December 8, 2021

Bids for repairs on Homer church come in too steep

Kevin Conlon/city editor

The village of Homer is considering its options after bids came in higher than expected for renovations to the former church on the Village Green that the village purchased.

The Homer Village Board of Trustees is seeking ideas from residents as it looks at ways to get work done at the Little White Church Community Center after bids came back too high — nearly four times what the village budgeted.

“The prices that we got are just ludicrous,” said Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe.

The state approved the village taking ownership of the building in 2018. The village acquired it at no cost from the PCA Church New Hope Presbyterian of Vestal, but had to sign a 99-year lease for $1 for the land with the First Religious Society of Homer. The village also agreed to pay legal fees.

The building was in much need of repair, including a wall that Clerk Dan Egnor said was “crumbling” and stairs that needed to be rebuilt.

The village is looking to make it into a community center for plays, concerts, weddings and other events, with the eventuality that a nonprofit would take it over.

Share an idea

Mail: Homer Village Clerk, 31 N. Main St., Homer
Email: Call: Clerk Dan Egnor at 607-749-3322

There is no set date on sending input, however, Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe said to send ideas as soon as possible.

To get the building open for use, the village was looking to have some work done, though. The work included:

  • Repairing the church north wall and east porch.
  • Repairing the west porch and ramp.
  • Adding bathroom facilities.
  • Fixing the church entry steps.
  • Installing a kitchen.

The work would have been paid for using $85,000 from a state grant for community development. However, after getting bids back, McCabe said the village would have enough funds to complete only a third of the planned work.

Three bids came in for the project. McPhersons Builders Inc., of Ithaca, said it could do the work for $294,727; W.L. Kline Inc., of Cortland, bid $386,000 and McGinnis Nelson Construction Inc. bid $387,000.

Trustee Ed Finkbeiner suggested donating the church to a nonprofit organization and then the village would put money toward the renovations.

“If that’s legal,” Finkbeiner said. “That way, you could get more done without the prevailing rates.”

McCabe said it was an interesting idea, but was concerned about handing the property over because the village wouldn’t necessarily have control over what’s done with the facility.

“It makes me a little nervous about what could happen with it,” he said.

Finkbeiner also said that his understanding was that the building wasn’t going to be owned by the village forever.

“I mean I always thought the idea was to get it up, get the community to use it and then get a nonprofit and the community to operate it somehow,” he said.

McCabe said the idea would need to be investigated more and discussed with the village attorney. Village Attorney Dante Armideo was at the meeting but didn’t comment on the subject.

Finkbeiner also suggested seeing if the village could do a Habitat for Humanity project with the building.

“As much as I hate for it to sit, we’re not really able to use it either right now,” McCabe said.

Discussion on the topic will likely be brought up at the board’s Oct. 13 meeting, although a solution is unlikely, McCabe said in an email after the meeting.

“We stepped up and took control of the building because it is so historically significant to the Village of Homer, and were not aware of any other organization or individual who had both the desire and the financial means to do so,” he said. “We will continue to try and figure out a solution to this, but one thing I will not do is put the burden of this on our taxpayers. They pay enough already, so we need to come up with some creative solutions now.”