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Jan 18, 2012 10:41 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Heated Exchanges Highlight East Quogue School Board Meeting

Jan 18, 2012 12:45 PM

Tempers flared during Tuesday night’s East Quogue Board of Education meeting when approximately 20 residents, mostly senior citizens, demanded that the district delay the public referendum on the proposed purchase of land adjacent to the elementary school to accommodate future expansion until May.

“Let’s not cut the seniors out!” one woman yelled while addressing board members before storming out of the meeting, held in the East Quogue Elementary School cafetorium. “We are not wealthy!”

Other attendees expressed similar concerns that many of the hamlet’s senior citizens will not be around for the referendum, scheduled for Tuesday, February 28, that, they said, will result in an increase in their school property taxes.

East Quogue Superintendent Les Black explained that the $250,000 needed for the purchase is already included in the district’s 2011-12 budget.

Another woman, who did not offer her name to board members and later refused to provide it to a reporter, questioned why the district is still considering buying the estimated 1-acre property on Central Avenue when enrollment at the elementary school has been declining over the past few years. The woman, citing statistics provided by the district, said 432 students are enrolled at the elementary school this year. In 2009, 451 students attended the school.

“You are putting the burden on the poor people who are retired,” said the woman. “Please think about this.”

The property in question is located at 10 Central Avenue and sits just south of the elementary school. A vacant house now stands on the land, which town records state is part of the estate of Louise Oliver.

School Board Vice President Kathryn Tureski tried to defuse the situation by explaining that the district currently has no plans for an expansion project. She also said that next month’s vote will be to acquire the property, adding that taxpayers would have to vote separately on an expansion project, if and when it is proposed.

“Right now, the only thing on the table is the purchase of the lot,” Ms. Tureski said. “Down the road, if we want to build on the property, it would be a community discussion with a vote.”

In the middle of the meeting, district officials had to request that those wishing to voice their concerns directly address board members in order to stop residents from arguing with each other.

“It would not be prudent as a district for us to not be looking at this space to accommodate some of our needs,” said School Board member Ralph Naglieri in an attempt to calm people down.

Not all of those who addressed the board opposed the purchase. Carol Combes of East Quogue said she thinks the district should jump at the opportunity to buy the land, adding that the current price is “a steal.” She said it makes sense for the district to acquire property even if it does not have immediate plans to develop it.

“I think this is one great buy in the right direction,” Ms. Combes said. “I say buy. If you don’t buy this property, I think you are all being very foolish.”

School Board members agreed, by a 4-0 margin, to hold the public hearing on the proposed purchase on Tuesday, February 7, starting at 7:45 p.m., at the school. Board President Mario Cardaci did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

The same resolution also set the date of the referendum for Tuesday, February 28. Registered voters can cast their ballots at the Central Avenue school between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Prior to the vote, Mr. Black explained that those who are not going to be around for next month’s vote can still cast absentee ballots. The unidentified woman who yelled at board members, and accused other meeting attendees of lying to her, said she was told that absentee ballots cannot be sent from Florida.

Mr. Black said that was inaccurate, while Ms. Tureski said the board would investigate her concerns.

“We are coordinating our vote with the Board of Elections,” said East Quogue Elementary School Principal Robert Long, who was also in attendance Tuesday.

He said next month’s vote will be conducted using machines provided by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, adding that the county will provide an employee who will supervise the referendum.

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I agree with Ms. Combes. This is an excellent opportunity for the district and it would be foolish to let this opportunity slip by.
By rightwing (18), East Quogue on Jan 18, 12 2:29 PM
The purchase price is for property that contains an uninhabitable house with land that has housed livestock. It is .74 of an acre. The house must be demolished and according to Board of Education Officials total cost should be around $400,000. So the actual price of the property is $400,000. If they find asbestos or problems with the environmental impact survey cleanup cost will be much higher. No one else offered to pay the sum of $250,000 for this piece of property.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Jan 18, 12 4:36 PM
Two years ago the seller was asking $400,000. Since real estate prices have dedlined the lower price is really in line. A place ;for sale on Vail Ave with about an acre is on the market for $260,000 give or take. It has a tiny house and garage.
I really wish I had the guts to offer the famliy a higher price if I wasn't so old.. I really think in five to ten years I could make one hugh profit selling it to the school .With so so many newcomers moving in and producing an average of 3 to 4 ...more
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Jan 19, 12 7:35 PM
The inside of the house has been destroyed by the large number of cats which the owner had. The roof is falling in, so the purchase price is for the land which housed livestock. Point being the school is paying the current owner $250,000 AND cleanup costs which will cost the taxpayer in excess of $400,000. No one wants to pay for this, that's why the current owner is selling it to the school. End of story. Killer deal, I don't think so.
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Jan 21, 12 12:43 PM
... no-brainer - can't pass this opportunity up. Why isn't this story in the Press?
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jan 20, 12 2:18 AM
It is in the Press. Both online AND in print.
By KrisV (12), Westhampton on Jan 20, 12 12:42 PM
Page A5 of the West Press. You are in Southampton so you may be looking at the Eastern Edition. Not sure if it's in there.
By KrisV (12), Westhampton on Jan 20, 12 12:44 PM
Hello, the money is already in the budget. to pay for this purchase in fulll., The school taxes will not increase this year. If I buy this property for an additional asking price and just say down the line with the influx of newcomers you wuold more than likly pay me even $25,000 not to spend millions on having to build a new school.... . There is no way to go up and there is no land to go out I am a senior citizen . Grant you it is not easy to live on S S. But the gov't never intended ...more
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Jan 21, 12 7:17 PM
Hello, you are missing the point. Student population is decreasing. If you want the property and have $250,000 sitting around why don't you buy it? This is the first step in expansion so the school can put a administrative building on it. Wait and see. I am well aware of what SS was intended for, and do not need a history lesson, thank you. The school has pitted the senior citizens against the children, by deceptive practices. There is no need to vote in Feb and again in May. Save the expense of ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Jan 22, 12 4:40 PM
Historically, the E.Q. School Board, composed of the parents of children currently attending the school, has held referenda in the winter. There is not, and never has been, any reason for holding them at this time of year other than to disenfranchise elderly voters who as a group are more likely vote against them and who are living in warmer climes during the winter.

Years ago a similar referendum was proposed and the Board answered complaints of disenfranchisement at a public meeting ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 21, 12 9:30 PM
Crusader, I said in a previous writing I would think about buying this property as an investment if I was younger and the people of this village did not. I would save it for the day that will come and resell it to the school and save all E. Q. tax payers mega dollars in the future not to build a full new school. I still have 2 generarion that would like to live in this wounderful village. A recent published study was written and said the school populations was decreasing. That was a few ...more
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Jan 22, 12 7:49 PM
Review the study again, although the population is increasing in East Quogue student population is decreasing. Schools are being closed in western areas of the town because of the decreasing student enrollment. The purchase of the property is one issue at this school. School taxes have risen in a greater percentage here than other school districts. I review the data, not the information which the school provides. What they say is not what they do, they have been misleading the public. Documentation ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Jan 23, 12 8:01 AM
See today mailing explaining that this property will be used for additional non perement trailer like offices if needed. This way making the offices available for classrooms with in the immeadiate area. . Makes sense. Possibley seling for a profit in future years if not needed.

Even though many seniors are elsewhere, guess what? There is no way you can vote out the budgets if all school parents go out and vote. Think about it we have over 3000 homes in this town and only ...more
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Jan 23, 12 6:49 PM
I have the mailer. Point is, the property with clearing will cost taxpayers $400,000 for three quarters of an acre. In order to recoup the initial investment $400,000 would be a starting point for any resale. No one I know of would pay that kind of money for this piece of property next to a school.
Small class size, not increased enrollment caused crowding. Having programs not mandated is another. I see your point, but do not believe in giving up. Just because the cards are stacked against ...more
By crusader (391), East Quogue on Jan 24, 12 6:48 AM
You already have paid that $400,000 in this past tax bill. This is why it said's your taxes will be reduced on a $500,000 assessment $125.00 next year if voted down. But guess what ? Even if this is voted down your school taxes will be costing more this year anyway. Have you ever been to school board meetig in the past 5 years where suggestion had been made to build a new school from kindergarden through high school in E. Q. purchasing farm land now for the future? The reason was Westhampton ...more
By Carol (109), East Quogue on Jan 24, 12 9:50 AM