Report: CSSP Proposal Does Not Meet Safety, Building Code Requirements

Report states Committee to Save St. Paul's proposal unlikely to be approved by building authorities; village building superintendent Mike Filippon concurs.

St. Paul's
St. Paul's
A firm retained by village officials to analyze the most recent proposal submitted by the Committee to Save St. Paul's/Garden City Historical Society for limited reuse of St. Paul's School has concluded that it doesn't meet safety and building code requirements and will cost more than originally estimated.

The report, prepared by Erwin & Bielinski (E&B), an architectural and engineering firm founded in 2006, analyzed the condition of St. Paul's, as well as the Committee to Save St. Paul's/Garden City Historical Society's (CSSP/GCHS) June 2010 and updated October 2011 proposals for limited reuse of the school.

Village officials retained the firm to provide an "independent assessment" of the above. The firm concluded that the most recent proposal "does not meet minimum current safety and building code requirements, and is unlikely be approved by the building authorities as currently envisioned." (The village originally retained E&B in connection with the preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) completed in February 2011.)

Garden City building superintendent Mike Filippon, in a Nov. 29 letter to village administrator Robert Schoelle, said he agrees with the report's findings.

"I concur with the findings of the report in that partial reuse of the building without significant remediation to the entire building is not only impractical but could not achieve code compliance," he wrote.

Filippon said the report displayed a full understanding of the underlying principles of the building codes, designed to ensure the safety of people entering the building.

"I would go as far as to say that with the passage of time the cost estimates will likely be even higher. As far as alternate development options those, of course, are policy decisions," he said.

CSSP president Peter Negri, however, told Patch that the proposal was reviewed and verified by several independent engineers and conformed to all applicable New York State and local building codes. Negri provided no further reaction to the report.

As for the projected costs of the CSSP/GCHS proposal, the firm concluded they are "not realistic and are not the full costs of preparing the building for use, even under the limited scope of work contained in the latest plan."

"The full cost of restoration of the building is simply deferred to the future, it is not eliminated," the report states.

Specifically, the firm believes the $8 million projected cost:

1. is under-estimated and unclear;
2. would be largely wasted if a future reuse option is implemented;
3. simply defers the cost of the inevitable full stabilzation, restoration and renovation to some point in the future;
4. requires a significantly higher initial village expenditure then full demolition and requires continued annual funding for maintenance of the occupied and unoccupied portions of the facility;
5. is insufficient in scope to prevent continuing deterioration of unused portions of the facility;
6. may face significant and perhaps insurmountable objections from building officials related to the safe use of a portion of the building; and
7. does not address the fundamental problems with the physical layout of the school for any future reuse.

When asked for reaction from the village board, trustee Dennis Donnelly told Patch that the Public Information Committee of the board expects the report to be discussed at the next village board meeting on Dec. 20.

"The report as well as the letter from the building department commenting on it are available on the village web site," Donnely said. "We encourage the public to read it."

Read the full E&B report and the letter from building superintendent Mike Filippon here.

Do you agree with the report? Let us know in the comments below.
Jack O'Niel December 13, 2012 at 09:38 AM
I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.
D.R.St-Jacques December 13, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Today, I believe that there is more importnt rebuilding to be done; that of our fellow men and woman who habe lost all; homes, contents personal belongings as a result of storm Sandy. It seems that it will take many months to rebuild what can be rebuilt. Let's think about helping those who have suffered so much. The St. Paul's building is a disaster and I do object to my tax monies going toward any activity whereby some are still trying to "make a gold purse out of a sow's ear". The time to even consider any rehab of this building would have been at the time that it was taken over from the Episcopal Church. Take it down safely and indicate the area that it occupied with a monument.


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