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      Neighbors divided on changes to Holy Trinity Church

      <font size="2">Holy Trinity Church</font>

      People who live in the Sedgwick Farm neighborhood met Friday afternoon to learn more about plans to turn the old Holy Trinity Catholic Church into a mosque.

      Neighbors gathered at the Tops on Pond Street to discuss the plans with Kate Auwaerter of the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board. In a packed room, residents voiced their questions and concerns about the plans.

      Holy Trinity on Park Street operated as a Catholic Church from 1912-2009. The property was sold by the Catholic Diocese in 2010. It was later designated as a local protected site by the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board.

      Holy Trinity was recently purchased by the North Side Learning Center, a volunteer group that assists refugees and immigrants. It plans to lease the church to an Islamic society, which would rename it 'Mosque of Jesus the Son of Mary.' They hope the mosque will be ready to open in June.

      "This area...much of the people there are refugee people and they are Muslim," said Muna Alany, who attended the meeting and lives on Syracuse's North Side. "And really, this is a close place for everyone. They can practice a religion in this area."

      The organization is asking permission to remove the church's six crosses and erect a six-foot-high picket fence around the property for added security.

      Neighbors are split on how they feel about the potential modifications.

      "It's nice if you can preserve it and keep it nice, basically," said neighbor Joanne Iovine. "And it would be very unfortunate to have that piece of property changed so radically. It should remain the same."

      "My concerns pertain to the preservation of the historic building, mainly the fence," said Kate Fernandez, who lives in Syracuse's Sedgwick neighborhood. "Because I don't want to see it look like a prison yard. I want to see something that's historically appropriate, attractive, and that elevates the community."

      'I think it's fantastic that someone's willing to put money into it, invest in the property," said neighbor Camille Tisdel. "And frankly, there will be people in it again, so it's not going to fall apart. It's not going to get demolished by deterioration or neglect."

      The new owners have submitted an application to remove the crosses from the top of the church and fence in the property. The application is scheduled to be discussed at the April 3 meeting of the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board.

      Anyone who wants to submit comments to the Landmark Preservation Board before they make a ruling on the application can send an email to: