Yankees Pitcher to Open Church

Mariano Rivera Will Restore North Avenue Church

New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera announced that he will open a church in New Rochelle.

In a press conference in City Hall Tuesday morning, Rivera spoke of his plans to restore North Avenue Church.

Rivera’s Church, Refugio De Esperanza will buy the church with Rivera’s support.

"It is a privilege for me to be here," Rivera said. "The main goal is to restore the church. The moment I saw it I fell in love."

The former Presbyterian church that was built in 1907, was under public ownership for many decades.  Over the years, the structure has fallen into worse  physical condition because the city has been unable to sustain if financially.  Renovation costs for the church are estimated to be $ 3 million.

“It is a much beloved structure in New Rochelle history,” Mayor Noam Bramson said.  “Today we are here to celebrate to bring the church back to its original luster.”

Rivera, originally from Panama, is a familiar figure in New Rochelle through his involvement in the Clubhouse Grill Restaurant on Memorial Highway and through a number of community events and activities.

He said he will devote himself to the church “full-time” when he retires from baseball.

“We have a lot of goals to work with the youth,” he said. “That is my passion. We are working hard to make it open as soon as possible.”

City Manager Charles Strome III said construction could begin in a few months.

Barbara Davis, city historian and community relations coordinator for the New Rochelle Public Library, smiled as Rivera spoke.

“I feel fabulous,” she said.  “We thought the church would be lost all together.”

Rivera said that he is happy with his decision to restore the church.

“To me it’s worth it to have this beautiful church renovated in the city of New Rochelle,” he said.

Theresa Kump Leghorn June 30, 2011 at 01:26 PM
The former Presbyterian Church on North Avenue has been an eyesore for years, with the city lacking the funds to properly maintain the building and no private entity willing to take it on. So I was delighted to hear that Refugio De Esperanza had come up with a proposal to renovate the building and restore it to its intended purpose, as a church. Better yet, the project -- which will preserve an historic landmark and beautify North Avenue -- required no infusion of money from the city. It's a shame that New Rochelle City Council members St. Paul and Trangucci voted against this proposal at last week’s council meeting. I welcome Refugio De Esperanza to New Rochelle and thank them and Mr. Rivera for rescuing a distinctive local landmark.
Billy July 01, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Theresa, but why did the city let fall into such disrepair in the 1st place? There appear to muliple properties that the City of New Rochelle isn't maintaining properly (not to mention almost every city street) and I'd like to know why doesn't the city allocate the money to maintain what it has? To me it appears to be a mismanagement problem. Let me know if you need a list of the properties. I could readily think of 3 or 4, such as the Armory.
Robert McCaffrey July 01, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Yes it is a wonderul thing to fix the church. I have watched it fall apart for years. It is right next to City Hall. Didn't they notice the need for repairs years ago. This didn't happen over night. I don't understand why it went so far.The fact that it was another free ride for a yet another developer is probably why they voted against it. Where are all of the dollar sales when the city needs to do something. With all of the oppotunities to develope areas in need, New Rochelle always seems to be the givers. Be it selling a property worth $500K for $1 or the onslaught of tax abatements the Mayor and his crew have given. Smarter planning and spending is what is needed. Do whats right for New Rochelle and its tax payers for a change.


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