Restoration Plan for Garden City’s St. Paul’s Cathedral is in the Works: A Local’s View

The Committee to Save St. Pauls’ (CSSP) restoration plan for one of Garden City’s few remaining historical treasures was the focal point of the public work session Oct. 6 at Village Hall.

According to the CSSP, the Cathedral School of St. Paul is an irreplaceable landmark and a world-class asset for the Village of Garden City, which should be enjoyed for generations to come when renovations are completed. The CSSP’s goal is to stabilize the building, preserve it’s historic features wherever possible, and provide the public with a space that will be an active community activities and events center.

Specifically, their plan calls for the complete preservation of the exterior of the building-full roof, windows, fire protection sprinklers, along with hazardous material abatement. They plan to create a new mechanical equipment room to service the public space, seal off the upper floors for possible future use, and install a new elevator.

Finally, they plan to restore the major rooms on the first floor as well as the main entrance, hallway, staircase and chapel. The preparation of the plan was made by Bill Sullivan, a respected building consultant. In addition, public finance and municipal law experts were hired, along with Stephen Tilly, an expert in historical preservation and code compliance.

CSSP President Peter Negri said that the annual average cost to Garden City residents would be less than $100. “We have a vision, and that is to take the initial steps towards making St. Paul’s a vibrant community and recreation center,” Negri said. “We have this vision because we feel that St. Paul’s is a lot more than just another building. It’s such an integral part to the fabric of Garden City.” CSSP representatives also added that they have secured 21 firm pledges amounting to $1,017, 500 which would be used to cover operating costs of the building.

Funding for the St. Paul’s Restoration Project will be sought through public and private grant sources, tax credits and private donations. At the Oct. 6 work session, the Board of Trustees declined to vote on a letter of support for a $400,000 grant needed by the CSSP to keep the project moving forward. “Whether or not we do this, I don’t know enough about this application or this grant,” said Village Board trustee Brian Daughney. “I think it’s premature to ask. It’s not due until Oct. 31. so we have some time.” The board and the CSSP agreed to allow Garden City’s legal counsel five days to review the documents for legal issues that may arise. The Board of Trustees will then vote on the letter of support for the grant at a special meeting, which will be held at an as-yet-unannounced date.

Representatives from the CSSP said that St. Pauls’ large main floor parlors can be easily configured for a variety of events. They can be adapted for use as a senior center, or teen activities such as games or dances. Large and civic cultural groups can also find appropriate space there. In addition, the two-story chapel can be a memorable venue for private weddings, concerts, and movie screenings.

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