Juniper Park Civic expects St. Saviour’s reconstruction

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At the Juniper Park Civic Association meeting last Thursday, residents received word that a beloved church may rise from the grave.

The roughly 160-year-old St. Saviour’s Church that was dismantled and put into a Maspeth storage facility in May of 2008 is getting closer to being reconstructed on a parcel of land within All Faiths Cemetery.

Representatives from the civic said roughly $150,000 from a state grant will go toward cleaning the future site, which was leased to the the civic, and then storing the disassembled church there instead.

“Finally, it looks like the money is going to be freed up,” said Bob Holden, president of the civic.

The original plan dated back to before the church was taken down, when Dan Austin of All Faiths cemetery said he would provide a portion of his land to the civic so the church could be erected.

But after a previous state grant failed to materialize and some $2 million from Borough President Helen Marshall and City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) were diverted to help get a park constructed on the site where the wooden church once stood, the church languished in storage.

The civic is is currently seeking more money to reassemble the church after it is moved to the All Faiths site.

The reconstruction of St. Saviour’s Church has been an important objective of the civic, along with oversized trucks in the neighborhood, graffiti and illegal rentals — all of which Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) mentioned when he spoke to the crowd.

He touched on a bill that would require new businesses to purchase a see-through metal garage door to secure their storefronts at night, instead of the opaque ones many stores currently use.

“It’s a canvas for graffiti,” he said, adding that commercial streets will look more open and inviting at night.

When Vallone talked up his tough stance on illegal conversations, many in the crowd asked why he did not run for mayor. But the lawmaker demurred, saying he enjoyed his current job.

The civics also showered praises on a young, dimpled graffiti officer named Justin Dambinskas, and awarded him with a plaque for his work in catching graffiti vandals in the district. He was introduced by the new 104th Precinct commanding officer.

“This is the future of the NYPD,” said Capt. Michael Cody., referring to the officer of four years.

Dambinskas is a graduate of St. John’s University, a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and a former member of the National Guard and became the 104th’s graffiti officer earlier this year.

Before the meeting, Dambinskas said he tracks graffiti vandals using social media and knows many of their tags by heart.

“Sometimes they might change one letter,” Dambinskas said. “But they want the notoriety.”

According to Cody, Dambinskas is a dedicated cop who still walks the streets of the neighborhood, something Cody plans to do as well. Last year, the 104th Precinct had the second-most graffiti-related arrests in the entire city.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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