Crane set to tear down bell tower vandalized

Posted at: 05/15/2013 11:54 AM | Updated at: 05/15/2013 11:46 PM
By: WNYT Staff

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Crane that was set to tear down bell tower was vandalized.

Dan Levy / WNYT

WATERVLIET – There'll be someone looking down over the Saint Patrick's Church property in Watervliet Thursday night. That someone happens to be Watervliet Police after someone else vandalized the controversial demolition site Wednesday night.

The demolition of the historic church has already seen its share of delays -- from court challenges to equipment malfunctions. Some people have gone so far as to call it divine intervention. Watervliet Police are labeling Wednesday's delay: intruder intervention.

On the day most people were expecting to bear witness to Saint Patrick's final hurrah, Watervliet Police began searching for witnesses to the crime that everyone agrees did nothing more than delay the inevitable.

"It's vengeance," said Albert Parsakian, a former Saint Patrick's parishioner, who witnessed the aftermath of the alleged crane tampering. "The fuel truck was pumping fuel back out and putting fuel back in, the same truck was here last night filling that up."

Parsakian says he knew right away someone had sabotaged the crane, although his suspicion was confirmed when a site supervisor told him someone had forced something into the fuel tank.

That meant Wednesday became a lost work day for the demolition crew. It became another day of prolonged agony for the former parishioners.

"For me, it's like someone dying and they're dying a very, very slow death," said John Barno, a former Saint Francis parishioner. "It's sad and I guess I want to be here til the end."

Many of the people who began to gather around the church property perimeter late Wednesday afternoon held similar sentiments.

No one was looking forward to this day. Many people are less than enthused that their former church aisle will be transformed into supermarket aisles.

Some people described the event as like attending a wake.

"It's just sad," said Marylou Carroll, a lifelong Watervliet resident. "I just wanted to be here to watch it. At first I didn't know whether I did or I didn't want to be here because it's so sad to see it happening, but  for some reason I keep on coming back."

Many people will likely return Thursday morning, when the bell tower is expected to finally be knocked down.

Meanwhile, the criminal mischief investigation continues. If you have information, Watervliet Police would like to hear from you at 518-270-3833. 

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