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District poised to sell Jansen building

By MICHAEL ANICH

The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Wednesday night approved the contract to sell the former Jansen Avenue Elementary School for $695,000 to a Gloversville church.

The board voted 8-0 at the Knox Building approved the contract for the sale of the 31,000-square-foot, former school’s real property located at 305 Jansen Ave. to Foothills United Methodist Church on Fremont Street in Gloversville.

The sale is not complete as it is subject to a public hearing and a public referendum.

Board member David D’Amore said the board’s Facilities Committee reviewed the proposed sale at a recent meeting.

“We moved on the offer,” D’Amore said. “It will require a public referendum.”

Superintendent William Crankshaw said he wasn’t sure exactly when the public vote on the sale of the Jansen Avenue will be, possibly August.

“It will be this summer,” he said.

Action by the board Wednesday followed a roughly 30-minute, closed door executive session.

The resolution passed by the board indicated the sale was “subject to an affirmative vote of the school district residents.” But it did authorize board President Christopher Tallon to execute the contract and any documents necessary to transfer title, and further approves the expenditure of any reasonable and customary fees to finalize the transfer.

The Johnstown school system closed the former Jansen Avenue Elementary School on June 30, 2009 due to declining enrollment and financial reasons, Since then, the district has tried to sell it, but to no avail. HFM BOCES had used the building for its P-TECH program for several years.

Foothills United Methodist Church at 17 Fremont St. is currently without a pastor. The previous pastor — Dr. Moon Ho Kim — retired and the church is currently awaiting the arrival of its new pastor later this summer.

But Art Schrum, chairman of the church’s Special Task Force Committee overseeing the sale, spoke this morning about some recent history of the church.

“The reason is we’ve been looking for a church,” Schrum said.

In 2005, he said the congregations of Fremont Street United Methodist Church (currently the Foothills building), the United Methodist Church of Gloversville and the First United Methodist Church in Johnstown were combined.

“We made a covenant at that point to build a new church,” he said.

Schrum said a new church was started with construction off Route 30A and Kingsboro Avenue is located, next to the current Burger King restaurant. But he said the project suffered a combination of unfortunate issues such as funds becoming low, the death of former Pastor Wayne Jones, and eventually the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point, he said the proposed project ballooned to $10 million.

“We bit off more than we could chew,” Schrum said.

Now, he said shell of that Route 30A structure is up for sale, Schrum said the Jansen Avenue building is about the same size as Foothills wanted to build on Route 30A. He said the church still has money leftover from when it sold Burger King its current property.

Schrum said Foothills even bid on the old Travers restaurant building, but lost out.

The plan now is to close the church building on Fremont Street and have the congregation worship at the Jansen building. No immediate renovation plans are in the works.

“We’re very fortunate to be moving to Jansen,” Schrum said.

Ideally, he said the Methodist “season” starts around the beginning of September, the timeframe the church would like to move to its proposed new Johnstown site.

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