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City closer to razing old church

July 30, 2010
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Next week, the city will seek bids for the demolition of the First Baptist Church on South Main Street, and officials expect the demolition to occur before year's end.

City grant writer Nick Zabawsky, who has been overseeing the demolition project, said the city will begin seeking bids for the project starting next week. The project is expected to cost around $700,000.

Zabawsky said once the 30-day bid process is up, the winning bidder will begin planning the demolition. The planning likely will take months, given the scope and potential risks of the project, he said.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Kayleigh Karutis

The vacant Baptist church on South Main Street in Gloversville, shown this morning, will be demolished, city officials say.

"It's going to happen this year," he said.

The deteriorating structure, built in 1890, has been vacant for years and has been considered for demolition since 2007. A grant awarded in 2008 for about $434,000 will cover part of the cost, but the city will have to cover the rest. The city will need to borrow through bonding for the entire cost of the project, but will be reimbursed $434,000 after the project is completed and the state signs off on the work, he said.

Zabawsky said he hopes the cost will come in at less than $700,000, but it's impossible to know for sure.

"I'm still thinking the industry is in a soft spot right now," he said. "The salvageable materials in the building might help."

The winning bidder will have the right to salvage and sell the materials in the aging structure, Zabawsky said. He said some of the stone and other materials could be recycled. The amount of salvageable materials could play a part in how companies plan their bids, he said.

Demolishing the structure will be complicated, Zabawsky said. The streets surrounding the building likely will be closed, and measures must be taken to protect adjacent properties, he said.

Because of the arched style of the building, taking it down will be difficult and potentially dangerous, he said.

"It's a messy business no matter how careful you are," he said. "The high-arch construction is difficult because once you take out one piece, the whole thing comes down. It's not a normal building demolition."

Mayor Dayton King said he's glad the project is moving forward. He said he recently heard about another church in the Capital Region collapsing, and he wants to avoid that scenario.

Second Ward Councilman John Castiglione said while he is sad to see the historic structure taken down, demolishing it is the only feasible option.

"It's sad that another part of the history of Gloversville will be eliminated, but it's now become a hazard to the people walking by it every day," he said. "Things are falling off of it. It's something we have to deal with."

Castiglione said there are several other vacant or abandoned churches in the city and said he hopes the city does not become involved in another matter involving a dangerous and abandoned church that must be taken down.

"As for some of these churches that aren't being used, I hope they are able to sell them and avoid the same problem," he said.

City officials had explored the possibility of restoring the structure, but abandoned that idea when it became clear the cost of restoring it would be far beyond what the city could afford or any potential grant could cover.

Some people expressed skepticism the structure could be repaired at all, considering the scope of the damage. Archival photos and a record of the history of the building have been taken.

Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at



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