Judge Rules Against Suit Meant to Protect NY Church From Demolition

A New York State judge has ruled against a grassroots organization's lawsuit meant to protect a historic church from being demolished and replaced by a supermarket.

State Supreme Court Judge Kimberly O'Connor decided Monday that Citizens For St. Patrick's suit against PCP Watervliet for purchasing religious property in Watervliet from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany could not be "second-guessed" by the justice.

 St. Patrick's Church in Watervliet, NY was established in 1840. The 137 foot tall church building, which sits on a 3.5 acre property, held its first mass in 1891. The church was closed during a series of consolidations of local parishes. Its last mass was held in September 2011.

In December, the grassroots organization Citizens For St. Patrick's filed a motion against PCP Watervliet hoping that it would stop the sale and subsequent demolition. PCP Watervliet is overseen by Nigro Companies, an Albany-based developer whose president stated last month that demolition of St. Patrick's could occur at "any time" while preliminary work is being done.

According to the Citizens for St. Patrick website, the church is "Watervliet's most prominent landmark" and the Albany Diocese should "seek an adaptive reuse of this magnificent structure!"

"Historic St. Patrick's Church in Watervliet, NY is threatened with destruction, to be replaced by a Price-Chopper supermarket," reads the group's website. "Please join us in continuing to oppose demolition and forcing the Diocese of Albany to actively seek an adaptive reuse of this magnificent structure!"

In addition to the lawsuit, the Watervliet-based group held a vigil of front of the church in protest of the demolition proposal on Saturday, Dec. 8.

While Citizens for St Patrick's continues to fight for the church building and for the Diocese to preserve it, some Catholic leaders are critical of their efforts.

The Rev. Edward Deimeke, pastor the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish, stated to local media that the prevention of the sale is detrimental to the Diocese.

"Citizens for St. Patrick's…now seeks to block this sale and to force the members of our Catholic Community to do what we can no longer afford to do – that is to maintain large, unused buildings that are deteriorating quickly," said Deimeke, as reported by the Troy Record.

"The delay of the transaction does impose a continuing financial burden on our parish and delays the day when proceeds from the sale can be used to meet the current spiritual, educational and human services needs of our parishioners."

Neither Nigro Companies nor Citizens for St. Patrick's returned comment to The Christian Post by press time.