Dear Friends and Neighbors of St. Demetrios,
Much has been said, but few facts have been known, regarding St. Demetrios’ plan for rebuilding on our own property adjoining our Church. Allow us to TELL YOU THE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH SO HELP US GOD:
1. Through no fault of ours, The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection found coal tar and ordered that the property had to be cleaned up (remediated).
2. The contamination is directly under what was our community center which required our community center to be demolished in order to excavate the tar.
3. Elizabethtown Gas (ALG), modern day corporate successor, stepped up, took responsibility for the clean up, complied with the law and put a clean-up plan into action.
4. The Church did not bring a law suit. We sat down and negotiated terms of a settlement including testing to make sure the tar did not spread onto the Church property, parking arrangements until clean up starts, and the level of clean up is suitable for subsequent rebuilding.
5. Our first priority is to replace our community center IN THE SAME FOOTPRINT: i.e., the same size except moved back into the corner of Linden and Sadowski, modernized with windows on both the Linden and Sadowski sides, allowing full enjoyment of the beautiful waterfront Vista.
6. Following the national trend, our population has a baby boomer plus population desirous of downsizing their homes and moving back into an urban environment. So, we explored the possibility of providing condominiums next to our Church, where Orthodox worshippers could be next to our Church and live in fellowship in their senior years.
7. We consulted with three different architects until we found an aesthetically pleasing, environmentally sound ” green’ building” that includes a Church office for our Priest to do counseling, a Chapel so the residents could come in prayer anytime, an Orthodox kitchen to follow Church dietary laws, and 24 two-bedroom market priced condominiums.
8. We recognize that NO restriction on residents is permitted pursuant to the FAIR HOUSING Law, but response among the Orthodox Community, Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Copic, Albanian, etc., has been very positive. There is NO PAN Orthodox Retirement community in New Jersey.
9. This structure will produce: taxes for the City, NO stress on the School System, reduced street parking as we have plenty of parking for residents AND our Church. This will provide a stable community spending money within the city.
10. Despite some past bad experiences with building projects in the city, redevelopment is a lawful and constitutionally-protected law providing citzens with the means to develop what used to be called a “blighted” area.
11. Our Church hired an experienced attorney as our lawyer, Robert Goldsmith, of the firm Greenbaum Roe and Smith who was born and raised in Perth Amboy. We wanted a lawyer who cared and was familiar with the City as we are. We have had a several blows with discovering the contamination, suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy and need help to expedite our recovery.
12. We have followed the law to the letter. The City Council referred our application to the Planning Board, who performed a study and made a recommendation that our property should be and is appropriate for redevelopment. With a resolution passed, it was returned to the City Council for a vote on redevelopment.
13. Many cities throughout New Jersey, including Hoboken, Jersey City, Red Bank, and New Brunswick, have all had successful waterfront development projects through redevelopment. When used correctly, Perth Amboy can also have successful waterfront projects.
14. PAST BAD EXPERIENCES WITH LARGE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPERS IS NOT OUR SITUATION NOR SHOULD IT BE A REASON TO PREJUDICE OUR APPLICATION FOR REDEVELOPMENT.
15. This year, St. Demetrios celebrates our 100th Anniversary of worship in Perth Amboy. We have just completed a three-year historic restoration of our Church.
16. Rebuilding our community center, the lifeblood of our congregation, plus housing for an Orthodox population, will secure our future for the next 100 years. We have not gone anywhere, nor do we intend to go anywhere for at least the next 100 years.
17. UNFORTUNATELY, some fringe group, without the facts or a correct understanding of the law, has not told the truth about our interview on Monday, 9/11, our sincerity or our motives. As good neighbors, we reached out to this group to invite them to St. Demetrios to share our plans and willingness to have any questions answered. No one took us up on our invitation.
18. We, the community of St. Demetrios, applauds and appreciates those Council people who exercised their sworn duty to independently learn the facts of our project and visited our Church to see the significant restoration we have made to our Church in preparation for our anniversary and generations ahead.
19. While other Churches have succumbed to “suburban flight”, our community has held fast to our Perth Amboy roots. We have integrated into the City with our congregation, now on the increase, with our new priest and historic restoration.
20. We ask each of you to pray for us, pray for our Heavenly Father to guide our Council people to see the TRUE facts, help our Church not just survive, but thrive in the future with our building plans. We pray the hard hearts of those spreading falsehoods and fears about our Church be softened. We welcome you to share these true facts with as many Facebook friends as possible.
Please join us Monday, September 11, 2017, 4:30 pm, at City Hall where these facts will be presented. Stand up for the Constitution and the truth.