Greenwich Village church pastor evicting senior center

Critics say he wants to rent space to film and television crews
October 26, 2014 05:02PM

A Catholic church in Greenwich Village is looking to evict a senior center from its basement after more than 40 years, apparently because its pastor wants to make way for film and television crews.

Our Lady of Pompeii Church on 25 Carmine Street, at Bleecker, has been home to the Caring Community Senior Center, which serves 1,400 meals a month to the elderly and has provides exercise classes, games and legal workshops, since 1973. But Father Walter Tonelotto won’t renew the group’s $2,000-a-month lease when it comes up in June.

Roy Leavitt, CEO of Greenwich House, the nonprofit that runs the center, told the New York Post that Tonelotto “believes by renting out to entertainment companies as a holding area for cast and crews, it’s of strong monetary value to the church.”

Seniors complained they’ve already been losing space to film crews and movie equipment.

“Why are they putting us out, so they can make money?” Gary Friedman asked the Post. “Part of the space, when we’ve been eating, has been rented out to film sets.”

Friedman added that a horror film set up there a few weeks ago and turned the center’s kitchen into a morgue while center regulars ate their meals a few feet away.

State Senator Brad Hoylman called the priest’s money-making scheme “harebrained.” Hoylman, a Democrat, said he called Tonelotto last week but that the priest wouldn’t budge.

“I can’t think of a better mission for a local parish church than to provide meals to seniors in the community,” Hoylman said.

Tonelotto told the Post he was discussing “the difficulties we are encountering with senior citizens” with Greenwich House, adding that “Nothing has been said or decided.” [NYP] —TRD