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Garden City Life’s Top 11 Stories of 2011

11. Committee to Save St. Paul’s Presents Restoration Plan To Village Board

The Committee to Save St. Paul’s (CSSP) restoration plan for one of Garden City’s few remaining historical treasures was the focal point of the public work session Oct. 6 at Village Hall. According to the CSSP, the Cathedral School of St. Paul’s is an irreplaceable landmark and a world-class asset for the Village of Garden City, which should be enjoyed for generations to come when renovations are completed. The CSSP’s goal is to stabilize the building, preserve its historic features wherever possible, and provide the public with a space that will be an active community activities and events center. CSSP President Peter Negri said that the annual average cost to Garden City residents would be less than $100 and funding for the St. Paul’s Restoration Project will be sought through public and private grant sources, tax credits and private donations. The CSSP’s proposal has yet to be voted on by the board of trustees.

10. Mayor Rothschild Bids Adieu to Village Board and Residents

After eight years of serving on the Garden City Village Board of Trustees, Mayor Robert J. Rothschild, a 28-year resident, held the gavel in his hand for the very last time as he presided over his final board meeting. Rothschild maintained there were a number of issues that the board needed to move along in the decision process for the betterment of the entire village, while keeping in mind a few basic principles. He said trustees must also realize that not everyone will agree all the time.

“However, both residents and trustees need to understand that we are residents and taxpayers as well as trustees. We are elected to always do the right thing, while at the same time, using all our efforts to keep our costs and expenses at a manageable level while continuing to deliver acceptable and efficient level of services we all contemplated when we made that great decision to live in Garden City,” the mayor said.

9. Garden City Residents Elect CA Candidates

The Garden City Village Election was held on Tuesday, March 15. Polls were open from noon until 9 p.m., as residents turned out in record numbers to elect the four Community Agreement candidates over Garden City Residents Party candidates, Ronald Tadross, Raymond Rudolph and Tom Trypuc. According to Village Clerk Brian Ridgway a total of 2,554 voters appeared at Village Hall and an additional 118 voters used an Absentee Ballot (total of 2,672).

8. Board Approves St. Paul’s Demolition

The Garden City Board of Trustees voted 5 to 3 to approve the demolition of the structure. During the last board meeting of his tenure, Mayor Robert Rothschild, along with Trustees Dennis Donnelly, Nicholas Episcopia, Laurence Quinn and Brian Daughney, voted to approve demolition and Mayor-elect Donald Brudie and Trustees John Watras and Andrew Cavanaugh voted against the proposition.

7. Garden City Unveils New War Memorial

A project five years in the making from beginning to end, the new Garden City War Memorial was unveiled at the village’s Memorial Day observance on Monday, May 30. The memorial replaced the village’s existing memorial on Seventh Street, opposite the Garden City Hotel.

6. GC School Budget Passes; Heineman, Pinou Elected to Board

The Garden City School District budget passed with voters approving it 1,820 to 1,081. In the school board elections, incumbent trustee Angela Heineman ran unopposed and received a total of 1,746 votes; and newly appointed interim trustee Tom Pinou, who ran for Laura Brown’s seat, was elected with 1,475 votes.

5. Superintendent Addresses ‘Critical’ Lawsuit Against Nassau County Over Guarantee

Nearly one year later after the Nassau County Legislature passed the Commonsense Act of 2010, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen publicly addressed the pending lawsuit filed by the Garden City School District and 40 other districts to challenge the repeal of the ‘county guarantee.”

At the Nov. 15 school board meeting, Dr. Robert Feirsen asked Garden City Board of Education Counsel Bonnie Gorham of Guercio & Guercio to update the board on the pending lawsuit filed against Nassau County last spring. Gorham reiterated that the Nassau County Legislature passed what was called the Commonsense Act of 2010 last year. “That had the effect of abolishing the longstanding county guarantee with respect to tax certiorari proceedings. The legislation took effect immediately although it did not affect tax rolls that were finalized prior to April 2012,” she explained.

In spring of 2011, Gorham said that a number of school districts in Nassau County joined together and retained counsel to challenge the validity of the legislation. According to Gorham, various school districts’ lawsuits have been consolidated and are pending before a justice in the Supreme Court of Nassau County. “Counsel for the school districts, including of course, Garden City, has filed a motion the lawsuit for summary and judgment and that motion is still pending. So the lawsuit is still very much alive, although there has been no decision,” Gorham added.

4. Governor Signs Property Tax Cap Legislation in Nassau County

It was met with ire by school districts and local villages and commended by residents and businesses. But on June 30, with positives and negatives aside, the bill became law.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Lynbrook last week to sign the 2 percent property tax cap into law. The tax cap was a major platform Governor Cuomo touted during his campaign to deliver property tax relief to homeowners and business owners across the state.

“Property taxes are a problem all across this state,” Governor Cuomo said. “It [property taxes] literally has been chasing people from their homes for years. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me saying, ‘I have to sell the house because I just can’t afford to pay the property taxes.’”

3. Putting Garden City Back Together Again After Irene

Tropical Storm Irene blew through Long Island last August leaving severe tree damage and rampant power outages in her wake. Garden City was one of the villages hardest hit by the storm’s rage.

Department of Public Works Director Robert Mangan reported that 129 village trees came down during the storm, with 48 blocking roads completely. He indicated that opening the roads required the street department payloaders to push the trees to the side of the road after being cut by the tree crew. Forty private trees were also toppled and DPW worked throughout the night to allow emergency vehicles to have access.

In addition to downed trees, Mangan said 75 large stumps were uprooted, causing lawn and sidewalk damage. Forty-five of these trees damaged sidewalks, which have to be repaired. The preliminary estimate for sidewalk replacement is $37,000 based on the village contractor line items that were bid, according to Mangan.

In that report, Mangan also informed residents that the village has spent $58,360 in overtime in the response and cleanup for the storm and the work is reimbursable from FEMA based on the Disaster Declaration for Nassau County.

2. Residents Save Historic St. Paul’s School

On April 27, 2011, Garden City residents flocked in droves to St. Paul’s Fieldhouse to cast their votes on the $3.75 million bond referendum to demolish St. Paul’s Main Building and Ellis Hall. The overwhelming majority voted to defeat the bond, with 1,120 yes votes and 3,290 no votes, according to Village Clerk Brian Ridgway.

1. Garden City Marks 10 Years Since 9/11 at Remembrance Service

Residents gathered in the Village of Garden City on Sunday, Sept. 11, to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The names of the 23 village residents who are etched on the memorial monument are: Thomas Brennan, Jonathan Neff Cappello, Paul Cascio, Michelle Coyle-Eulau, Laurence Curia, Michael DiAgostino, William Dimmling, Christopher Dunne, Paul Eckna, Michael Hardy Edwards, ex-Captain Robert Ferris, GCFD, Peter Genco, Ryan Kohart, David Leistman, Robert McLaughlin, Jr., James Murphy IV, James Ostrowski, Durrell Pearsall, FDNY, James Smith, Eric Thomas Steen, John Swaine, Kevin Szocik and Stephen Tompsett.