A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Old church prompts yet more council talk

Written June 10th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

I was watching the Wednesday night council meeting at a safe and far remove.

The Albany City Council wants to get rid of the historic former Cumberland Presbyterian Church but is having a hard time getting it done, as Wednesday’s council discussion showed again.

A nonprofit community group, the Cumberland Community Event Center, wants to acquire the building and move it from Santiam and Main, where it has sat since 1892, to a site a few hundred feet away at Santiam and Pine. The group needs money to buy the city-owned site. But to raise the money, it needs first to secure the site — a classic Catch 22.

After a long discussion, the council Wednesday offered the nonprofit an option to buy the site in 100 days, but that will have to come up before the council in written form, probably in four weeks. Meanwhile, the council voted 4-2, to force the nonprofit to pay utilities and other expenses, which weren’t specified, at the old church, which the group cleaned up and has been using for events.

The meeting was available on YouTube, where I watched it, but the picture never showed the three councilors — Kellum and the two Johnsons — who engaged in much of the discussion, so I found it hard to follow.

The council had before it but did not follow a staff proposal for a complicated plan to convey the Santiam/Pine site to the nonprofit. It also received an update on the group’s plans, but the drawings shown on screens in the council chamber did not appear online.

The group hopes to move the church by March 2021, then spend two years to fix it and build an addition next to it, and open it by the summer of 2023.

Nobody mentioned that moving the church will require approval of the Albany Landmarks Commission, which might be a good idea to obtain before they buy the land to move it to. (hh)

Wednesday’s meeting looked like this on my Chromebook.


4 responses to “Old church prompts yet more council talk”

  1. Rick says:

    So, the plan is to give away a building to a business and “lease” to that business two of three lots In a industrial/commercial area with full lease payments credited towards a below market purchase. And “we” are doing this for a business that has $50,000 designated to the purpose. And the benefit to the city is eight hours of usage, without providing any new jobs to the community. There might a few commercial firms that would be interest in that kind of deal. Perhaps those commercial lots could be sold at a higher financial value?

    • Dick Olsen says:

      “ The group” mentioned in Hasso’s report is hardly a big money business as you seem to assume. It’s an assemblage of mostly neighbors who are trying desperately to keep the City (Kellum Sykes and Johnson) from destroying their local land-mark. They hope to move the Church and make it a neighborhood social center. I see it as a much needed upgrade to this relatively down-at-the-heel part of town.

      I wish them well and hope the City would help rather than hinder their efforts. It should be realized that this is an extremely difficult time to have money raising events with the COVID virus interrupting and in many cases damaging our social and physical lives.

  2. hj.anony1 says:

    “Kellum and the two Johnsons”

    Hasso, did you type that with a straight face? Please say “No”
    Sounds like a really bad comedy streamed straight to your TV via ISP.

    Re-reading your post with that in mind. LOL!

  3. Marty says:

    Why not leave the church where it is, fix it up and pay the city a monthly fee (to be determined, based on the non-profits finances). There would not be any moving expenses or land expenses involved and therefor more of the money raised could go for monthly payments and improvements to/for the church.


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