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Preparations to tear down the 108-year-old “Green Church” continue to move forward, but The Brooklyn Paper has learned that the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church’s plans also include tearing down the church’s limestone parsonage next door — and one family is praying for a higher authority to step in.
“We’re afraid our walls are going to collapse,” said David Kimball, whose 360 Ovington Ave. limestone townhouse shares a wall with the Green Church parsonage.
“It’s bad enough the church has to go, but they’re also planning on taking down the corner limestone, which is next to our house, to make room for their new church building,” Kimball added.
The current plan for the site calls for the erection of a new church for the Methodist congregation on land that overlaps a parking lot and the current parsonage at 362 Ovington Ave.
The remainder of the parking lot and the soon-to-be demolished church will be sold to Abe Betesh of Abeco Management Corp. and turned into residential units on the corner of Ovington and Fourth avenues.
The crumbling Green Church has been at the center of a see-saw battle over the past two years between the congregation — which wants to sell — and preservationists and local elected officials who adore the structure.
“There’s a lot of confusion about what we’re trying to do,” said Bay Ridge United Methodist pastor, Rev. Robert Emerick. “Someone said we’re looking to take the money and run. Not so. We are a part of the community and want to continue serving Bay Ridge.”
But Kimball is concerned that not only will the demolition of the parsonage change the character of Ovington because it’s the anchor for a row of 12 limestones on the block. He’s also worried about the structural stability of his own house once the parsonage comes down.
Emerick downplayed the danger.
“I’m not a demolition expert,” he said, “but our architect says the [Kimball] home will stay intact. Our interior wall will be refurbished as their exterior wall.”
Meanwhile, Emerick has begun being far more aggressive about reminding elected officials to stay out of church business.
Twice this month, Emerick has led a group of parishioners in protest in front of the offices of Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer (D–Bay Ridge) — both of whom have sought to block the sale and demolition of the “Green Church.”
Gentile asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to review the matter, though Landmarks has already rejected designating the church as a landmark.
In addition to protesting, Emerick is now pitching the positive side of the demolition of the historic church.
“Not only will the new church be structurally sound unlike the current building, but we are committed to making it environmentally friendly as well,” Emerick said, mentioning solar panels, better insulation, and an atrium that will naturally heat the sanctuary.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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