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.
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.