It was not supposed to be a silent auction, but the sale for the 3.83 acres of land at 1 Rock Hall Road in Lawrence village was as quiet as church mice when Village Administrator Ron Goldman opened the March 3 auction.
However, after the auction closed with no one bidding on the land at the opening price of $8.5 million, village officials said that a responsible, serious buyer put in a late bid at the opening figure.
“The matter is moving forward and the mayor will make the appropriate recommendation at the board meeting,” said Goldman who conducted the auction at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club. The next Lawrence board of trustees meeting is March 11.
The 4.35-acre property was the site of a sewage treatment plant, and has been the subject of debate in the Village of Lawrence for the past five years. Nassau County will retain the remaining half-acre, and operate an unmanned effluent pump station there.
The village is expected to use a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the property to build a roughly 23,000-square-foot aquatic center, with a pool, saunas, golf simulators, a café and space for other uses, at the village-owned Lawrence Yacht & Country Club. The club’s driving range will also be renovated.
The process moved forward at the village board meeting on Feb. 18 when trustees approved contracts with three companies to prepare the aquatic center’s infrastructure. “The plans have been modified two or three times as handicapped accessibility was added,” Edelman previously said. “We’re in the final stage of design.” He added that the center would enhance the country club and be a “major benefit” to the village and its residents, and that anticipated having a “shovel in the ground,” by July 1.
In 2009, the villages of Cedarhurst and Lawrence and Nassau County agreed to a plan to send the villages’ sewage to a pumping station in Inwood, and on to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway.
The county ceded the Rock Hall Road land to Lawrence in July 2017 after the sewage plant was decommissioned and demolished. A plant in Cedarhurst was also closed and dismantled.
Suggested uses for the land included selling it to a developer for the construction of at least seven single-family homes — an idea favored Edelman — or building condominiums, a hotel or a nursing home.
But the village board has not come to a consensus on any proposal, and in the past few years has spent roughly $50,000 on studies, including one that explored the feasibility of building a multipurpose community center on the property.
In February 2016, the Herald reported that some area residents said they did not want a high-density apartment building similar to the Regency, on Central Avenue also in Lawrence, or anything that generated an increase in traffic and noise, adding that would support the construction of single-family homes as long as land was set aside for a children’s park. They submitted a petition with more than 40 signatures to the village in December 2017.
The village’s board meeting takes place in-person at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club on March 11 at 8 p.m. For virtual links, go to www.villageoflawrence.org, click on Meeting Minutes and then Board Meeting Notice.