Erwin & Bielinski report states CSSP/GCHS proposal for former boys school is "unrealistic and flawed."
Village trustees voted 5-3 in favor of formally rejecting the Committee to Save St. Paul's/Garden City Historical Society (CSSP/GCHS) plan for partial reuse of St. Paul's.
Trustees Dennis Donnelly, John DeMaro, Brian Daughney, Laurence Quinn and Nick Episcopia rejected the proposal while mayor Don Brudie and deputy mayors John Watras and Andrew Cavanaugh voted against rejecting it.
The vote followed a report
from Erwin & Bielinski principal architect Don Erwin, which the board also accepted via a 5-3 vote, which states the plan fails to address a number of "very serious issues."
"Not through any malice I suspect," Erwin told trustees at the Dec. 20 board meeting, "but almost any way I looked at it there were drawbacks."
Erwin said a fatal flaw of the building is its footprint, which, he said, doesn't lend itself to any conceivable use other than some that have already been rejected or elected not to be pursued by the village.
The report analyzed the condition of St. Paul's,
as well as the CSSP/GCHS June 2010 and updated
October 2011 proposals for limited reuse of the former school.
Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh, a CSSP member, said many of Erwin's observations are well taken. "I accept the report for how it's written but I'd like to point out ... that it may not be the last word on how these issues
should be addressed."
He added, however, that the report, in his opinion, has a sense of animus towards the building itself and the committee's proposal. Cavanaugh further stated that it appeared from the beginning that the firm has tried to discredit the efforts of the CSSP.
Mayor Brudie added, "It looks to me when I'm reading this report it's like putting the nail in the coffin of St. Paul's. It looks like overkill. You review the same papers you reviewed before but you come up with four onerous obstacles in this report."
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
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.
The report concluded that the committee's proposal is "unrealistic and flawed."
"It also does not address the issues relating to the long-term cost of full renovation and the viability of any potential future use for the building. We believe that there are significant, perhaps, insurmountable financial, administrative and technical problems with any proposal to reuse the school," the report states.
The report does offer alternative options:Option 1
: Remove the Wings and Restore Front Wing and Chapel
: Remove All But Center Bay and Chapel
: Preserve and Restore Front and End Facades Only
: Restore Facade as Part of Larger Project
: Use Portion of Facade as Part of Interior of New Facility
: Select Pieces of Building to Preserve, Incorporate Them in Creative Way in New Facility
Trustee Daughney said the board, moving forward, should focus future options.
"I would disagree with the attempt to say we're now looking to take down the building," he said. "I am very interested in the second part of the report which gives us some variations on what we can continue to do or try to do with the building..."
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