Staten Island officials would like to use a so-called "land catalog" to help keep track of some of the borough's largest parcels of land. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
When the Jesuits sold the sprawling 15-acre campus of Mount Manresa to private developers earlier this year, Staten Island elected officials said they had no idea there was interest in selling the old retreat center.
Despite months of protests from the community and an application to preserve the land, demolition of the site is set to begin soon.
City Councilman Steve Matteo took away an important lesson from the experience.
"You want to sell? That's great. But it doesn't hurt, I think, to have a conversation to say, 'By the way, we're looking to sell. If the city want to be a potential buyer, you're more than welcome.'"
That's why island elected officials have teamed up with College of Staten Island to create the so-called "Staten Island Land Catalog." The goal is to compile a list of every parcel of land on Staten Island that's 10,000 square feet or more in size to help track what does happen when these pieces go up for sale.
"There's no decisions made, but we want to discuss all the options," Matteo said. "Certainly, rezoning could be an option. Contacting the owner, like I just said. Contact every owner and say, 'Listen, if you're looking to sell, contact us first.'"
The team from CSI has been using a computer program that's been fine-tuned to provide information about location, size, zoning and ownership.
So far, nearly 9,000 properties 10,000 square feet or more have been identified island-wide.
One thing that's helped their project is having team members who are Staten Island residents and can provide insights about streets and properties the computer has missed.
That was the situation at St. Anthony's in Travis. The computer picked up only the church, but a team member pointed out that the property sprawls over several addresses.
"She lives in the area and she said, 'This is, we're missing this.' And then, we went back and were able to identify that there was errors in the data," said Michael Kress of the College of Staten Island. "So certainly, that's made a big difference, and that's helped us now to look for cases that we might have lost."
The land catalog team is hoping to compile a full list by the end of the year.