History of St. Paul's Property Restrictions
The Village of Garden City has owned the 50-acre St. Paul’s campus, including all structures, since 1992. The property was acquired in a negotiated condemnation proceeding for “public and recreational use.” Village residents have used the 40 acres of playing fields for recreational purposes for three decades. The use of the remaining ten acres of buildings and related structures have been considered from time to time but remains problematic and unresolved.
An early proposed use of the remaining ten acres surrounding the building was to convert the principal building into an assisted senior care facility. That private use was contested in a lawsuit brought by village residents (Kenny v Board of Trustees of Incorporated Village of Garden City). The court found that such proposed use was for a private, profit-making purpose, not for “public or recreational use,” and accordingly was prohibited without prior legislative approval. That lower court decision was affirmed on appeal. Proponents of the Senior Assisted Living facility did not thereafter seek Legislative approval. The company proposing the Senior Assisted Living facility, Care Matrix, entered bankruptcy six months thereafter.
The Board of Trustees subsequently designated the St. Paul’s property “Parkland” to protect and preserve the St. Paul’s Campus for future Village residents. The Board of Trustee’s Parkland designation further restricted potential uses of the buildings without prior NYS legislative approval. Legislative approval of a non-Parkland use would likely require the Village to acquire and set aside additional and comparable property to replace and substitute for the public lands/parklands which were lost to non-parkland use of the buildings and property and now occupied for non-parkland purposes. In summary, Non-Parkland use of the St. Paul’s buildings and campus requires NYS legislative approval after a Home Rule request by the Village Board AND the acquisition of new, additional parkland to replenish the parkland lost to Non-Parkland use.