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Demolition awaits OK from state

February 23, 2009

GLOVERSVILLE - City officials are still waiting for the state to authorize the demolition of the First Baptist Church on South Main Street, officials said Monday.

The city was awarded a $534,000 Restore NY Communities grant in January 2008 to be put toward the demolition of the vacant and structurally unsound church at 59 S. Main St. Before the city can demolish the church and its attached office building, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation must give its approval, said city consultant Nick Zabawsky.

"They asked us for an updated engineering report back in December, which we gave them," he said. "They asked more questions. Everything has been answered. We're still waiting."

City officials are reluctant to take title of the church too soon before its demolition, fearing the potential liability of owning the decaying structure.

"Once we get approval, we'll have no problem taking ownership of the property," City Attorney John Clo said.

The demolition is estimated to cost more than $700,000, some of which will be offset by the sale of materials salvaged from the building. City officials have said the city's actual cost for the demolition will be between $100,000 and $200,000.

Community activists and developers John and Susan Casey have proposed building an apartment complex on the site after it is cleared.

Zabawsky said staffing issues at the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have caused some of the delay. The staff member Zabawsky had been working with left and another staffer took over, he said, which contributed to the delay.

Zabawsky said he hopes to hear from the state "any day now."

"We have a dangerous building that needs to come down," he said. "We will be sending a letter [to the state office] ... saying 'please get this done,'" he said.

Before the city can demolish the church, an asbestos abatement study must be done, Zabawsky said. He said while the study might be hampered by the cold weather, officials would be able to adapt to it in order to get the process moving along.

Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at



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