Last night, a new development unfolded in the months-long battle for control of Questa's 170-year-old adobe church. In a letter to Questa Mayor Esther Garcia, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe offered to let the community restore the church—as long as the village agreed to remove it from a historic preservation ordinance
passed for the express purpose of protecting the church.
on the Questa church conundrum back in March, when Questa residents were struggling to save their Catholic landmark from a powerful Archdiocesan council that wanted it razed. That sometimes acrimonious battle has worn on for months, and though last week's Albuquerque Journal reported
talks between the Archdiocese and the Village of Questa, Garcia tells SFR those negotiations fell through.
Garcia says she received a letter from the Archdiocese yesterday with 10 items outlining steps for a cooperative solution.
One of those demands was for the Village of Questa to "remove the historical designation from the church building,
and that such a designation should not be applied in the future to the building without the Archdiocese's consent," Garcia says.
The danger inherent in such a step, Garcia says, is that "if we remove it, they're just going to get a demolition permit."
Garcia tells SFR the letter contains no promises
that the Archdiocese will not seek a demolition permit as soon as the protective ordinance is lifted. (SFR left a message with Archdiocese Communications Director Celine Baca Radigan; we'll update if and when we hear back.)
Garcia, needless to say, is proceeding with caution; she's scheduled a special council meeting for next week and promises to share the letter in question with SFR after her councilors have all seen it.
In the meantime, Arnie Valdez, a Santa Fe County planner and preservationist who helped the Village of Questa develop a plan for restoring the church, says he's standing by—ready to help, but not until a decision is made.
"It would be wise for [Questa] to have more security in the property," Valdez tells SFR. "They need to have something more than, 'OK, you fix it and give it back to us.' It's kind of a trick."