By Dan Rivoli
Anti-landmark graffiti is back on the church that is pitting neighborhood preservationists against the congregation’s leader.
The message “Stop Gale Brewer’s Forced Landmarking” was recently painted on the sidewalk shed that hugs West Park Presbyterian Church, on West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Brewer, the Council member for the West Side, has been a supporter of landmarking. All she would say about the situation is, “We’re all working to come up with a solution.”
This is the second time that message has appeared on the sidewalk shed. One member of the church’s governing body, Hugo Meneses, was arrested for writing on the shed during an April 17 protest at the church. But Rev. Robert Brashear thinks that teenagers at the church may be responsible for this new, more artistic version of the message.
“We have a number of young people in the church for whom this is the only home they’ve ever known,” Brashear said. “There’s an anxiety and concern that if full landmarking goes through without any assured assistance, that a very likely result could be a sale.”
At press time, the City Council’s subcommittee on landmarks was expected to vote May 12 on the designation of the century-old church.
Brashear has long protested the plan because he argues that the added regulation would prohibit developers from funding expensive, but much needed, restoration work. He is looking for a compromise that would provide funding for church maintenance.
Meanwhile, preservation groups insist that the church needs protection to prevent a developer from building on it.