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FairfaxVienna Council likely to take steeple off former church

Vienna Council likely to take steeple off former church

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Church steeples add interest and variety to Vienna’s skyline, but the one at the former Faith Baptist Church likely will be coming down.

The Vienna Town Council at its Aug. 29 meeting will consider a proposal to remove the spire at the former church.

The town in August 2020 purchased the Faith Baptist Church property, located at 301 Center St., S., for $5.5 million and has been using the church building as a temporary police station while the new Vienna Police Headquarters is being built close by. That project’s construction is slated for completion later this summer.

Council member Howard Springsteen said at the Council’s July 11 meeting that he had heard from several residents about the steeple and requested its removal.

“It sends a bad sign,” he said of the steeple. “I think we need to get that off.”

Asked after the meeting to be more specific, Springsteen was.

“The steeple is coming off because it’s no longer a church,” he told the Sun Gazette. “Church and state need to be kept separate. We were planning to take it down, but I wanted to move things along.”

The town has set aside $300,000 from this year’s bond issuance for matters involving the former church, and removing its steeple likely would not use that entire amount, said Finance Director Marion Serfass.

The town has an estimate of $12,000 for taking the steeple off the building, but there would be additional roofing costs as well, Springsteen said.

Vienna officials already were planning to spend $20,000 to repair a roof leak on the building. Another leak has surfaced and, like the former one, is located on a flat portion of the roof. Contractors have estimated that total roof repairs would cost between $80,000 and $130,000, said Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman.

Given those leaks and the proposed steeple removal, town officials may want to consider replacing the structure’s entire roof, Herman said.

“I don’t want us to dillydally for the next six or eight months,” Springsteen said. “Because the roof is becoming an issue, I think we should get the steeple off, because you’re going to have to repair where the bolts go on the roof.”

Town staff before the Aug. 29 meeting will gather additional information and cost estimates concerning the potential steeple removal and roof replacement.

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