Did we have to lose this church?

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Editorial -

The Con­cerned Cit­i­zens are up­set and dis­heart­ened that this his­toric Church prop­erty has now been de­mol­ished, and that Dio­cese of­fi­cials al­lowed this to hap­pen in the ab­sence of any mean­ing­ful pub­lic dis­cus­sion.

The Angli­can Church in Prince­ton has now been de­mol­ished by the Cen­tral Dio­cese of the Angli­can Church of New­found­land.

The loss of this his­toric struc­ture is tragic, cer­tainly in the con­text that cit­i­zens of the re­gion were not con­sulted on the mat­ter.

As far as we are aware, the Dio­cese did not un­der­take any pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process, is­sue let­ters or place posters in the com­mu­nity or hold pub­lic meet­ings where mean­ing­ful re-use op­tions could have been ex­plored.

If so, then these were not done ad­e­quately enough, as the broader com­mu­nity was mostly un­aware of the sit­u­a­tion un­til de­mo­li­tion was well un­der­way.

The Dio­cese also did not com­mis­sion any ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings to record the de­sign de­tails or car­pen­try tech­niques used in its con­struc­tion, which took place over 120 years ago.

This step would have recorded the build­ing for archival his­tory pur­poses and such draw­ings could have been used for adap­tive re-use op­tions.

In re­sponse to the in­ter­nal de­ci­sion-mak­ing process which the Dio­cese en­dorses, con­cerned cit­i­zens and lo­cal res­i­dents have the fol­low­ing ba­sic rec­om­men­da­tions for Church of­fi­cials.

1. Posters should be placed in com­mu­ni­ties to ad­vise cit­i­zens of the in­tent of the Church to dis­pose of their build­ings or prop­er­ties. These posters should pro­vide a con­tact name and num­ber so that groups or in­di­vid­u­als hav­ing in­ter­est in or con­cerns about these build­ings or prop­er­ties can con­tact the Dio­cese di­rectly.

2. The Dio­cese should is­sue calls for pub­lic ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est so that op­tions and pro­pos­als for the sale or adap­tive re-use of these her­itage prop­er­ties are given full con­sid­er­a­tion by the Dio­cese, the gen­eral pub­lic and po­ten­tial re-de­vel­op­ers. Pri­or­ity should be given to in­ter­ested com­mu­nity groups, in keep­ing with the in­tended pur­pose of these struc­tures as com­mu­nal gather­ing places.

3. The Dio­cese should have ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings and pho­tos com­pleted prior to any dis­posal de­ci­sions. This step would en­sure that an archival his­tory of the build­ing is avail­able for the com­mu­nity in which it be­longs, for re­use pur­poses and for its her­itage value to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

The Con­cerned Cit­i­zens are up­set and dis­heart­ened that this his­toric Church prop­erty has now been de­mol­ished, and that Dio­cese of­fi­cials al­lowed this to hap­pen in the ab­sence of any mean­ing­ful pub­lic dis­cus­sion.

Such a di­a­logue would have al­lowed area res­i­dents and her­itage con­ser­va­tion groups to ex­plore ap­pro­pri­ate, sus­tain­able op­tions for the adap­tive re-use of this valu­able and iconic re­li­gious her­itage struc­ture, and would have ben­e­fited the Dio­cese, the lo­cal com­mu­nity, Bon­av­ista Penin­sula res­i­dents and the re­gional econ­omy.

Mark Clench Prince­ton

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