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Battle Over Russian Orthodox Cathedral Resumes Tonight

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In the spring, we attended a contentious meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission over the future of the Greek Orthodox Church on East 2nd Street. Tonight, Community Board 3’s landmarks subcommittee will wade into the controversy. Both sides in the debate are mobilizing their supporters to come out in large numbers.

The other day, we received an email from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which has been leading the campaign to landmark the century-old gothic cathedral. The effort, supported by City Councilmember Rosie Mendez and the East Village Community Coalition, was prompted by a plan (since abandoned) to build apartments over the church. The email read, in part:

We REALLY need a good turnout in support at the hearing (in person,by online petition/by faxed letters) because the designation seems to be stalled at LPC due to strong opposition from the leadership of the congregation. There was lackluster support at the LPC hearing, and the CB 3 Landmarks Committee, when previously asked to consider supporting landmark designation, declined to.

On its web site, the leadership of the cathedral, is urging congregants to help prevent “forced landmarking’:

There are currently two well-financed preservationist groups who are pushing for our building to be landmarked against our opposition. We must show them that we will stand firmly against this or any future such hostile actions to take control of our property or make decisions concerning its use and future repairs.

At the Landmarks meeting back in March, church officials argued the designation would cost the congregation millions of dollars it does not have, and ultimately, endanger their very survival. Tonight’s meeting takes place at 6pm, at the BRC Senior Services Center, 30 Delancey Street.

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