Church renovation plan cut
Reverend of Wilton parish withdraws review application
WILTON – The former Sacred Heart Church on Maple Street will not be undergoing renovations for a change of use in the foreseeable future.
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Rev. Robin Lunn withdrew her site plan review application, stating an inability to negotiate with the Manchester Archdiocese, owner of the historic building, over the heating system, which needs considerable upgrading to meet codes.
Lunn said she had no choice but to withdraw the application to turn the building into several uses, including a community center, over a three-year period. She had almost unanimous support of the neighbors.
Planning Board members called it a loss for the town.
On Oct. 19, Lunn asked for a postponement while she considered options. The heating system problem had been discovered during an inspection the previous week. She attributed the problems to age, some previous repairs and code changes.
Lunn first suggested the idea informally to the Planning Board in April. She submitted the plan in August after receiving several variances from the Zoning Board of Adjustment in July. The Planning Board approved a variety of conditions, the major hurdle being parking.
Lunn’s plan would have converted the rectory into two apartments and the lower level of the church building into a cafe and coffee shop. It would have provided a home for the Open Cupboard Food Pantry, which is in the rectory. Senior dinners have been held monthly in the lower meeting room, and their continuing is in question.
The church was built in 1881. It was closed in 2010 and the parish combined with Greenville.
In 2011, the building was offered to the town as a gift as long as it wasn’t used for any purpose to which the church would object. A committee was formed to study the idea.
In 2013, voters authorized selectmen to discuss accepting the church as a community center, but didn’t allocate any money. Many questioned the lack of parking, and costs of upgrade and maintenance. Eventually, the offer was declined.
Lunn said she was disappointed and didn’t have any alternative plans.