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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Old church’s fate still undecided

Written June 11th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

The Main Street side of the former church the way it looked in July 2017.

If anybody wants to move and preserve Albany’s former Cumberland Presbyterian Church, better speak up now and have a plan to come up with the money to do so. The city of Albany isn’t going to do it because four council members, a majority, are opposed.

Parts of the church including the steeple date from 1892. The center section was added later. The building has been in city ownership since the council bought it for $150,000 in 2000 for a street project, for which it ended up not being needed when the plans changed.

For years the council and various city officials have wrestled with what to do with the deteriorating building. On Monday afternoon, the council tackled the question once again.

The upshot: Parks Director Ed Hodney was directed to explore whether there’s a potential buyer. The goal would be to negotiate something “to take the church off our hands and free the property for sale,” in Hodney’s words. He’ll report back to the council in two weeks.

Council members Rich Kellum, Mike Sykes, Bill Coburn, and Bessie Johnson are opposed to an idea that emerged from a mayor’s work group last year. That was to have the city move the building to a city-owned parcel next to the Albany Skatepark near Hackleman Park. Then, the idea was to try to raise money to revive the old structure as a community center.

The four have various reasons, mostly that the city shouldn’t spend the money because it has many other pressing needs.

Council members Ray Kopczynski and Dick Olsen and Mayor Sharon Konopa would like to follow through with the move option, using urban renewal funds. They got nowhere on Monday.

If you’re interested in exactly what everybody said, listen to the audio recording when it becomes available at cityofalbany.net, probably later on Tuesday.

The council work session drew an audience of about two dozen people from the neighborhood of the old church, favoring the move and conversion of the building. There was mention of a petition in favor of this, with some 400 signatures.

One of the possibilities: The neighborhood group could become organized and raise the money for the move and conversion. That’s one of the avenues Hodney will likely explore. (hh)

 

 

 



15 responses to “Old church’s fate still undecided”

  1. Doug Klinkebiel says:

    The city can’t even fix its own streets but some on the council want to scrounge money for this? As someone who lives on 5th, I go up to second when my destination is east. And it has nothing to do with a one-way without stop signs. It has everything to do with not wanting to pay for a wheel alignment. Get your priorities straight, Albany. Then you’ll have the peoples support.

  2. Avid Reader says:

    Save the church! CARA can pay to move the church, rather than wasting the taxpayer’s money on downtown beautification.

  3. Vicki says:

    I feel like a meany telling avid reader that the Easter bunny does not exist. Cara money is tax payer money.

  4. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “If you’re interested in exactly what everybody said, listen to the audio recording when it becomes available at cityofalbany.net, probably later on Tuesday.”

    Here:
    https://www.cityofalbany.net/images/stories/citycouncil/archive/2018/ws_20180611_aud.mp3

  5. Dick Olsen says:

    Avid Reader is correct. CARA has plenty of bond money to give or lend so the historic church can be moved to the City’s vacant lot by Eleanor Hackleman park. When the restored church building is located in an attractive setting, it will raise the taxable value of the surrounding neighborhood and the borrowed bond money will be repaid through the increased tax increment. The vacant corner lot can then be sold and the money returned to the street fund. Urban Renewal “CARA” bond money can’t be used for fixing 5th so it will have to wait it’s turn. I hoped our modest gas tax proposal would pass and we would have more money to spend on fixing streets.

    • Bryan says:

      Do you have actual real numbers to back this statement up? How much will it cost to move? How much will it increase the value of neighboring properties? Do those people want thier taxes raised? How long will it take to make that money back? I assume the return on investment will take into account what it will cost to renovate then maintain the church and property yearly?

  6. hj.anony1 says:

    Too bad the vote was not unanimous. Also too bad B Johnson, the lone NO vote, doesn’t realize there would be no $$$ left to hand back to the city after reclamation of said precious lumber by said private entity. LOL …..

  7. Gothic Albany says:

    It seems only fitting to use CARA money help move and save this wonderful building, thereby investing in the future by increasing assessed tax value while at the same time preserving the past.

  8. Dick Olsen says:

    As to Bryan’s questions, I hear estimates between $60,000 and $70,000 to move the church from Main St. to the vacant lot bordered by Santiam, 6th Ave, and Pine St. Tax increases to pay back CARA happen when major improvements or new construction occurs in the Urban Renewal area. Most people are pleased when the value of their property increase, particularly if they are in the mood to sell. Albany is growing. We own the lot, we own the building, we can use a building of this size. My experience with old buildings, including my 1888 house is that they are designed to shed water and endure. Most of it’s 130 yr old windows are still there and work fine.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Please notice that Councilor Olsen doesn’t really answer Bryan’s questions. This is typical for CARA. Lots of guesses and lies, very few verifiable facts.

      1. Do you have actual real numbers to back this statement up? How much will it cost to move?
      “I hear estimates” means nothing.
      2. How much will it increase the value of neighboring properties? Do those people want thier taxes raised?
      “Most people are pleased when the value of their property increase, particularly if they are in the mood to sell.”
      What a crock. The percentage of people in this neighborhood “in the mood to sell” is extremely small judging by the listings on realtor.com. Most property owners who live in their homes do so without the expectation to sell. It’s a home to most people, not an asset to make money.
      3. How long will it take to make that money back? I assume the return on investment will take into account what it will cost to renovate then maintain the church and property yearly?
      Councilor Olsen chooses to ignore these legitimate questions. Why? Because when the building and lot are non-tax producing, the payback period of this type of CARA “investment” approaches infinity.
      4. Councilor Olsen does say the city owns the lot and church. This means the property will not be taxed. But Councilor Olsen seems pleased that neighboring private properties will experience increased property taxes to justify this “investment.” Of course, he offers no numbers to support his assertion, but that is typical of CARA. Their primary concern is spending, preferably with local cronies who line up at the trough with their hands out, palm up.

    • Bryan says:

      Sounds like answers from a real politician. Based on your answers I say sell the building for scrap and sell the lot.
      I’ve never understood moving historical buildings, once its moved from its original location the history is lost.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        You mean like the Monteith House, etc?

        • hj.anony1 says:

          Good point Mr. K. Precedent set. Save the land, move the structure!

          “…a Starbucks on every corner….” — said by someone joking somewhere

  9. Dick Olsen says:

    Maybe Shadle can tell me exactly how much he will spend for groceries next year. He can probably make a fair estimate, but, it also probably depends on how much baloney he eats.
    Private properties will see tax increases only if improvements to that particular property are large enough to trigger a visit from the tax assessor.

  10. Rich Kellum says:

    So if there is no increase in taxes to the local properties due to CARA operations, then all the increase in value in the CARA district is due to other market forces and inflation. Which means that there is no legitimate TIF. Which has been my issue with CARA style funding from the start. Everybody pays more for more expensive services and labor because the TIF is taken out of the system…..

 

 
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