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Queens Chronicle

St. Saviour to DEC: show us the money

Supporters press state for funding for a park on part of church lot

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Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 1:40 pm | Updated: 12:32 pm, Thu Aug 25, 2011.

What do you do when you want to purchase the remainder of the old St. Saviour’s Church property in Maspeth but the present owner is putting up buildings and money for the purchase is tied up in Albany?

You proceed on faith.

The remnants of the wood-frame 1847 church now sits disassembled in trailers at All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village, while civic leaders and elected officials try to free up money that the state formerly said was available to buy about one acre of property that has not yet been developed by Maspeth Development Corp., the property’s owner.

“They’re starting to build warehouses and we’re waiting for the money to be released,” said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

Proponents are believed to be looking to raise up to $2 million to make up the difference between what the city is willing to pay for parkland and what is being asked for the parcel at 57th Road and 58th Street.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), leading the charge at the state level, calls himself guardedly optimistic.

“But I’m sharing people’s frustration,” he said Tuesday. “Earlier in the summer, in April or May, the city Parks Department and the [state] Department of Environmental Conservation said the money was there. It’s my opinion that the money is still there.”

Addabbo reiterated that they only would be able to purchase the land where construction has not started.

“Needless to say the owners are not going to tear down existing structures or sell what they’re using,” he said. “The remainder is about an acre and we are in negotiations for a much needed park. And they need a park. This area is greatly underserved with green space. It would be a great public benefit and would be utilized.”

The Queens Chronicle could not reach the owner for comment.

Christina Wilkinson a vocal supporter of a park, is faulting elected city officials for not finding money that would allow the city to begin its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure while negotiations go on with the state DEC and the owners.

“I wouldn’t think $50,000 in a $66 billion budget would be hard to find,” she said.

Welcome to the discussion.