A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Long saga’s next step: Fill the hole and sell it

Written October 23rd, 2021 by Hasso Hering

After the old Cumberland Presbyterian Church was moved, the basement looked like this on Oct. 20.

Having gotten rid of the old Cumberland Church by giving it to a nonprofit that paid to get it moved away, the city of Albany now has to deal with the hole that was left behind.

The city will have to demolish what’s left of the concrete basement walls — or leave them in place — and then fill the remaining space. “We are working on the plan for that now,” Public Works Director Chris  Bailey told me on Friday.

Then, she said, the plan is to sell the lot because the city has no use for it.

During the discussions over the last two or three years about how to dispose of the old church, Baldwin General Contracting Inc. had been mentioned as a possible buyer of the property once the building was moved away. The construction company has its headquarters next door on Santiam Road, where some years ago it converted an abandoned thrift store into a handsome modern building.

Bailey said that Yohn Baldwin, president of the company, contacted her and may be interested. But, she said, the city does not yet have plans for the sale.

She’s working to get the hole filled first. “Once we are ready to sell it, we will talk to the council about how they would like us to accomplish that.”

The cost, if any, of filling the hole is still unknown. “We are going to try to do the work ourselves if we can,” Bailey said in an email, “and I don’t have the details yet.”

The city bought the former church property at 401 Main St. S.E., at the corner of Main and Santiam Road, in 2000 for $150,000, intending to use it for a Main Street expansion project. Then the project was redesigned, and the property became surplus, a 20-year millstone around the city’s neck, a historic structure getting more dilapidated as the years went by.  (hh)



14 responses to “Long saga’s next step: Fill the hole and sell it”

  1. Al nyman says:

    The new transportation facility being built in Millersburg just gave away delivered enough dirt to cover the lot to 300′. Of course nobody in the city was aware of free fill.

    • Bob Woods says:

      “Free fill” doesn’t do much good with an old church stranded on the property until a week ago.

      • Al Nyman says:

        I suppose they couldn’t have put in their request for the number of yards needed to fill the hole and had it set aside for them. Really Bob-sometimes your logic escapes me. My neighbor out by the Buena Vista ferry got at least a 100 truck loads or more delivered for absolutely nothing.

  2. Bill Higby says:

    Filling the hole without removing the basement cement is not a good idea, but Yon Baldwin would be better able to address that.

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    …..”The city bought the former church property at 401 Main St. S.E., at the corner of Main and Santiam Road, in 2000 for $150,000, intending to use it for a Main Street expansion project. Then the project was redesigned, and the property became surplus, a 20-year millstone around the city’s neck,”……….

    How many more useless, non tax generating, properties does the City own?

    • Sherri says:

      Bill ~ the county bought property near I-5 / Hwy. 34
      many years ago with the idea of putting in a park of some kind for a renaissance fair event and paid 1 million and the property is still being farmed and has never been developed ~ talk about wasted money
      Government politics

      • Ghost of Tom Monteith says:

        Sherri, don’t upset the same half-dozen old farts that live just for Hasso’s comment section. City always = bad decisions, stupid employees, waste everywhere. Don’t try to rock their boat. Can’t wait to get that old and miserable in a few more decades. Hopefully this blog is still around so I can wax poetic like these guys.

    • JK says:

      If a city doesn’t have ANY property that is sitting unused, I would say they are unprepared for the future. We will need additional buildings, storage, parking, parks, or ???. Cities can not, do not, nor should they, make every decision based on the bottom line of the financials. Having those properties may allow them to rapidly build a school, or store supplies and equipment for an upcoming or emergency project. It also gives a city the ability to lease or sell it for needed housing or employer development.

      I am sure Our city council has made some decisions that look terrible in hind-sight. We can and should question them when do. We should not re-elect the ones who do so with frequency. But I don’t think the city owning some non tax generating, properties is useless, or a problem.

      Hasso – Do you know of an online site listing of the city’s property. Maybe we should have a debate about if it is -too much? -too little? -well or poorly located for predicted needs?

      • Hasso Hering says:

        I don’t know of such an inventory, but the city may have one. I vaguely remember one of the council members asking for such a list some years ago during budget deliberations.

        • Gordon L. Shadle says:

          Where’s Ray K when you need him?

          The inventory exists. It just needs to be shared, but only if it’s politically expedient. Apparently it is not.

  4. GregB says:

    New Bicycle, Hasso?

  5. Rich Kellum says:

    Typical of Government thought process, talk to Baldwin FIRST, who does excavations, the city or a construction company, figure out what will go there and then while you are excavating for that, fill in whatever needs filled in….

    • George Pugh says:

      Precisely !
      Unless the city has engineers and equipment operators siting around waiting for an assignment, I’m not sure why they would want to involve themselves in filling a hole. Can they do it as professional, efficiently and as cost effectively as a commercial operator ?
      Besides, a potential bidder on the property might want a basement or a hole for some reason. Why shallow up the buyer pool?
      Time is money. Cut the loses, get it on the tax rolls and avoid potential of future liability for fill failure.
      This might have a faster pay-back than some of the CARA projects.


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