Dispute at Staten Island’s Snug Harbor appears settled after return of items
The return Wednesday of some old items – including Plexiglas, bathroom tiles and a former church’s door – seems to have resolved a three-weeks-old dustup at Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, but not before ruffling feathers.
Brian Morris, a spokesman for the Livingston institution, said all the articles, which were removed from Building E on Aug. 6, were brought back by Olde Good Things, the Manhattan-based architectural salvage company that had bought them.
“The whole thing is ridiculous,” an Olde Good Things manager, who identified himself as “Greg,” said in a telephone interview after the goods were returned. “The stuff was almost all junk and was probably going to be thrown out anyway. The furniture was all water-damaged – broken legs and everything.”
Between the purchase and a donation, the company had given Snug Harbor $2,000 to collect bathroom tiles and fixtures.
While Morris said everything was returned Wednesday, Greg would not confirm that.
The manager declined to say whether Snug Harbor would have to return the cash to his company.
“We can’t get back the time we spent,” was all he’d say.
The flare-up was initially sparked on the morning of Aug. 6 when Erin Urban, director of the Noble Maritime Museum next door, saw Olde Good Things workers loading a truck with items from inside long-dormant Building E.
A historic landmark owned by the city, Building E has remained vacant for more than 30 years. During that time, it has served as an unofficial storage space for items such as Christmas decorations, a dance floor and theater props.
Though many proposals have been submitted for the space — a culinary arts school, a sports museum, a doll museum and a charter school among them – none has been implemented.
On seeing the items, which also included plate glass, being removed, advocates immediately called Snug Harbor’s director, Frances Paulo Huber, the city Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and even the police.
Ms. Huber said at the time that the salvage company was collecting some bathroom tiles and fixtures it had purchased. Workers also offered to carry away some of the old theater props.
She said company workers inadvertently removed two chests, and Snug Harbor employees monitoring them had them removed from the truck.
She said she had previously notified all employees to remove any items stored in Building E so it could be cleaned out for an upcoming construction project.
A DCA spokeswoman confirmed Building E will undergo rehabilitation around March.