Cart before the horse

To the Editor:

On page 8 of last week’s Garden City News, a submission by the St. Paul’s Committee appears in which the Committee criticizes FDEM for failing to appear at a Town Hall to present its views on demolition. 

As George Salem noted in his letter in this same paper on p. 2, FDEM intends to present its views at its own public meeting on December 6th.  In the submission by the Committee there is criticism of FDEM for failure to present at the October 26 meeting during which the topics of facadism and partial demolition will be discussed.  This is incredulous because FDEM has never advocated such a solution to the St. Paul’s school (referred to by John Ellis Kordes in his piece as a “rotting shell of a building” in the same issue of the GCN at p. 38).  So, while FDEM members certainly wish to listen to the Committee presentation, the Committee is asking FDEM to present a solution it does not support.

With respect to appearing at the Nov. 2 TOWN HALL, FDEM recently sent a written declination of the Committee offer that FDEM present at that time.  This declination was based upon several foundations:

  1. There has not been any Cost Estimator approved by the Board which would create a cost framework discussion of the various options to resolve the future of St. Paul’s school. In fact, the very names of any potential candidates for this position have not yet even been disclosed.  (Note: The RFP sent by the Village dated Sept. 26, requires the candidate to walk through the building either Sept. 30 or Oct. 3, submit any questions to the Village by Oct. 5 and then provide its proposal by Oct. 10.  This deadline was extended for a brief period and a few proposals have been received.  However, so far, such proposals are nowhere to be found on Village website for residents to read or comment upon when the issue is taken up at the upcoming Board meeting.  If a cost estimator is somehow selected at Oct. 26 Board meeting that does not mean that cost estimation will be provided anytime soon.  Considering how important this project is to the Village one would have hoped the RFP proposal would not mimic speed dating with draconian deadlines and disqualification rules).  A dialogue about choices without potential costs is like being offered a fancy Italian sports car without having a clue as to price.  However, in the Captain Obvious department full demolition with creation of The Park at St. Paul’s, having multiple uses would provide a faster less costly solution with far less yearly operating and maintenance costs than full renovation which is ardently supported by the Committee.
  2. In its rejection of the invitation to present on 11/2, (not as inaccurately stated by the Committee occurring 10/27/22) FDEM points out that at the last Town Hall, Trustee Torino concluded the meeting by erroneously referring to demolition as meaning the result would be a “pile of dirt”. (Note: This is contradicted by Village documents which indicate that the land would be landscaped and a green space created.  The potential for a park is clearly envisioned).  Moreover, who would want to bother attending a 3-hour event if all there is to it is learning about a pile of dirt?  This egregious statement obviously has chilling effect on the size and enthusiasm of a potential audience.
  3. The Committee has referred to demolition as historic demolition, as if it is a magical process. However, in the authoritative textbook, Demolition Practices Technology and Management, a cooperative effort by Purdue University and the National Demolition Association, the term “historic demolition” does not really exist.  The correct term is “historic salvage”, which simply means “careful removal and salvage of items of historical value”, p. 2 of the book.  Aside from the   fragile uninsured stain glass windows, what are the items that merit saving?  Does the Committee know or only Zeus knows?
  4. Consequently, FDEM thinks it best to provide its own overview of demolition in its own setting after the Nov. 2 event and later to offer a second event after a cost estimator provides its analysis.

S.G. Gorray for FDEM
with co-founder George M. Salem,
members, George Kane
and Bob Orosz





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