Emergency injunction halts Harrisburg church demolition - abc27 WHTM

Emergency injunction halts Harrisburg church demolition

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Demolition was halted on a crumbling Harrisburg church late Monday after an emergency injunction was filed and accepted by a judge on behalf of a bishop under fire for the deteriorating structure.

With one hand on her hip another covering her mouth, Earlene Cavitt stood and starred at the five-story heap of caving bricks.

"Forget the eyesore thing," she said. "I just think it's certainly not safe."

Cavitt has lived on the corner of 13th and Magnolia streets for a decade and has watched the former Outreach Victory Church deteriorate over the past five years. She noticed crews walked off the job Monday and is worried the demolition-in-progress poses further danger.

"Many of those bricks, a high wind could send them sailing," she said.

A grandmother, Cavitt is also concerned about the safety for her grandchildren and others in the neighborhood.

"I feel like one of these days somebody, a child especially, will go by this and maybe get hurt," she said. "That's probably the only way it'll ever come down."

A judge ordered demolition to stop on Monday following an emergency injunction filed by Bishop A.E. Sullivan's attorney, Sandra Thompson. The reason cited was because Sullivan was never notified by the city of the demolition.

According to city officials, the reason could stem to price. City demolition costs could reach $130,000. Thompson stated Sullivan's estimate was around $80,000. If Sullivan is found guilty of those charges stemming from February's arrest, he could be required to cover those costs.

But, to the 15 people who were displaced after the church collapse, demolition meant a closer step to returning home.

Gerado Vasquez was translating for Hector Alvarado, a family who has been evacuated since Feb. 21.

"Why stop now when they already started?" he questioned. "When they're already ahead, why stop it now?"

Vasquez explained Alvarado's wife, two children have been in-and-out of a motel and temporary housing.

"They're sleeping on the floor with two mattresses, his wife and the kids," he said.

Being out of their home has been very time consuming situation Vasquez said. So much so, Vasquez said Alvarado's wife lost her job.

"What example is [Bishop Sullivan] giving?" he said. "A minister or pastor to the others? That's not a good example for the Christians."

Sullivan's injunction hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Dauphin County Courthouse. If a judge sides with the city, the demolition could be completed and residents could return late this week.

Sullivan's preliminary hearing on criminal matters Tuesday morning was postponed. Harrisburg City Solicitor Neil Grover advised Mayor Eric Papenfuse not to comment publicly on the matter until the courts resolved the issue.

Alvarado by the way of Vasquez had no problem airing frustrations.

"They need their home. They need to be home with their kids," Vasquez said.


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