An estimate discussed at Tuesday’s pre-council meeting put the cost of renovating and remediating the Coles School at a minimum of $9 million, should the City Council decide to retain ownership of the property. This would include costs such as removing black mold and compliance with the Americans with Disability Act, according to officials.
In addition, taxpayers would still be liable for about $1.6 million outstanding on a bond related to the property, according to city officials.
Deputy Mayor Barbara Peebles said that feedback she’s received was that council members hoped for a “win-win,” and the goal was to put the property back on the tax rolls while maintaining the sentimental aspect. Peebles also warned that the building would deteriorate further as an eyesore absent council action.
Newsday has reported earlier on several of the proposals for the repurposing of the property. Peebles said she again spoke to Glen Cove School District Superintendent Rianna, who last year declined interest in the facility, according to the Deputy Mayor. As to whether the school district’s lack of interest had changed, Peebles reported, “absolutely not.”
Councilman Anthony Gallo, who is a mayoral candidate in the Republican primary election, balked at the idea of selling the property.
“I’d like to be optimistic, and I don’t think that anything is impossible–though this is a large number, we have to look at past practice,” Gallo said. The mayoral candidate cited the North Shore Historical Museum: “it was a City building, it was refurbished and renovated, can we copy that pattern of how they were able to accomplish it?”
The only surprising aspect of Councilman Gallo’s stance on the Coles School has been his persistence, even after the minimum $10.6 million cost of ownership retention was revealed.
On his candidate profile, he listed–before anything else, a desire to “stop the sale of the Coles School.” Gallo also identifies as an “advocate for enhanced recreational opportunities and facilities.” In 2014, Gallo secretly sought congressional support in hopes of repurposing the facility as a City-managed recreational center.
Gallo’s words and actions signal that he believes government should do it, rather than private actors supplying unfulfilled demand in a free market.
In April, Gallo criticized the appointment of a public relations officer salaried at $60 thousand because he wrote, “the finances of the City of Glen Cove are in disarray.” He continued, “this position is a luxury this city simply cannot afford.”
The discussed $9 million cost of renovation is exactly $60 thousand multiplied by 150.