The tractor trailer–sized, graffiti-scarred mobile boiler that’s been heating a neighborhood church since November — and offending the sensibilities of its aesthetically-minded neighbors on one side of the church for nearly as long — will be gone by April 16, said church officials. But, the congregation’s wrangling with the next-door neighbors on the other side of the church should continue for the foreseeable future.
Until recently, the Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church, on St. Felix and Hanson Place, got its heat and hot water from the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, which sits next door. But when Magic Johnson and the Dermot Group bought the building in 2005 and began turning it into luxury condominiums, the church found itself without access to a boiler (hence the need for the mobile boiler unit).
“All the owners after Williamsburgh Bank and before Dermot gave us heat, at first for free, and then, over the years, for a nominal fee,” said Pastor Patrick Perrin. “The new owners are putting a new system in their building, so we have to put a new system in ours.”
Perrin believes that a gentleman’s agreement reached years ago with the prior owners of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower should still apply, and that the church still has the right to use its neighbor’s boiler.
“Because of the years of service, we might have a case, if we can afford to fight it,” said Perrin. “But we can’t find a paper trail.”
Negotiations with the developers have yet to bear fruit. In the meantime, the church has borrowed nearly $300,000 to buy a new boiler — for which Perrin hopes to be reimbursed.
Dermot’s representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
But, the mobile boiler’s scheduled removal next week will satisfy Perrin’s residential neighbors, like Nicholas Wong, who lives directly in the shadow of the grey boiler truck.
“I haven’t been able to park in front of my house since November,” complained Wong. “And it’s an eyesore.”