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Sunday, August 06, 2006

More SD 15 Stuff

As some of my regular readers may know, I live in an area that has seen an unfortunate level of discord between different segments of the community over the local School District. On this Monday, August 7, there is a referendum vote on the sale of an empty district school building, where the community decides whether to accept the highest bid of $27 million from a developer who has plans to build a condominium development.

$27 million being as high a figure as it is, one would think that any district would jump at the chance to accept the offer. But as the old saw goes, two Jews, three opinions. Last week, I picked up the local Jewish paper, the 5 Towns Jewish Times, and I was suprised to see a prominently placed front-page article titled "Schools Yes, Condos No!". In this piece, a local community member makes his best case that every community member should vote "no" on Monday so that a local Yeshiva can get a chance at purchasing the property. This week, I was surprised again by another front-page article pushing for the same outcome, though this article didn't make any case at all - except for the use of scare tactics that somehow allowing condominium development on the site will turn this community into a haven for drug dealers and the like. (Seriously. Read the whole deranged piece).

Now, I certainly do not argue that ideally, it would be wonderful if the building were to be used as a school, as opposed to being razed - especially with the large population of school-aged children in the district. As the article points out, there are quite a few Yeshivas in need of a building in which to house their rapidly growing student bodies. However, the decision is not quite so simple.

In the first article, the author points out that taking a lower bid from a Yeshiva would be negligible in the face of the benefits a school could bring to the community. He also cites the negative effects he feels condominium development could bring, such as congestion and sewer capacity problems.

I won't debate the merits of whether his points are valid. I'm sure many people would love to see a former school building being used once again by students. I am equally sure that there are many people who fear that a condominium development will only add congestion and traffic to our community.

Be that as it may, the article neglects to take into account one very salient point: The School Board is obligated by law to put the highest bid up for a vote. The leading case on the issue states as follows:
[T]he Education Law contemplate[s] that the electors may exercise their judgment and discretion in good faith concerning what is the best price at which a schoolhouse can be sold, but where a higher offer from a responsible bidder is already in their hands, there is not room for the exercise of discretion concerning it. The higher offer must be accepted if it is for a use that may be conducted pursuant to law.
Which means that if this bid of $27 million is voted down, either the rejected bidder will use the courts to force the district to go forward with the sale or the next-highest bid will be the one accepted. Either way, it is nearly inconceivable that a Yeshiva will get the building and the risk is that the district will end up with less money.

But legal issues aside, I think the high bid of $27 million must be voted in on Monday in the interests of fiscal responsibility. As much as the thought of a
school returning to that spot, with the classrooms being reclaimed as places of learning truly warms the heart, in my opinion, it is a pipe dream. I have used the battle cry of fiscal responsibility since I started covering this topic - and I won't drop it now.

Vote "Yes" on Monday. It's the fiscally responsible move.

108 Comments:

Blogger Just Passing Through said...

While I'm not necessarily arguing with your fiscal points, I DO think that the last thing the comunity needs is 200 more cars. I forwarded you that e-mail I received pushing for everyone to vote for the sale because it will benefit the community. I think the only person who will benefit here is the developer; and even that I'm not too sure about. Developers with far more experience than he have looked at this property and found that that price is way too high. My money is on him going bankrupt in 2 years.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

my feelings about the issue aside, your representation of the second articlke is highly specious.

The reference to drugs had to do with the plan for an enlarged parking lot on the Temple Israel site, if it were to be used for the JCC. The article asserts that this lot is already used for drug traficking and other illicit use. By building the JCC the area will attract even more unwanted activity. however, the entire argument had only a tangential relation to the school vote.

If you're making an argument, at least present the facts correctly. It doesn't help your credibility, which is high, to do otherwise.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we know who is the next highest bidder, and what the bid is?

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Square Pants said...

The idea of a JCC in Lawrence is absurd. This is not a community is need of social services and we are not lacking in institutions that serve as a nucleus of our spritual & social lives. A JCC in Lawrence will shortly evolve into the same ilk as the JCC on Seaview Ave. Get my drift!

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

square rebbe you have no idea the good a JCc like other frum communities will do for this place.

hey ortho do you check your emails?

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Goyguy said...

OM said:

"Which means that if this bid of $27 million is voted down, either the rejected bidder will use the courts to force the district to go forward with the sale or the next-highest bid will be the one accepted."

I would say that if the proposal is voted down, the district can not sell the property at all, to anyone, without the voter's approving it. And then only to the high bidder.


Just Passing Through said...
"I think the only person who will benefit here is the developer; and even that I'm not too sure about."

I'm with you. The long term savings to the average taxpayer will need a microscope to be viewed. I have always said the property should be held on to and kept in trust for the district residents. Some nice ballfields for ALL the kids would keep it occupied productively while leaving it available for future use by the district.

7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets get down to it. We asked the school district to consolidate. They did that. we asked them to clean up the finances, and they are doing that. We can only assume that they will do the right thing. If not, vote em out. In the meantime, vote with your brain, not with your heart.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the declining enrollment in the public schools there will be plenty of opportunities for Yeshivas to purchase a building in the future. $27 million can go a long way in fixing the existing school buildings that have been neglected for years as well as provide some tax relief to the community.

Vote yes on the proposal

5:48 AM  
Anonymous Square Pants said...

LET me clarify my earlier hypothesis. A JCC on in Lawrence will soon become the NBA of Lawrence

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The JCC has nothing to do with the School issue. Why link them.

While I understand that Neuberg's building and the JCC will both bring additional traffic to the community, they are really 2 seperate issues.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not enter into a (long term) lease with one of the yeshivas?

10:36 AM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

How will that cover the cost of capital improvements?

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone has ever been stuck on Rockaway Turnpike trying to get home, there is certainly a concern about additional housing in Lawrence.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

High bid takes it. End of story. Why should taxpayers, Jewish or otherwise, subsidize a Yeshiva or JCC. And why don't town residents want more housing exactly? Those families would be paying taxes, you know. Sounds like some people are too elitist to share the streets with other people who can afford a condo but not a $2 million house.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A long term lease will keep the property off the tax rolls. We can use the tax revenue as well as the $27 million.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If anyone has ever been stuck on Rockaway Turnpike trying to get home, there is certainly a concern about additional housing in Lawrence. "

While that is a concern that Mr. Oliner from Lawrence and others have complained about. I do not think the issue here is Rockaway Blvd. The issue here is the traffic and parking issues on Central Avenue.

Also, there is some political issues, the us vs them again, as the JCC will service and overewhelming ORTHO population ans will be accused of bending over for the ORTHO community wil swim hours, catering and mixing in general.

The parking lot issues is stupid, put up a gate.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is all a smokescreen. One community member wants to bust the deal and take the property for himself. Make sure to vote YES and avoid chilul hashem

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not in partnership with Mr Neuberg & Co. Why even vote! This is strictly private enterprise. As far as I am concerned the outcome of the election has no effect on me or the community at large-only the principles in the deal

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why even vote!"

Because the BOE knows which polling places are Ortho and which are not, and if the Ortho vote makes it happaen it shows that the Ortho's are in charge. If it does not happen then Mansdorf, et al might as well close up and move on, because Greenbaum/Kopolow are going to shut this place down.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Those families would be paying taxes, you know. Sounds like some people are too elitist to share the streets with other people who can afford a condo but not a $2 million house. "

Obviously you've never had to do errands friday morning in the 5 towns. you have to set aside at leat 20-30 min just to look for parking it's ridiculous!!

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously you've never had to do errands friday morning in the 5 towns. you have to set aside at leat 20-30 min just to look for parking it's ridiculous!!

Why not let your butler do your shopping?

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote NO on the sale....it will actually help us in the long run.

There's a way that everyone can be happy. Don't sell the school. The board can keep it and rent it out to a Yehiva to satisfy the needs of the local children. Plus, the board gets an annual revenue to offset taxes while the buren of taking care of the building and making improvements is paid by the yeshiva.

If enrollment ever grew in the district or a (g-d forbid) disaster occured (such as the fire in Selden closing the elementary school) the district still owns the property and can reclaim it for use by the public school children.

Voting NO is the only way to give the yeshivas a chance to benefit from this school building rather than a developer.

1:27 PM  
Blogger OrthoMomsBiggestFan said...

To be fair, I read the article and is was totally nonsensical but his point about the drug dealing, etc. was in reference to the JCC/Temple Israel property, not the "Neuberg Plaza".

1:40 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

Voting NO is the only way to give the yeshivas a chance to benefit from this school building rather than a developer.

How will that pay for the capital improvements?

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does 1 have to do with the other? We spent how many millions to expand school #2 due to overcrowding 10 years ago? Getting rid of a school building does not make financial sense.

Right now, we have 3500 students NOT attending the public schools. If that ever changes and Lawrence again has 6000+ public school students, we have no where to put them.

The board and superintendent are narrow-minded to sell a building....they cannot predict the future. And we will never be able to get that land back.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why not let your butler do your shopping? "

You think I want my butler wasting time looking for parking, that doesn't benefit me either.

3:27 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

This thread is really getting tedious.

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Voting NO is the only way to give the yeshivas a chance to benefit from this school building rather than a developer"

(A)Why must a yeshiva benefit?? This is a commnuity of many people from different backgrounds. The proposal is the most equaly way. Your statement that a yeshiva needs to benefit is very self centered. What if a church wanted the property instead of a Yeshiva, would you be against that too??

(b) The theory of selling to Neuberg is that now there will be a new taxpayer on the rolls in addition to $27.5mill in the bank. Maybe with a multi million dollar taxpayer on the rolls, that can spread the tax burden over more, and more expensive properties making the taxes more equitable.

(c) The JCC is a totally unrelated issue. Any connection is purley casual based upon the close proximity of the 2 facilities to each other. In fact, I would assume that Neuberg and JCC would be required to have ample parking. and with the proposed move of the library to Zoin Park, the area west of Rock Blvd will have more on street parking as the library has insufficient parking now.

(d) The drug problems at the temple would exist even without the presence of the JCC. Granted the JCC will attract a Saturday Night crowd to the area, which I am sure was the case when the temple was a thriving catering facility, and had insufficient parking facilities for its guests. Those of us who live in the South Shore long enough (even those who are Ortho) can remember when the Temple was a thriving catering facility.

(e) It would be a real shame if the proposal fails. The balme will lie with the ortho community, and there can be no denying that that is what the battle cry is going to be. We (the ortho's) asked for consolidation, we got it. We asked them to sell the building (they did for 2x it's fair market value), We asked for our people to run the place and they are. Now we want all the facilities for Yeshiva's. GROW UP.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 5:09 Nice try claiming to be a private school parent with the WE. The public school board wanted to sell this school too....the current board is continuing it. But both were short sighted in my opinion.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Seculardad said...

Sorry I am late getting into the fray. Some of us have to work. Actually my wife and I just got back from voting yes. That's right, public school parents voting yes. I need to respond to one of these comments.

Anonymous 2:47 PM (sounds like a Bible tract) actually makes a good point. Once this property is sold the community can not get it back. Now I do not think that this is a problem for this school. I think many parents would agree that this building was a white elephant. The problem comes in for the future and the potential sale of any additional school district properties. Last year ago a group of private school parents floated the idea of their children receiving their secular education in the Public Schools and leaving their religious instruction to the Yeshivas, as a way of saving money. This was shelved for the time being, I assume for study. Think very carefully about the sale of any other School properties. Any more and you can kiss this idea good bye. There simply would not be enough space. I predict that this resolution will pass and in my opinion it should. The next resolution is the important one and that is "What happens to the money once the sale is consumated?" This is the real issue!!!

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's right, public school parents voting yes.

Why would any public school parents vote no?

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"5:09 Nice try claiming to be a private school parent with the
6:37"

ACTUALLY I AM RELIGIOUSLY ORTHO. BE THAT AS IT MAY, WHY NOT SUPPORT THE PEOPLE THAT YOU/WE (ORTHO'S) ELECTED. IF NOT WHY DID WE WORK SO HARD ALL THESE YEARS, JUST TO SEE IT ALL GO TO WASTE. I WILL SAY IT AGAIN. IF THIS FAILS THE NON-ORTHO'S WILL BE ALL OVER US, AND WE HAVE NO ARGUMENTS ANYMORE.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

Whats with all this ortho/public/private banter? We finally have an election where there's no unified position in any community, yet we still see the same theories of how the "orthos" will be blamed for a particular outcome.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Ten Jew Very Much said...

>Obviously you've never had to do errands friday morning in the 5 towns. you have to set aside at leat 20-30 min just to look for parking it's ridiculous!!

In other words, the influx of many people has already turned a formerly quiet village into a parking nightmare. How do the real old-time residents feel about that?

Why has no one suggested that the yeshivot and community collectively put in a bid for $27+ million to outbid the developer and buy the property? Yeah, I know the answer is obvious.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"yet we still see the same theories of how the "orthos" will be blamed for a particular outcome."

The voteing results and where the winning and loseing votes were cast by polling place will be the simple test for those who want to fight this out. #6 school and the Middle school are precieved as ortho strong holds while the other polling places are seen as non ortho strong holds. (note that #6 and MS have more voters then the other sites)

9:53 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

Results?

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sold

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My two cents:

Had a Yeshiva - i.e., a real property non-taxpayer - bid $27,000,000 on the property in question, and had Neuberg - i.e., a real property taxpayer - bid less than $27,000,000 on the same property, the “velt” (yes, I’m trying to prove I’m part of the “we”) would be “shreiing” anti-semitism at the very thought of even debating the issue based upon the underlying anticipated use of the land. The mere fact that ANY debate exists surrounding this issue only serves to question our collective motive in campaigning to elect “frum” school-board members in the first instance.

One commenter implied that the financial benefit to the district will not have a tangible impact or benefit on individual taxpayers. That is entirely absurd. When dealing with public funds, I would hope that every penny is counted and saved, if possible. It does not matter if the decision is about how many pencils to purchase per-classroom, or whether to accept $27,000,000 for a school -- $12,000,000 more than the appraised value. This is an absolute no-brainer. We – as residents and voters – have a duty to support this sale, assuming the bid process was legitimate (and I have not seen anyone question its legitimacy).

What if, for example, Yeshiva Ketana or Shulamis had bid $27,0000,000 on the property, and a philanthropist had bid $24,000,000 on the property with the desire to use the land to construct a museum with a huge, secure parking area? And, for purposes of this example (not that it’s essential), assume that the school board was not presently controlled by Orthodox Jews. And, on top of that, note that this example is not even extreme enough since the school is a non-taxpayer, and the museum – assuming it would be owned by a Foundation – would also be a non-taxpayer. So, if you would like, you can also assume that the higher bid (the Yeshiva) would also generate significant tax revenue, and the lower bid (the museum) would not.

As a Shomer Shabbos community resident, how would you react if the non-orthodox and non-Jewish fellow members of our community raised issues such as “morning and afternoon chaos due to bussing and carpooling traffic, as opposed to the proposed alternative – a museum with a parking lot which would generate little to no traffic and, on top of that, $3,000,000 less in sales proceeds (and, depending on whether you’re using the appropriate example, no tax revenue at all)?

Yes, that was a rhetorical question. I know how the people who at times cause me and my yarmulke embarrassment would react - “ANTI-SEMITISM!!!” Comparisons to Hezbollah would be drawn, Chirac would somehow be implicated and the New York Times would be “unfair” and even “biased” for not running a front page story on this. Fox News, of course, would be untouchable and vindicated, since they are too busy “accurately” reporting the “real news”. But I digress.

Clearly, the outspoken frum community would vilify the non-frum residents, and the school board would once again be accused of fiscal irresponsibility. Meetings and rallies would be held, the “outrageous” nature and willful blindness on the part of the public school parents would be the talk of the Shuls, and threats of sending our children to public school would be reignited.

Come on, guys. How do you look yourselves in the mirror? One day we’re complaining about our hard-earned taxpayer dollars not being used in good faith. We (arbitrarily – based on rumor and potentially fuzzy math) vote down school budgets. Don’t get me wrong – I voted “no” to the budgets as well even though I did not independently verify the numbers. But that was a very, very complicated issue and something that a person would need to spend a significant amount of time trying to draw their own conclusions. Here, however, we have an opportunity to infuse the school district with $27,000,000 in additional capital. And you’re coming up with “svaros?” This is purely an issue of dollars and cents. Neuberg is proposing to build CONDOMIUMS, not a whore house. This is NOT the time to concoct arguments (whether or not illogical and tenuous) to decide not to sell a property at $12,000,000 above its appraised value. Whatever credibility the frum community had achieved based on its perceived concern about district finances and political activism and savviness (which served to slightly – very slightly – mitigate the damage caused by the annual mudslinging circus surrounding the elections), is now gone and, moreover, we have delivered real ammunition to those who already despise us.

It is apparent that those who oppose this sale are only motivated by selfishness, and it is shockingly hypocritical that they have attempted to brazenly mask this self-serving attitude in arguments relating to increased traffic, parking, water, etc.. The irony is that we are always mocking the laughable arguments made by various town BZAs about the increased traffic caused by constructing new Shul buildings. We even demand variances despite inadequate street parking. We also demand variances despite water moratoriums. We claim that Shuls will raise property values, have the consequence of improving the local economy with increased higher income residents, and will generate revenue for the tax rolls and local businesses. Personally, I buy that argument, and we generally prevail and obtain the variances. But those arguments cannot be conclusively proven.

On the other hand, I can unequivocally prove that accepting $27,000,000 for a property (as opposed to not accepting $27,000,000 – or accepting something less than $27,000,0000), from a real property taxpayer purchaser, as opposed to a 501(c)(3) exempt tax(non)payer purchaser, is by far better for the district, the village taxpayers and the local economy. And I don’t even need to make the obvious argument that building condos would allow for more residents in our area and, consequently, undoubtedly generate greater revenue for our local shop-owners than would a School.

But suddenly, when the fiscally responsible decision is crystal clear – a real property taxpayer willing to pay $27,000,000 for a $15,0000 property, we abruptly switch hats. We start pulling out the traffic arguments, we start the toilet flushing moratorium rhetoric and blatantly disregard the substantial financial benefit as “de-minimis” on an individual taxpayer basis.

Shame on all of you. To my non-orthodox and non-Jewish neighbors: my apologies on behalf of this arrogant, self-centered subsubsubgroup of our wonderful orthodox Jewish community. Most of us support fiscal responsibility and most of us do not accuse anyone of anti-Semitism for political purposes. Most of us do not suddenly “switch hats” when it is convenient to further out personal agendas. And if you want to know who we are, we’re the ones utilizing the sidewalks on Shabbos where available, and walking on the extreme sides of the streets when no sidewalk is available. We’re the ones who say good-morning to you, and the ones who do not instruct our children to avoid your children.

As a good Jew would say – “trust me” - We are the majority.

Kudos to OrthoMom for supporting this proposed sale. But it’s a damn shame it was even an issue worth blogging about.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

blah blah blah....shut up

10:50 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

I also voted "Yes", but I'm embarrassed to be in the company of Anon 10:42, who clearly has too much time on his hands - debating the merits of an ill-informed position maintained by a hardly-existent subgroup.

10:54 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

And for those who still feel strongly that the property should not be sold to a developer - Take it up with the elected officials in Lawrence (Village). The ball's in their court now.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES - 1,832

NO - 726

It seems that it passed in every polling place.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Holy Spirit of Lawrence:

Embarrassed to be in my company, eh? And then a resounding endorsement of my post, merely objecting on the basis of your perception of my time management? If only I had a life…

Well, unlike you, I enjoy (and am not embarrassed by) YOUR company – people like you make me look good. Keep it up!

You’re consistent, at least. You, apparently, do not have too much time on your hands at all. And that would explain why your posts are so mindless. I left many openings for criticism on the merits, yet you chose to attack me instead.

By the way, you have an imposter with way too much time on his/her hands; see 10:58am, 2:16pm, 9:04pm, 10:54pm and 10:56pm. And that's only on this thread of this blog...

So was it you or was it the imposter who also found the time to go out and vote today?


Anon 10:50pm...
"blah blah blah....shut up"

You are correct. I did not realize that very valid point. Your constructive feedback is much appreciated. I need to visit more often - you can't get this stuff on other blogs.

In fact, your response was so creative, I would like to ask your permission to use it regularly in the future. It is so clever that I believe I can tailor it in a way which would be responsive to almost every post on every blog (but beware, people, you need to strike the proper balance of the ratio of "blah"s to "..."s, depending on the context).

Let's try, using OM's prior post:


OM:
"Please treat this as an open comment thread to submit names of any other Cholim who may be in need of our Tefillot and Tehillim."

Anon's trademark response (as slightly modified using poetic license:

"blah blah blah blah blah.........shut up"


Yup. It works!

Awesome.

12:42 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Dear OM: do you realize that this posting has gathered over 40 comments while the last half dozen postings on the war over here have garnered mayb 25% of that number. To my mind, the attention of Jews over there is riveted by local issues. I pass no judgment but make the observation.

4:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To my mind, the attention of Jews over there is riveted by local issues. I pass no judgment but make the observation."

pont well taken. But many of us get our War news from Jameel and other blogs rather then TV.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:42 - You have no need to prove anything as you have already proved that you are thoughtful and mindful of the entire community, unlike the self rightious who want every parcel in the five towns for a shul or yeshiva (but I am sure that they don't want it right next door to their Mc Mansion). When they are done there will be no taxpayers left in the area.

Don't worry about what this uber velt thinks (i too am proving my affiliation). You have the right attitude.

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on you Rabbi Z for thinking you can subvert the democratic process

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...10:42
My two cents:

well said anom 10:42.. couple of more like you who share your attitude and beliefs and we have a real unified community regardless of religious differences..

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again. 10:42 has been the most appropirtate post on this topic.

For war coverage see Jameel his blog has the most accurate and on time news.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

10:42 was clearly wrong on his/her assessment of the voting public. There was clearly a minority in both the private school and public school communities that voted "no" and both minorities seemed to be fractured as to their reasoning for voting "no" - the "no" votes were driven by a variety of personal agendas, some misinformation, some spitefulness, and various different reasons for opposing development. So I'm not sure how anyone would draw such extensive conclusions from this vote, or why someone would use this vote as an opportunity to label a "subsubsubgroup of our wonderful orthodox Jewish community" as "arrogant, self-centered."

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Voters back school sale
--------------------

Lawrence residents OK selling unused public school, though allocation of funds remains a concern

BY JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
Newsday Staff Writer

August 8, 2006

Lawrence residents last night voted to authorize the sale of the No. 1 Elementary School, which closed two years ago because of dwindling enrollment. In a school district where the majority of its residents don't use public schools, the building served no use and a developer made a bid to buy it for $27.5 million.

The 1,832-to-726 vote set the stage for a key test for a school board controlled by mostly Orthodox Jewish members whose children attend religious private schools. Many in the community say they are hoping the money would go to bolster the district's coffers, especially because the budget has been rejected every year since 2003.

But some in the community were afraid that the money wouldn't go toward the six public schools in the district. School board member and public school parent Pamela Greenbaum said she worried that nothing will be done with the money and, by law, it would be returned to the taxpayers.

"The school district has to decide what it's going to do with that money," she said. "That's the big 'if' in all of this."

Greenbaum said school buildings need major repairs, including wiring updates and a new facade for the high school.

Greenbaum said the best scenario would be to use the money for repairs and put leftover funds in a reserve for future school use.

"And hopefully, the community can get along together and there would be some trust," she said.

But for now, the divisions in the community are clear. While public school parents distributed fliers supporting the sale of the building, Greenbaum and others said they saw mysterious placards in the median of public streets saying the sale should be voted down.

"It was like a stealth campaign," she said of the placards, which no one has claimed responsibility for and were taken down soon after they were discovered Friday morning.

Michael Hatten, a newly elected Orthodox Jewish member of the board, said he didn't see any of the placards and was optimistic voters would approve the building's sale.

"It's an important vote," he said, calling it an opportunity to show the community that the school board, despite being controlled by those who use private schools, can serve the interests of the district.

Hatten said he hoped proceeds from the sale could be used to repair other buildings, and that any unused funds would be returned to taxpayers.

Copyright (c) 2006, Newsday, Inc.



- Looks like Ms. Greenbaum has an Orthodox conspiracy accusation for every occasion.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like the conspiracy theory was more of Newsday's usual biased reporting, than Ms. Greenbaum's remarks, though it's often tough to pick them apart, the way Newsday feeds off a certain group's sentiments.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SPIRIT - If the vote was No there would have been many losers. Most importantly the children.

The sub group you complain about already appears on this thread. One poster wrote "Voting NO is the only way to give the yeshivas a chance to benefit from this school building rather than a developer"

Why must only Yeshiva's "BENEFIT". The whole communiity must benefit. And with 27.5 mill in the bank all of the community will benefit. Without it taxes would be going up, (even if voted down). Now you can give unlimited Tzadakh (from you school tax savings) and buy private land and build Yeshivot and Shuls all over the neighborhood. I am sure for the naming rights Neuberg might even donate a large sum.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spirit_of_Lawrence said...
10:42 was clearly wrong on his/her assessment of the voting public.

BLAH BLAH BLAH

and various different reasons for orthodox Jewish community" as "arrogant, self-centered."

because it is true with with the exeception of a few orthos who's hearts and minds are in the right place. The one's who have the whole community in mind and not the subsubsub's.

He/she was one of the most well thoughout and intelligent comments to date and you only response was blah.. There are 2 sides to this no one can deny that and both should feel comfortable knowing there interests are looked after. Your rhetoric only fans the flames.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to 12:48pm - Thank god there are a few people who think the right way and are willing to put it down in writing. Kol Hakovod.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

I agree wholeheartedly and I voted "Yes" as well. I took offense at the insinuation that there is a significant or even noteworthy group of people within the Orthodox community who campaigned for the rejection of the proposition, and who were motivated by personal agendas. The results of the election clearly show that there were pockets of opposition from all factions of the district who were either misinformed, or motivated by poor intentions. Either way, there is no justification for drawing the classing party lines and berate the Orthodox community as Anon above attempted to do. This election was true to democracy and the results of the election (now posted at http://www.lawrence.org/salevote.htm) indicate that the overwhelming majority of orthodox, non-orthodox, public school and private school voters voted yes, and that there were relatively similar pockets of opposition in every polling place - whether or not the voters were orthodox, with some added opposition in LMS, where the development may have more of an adverse affect, and where all voters - orthodox or not - are more justified in their opposition to the development.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spirit's got a good point - If you look at the turnout in each location, you'll see that there wasn't necessarily much of an orthodox opposition. So why all the anti-Orthodox rhetoric?

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, maybe I am ignorant or just too new to this whole 5-towns politics thing, but it seems to me to be a no-brainer that of course the sale SHOULD go through. Unless there was another bid of a comparable amount it would be completely irresponsible NOT to sell. Based on the way the demographics are going it does not seem like the district is going to need more public schools in the near or even not-so-near future. I don't even know why there is so much debate.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous usually anonymous said...

BTW, 726 no votes doesn't seem like such a small subgroup. Regardless, I found comfort in the Newsday article. Ms. Greenbaum and Mr. Hatten agree that the money should be spent on school improvements, but disagree on whether or not the left over funds should be placed in a reserve fund or returned to the tax payers. This is a healthy, normal difference of opinions that needs to be debated and voted upon in a nonpartisan way. Noting that they both agree on the importance of fixing the existing dilapidated buildings hopefully is a sign of a growing bipartisanship among the board members.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Newsday and others want to make it an Orthodox vs non-orthodox issue. I live here, I talk to people it didn't seem to be an issue.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no doubt they do because it sells papers. but there is and ortho vs non-ortho. i speak to both groups and some say there is and some say there isin't so it depends who you are talking to

1:30 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

Agreed. This should not be portrayed by anyone as an ortho vs. non-ortho issue. I don't see why Anon above feels so strongly about adding fuel to the fire.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not anon 1:30 -
Spirit:
The fact that this blog exists at all is proof positive that there is an ortho vs. non-ortho situation right here in the 5 towns!
Ever read the comments?
Not fuel- fact!

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spirit_of_Lawrence said...
Agreed. This should not be portrayed by anyone as an ortho vs. non-ortho issue. I don't see why Anon above feels so strongly about adding fuel to the fire.

Because, unfortunately it kinda is. I said above I speak to both sides (ortho / non-ortho)and both sides depending on who you are talking to some feel there is and some feel there isin't. It's called perception or lack of it

1:47 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

I think you may have misunderstood my comment. There's no denying that there are ortho vs. non-ortho issues.

My concern is that Anon would like to spin this vote as another ortho vs. non-ortho issue (adding fuel to the fire), when the division was clearly not on those lines.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spirit:

Really?
The area most torn on voting was at the Middle School- where old and new style Orthos live.
Still think there is no division among us?

Flyers were distributed saying vote NO - who do you think sent them?

1:53 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

I saw a full-page ad in the Herald from Friends of Number 1 School advocating against the sale.

There were clearly people on all sides motivated by a variety of personal agendas. And can you blame people who paid millions of dollars for their homes in Lawrence, near the #1 School, for being opposed to yet another apartment building nearby? Why would you assume this has anything do with their religious persuasion? Of course, there were some individuals whose personal agenda related to their religious persuasion, but there's no indication that there were very many people who voted "No" because of that agenda

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was definitely a fringe element in the public school community advocating against the sale of the building - whether or not it makes sense - just like there was a fringe element in the private school community.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was definitely a fringe element in the public school community advocating against the sale of the building - whether or not it makes sense - just like there was a fringe element in the private school community.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Jordan Hirsch said...

There is more than one way to return money to the taxpayers. A district could offer some kind of tax rebate, and hand out checks which when they are finally computed will put a small amount of money into ach individual houehold.
Putting the money into a well invested "rainy day fund" is also giving money back to the taxpayers. If over time enough money can be saved, it will help the LSD avoid having to raise taxes in the future.
Living in a community that will be facing some of the same issues as Lawrence now faces, I am very glad the district voted for the sale. In the long run, everyone will benefit.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

most definately should be put towards " rainy day fund " . The amount of giveback would be miniscule vs what it can do collectively..

5:00 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

What's the difference whether it goes back to taxpayers or not, if will ulitmately alleviate the tax burden either way?

The budget has been out of control for years, and taxpayers are long overdue for break.

Leaving money around in a district like this, under the school board's control is a recipe for disaster, whether or not you call it a "rainy day fund"

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you mean the school board you voted in? You mean to tell me you don't trust the current board? I'm confused. What I am saying is that a one time giveback would amount to peanuts when collectively it would have an impact. What's a few hundred dollars or even a thousand dollars to anyone in this communitiy.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Spirit_of_Lawrence said...

I'm not sure how you determined who I voted for, but by the same token, I'll assume that you're from the camp that is critical of a certain former President of the school board who allegedly spent down an $18 million "rainy day fund" several years ago.

I can think of plenty of good uses for the $1k that I might receive, but all those who feel it should remain in a "rainy day fund" can probably find a way to return the money to the district's coffers.

Ultimately, this issues is the same as all the other issues in this district. The public school contingency would like to spend $1 and get $5 worth of services, and the private school contingecy does not feel the responsibilty to contribute on that level - especially considering the less than stellar "return" produced by the district. (Of course, you can endlessly debate whether or not they would be willing to contribute more if the "return" was better, but that's really irrelevant at this point.) Fortunately, there is a middle ground, which will prevail, thanks to the outcome of the May election. And unfortunately for those who still have not come to terms with the changing demographics and the overwhelming dissatisfaction with the public school constituency's spending $1 for $5 worth of services, these funds will not languish in a "rainy day fund" until some overpaid administrator convinces the school board of various newly hatched desparately needed million dollar expenditures.

There is a good reason why the law requires money in a general fund to be returned to taxpayers - Think about how many "Roslyns" we'd have if school boards were focused on hoarding money in "rainy day funds"

5:35 PM  
Anonymous psmom said...

to Anon 1:53 PM

you must be a very negative individual.

A. As a public school parent I am happy that the vote passed and that we may at least have possibility in using some money for the capital improvements.

B. Why do you look at where the most people voted, vs. where do most registered voters live...would it be Inwood (with the biggest PS population)...do those people vote at all, do they care...NOT ONLY ABOUT THEIR MONEY BUT THEIR CHILDREN??? Sad but thue.

C. putting money away for rainy day...$27 million...what are expecting Katrina to pass by the district.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHOO. LETS GET A GRIP ON REALITY. EVERYONE TAKE A SHOWER AND SLEEP ON THIS. NO NEED FOR NEGATIVE NAME CALLING.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

psmom said...
to Anon 1:53 PM

you must be a very negative individual.

C. putting money away for rainy day...$27 million...what are expecting Katrina to pass by the district.


your sarcasm is unproductive as well as just plain stupid.. try a little harder,, you can do it,, i know you can

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line the sale passed. This was a no brainer. Let the board map out a plan for the community on what needs to be repaired. Let them pubt some money away for hurricaine katrina to come through, then either give the money back to the tax payers, or perhaps expand special education to help all our children,

7:41 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

What's the difference whether it goes back to taxpayers or not, if will ulitmately alleviate the tax burden either way?

Not being a 5-Towner, I haven't chimed in, although it seems obvious to me that if the property is going to be sol it should go to the highest bidder.

I did want to comment that there is a general principle in government budgeting and accounting that says a gov't should not run a surplus, nor a deficit for that matter. In other words, what goes in should go out. So, I don't know that saving for a rainy day for a gov't body is particularly prudent, although the concept of saving for a rainy day for a coroporation or a household is prudent.

When property taxes are the method that pays for local services, as is the case in NY, I think the concept of money in=money out is the most equitable. Otherwise, with a huge surplus, one is asking for (potentially) former residents to pay the cost of future residents.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So...have a question, not a public or private school side. But if we suddenly get growth of students again, let's say residents change and thousands more students are back in public schools, how are we going to fit them? Are we going to rely on eminent domain and have to spend $60million to buy land and then spend another $30million to build a new school?

I too want to see my child's school fixed, but why are we selling the one aset our community has for the sake of development or use by anyone else. Why didn't we just rent out the place?

Can anyone help answer this for me?

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why didn't we just rent out the place?
Can anyone help answer this for me? "

No 1 has become a politicial and pyhsical liability. Yes there are aspects of the plan that are short sighted. But so is your theory. How soon do you expect this demographic turn around?? I expect that if this demographic turn around occurs (which is not likley in the next 20 years) there will be a few very good former Yeshiva Buildings for sale. (alah Brooklyn schools and shuls sold after the demographics changed there). The rental option is not really an option. The BOE would be responsible for the majority of the facility. The community would lose out on 2.7 mill + millions in tax revenue from the largest avaliable presently non taxable parcel in the community. It is a short term win win for the community with an undeniable risk that. But in my opinion the risk is so remote at to make it a red herring.

And then there is the question of whom to rent it to. Shulamit, Touro Law School, maybe the JCC. All worthy institutions, Can they foot the enormus bill I would venture the overhead in that building is in the millions. I recall that the District has to put in almost a million to close it up.

Renting is not what you make it out to be.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Message From Monday 10:42pm Anon (“Me”)
__________________________________________________


Dear Holy Spirit:

I will let the record speak for itself. You make this too easy.

__________________________________________________

Me, 10:42pm Anon:

“My apologies on behalf of this arrogant, self-centered subsubsubgroup of our wonderful orthodox Jewish community. Most of us support fiscal responsibility and most of us do not accuse anyone of anti-Semitism for political purposes. Most of us do not suddenly “switch hats” when it is convenient to further out personal agendas…

As a good Jew would say – “trust me” - We are the majority.”
__________________________________________________

Spirit:

“I took offense at the insinuation that there is a significant or even noteworthy group of people within the Orthodox community who campaigned for the rejection of the proposition, and who were motivated by personal agendas.”
__________________________________________________

Huh? Again…

Me, 10:42pm Anon:

“Most of us support fiscal responsibility… We are the majority.”
__________________________________________________

Spirit:

“Of course, there were some individuals whose personal agenda related to their religious persuasion, but there's no indication that there were very many people who voted "No" because of that agenda”

Yup
__________________________________________________

Huh? Again…

Me, 10:42pm Anon:

“Most of us support fiscal responsibility… We are the majority.”

__________________________________________________

Spirit:

“10:42 was clearly wrong on his/her assessment of the voting public.”

Huh?
__________________________________________________

Spirit:

“the "no" votes were driven by a variety of personal agendas, some misinformation, some spitefulness, and various different reasons for opposing development.”

Yup
__________________________________________________

Huh? My head is spinning.
__________________________________________________

Spirit:

“So I'm not sure how anyone would draw such extensive conclusions from this vote, or why someone would use this vote as an opportunity to label a "subsubsubgroup of our wonderful orthodox Jewish community" as "arrogant, self-centered."


Oh, now I get it. Labeling a subsubsubgroup as "arrogant, self-centered" is a no-no, but labeling these very same people as ones with “personal agendas, some misinformation, some spitefulness” is OK. Got it.

So why is my head still spinning?
__________________________________________________

Spirit:

“but I'm embarrassed to be in the company of Anon 10:42, who clearly has too much time on his hands - debating the merits of an ill-informed position maintained by a hardly-existent subgroup.”

Huh?

__________________________________________________
Me, 10:42pm Anon:

“But it’s a damn shame it was even an issue worth blogging about.”
__________________________________________________

Spirit:

“So I'm not sure how anyone would draw such extensive conclusions from this vote”

Me neither.
__________________________________________________

Spirit:

“the "no" votes were driven by a variety of personal agendas, some misinformation, some spitefulness, and various different reasons for opposing development.”

Yup
__________________________________________________


Me, 10:42pm Anon:

“My apologies on behalf of this arrogant, self-centered subsubsubgroup of our wonderful orthodox Jewish community. Most of us support fiscal responsibility… Most of us do not suddenly “switch hats” when it is convenient to further out personal agendas…

As a good Jew would say – “trust me” - We are the majority.”


Bottom Line: Huh???

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! This comment thread has really taken a turn for the worse.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like i said the other day:

WHOO. LETS GET A GRIP ON REALITY. EVERYONE TAKE A SHOWER AND SLEEP ON THIS. NO NEED FOR NEGATIVE NAME CALLING.

11:57 AM  
Blogger OrthoMomsBiggestFan said...

I love this!!

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's to love?

4:00 PM  
Blogger OrthoMomsBiggestFan said...

The machlokes and fighting - this is what its all about!!

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is what it's about? I see. You thrive off of this sad division of people. You must be some type of rebel ortho..

btw you are still an unspeakable bastard

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is momof4 on vacation?

12:03 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Whoa. These comments have gotten downright nasty. Guys, there's a war in Israel and Lebanon. People are dying every day. This petty squabbling is a sad sad place to descend to. Keep it civil.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the war in Israel and Lebanon is horrible. But don't forget about the American troops dying almost daily in Iraq and Afghanistan!

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profanity is not the appropriate way to express oneself.

Perhaps everyone could get back to the basics and concerntrate on what's best for ALL the kids in our community. Let't see some positive blog comments and solutions to issues.

Maybe the BOE should engage in a conflict resolution session. We do it for our kids!

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profanity is not the appropriate way to express oneself.

Perhaps everyone could get back to the basics and concerntrate on what's best for ALL the kids in our community. Let't see some positive blog comments and solutions to issues.

Maybe the BOE should engage in a conflict resolution session. We do it for our kids!

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really think it is time to move on. For the chicken little crowd, the sky is falling. For everyone else, lets move on.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where to?

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

momof4 hasn't posted since Sunday - I smell a vacation.

2:25 PM  
Blogger BigRed said...

Does she not realize that the reason that people comment on her blog is that tehy enjoy the squabbling and petty name calling.....

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... and they're frustraded with the democratic process

(but there are a couple of communist regimes left, if they're really hung up)

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where to?

Anywhere but this topic. It is over

4:46 PM  
Anonymous pweeze? said...

Time for a new topic Orthomommy

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is quite something....


Terror Plot Suspects Planned 'Dry-Run' of Attacks in Next 2 Days, Sources Say

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

look what is happening now

Pakistan: Suspected London Plane Terrorists Have Al Qaeda Connection

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Very nice site! »

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