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Johnstown church buys old YMCA building

December 26, 2013
By LEVI PASCHER The Leader-Herald , The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The St. John's Episcopal Church has purchased the former YMCA building in the city as a gift to the community as part of the holiday season, said the Rev. Laurie Garramone.

"The ribbon is actually up on the building right now," Garramone said.

The 16,270-square-foot building was purchased from Dr. George Regan of Gorham, N.H.

The brick building dates back to the late 19th century and at one time housed the local post office as well as the YMCA.

Both Garramone and Regan declined to divulge the selling price of the building.

Regan said he took a significant loss by selling the building to the church because he "never would have sold it to anyone else for that amount of money."

Garramone did say the total project, including purchase price and renovation, will be about $300,000.

"We were looking at ways to expand our church building," Garramone said. "We were trying to expand the building thinking that made the most sense. We weren't very excited to build onto a historic building so we were made aware there was a possibility that the YMCA would be coming up for sale."

She said the plans for the building will be to move the NOAH Community Meal Program that is held at the church on Sundays to the location, along with the food pantry and church offices.

Garramone said the NOAH program allows anyone in need of a hot meal to receive one at no cost; the program helps up to 600 people a month.

"Right now none of those things are handicap accessible, but the first floor of the Y building is and getting that level ready is our primary focus right now," Garramone said.

She said the name of the building has yet to be decided and she doesn't expect to move the offices over to the new building until September 2014.

"We are going to be starting a capital campaign," Garramone said. "In our business, we work on faith and we understand ministry involves risk. If we believe God is asking us to do an important, big thing, we are supposed to do that regardless of the fact that we might not have every detail figured out yet."

Garramone said the church will be inviting a lot of people into this project to make it a "true community building." She said she will look for help in funding from the local community as well as the possibility of grants.

The building, at 21 N. Market St., was shuttered when the Fulton County YMCA opened its new recreation facility on Harrison Street Extension in the town of Johnstown. That facility - a former Gates-Mills glove factory - combined operations of both the Gloversville and Johnstown branches of the YMCA.

The Johnstown branch of the Y was for decades a busy social center that offered fitness programs and facilities such as a swimming pool, a weight room and day care for preschool children - all of which are still available now at the new facility on Harrison Street Extension in the town.

The church is only the third owner in the building's history.

Regan bought the building on Dec. 5, 2008, from the Johnstown YMCA Association for $45,000.

Regan said he never officially put the building on the market, but he learned the church was interested. Talks about a potential sale began several months ago, he said.

"I couldn't think of a better group of people to sell the Y to because they are going to do some wonderful things in there," Regan said. "It's going to be great for the community, so my mission is accomplished."

Garramone said anyone looking to use the church's services or provide funding for the project can email her at or call the church office at 762-9210.



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