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Graffiti adorns church in legal limbo

September 7, 2011
By AMANDA WHISTLE , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - As the next court date nears in the dispute over the Church of God of Prophecy's stained glass windows and steeple clocks, the former First Methodist Church at 7 Elm St. now sits with a pentagram and the numbers "666" spray-painted on the door and rear wall of the church.

Windows in the rear of the church have been broken, leaving the building open to intruders and the elements.

Before the stained-glass windows were removed at the behest of the property owner, some of them had been broken, suggesting vandals had targeted the church before.

Article Photos

Broken windows and more graffiti are seen last week at the rear of the church.

The Leader-Herald/Bill Ackerbauer

Mayor Dayton King said he and City Attorney Anthony Casale went to the church over the weekend after hearing that people were there doing work.

"They said they were trying to board up more windows and securing the building," King said. "If they're securing the building, that's fine. They do not need a permit for that."

City Court Judge Vincent DeSantis granted a fifth and final extension in July to the Church of God of Prophecy, which owns the church, which was stripped of its stained glass windows and steeple clocks in February without Historic Preservation Review Board approval.

Because the 142-year-old Bleecker Square church is in the historic district buffer zone, any change to the exterior requires approval by the board.

King said the vandalism was unfortunate, but there's nothing the city can do to repair the damage because the church is privately owned. He said a local business offered to provide a graffiti-removing solution to the city, but King said he was advised by Casale that the city should not remove the graffiti.

He said using city employees to remove graffiti on private property would be unfair to others.

"Unfortunately, if that happens to my house and my property, I've got to clean it up," he said.

He said he may find out if the city can remove the graffiti and be reimbursed later by the owner.

The case's next court date is 10 a.m. Tuesday in City Court.

The church organization faces fines of up to $50 per day per violation since February, when Building Inspector D. Robert Robbins cited five violations.

Casale said a proposal was submitted on behalf of the church to the Historic Preservation Review Board on Thursday at the board's meeting, but the board voted to deny the proposal. Casale declined to describe the proposal or say why it was denied.

Robert Meringolo, an art dealer hired by the church to carry out the project, said a miscommunication between him and his partner, Joe Bailey, resulted in the removal of the windows and clocks before the project - which had been submitted to the board - was heard.

Meringolo has been in the area coordinating an effort to recruit members of the community to restore the church. He and officials with the Church of God of Prophecy in Albany could not be reached for comment.

Amanda Whistle can be reached at gloversville@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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