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Mt. Manresa Developers Forced to Name Streets After Greed and Deceit

By Nicholas Rizzi | February 11, 2016 6:03pm
 Justice Philip Minardo ruled to allow Borough President James Oddo to choose names based on greed for the Mount Manresa development.
Justice Philip Minardo ruled to allow Borough President James Oddo to choose names based on greed for the Mount Manresa development.
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Loretta Drogon

FORT WADSWORTH — Streets built on the controversially demolished site of Jesuit retreat Mt. Manresa will be named after greed, trickery and deceit.

Judge Philip Minardo told Borough President James Oddo his creative proposals for street names that the new condos will be built on can be used — despite the developers suing to bar them.

Oddo — who is responsible for assigning street names and numbers — chose Cupidity Drive, using a word meaning inordinate desire for wealth, Fourberie Lane, defined as trickery and deception, and Avidity Place, which is derived from avidita, meaning greed, for the new streets.

"The fact is that the names chosen are auricularly pleasing and historically illuminative," Oddo wrote on his Facebook page about the decision.

"This court decision is not a victory because it will not bring back the trees or the historic structures that were wantonly and spitefully destroyed. One trip down Fingerboard Road demonstrates the sad fact that those are gone forever and Judge Minardo’s correct ruling can’t ameliorate that loss. 

"As this project proceeds through the land use process, we will continue to stay vigilant on behalf of the community."

Developers Savo Brothers fought a hotly protested battle to tear down the 103-year-old Jesuit retreat house and replace it with homes. 

In his decision Thursday, Minardo — who previously said he thought Oddo's references would be too obscure for Staten Island folk — said the borough president's Topographical Bureau could have chosen to name the streets to honor people like fallen soldier Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis.

But he could not force them to change the names they had already chosen.

"Whatever the goal [for the names] may have been, this court cannot change it," Minardo wrote in his decision.

"There is no apparent legislative authority or legal precedent which delineates the precise manner in which the Borough President assumed this power to name, nor as to how street names are chosen, although this court notes that the power appears to rest with the Office of the Borough President.

"Therefore, it is within Borough President James Oddo's discretion to decide if the street names of the residents of the Borough of Staten Island should reflect greed, a Lazy Bird, or a fallen hero."

READ MORE: Mt. Manresa Developers Paid $65K to Former Boro President Molinaro's Firm

The Savo Brothers had offered an alternative list of names that included "Timber Lane," which Oddo wrote was a direct snub to neighbors outraged about the felled 400-year-old trees on the property.

"This was a clear attempt to stick it to the community once again by reminding them every day of what they did to the property," Oddo wrote on Facebook in December.

"This, after they thumbed their nose at the Staten Island community, pillaged the property by cutting down numerous trees, and ravaged the hillside."

In court papers, the city argued that many of the other names chosen by the Savo Brothers are already in use in the borough and could cause confusion for responding emergency workers.

"The fact that Petitioner is displeased with the names that were ultimately selected does not transform an otherwise rational decision into an arbitrary and capricious one," the city's Law Department wrote in its filings.

Oddo previously tried to delay issuing street numbers to the development until an investigation into claims that workers lied about asbestos present at the site was concluded. In November, Minardo forced Oddo to issue the numbers.

A lawyer for the Savo Brothers, Richard Leland, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Mt. Manresa Street Names Decision