Allow Easter service in Chestnut Ridge Park

I strongly disagree with the Erie County Parks’ decision not to allow Armor Bible Church to use the Chestnut Ridge casino for a celebration of the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday for the following reasons:

The casino is the most beautiful and accessible spot in the whole park. It is designed for large assemblies of people with large windows, high ceilings, bathrooms, etc. It also has an adjacent lower level that is perfect for the free breakfast we provide after the service.

This is not a private event. It is open to the public and everyone is welcome. Therefore, the rationale behind the “new policy” (keeping the area open to the public) would be honored.

We have used the casino for 27 years with no problems, no complaints and no hassles. We did all the set up, tear down and clean up ourselves. The park personnel were always happy to accommodate us as they were able.

Our use of the facility is only for about two and a half hours on Easter Sunday from 7 to 9:30 a.m. This is not a time when lots of people use the park. Last year, only eight runners entered the casino, used the bathroom, got a drink and left.

Any objections to the use of the park for “religious” purposes is undercut by the fact that several churches rent shelters throughout the summer and “religious-ceremony” weddings are done routinely in the park.

The vast majority of those who have attended the Easter “sunrise” service over the years own homes in the area and pay county taxes. Although there are 98 towns and villages in Erie County, Orchard Park residents pay about 6 percent of the costs of county government. It seems to me to be a small concession to allow about 200 of these highly taxed citizens to use the park for one hour out of the year when virtually no one else is using it.

The Rev. Douglas Sukhia

Armor Bible Church

Orchard Park