• Queens Ledger, July 5th, 2007: Gallagher said he took it one step further by securing $1 million for the purchase of part of the parcel for preservation. (Despite Gallagher’s negotiations for this “purchase”, the developer began cutting down all of the trees on July 9th.)
• Daily News, November 21st, 2007:
[Gallagher] also said he put $1 million into the city’s 2008 budget to preserve the church property, but couldn’t come up with $2 million more needed to seal the deal.
• Queens Ledger, February 21st, 2008:
Since the money had been allocated to the Parks Department, the councilman said by process it is impossible to switch the funds to purchase the site without a budget modification, followed by a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) hearing.
The entire process could take well over a year, and during that time span Saint Saviour’s could be demolished.
Gallagher said a viable plan to save the church, in exchange for reasonable residential development and public space had been in place, but opposition by a local civic and the Queens Office of City Planning derailed it.
“We wanted to save the history of the site, but in the end, when we had an opportunity to preserve it, we were opposed,” Gallagher said. “The objection led to the developer going to as-of-right development, which means at any point they can tear down the church.”
• Times Newsweekly, February 21, 2008: …Gallagher told the Times Newsweekly that while he supports the project “if it can be done with private money,” securing public funding for the endeavor would be difficult.
The original $1 million procurement, which he said was allocated in the Parks Department budget, must be transferred to the city's General Services fund, a maneuver “which normally isn't done until the adoption of the city budget in June.”
In order to acquire the church, Gallagher added, the transaction must also go before the city's Uniform Land Use Review Process for approval, which he said could take up to a year to complete.
“Given the nature of the status of the development, I'm fairly sure the current developer would not entertain any further delays,” the Council member said.
A History of Dishonesty
Keyspan said in 2004 that $6 million was needed for purchase of the Elmhurst Gas Tanks site. So Gallagher and Councilwoman Melinda Katz made the bogus claim that they had secured $3 million in capital funds in the 2006 budget to make it look like they did their part, thereby putting pressure on other elected officials to come up with the rest of the money. They never expected to have to produce the money because they never believed the rest of it would be raised. Keyspan ended up selling the site to the city for $1. When they were asked about using the $3 million for design and construction of the site, Gallagher and Katz came up empty and stammered that the money had gone back into the general fund.