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Organizers Rally to Save Jesuit Retreat After Judge OKs Sale

By Nicholas Rizzi | December 4, 2013 9:23am
 Residents rallied to protect the site after a judge ruled to let it go through.
Mount Manresa Protest
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FORT WADSWORTH — A judge ruled to allow a Staten Island religious retreat to be sold to private developers, leaving neighbors furious.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Charles Troia ruled to deny the request of opponents to bar the $15 million sale of Jesuit retreat house Mount Manresa to Savo Brothers on Monday, NY1 reported.

A day after the ruling, members of the Committee to Save Mount Manresa stood in front of the 15-acre site to hold an "art intervention" to try and save the historic building.

"The current and future generation is being denied all the beauty," said Jack Bolembach, a member of the committee. "Most people don't know what's back there, they've never seen the value. It's a ready-made park."

Earlier this year, the Jesuit priests announced plans to sell the 102-year-old property to developers Savo Brothers, which plans to put up condominium town houses.

Organizers rallied to try and save the site and preserve it as a public park. They won support from some local politicians, but so far their efforts to stop the sale have failed.

"I think the Jesuits should of given us a chance, the people who supported it and loved it," said Joseph Bilotti, who led a rosary group in Mount Manresa for nearly 18 years.

"This is a treasure. Once it's lost it will always be lost."

On Tuesday, protesters danced, played drums and sang songs on the sidewalk of the busy Fingerboard Road to show support for the site.

Even though the court ruled for the sale to go through, Bolembach said he's still optimistic they can save the trees surrounding it, some of which he said date back 400 years.

"You got to remain optimistic," Bolembach said. "It's still here, as long as it's here and we can get the word out, as long as the trees are still standing, it's worth a fight."

Organizers plan to rally again at the site on Wednesday night.