In the Miller Avenue Elementary School multi-purpose room Tuesday, just a few hundred feet away from the front door of some of their houses, a group of more than a dozen residents came with a clear message to the local school board: keep your parking lot away from us.
“You’re supposed to be protecting all the residents in this district,” said Eileen Marfoglio of Shoreham. “It wouldn’t have hurt to have sent a letter … there was no reason we weren’t notified.”
Prior to the vote, in fact, the district had released an item-by-item explanation of projects that would be completed. A new bus loop and parking at Miller Avenue were included on that list, at a cost of $2.37 million.
The Shoreham-Wading River school board fended off criticism from the residents, who accused the board of not notifying them of construction plans for a new parking lot to be built at the Miller Avenue school as part of school bond upgrades that were recently approved. School district voters overwhelmingly OK’d the $48 million in construction projects in January, the first time the district ever borrowed money for upgrades.
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Residents like Ms. Marfoglio said the new parking lot — which would be built near Robert Court and John Street — would decrease property values and ruin their quality of life by having headlights shine into their homes.
Ms. Marfoglio said she would likely put her nearby house up for sale, adding that “after I’m out of here, I will bad mouth anybody in this district because apparently you don’t care about what goes on in our backyards.”
Michael Burns, who lives on John Street, said the trees now standing at the site of the future parking lot are a “natural buffer zone” and “bird sanctuary.”
“We pay substantial taxes to ensure the quality of our life,” he said, adding that the new lot may entice adults to use it as a “meeting and party space.”
Some suggested that the district bulldoze one of the school’s ballfields and put the parking lot there. One woman proposed a committee to move the parking lot elsewhere, and volunteered to join.
When board member Sean Beran made a comment about not hearing complaints at board meetings last year held to get feedback on the plans, a resident called him “snarky” and compared him to politician Nancy Pelosi.
Others said they had supported the bond despite not knowing the details because they trusted the board and had “other things in their lives” to attend to.
“For myself … I really believed that everything you were going to ask for was going to be necessary,” said Elaine Rosa. “Did anybody even in their wildest imagination think that you were going to cut out the woods to put a parking lot? I don’t think so.”
School board vice president Michael Fucito said the board would be able to discuss the parking lot at its meeting two weeks from now, when the bond architect is scheduled to make a presentation.
But board member Richard Pluschau suggested the board try to have the architect in a week earlier, so as to address the residents concerns faster, joking that it wouldn’t be smart to have potential voters angry before the upcoming budget vote.
“At the bare minimum I think we can have a discussion at the next session,” he said.