Village Board Approves Analysis of Alternative Plans for St. Paul’s

Architects to review, compare and contrast new proposals and prior submissions, as well as analyze part of the FEIS.

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.

ED SHOT December 03, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Chris Wendt December 04, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Ed I would like to know more about the referendum, either posted here, or chriswendt117@gmail.com. Thank you.
GCRes1 December 05, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Ed, You are misrepresenting the bond referendum results if you are arguing that they mean a majority of residents were voting in favor of restoring the St. Paul's building (which would cost $30-50 million in stabilization and restoration, plus countless millions more to develop it for a use, according to the Final Environmental Impact Statement). I'm sure a few of the "no" votes in the bond referendum came from folks who'd spend that kind of money to save the building, although other than the named directors of the CSSP or the Historical Society, I've never met such a person. But people also voted no because (i) they didn't want to spend a nickel on the building, even to demolish it, or (ii) they believe a private development option like Avalon Bay was preferable, or (iii) they have some hope of a better idea down the road. Most of all, I think a lot of people voted "no" because they were misled to believe that the CSSP's plan, since withdrawn, was some kind of free lunch that would get them a restored St. Paul's for "$100 per year." Well, even the CSSP has conceded its plan was inadequate, underfunded and unrealistic, and is now back at the drawing board. I am happy we have trustees such as Trustee Donnelly (and others, representing a majority of the Board) that are willing to stand up to very well-funded and vocal pressure on this issue to do what is right for the Village.
Chris Wendt December 06, 2011 at 02:51 AM
You know how, in the general election it is possible to vote for the candidate of your choice by choosing either the Republican or the Conservative line to get him elected? It would good if you could vote for or against a referendum by selecting "Yes" or "No" PLUS a reason for your vote. But that isn't the nature of a referendum. Reasons are not registered. Upon thinking about this statement: "I am happy we have trustees such as Trustee Donnelly (and others, representing a majority of the Board) that are willing to stand up to very well-funded and vocal pressure on this issue to do what is right for the Village", I am sure there are many other G.C. residents who would regard the board's intransigence as being disrespectful of the will of the people of your Village. Intransigence is the word that came immediately to my mind, and I am not intending for it to translate to "standing up...to do what is right for the Village". That word can be replaced with less polite ones especially if the embarrassment of the situation persists and passions flare in the future. The instant choices, however, are a far cry from those listed above. Demolition is off the table, as is the earlier CSSP plan. The actual choices now facing the board are: 1. repair and maintain the roof and tower 2. ignore those needed repairs and let the building become a derelict nuisance and eyesore. Sounds like a no-brainer.
Publius December 06, 2011 at 03:18 AM
I agree. I'm also happy that we have trustees who can exercise fiscal restraint and can spot erroneous and misleading information when it is presented as fact. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is (such as: save St. Paul's for only $100 per year or we can get NYS to pay for restoration yet still retain complete control).


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