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Public hearing on church building next week

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

A public hearing will be held Sept. 14 to gather public comment on a proposal to purchase and convert Grace United Methodist Church into a new town hall. File photo

COEYMANS — The town council will hold a public hearing Sept. 14 to gauge community reaction to the option of purchasing and converting the Grace United Methodist Church building into a new town hall.

The current town hall building on Russell Avenue is plagued by mold, water infiltration and other issues, and officials are looking to either renovate the existing structure or purchase a new building to relocate town offices.

Last year, the town council voted to build a new town hall on the current site at a price tag of up to $7 million, but a petition signed by a sufficient number of residents forced a permissive referendum and the measure was defeated at the polls in November 2022.

So, the town has been looking at other options.

Grace United Methodist Church is one option that has been put on the table. The building was put up for sale in May and has an asking price of $549,000, according to the New York State Multiple Listing Service.

The building is in need of substantial repairs that are roughly estimated at $4 million, Town Supervisor George McHugh said in August, including renovations to its roof and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, system.

The building may be an option, McHugh said at the Aug. 24 meeting of the town council.

“The Grace UMC is for sale and it’s approximately 14,000 square feet,” McHugh said. “It could be a potential location for a town hall building. Although we are not obligated to have a public hearing, I think it is wise and prudent to have a public hearing to get feedback from the public on whether or not we should purchase that property as a site for a future town hall building.”

The building is a couple of thousand square feet larger than the structure the town originally planned to construct. Most of the building is compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, with the exception of the bathrooms, which would have to be renovated.

Several residents in the neighborhood where the church is located have voiced concerns that relocating the town hall to 16 Hillcrest Road would draw traffic and noise to a quiet neighborhood and prove a disturbance.

The informal public hearing will be on Sept. 14, beginning at 6 p.m., at Coeymans Town Hall, 18 Russell Ave., Ravena.

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