Could Rudy Giuliani help save St. Paul's?
On his second day in office, mayor Don Brudie said New York City's former mayor called him about a client of his interested in turning the vacant building into a day school.
Giuliani's client - whom Brudie didn't mention by name - currently operates for-profit boarding schools and wanted the chance to tour St. Paul's while he was in New York last week.
Village officials met an "entourage" of men who arrived in black limos at St. Paul's April 11 to tour the two main rooms downstairs, the ballroom and chapel.
"He was very pleased," Brudie said. "This is a very good omen."
Edgar Alzner of Whitehall Boulevard told trustees to postpone the April 27 St. Paul's bond referendum vote until early June to achieve a maximum turnout.
"Now that we have some targets of opportunities, be they, in the eleventh hour as it may, i think the board should reconsider the date in which you hold this election for two reasons. The snow birds are not home yet. You are depriving a large number of Garden City residents who typically come home in May from voting in an election. Most of them aren't even aware of the fact that they can do absentee ballots and the time that's left between now and the 20th of April is too short for them to get the paperwork back and forth."
Alzner continued, "The second thing is that the target of opportunities that have been presented tonight would indicate that we should wait for a vote until these people say no. Give us a couple of months. Do the vote in early June when snow birds are home and no one goes on vacation yet."
Alzner said he was away when he first heard the vote had been set for April 27 but came home to ensure he gets to the polls. "Two of my kids may not be here," he said. "They're going to do absentee ballots. They're going to vote no."
Resident Jackie Sprotte of Hampton Road also asked that the vote be postponed in light of this recent interest in the building.
"I would really like to know all the information and what our options are. Maybe someone who would say 'I want it down' but now 'oh you know what a school would be a great idea I wouldn't of voted for [demolition]," Sprotte said. "I want the vote but yet with all this new information and with the kids actually being off from school there are families that aren't going to be here. I just think postponing it would've been a great idea."
Brudie said it's "very difficult" to adjourn the vote because it must be "filed, recorded and advertised" and groups like the Committee to Save St. Paul's want the vote to be held as planned.
Huntington Road resident Christine Mullaney asked whether this "interested developer" is looking at the St. Paul's playing fields too. "That would be something you'd explore because I would assume that would be a deal breaker," she said.
Brudie said it's all "very speculative" at the moment. "We haven't gotten that far yet," he said. "It could fall through. But it's a ray of hope to save the building. He has the wherewithal to rehabilitate the building."
The April 27 vote is a mandatory bond referendum seeking resident authorization to issue serial bonds not to exceed $3.75 million to finance the demolition of the Main Building and Ellis Hall. Absentee ballots are available at Garden City Village Hall. Applications to obtain such must be filled out by April 20 and returned to village hall the day of the vote. Call village clerk Brian Ridgway at 465-4053 for more information.
The Garden City Fire Department recently inspected the St. Paul's Main Building to check for three specific things: evidence of homeless people living there, teens using the space for "recreational activities" and the overall condition of the building.
"They did say there's quite a bit of furry feathered friends who have taken up residence in the building," fire commissioner Nick Episcopia said. "However, there really wasn't any evidence of homeless people ... and we're really happy there wasn't any evidence of teenage mischief - cans, bottles, booze, cigarettes, cigars, etc."
Episcopia also noted that the Ellis Hall breezeway is in "really bad shape" and suggested the board recommend the fire department perform these inspections annually or semi-annually.