Resident Launches Petition Over Stella Maris Building

The Sag Harbor School District is considering purchasing the former Stella Maris Regional School building in Sag Harbor Village. Christine Sampson

A Sag Harbor resident has launched a petition on the website seeking support for an immediate public hearing on the possible purchase by the Sag Harbor School District of the Stella Maris Regional School and for a referendum in May in which voters would be asked whether the district should make the purchase.

James Sanford, a member of the school district’s facilities planning committee who ran unsuccessfully for a school board seat last May, opposes the acquisition of the school, which closed in 2011 and is on the market for $3.5 million. The school board and superintendent have met at least five times in executive session to discuss Stella Maris, and the district paid an architect $11,500 to study potential uses of the former Catholic school.

“While the petition comes from an individual who is against the purchase, it merely states something that should be acceptable to everybody, which is let’s have a public discussion on it,” he said in an interview on Monday. “We can ask the superintendent why and the citizens can openly vet it.”

The petition can be found by clicking here.

Katy Graves, the Sag Harbor superintendent, responded on Monday, saying the district had not yet held a public meeting on the possible purchase because she and the school board want everyone in the community to have access to the same information at the same time. In order for that to happen, the district has been planning to put information on its website regarding the real estate appraisal it received, the potential cost of renovations and of possible uses of the building, along with a survey seeking public opinion. The survey will also be available at the John Jermain Memorial Library.

“We’re working toward a May vote and we are absolutely working toward having open hearings about that, but first we wanted to survey our entire community and provide information,” Ms. Graves said. “I really do understand the feeling of urgency. I’m feeling that same sense of urgency,” she said.