Although it is not the litigation that most residents associate with the St. Paul's property, it was announced that litigation brought against the village by the Garden City Company with regard to this property has been decided in favor of the village.
Garden City's founder, A.T. Stewart's, widow decided to honor her late husband's memory by building the gothic cathedral, a bishop's residence and two Cathedral schools (St. Paul's and St. Mary's). She deeded the land and buildings to the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. After her death Stewart's heirs formed the Garden City Company, a conglomerate that owns many of the buildings within the village.
In a piece of longstanding litigation the Garden City Company claimed that they had certain reversionary interests in the St. Paul's property. The lawsuit contends that because the property is no longer being used for the purpose intended by Mrs. Stewart, the Garden City Company, which claims to be successor to the real property rights of Mrs. Stewart's heirs, have reversionary interest in the property. Village attorney Gerard Fishberg explained at the most recent village board meeting, that the G.C. Company concedes that because the property was taken by condemnation that they have no right to the property itself, but they say that the company is entitled to be compensated out of the condemnation proceedings for their interests. The Nassau County Supreme Court issued their decision that the G.C. Company has no interest in that property so therefore are not entitled to any compensation. In the decision, the court states, "The December 1889 Smith deed granted to the Cathedral all reversionary and remainder interests held by them. As the Smith heirs did not grant the Garden City Company the residuary estate [The Company Deed] until January 1893, the Company never held those reversionary or remainder interests, which they now claim. Accordingly, the Court finds that the Garden City cannot claim any interest or any right of reentry in the lands of the Cathedral."
The Garden City Company also claimed, that they had the rights to certain streets beds, including Ninth Street which was originally supposed to go through the St. Paul's property and Madison Avenue, which was planned for approximately where the driveway to the St, Paul's property is currently located. These roads were allegedly planned but never opened on the property. The G.C Company claims that these streets were never dedicated to the Cathedral, therefore they maintained ownership. The Supreme Court found against the Garden City Company in that claim as well, stating, "While it appears the Hilton and Smith deeds did not convey to the Cathedral that part of the parcels which comprise the street beds of Ninth Street and Madison Avenue, the deed between the Garden City Company and Cathedral, dated June 8, 1908, clearly conveys that part of Ninth Street, here in issue, to Cathedral. The Garden City Company holds no interest in the Bed of Ninth Street." In addition, the Court found that the Cathedral is also the owner of Madison Avenue road by virtue of adverse possession because the claim of title was not written and the Cathedral has been in possession of that land for over 10 years. "Accordingly, the Court finds that Cathedral is the owner in fee simple absolute of the Madison Avenue road bed," concluded the Court.
In a companion decision, Fishberg explained, the Supreme Court also found against the G.C. Company in their claim of similar interest in the St. Mary's property. Fishberg noted that this decision may free the Cathedral to dispose of the St. Mary's property. It is expected that the building will be torn down and the property used for development.
It is not yet known whether the Garden City Company will appeal the supreme court's decisions in any of these claims.