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Feb 24, 2015 2:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Sag Harbor School District Considering A Purchase Of Stella Maris Property

Feb 24, 2015 2:40 PM

The Sag Harbor Board of Education has taken a first step toward possibly purchasing the former Stella Maris Regional School at 135 Division Street, the district announced this week.

According to a statement, the board is looking for appraisal firms to evaluate the property’s value and see how it could be used. The board will be ready to share more information with the community once it has all of the facts in place from the firms. “Any decision regarding the property will involve strategic engagement with all stakeholders in the community,” the board said in the statement.

Listed on September 30 by Douglas Elliman at a price of $3.5 million, the 34,300-square-foot former Catholic school sits on three-quarters of an acre, is zoned for half-acre residential use, and is owned by the Diocese of Rockville Centre. In November, Sag Harbor Superintendent Katy Graves said that a facility like Stella Maris could provide extra space to accommodate a growing number of students from outside the district who attend school in Sag Harbor. She also said the space could also hold some of Sag Harbor’s special education students who are now placed in other districts. Tuitioned students currently account for more than $500,000 in revenue for the district, the superintendent said.

“If we ever got to the point where we didn’t have room for them, we didn’t want to lose that extra revenue,” Ms. Graves said of tuition students. “Should we have more space, perhaps we can keep those students. There are good reasons why we would look at Stella Maris.”

Village officials have said that if the school district were to purchase the property, it would have to secure a variance or special exception approval, as the nonconforming use of the residentially-zoned property as a school is considered to have been abandoned since the building has been vacant more than 12 months.

Stella Maris, once the oldest Catholic School on Long Island, had to close after the 2011 academic year because of declining enrollment and a growing deficit. Stella Maris’s enrollment for the 2011-12 school year included only 44 students, a steep decline from 127 students in 2010-11.

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This seems reasonable. The Sag Harbor school district could end up with an actual middle school and a kitchen!
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Feb 24, 15 4:49 PM
It would be great to see the building used for children as many parents worked so hard over the years to support the school and the priests and Diocese did not support the Catholic school program The school has not been abandoned as it has been used for religious instruction since its closure.
By harbor man (47), sag harbor on Mar 4, 15 10:13 PM