A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A year later, what about new windows?

Written August 10th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Willamette Community Church, the old high school, windows and all, on July 26, 2022.

It has been about a year since Albany city officials prevented Willamette Community Church from completing the replacement of aging windows in its building, the former Albany High School. What has happened since?

Nothing happened, that’s what. And that makes me question what the fuss was about.

The city stopped work on the window replacement in July 2021 because there was no permit for the job. In  response, the church applied for “historic review of substitute materials” to replace 34 old windows.  The sashes of the old ones are wooden; the new ones are of vinyl.

Twenty-three of the 34 windows had already been replaced when the city said “stop,” leaving 11 to be done.

The city planning staff recommended the request be approved, but in September the Albany Landmarks Commission turned it down.

The church appealed, and in October the city council voted 6-0 to uphold the Landmarks denial “with the condition that the commission find a way to work with the church to provide a way forward.”

Has the commission found a “way forward”? Not that it shows.

“There is still an active compliance case for the window replacement,” Matthew Ruettgers, the city’s community development director, said in an email.

“We strive for voluntaryy compliance on all of our compliance cases,” Ruettgers explained. And since the unauthorized windows are not a matter of safety, “the city is providing some flexibility on the compliance timeline as they determine what their next course of action is.”

Lead pastor Scott Milller of the church told me, “We have not done anything new with our windows.”

Over the last 20 years or so, the church replaced 122 windows in the former high school without anybody complaining that the new vinyl sashes were not historically authentic or detracted from the appearace of this Albany landmark.

No one complained because no one looking at the building can tell the difference in material. To me, the old school looks as handsome in the evening sunshine this summer as it must have looked when it was remodeled and expanded almost 90 years ago. (hh)

8 responses to “A year later, what about new windows?”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    I was going to parody the city’s buffoonery here, but that is almost impossible.

    The ridiculousness is easy to portray. The amusement, not so much.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    Will the Ferry Street Building at 401 S.W. Second Ave get the same scrutiny? Why not?

  3. Kathy Rogers says:

    More bureaucratic bs…too interested in exercising power rather than accomplishing a goal

  4. centrist says:

    Did the commission “find a way” yet?
    Seems they have an order from the much-castigated gummint.

  5. Cheryl P says:

    This is why I will never own property in Albany.

    If the Albany Landmarks Commission wants xx windows, then they need to damn well pay for them or pay the difference.

  6. Tom says:

    If you buy any structure in a historical district you have to know that no vinyl windows were ever used in any structure . Stop trying to change the rules. If you don’t want to comply then sell it and move on . One more thing , the person selling the vinyl windows to a structure in a historical district should be fired for not doing his job correctly. Do your homework people before you make bad decisions.


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