Three private schools, a baseball and soccer clinic, and a dance studio are among the possible tenants for the buildings that were formerly Kirdahy and Westbrook elementary schools.
The West Islip Board of Education was an applicant before the Islip Town Planning Board Thursday night as the Town must decide whether zoning laws apply to the properties if they are leased out to private entities.
The Planning Board reserved that decision, but for the West Islip residents who packed into the board room, the public hearing was a chance to hear specific details on what may be in store for the future of the sites.
"We don't want major renovations," the school district's attorney, Thomas Volz said, adding that leasing out the buildings is considered the most attractive option. "We don't expect the buildings to be alerted physically in any great extent. We want to be able to retake those buildings if enrollment trends change."
The district has already had discussions with multiple private schools as potential tenants, Volz said. They include Kid Esteem Montessori, of West Babylon, a preschool-grade 5 school that may expand to grades 6-8 and Babylon-based Seventh Day Adventist Church School.
Other potential tenants include RC Sports Inc., a soccer and baseball clinic, and Divine Rhythms Dance Studio.
Divine Rhythms, located on Cooper Street in Babylon Village, has expressed interested in using the stage at one of the former schools for song and theatre classes, according to owner Marilyn Schmich.
Related: Community Gathers To Say Goodbye to Westbrook
Most of the residents who spoke during the public hearing had no qualms about educational programs moving into the buildings, but the after-school hours of RC Sports Inc. (4-9 p.m.) raised some traffic concerns.
"That will definitely change the traffic and the type of community that we have," said Chris Ryan, who lives on Ardys Court, which abuts the playing fields behind the Westbrook property.
What got the crowd most fired up, though, was the mere mention of possibly leasing the buildings out as office space for new businesses.
"These buildings were built for education," Edward Talanian said. "If they are going to lease them out, they should be for educational purposes only. I know we need money, but at the same time, I don't want to see medical offices. I don't want to see business in these buildings when they were built for education."
Volz said leasing out to businesses is something the district has not "explored to any great degree."
"It is pretty clear that is touching point for many people here," Volz said.
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One of the questions going into the hearing, whether the district's tax-exempt status would apply to leased out properties, was cleared up before the meeting, Volz said.
"The exemption we have as a school district remains in place," he said following discussions with the town attorney. "It's a settled issue as far as I'm concerned."
Resident Theresa Shaw said she trusted the school board to make the right choice for the community when it comes to selecting tenants.
"As taxpayers, we cannot afford to not have those buildings rented," Shaw said. "We need to put people in there to cut our burden down."
Board of Education President Steve Gellar was the final speaker during the public hearing. He said the reason details on potential tenants were only being released now, months after the properties were listed by West Islip-based broker Jamie Winkler, is because the district did not want to "hurt prospective tenants and their current leases and our negotiating strategy with them."
Gellar said the board was "very sensitive" to the concerns of community members regarding the future of the properties.
"We are community members ourselves," he said. "Our intent is to do something that is in the best interest of all members of the community and that is to help control their tax burden by generating revenue."
Moving forward, the Planning Board is expected to receive an advisory opinion from the town attorney on the zoning issue. The board will vote on the matter at a yet to be determined date.