A St. Paul's work session Nov. 4 drew the usual meeting goers and then some. Trustees grappled with the same nagging issues, some even attempting to throw out a resolution here and there. But in the end, all left frustrated after talks about a "structurally sound but cosmetically deteriorating" building came, once again, to a resounding stalemate. "We're deadlocked and we're trying to move toward a compromise," Mayor Barbara Miller admitted.
The first step of a unanimously approved resolution Trustees Jon Segerdahl and Peter Bee brought forth at the Oct. 21 board meeting required village staff to forthwith prepare a needs assessment for use of public building space within St. Paul's. Trustee Peter Negri, who told fellow board members the assessment, although well intentioned, was by no means complete, said, "The taxpayers own this property and I'd like to look at their needs first. If we're not specific, we'll be looking for trouble."
Based upon discussions with village staff and their independent inspections of facilities outside of Garden City, the assessment recommended that Cluett Hall (14,600 square feet), Feringa Field and garages (24,000), three cottages (3,500), the first floor and basement of the Main Building's West Wing and the parking area south of Cluett Hall (13,400) be retained for public use. It was further recommended that the aforementioned structures and space remain under the care, custody and control of the Incorporated Village of Garden City. The assessment further notes that village staff did not address the use or removal of Ellis Hall (16,000 square feet) due it its contaminated condition.
Mayor Miller gave residents the floor, enabling them yet another opportunity to voice what they want - and don't want - for the historic landmark. Bob Bolebruch of Kenmore Road, disappointed with the resolution Trustees Segerdahl and Bee brought forth, urged the board to leave the decision-making up to the residents. "I saw the resolution and I don't know what trustees can be proud of," he said. "I hate to say this because I respect the amount of time [trustees] put into this, but nobody here has a backbone to make a decision."
George Salem of St. Paul's Place couldn't comprehend why trustees are proceeding down a road that seems to have a brick wall at the end of it. With regard to the board's intended exploration of private uses for the building, Salem said such an investigation violates the spirit of the recent residents' survey in which 60 percent of Garden City's population did not favor private sector use. "This is becoming a forced issue and the people are getting screwed," he bluntly stated.
But, as most who have come to know how these meetings usually end, nothing further was accomplished, despite a recent tour of the building that, perhaps, brought forth an even further sense of urgency to take action. "The fact that it's taken 13 years this far is an abomination," Tim Paisley of Roosevelt Street said. "The time to act is now. We can't let this go through political bureaucracy for another 13 years."