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Mayor considers purchase of Brosnan building, moving Northport Village Hall operations

Village by: Chrissy Ruggeri, February 8, 2023

At last night’s board of trustees meeting, Northport Village Mayor Donna Koch announced the possibility of purchasing the William J. Brosnan building on Laurel Avenue for use as the new Northport Village Hall.

At the February 7 Northport Village Board of Trustees meeting held at Village Hall, Mayor Donna Koch announced during her commissioner’s report that she and Donald Tesoriero, assistant to the mayor, had met with members of the Northport-East Northport UFSD administration and went on a tour of the William J. Brosnan Building located on Laurel Avenue. The Village, according to Mayor Koch, is considering purchasing the Brosnan building for use as the new Northport Village Hall, but the idea is in the very preliminary stages.

Superintendent of Schools Robert Banzer confirmed with the Journal that the district did provide Village officials with an informal tour of the Brosnan building, at their request.

In November 2022, the Northport-East Northport Board of Education approved the appointment of Newmark Realty to provide broker services for the district. The team at Newmark is now responsible for assessing and marketing the district’s three available properties (Bellerose and Dickinson Avenue Elementary schools, and William J. Brosnan) for either lease or sale.

“With the selling of Laurel Avenue, it’s a great opportunity for the Village to start thinking about if we’d like to move there. We can move our entire operation there,” Mayor Koch said. The building would be able to hold all employees currently at Village Hall, plus the highway department and the treasurer’s department, “and still have a lot of room left over,” Mayor Koch added. If the police department was to move into the building as well, a section would have to be built out to meet the department’s needs.

The mayor explained to the board and residents in attendance that the building needs a $3 million roof, a cost the district would be responsible for paying. Beyond that figure, she didn’t indicate the cost of the building or how the Village would pay for it. “I don’t even know where to begin this undertaking, but it’s a conversation to have,” Mayor Koch said, adding that the building has a lot of positive attributes, including a beautiful gymnasium, soccer fields, and a baseball field. “I’d love to see a community center. I’d love to see the youth center basketball be able to play there,” she noted, adding that part of the space can still be leased to tenants, including Island Kids Early Childhood Center, which currently occupies the back of the building and is one provider in the district’s universal pre-K program.

The Brosnan building property is on 14 acres currently within a residential zoning area, which could, in theory, allow for the construction of 35 homes, according to Mayor Koch. “I’d hate to see development there,” she said. The building, however, is over 100 years old and considered a historic site; a permit from the Board of Architectural and Historic Review is required to demolish or make alterations to the structure, according to Northport Village code. No historical building can be demolished, reconstructed or altered without application approval.

The next steps are for the Village to consider its options, including state funding, to seek legal advice, and possibly form a committee, Mayor Koch explained. She added that on its current track, a decision on the future of the three vacant buildings would not be included in a public referendum until 2025. “It’s a couple of years down the road, but we need to stay in front of it,” Mayor Koch stated.

In its most recent “Our School” newsletter, the district said any decisions made regarding the lease or sale of its three available buildings will be discussed publicly during district board meetings and shared with the school community.

“Ultimately, the sale of any property is dependent on the community’s approval through a public vote,” the newsletter reads.

“There has been no formal offer by the Village or town for either a lease or sale,” Superintendent Banzer told the Journal, adding that if and when there is a proposed sale of the building, there will be an extensive and lengthy process involving formal offers, financial reviews, public presentations to the board of education and community, and a public vote where school district residents have the opportunity to approve or deny the proposed sale. Potential timelines would be established once there is a formal offer; this process will be facilitated by Newmark Realty, Banzer explained.

Correction: An error in the original article stating, as per Mayor Donna Koch, that she met with members of the school board before her tour of the Brosnan building has been corrected; she and her assistant met with district administration, according to district officials. Members of the school board were not present.