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Conway church eyes repair grant

Recorder/Paul Franz
The United Congregational Church in Conway now has an improved roof with a small roof extension, to prevent snow from piling up along the edge of the building, and copper roof flashing. The tip of the steeple has also been replaced with copper to prevent water leakage and restore it to its historical character.

Recorder/Paul Franz The United Congregational Church in Conway now has an improved roof with a small roof extension, to prevent snow from piling up along the edge of the building, and copper roof flashing. The tip of the steeple has also been replaced with copper to prevent water leakage and restore it to its historical character.

CONWAY — The United Congregational Church will find out in two weeks whether it will get $37,000 of M and M Germain Trust Fund money for repairs.

Selectboard Chairman John O’Rourke was prepared on Monday to make a motion to provide up to $15,000 for bathroom renovations and up to $22,000 for ramp improvements as requested. But Selectboard members Rick Bean and Jim Moore wanted to meet one more time with the church leaders to get more information on the projects. The board agreed to put off the decision.

The church off Whately Road has been closed since November 2011 due to water leaks, damage and mold buildup brought on by Tropical Storm Irene. The bathroom improvements are required under state law and the ramp is aimed at making the historic church accessible to all members.

Church leaders believe their proposal falls under the trust’s purpose — to help pay for the rehabilitation of needy handicapped children.

To repair the damage and to make the church accessible, costs have climbed to $490,000. The church has relied on its endowment fund and private donations.

Janet Chayes, chairman of the Community Preservation Committee, asked the Selectboard to consider granting the money to the church. She said the church is also a community gathering spot, where many events are held. And the townspeople already indicated their support for the church repairs when they approved $100,000 in community preservation fund money in May 2012, Chayes said.

“Townspeople approved the money to help the church get back on its feet. I see this request as an extension of that,” Chayes said. “It seems to me they still need the money.”

Before pulling his motion, O’Rourke also suggested placing similar restrictions on the money as those placed on the $235,000 trust fund granted to the Conway Swimming Pool Committee.

Those conditions are that the funds be allocated as bills and presented to the Selectboard, and that before any improvement funds are allocated, an agreement must be reached by the Selectboard and church organization that any sale, transfer or change in use of the property would result in the immediate repayment in full of the trust fund money plus interest.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:

kmckiernan@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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