PORTSMOUTH — Anne-Marie Horvath was married in the Immaculate Conception Church, is a member of the Corpus Christi Parish and supports the demolition of the shuttered St. Patrick School to make room for a new church parking lot.

"I believe the plan is well thought out and is in the best interest of both the parish and the Portsmouth community," Horvath wrote to Elizabeth Moreau, chairwoman of the city's Demolition Review Committee.

Horvath was one of 30 people, most Immaculate Conception parishioners, who wrote letters to the city in support of plans to raze the former St. Pat's school to create a 35-vehicle parking lot.

The letters were sent in advance of a Dec. 17 meeting of the Demolition Review Committee, scheduled to determine if the St. Pat's school building has historic, cultural and/or architectural significance. If the committee determines the building has that significance, another meeting will be held mid-January to discuss demolition alternatives.

Church officials applied for the demolition to create the parking lot with buffer landscaping along Austin and Winter streets. The parking is needed for parishioners of the nearby Immaculate Conception Church, according to church leaders.

Parishioner Dianne Durkin wrote to the city in support of the church's plans noting, "This is a church decision and we need to allow the church to decide on the use of the property."

Paul and Janice Lanzoni wrote stating they're active parishioners, that the church property is considered sacred ground and as such, use of St. Pat's property is limited to a church-specific purpose.

Parish members Bill and Kay Wagner wrote to Moreau saying they "were both surprised and dismayed that the Portsmouth City Council, other city land use boards and local state representatives have injected themselves into the demolition process for the St. Patrick's school building."

"This fact is making the disposition a political football rather than a rational discussion," the Wagners wrote, while noting the area is the Catholic center and "does not lend itself to redevelopment with an outside partner."

A parish member for 50 years, Ramona Dow wrote to Moreau that possible alternatives have been explored by the parish "and none except the demolition and enhancement to the area surrounding our beautiful church makes any sense to me."

"Please vote 'yes' and allow the demolition to move forward," she urged the demolition committee.

Parishioner David Gutierrez wrote to the city that while others have opinions about what is best for the parish, "until they have been a member of our parish community for many years, they do not know what is best for me and us."

Deanna Strand of Winter Street wrote to Moreau, "I never want to see an old building go, but this one, I think, it's time to let it go."

"I'm more afraid that a long drawn out process will leave it there to deteriorate," she said.

Parishioner Richard Stevens took a contrary view in a letter he wrote to Moreau.

"As a Christian, I believe we are called to some level of sacrifice to help the less fortunate than me," he wrote. "Walking a little further for those able to seems to be one of those small sacrifices."

Austin Street resident Stephen Erickson, who has led efforts to discuss preservation of the closed Catholic school, said Tuesday the church "has agreed to let a team of architects, structural engineers and developers tour the building on Thursday, which we appreciate very much."

He said he hopes the church will share results of studies that led to the decision to demolish and that the purpose of the tour is to present the church "with the most accurate and best range of options for the building, and take full advantage of the expertise we are putting at the church's disposal."

Carl Nold, president of Historic New England, wrote a letter to the Planning Board saying he applauds the parish's willingness "to consider alternatives to demolition," along with his view that preservation "far outweigh(s) those provided by a parking lot."

By unanimous vote of the City Council, Mayor Jack Blalock wrote to Bishop Peter Libasei stating the council's belief that "through creative solutions and partnerships, it may be possible to address the church's issues without demolishing the historic structure."

"Also, there may be alternative uses for the building that would provide revenue for the church and be in line with the church's mission," the mayor wrote.

All letters sent to the city about the proposed school demolition can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/2QCxQNK.