CLAYTON — Some neighbors are worried that Horne Memorial United Methodist Church might turn its newest property into a parking lot, destroying a piece of Clayton history.
Horne Memorial has outgrown its parking capacity; every Sunday, cars line the nearby streets.
In an interview, the Rev. Ross Carter acknowledged that the church has considered building a new parking lot. But as for where or when, nothing is set in stone, he said.
In April, the church bought the lot at 135 Horne St., home to a two-story, bright-white house built in 1909 as the parsonage for Clayton Methodist Church. In the 1950s, it became a private residence. Now, it’s empty and in disrepair.
Last month, a member of Horne Memorial’s board of trustees conducted a door-to-door survey of neighbors asking their opinions about turning the lot into parking.
Clark said the survey showed no objections.
But Courtney Allen-Garcia, who lives near the church, said that’s not true. She is circulating a petition that has garnered 30 signatures from neighbors who do not want the historic house torn down.
“It has played a big part in the history of Clayton,” Allen-Garcia said.
Her concern is not only losing a historic house but also a potential increase in traffic right around the corner from where she lives.
The way church parking works now, Allen-Garcia said, she doesn’t mind cars lining the streets on Sundays, as long as they don’t block her driveway.
Clark said he was surprised to learn of the petition. Church leaders, he said, have talked only informally about how to meet the congregation’s parking needs.
Allen-Garcia acknowledged that the petition might be premature, but she wanted to make sure church leaders knew how neighbors really felt about saving the house.
Pointing to the house’s disrepair, Clark said the church has no plans to try to restore it. If the church eventually uses the lot, the house will have to come down, he said.
After the door-to-door survey, one woman upset about the potential parking lot did contact the church. Dorita Dorchiano, who owns the house next door, lives in New York, but she comes to town once a month to work on the house. She plans to retire there.
“Nobody else has contacted the church,” Clark said.
If the church does decide to build a parking lot, it will probably need more than the one property, the pastor added.
“Down the road, if we acquire enough property, we could think about it,” he said.