Thursday, September 25, 2008

Team Guinan To Ride On...Even in the Rain

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Tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m., Team Guinan will gather near the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pa. to mount our bikes and ride 275 miles to Manhattan. Forecasts say it will be raining with thunderstorms much of the three-day ride, but as they say, we'll ride on... until they won't let us.

We're part of a larger group -- Braking the Cycle -- but the seven of us are riding for someone you all loved well: John Guinan who did this ride on behalf of his wife, Mary Jane, and brother-in-law Tommy. And we're riding with John's daughter, our team leader, Kelly Guinan Preusser.

Other members include: Ed Preusser, Dean Bradshaw, Christine Ashburn, Chris Robinson, Lisa Bernhard and me.

This map above shows you our terrain. (It's mostly uphill. Seriously. Or at least it feels that way.)

We owe many of you in this community and in our larger out-of-Garrison community a great deal of thanks for all you did to help us raise funds; we each needed $3500 to ride. So many people donated -- and we are particularly grateful to Don Abel for his inordinately generous and heroic efforts on our behalf collecting a whopping $950.

Also, a huge thanks to Quinn Chastant who ferried a large segment of Team Guinan to Gettysburg at the last minute. Now we have our own bodyguard.

We'll update as we can from the road.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Alumni To Gather This Weekend for Garrison School's 100th Anniversary

While Team Guinan is away on our 275-mile bike ride this weekend, alumni from around the country will gather to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Garrison Union Free School.

Anita Prentice writes to say there will be people returning to Garrison for the festivities from California, Minnesota, and Colorado, as well as all over the East Coast.

Organizers of the event have put together a pretty slick social networking Web site here on Ning that links alumni and hosts videos, photos, links to local businesses and community institutions as well as details about this weekend's events.

Given the weather report, I expect we'll all be pedaling in the rain wishing we were there for Jeff's Dain's grilling Saturday night.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Board Rejects Public Appeal for Cafe in Old Guinan's Spot

The board of the Garrison Station Plaza has rejected proposals for a new cafe or similar gathering spot at the building formerly known as Guinan's.

Today's Journal-News story by Barbara Livingston Nackman quotes several board members, one of whom says the board is now considering proposals for offices and a rental apartment. People familiar with the board's plans say it is close to or has already signed a contract with at least one new tenant.

The board's decision comes after several months of lobbying from many parts of the community for a general store or other enterprise that would serve the needs of commuters, tourists, cadets, boaters and residents. More than 1,000 people from this community and around the country signed a petition urging the board to "preserve our community's center and vitality and permit a new store."

The board cited liability concerns but said little more.

In the story, board member Hank Osborn, whose grandfather once owned the property, stood apart from the board and said he disagreed with its decision -- calling it a "magical space."

I will write more about this later, but for now, this is the news.

Journal-News: "Owners reject new cafe at former Guinans"

Owners reject new café at former Guinan's
Barbara Livingston Nackman
746 words
23 September 2008
The Journal News (White Plains, NY)
GWP-Westchester and Putnam
(c) Copyright 2008, The Journal News. All Rights Reserved.

GARRISON - Visions of a new café-bar at the former Guinan's Country Store and Pub were dashed this weekend when a property-owner group said it wants offices and housing instead.
Garrison Station Plaza expects to replace the former Guinan's with something totally different.

Mary Ellen Yannitelli, 42, a lifelong Garrison resident who knew and helped the Guinans run their family enterprise, had submitted plans for a café selling homestyle foods, drinks and convenience items at 7 Garrison Landing overlooking the Hudson River. Her plan was rejected, with the Station Plaza board citing liability concerns as the reason.

Instead, board members are considering proposals from two "well-established local businesses" for offices and a rental apartment, President Delmar Karlen said.

"We took everything seriously and I personally read every single comment we received. The decision was not made lightly. In this tough economy, it was a difficult decision," Karlen said.

Yannitelli said she was "crushed" by it. "It is such a slap in the face to the community," she said, referring to the widespread support she had received. She said she would consider not serving alcohol but was not given a chance to speak directly with the board.

For nearly 50 years, Guinan's had been a popular early morning deli and late-night watering hole. The family patriarch, Jim Guinan, closed the store in January and moved to Florida. Once a month, Irish music was performed in the pub. There are many fond memories of gatherings as well as a Web site and bestselling book dedicated to it.

Board member Margaret O'Sulllivan said she and her colleagues appreciated the Guinan's legacy.
"We all understood the emotional attachment to the old store, what it had been, and that it could never be duplicated," she said.

Hank Osborn, whose great-grandfather had owned the property and who is a current Station Plaza board member, disagreed with his group's decision. "I thought there was something important in having a store like that in town," he said yesterday. "It is a magical space."

More than 1,000 people signed an online petition urging the Station Plaza board to "preserve our community's center and vitality and permit a new store." Garrison resident Gwendolyn Bounds hoped the board would find a "balanced solution" for the space that would also accommodate the public's best interest. A Wall Street Journal columnist, she first came to Garrison when her downtown Manhattan apartment was rocked from the 9/11 attacks. She quickly felt at home and safe at Guinan's and wrote of her experience in "Little Chapel on the River."

"It will be a big disappointment if there is not a café/gathering spot of some sort at Garrison's Landing to serve the commuters, tourists, cadets and residents," she said yesterday of the store that drew Metro-North riders, West Point cadets and homegrown customers.

"Liability issues can be resolved, as they are for plenty of similar establishments operating each day across this country," she added. "I'm certainly biased, but how many towns can say they had something as special as Guinan's serving their constituents? Seems you'd want to go to every length to preserve that legacy in some form."

She and others contend a store should be there, though not an exact replica of Guinan's and not necessarily a liquor-serving bar. Guinan's sold only beer, no wine or hard liquor. "None of us would want the same thing," said Margaret Guinan, a police office in northern Westchester who worked there in the mornings to help her father. "I really think it is something that is needed. It is good for the community - the commuters and the locals," said Guinan, who was raised in the upstairs apartment with her three siblings. "We never had any liability issues - and I grew up there."

The current space is now devoid of its beer signs and old-time food cases. From the front windows one can see directly through to the back windows. Counters and kitchen equipment are gone. "I have been around several times. They have gutted everything," Margaret Guinan said. "It is a sign to me they had made a decision about what they wanted there and didn't want there a long time ago."

Reach Barbara Livingston Nackman at or 845-228-2272.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today marks seven years since the chain of events began unfolding to lead me to Garrison and to Guinan's. Each year on this day, I pull out Rev. Frank Geer's wonderful book -- Where Was God on September 11th? -- that he co-authored with John Horgan and turn to a specific passage. It reads:

"... the disaster itself had a ripple effect. The pain and the horror and the tragedy of it spread through the world like ripples on a pond when a pebble's been thrown in. But the healing travels back the other way, like the same ripples coming back towards the center after they've reached the shore."

A lot of healing of all sorts happened throughout the decades in a little green Irish pub nestled against the Hudson River. Later today I'll drive down to Garrison's Landing and stand on Frank's proverbial shores to give thanks in the spot where where the burning barrel once sat. It's there I can still hear the Little Chapel's heart beating strong.