2008-02-01 / Letters

A Word From The Publisher

The Committee to Save St. Paul's ad (which appears on page 22 of this issue) raises a point that has received little attention in recent discussions of the fate of the St. Paul's main building, but which may be essential to the fate of the property.

In December 2004, the Board of Trustees formally designated the entire St. Paul's property as "parkland." According to information provided by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, using parkland for another purpose ("alienating" it) requires the approval of the State Legislature, but the Office of Parks has an important advisory role as well, which the Village will need to consider.

According to the "Handbook on the Alienation and Conversion of Municipal Parkland," the department advises the governor and legislature of its position on any bill that requests the alienation of parkland. While ultimately the decision is up to the entire legislature and the governor, it would clearly be more difficult to get legislation passed without the Office of Parks' support. Whether that support can be garnered is a good question.

The handbook states, "It is the preference of State Parks that parkland alienation legislation include a provision for substitute lands for the lands being alienated....If substitute lands have not been identified, but the municipality intends to replace the lost parkland, alternative language can be inserted in the bill. In these instances, the legislation should require the municipality to set aside, for the purchase of additional parkland or the improvement of capital facilities at other parks, an amount equal to the appraised fair market value of the lands being discontinued."

It's not clear to us how this "preference" would be addressed under the current proposal. As it stands, the Village may get public use of portions of the building by leasing them back from the developer. Whether that would satisfy the "preference" is another good question.

The entire handbook can be accessed online (in .pdf format) at:

www.nysparks.state.ny.us/news/public/archive/2005_AlienationHandbook.pdf

Meg Morgan Norris

Publisher

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