Welsh Congregational Church may stay put for the moment
By Graig Graziosi
Plans for the ambitious move of the 157-year-old Welsh Congregational Church near downtown Youngstown to Wick Park may be temporarily on hold.
Representatives of Youngstown CityScape, the group that raised the funds and planned the logistics for the move, met with city officials, representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown and members of a local historical society last week to discuss the future of the project.
Sharon Letson, the executive director of Youngstown CityScape, said she couldn’t speak extensively on the details of the meeting but assured that the individual parties were working together to address the project.
“We’re all doing our due diligence right now to make sure we proceed with the project the right way,” Letson said.
Letson could not provide a time frame for when a decision on the project will be made.
City representatives did not respond to a request to comment Friday.
The project – which was funded by private donations, including a $150,000 donation from a Wick family heir – was pitched to the public in July during a kick-off event at Noble Creature Cask House. During the meeting, Phil Kidd, associate director at Youngstown CityScape, estimated that the actual move would take place “in the next 35 to 40” days, putting the move at the end of August.
There is some opposition to the project, with critics worrying that the church will look strange in the historic park and fearing that the plans to restore the structure will not come to fruition, leaving a rotting church sitting on park property.
Emily Wick Schaff, a descendant of the Wick family that donated the park land to the city of Youngstown in 1898, said in a letter to The Vindicator that she opposed the move, and shortly after created a Facebook page, Preserve Wick Park, to serve as a hub for residents concerned with the project.
Jacob Harver, the owner of the Knox Building downtown, also called for Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and Councilman Nate Pinkard, D-3rd, to oppose the move.
The project began when the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown – which owns the land where the church is built – approached CityScape about saving the historic building, which is Youngstown’s oldest standing church.