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‘Green Church’ school approved

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Plans to build a school on the site of the demolished “Green Church” earned an A+ last week.

The City Council approved a proposal to construct a 680-seat elementary school on the corner of Fourth and Ovington avenues — where the century-old, moss-hued Bay Ridge United Methodist Church stood until it was torn down in October by the shrinking congregation to make room for a smaller house of worship and luxury condos.

After that controversial demolition, developer Abe Betesh announced that instead of going ahead with the condo portion of the plan, a portion of land was for sale.

That’s when the main opponent of the demolition, Councilman Vince Gentile (D-Bay Ridge), suggested that the city erect a school atop the emerald-tinged rubble.

Surprisingly enough, city officials listened. The Council moved last week to give the School Construction Authority permission to acquire land and build the newly christened PS 331K beside the still-to-be-built church.

Gentile was ecstatic.

“[Bay Ridge] is home to dedicated teachers and inspiring students,” he said in a statement. “And now we’re a step closer to getting them the space and resources they deserve!”

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Reader Feedback

Tony from Bay Ridge says:
That's great news!
We need a school.
June 15, 2009, 8:03 am
BRidgeguy from Bay Ridge says:
The story implies that only a school will be built there, since the "condo-and-new-church" plan is defunct. But fortunately, they'll still build the new church on part of the property.

(We'd barely know that, 'cause so many of these Betesh stories have just been about the co-op and school. It's like the church people don't, or shouldn't, exist, though they've been in BR for something like a century-plus.)
June 15, 2009, 12:39 pm
Pat K from Bay Ridge says:
It pains this ex-Alter Boy not see the Old Green Church there. Gave that corner distinction.
June 15, 2009, 11:10 pm
Eddie from Bay Ridge says:
Pat K from Bay Ridge says: 'It pains this ex-Alter Boy not see the Old Green Church there. Gave that corner distinction.'

As a longtime churchperson from another denomination ... whenever I passed the place, all I thought of was 'whoa ... it's not long for this world' - due to very visible upkeep issues need for *total* big-$$ overhaul, just to make that bldg work, even marginally, for 21st-cent-and-beyond use. (When you're used to 'church stuff,' you tend to notice the details ...)

So it didn't surprise me that they decided to sell and rebuild, rather than repair: Many churches have faced the same dilemma, and decided that it was lousy stewardship either (a) to sink $$ into bricks (instead of ministry), or (b) to have a church depend heavily on 'deals' with non-church entities, which -- over time -- might turn sour or become unsuitable.
June 16, 2009, 12:56 pm
observer from bay ridge says:
glad this hole wil be filled & B.R. will get a new school, also that they still plan to do a new church.
yes, we need schools! you have to meet reasonable needs, not become a museum. face it, if B.R. stayed the way it was 100 years ago, most of us wouldn't be living here. we couldn't afford those big old mansions, & there'd be too little housing and too few schools for nonrich people.
without new & more people, there'd have been few stores & businesses, and it wouldve become a backwater, especially after the oldtime mansioneers died off and it stopped being a fashionable 'country' place for rich folks.
June 17, 2009, 12:01 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
A new school is a good an neccessary thing, but I am still so upset to see that the church is gone. It was a rather unique building and something that couldn't be built today. It was possible to rennovate an preserve, but an easy out solution was chosen insted.
Bay Ridge is a beautiful neighborhood, with many distinct historic buildings; it is a pity that some people have no problem with tearing them down and ruining the character of the neighborhood. There is something there that cannot be regained if when people make shortsighted decisions and tear it down.
June 22, 2009, 8:05 am
Churchyguy from Bay Ridge says:
I have to disagree, Michael ... Renovation would've cost a bundle, sapped that place's resources, and made the place dependent on the fate of planned senior (etc.) housing.
If things didn't work out down the line, the church would've been compromised... especially since nobody seemed to care about the church, as opposed to The Building. The place was crumbling for years and said so, and its fundraising didn't draw much interest. Protestors only woke up at the 11th hour, and then acted like only the building mattered -- like "who cares if the church can stay in the neighborhood? just save the building (b/c those lousy church people don't deserve it anyway)!"
It got pretty ugly, and it seemed as if people forgot the place WAS a church (so had specific non-business priorities), or that other people's churches are run differently from our own.

Also, what looks good as scenery doesn't always work for a church. My own, non-Brooklyn church moved from three "historic" buildings since the early 1800s. If we'd renovated instead of selling, or if our income depended on some outside deal, we'd have gone bust and died before WWII, because an old building (and-or a bad linkage deal) can REALLY kill a congregation.
We also can't compare little local churches to cathedrals or centrally-located bigtime-landmark churches. Those "big guys" either have megafunds, or always attract big-money donors, or get SERIOUS income by renting meeting-office-event-theatre-group space or running bookstores, gift shops and cafes.
June 22, 2009, 4:24 pm
Churchyguy from Bay Ridge says:
Sorry for this PS, but I forgot:
Don't assume that every nice old church is doing fine.
To maintain their buildings, many must DO less - few programs, little visibility, no full-time clergy. Or they overdepend on space rentals and similar deals, or on a few well-off people who cover 'emergency' tabs, or on having members mow the lawn, staff the office, whatever.

They face trouble when rentals dry up, outside deals go south, a few donors move on, and the congregation ages (and can no longer mow or do staff work).
All of which will happen unless:
- they grow, but that's hard to do w/o programs, outreach, stable clergy, and visibility. And-or
- they have a healthy lump-sum banked, so can steer their own course, not get yanked around by others' decisions and bad choices.
June 22, 2009, 11:07 pm

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