Now that an Albany work group has recommended where the old Main Street church should be moved and partially restored, the hard part of this venture begins: Designing the new site and coming up with the money.
Mayor Sharon Konopa told the city council Monday that the work group she formed had reached its recommendation for the move when it met at noon. She suggested, and the council didn’t object, that the city staff come back to the council with some “funding options.”
The mayor formed the work group to study moving and restoring the former Cumberland Presbyterian Church, built in 1892 at Santiam Road and Main Street. The panel agreed the old church — including, if feasible, the center portion added later — should become a community center on city-owned land near Hackleman Park and the city’s skatepark. (In earlier discussions, the idea was to move only the original parts dating to 1892. But Konopa said Monday’s motion included the center portion, reportedly dating from the 1920s, if possible.)
One estimate weeks ago was that moving the church to a Water Avenue site and restoring it there would cost around $360,000. The Hackleman move, two-tenths of a mile up Santiam Road, might cost less.
Using CARA or urban renewal money is one alternative. Councilman Mike Sykes, among others, is not enthusiastic about using tax funds for the move or restoration. If the city can’t fix the streets it should not spend money on this project, in his opinion. He favors the project but would like it to be paid for through donations the way some other Albany projects, including the new YMCA, got done.
Meanwhile, the work group is considering where the Albany Post Office might be enticed to move. Konopa said Monday one possibility is still the former Safeway store at Calapooia Street and Pacific Boulevard. Others whose owners she has yet to contact are elsewhere along Pacific, on the highway’s north side. The mayor is waiting to talk to the Albany postmaster about a possible move until she has identified definite sites. (hh)
The story has been edited based on the mayor’s statement, on Facebook, that the work group’s motion to move the church was to include the center portion if possible.