A new resolution in regards to St. Paul’s was approved in a 5-3 vote during Thursday evening’s village board meeting after a passionate discussion amongst trustees.
The motion, introduced by trustee Dennis Donnelly, called to hire forensic architects and engineers Erwin, Lobo and Bielinski (ELB) to “review, compare and contrast any new proposal submitted by the Committee to Save St. Paul’s (CSSP) for the restoration of St. Paul’s main building with prior submissions.”
Furthermore, it seeks to have ELB perform a “full analysis” of the Final Environmental Impact Statement’s (FEIS) “Alternative Approaches” located in Appendix M, options five and six.
According to the FEIS, option five would include the demolition of two of the building’s wings, as well as the restoration of the front wing and the chapel. Option six calls for the “demolition of all but central pavilion and chapel.” They are estimated, in the FEIS document, to cost $15 to 20 million and $10 to $12 million, respectively.
“We are asking [ELB] to flesh out the proposals in such a way that we would be able to make a determination as to whether that is a viable option,” said Donnelly during the discussion.
The CSSP made a presentation on an alternative plan for the building on Oct. 6, which documented the vision to turn the building into a community and recreation center.
Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh requested to amend Donnelly’s motion to include that the cost for the village would not exceed $20,000 in respect to the Committee to Save St. Paul’s analysis, in addition to having “that retention available in respect to any submission.”
“My amendment is that this would be expanded if other proposals come forward,” he said.
Deputy Mayor John Watras called to add a second amendment to the motion that sought to approve $11,300 in funding to repair the roof and clock tower on the building because it is in “bad shape.”
Donnelly said that he thought the clock tower repairs were a completely separate issue from the motion he made. He added that no one has ever included the clock tower in prior proposals, so, he believes, they shouldn’t spend money “if no one is seeking to save the items in question.”
“If that is the case, then the clock tower, unless there is a clear and present danger, is probably a separate issue,” trustee Nicholas Episcopia added.
Trustee Brian Daughney explained that he believed it should first be decided what is going to happen with the building before “spending money to restore something.”
“I find it a little silly to be asked to spend $11,000 or $35,000 for a motion which is looking at perhaps cutting down the size of the building,” he continued while discussing Watras’ amendment on Donnelly’s motion.
“The refusal of certain members of the board to take the reasonable step to expend a reasonable amount of money to preserve the building in its current state seems to be based in other things besides the apparent engineering needs of the building,” Cavanaugh said.
Ultimately, the board voted to not include Watras’ amendment to the already approved amended motion.
Garden City resident Tom Lamberti, a former trustee, questioned the need to review the FEIS again.
“What puzzles me and amazes me is that you had this architect report in February 2011,” he continued. “It reviewed the Committee to Save St. Paul's proposal. It said it was deficient, underestimated the cost and didn’t preserve the building.”
“Why hasn’t this ended?” Lamberti added.