Buddhists Move Forward Despite Jesuit Roadblocks

On April 8, 2013, I wrote the story Angry Jesuit Blocks Entry to Buddhist Temple . This story evoked a lot of passionate responses because people have very strong emotional attachments to their religious faiths and often respond without rational thought. This incident could have been prevented if the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization and the Jesuit Director of the Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, George Belgarde were able to communicate. There were attempts made on the part of the WPHO to meet and discuss these issues but they went unanswered.

The issue arose when Shrine Road leading to the Buddhists residence and Temple was blocked without warning by maintenance worker Larry Steiger at the direction of Belgarde. This gave the impression that the Buddhist Temple was closed and also prevented the US Post office from delivering mail. The Buddhists purchased this property from the Shrine in 2005, signing an addendum to the deed stipulating they build their own access road and water source. They complied with the agreement creating their own well and building Friendship Road extending from Ripley Road to the Western Supreme Temple (see map). This road was used for all construction traffic, however the paving material of loose stone made passenger vehicle traffic difficult, with vehicles getting buried up to the axles in stone. To prevent people from driving around the logs, two metal signs were placed in the lawn indicating that was the end of Shrine Road, despite the fact that the Temple address is 174 Shrine Road.

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A few weeks ago, a contractor was hired to grade Friendship Road and pave it. He was met by a once again angry George Belarde and a County Sheriff threatening arrest if they proceeded. The Jesuit claimed Friendship Road that had been in place for five years was a few feet on the Shrine property.

The World Peace and Health Organization attempted to resolve this situation through local governmental channels, meeting with Town of Glen Supervisor, Larry Coddington, Town of Glen Fire Chief, JD Downing, Mayor of Fultonville, Robert Headwell and Amsterdam Police Chief, Gregg Culick who lives nearby. They all had suggestions, which mostly included I would just move it out of the way, but don’t quote me on that, but none had any answers, until WPHO board member Yik Cheng filed a civil lawsuit against the Shine of our Lady of Martyrs, Fr George Belgarde and Larry Steiger.

The preliminary hearing for that complaint was held in the Montgomery County Supreme Court on June 19, 2013, with Judge Felix J Catena presiding. The judge heard opening statements with attorney Carmel Greco representing Belgarde and Steiger who were present in the courtroom. Yik Cheng presented the opening statement for the World Peace and Health Organization who were not represented by an attorney.  Judge Catena postponed the hearing and strongly suggested a meeting be held within the next 30 days to come up with an agreement that would satisfy both parties. If no agreement is met, the next date for the proceeding is July 18, 2013.

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Meeting with Larry Coddington, Town of Glen Supervisor

Montgomery County Supreme Court Hearing Jennie, Elise, Regina Nacki

Montgomery County Supreme Court Hearing
Jennie, Yik, Regina Nacki

Group speaks with Attorney Carmel Greco to arrange a meeting.

Group speaks with Attorney Carmel Greco to arrange a meeting.

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Categories: Equality, Human Rights, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , ,

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6 thoughts on “Buddhists Move Forward Despite Jesuit Roadblocks

  1. diane

    Jerry, Where is this last photo ?

    • Diane, you disappointed me when you urged the City of Amsterdam to go after the Buddhist owned property for code violations at the last Council meeting, especially since the property you mentioned is no longer owned by the organization. There are hundreds of abandoned, boarded up properties in the city that all need attention. Going after an organization that has done much to improve the situation in Amsterdam makes me question your motives. The WPHO spent thousands of dollars locally, buying lumber, tools and equipment to restore the former St. Casimirs and St Michael’s churches that were abandoned by the Catholic Diocese. Every year they offer free health dharma education programs to the local public. They also invite the public to their celebration ceremonies where they introduce different aspects of Chinese culture to the locals. Some members of the WPHO have already become American citizens. With all of these efforts, they are continually, questioned, rejected and subjected to a type of targeted scrutiny not applied to the general public.

      The Buddhists paid $595,000 to the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs for this property in 2006, helping to keep the financially plagued Shrine afloat. It is despicable that they are being treated so shabbily by the Shrine’s new Director George Belgarde.

  2. It is the same property. The temple/residence is the building on the map with the red/orange. colored roof. These out buildings are located on the top/right of the temple. The Buddhists have worked very hard to improve this property, maintaining the original archetechtural style while introducing traditional Chinese stylings.

  3. diane

    Thank you Jerry, I did not know there were additional buildings back there.

    As for my comments at the cc meeting, I am concerned about all of our vacant properties that are not being maintained. This organization transferred almost all of the purchased properties to another entity in California, Sunrise Salvage and Demolition. They have kept the two churches, the Liberty building, the commercial bldg in the west end, and 4 Bell Hill. As a result, all of these recently transferred properties are sitting there decaying and becoming more of an eyesore. I will give you that they spent a lot money in the community with their purchases and they are doing good. However, adding to the blight is not good. The property on Bell Hill should be torn down. As you well know part of the problem was their using unqualified individuals to do licensed/permitted work. An example being the 17 year old doing the electrical work at the west end bldg and a non licensed roofer doing the Bell Hill property. The roof at Bell Hill never passed inspection because there were so many issues with the work that was done. That helps no one, except the person they bought the shingles from, as much will have to be redone. The bldg is boarded up but has numerous broken windows. It is a sad eyesore and is not helping an area that is in desperate need of help.

    I also have criticized the city in the past and will continue to do so for allowing homes from the demolition list to be placed on the auction block like they did. The city is guilty of doing that and the buyers are guilty of not inspecting the properties prior to their purchase, whether the Buddhists or other purchasers. Everyone should have known what they were buying. The city would have come out ahead if they had only placed the decent homes on the auction list allowing those to be purchased and rehabbed. Instead, they got greedy and now they will have to deal with the same properties all over again unless the current owners demo them.

    I appreciate your continued good works with the organization and all the beautiful pictures that you take and post. Not everyone has that talent ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you.

  4. The Bell Street property was also sold to the salvage company.

  5. diane

    Thank you, it must have been posted after I ckd ๐Ÿ™‚

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