Chelsea IrizarryFeb 6, 2018, 11:56 pmFeb 7, 2018, 2:43 pm

New owners of Dowling College property want to reopen as ‘educational facility’

Mercury International spoke to residents about the future of the campus

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ISLIP — The new owners of the former Dowling College property want to operate the Oakdale campus as an “educational facility” once again and are pitching the idea with local residents.

“In order to do so, we need a zoning change. Right now, it's residential so we can't do anything,” said Don Cook, director of operations for Mercury International.

Mercury International is now applying for a zoning change that would convert the campus from a residential use to “other uses.”

On Tuesday evening, Cook held a meeting to discuss their future plans with Oakdale residents and share their intentions with the public.

Those who live near the campus say they're concerned with the company's intentions, along with what type of educational facility will be opened and the maintenance of the buildings.

“One of my biggest concerns with the proposal is at some point, they will run out of money and won't finish what they started,” Oakdale resident Michelle Burke said.

Mercury's application also includes a landmark preservation overlay for certain parts of the campus. The president of the Oakdale Historical Society, Maryanne Almes, says it's their mission to make sure certain buildings, like the idle hour mansion and surrounding buildings, stay preserved

“There was a lot of concern in the community this would become a development, something that doesn't fit and hurt the mansion and buildings around it,” Almes said.

While the company maintains the property and buildings, Cook says they are doing market research into what type of educational facility they would like to open. He says the State Board of Regents is temporarily not accepting applications for degree-granting authority, but their goal right now is to get the correct zoning so they are able to move forward.
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