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Demolition work to start soon on Nanuet schools' new property


(Original publication: July 19, 2007)
NANUET - Demolition work is only a couple of weeks away at the Nanuet school district's St. Agatha property, school and construction officials said this week.

"It's coming very, very shortly. ... You're going to see some significant demolition-type equipment," said Kevin Sawyer of Long Island-based Triton Construction.

"We're very excited," he said.

Crews began removing hazardous materials, such as lead and asbestos, from buildings on the 39-acre property last month.

Five buildings are expected to be demolished by the end of August, Nanuet schools spokeswoman Jo Cavalier said. By the late fall, she said, a total of 18 buildings will be torn down.

Nanuet officials plan to install a new athletic field on the property and rehabilitate an existing field there in the spring.

The district purchased the St. Agatha's property, at Convent Road and Duryea Lane, from New York Foundling after a referendum last year that allowed the district to borrow $18 million.

Of the bonded amount, $13 million was spent to buy the property. The remaining money will pay for the fieldwork, abatement and demolition.

Not all of the structures on the property are destined for demolition. Two pavilions, a horse stable and a modular building will remain. The modular building, Sawyer said, will be renovated for district use.

An 18-foot-high bell tower will be preserved thanks to the efforts of a group with special ties to the St. Agatha's property.

The group's members once lived in a residence for children who were from broken homes that was operated by the New York Foundling.

Plans devised by the group, known as the St. Agatha's Alumni Committee, and the school district originally called for the bell tower to be included in a memorial children's garden with a timeline of St. Agatha's history.

New plans call for the bell tower to be moved to land owned by the Sisters of Charity, adjacent to school district property.

"That way they can keep the crucifix on it," said Nancy Canfield, a member of the St. Agatha's alumni committee. "That concerned some of the parties."

Canfield said the bell tower likely would be used as a small museum.

Staff writer Amy Padnani contributed to this report. Reach Alice Gomstyn at or 845-578-2420.

UPDATE: The Bell Tower has been renovated and stands on the old St Agatha property, adjacent to what is now a local park. The Bell Tower stands forever as a monument to the Institution and all the kids, nuns and staff that passed through its halls.