The death knell has officially sounded for the main building of St. Paul’s School and Ellis Hall after the Garden City Board of Trustees voted 5 to 3 to approve the demolition of the structure last week. During the last board meeting of his tenure, Mayor Robert Rothschild, along with Trustees Dennis Donnelly, Nicholas Episcopia, Laurence Quinn and Brian Daughney, voted to approve demolition and Mayor-elect Donald Brudie and Trustees John Watras and Andrew Cavanaugh voted against the proposition.
Prior to the vote, Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh reminded the board that once the item was passed it could not be undone. “I would like this board to recognize that these findings lead to a path which is irretrievable and irreversible, that demolition, if effected, cannot be undone. That is what we are voting on now. There is no going back. There is no alternative that we are voting on. We are voting on an irretrievable and irreversible action as described in these findings,” Cavanaugh stated.
As if the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter didn’t need any more bad press, a video was anonymously posted on Sunday, March 13 on YouTube. The 17-year-old footage depicts then-kennel foreman Pat Horan watching shelter workers slip a catch-pole around the neck of a kitten and lift it into the air, as they allegedly prepare it to be euthanized.
One worker is seen making obscene and lewd gestures, even mocking the killing of the animal, while Horan is seen laughing and giving the middle finger to the person filming the video. As the kitten squirms wildly, someone off-camera cheers, “Kill the kitty; kill the kitty.”
According to Town officials, Pat Horan was a kennel foreman at the time the video was allegedly taken. The video labeled Horan as kennel supervisor.
At its final budget meeting for the 2011-2012 fiscal year held on Tuesday, March 8, the Garden City Board of Trustees moved to approve several proposals, which have been laid out during its recent series of public work sessions. The budget set forth will yield a village tax increase of less than 2 percent – down from last year’s 2.2 percent increase.
Starting from a zero assumption, the village’s current budget stands at $53,739,000, Trustee Andrew J. Cavanaugh said. The board dissected that number by area, including the library, Police Department and Fire Services, and voted on respective proposals to make adjustments to that zero-based budget.
It was an artful feast for the eyes as hundreds of works were on view during the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection’s art auction and fundraiser held last month. A crowd of art lovers and Garden City residents turned out en masse to bid on a variety of items, from landscapes and still lifes to sports, music, and entertainment memorabilia.
The auction, conducted by the professionals from AJ Ross Auctions, was a rousing success, with approximately 65 pieces of art sold. The annual event raised over $11,000 and proceeds will be donated toward the medical expenses of 21-year-old Jessica Stevens, a church member and Garden City resident, who is battling severe complications from Lyme disease (www.hopeforjessicablogspot.com).
The Garden City Village Election was held on Tuesday, March 15. Polls were open from noon until 9 p.m., as residents turned out in record numbers to elect the four Community Agreement candidates over Garden City Residents Party candidates, Ronald Tadross, Raymond Rudolph and Tom Trypuc.
The official village election numbers were as follows: Donald T. Brudie - Mayor 1,885 received votes; John A. Demaro - Trustee 1,642 votes; Laurence J. Quinn - Trustee 1,646 votes; Dennis C. Donnelly - Trustee 1,706 votes; Andrew J. Cavanaugh - Trustee 1,656 votes. Garden City Residents Party candidates Raymond J. Rudolph received 861 votes; Ronald A. Tadross - 861 votes; and Thomas J. Trypuc - 811 votes.
It was no ordinary school day for students at Garden City High School last week. According to Garden City Police reports, police officers responded to the high school for a report of a bomb threat on Tuesday, March 1 at approximately 9 a.m. School and police personnel searched the building and deemed it safe at approximately 11 a.m., according to police.
School Board President Colleen Foley reacted to the bomb threat at last Wednesday’s board meeting. “I would like to thank the police department and the first responders, as well as the efficient and safe handlings of the staff at the high school. As a result of their actions, everyone ended up safe at the end of the day,” Foley said.
Foley recounted the day’s events telling the audience that she received a phone call from the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen, who informed her of a bomb threat situation at the high school. She reiterated that she and board members were in contact with Dr. Feirsen every 15 or 20 minutes as he was at the high school. She also spoke to the commissioner of Garden City Police every half hour through the course of that day.
On Wednesday, March 2, the Garden City School District held the third in a series of school budget work sessions for the 2011/12 academic year. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen presented recommendations that addressed the instructional components of the school budget. The proposal includes the elimination of 13.2 full-time teaching positions (FTE), as well as an increase in class size guidelines from 25 to 26.
Feirsen addressed the speculation in the community regarding the news of teacher reductions, which he said is due to enrollment decreases. “The only way for us to do a good job reducing our budget numbers, the rate of increase, is to get a handle on our personnel and we’re doing that,” Feirsen said. “It would be imprudent of us, it would be counter to the wishes of the community for us to maintain staffing if the student population is going down,” he added.
New York State Senator John Flanagan, chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, and Senator Jack M. Martins, chair of the Standing Committee on Local Government, co-sponsored a hearing on Feb. 17 in Mineola to accumulate best practices and suggestions to take back to Albany with regard to reducing Property Taxes in New York. Some of the pressures on local government and school district budgets are directly tied to mandated costs. It follows that reduction in property taxes is linked to unfunded Mandate Relief, especially in light of the 2 percent tax cap approved by the New York State Senate in January.The recent Senate approval of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tax cap that calls for capping the yearly growth of school and local taxes at 2 percent or the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less, was the impetus for the hearing.
Everyone in Garden City has heard and read quite a bit over the last several years about the looming destruction of St. Paul’s School. Built in 1883 by the widow of Alexander Turney Stewart, the former boys’ school is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places and yet is in grave danger of being demolished. It is clear that the proposed demolition has more to do with a lack of consensus among the village’s residents on what exactly to do with this landmark than a concerted resolve to destroy the remarkable Victorian Gothic masterpiece. At what may very well be the eleventh hour, it is perhaps worthwhile to consider what Garden City would be like without St. Paul’s.
It was nearly midnight before the Garden City Board of Education wrapped up their general meeting and second school budget work session last Wednesday. The audience, mostly comprised of parents and residents, listened as the board moved through a full agenda of items. Among the most important topics were the mandate relief initiative led by School Board Trustees Angela Heineman and Laura Hastings, the superintendent’s second installment of budget recommendations and the surprise resignation of School Board Trustee Laura Brown.
The meeting began with an update from Trustees Angela Heineman and Laura Hastings who talked about their meeting with a coalition of Nassau County schools known as the Long Island Educational Advocacy District. The purpose of the group is to advocate legislation for property tax reform. “We feel in our collective group, assuming the tax levy cap is an inevitability, the way to make property tax relief truly meaningful is to have some sort of mandate reform go along with that. With that end, we put together a letter that each of the participating districts is going to send to Governor Cuomo,” she explained.
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