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Renovation Reserved

Willis Avenue Church expansion

on county commission’s table

With lingering questions, the Mineola Village Board delayed making a decision whether to grant a special-use permit to architect Robert Robles’ expansion and renovation of the Grace International Assembly of God Church at 172 Willis Avenue. The plan would see the building almost double from 4,760 square feet to 9,322 square feet.

The church was built in 1899, as indicated by the cornerstone on the south side. An extension was added in 2007.

“We want to increase the area of the church,” said Robles, of Rockville Centre-based RJW Architecture. The estimated cost of the project would be between $800,000 and $1 million, with work expected to begin in September. The plan is now in front of the Nassau County Planning Commission. Mineola will revisit the permit question after the county has issued its ruling.

Robles said the church would remain a one-story structure with demolition of the east portion of the building. The plan would increase the number of Sunday school classrooms to six from the present two. Bathrooms would be added to the first floor and a handicapped accessible lift would be installed.

Grace International Reverend Wilson Jose said while there are no summer camps scheduled at the church, with the expansion, a program could be implemented. Furthermore, a basement kitchen may be used a half-dozen times per year.

“We will have vacation bible school down the road during the summer months,” Jose said. “In terms of cooking, it’s done very rarely there.”

Trustee Paul Cusato took issue with the kitchen’s location. “The kitchen is right next to an exit,” said Cusato. “I guess the fire marshal gets final say on that.”

Village of Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said parking lot access to the church grounds on Searing Avenue “might be an issue,” but Robles said parking access from Searing was not in the plans. “If you do look to have an entrance or an exit coming out onto Searing Avenue, that might be an issue for us,” Strauss said. “That street’s very, very crowded as it is and we’re not sure yet what’s happening with Corpus Christi School.”

“We could come in off Searing,” said Robles. “We could get an entranceway off there but it wasn’t planned.”

Robles indicated the congregation would be increasing by 100 people, totaling 220 members. Jose said the church will not lease out the property to other churches or do any for-profit work in the building.