced the agreement at a Tuesday night Board of Trustees meeting, saying the village plans to work with the district to sell Village Hall within two years to alleviate stress on E.M. Baker Elementary School, which is right behind Village Hall.

“I’m going to work closely with the school in order to be able to sell the Village Hall to them hopefully in the next two years as I see the stress on [E.M.] Baker has increased and they are desperate for new classrooms to decrease the size and also accommodate more students,” Bral said.

Barbara Berkowitz, the president of the school board, said that during the meetings over “revitalization,” which would have changed the village’s zoning code, she heard concerns that the school district could have trouble absorbing children.

Berkowitz said she believes the acquisition would alleviate pressure on the schools and hopes a sale can be finalized in the “not so distant future.”

“As many of you know, the board’s been interested in acquiring this property, Village Hall, for the past five years as the site would have a very beneficial use for the school district,” Berkowitz said. “I appreciate the fact that you will be moving forward with some speed and we’re very grateful for that.”

Over the last 10 years, E.M. Baker Elementary School has seen a considerable increase in enrollment. In the 2008-09 school year there were 556 students, according to New York State Department of Education data. E.M. Baker’s enrollment hit 600 during the 2013-14 school year

As of the 2018-19 school year, there are 664 students enrolled at E.M. Baker. This is a 10 percent increase since the school board first expressed interest in acquiring Village Hall.

Asked where a new village hall would be, Bral said the location is being discussed and “we don’t have it purchased yet.” Deputy Mayor Bart Sobel added that the board does not discuss any “contractual property matters going on.”

Village officials have been considering moving to a new location for a few years.

The announcement was made amid a more general update about possible changes to the zoning code for “revitalization.”

While legislation is not drafted, Bral said he wants to “down zone” the four-story allowance north of Hicks Lane to three-story residential, adding that, “hopefully we can bring commercial to that area.”

He also reiterated that assisted living will not be an allowed use on Middle Neck Road and said East Shore Road, which had been considered in previous “revitalization” talks, is not going to be discussed “at this time.”

In unrelated business, trustees set a public hearing date regarding an unlisted use at 305 East Shore Road in the mixed-use zone, discussed the installation of a stop sign at Piccadilly and Essex Road, and granted the Department of Public Works permission to clean up an abandoned bank-owned property on Baker Hill Road.

In other village business, the village appointed Paul Boltax, Philip Raices, Sanford Caplan, Peter Caparelli, Elizabeth Salamat Shalom, Bahar Hakimian, Benham Adjoodanpour and Kamran Frouzan as election inspectors for the June 18 elections.

The next village Board of Trustees meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. at 61 Baker Hill Road.

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