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Village Board Votes to Accept St. Paul’s DEIS

Public Hearings Scheduled for August 19 and September 16

Residents of Garden City are one step closer to learning the fate of St. Paul’s School. At the last village board meeting, trustees were divided in a 4 to 4 vote on accepting the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the demolition of the structure, which was prepared by firms Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. and AKRF, Inc. Village Trustees Dennis Donnelly, Nicholas Episcopia and Brian Daughney and Mayor Robert J. Rothschild voted in favor of accepting the DEIS; while Trustees Lawrence Quinn, John Watras and Andrew Cavanaugh and Deputy Mayor Donald Brudie, voted against it. In order to break the tie, Mayor Rothschild voted again, resulting in the board’s official acceptance of the document.

In 2009, the village board, as the lead agency and owner of St. Paul’s School, issued a positive declaration requiring the preparation of a DEIS for the proposed demolition of St. Paul’s Main Building and Ellis Hall. To ensure a comprehensive environmental review in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), the potential environmental impacts associated with the demolition were evaluated in the DEIS. The board enlisted Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., a consulting engineering, planning, survey, mapping, and construction management and inspection firm, to complete the project.
Rothschild stated that the village’s special counsel, Sive, Paget & Riesel, advised the board that the DEIS was still inadequate and additional work was needed for the document to be completed. Following an executive session on May 6, the board approved engaging the firm of AKRF, Inc., environmental and planning consultants, at an estimated cost of $42,225 to supplement the work already undertaken by Greenman-Pedersen.
After the DEIS was officially accepted, the board entertained questions and remarks from citizens. Garden City resident Ronald Tadross asked whether comments from both Greenman-Pedersen and AKRF would be included in the final DEIS. The mayor confirmed that work from both firms would be included in the document. Tadross further probed the board on how AKRF was able to complete $42,000 worth of work in only a month’s time.
The mayor responded, “If you want to criticize the report, read it first, and we’ll come back and we’ll be happy to take any criticisms you have.” Tadross said he wasn’t trying to criticize but wanted to know if the board expected that the work would take a month to finish. “We asked them to get it done as soon as they could,” Trustee Daughney replied.
Tadross also asked what the options were now that the document was going to be released and if a public hearing would be held in the future. The mayor responded, “We had two draft resolutions, one accepting, one rejecting, and this board decided to accept it, that’s all we did. Then we established that the comment period would run through Sept. 30, and we also set up two public meetings for oral comments here at Village Hall on Aug. 19 and Sept. 16 at 8 p.m.”
The mayor also announced that the DEIS is ready to be distributed to the public. Copies of the document can be obtained at Village Hall for a cost of $3 on CD, as well as at the Garden City Public Library and on the village’s website at www.garden cityny.net/gcvillage.htm.