Things were really starting to look hopeful for St. Saviour’s after All Faiths agreed to take the church onto their property. People started calling and writing to us excited about the possibility of moving and restoring the church and offered to volunteer their time and effort. We obtained ballpark estimates for the move, which came in at less than $1 million. We anticipated our biggest obstacle being the transfer of the money from the city for the move.
Councilman Gallagher has only spoken on the record with the Times Newsweekly and Queens Ledger about the money since being asked to produce it. On February 21st, they both quoted Gallagher as saying that the money was in the 2008 Parks Department budget and that transferring the church would require that it go through the ULURP process. It does not need to go through the ULURP process, as it would be owned and operated by All Faiths and not the city.
But more striking about the Gallagher statements is that he insisted that the Parks Department has the money. To quote an e-mail from Parks’ Assistant Commissioner for Planning Joshua Laird dated November 2nd, 2007, “While it would be desirable to have more open space in the area, we have no funding whatsoever to advance the acquisition of this site, let alone future development and maintenance funding.”
It became clear at this point that the money Councilman Gallagher had been bragging about since July 2007 never existed at all. We believe Dennis Gallagher claimed to have secured $1 million in the 2008 budget for St. Saviour’s because he never thought the building would still be standing at this point in time and would never be forced to produce it.
This represents a blow to preservation efforts, however, the JPCA is continuing to work with our elected officials to try to move the church. Should it be demolished, however, no one will deserve more blame than Councilman Dennis Gallagher. He had been working with the developers when he should have been working for us and on top of all this, he lied about having secured money that would have preserved it.