District Would Create 200 Parking Spots And Open Space If Site Is Bought
By Tina Traster
Nyack School Board wants to purchase a commercial retail site adjacent to Nyack High School to convert to a parking lot. The board, however, needs voter approval.
The board on Tuesday night during a ZOOM meeting will vote on holding a special referendum on Jan. 19th to give voters the option to approve spending $687,500 to buy 366 N. Highland Avenue on Route 9W, the small shopping center popularly known for the Pie Lady’s former location.
The sale of contract is contingent on voters allowing the district to move forward with a purchase.
The small retail strip on 1.1 acre of land would be turned into a parking lot to accommodate 200 parking spots. The property is located west of the intersection of Birchwood Avenue and North Highland Avenue within a mixed use residential and commercial area of Upper Nyack.
The resolution also says, “the parcel under consideration would provide much needed additional vehicle parking and open space for students, families and community members.”
“The school district has been eyeing the property for a long time,” said Nyack School Board President Michael Mark. The district faces constant challenge with providing adequate parking during sports events, graduations, or other instances when large crowds gather at the school.
The district on Tuesday will also vote to adopt a “Negative Declaration” in connection with the proposed contract of sale after review of the Short Environmental Assessment Form dated November 3, 2020. The resolution authorizes the Board President to execute the Negative Declaration for the Proposed Action.
It is unclear as to whether more SEQRA review might be needed if the property is developed. The Short Environmental Assessment Form did not include a traffic study.
Though voters will ultimately decide whether to green-light the purchase, the district does not have a broader financial estimate on what it will cost to raze the buildings, build a parking lot, and mitigate the site, which is visible along Route 9W.
The board has not yet “talked in detail” about the total costs of converting the site but Mark said “we will get answers to these questions as we move toward the vote.”
One insider, who preferred to remain anonymous said “it’s problematic to set up a referendum without having these facts at hand.” He added, “once you set up a voter referendum, that’s a done deal.”
CAG Properties LLC bought the small shopping center in 2006. In 2014, it was listed for $850,000. The center has been on and off the market for sale since then. The Town of Clarkstown lists the property’s market value at $835,000. CAG pays nearly $60,000 in annual taxes. If the school district completes the purchase, the property will be removed from the tax roll.
If approved by voters in January, the school district would fund the purchase from the undesignated fund balance, according to the resolution.
Asked whether the district felt comfortable spending money during a pandemic when it needs to find monies to create COVID-safe environments, board president said, “nothing is more paramount than the health and safety of our families. I don’t believe the board would move forward if we could not handle both. The board is prepared to ask these questions to the administration so that we have a high level of comfort moving forward with a purchase.”