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Letter: CSSP Plan Not Withdrawn

Contrary to some reports, the plan proposed by the Committee to Save St. Paul’s/The Garden City Historical Society has not been “withdrawn.” In a letter to the mayor and the board of trustees dated Oct. 19 we simply stated that, “We are in the process of updating our proposal and will resubmit to the Board within 45 days.” The requested 45-day period provides an opportunity to work with the village in a positive manner to reach a joint solution and, following discussion, the resubmission will incorporate any changes that make sense.

Please note: in late August, CSSP met with the Mayor’s Committee on St. Paul’s (Trustees Cavanaugh, Watras and Episcopia). Following that meeting, CSSP engaged in discussion with the trustees and Village bond counsel, which led to a revision of the plan’s building ownership and financing details to reflect the use of village-issued general obligation bonds, rather than local development corporation ownership and financing.

In like manner, at that meeting in late August, we mentioned to the Mayor’s Committee that the state’s Environmental Protection Fund grant process was taking place and suggested that CSSP, as a nonprofit organization, could make an application for funds to assist with the proposed new roof for St. Paul’s. CSSP had already made several trustees aware of the opening of the grant process in July and, prior to the late August meeting, shared a “suggested” support letter with at least one trustee. No objections or concerns were expressed by the trustees at that time.

Subsequently, the state changed their application process and pushed the deadline back to Oct. 31. The letter discussed on Oct. 6 was essentially the same copy, except with the change to reflect the new state Consolidated Funding Application process. That revised suggested letter had again been supplied to one trustee, prior to the CSSP presentation to the board. To be perfectly clear, this was a “suggested” support letter, a draft, which the trustees could change or amend as they saw fit.

At our presentation to the board on Oct. 6, CSSP was simply interested in identifying possible sources of grant funds. We had not fully examined all the details and requirements of the state on such grants, nor were we aware of the Village’s procedures or policies on applying for government grants. We were aware that even if awarded a grant, the village could decline the award if the trustees decided to go in another direction. All we wanted to do was start the process in time to create an application. We are all volunteers and have family obligations and jobs, and the grant application process is extremely time-consuming. With that in mind, if we had not started the process right away, the opportunity may have been lost. We never attempted to mislead or withhold information from any trustees. We hoped to work through the Mayor’s Committee to bring this information to the board as a whole.

Furthermore, our proposal did not depend in any way on receiving the state grant. It was merely a vehicle for the Village to obtain additional funding IF they decided to pursue it. This was not unlike the process by which CSSP helped the Village obtain a grant from Nassau County in 2007 for remediation of hazardous materials on the St. Paul’s site.

When the trustees objected to considering the support letter on Oct. 6, CSSP immediately offered to supply the name and phone number of the State Parks Grant Program Representative, so that Village counsel could explore the depth of the requirements on the Village, if a grant was awarded. As of Oct. 6, CSSP had not done any work on the new “online” Consolidated Funding Application; we had not even taken the step to register the project.

Frankly, we find it disturbing that some trustees continue to accuse us of contemplating anything underhanded. Like the trustees, we are residents who have long volunteered with various village organizations, striving to work with our neighbors to keep this community a great place to live and raise a family.

The Committee to Save St. Paul’s