It’s been almost two years since the owners of Gloversville’s 144-year-old Bleecker Square church stripped the historic building of its handsome stained-glass windows and steeple clock — after being expressly warned by the city’s Historic District Review Board not to do so.
The boarded-up building has become a target of vandals and is such an eyesore that it’s hindering downtown development, but the city is hesitant to sue lest the owner — which continues to pay taxes on the property — walks away and sticks the city with selling the building or having to demolish it. An understandable concern, but when is enough going to be considered enough?
Other than paying taxes (which is required because it never used the building for religious purposes), the Church of God of Prophecy has acted in bad faith from virtually Day One. Even after defying the city by removing the most historically significant elements of the building, it was given ample opportunity to make amends, either by putting the windows and clock back, or — after they’d been sold — replacing them with similar materials. It has failed to do so, and failed to market the building and maintain its exterior, both of which it promised to do.
Had it done so by Dec. 15 — six months after a deadline to complete the replacement of the windows and clock — the city would have considered forgiving all or part of a $60,000 court-imposed fine, but absolutely nothing has been done.
The city needs to take a tougher approach with the church, and soon. Better to inherit the building before it has passed the point of salvation, than afterward.