With the fate of Saint Patrick's church still looming over Watervliet residents, some held a vigil Saturday night to take a stand against the church's fate.
WATERVLIET, N.Y. -- A large group of men and women sang Christmas songs outside of St. Patrick’s Church in Watervliet Saturday night. However, they weren’t caroling, but protesting. The group Citizens for St. Patrick's held a candlelight vigil in protest of the looming loss of the church.
“We're just hoping. That's all we can do. Hope and say a prayer once in awhile,” said Pat Falaro, a Watervliet resident.
Last month, Watervliet's Mayor and City Council voted to rezone the more than 100-year-old church's property for commercial use. Now owned by Nigro Companies, there are plans to demolish the buildings and build a new Price Chopper.
Susan Holland is the executive director of the Historic Albany Foundation. She said, “Price Chopper, I guess, does a great job when it comes to donating, but I really feel they're going to destroy this community.”
“Make this a theater, a dinner show,” said Falaro. “There's a lot of uses for this. It doesn't have to be torn down.”
Citizens for St. Patrick's has fought long and hard to preserve the church. Supporters have cited its historic value, architectural beauty, and of course, its significance to Watervliet and its people.
“St. Patrick's is to us like the pyramids are to Egypt, actually,” argued resident Eileen Anderson.
Holland said, “People need to recognize that in 10 years, 15 years, generationally, what this is going to mean for a city like this. It will look like all the other cities locally, no one will know who you are.”
With so many personal connections to this place of worship, many say their fight's not over.
“We have been parishioners here for over 50 years,” said Anderson.
John Broderick grew up in the city. He added, “My great grandfather and his uncles helped build the church. They built the stairway going up to the steeple and helped build the rectory.”