year after Tropical Storm Sandy toppled the cross atop the tower at the former Dutch
Reformed Church, the cross is still dangling.
The Church’s Pastor, Miguel Ortiz told the Newark Star-Ledger that a strong rod at the core of the cross is attached to the steeple and that bending it back might cause it to snap. The 160-year-old wooden structure would have to be taken down, a process estimated to cost $250,000.
Ortiz, who didn’t respond to Patch’s request for comment, told the Ledger that Iglasenda Antigua, his 65-member church, can’t afford that.
Belleville workers braced the steeple of the historic Belleville church to keep it from collapsing after Super storm Sandy damaged it in 2012. Iglasenda Antigua had no insurance coverage during the storm, forcing the town to step in.
In March, 2012, Belleville officials placed a lien on the property, requiring the church to pay about $43,000 in return for the work the town put into restoration.
The church was founded in 1697 by Dutch settlers, and then rebuilt three different times; according to officials the church is considered a priceless historical landmark and a link to the township's Revolutionary War past.
Past efforts by both the former Dutch Reformed congregation and local officials to get historic-preservation funding proved unsuccessful.
Several years ago, the Dutch Reformed congregation, which was dwindling and elderly, decided they could no longer maintain the property and opted to sell.
The site includes the church, which was rebuilt in the 19th century, and the cemetery, the final resting place for 66 veterans of the Revolutionary War.
The Dutch Reformed congregation sold the property years ago to Iglasenda Antigua for $250,000, officials said.