More drama abounds at Ground Zero. The Greek Archdiocese of New York is at odds with the Port Authority over its promise to rebuild St. Nicholas Church. The church, initially located at 155 Cedar Street, was destroyed by the World Trade Center debris; the new location would be 130 Liberty Street, which was once the location of the Deutsche Bank building. Despite the haggling over funds and deal points, more problems â€“this time of the engineering sort- have arisen. The New York Post reports that the steel that the Port Authority ordered for the Vehicle Screening Center that would be located beneath the church is unable to support the structure the Archdiocese wants to build, making it structurally unsound.
The VSC is a security-clearance facility for delivery trucks and will provide service to buildings at the WTC site. A lawyer for the Archdiocese argued that the PAâ€™s claims about the steel is another stalling tactic, but an engineering source said that a redesign and ordering replacement steel would costs millions and further delays.
The Port Authority and the church have been battling over the rebuilding process, with the PA accusing the church of making escalating and unreasonable demands, while the church has said the PA is misappropriating the land and interfering with their rights.
Will this church ever be rebuilt in a fashion that suits both sides?
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and leaders of St. Nicholas Church, a Greek Orthodox Church that has roots stemming back to 1916 and that was destroyed by falling debris after the Twin Towers were attacked, have begun legal action by filing a claim against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The leaders are demanding that the church be rebuilt under the terms of a deal that was worked out several years ago but that the PA has since reneged on.
The claim is hefty, as it accuses the PA, which oversees the rebuilding process at Ground Zero, of engaging in â€œarrogance, bad faith and fraudulent conduct,â€ as well as â€œshabby and unlawful treatment.â€
Initially, in 2008, the PA agreed to help rebuild the church, originally located on Cedar Street, in a new but nearby location on Liberty Street. The PA also agreed to contribute $20 million to the project. The deal fell through in March when the PA accused the church leaders of making excessive demands; the church countered that the organization backed out of the deal.
The churchâ€™s claim also references several civil rights and constitutional violations, accusing the PA of interfering with its right to freely practice religion and of defaming the church, as well. The church seeks to compel the PA to follow through on their binding preliminary agreement. “Filing a lawsuit is not something that we really want to do,” said the Rev. Mark Arey, a spokesman for the church. “We have come to this point because we have been ignored and bullied.”
In addition to the Port Authority, the claim also names the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. as a potential defendant.
Should the Port Authority be beholden to the old terms? Does the church’s suit sound like it has merit?
With all the political and media attention turned to what has been dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque,” The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has accused officials on ignoring the reconstruction efforts of the church decimated during the September 11 attacks.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was a small building located within a parking lot area at the World Trade Center site. During the collapse of the Twin Towers, debris fell directly on the church destroying the entire structure. The congregation has been working with community groups to rebuild the demolished church.
The Port Authority and archdiocese have been in active negotiations until last year, and talks have not continued since.
“We have people that are saying, why isn’t our church being rebuilt and why is there.. such a concern for people of the mosque” according to Father Alex Karloutsos, to FoxNews.com. “Unfortunately, [the Port Authority] have just been silent — dead silent actually. They simply forgot about the church.”
According to the same article, “The archdiocese and Port Authority offer sharply conflicting accounts of where things went wrong. The Port Authority has previously claimed the church was making additional demands — like wanting the $20 million up front and wanting to review plans for the surrounding area. They say the church can still proceed on its own if it wishes.”
The church still reserves the rite to rebuild the church upon the property where the original church has stood. Representatives of the church have claimed the Port Authority has not sought to meet with church officials and has backpeddled on rebuilding the church.
As the church has not attracted the national media attention that Park51 has — it may be an upward battle to see the rebuilding of St. Nicholas back at the World Trade Center site.