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Interviewed key stakeholders in town to make sure everyone has a voice when it comes to the future of St. Paul’s and all these voices participate in the upcoming outreach.
Identified and started interviewing companies to assess our community needs and survey residents.
Visited seven outstanding Community Centers in the tri-state area and learned how much these centers enrich the lives of residents and bring multiple generations of people together.
Engage consultant to assess needs and survey the community to learn:» What residents want.» What parts of the building residents treasure most.» What residents are willing to pay to preserve part or all of the building.
Present to the public what we learned about how community centers enrich the lives of residents and what programs work best.
With this important data, we can start the creative path towards a reimagined St. Paul’s. Along the way we will continue to share the possibilities and the costs so residents are fully informed and can vote on the bond referendum to make the project a reality.
It is estimated that a $60.4 million project would cost you $1,186.20 per year for 15 years for a total of $17,793.00 using traditional financing. If 30 year financing were allowed and the Board of Trustees chose this option, the estimated cost to you would be $899.10 per year for 30 years for a total of $26,973.00.
It is estimated that a $100 million project would cost you $1,797.30 per year for 15 years for a total of $26,959.50 using traditional financing. If 30 year financing were allowed and the Board of Trustees chose this option, the estimated cost to you would be $1,322.10 per year for 30 years for a total of $39,663.00.
These tax increases are in addition to the customary increases in taxes we have experienced historically.
The cost to you depends what you pay in Village taxes, which you can find on your annual tax bill.
To find the cost to you of a $60.4 Million project, multiply your annual Village tax bill by 13.18% to learn what it is estimated to cost extra per year for 15 years. If 30 year financing could be done and was chosen by the Board of Trustees, multiply your annual tax bill by 9.99% to learn what it is estimated to cost you per year for 30 years.
To find the cost to you of a $100 Million project, multiply your annual Village tax bill by 19.97% to learn what it is estimated to cost extra per year for 15 years. If 30 year financing could be done and was chosen by the Board of Trustees, multiply your annual tax bill by 14.69% to learn what it is estimated to cost you per year for 30 years.
Some residents have raised questions about the impact on surrounding playing fields during a St. Paul’s project, particularly if there is a demolition project. Mr. Lloyd Westerman of Westerman Construction explained to residents at the October 3rd information session how both asbestos and lead would be handled in any proposed project, whether it is a restoration project or a demolition project (11 minute 20 second mark). He provided in his presentation links for two New York State websites for residents to visit for further information on asbestos and lead and the standard processes in place to ensure safety. Mr. Westerman also shared his experience with a recent demolition project done by his firm of a building adjacent to a branch of the NYC Public Library and across the street from a park. Based on the construction practices, he explained that the work was done in a way that avoided any shut down of the library branch where children were attending programs and any impact on the nearby park. Mr. Westerman also added that demolition can be done in the winter. In response to a question at the end of the presentation (1 hr. 20 minute mark), Mr. Westerman confirmed that he budgeted that proper procedures would be followed as to not impact areas outside the fence surrounding the building.
In his presentation on October 3, Lloyd Westerman described the present condition of the building along with pictures to help illustrate those conditions. Mr. Westerman refers to the Thornton Thomasetti report for detailed information on the technical condition of the building. As part of his presentation, Mr. Westerman showed pictures of areas which show what he described as typical conditions in the building, and he also showed areas he described as severely decayed with floors collapsed. He estimated in response to a question at the 1 hr. 29 minute mark that the condition of severe decay with floors collapsing is in approximately 20 percent of the building.
The Village has undertaken numerous steps to assess the potential environmental impact associated with the St. Paul’s project and the Board of Trustees will perform additional environmental review before it approves any of the alternatives being considered.
Between 2009 and 2011, the Village commissioned the preparation of environmental impact statement (“EIS”) when demolition was being considered. That EIS assessed potential impacts to environmental resources such as open space, historical and archeological resources, aesthetic resources, public health and safety, and community character. The EIS also assessed the potential impact from hazardous materials, such as asbestos containing material (“ACM”) and lead-based paint (“LBP”), that would be encountered during construction activity. The EIS also assessed mitigation measures that could be implemented to reduce environmental impacts. A copy of the Draft EIS can be found here and a copy of the Final EIS can be found here.
Additionally, in 2019 the Village commissioned an assessment of impacts to cultural resources associated with the potential adaptive reuse of the building. The cultural resource due diligence memo summarizing that assessment can be found here. In July 2019 a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (“ESA”) was prepared on behalf of the Village to evaluate whether hazardous substances may be present at the St. Paul’s property. That Phase I ESA can be found here. The Board of Trustees encourages residents to review the documents that detail the environmental assessments that have been completed to date.
Before the Board of Trustees makes a final decision with respect to the options being considered for St. Paul’s, it will comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”). The SEQRA review will require an evaluation of the potential environmental impacts resulting from the St. Paul’s project. That SEQRA review may require the preparation of a new EIS or Supplemental EIS, and residents will have an opportunity to participate in that process.
The Village is working with an expert who has come highly recommended and advises as follows: “[L]eaving them where they are is problematic. The level of care they can receive in-situ is not enough intervention for where the windows currently, “are” condition wise.”
It was in a Special Election held February 2, 1993 that residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bond resolution to purchase the St. Paul’s School Property. (2,929 residents voted – 2,582 voted yes and 347 voted no)
Four years later on March 13, 1997, three Garden City Property Owners’ Associations (Central, West and Estates) invited all residents to vote in a public opinion survey on two questions:
1. Should the Village lease the St. Paul’s Building for a commercial assisted living facility? 2,372 residents voted on this question with results split nearly evenly - 1,178 voted yes and 1,194 voted no.
2. Should the Village maintain the St. Paul's Building for future alternative use? 2,118 residents voted on this question with 59% (1,247) voting yes and 41% (871) voting no.
Over seven years later, in May 2004, a public opinion survey was authored by a committee with representatives from each of the four Village Property Owners’ Associations. Adelphi University staff volunteered to assist with the survey and the report is attached. The report noted that when respondents were forced to choose one option, 40% were in favor of using the building for private use as residential condominiums or an assisted living facility, 25% were in favor of demolition, and threshold use and stabilization received the least support (7% and 4% respectively).
On December 2, 2008, two Property Owners’ Associations held a Village-wide opinion poll with three options for residents. 5,020 residents voted with 45.4% (2,272) in favor of demolition, 37.1% (1,875) in favor of Mothballing the Main Building, and 17.5% (873) in favor of approving a development agreement with Avalon Bay.
On April 27, 2011, residents were invited to vote on a bond resolution to fund demolition ($3.75 Million), and of the 4,411 residents who voted, 75% (3,290) voted no and 25% (1,121) voted yes.
In September 2013, a Needs Assessment Survey was done by the Village Recreation Department, and the results of that study are attached.
The History of St. Paul’s 1993 To Date tab provides some background information on these different votes, polls and surveys.
Village Counsel advised the Board of Trustees to not use the term “referendum” or the term “vote.” This advice is based on case law stating that a Village Board may not cede its governance responsibilities to a public vote. While the Village Board cannot be bound by this poll, the opinion of the residents is very important to the Board.
Based on the Parkland designation of the St. Paul’s Property, the following uses are NOT PERMITTED for the St. Paul’s Property: APARTMENTS/CO-OPS; ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY; COMMERCIAL RENTAL SPACE; HOTEL; HOUSING; MEDICAL FACILITY; PRIVATE USE; BUSINESSES; SHARED RESPONSIBILITY; SCHOOLS.
“Permitted Parkland Uses” for properties designated as Parkland are not defined by statute but have been developed over time by court decisions. The court developed approach to appropriate Parkland uses focuses on recreation and accompanying uses that enhance the enjoyment of recreational use.
Village Counsel has advised that “Permitted Parkland Uses” include: SPORTS AND RECREATIONAL FACILITIES, COMMUNITY EVENT AND MEETING SPACE, ROOMS FOR MUSIC, DANCE AND ART PROGRAMS, A THEATER, AND ASSOCIATED CONCESSIONS AND OFFICES.
Village Counsel cautions that any proposed use would need to be evaluated for its validity as a park purpose.
To understand the history of the restrictions on the St. Paul’s property, visit this page.
We have been advised in writing by both the MTA/LIRR and the Long Island Power Authority that the poles were constructed and put in place by the contractors for the MTA/LIRR as part of the Third Track Project and are, when they are placed in the ground, the property of the MTA/LIRR and its contractors. That is their legal position.
It is our understanding that at some point in the future these poles, like everywhere along LIRR property, do get transferred in ownership and responsibility for maintenance to the prevailing utility on the pole - in this case LIPA/PSEG. But at the moment of construction - they belong to the MTA/LIRR. For example, if a pole snapped in half during its placement, the cost would be borne by the MTA/LIRR and its contractors, not LIPA or PSEG.
As has been expressly stated by MTA/LIRR and by the Third Track Committee, the Village was not asked for permission beforehand. It is the legal position of the MTA/LIRR that they were not required to ask the Village to place the poles where they are or to get the Village's approval to use 60-foot or 90-foot or 120-foot high poles. It has stated in writing to us that although the Village was entitled to be notified of the design change to move poles to the south side of the tracks, "Village approval [of the relocation of the utility poles] is not required" because they are located within a LIRR right-of-way.
The Village is aware that two of the poles west of Nassau Boulevard encroach on Village land by about 7-10 inches.
The Village has virtually no permitting regulatory authority over the MTA/LIRR. MTA/LIRR land and projects, like most projects on school property and Nassau County government property, are not generally subject to our building codes or other Village law or regulation. We do not inspect or issue permits for this type of Third Track work.
New York Public Authorities Law ("PAL") § 1020-ii entitled, "Public notice before approval of utility transmission facilities," is a relatively new law that was signed by Governor Cuomo on December 28, 2018. The law falls under Title 1-a of Chapter 43-a of the Public Authorities Law, known as the "Long Island power authority act." PAL § 1020. As such, the notice requirements apply directly to LIPA, not the MTA/LIRR. Notice, if applicable, is required to be given to local governments and residents only within 500 feet of the proposed action. As stated above, the MTA/LIRR has expressly stated, and so has LIPA, that the poles are the property of the MTA/LIRR.
The law does not include any provisions stating what damages or penalties should be imposed or what actions a court is authorized to take for violations of the law. There is nothing in the law that states that violations of the law result in removal of utility poles.
Some residents have made allegations that our Village Administrator, Ralph Suozzi, who also serves as Chairman of the LIPA Board of Directors, has a conflict of interest. To be perfectly clear, the Third Track Project and this pole issue was solely an MTA/LIRR initiative. Mr. Suozzi had no role or any discussions regarding the Third Track project or any component of it either in his role as Village Administrator or as Chairman of the LIPA Board.
Mr. Suozzi has been the Village Administrator for six years. He was Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of LIPA when we hired him and continues to be its Chairman. The Village was well aware of his position as Non-Executive Chairman.
According to Black's Law Dictionary, a conflict of interest is defined as, "A term used in connection with public officials and fiduciaries and their relationship to matters of private interest or gain to them."
The position of LIPA Chairman is not a paid position - he serves without compensation. The position of Chairman has no operational powers. He does not make operational decisions. Furthermore, LIPA does not operate the electric power utility system on Long Island. As a result of the LIPA Reform Act of 2013, LIPA contracts with PSEG Long Island, a subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated, one of the nation's largest electric utilities, to operate LIPA's electric system.
Mr. Suozzi has no authority or role with PSEG Long Island. He has never received nor does he receive any personal gain from the placement of poles along the Third Track in Garden City - or anywhere else. Again, Mr. Suozzi never participated in any of the Village's discussions with the MTA/LIRR or its contractors.
As has been confirmed in writing by both LIPA and the MTA/LIRR, the selection of the contractor, design, construction and outreach for the Third Track Project, including the poles, were within the sole discretion of the MTA/LIRR. Additionally, the Third Track Project, including the poles, is entirely funded by the MTA/LIRR.
Neither PSEG Long Island nor LIPA told MTA/LIRR where to locate the poles or had any discretion in telling MTA/LIRR where to place the poles. Save for two poles, which are approximately 7 inches on Village property, the poles are located entirely on MTA/LIRR land. The poles replace existing power poles in the area. There were always electric utility poles along the tracks. The sole role of PSEG Long Island - not LIPA, was to advise MTA/LIRR of the industry-wide standards to which new poles are to be built - including height and spacing - which are necessary and were adopted to withstand weather issues and to accommodate various utilities (not only electricity) which run lines on poles such as those in question, including those facilities of the MTA/LIRR. All standards are required under state and federal law and industry standards.
As part of this argument, we have also heard that LIPA benefits from the placement of poles above ground instead of burying the utility lines, again somehow resulting in a conflict of interest for Mr. Suozzi. LIPA operates as a not-for profit entity under New York State law, so it does not make money (or saved money) - as some have tried to assert - from the placement of poles in lieu of burying them underground, and again, this was not a LIPA project but is instead an MTA/LIRR project.
The Third Track Committee with the advice of the heads of our Parks Department and Building Department have been negotiating and pushing the MTA/LIRR and its contractors to significantly enhance the original landscaping plan.
Under the original plan for the Third Track project, the MTA/LIRR made only minimal commitments to replace vegetation, trees and the like. As the project was a widening of the footprint for the tracks without taking of any additional land, MTA/LIRR never could commit to replace all growth that had occurred over decades within its property lines. It did commit to replace vegetation and trees that were removed outside of its property line, but only to a limited size.
Through the work of the Village Board of Trustees, we were able to get additional commitments in a Memorandum of Understanding that the Village would be entitled to apply for and receive up to $2.5 million through the Community Fund under the Third Track Project, and other commitments to enhance landscaping, far in excess of the requirements under the actual project plans. To date, we have applied to use at least $800,000 of such funds to primarily enhance landscaping along the Main Line corridor.
We have also received commitments from the MTA/LIRR and the contractors for even more trees and shrubs and hedges and have been working for months to finalize a definitive and binding landscaping plan that is being paid for solely by the contractors; it is important to note that this expenditure does not include reduce the money available to us from the Community Funds. Of the many issues that we are pressing is that larger trees and shrubs be planted - especially in light of the placement of the large poles. For example, and just as one example, we are pushing them to plant many trees in the 30-foot size. You may note that when the Village replaces trees, we plant trees about 12 feet high.
The Board and the Committee have been and continue to take steps to try to protect our Village. All of us live here too, several near the Main Line. The Board has retained special counsel, the nationally renowned environmental law firm of Beveridge and Diamond to assist us in exploring and understanding our rights, and asserting them against the MTA/LIRR. We will continue to push the MTA/LIRR and its contractors to be respectful of the Village, and to work with us to mitigate the impact of the project and the poles in particular, on the Village and our residents.
We look forward to discussing these and any other aspect of the project with fellow residents as well as with our local representatives. It is only when we have a discussion based on facts and not emotions that we will be able to do what is best for our Village as a whole.