Against the wishes of the church's representatives?who have tried over the years to strike up some sort of development deal to raise much-needed cash?the historic sandstone West-Park Presbyterian Church on Amsterdam Avenue was given landmark protection by the Landmarks Preservation Commission earlier this year. That decision can still be overturned by the City Council, which is set to vote on the landmark designation tomorrow. Lately the church has been going all out to publicly voice its case against the "forced landmarking," and now West-Park is seeking the intervention of a higher power. West-Park's pastor, Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, has sent out an e-mail to council members pleading for an outcome other than full landmarking. A second note invites the pols to the church tonight for a prayer vigil, where "we will be praying for each member that the spirit of wisdom and justice might guide deliberations and actions of all tomorrow." This landmarking battle has turned into all out holy war!
Here's the church's last minute defense:
Dear Council members:
We, the representatives of West-Park Church, on the eve of your vote regarding the landmarking of our church building, write you with a sense of urgency, hope and concern. The urgency is because the time is short. The hope is because you have provided negotiating time to seek to reach a just resolution of this issue. The concern comes from our frustration and disappointment in the course of these negotiations. While it is true that hours have been spent in conversation with council member Brewer and that she has spent hours talking with others concerned, after an initial sense of what an agreement might look like regarding a partial landmarking, reassurance of community and resource development, we find ourselves back where we began, that is with full landmarking and only promises, primarily from those who have been so active in opposition to us.
We feel that we have been open and acommodating and willing to explore alternatives even though our primary opposition has to do with theological principle, not just finances. we continue to see a primary justice issue at stake. but we feel we have been met with inflexibility and intransigence on the other side. Even at this late hour we remain open to finding common ground. We continue to believe that full landmarking with only promises would represent a victory for those who have often advanced their cause through misrepresentation and misinformation. Even in recent days, we have experienced vandalism of our church building, windows with broken locks, etc.
The voices of that part of the community that Council member Brewer has represented and supported, have not, in our experience, demonstrated the flexibility and openness necessary to reach the best possible solution. We remain essentially with the same promises based on the same premises that were presented at the public hearing. What assurance do we have that once having achieved the goal of full landmarking, any true assistance would be given?
We at the same time would like to thank you all for your kindness and good will to allow us the provision of time for a fair negotiation. Unfortunately, we have not yet achieved that goal. Even at this late hour there is still time and we are still open...
Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, Pastor
Elder Hope DeRogatis, Clerk of Session