Posted at: 11/20/2012 10:10 PM
Updated at: 11/21/2012 12:11 AM
By: Dan Bazile
WATERVLIET -- Eight months of discussion led to a quick vote inside the Municipal Building in Watervliet where city council members decided the fate of one of the city's historic landmarks. The vote to approve the demolition was widely expected. But those who wanted Saint Patrick's Church on 19th Street to remain standing were still visibly disappointed.
"It's a magnificent building that you just can't replace," said former parishioner Eileen Anderson.
Nigro Companies is redeveloping the piece of land. The church will be torn down to make way for a Price Chopper supermarket. Council members voted to accept an environmental impact study that shows how the developer will mitigate issues like increased traffic and noise. They also had to approve a proposal to rezone the property from residential to business, giving Nigro Companies the green light.
"We're obviously very thankful of the city council and the common council and the planning board, all that were involved here," John Nigro of Nigro Companies told Newschannel 13. "We're sympathetic to the concerns of the people that had an attachment to this church and the school."
Nigro said he and Price Chopper even offered to back out of the deal if a different proposal came through to save the church. That never happened. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany that shut down the church last year said it's too much to maintain and would cost between $4 and $5 million to fix the structural problems.
"And again it costs us over $40,000 a year just to ensure it," said Father L. Edward Deimeke, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. "It's a financial drain. It continues to deteriorate."
But proponents refuse to believe it. They say there's too much history to just let it go. Price Chopper released a statement saying they also sympathize with the residents who opposed the demolition.
The fight is not quite over yet. The city is expecting a court battle over the rezoning decision. However, plans to move ahead with the project be discussed over the next few weeks.