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Queens Chronicle

Civic Asks Parks Dept. To Buy Former Church

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Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2006 12:00 am

The Juniper Park Civic Association is calling on the city Parks and Recreation Department to buy the former St. Savior’s Church in Maspeth for use as a cultural center.

The association proposes that the former church on 58th Street be turned into a museum and nature center and its grounds become a park.

St. Savior’s was most recently occupied by the San Sung Korean Methodist Church of New York, which owned it from 1997 until it was sold to Maspeth Development last October.

Before that, it was an Episcopal church, founded in 1847 at a time when Maspeth was still a rural suburb of New York City. A dwindling congregation led the parish to close in 1995.

Maspeth Development is now seeking to tear down the church and replace it with housing, but is currently under a stop work order because of asbestos found there.

The association has sought to have the church named a landmark, but the request was turned down by the Landmarks Preservation Commission last month.

In a news release this week, the civic said the Parks Department could purchase the site for $6 million, the price Maspeth Development paid for it. “We want the City Council to appropriate the money,” said Christina Wilkinson, chairwoman of the civic’s committee on the church.

The association proposed the church building be used as a museum and headquarters for the Newtown Historical Society. The former Sunday school could be used as a children’s learning center, while the former rectory could become a nature center or house a veteran’s organization, the group said. The surrounding property would become a passive park.

The group has not formally made a proposal to the Parks Department, Wilkinson said. “We’re making the request by press release.”

A Parks Department spokesman said his agency was unfamiliar with the request, but would be willing to meet with the civic to discuss it.

Welcome to the discussion.