JPCA wins Grassroots Preservation Award - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

JPCA wins Grassroots Preservation Award

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Ed Kampermann speaks during Grassroots event

The following was the acceptance speech given by Christina Wilkinson, Chair of JPCA's Committee to Save St. Saviour's, at the Historic Districts Council's Grassroots Preservation Awards on May 15, 2008 at St. Mark's Church in Manhattan:

"Back in 2006 when we learned the church was in trouble and realized that our elected officials, most of our community board, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the president of our town bank were all against the effort to save it, Tony Nunziato, who is here tonight, made a prediction. He stated, 'A lot of powerful people want to see this building come down, so this fight is going to be as grassroots as grassroots gets.' And that it was. Therefore, the name of this award perfectly describes our battle.

Over the past 2 years, the St. Saviour's saga took so many twists and turns that it seemed like a rollercoaster ride.

We felt all along that the spirits of our forefathers,

the founders of St. Saviour's Church, were protecting

their sanctuary and guiding us toward saving it. They

also saw to it that certain people who stood in our way

paid a very high price for their actions.

In the 19th century, Congressman James Maurice donated the

land on which St. Saviour's was built. He hired Richard

Upjohn to design the church and added a restrictive

covenant to the deed, believing that would be enough to

make his gift last forever. The church stood for 160

years before developers, lobbyists and those in power

attempted to take away all that Maurice had given to

Maspeth.

When I received word that HDC had chosen Juniper Civic for

a Grassroots Award, the fate of St. Saviour's seemed

sealed – it was on the fast track toward demolition. But,

after a last ditch agreement with the owner had been made,

St. Saviour's was carefully dismantled piece by piece and

was sent to storage earlier this month. There is a plan

in the works to restore the materials, rebuild it at

another location and open it as a non-denominational

chapel and museum. This will no doubt take many months,

if not years to accomplish, and during that time, the

Juniper Park Civic Association plans to continue to fight

to save the church's original site as open space for our

community.

In our entire council district, there is not one building

that has been designated by the LPC. Our elected

officials, past and present, have seen to it that our

history has been obliterated, in return for campaign

contributions and other perks. And historically,

preservation organizations that claimed to be citywide in

focus have paid little attention to issues in boroughs

other than Manhattan. Thankfully, that seems to be

changing, and HDC can take a lot of credit for that.

We'd like to thank Simeon Bankoff, Frampton Tolbert,

Nadezhda Williams, Lauren Belfer, Kristen Morith,

Christabel Gough, Kevin Daley, Kevin Walsh, Jerry Rotondi,

Robert Singleton, James Driscoll, James Trent, Mary

Jablonski, Nancy Cataldi, Henry Euler, Michael Perlman,

Councilman Tony Avella and the late Lee Principe for their

time and effort in helping to bring St. Saviour's to the

forefront of the preservation movement and for their

support over the past 2 years.

And a special thank you to Paul Graziano for employing

innovative and revolutionary techniques to shine a

spotlight on St. Saviour's and all historic and

neighborhood preservation efforts, not only in our home

borough of Queens, but throughout the entire city of New

York. Under Paul's leadership, HDC has gotten stronger,

more influential and more respected. We are certain that

the board, staff and members will agree that HDC has a

bright future with Paul at the helm of the organization.

Two important lessons can be learned from our struggle.

First, no matter how bad things seem, stay focused and

never give up. And the second is that those who rise above

cheap politics generally come out winners while those who

practice it end up with their reputations in tatters.

On behalf of the 1700 families of the Juniper Park Civic

Association, we thank you for this award."