As 2010 came to a close, the ultimate fate of St. Paul’s Boys School in Garden City still remained a hot topic of discussion for the Garden City Village Board of Trustees and residents. After the board entertained a period of public hearings and commentary on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement this fall, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on demolition is anticipated to be ready by the next board of trustees meeting in January, according to Village Counsel Gerard Fishberg.
Trustee Laurence Quinn raised the issue of ongoing costs for preparation of the FEIS during the last board meeting of the year. Prior to approving a bill in the amount of $11,206 from Sive, Paget & Riesel, an environmental firm hired to prepare the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the FEIS, Quinn asked when the board anticipated that billings would finally end.
‘You can’t cap what you can’t control,’ was the mantra of a delegation of mayors from across New York State, who recently descended upon Garden City’s Village Hall to discuss recommendations of New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM) Mayors’ Task Force on Mandate and Property Tax Relief.
Earlier this year, NYCOM formed a working task force of 20 mayors to come up with a set of mandate relief proposals that they say must be adopted by the state legislature prior to considering any form of a property tax cap. During a press conference, Sam Teresi, NYCOM president and mayor of the city of Jamestown, NY, explained that the task force’s recommendations focus on first reforming the cost drivers that lead to high property taxes in New York, in particular the many mandates on local governments pertaining to collective bargaining and managing workforce costs.
Teresi stated that the report entitled, You Can’t Cap What You Can’t Control, was built on a series of fundamental and simple foundations; namely, that property taxes in the State of New York are too costly. “Whether it is in the 62 cities, the 555 villages, the 900 towns, the several hundred school districts, special taxing jurisdictions, property taxes are simply too high in New York State and are one of the leading causes for taking what I believe is the greatest state and the greatest country in this world and making us unattractive and uncompetitive for business development,” Teresi said.
A variety of topics were discussed at the board of education’s final meeting of the year on Dec. 14. Much of the first half of the meeting focused on the progress of current and upcoming bond projects. The board also discussed the status of the district’s Energy Performance Contract and plans for the district to explore creating a Certiorari Reserve Fund.
Gary Sheedy and project managers from BBS Architects attended the meeting to update the board on several initiatives funded by the $3.6 million bond passed by residents last year. Sheedy announced that the bus garage modular office building has been approved by the state and the project will be put out to bid after Jan. 1, 2011. In addition, the high school roof project is almost complete. “There are still some work that has to be done, some punch list items. That work will be done over the next two weeks. Once that’s complete, then we will be able to close out that project,” Sheedy said.
It was a glee-filled afternoon last Sunday, Dec. 12, at NYCB Theatre at Westbury, when recording artist and Long Island tenor Michael Amante offered a powerful and touching performance during his fifth annual holiday and veterans tribute concert, featuring special guests soprano Marissa Famiglietti and the Garden City Middle School Festival Chorus, who appeared in their concert stage debut.
Opening with Christmas favorite Joy to the World, along with a host of other festive holiday selections, Amante showcased his remarkable ability to perform a wide variety of musical genres from Puccini to pop. One of the afternoon’s highlights was when Amante paid special homage to U.S. disabled veterans in a rendition of the U.S. Armed Forces Medley, which featured songs such as Caissons Go Rolling Along, Anchors Aweigh, Army Air Corps Song, The Marines Hymn, TAPS and America the Beautiful.
In the true spirit of the season, representatives of the Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior recently visited several military hospitals to not only bring holiday cheer but also to express their gratitude for the sacrifices that wounded soldiers have endured for the country.
Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior (NCFF-OWW) is a non-profit organization centered on providing much-needed items to the wounded men and women of our armed services. The organization works closely with military representatives to ensure that useful clothing, personal entertainment electronics and Get Well cards are properly channeled to recovering service personnel.
With nearly 10 days left to shop-until-you-drop, residents still have an opportunity to help support local businesses this holiday season. Shop local and shop in Garden City was the passionate message from John Wilton, the chairman of the Merchant Professional Retailers Group, who spoke at the most recent board of trustees meeting.
Wilton, who said he sometimes feels like the town psychiatrist, emphasized that village merchants have voiced a need for support in this sluggish economy. “I need everybody to clearly understand, times are still tough out there at the retail level...This is the last shot; this is it. This is the shopping season,” Wilton said.
“Any infusion of capital that you can expend in our village, in our stores, in our shops. Do all your catering, do all your Christmas parties; do all your purchasing locally. This is the time because this is their last shot for net profit for this year,” Wilton said, adding “Let’s keep the hospitality in Garden City and let’s keep the bucks in Garden City.”
Members of “Team Astoria,” from Astoria Federal Savings, the sponsor of the Village Tree Lighting Ceremony, held the village tree lighting on Sunday, Dec. 5, at the Gazebo on the Village Green. The festivities featured the Garden City High School Vocal Jazz Ensemble, along with holiday instrumental music by Chris Covais and Exit 36, Santa and King’s “Kingsley Bear” mascot.
For those driving through the village of Garden City, all roads somehow lead to Franklin Avenue. The highly traveled thoroughfare was on the minds of several vocal residents, who say the road has become increasingly hazardous for drivers, as well as pedestrians. Former Garden City Mayor Richard Benack appeared at the most recent board of trustees meeting to raise awareness of the matter and ask the board to consider taking measures to control the pace of traffic.
Benack explained that the traffic situation was first addressed 12 years ago when the village and the business community got involved to rehabilitate Franklin Avenue “from a wide open raceway that people couldn’t cross and they didn’t walk along into the pretty place it is now.” Benack expressed that there is an attitude among the drivers that they are pressing and exceeding the speed limits. “I know the village has a problem in that it is a county road, but you have a strong voice to keep a control there so that our residents and the people that we invite into Garden City to spend their money here and their stores will be safe there and they are very hesitant in crossing the road now,” he added.
They say every dog has its day and for dog owners in Garden City, new dog licensing rules are taking effect next year. On January 1, 2011, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets will no longer provide dog tags, issue license renewals or maintain dog-licensing data as a service to municipalities. As a result, the village will assume the responsibility for dog license issuances and the administration of all facets of licensing programs.
On June 22, 2010, Governor Paterson signed a measure into law as part of the 2010/2011 State Budget that moves the remainder of the dog licensing function required by Article 7 of the Agriculture and Markets Law to the level of local government. Consequently, the existing roles of both county government and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) in the licensing of dogs will be eliminated on January 1, 2011, according to the NYSDAM website.
Representatives for the Garden City Golf Club recently attended a board of trustees meeting to request final site plan approval to build a new 12,000-square-foot indoor storage facility and a reconfigured new parking area. In order to complete the project, the Club is also requesting to remove 47 trees from the grounds.
Currently, the site consists of an outdoor storage area where equipment and machinery are stored under blue tarps. “What we are proposing to do is build a new structure to store equipment and machinery inside the building,” Michael Rant, an engineer representing Bladykas & Panetta explained to the board. Also being proposed is a new defined parking area that would allow employees to park their vehicles and curbing for safer, easier access to the maintenance facility. In conjunction with the application, Rant also said the project will require the removal of 47 trees and all the necessary permits have been obtained.
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