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Town Engineer: St. Gabe’s in good shape to be moved

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | Town Engineer John Cronin, after an extensive examination of the chapel at St. Gabe's, reported it can be moved to a new location without fear of destruction.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | Town Engineer John Cronin, after an extensive examination of the chapel at St. Gabe’s, reported it can be moved to a new location without fear of destruction.

St. Gabriel’s Chapel can be moved to a new location and preserved.

Town Engineer John Cronin, after an extensive on-site examination on March 28, has submitted a report to Supervisor Jim Dougherty that states the 78-year-old chapel is “generally sound structurally” and has “no obvious structural issues that would preclude removal … from its foundation.”

That’s the polar opposite of an assessment made earlier this year by the owner of the 25-acre St. Gabriel’s property. At a Planning Board meeting on the fate of the chapel, Richard Hogan, who bought the property for $15 million and plans to develop it, and his attorney, William Fleming, said the condition of the chapel was too far gone to survive a move. They informed the Planning Board that the flimsy nature of the structure would cause it to deteriorate. It would become an eyesore if left in place and would have to be demolished.

After a series of Reporter articles, members of the community with fond memories of the chapel have protested the possibility of razing the de-consecrated church. Mr. Dougherty and other Town Board members — most notably Councilman Jim Colligan — have said the chapel should be saved.

David Klenawicus and Kathryn O’Hagan-Klenawicus have told the board their family would provide space for the chapel on family property. A tentative site could be on the Klenawicus Airfield close to Marc Road.

Mr. Dougherty, who visited the site with Mr. Cronin during the engineer’s examination, has directed the towns’s Grants Committee and the town’s grant writer, Jennifer Mesiano Higham, to find funds to help pay for the cost of restoring and moving the chapel.

In his report, Mr. Cronin estimates “in place maintenance needs” to be about $45,000.

On Monday, Mr. Dougherty said he head been in touch with Mr. Hogan, who has been travelling, and the developer was “delighted” and would work “closely with the Klenawicuses.”

The supervisor said he thought moving expenses would be minimal. He’s heard from a donor, “a generous Islander,” who wishes to remain anonymous, offering a pledge of $10,000 to be part of a matching grant.

“That’s as good as money in the bank, “ Mr. Dougherty said.

Mr. Cronin noted that the chapel is considered at “the bottom of the good range on facility condition” on a scale of “unacceptable, poor, below average, fair, good and excellent.”

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