Unification Church revising plan for new house of worship

Journal News (Tarrytown, NY)/August 11, 2005
By Len Maniace

Tarrytown -- A plan to build a new house of worship by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church in Tarrytown — a move that would boost the church's profile in Westchester — is expected to go back to village officials in September.

The plan for the new church at the organization's Belvedere estate comes at a time when the Unification Church has been selling off significant portions of its holdings in the county.

As initially presented to village officials in May, the plan calls for a church and an educational building on the southern portion of the Belvedere Estate property on the west side of Broadway.

The church now operates a smaller house of worship in a building that was part of the original estate.

"It is definitely too small," said the Rev. Andrew Compton, pastor of the WestRock Family Church. "When we want to have our whole congregation together, we have to rent space."

The new church building would be able to hold 500 to 600 people, compared with the current building's capacity of approximately 150 people, Compton said.

Village planners decided to send the plan back to the Unification Church because they had concerns about how the overall site would be used and whether the church planned new uses at the old estate buildings, which might generate additional traffic for neighboring South Broadway.

"One of the very sensitive issues is traffic congestion, which has increased significantly in recent years," said Tarrytown Planning Board Chairman Stanley Friedlander.

In addition to the proposed church, a series of developments is planned or under way along Broadway and nearby streets, especially south of the Thruway. They include, Friedlander said, an expansion of the Doubletree Hotel, 14 homes on 24 acres under construction at Jardim Estates on another site owned by the Unification Church, and plans for a new office building on Route 119, which intersects Broadway.

The village is planning a study of the projected effect of the developments to determine the traffic and to help plan them, Friedlander said.

The Unification Church's plan shows a church building covering 10,000 square feet, a smaller education building and 155 parking spaces. Though Moon had previously used Belvedere as a home, the Unification Church has established a part-time residence for its leader, as well a training and conference center, known as East Garden, on Sunnyside Lane in nearby Irvington.

The church once owned properties totaling 400 acres in Westchester and in the 1970s even planned a university locally. Those plans never materialized.

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