Category: Archive

Activists: put center on St. Brigid’s block

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The property, which overlooks Tompkins Square Park, has 135,000 square feet of additional air rights that are not used, local sources told the Echo.
Said lawyer and St. Brigid’s activist Mary Gleason: “What other place suits it so well? The property is really big. It takes up the whole block.”
In December, Irish Arts Minister John O’Donoghue tapped the New York-based actor Gabriel Byrne to chair the working group that will develop the proposal.
Paul Dougherty, a video editor who lives in the East Village and has deep family roots in the parish, said: “It’s a natural place to have the Irish government’s cultural center. The East Village has long been an artistic, cultural and intellectual dynamo. And now it’s an upscale neighborhood.”
One of its tasks is to acquire a building with a square footage of at least 100,000, which preservationists say is well within the capacity of the St. Brigid’s school/parish house site.
“It would be a good deal for everybody,” said County Cork-born supporter of preservation Jerome O’Connor, who works in the construction industry.
One proposal put forward by locals is that the cultural center buy the site, which also includes a school and parish house. It could then donate a new school — built as part of the new complex but with a separate entrance — to the archdiocese.
Under that plan, St. Brigid’s church would be restored and maintained by the cultural center as a museum to commemorate the first huge waves of immigrants to the United States in the 19th century. It could also retain a part-time religious function as a simple mission church.

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