Pleasant Hope Pastor Claims Councilman Pushing Church Out

Rev. Heber Brown III says business interests and Councilman Bill Henry are trying to push the church from its current location.

(UPDATED) 3:10 p.m.—In an email to congregants of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, Rev. Heber Brown III questions the future of his church in North Baltimore.

In the email Brown (who recently started a blog on Patch) mentions redevelopment plans in the neighborhood, and links to an article about renovations at the Senator Theatre. He writes: "some are eyeing the property all around our church as potential parking for the expansion of the local businesses."

Brown also accuses Councilman Bill Henry of "dropping suggestions" the church move from its current location at 450 E. Belvedere Ave.

He quotes Henry as telling Pleasant Hope leaders during a meeting in August about the church’s concerns as saying "Oh, you want clout. In that case, clout equals money."

Henry said that Brown was using his statement out of context and that the comment was made in response to a question about money, and the role it plays in the church acquiring a nearby parcel of land.

"That was taken out of context and was in response to a money based question," Henry said.  

Brown explains that the church has been dealing with the city to purchase a 30-foot by 60-foot plot of land along the church’s garden, which it uses to grow produce it donates to local food shelters, so that it can expand its garden and its "ministry."

But Brown claims that Henry, at the behest of local businesses, is trying to block that purchase because they want to add more parking for the Belvedere Square across York Road. He goes on to claim that the businesses may even want to get rid of the church so its land could be used as parking.

He said that is particularly troubling for the church because the parking lot behind the church that is used on Sundays isn’t even the church’s property, and that they pay Jerry’s Belvedere Tavern for the use of that lot.

"Pleasant Hope is already boxed in on every side. We’re landlocked and if redevelopment plans are fully realized, our box may get even tighter," Brown writes in his email. 

Henry denied that he was taking any side in acquiring the land near the church. He said there have been as many as three parties interested in acuquring the land, and that he would let the decision be made in a city request for proposal process. 

"The issue with the property, the church isn't the only one wants that property," Henry said. 

Henry also vehmently denied that he would like to see the church leave the community.

In the email Brown points out that the church is on the west side of York Road, which was traditionally segregated with whites living on the west and blacks on the east, and suggests that because it’s a primarily black church on the other side of York Road it’s vulnerable.

"When you think about it—racially and economically, Pleasant Hope is on the 'wrong side of the tracks,'" Brown writes.

Brown goes on to encourage congregation members to attend Henry's district wide meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Junior League, 5902 York Road.   

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Tom Kiefaber September 25, 2012 at 01:31 PM
THE BDC IS ATTEMPTING A RIGGED, STEALTH END-RUN TO TRANSFER THE CITIZEN OWNED SENATOR THEATRE TO PRIVATE OWNERSHIP BY A CHAP COMMISSIONER ALONG WITH 3 MILLION IN TAXPAYER FUNDS TO A TROUBLED PROJECT WITH NO PARKING RIGHTS! EXPRESS OPPOSITION BEFORE NOON TODAY TO: Joan.pratt@baltimorecity.gov and Bernice.Taylor@blatimorecity.gov Hear Ye Hear Ye!, THE BOARD OF ESTIMATES (BOE) PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA FOR WEDNESDAY 09/26/2012, City Hall. 9AM, 2nd fl. Open Public Meeting, RE: THE LANDMARK SENATOR THEATRE. A BDC sponsored TRASFER from present citizen ownership OF THE SENATOR THEATRE, 5904 York Road, to the private ownership of Mr. James Cusack & Ms. Kathleen Cusack Lyon. Disclosure- Mr Cusack serves as a long-term CHAP Commissioner.
Tom Kiefaber September 25, 2012 at 01:39 PM
To better understand the racial profiling implications of Councilman Henry's pressure on long term area neighbors, Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, please read the information posted below. Councilman Henry serves as the BDC's corrupted strong-arm, hatchet-man in North Baltimore. http://www.siriusthoth.com/senator/boe_text.pdf http://www.siriusthoth.com/senator/senator_rfp_analysis.pdf
Tom Kiefaber September 25, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Councilman Henry has made his moves introducing *profiling* tactics, which Reverend Brown has courageously stepped up and publicly claimed are taking place to push Pleasant Hope Church congregation out of the community. I note the Pleasant Hope congregation worshiped for a year at The Senator without charge when my family stepped up and offered them The Senator's use, back when their church was under construction in the late 70's. We didn't need to be asked, yet what's happening now? The Senator and Pleasant Hope outrages are directly related.
Tom Kiefaber September 25, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Apparently Belvedere Square's new owners want no online association with Councilman Henry's effort to force Pleasant Hope Church out of the area, done at the behest of the new owners of the publicly-HUD-funded, *profiled* upscale shopping center next to Homeland. The *big-picture* BDC/BS developer plans for the commercial district have been revealed and finally clarified by Reverend Heber Brown. Now does the Senator being finagled away by the from its former owner by the BDC and gifted to a crony developer/CHAP commissioner make more sense?
fcocca September 25, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Details support that this proposed transfer to private ownership is a sweet sweetheart deal for Mr. Cusack; a current lessee with significant Senator lease performance deficiencies. Who has the Baltimore City fiduciary responsibility job in this matter?


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