Thursday, July 08, 2010

New Square among bidders for closed East Ramapo school 

The East Ramapo school district has received three bids for the purchase or lease of the Hillcrest Elementary School, with two offers from the nearby Hasidic Jewish village of New Square, officials said.

The bids were sought after the Board of Education, in a controversial move, voted to close the school, located outside New Square on Addison Boyce Drive in New City.

The bids ranged from about $1.65 million to $4.3 million to either lease or purchase the one-story building, District Clerk Cathy Russell said today.

Russell said the following bids were received:

• $1.65 million to buy the building from the Pascack Valley Learning Center of Valley Stream, Long Island.

• Congregation Yeshiva Avir Yakov in New Square bid $3.1 million to purchase the building. The congregation also offered a $2 million lease package covering five years, starting with $200,000 in 2010-11 and rising to $600,000 in year 2014-2016.

• $4.3 million to purchase the building by ZD Reality of Monsey, a real estate holding company for New Square once known as Zemach David Corp. ZD owns the land planned for a poultry processing plant in the village off Route 45.

The school board is scheduled to meet tonight on its reorganization. Russell said the board and its legal counsel must still analyze all the bids. The bids were made public yesterday afternoon.

New Square can use the school building to expand its educational system and the adjourning property for housing.

The closure of the school has been highly unpopular among many in the district, drawing more than 800 to protest before the decision and leading at least two district parents to appeal the closure with New York State Education Commissioner David M. Steiner.

Steve White, an education activist who had been organizing a petition against the outright sale of the Hillcrest school on his website www.poweroften.us, presented the district with nearly a 1,000 signatures Tuesday in support of a public vote on whether or not to sell the property.

In May, Superintendent of Schools Ira Oustatcher said the plan to close Hillcrest includes moving the school's students to the Ramapo Freshman Center and moving the 300 ninth-graders who had been educated there to Ramapo High School.

Such a move would result in Ramapo High School operating well above the state standard of 90 percent capacity, defining a fully populated educational facility.

Oustatcher was in a meeting and didn't return a telephone calls for comment this morning.


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