Hospital May Use Mercy Property In Virus Fight

Kitty Merrill
Mercy High School.

If Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead needs more space to house coronavirus patients, it may turn to its shuttered neighbor, Mercy High School, which ended classes in 2018. The property is on nearby Ostrander Avenue.

A hospital official said no further action has been taken, but the matter has been broached with the Diocese of Rockville Centre and remains on the front burner.

After the diocese announced that the high school was closing, there was widespread speculation the hospital, seeking to expand, would make a move to purchase the property. As it turned out, there were a number of interested purchasers.

Sean Dolan, director of communications for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, acknowledged then that “several” entities had expressed interest in the property. He declined to provide further specifics. According to published reports, a private group, Friends of East End Catholic Education, was interested in purchasing the property and reviving the high school, but backed away after it was learned another entity had made an offer “in excess of $10 million.”



That figure was never confirmed. That most ardent suitor may well have been the Riverhead Central School District. Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez and Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider sent Bishop John Barres and John Renker, the general counsel for the Diocese, a letter on May 10, 2018.

“We have great interest in acquiring the property,” they wrote. “We have the education resources and financial need.”

One caveat is taxpayers, who recently turned down an expansion bond, would have to approve any purchase deal. Riverhead school officials continued to discuss the purchase until

The Diocese of Rockville Centre purchased the 24.8-acre site on Ostrander Avenue from the Convent of the Sisters Mercy in Brooklyn in January 2006 for $3.76 million, according to public property records. The site has been improved with a two-story school building that can fit 500 students, as well as staff lodging and athletic facilities. The Riverhead school district stressed this week there is no deal pending.

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