October 26, 2021

Homer in need of estimates on church

Board awaiting roof, foundation costs

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.

Work has stalled on repairing the roof to the Little White Church on Homer’s village green because few people are willing to do estimates for the work on the 188-year-old structure.

“There are a few leaks in the roof but we don’t know the extent of it because we haven’t been able to get anyone up there to give us an estimate yet,” Homer Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe said Tuesday evening during a Homer Village Board meeting.

The roof work and foundation repair were two of the major projects the village needs to complete to keep the building standing. It had previously sought bids on a number of repairs it wanted to make to the church but the bids came back too high, nearly four times more than what the village was ready to pay.

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. Those bids included other items like putting in a bathroom and kitchen.

The state approved the Homer 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.

It plans to turn the church into the Little White Church Community Center to be used for village events, community plays or even weddings in the future, with a goal of eventually handing ownership over to a nonprofit.

Trustee Ed Finkbeiner said the roof is in dire need of repair as it leaks and is unstable.

“The roof is pretty old,” he said. “It sags 12 inches on the south side, so you start straight and it goes down 12 inches. That whole roof inside could fall down if we don’t fix the leaks on the roof because it’s all wet.”

One of the walls also has a major problem with its foundation, McCabe said.

However, McCabe said a company is coming to give the village an estimate for the foundation repair on Dec. 15 and the plans to call another to see if it can get another estimate.

The village board also voted unanimously to authorize the Department of Public Works to rent an auger to dig holes to install a new sign for the center.

But Finkbeiner questioned why install the signs now if the village had no estimates to see if it could afford to fix the building.