By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
An Albany drug treatment not-for-profit wants to buy the First Baptist Church of Glens Falls at 100 Maple Street and open an in-patient opioid treatment center there, The Chronicle has learned.
The financially hard-pressed church congregation has voted to pursue the sale.
“The time is right for the culture, for the community, and for the church,” Pastor Stephanie Schneider told The Chronicle Monday. “This would give the church a beautiful legacy…It’s something we desperately need in our community. The addiction crisis is real, and having access to in-patient treatment an hour north of Albany would help treat people closer to home.”
Rev. Schneider said the as yet unidentified organization would buy the church property, which is assessed at $1.385-million, then lease the sanctuary back to the church and use the attached two-story church school building as in-patient treatment for people with opioid addiction and other substance abuse issues.
“There is no contract yet,” Rev. Schneider said. “There was a vote of the members to list the building for sale. We couldn’t do this without their blessing.”
She emphasized that it would be in-patient treatment, with full-time security and patients living on-site for a month or more.
Bill Lavery, a Coldwell Banker Prime Properties agent and a member of the church, will list the property, she said.
“The listing is a formality,” Rev. Schneider said. “Once it’s listed, the company will do a feasibility study to make sure it is right for them, and then we would sit down and negotiate what the terms would be.”
The interested buyer would then have to sit down with City leaders about their plan, she said.
“We are not naive,” set said. “The potential new owners would have to talk about zoning.”
Rev. Schneider, who has led the church for 13 months, said her financial analysis is that the church would be forced to dissolve in 3-5 years if something isn’t done.
She said an average of 30 people, mostly seniors, attend services each Sunday.
Rev. Schneider said about a third of the church’s income goes to maintenance, upkeep, repairs and utilities.
“That’s money we could be using helping people who are hungry, people who are living in darkness,” she said.
“So I asked the trustees at a meeting in May, what if we didn’t own the building? We decided to see what it would take.
“We approached some brokers, and within a week, someone was interested in buying the building. That was definitely a God thing.”
Next was a walk-through with the interested company, which she said was also looking at another property at the time.
“But First Baptist seems to be a better fit,” she said.
“On the walk-through, we were in the sanctuary and I said, ‘What are you going to do with this huge space? Would you be willing to lease it back to us?’ And they said they would be willing to do that.
“…They love the kitchen, which would allow them to make meals on-site. And they are excited about the thrift store being there. They see it as a place where residents could volunteer, not leave the building, and get work experience.”
The church currently leases some space in the school building to ARC, she said.
“As a church, we’re excited about it,” Rev. Schneider said. “My job is to love people. These people will have left their support systems, and we already host AlAnon and AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings. The potential buyer is excited about that.
“The patients would be welcomed into the church. If someone was asking spiritual questions and need to talk to someone, I consider that a part of my job.”
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