By Jeremy Walsh
The historic St. Savior's Church got one step closer to its new home after the state Cemeteries Division approved its relocation to All Faiths Lutheran Cemetery in June.
The 160-year-old church was spared the wrecking ball when, after a two-year battle with Richmond Hill-based Maspeth Development, the Juniper Park Civic Association made an agreement with the cemetery to house the old building on its grounds at 69th Street and Juniper Valley Road in Middle Village.
“The division has determined that the location within the cemetery is not usable as burial grounds; therefore, permission and right to relocate St. Savior's is granted,” read the official letter, dated June 24.
The city issued a permit in February to a contractor allowing it to tear down the building, but the developer agreed in April to give the civic one month to move the church.
“The property that it was originally on is still available,” said Christina Wilkinson, the Juniper Park Civic Association secretary. “It's not been sold. We were told that we had to move the church because the developer had a buyer for the land. It doesn't appear that he did, or that fell through, because the property is still for sale.”
Wilkinson said she will continue to advocate for the site to become a park.
The removal process cost the civic $140,000, while the church's rebuilding could cost several million dollars, Juniper Park President Robert Holden has said.
The disassembled church is currently sitting in several trailers at a Rust Street trucking lot in west Maspeth.
Fund-raising efforts, as well as responsibility for the church itself, has passed over to the cemetery, Wilkinson said. She was not sure how the delay in getting the state's approval for the move would affect the original rebuilding time frame, which was slated to start in September or October.
“I don't think I'll feel relieved until I see the church rebuilt,” she said, noting the state's permission was just one more hurdle in the process. “It doesn't make me feel good or bad. …We're looking at a major project here. I just have to have faith in All Faiths.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.