GLENVILLE – Of the 30 plus residents that attended a neighborhood meeting Tuesday evening regarding the vacant Mekeel Christian Academy building at 50 Cypress Drive, several agreed that more communication between the town, the school and the neighborhood is needed.
The meeting was held after many residents raised concerns with the town about the defunct school, which has seen damage from people breaking into it.
In 2016 Mekeel purchased the building from the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District for $535,000. The property is assessed at almost $1.3 million, according to 2021 assessment rolls.
When the school bought the building in 2016 headmaster Chad Bowman spoke to residents about how it would be used.
“This is the first conversation we’ve had since then,” said Steve Janack.
He said not hearing from Mekeel or the town on what’s happening breeds some of the concern.
“We don’t know what’s going on because we don’t hear anything, we don’t see anything,” he said.
Janack suggested forming a group with a liaison to communicate any news from the town or Mekeel to neighbors.
Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said there is already a committee that covers that neighborhood that could be used as a way to communicate what is happening with the building.
During the meeting residents were also able to get an update on what actions have been taken and what resolutions the town and Mekeel are looking at regarding the property.
Bowman said the goal is to demolish the building. That will cost roughly $1.5 million, said Melissa Cherubin, the town’s community planning director.
“There’s all sorts of expenses and costs,” she said.
She said the town is currently looking at what grant opportunities might exist, but it’s limited and everything comes with stipulations attached.
Bowman said there is no budget for the demolition of the building.
One resident asked if federal funding from the recent COVID stimulus bill could be used. Koetzle said the town has not received the money yet and there are stipulations for how it can be spent.
Of the other updates, Bowman said there is a developer, with an engineer and builder in place, looking to build multiple single-family homes on the site. That developer, he said, is awaiting test results on whether septic can be installed. Sewer is not a feasible option at the site, Koetzle said.
Bowman said the developer has to have demolition accounted for in their plan.
In the meantime, Bowman said it’s extremely difficult to secure the building. Mekeel spent $40,000 to put up a fence around the building, but people drove over it. Glenville police Sgt. Casey Greene said in the past five years the police have done 170 property checks on the building – perhaps more because some officers may not have noted them.
“As long as I’ve been on, that property has been an issue,” the nine-year veteran officer said.
Bowman said if people see others who shouldn’t be on the property they should call the police. He reiterated to residents that no matter what happens there is no quick fix solution for the building.
“It takes time,” he said.