After a flurry of meetings with community leaders in the last several days, the Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library board agreed not to raze the nearly century-old Little Red Schoolhouse in Moriches as part its $26.7 million renovation and expansion plan.
At a special meeting tonight in which the board unanimously approved the project, president Joseph Maiorana said the library pledged $1 million to help restore the schoolhouse for meeting space that would complement a library annex.
He said renovations would cost at least $2 million, and that additional funds would have to come from donations or other government sources.
Following feedback from the community regarding, including a petition opposed to demolishing the schoolhouse that received more than 2,000 signatures as of Friday night, “Sometimes, even if it doesn’t have an official historic designation, if people feel it’s historic, you have to listen,” Maiorana.” “And I think we found a reasonable compromise.”
The library may have to reduce the size of the planned 7,000-square-foot annex, as well as find other cost-cutting measures, to accommodate the schoolhouse renovations.
“We are going to create a community meeting place,” Maiorana said. “We have talked to several of our civic leaders and we are hopeful this will work out.”
Maiorana added William Floyd School Board President Bob Vecchio reiterated to him that if the bond vote for $22,690,964 is not approved on Dec. 10, the school board will remove the building, which was built in 1925.
“I just want to recognize the efforts of the board,” said Manor Park Civic Association President Ray Keenan. “You guys have really stepped up to the plate, in my opinion.”
Mastic Park Civic Association President John Sicignano said that while he didn’t have a personal emotional attachment to the schoolhouse, he couldn’t turn his back on those who do. “I think it’s great,” he said of the compromise.
But there’s a time limit until the school board decides to move forward on demolishing the building, Maiorana said.
“The school district does not want to keep the building’s existing deteriorating condition long term.”