RIOC Demands Advance Chapel Rent from Catholics
RIOC wants the Island’s Catholics to pay advance rent – three months’ worth – for advance scheduling of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. At last week’s meeting of the Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council, RIOC was asked to back off.
Good Shepherd is both a chapel and a community center. Under new policies adopted by the Cuomo administration, community groups, including religious bodies, must pay for use of facilities managed by the State, including, in this case, a house of worship.
RIOC originally demanded an advance payment of six months, but reduced it rirto three. “At our parish council meeting last night,” reported parishioner Susan Pirard, “Father [Kallumudy] shared with us the email he received from Donna Mosely [of RIOC]. It stated that we were to pay three months in advance by April 2, or we would be locked out of Good Shepherd and they [RIOC] would have personnel at the door to make sure we could not enter.
“Not only were we deeply offended with the tone RIOC took with us, [but] the timing of their negotiations puts us out of our worship space at the beginning of Holy Week, with Easter Sunday on the 5th.”
Pirard’s statement went on to add that the parish has “lost revenue by the closing of our thrift shop,” which RIOC turned over for commercial rental by Hudson/Related, the firm handling all the Island’s retail rental operations under a master lease given by RIOC. “We are operating on a month-to-month basis. We would like our faith communities of residents on Roosevelt Island to come together to discuss with RIOC a way that we can continue to worship in our space and have the respect of RIOC while we additionally respect the requirements of the for-profits that also occupy the same space.
“We are not asking that we not pay rent,” the statement concluded, “only that we pay as we and other faiths in the same space have always paid, month to month.”
At the end of its meeting Wednesday night, the RIRA Council voted to back the parish’s request.