For the latest news, see the St.
Paul's Sentinel Newsletter
July 11, 2006 - Court Ruling Reveals Trustees'
June 6, 2006 - Committee to Save St. Paul's
May 17, 2006 - Lawsuit Uncovers Shameless Deception
by Village Officials
January 12, 2006 - What's Behind the St. Paul's
Private Development Plan?
for Committee to Save St. Paul's Conducts Tour of Historic Building
June 6, 2006
Tuesday, June 6, the Committee to Save St. Paul's arranged a tour
of the historic St. Paul's building for its consultants. The purpose
of the tour was to give the two consultants hired by the Committee
– Mr. Murray Gould and Mr. Stephen Tilly – an opportunity
to inspect the interior of the building and view firsthand the condition
of the structure. The tour was conducted very thoroughly and professionally
by Mr. Brian Ridgway, Village Clerk.
Tilly is an architect who specializes in historic preservation.
He has been involved in a number of projects in the greater New
York area that have taken older, historic buildings on the brink
of demolition, and restored and saved them for public and private
purposes. Murray Gould, the head of Gould & Associates, is a
former executive of Lilco who, for the past twenty years, has headed
his own real estate development and consulting firm specializing
in the redevelopment of historic properties for public and private
commercial uses. This
was the first opportunity that both gentlemen had to examine the
interior of the historic St. Paul’s building.
While there were clearly areas of serious decay visible, both men
were extremely impressed with the overall condition of St. Paul’s.
As Murray Gould noted, “Compared to the condition of many
of the buildings I see, St. Paul’s is in remarkably good shape.
Setting aside code and safety issues for the moment, I saw many
areas that could, with a little TLC and cleanup, be put to use right
away.” Of course, Gould was not advocating immediate use,
but he was pointing to the incredible resiliency of a building that
has received no attention in many years.
Tilly examined many of the holes that had been drilled by previous
engineering inspections in order to calculate the solidity and condition
of main support beams and other structural elements, and was impressed
with how well the building is withstanding the onslaught of the
elements. He cautioned, however, that this situation could not go
on forever. “What you have here,” he said, “is
demolition by neglect. The greatest threat to most structures is
water, and the longer this is allowed to continue, the greater the
likelihood that the building will come down.” The greatest
damage is occurring in the two top floors, where un-repaired leaks
are allowing water to slowly destroy walls and ceilings.
also waxed poetic about many of the interior features of the building,
including the magnificent stained glass of the chapel, the imported
English Minton tiles on the floors of the entryway, the terracotta
wall panels, and extensive period wood moldings throughout the building.
As Tilly said, “Most of these features could not be reproduced
today. There are no longer the artisans capable of making such beautiful
fixtures. The salvage value alone of these features could run into
both consultants believe that the building is constructed in such
a way as to make adaptive re-use highly feasible. “Of course,
it all comes down to money, but there is no doubt in our minds,”
said Gould, “that this building has all the potential for
a combination of public and private use. The key is putting all
the pieces of the puzzle together to find the right combination.
But we’re confident that it can be done. “ Both men
pointed out that, contrary to the claims made in the recent Village
Facts, there are many, many examples throughout the country of projects
that combine public and private investment in the same re-development
project. “That’s the way to make the project affordable,”
concluded Gould, “and it can be done. It’s being done
all the time.”
the tour, a luncheon was hosted at the Garden City Hotel by Mr.
Thomas Poole, a fellow resident and Secretary of the Committee to
Save St. Paul’s, to allow the consultants to hear from residents
of the Village who represent various groups with an interest in
St. Paul’s. They included representatives of the Property
Owners’ Associations, as well as those speaking for seniors,
civic groups, and athletic organizations that have contributed to
the discussion of how St. Paul’s could serve a variety of
needs for meeting space, as well as social and recreational activity.
It was clear from the comments of all those present that there is
a very significant need for additional space – the growing
senior population, the cultural, social and recreational activities
of our younger citizens, and the civic needs of many organizations
– that could be addressed by many of the rooms within St.
next step for The Committee to Save St. Paul’s is to work
over the next two months to develop a plan for the restoration of
St. Paul’s that provides a reasonable and affordable alternative
to the plan of the Board of Trustees, which calls for sale to developers
for high end condominiums and demolition of virtually all of the
building except for the exterior façade.
Peter Negri, former village trustee and President of the Committee
to Save St. Paul’s, said “Our goal is to show the residents
that there is a way to save St. Paul’s that will keep the
building under Village control, truly preserve its most important
historic features, and make it affordable for all the residents.
There are many conclusions in the Village Facts that are simply
not accurate or downright misleading.”
noted that those misstatements included the idea that private development
would preserve many historic features for the residents to “enjoy,”
or that the Village would be required to finance preservation with
15-year bonds. “These are just a few of the opinions, not
facts, that certain members of our Board are trying to use to convince
us that private development is our only alternative,” Mr.
Negri said, “and they are simply not true.” The private
development plan calls for the demolition of almost everything in
the building except for a few walls, the magnificent chapel included.
On the other hand, the idea that the Village would be limited to
15-year bonds is also patently false. “With special legislation
it is likely this project could be financed creatively over a much
longer period, perhaps as much as 50 years, and at a much lower
cost to residents. We want to explore every option,” Mr. Negri
concluded. “It would be an enormous tragedy to have this magnificent
treasure sold out from under our feet.”
next step is for the Committee’s consultants to review the
many hundreds of pages of studies and engineering reports previously
conducted on St. Paul’s and then begin to develop a plan that
combines the best public and private recommendations into an alternative
that is reasonable and affordable for the residents. It is expected
that this plan will be available in the early Fall of this year.
date, the Committee to Save St. Paul’s has raised over $60,000
in private donations to help fund the development of a plan to save
St. Paul’s for public use. All of the money will be used for
that purpose and no funds raised so far are being used to support
the lawsuit against the Village. Anyone wishing to help the cause
of saving St. Paul’s can send their tax deductible donation
“St. Paul’s Conservancy Corp.”
c/o Maureen Traxler
Committee to Save St. Paul’s
PO Box 7642
Garden City, NY 11530-0731