By Abigail Nehring
Lay leaders at the Church of the Ombudsman will vote this week on a 24-month timeline to reach an agreement with a developer and begin repaying $661,501 in arrears the parish owes to the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
It’s a step that diocesan administrators, who manage church assets and endowment funds, are asking parishioners to complete by Oct. 19, Diocesan Chief Financial Officer Esslie Hughes wrote Oct. 7 in an e -mail shared with The Riverdale Press.
The mediator’s balance on past disbursements has risen from $11,000 in 2016 to $520,585 the church now owes in deferred expenses, according to an unsigned copy of a draft promissory note provided to church members. The press.
The church’s outstanding balance also includes a loan of $29,438 and $12,526 in interest on that loan and an apportionment share of $98,952 for a total of $661,501. The diocese could not be reached for comment on the figures before press time Tuesday.
The memo allows for additional disbursements of up to $350,000 to hire architects, engineers, and legal and financial consultants, and $7,500 in monthly funds to cover church insurance and utility costs. If signed, the Ombudsman’s Episcopal Church will also be responsible for paying for the time Diocesan Director of Real Estate Services, Egbert Stolk, spends helping them pursue a “cash for real estate event” – $3,000 per month.
“It is my understanding that any future advances from the diocese are conditional upon the signing of the promissory note,” Warden Mathew Ford informed fellow church members in an Oct. 12 email.
The pivotal vote was due to take place on October 16 but has now been pushed back to another day this week, sources said, as the outcome of the vote could not be determined and may have been disputed because the leaders of the The church apparently disagreed that Priest-in-leader Luis Enrique Gomez should participate with the Mediator’s nine elected sacristies.
However, the canons of the church are clear on this issue, stating that “at every meeting of the sacristy each member thereof shall be entitled to one vote”.
Reverend Gomez did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Community Board 8 land use chair Charles Moerdler said church members contacted the board on Monday asking for advice or assistance from the public advisory body, which he said CB8 is limited to supply.
But “from what I see, it appears to be a church whose core members are a minority Spanish-speaking congregation, and that makes it very awkward,” Moerdler said, referring to the congregation’s vulnerability.
“This building is an architectural gem essential to the history of Marble Hill. The question is whether another aspect of the property could be used for air rights or sold in some form to preserve the beauty of the church without turning it into a front church. That’s something we can maybe try to help them with.
Abigail Nehring is a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms.