Preservation at any cost?

To the Editor:

Congratulations to the newly elected members of GC government. You didn’t ask me but for the record, my recommendations with respect to St. Paul’s are as follows:

  • Eliminate the so called St. Paul’s Committee (“Committee”) . I’m a member of the Committee (Finance sub Committee) and now fully appreciate that my membership was and is window dressing – to show residents the range and extent of “participation” in the process of figuring out what to do with the building. The truth is that the Committee has  been dominated by a small group whose only interest is preserving the structure at any cost. Window dressing members like me have never been asked to provide any meaningful input. Nor were we invited to present at the several Town Hall meetings provided to residents over the past months; 
  • Re-engage the Westerman group to provide cost for a “plain vanilla” ball and chain demolition of the structure with grass and trees planted to fill the vacant space left by the building’s absence. The $17 million estimate which Westerman provided represents a delicate demolition process to preserve undefined “architectural treasures”. We don’t need this and we don’t need to spend money to preserve stuff not worth preserving. The reason the Committee instructed Westerman to provide this type of demolition was to increase the estimated cost of demolition- see following bullets;
  • Westerman should also provide a cost estimate for the full rehabilitation of the building as described (and documented) by the Committee at a previous Town Hall meeting. The slimmed down “Phase I” version of rehabilitation was never discussed with the wider membership of the Committee (i.e. me and many others) and is not fully explained in the Westerman report. The creation of this version of rehabilitation was clearly to provide a reduced cost estimate. However, it provides no practical use of the building without substantial additional costs; 
  • Provide clarification to the recent Town Hall presentation by the Committee. The presentation not only included Westerman’s overpriced demolition estimate ($17 million) but added $15 million for a pond and fountain without explaining how $17 million grew to $32 million . Additionally the report included the undefined Phase 1 rehabilitation version (see previous bullet) for the structure at a cost of $49 million. Clarification is needed since it seems obvious that the presentation (as delivered) was intended to show that rehabilitation will not cost much more than demolition. However, as explained above, both the demolition estimate and the rehabilitation estimate were edited to misleadingly show rehabilitation in a favorable light. 

Sorry to be long winded and I know you will be busy with other important stuff but from my perspective, St. Paul’s is important and management of the process needs to be much improved. 

George Kane 

One response to “Preservation at any cost?”

  1. Peter Manley says:

    George – you aren’t being long winded at all. Thank you for your service and I hope everyone in the village carefully considers the important points you make above.

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