Trustees voted 7-1 in favor of renewing a one-year lease agreement with Cathedral Nursery School Thursday.
Trustee Nick Episcopia was the sole nay vote, questioning, as he did last year, the last time rent had been raised. "It just seems as though to keep the rent the same for - it's got to be eight or nine years - offers a preferred status," he said, making a motion to defer the item. "I have nothing against the institution but raising the rent is something we should think about."
Mayor Don Brudie disagreed. "This nursery school is serving a village purpose, has refurbished the buildings ... and pays to maintain them," he said.
The current lease expires June 30, 2012 but according to nursery school director Diane Cina, the request for renewal is made a year in advance for registration purposes. 2011 marks the 42nd anniversary of the school, which serves more than 200 children from Garden City and beyond.
Lifelong Garden City resident Leslie Segrete, whose son just completed his first year at the school, spoke in favor of the renewal.
"When I decided to raise my family here Cathedral Nursery School is where my children would go no question and I was thrilled when it came time to register Henry for his first day," said Segrete, who is well known for her design work on TLC's While You Were Out.
Segrete's parents moved to the village 34 years ago. The youngest of three girls, Segrete attended Cathedral Nursery School herself and now her son, Henry, will begin the 3-year-old program in the fall.
"Not only does the school's directors ... do a wonderful job educating and nurturing two hundred children but they lovingly maintain those cottages," she said. "Garden City wouldn't be the same town for me or for my family if Cathedral Nursery School were not part of the equation."
Garden Street resident Mark Mundy agreed. His son, Todd, now a doctor, attended the school in the 1970s and now sends his two sons there.
"The Cathedral has become more than a place young children receive top-notch early childhood education," he said. "In the course of its many years of service it's become one of those important institutions that are ingrained as an intrical part of the community. The Cathedral Nursery School has been a reliable and responsible institutional member of our community, steadily maintaining its faciites for the benefit of the children and it serves the village well."
Back in 2002, village trustees voted in favor of an agreement to permit the nursery school to lease the cottages when they no longer had use of the Cathedral House.
Rev. James Cardone, then dean of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, said the building was no longer viable and he didn't want to risk the lives of children or staff.
Years ago, at the request of Cina, resident John Capri's construction company assessed the current site for possible conversion into a school. The cottages, which were constructed back in the 1950s, were vacant for a number of years and in poor condition.
"The architect in my office came up with a viable design plan," Capri said. "The cost of the work at that time was in excess of $200,000. As a resident of the village I believe the school represents an asset to the community, providing an inexpensive alternative to other nursery schools in the area, which are maintained for profit."
For more information about Cathedral Nursery School or to enroll your child there, call 516-746-3311.