Lee Principe's call for unity to save the entire St. Saviour's site has fallen on deaf ears over on Metropolitan Avenue. Councilman Dennis Gallagher has rejected the plan to save the parcel and continues to insist on helping Maspeth Development, LLC obtain a required a zoning change that would allow them to build housing on the property.
In a letter sent to Maspeth Development, LLC (bearing an incorrect address for the developer) and CC'd to Community Board 5, Gallagher wrote that in his and CB5 Chair Vincent Arcuri's minds, "93 units does not constitute reasonable residential development." The number came as a surprise since the original rezoning application submitted by the developer called for only 71 units.
"I believe Gallagher's plan is to conduct phony negotiations with the developer," said JPCA President Robert Holden. "His plan is to appear to knock the development down to something like 60 or 70 units and then report back to the community that he is acting on behalf of residents to reach a compromise. He will package himself as the one who saved St. Saviour's, limited the residential units to a "manageable" number and preserved some small green space around the church."
The people living in the homes surrounding the church are not buying it. At a meeting held at the Clinton Diner the evening of Tuesday, January 23rd, the 30+ attendees were unanimous in the opinion that both the land and the church should be saved.
"We don't want any new buildings on the property at all!" exclaimed one resident unhappy with the Gallagher plan.
JPCA, West Maspeth Local Development Corporation and the Maspeth Middle Village Task Force have listened to the collective voice of the people who live near the church and will continue to fight to preserve the buildings and entire parcel of land on their behalf.
In the meantime, the buildings sit neglected and unmaintained and the grounds are strewn with refuse. When caught violating the stop work order back on December 9th, the owners claimed that workers were on the property to seal the windows in order to prevent wild animals from invading and inhabiting the church. Since then, the stop work order has been lifted, so there is no excuse for the interior of the historic sacred structure to be exposed to the elements, unless the real plan is not to save the church and build around it – but instead for it to be demolished.