During the Savo/Oddo street fight, we learned that Former Borough President Molinaro worked against our community and our current Borough President Oddo to help the Savo Brothers at Mount Manresa.
Molinaro’s lobby firm took over $65K from the Savos to expedite permits at Mount Manresa. Molinaro also helped the Savo’s in their court case against BP Oddo. In an interview with Nick Rizzi of DNAinfo Molinaro had the audacity to call Mount Manresa “just a piece of land.”
Molinaro’s behavior has resulted in outrage for many Staten Islanders, with many writing powerful letters to the Staten Island Advance (see letters below). Thank you to everyone who has has taken the time to speak up…we hope others will do the same. We must continue to shine a light on disreputable builders and those who support them.
Mount Manresa was not just ‘a piece of land’ (letter to the editor)
By Pete Sellitto
The recent revelation that James Molinaro’s lobbying firm was paid $65,000 by Savo Brothers comes as little surprise. Defending this quid-pro-quo in a statement uttered in that gavone speak so painful to the ear, Molinaro was quoted saying, “I was the borough president. It was a piece of land for sale. It was legit. What should I be ashamed of?”
You mean the 15 acres of arguably the Island’s most bucolic property, containing America’s first Catholic retreat serving thousands including famed writer James Joyce, with NYC’s oldest water tower, an 1860’s grotto built by master masons, buildings determined eligible for the Natural Registry of Historic Places erected alongside old-growth forest with trees older than our country and sitting atop a terminal moraine formed by a 20,000 year old glacier?
That piece of land?
The victim devaluation reinforces the reality that Molinaro, shamefully, never lifted a finger to save Manresa despite living literally two blocks away. The 2003 SI Growth Management Task Force he led mandated rezoning of such properties, as did Special Hillside Preservation. Instead, rezoning was conspicuously ignored and it was left as R3-2, enabling the sale to his unscrupulous builder friends.
No, a Freedom of Information Law request to the patronage-filled Department of Buildings exposed that the Savo’s demolition plan was prepared months prior to the sale’s announcement by those dishonest Jesuits. It’s implausible this could have occurred without the BP’s blessing. After all, his close relationship to the Savo family included years of financial political contributions. In 2009 when Molinaro was raising money for a pet charity, Otto Savo – partner to the developer that illegally demolished Dorothy Day’s cottage – donated a cool $50K. Not hard to connect the dots.
Here’s a thought, Jimmy. Come clean and apologize, because it’s like that great Leonard Cohen song: “Everybody Knows.”
Why did ex-BP help developer spoil Mount Manresa? (letter to the editor)By Barbara Sanchez
During the Savos/Oddo Street Fight, it was revealed that former Borough President” Molinaro was helping the Savos fight against Borough President Oddo. It was later exposed that the Savos paid Molinaro’s firm $67,000 to help them lobby the Buildings Department.
There’s been a stench from Savo’s project at Mount Manresa from day one. Molinaro’s association makes it stink to high heaven.
Molinaro led the Growth Mangement task force from 2003-2005. Mount Manresa was suspiciously left zoned R3-2 (perfect for townhouses). Later, while State Senator Savino, Assemblywoman Malliotakis, City Council members Rose and Oddo spoke out against the Savos, Molinaro sang the Savos praises as a reputable builder. Molinaro stated, “I don’t think they are going to rape the land.” Which is exactly what they did.
The Savos received permits with false paperwork, exposing thousands of residents to deadly asbestos dust. They massacred hundreds of ancient trees, which has already resulted in neighborhood flooding. Molinaro and his firm helped them with Buildings Department. Why would he help support such a disreputable builder like the Savos?
Molinaro’s working against Borough President Oddo and Staten Islanders is disgraceful. His name should be removed from any plaque of honor. The Savo name must be removed from the art in Borough Hall.
Streets unnamed so far at Mount Manresa (letter to the editor)
By William Martin
Kudos to Borough President Oddo for his refusal to adopt the insulting street names that the Savo Brothers proposed for their Mount Manresa development. It seems like the Savo Brothers deluded themselves into thinking that the outcry over their scorched earth destruction of the Mount Manresa site would blow over and everything would be business as usual in the real estate development field. Well, not so. I trust also that no self-respecting Staten Island real estate broker will be handling the sale of these properties when the project is completed.
Too many unanswered questions at Mount Manresa (letter to the editor)
By Joseph Bilotti
I volunteered for 17 years at Mount Manresa. I ran the Tuesday rosary and did work on the grounds and helped with major repairs. I help raise funds for the chapel. Two years after the sale, things still aren’t adding up for me.
In 2012, when I thought the Jesuits’ buyers would keep the property intact, they refused to consider. The Jesuits told me and others not to worry, nothing would change on the site after the sale. Why did they lie to those closest to them?
In May 2013, the Jesuits sold to the Savos, who claimed they would respect the integrity of Mount Manresa. Why did they go with a builder with the Savo’s history of destruction? And why did they give it away to the Savos for $15 million?
The big questions are for James Molinaro, our former Borough President. Why did Molinaro ignore Mayor Bloomberg’s 2003 Growth Management directive and leave Mount Manresa the worst possible zoning (R3-2 As of Right). Why wasn’t it protected by Special Hillside Preservation as recommended by former Councilman Jay O’Donovan? Why did Molinaro refuse to save it? And why is Molinaro helping the Savos fight our current Borough President Oddo?
I hope no one buys Mount Manresa condos (letter to the editor)
By Jocelyn Ricci
I am thrilled at this opportunity to write about my feelings on the Mount Manresa property. I lived in Bay Ridge most of my life, and remember going to Manresa: My parents, Sandra and William, renewed their wedding vows for their 25th wedding anniversary.
Manresa has always been a very special place to my family and I. The beautiful setting, the grotto down under the earth with it’s beautiful statue of Jesus, all the mass cards of the deceased, the burning candles to remember loved ones. There was really nothing quite like this grotto. Upon entering it you could just feel the peace, the tranquility and the utmost love. Upon my father’s passing in 2007, it was his request that his service be at the Mount. It was a beautiful service. My father was my soulmate and knowing that the Mount was his last stop was very, very special to me.
When i learned of the Savo Brother’s idea of ripping apart this most sacred spot, I was absolutely appalled. These guys came in and destroyed what little Staten Island had left. I think they are a disgrace, putting up condos starting at $750,000. Really? A bigger house for Savo? A more expensive BMW? Perhaps another Rolex watch?
It’s bad luck enough that they ripped down a church and tore apart a grotto, along with all the sacred statues of saints. I’m just hoping they put those statues next
to the $50,000 pools they all have in their yards.
Bottom line? They should all be ashamed of themselves. They are greedy, needy and have made a terrible name for themselves.
So to the Savo Brothers? I hope no one buys your ugly condos, and I hope that you all can sleep very well at night.
Investigate Mount Manresa dealings (letter to the editor)
By Carinda Longueira
It is no surprise that NYC has a lot of political corruption. Many civil servants and some of our elected officials all have their hands out.
When Mayor Bloomberg requested a downzoning in NYC to establish more open green spaces, former Borough President James Molinaro, deliberately ignored correcting the zoning of Mount Manresa, a magnificent 15-acre property formerly owned by the Jesuits and used as a Retreat Property.
In February 2013, The Savo Brothers (Mount Builders), who had contributed to Molinaro’s re-election campaign for many years, purchased the property with an R3-2 As of Right zoning designation, and plan on squeezing 250 cheap townhouses into an already congested neighborhood.
Molinaro retired as Borough President in December 2013, and immediately joined the lobbying firm of Pitta Bishop. Coincidentally, the Savo Bros. (Mount Builders) became clients of Pitta Bishop in April 2014 and to date have paid them a total of $65,000 to lobby the Department of Buildings for their needed permits and approvals for this project.
Lobbying firms pay City Council members, judges, DOB and various other city agencies to push through their plans, regardless of any legality at hand or threats these projects may cause the general public. It would seem lobbying firms in NYC are nothing more than a middle man for developers to make payments for favors.
When the Savos raped the land and exposed thousands of nearby residents to dangerous friable asbestos, all of the emergency complaints that were being called in to the DOB were either ignored or were slowly being responded to with a blind eye..
An investigation into the relationship between Molinaro and the Savos, and all payments made to the DOB and any other agencies on behalf of Mount Builders for this project is called for.
- Borough President Oddo will be having an open house this Sunday at Borough Hall (January 31, 2016) from Noon – 3pm. The Committee to Save Mount Manresa will be there to thank BP Oddo for standing up to the Savos and Molinaro. We also will be asking for his continued support to contextually rezone Rosebank, Fort Wadsworth and Clifton to prevent futher overdevelopment of this already overburdened community. We also will ask that the Savo Brothers name be removed from the murals depicting the history of Staten Island from Borough Hall.
- Assemblywoman Nicole Maliotakis also spoke up loudly for our community at a recent session with Mayor deBlasio. She addressed concerns about overdevelopment with Mount Manresa and overcrowding of our schools in Rosebank (PS13) as well as vunerable properties with the recent Catholic School closings, affordable housing, senior housing and other issues concerning overdevelopment. We are thankful for her continued support. Watch Video.
- The North Shore Traffic Stratey is underway. SPEAK UP NOW!!! The NYCEDC is leading the traffic project in partnership with the city Department of Transportation and City Planning. The goal of this project, which was recently presented at a CB1 Transportation forum, seems to be focused on addressing traffic issues mainly on the Bay Street Corridor, and not the entire North Shore, despite the fact that the impact of the development that is planned in addition to the Wheel and Outlets (including 1 Edgewater Plaza and Mount Manresa), has far reaching implications.Residents are asked to help develop this “strategy” by completing surveys, attending meetings and sharing concerns. Please take the NORTH SHORE TRANSPORTATION SURVEY to share your concerns. We also suggest you write your traffic and transportation concerns to the Staten Island Advance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Community Board 1 Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at All Saints Episcopal Church at 2329 Victory Boulevard. The next meeting is Tuesday February 9 at 7:30. We encourage all residents to attend. If you don’t speak out for your rights as residents and your quality of life, you will not be heard.
- Please, write to the Staten Island Advance – Be a voice for your community. Your concerns about overdevelopment, traffic, transportation, school seats, corruption and any other issue that affects your quality of life should be expressed. Please send your letter to Editor@siadvance.com and be sure to send a copy to our elected officials. Your letter should be 250 words or less and include your name and address to be printed in the newspaper.
See some inspirational letters to the Editor below:
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
The Committee to Save Manresa