St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church's plans for future development took a giant step forward on Tuesday, Dec. 11, when the Town of North Hempstead Board of Trustees approved its site plan. The synopsis of the hearing notice reads: "The applicant (St. Mary's) seeks Town Board approval for a proposed 2,926 sq. ft. (1,364 sq. ft. footprint) addition to the church and a 30,877 sq. ft. (9,804 sq. ft. footprint) addition to the elementary school.
Representing St. Mary's, Arthur J. Schultheiss, chairman of the building committee, gave a brief history of the parish over its 150 years in Manhasset. "Over the years there have been changes in a kind of patchwork manner. Msgr. McCann (the present pastor) formed a building committee and a financial committee, chaired by Leonard Genovese. It was decided that it would take $10 million to do what has to be done. That has been raised or pledged."
Msgr. John J. McCann then addressed the board, stating that there have been changes in Catholic parishes as social ministries have been added. "In trying to find space for them" he said, "we found it in the lower level of the church." Elementary school primary grade classrooms currently occupy this space. Msgr. McCann said that it was decided to take down Wiest Hall (the present elementary school gymnasium, which has physical problems) and put the gym underground and build two levels of classrooms above it. Then the parish could move the ministries into the church.
Architect Anthony DiProperzio presented an architect's rendering of the site plan as well as a model. "The idea," he said, "is to take existing office space located throughout the campus and consolidate it. Currently offices are scattered. We will gain 13 offices vs. 10 existing, including two additional computer rooms and a cafeteria for kindergartners. There will be no increase in programs, teachers or pupils." Mr. DiProperzio said that a committee had met with residents of Terrace Manor, the residential community nearest the St. Mary's campus, and revised the site plan after hearing their concerns.
The North Hempstead Commissioner of Planning found the site plan to be in compliance with the Town Code because:
a) the uses proposed for the new and renovated spaces already exist on-site in buildings that will be demolished, so the net impact of the project after new construction will not be a significant expansion of the occupancy;
b) the project will provide sufficient parking to meet the requirements of the Town Code;
c) the new construction on, and reconfiguration of the site will result in an upgrading of handicapped access, aesthetics and overall character of the property.
A condition of the approval requires approval by the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District regarding the relocation of a sanitary sewer line.
Supervisor May Newburger moved to approve the application and the board approved it unanimously.