October 1, 2017
I would like to take a moment to thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. After our town hall meeting regarding property on the OLPH campus I have received many of the surveys back. I plan to address each of you who took the time to write to me individually.
In those surveys and letters, there were three main concerns regarding the sale of any buildings in the OLPH campus. Those concerns were as follows:
- Parking. We must be sure that parking is resolved. I agree with this concern, and it has been the primary concern for every member of our Finance Council. We will absolutely work to resolve this issue.
- Contract. The parishioners brought many great ideas to light. You asked for “right of first sale” should the Borough decide NOT to build a municipal building on the site. We agree and have added this to our contract with many of your other suggestions.
- Price. Almost everyone stated that they thought the price offered from the Borough was too low. By way of explanation, those lots are currently zoned as residential – not commercial. That is why the price was valued so low. If the property were zoned as commercial, the value would have been higher.
- Some of you said “don’t sell at all”.
Having weighed all of this input, the decision has been made to sell the property with the following conditions:
- Parking. We will begin the construction of a new parking lot on the church campus. The rectory and the garages will be torn down. This will allow for 55 parking spaces.
The Borough will give us 120 days before they do ANY demolition or work to the parking lot. The Borough may not get the funding to build their municipal center, and in that event, we will purchase our property back. However, it is estimated that the Borough will take as much as 18 months before they are able to break ground. Therefore, parking will be resolved as we will continue to use the existing lot. When they begin construction, we will consider alternatives for parking, including adding a mass or shuttles to mass.
- Contract. All concerns have been added to the contract.
- Price. I agree that the price for sale is very low. This is a price that was negotiated before I was pastor. Unfortunately, I cannot change this. I am happy to report, however, that after some negotiation, I have asked the diocese for a reduction of our debt in the amount of $700,000.00. The diocese has granted this reduction, making this deal more valuable to us as a parish.
Unfortunately, NOT selling was simply not an option. I assure you all that there is NO INTENTION of closing either church. We have a great community here. Our plan is to move both the food pantry and the thrift shop into the school building and hope that they continue to thrive. I truly appreciate your feedback to me. I will continue to keep you updated regarding our projects going forward.
Yours in Christ,
Father Fernando Lopez, Pastor