City to sue over salvage operation in historic district, Gloversville mayor says

City officials say it is clear that historic district ordinances were violated when a salvage operat

City officials say it is clear that historic district ordinances were violated when a salvage operation continued this winter at the Bleecker Square church in apparent defiance of a city notification to cease and without approval of the Historic District Board of Review.

Mayor Dayton King said legal action will be taken, but he said a determination must be made about which party is responsible — the salvage contractor or the rather obscure Christian denomination that bought the church a decade ago.

City Attorney Anthony Casale said there is no question the city ordinance was violated when huge stained glass windows and the steeple clock were removed, but he said he and other city officials are exploring their options. A decision is expected at Tuesday’s common council meeting.

The city’s Historic District ordinance specifically states “no person shall carry out any exterior alteration, restoration, reconstruction, demolition, new construction or moving of a landmark property …[or] make any material change in the appearance of such a property … visible from a public street or alley which affect the appearance and cohesiveness of the landmark or historic district.”

After the city issued a cease and desist order in January, Casale said, the salvage company hired by The Church of God Prophecy, which has an Albany office, filed an application on Feb. 4 asking for approval from the Board of Review.

But, before the board could even convene and discuss the application, Casale said, the salvage contractor entered the church the weekend of Feb. 5-6 and “stripped it.”

In each opening where the relics of the 1868 church were removed, plywood has been installed.

King expressed concern in January, citing the probability that once the valuable materials have been taken the building will be left to deteriorate and will eventually have to be demolished at taxpayer expense.

Calls to the Church of God of Prophecy’s Albany and Tennessee offices have not been returned.

The church was sold by the United Methodist denomination in 2000, shortly after three local United Methodist congregations consolidated at what is now the Foothills United Methodist Church on Fremont Street.

A small congregation began meeting in the old church shortly after the new denomination bought it, but after several years the building was closed.

King, commenting in January, said the salvage operation appears to have been prompted by the city’s declaration in 2009 that the building was no longer being used for religious purposes and would therefore be placed back on the tax rolls.

The denomination began paying taxes in the fall of that year on an assessment of $88,600.

Categories: Schenectady County

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