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Morristown inches ahead with plans to renovate old parish center for new town hall

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MORRISTOWN — The town is moving forward cautiously with plans to purchase and renovate the St. John’s Parish Center at 500 Morris St. to use as a new town hall.

Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman said the town hasn’t talked pricing with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, which owns the building, but the first step for the town will be to determine if the building is suitable for its needs.

The Rev. Jay W. Seymour, pastor of St. John’s, could not be reached for comment.

Father Seymour said previously that the church is considering buying the former United Methodist Church building at 502 Gouverneur St. to use as a new parish center. He said the church would not purchase the new building without putting the current one up for sale.

The former United Methodist Church is being sold for $130,100.

Mr. Putman said the town is talking with engineer Karl O. Bender, Gouverneur, to see how much it would cost to overhaul the parish center to make it suitable for use as a town hall. Mr. Putman said that Mr. Bender will do a walk-through of the building in the coming weeks to determine how much an engineering study would cost.

“We haven’t actually gotten anything concrete,” Mr. Putman said.

He said a number of hurdles would have to be cleared before a purchase could be completed.

“There’s not been any talk of a price,” he said.

In particular, Mr. Putman said, Morristown Code Enforcement Officer Christopher J. Sherwin believes there may be asbestos in the floor tiles of the building, an issue that could greatly increase the cost of renovation.

Several years ago, Mr. Putman said, the town was considering building a new town hall building to replace the aging, converted residential dwelling it now occupies.

But with construction estimated “in the millions” Mr. Putman said, “It’s not something that we would take on because it’s not something that we would want to saddle the taxpayers with.”

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