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Mayor Promises to Ask Mount Manresa Developers to Sell Site to City

By Nicholas Rizzi | April 21, 2016 5:50pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to see if developers of the controversial Mount Manresa project were open to selling the land to the city to turn it into a park.
Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to see if developers of the controversial Mount Manresa project were open to selling the land to the city to turn it into a park.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

CONCORD — Mayor Bill de Blasio will ask developers of the controversial Mount Manresa project if they'll sell the land to the city to turn it into a park.

The mayor was responding to a plea for campaigners at a town hall meeting in Staten Island Wednesday.

Loretta Drogon from the Committee to Save Mount Manresa asked him to find a way to turn the former Jesuit retreat house into a park instead of condos.

He promised to look into the possibility of purchasing the land from developer Savo Brothers — who bought it for $15 million.

"If there is any alternative, I may be the person who's in a position to do something," de Blasio said at the town hall.

"If you got someone who doesn’t want to sell, I don’t know what the options are. If you got someone who does want to sell, that’s a different discussion. So I will pledge you this one thing… we will make that inquiry and report back to you."

Drogon said she was happy her group finally got to reach the mayor to let him know about their hopes they'll eventually get a park at the Fingerboard Road site.

"I would hope that the sellers and the mayor would not like this to be in their legacy," she said. "I’d like to see the Savo's not answer the phone for the mayor."

In 2013, the Savo Brothers bought the property from the Jesuits to turn it into 250 townhouses.

Despite protests, they pulled down trees and demolished the retreat that stood on the site, but construction stalled on the project in September 2014 after city inspectors found asbestos — despite the developer's inspector filing paper work saying there wasn't any.

The inspectors — Gaspare and Paul Santoro — were eventually indicted for lying on the asbestos report and Borough President James Oddo attempted to halt work on the site until the city fully investigated the incident.

However, the judge ordered Oddo to issue street numbers for the new homes. The borough president fired back by issuing the project street names based on greed, trickery and deception.

"This was a tremendous lost opportunity," de Blasio said at the town hall, adding that if his administration was in office it would've worked out differently.

"The reason that it was lost to you is greed, plain and simple."

Despite developers continuing with the plans in the face of numerous protests from elected officials and residents, Drogon said she's still hopeful the site can return to the public.

"Everybody has a price," she said. "I want to believe at the end of the day they don't want to be known for this."