Dear Mr Capsis,

A TOTAL EYESORE TO THE COMMUNITY: The Church of the Village, above, encased in scaffolding. Photo by Darielle Smolian.

For decades, I have resided in the West Village and was blessed to have called St. Vincent’s my employer for three decades. During this span of time, I have seen the Church of the Village grow and change hands. It is now a total eyesore to the community.

Seeing your picture just added to the depressing situation, for your picture did not show the true church. For many years, this building has been encased in scaffolding. Despite multiple requests from the neighbors, they continue to leave this eyesore up. They stated they do not have the money for repairs. However, they take in rent from the City and Country school—which is more than enough to pay for repairs, not to mention the other revenue that it receives from renting out space for church services.

This building has become a refuge for the homeless, drug deals and crime underneath it. So, to see your picture in WestView News without any scaffolding is very disheartening to the community.

Perhaps you could talk to Pastor Wells and work something out to take down the scaffolding which is close to being a decade old. The dispensing of Tuesday’s food delivery has also become an earful to the neighbors. The Asian ladies line up at 6:00 a.m., talking very loudly and yelling. And needless to say, these ladies are not receptive towards those in the gay and lesbian community.

So your article on “striving for beloved community” was NOT a pleasant one for this 13th Street resident.

—Mark Lawrence

Dear Mr. Lawrence,

I appreciate and share your concern over the scaffolding around the Church of the Village. We were required by law to erect the scaffolding in the fall of 2016 for pedestrian safety when a small piece of the facade fell off. As we have made clear in many community meetings and in conversations with neighbors of the church, our desire all along has been to have it removed as quickly as possible. The hold-up is that we still have not received permission from the Landmarks Commission to proceed with the work on the building facade. We have been working diligently with the West 13th Street Alliance and Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office to pressure the Landmarks Commission to issue a go-ahead, but they keep delaying. If you would like to help, that is where the hold-up lies, not with the Church of the Village. Whoever told you that we were keeping the scaffolding up because of lack of funds for the repairs was mistaken or spreading a rumor that had no foundation.

I would be glad to talk in person or by phone to discuss any of your concerns.

­—Jeff Wells

Pastor Jeff Wells
The Church of the Village
a progressive, radically-inclusive, and anti-racist community
201 W. 13th Street, New York, NY 10011
office: (212) 243-5470, ext. 13
mobile: (917) 604-5227

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