Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa has an idea for the historic Cumberland Presbyterian Church: Move it away from the corner of Santiam Road and Main Street, where it was built in 1892.
There’s another Albany building the mayor would like to change addresses. She thinks the post office should find another home, away from the city block across First Avenue from the new Albany Carousel. She’s sure that once the carousel is finished and operating, the post office would like to be somewhere else.
Konopa mentioned both moving ideas to the other members of the city council at the end of Monday’s work session, saying she planned to work on both projects in the coming months and did not want the council to feel blindsided. In an email later she told me: “These are just a couple projects that I know citizens seem to want accomplished in the community also.”
For the old church, which the city bought for a street project in 2000 for $150,000 but has since declared surplus, Konopa says one possible new site is city-owned property near the Albany Skate Park off Santiam Road. She’s also thinking of another place but needs to check on it further before talking about it in public.
The public works department had planned this month to issue a request for proposals from people interested in taking the old church off the city’s hands. But Chris Bailey, director of public works operations, said preparation of the request had been pushed back to February, and the mayor’s plan now adds a new wrinkle.
As for the post office, the mayor says she’d like to identify other sites before approaching the Postal Service. But she thinks one good spot would be the long-vacant former Safeway store at Calapooia Street and Pacific Boulevard. She had heard a rumor that the building, where roofing repairs were done in 2016, might find a use as a fitness center. But a post office would be of greater use to the general public, because of the ample parking if nothing else. Parking at the post office is often cramped, especially now that streets around it have been torn up.
Whether anything comes of either of these moves, nobody knows. But expect the mayor to give them a shot. (hh)