St. Patrick's parishioners out of prayers

Posted at: 01/01/2013 11:41 PM
By: Dan Levy

WATERVLIET - A big blow to some former parishioners of St. Patrick's Church in Watervliet, who were hoping to save their church from the wrecking ball.

A State Supreme Court judge has ruled in favor of the developer who intends to tear down the historic building and put up a supermarket. The grassroots organization Citizens for St. Patrick's has been fighting for more than a year to save the church and preserve their neighborhood.

For more than a century St. Patrick's Church has stood as the highest point in Watervliet. It has become the community's deepest controversy.

"As far as what they're doing, I think it's sacrilegious," said Pat Falaro, who lives on 6th Avenue, across the street from the church.

Falaro is part of an army of former parishioners and neighbors who have fought to save St. Patrick's from the wrecking ball, and block Price Chopper from moving in.

"What do I get to look at?" Falaro asks rhetorically. "I get to look at a parking lot and from what I understand, it's going to be 24/7, which is not going to make me a happy camper."

In a statement issued by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Father Edward Deimeke of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, said, "In a perfect world, St. Patrick's would stand forever, full to overflowing with parishioners. The reality is the buildings are unused and deteriorating."

The diocese announced in September 2011 it couldn't afford to repair St. Patrick's and so the property was sold to the Nigro Companies to be developed into a 40,000 square foot Price Chopper.

The grassroots organization Citizens for St. Patrick's took it court but now State Supreme Court Judge Kimberly O'Connor says, "The answer to the question of do you have the ability to bring that action, the answer is no!"

"Yes, we do have standing," Falaro states adamantly. "We have more standing then she ever thought about. Who is she? Where does she live? Does she have a Price Chopper in her backyard? Does she want one? Does she want to buy my house and live across the street from one?"

There are now many people in the neighborhood who find themselves bracing for change.

"I think it's going to be hectic," Patrice Rogers, who also lives on 6th Avenue, suspected. "I think living through the construction is going to be a bit of a nightmare. I think we're kind of stuck until after the construction. Whose going to buy or move in during a construction project?"

In a written statement, the diocese says, "Proceeds from the sale will remain in Watervliet and Green Island to meet the spiritual and human services needs of the Catholic community."