Religion

Some Fairway residents post signs opposing Vineyard church relocation

Yard signs opposing Vineyard Community Church's proposed purchase of the former Julia R. Ewan Elementary School building dotted lawns Tuesday on Henry Clay Boulevard.
Yard signs opposing Vineyard Community Church's proposed purchase of the former Julia R. Ewan Elementary School building dotted lawns Tuesday on Henry Clay Boulevard. HERALD-LEADER

Some residents of the Fairway neighborhood around Henry Clay Boulevard have posted yard signs opposing the relocation of Vineyard Community Church, which wants to move into the former Julia R. Ewan Elementary School.

Fairway Neighborhood Association president Valerie Askren said the signs, which started to appear Monday, "were put up by private individuals. The board and the neighborhood association itself at this time has not taken a stand."

However, she acknowledged that some Fairway residents had concerns about lack of parking on the J.R. Ewan site, increased traffic throughout the neighborhood and what kind of outreach efforts the church plans to have on-site.

A Lexington Board of Adjustment hearing on a conditional use permit for the church is scheduled on July 30.

Rev. Kevin Clark of the Vineyard Community Church, which now meets at 817 Winchester Road, said that it partners with groups such as the Catholic Action Center, Lexington Rescue Mission and Lighthouse Ministries in addition to working with neighborhoods including the area around Coolavin Park. But he said that the church works with such ministries at their current sites.

Clark said that the 500 worshippers the church draws are spread over three services and that if necessary a "parking team" would be dispatched to direct attendees, who he said would be respectful of neighborhood streets if they had to park off-site.

"We're passionate about meeting the needs of the poor and the marginalized in our community," Clark said. "I think they (the neighbors) are concerned that we're going to be opening up a soup kitchen ... or opening a homeless shelter. For us, there's no sense in re-inventing the wheel."

Members of the Fairway Neighborhood Association board were scheduled to meet Tuesday night with representatives of the church.

The school has been closed since the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

Another, larger meeting including the whole neighborhood is scheduled for 7 p.m July 20.

"The city of Lexington is all about the adaptive re-use of space, and we're trying to do that as a church," Clark said.

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