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Committee To Save St. Paul’s Falls Short

The latest chapter in the ongoing saga that is the fight over the fate of the former St. Paul’s school took a southward turn for preservationists. By a tally of five to three, the Garden City Board of Trustees voted to accept the findings of a forensic architect hired by the village to review an $8.2 million proposal submitted by the Committee to Save St. Paul’s (CSSP) with help from the Garden City Historical Society. Don Erwin, principal in the architecture/engineering firm of Erwin & Bielinski, conducted the study and drew up the report that found the committee’s proposal and estimate falling short on a number of levels.

“I don’t believe it would be feasible to occupy the building for that [estimate],” Erwin said. “That price [of $8.2 million] is underestimated and there needs to be additional work along with the simple issue of overcoming the building’s safety issues, which are out of everybody’s control. [That’s] really up to the building inspectors and other parties.”

The CSSP proposed restoring the first floor and chapel, and closing off the remainder of the building as a means of deferring a full-on restoration of the entire structure.

According to Erwin, among the problems presented by the current structure are:

An antiquated design that doesn’t meet current building codes

An anachronistic footprint characterized by small rooms and odd-shaped corridors that are an irregular fit for contemporary usage

Major safety flaws

Most problematic are aspects of the structure’s inherent design, he said, and it would cost on the order of $40 million to make St. Paul’s suitable for occupancy.

“The outside walls are actually hollow and would create smoke tunnels if a fire were to develop, it would envelop the entire building,” Erwin said. “The entire roof is made of wood and we know that’s a difficult mix—wood floors and a wood roof in a masonry building with no means of egress. It’s unfortunately a poisonous mix that’s sitting there and to truly address that would be very, very expensive.”

In Erwin’s opinion, money used in a partial restoration would be wasted as work done on the primary level would be ripped out once St. Paul’s was wholly redone.

Mayor Don Brudie inquired as to whether $8.2 million was a fair amount for the work proposed. Erwin said he didn’t think it was feasible.

Code compliance, or St. Paul’s lack of it according to the report, was a major sticking point.

A letter written by Michael Filippon, the superintendent of the village’s building department read in part, “…I found the reports to be extremely thorough and display a full understanding of the underlying principles of building codes, which are designed to ensure the safety of people entering the building. I would go so far as to say that with the passage of time, cost estimates will likely be even higher. In conclusion, I concur with the findings of the report that partial use of the building without significant remediation to the entire building, is not only impractical, but would not achieve code compliance.”

The Erwin & Bielinksi report also offered options for what to do with St. Paul’s (see sidebar) that ranged from $17.2 million to well over $100 million.

With the presentation of the report, Trustee Brian Daughney proposed accepting the report’s results and rejecting the CSSP plan with Trustees Daughney, Dennis Donnelly, Laurence Quinn, Nicholas Episcopia and John DeMaro voting affirmatively and Mayor Brudie and deputy Mayors John Watras and Andrew Cavanaugh casting negative votes.  In casting his vote, the mayor made clear his concerns regarding the potential demolition of St. Paul’s.

“This is an iconic building. It’s an asset to the village. It’s something that if you take it down, you cannot put it back up,” he said. “Once it’s gone, you couldn’t even rebuild it for the four to six million dollars it would cost to take it down. You couldn’t put the building back for that cost. So this has to be something that’s considered very carefully and very seriously before we make any move on this.”

The next meeting of the Garden City Board of Trustees will be on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m.

News

Longtime village administrator to

receive President’s Award

The Garden City Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the presentation of its President’s Award to Robert (Bob) L. Schoelle, Jr., a Garden City resident for 43 years, at the 2014 Pineapple Ball at the Garden City Hotel on Friday evening, May 9. Initiated in 2011, the Chamber of Commerce’s “President’s Award” recognizes above and beyond volunteer spirit and contributions within the Garden City community and beyond. Not an annual award, it is only presented occasionally, which makes this recognition for Schoelle all the more special.

Bob Schoelle has served as chief administrative officer of the Incorporated Village of Garden City for the past 34 years, working with 18 mayors and many boards of trustees. He has served as a member of both the Village Planning Commission and Board of Police Commissioners. His contributions to numerous village projects have contributed remarkably to the quality of life in the village.

Garvies Point hosts Waldorf parent-child program

Garvies Point Musuem and Preserve, a place known for its Native American history and artifacts, is now home to the Garden City Waldorf School’s Parent-Child Program. The location is an ideal match since the Waldorf educational philosophy enjoys many parallels with the Native American culture exhibited at the museum. The classes are held in the museum’s interactive exhibit room for children, which features a dugout canoe, a wooden wigwam, woven baskets and a model of a native garden. Since the exhibit encourages creative play with natural materials, it is a perfect fit for the Waldorf program which promotes the same.

One of the interesting features of the program is that it is in truth a parent-child class; parents are learning right alongside the children. Children are encouraged to play cooperatively with their peers, while adults learn to knit nearby. Throughout the program, parents are given advice and tips on how to slow the pace of parenting, how to deal with tantrums and manage technology in our lives. “It’s really nice to get good advice on finding a natural rhythm to our lives,” said Laura Franco of Sea Cliff. “I would say the program is very unique in that way.”


Sports

Lady Panthers

start season 7-0

The number two ranked Adelphi Panthers Women’s Lacrosse team has gotten off to a fast start to their 2014 season and show no signs of slowing down. Head Coach Rob Grella, entering his third season at the helm, has led his team to an impressive 7-0 record to kick off their campaign. Six of the Panther’s first seven games have been won in commanding fashion in which they have outscored the opposition by a staggering margin of 122-14.

Last season, the Panthers continued their tradition of playing hard and fighting off tough challenges. They would finish the 2013 season with an impressive 11-1 record within the Northeast Ten Conference and overall at 18-3, making it to their fourth consecutive trip to the NE-10 Conference Championship where they eventually lost to Le Moyne.

Easter Egg Hunt For Pre-K To Grade 5

The Garden City Recreation Department is once again sponsoring the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 at Community Park’s fields. This year three hunts will be held at 10 a.m. sharp with three age divisions: preschool to kindergarten, grades 1 and 2; and grades 3 to 5.

Special eggs will be stuffed and hidden for all divisions. Each hunt will also feature a grand prize (an Easter basket filled with goodies) which will go to the youngster who finds the egg marked “#1 Lucky Egg.” For further information about the hunt, please call the recreation department at 516-465-4075.


Calendar

Dinner & A Movie: An Inconvenient Truth

Thursday, April 10

Breakfast With The Easter Bunny

Saturday, April 12

'Needleworks' Exhibit Opens

Through April 30



Columns

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

LI’s ‘Most Prominent Lady In Politics’
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com