WAGRAM –It may take divine intervention to help Wagram officials figure out what to do with a vacant church that some say poses a safety hazard.
The Wagram Town Board discussed the future of the former Joy of Faith Church at its regular monthly meeting last week
Commissioner Robert McLaughlin brought up the issue of a blighted building on the corner of Main and Bundy streets. The structure has been empty since a car rammed the building rendering it unsafe for use several years ago.
“It’s a safety hazard … especially if a good strong storm came up from the east,” McLaughlin said.
Mayor Milton Farmer asked who would be liable if the building were to fall on someone.
Town Clerk Phyllis Lowery told the board that the building was still in the church’s name.
Several options to remedy the situation were discussed including having the building foreclosed on for lack of payment on taxes and reaching out to the church board, but no clear course of action was decided on.
Lowery said no taxes are currently owed on the building because it is listed as a church, but it is possible for the city to begin taxing the property since it is not currently being used in that way. The process would take several years to allow unpaid taxes to accumulate and go through foreclosure proceedings. according to Lowery.
“So in other words, we’re between a rock and a hard place,” Farmer said.
Joy of Faith Church representatives did not attend the meeting and could not be reached for comment.
In other business, the board reviewed beautification work being done on town streets as a result of a grant provided by Lumber River Council of Governments.
The Workforce Development National Dislocated Worker program awarded funds to Wagram to assist with Hurricane Matthew cleanup efforts. A two-man crew hired by the town has cleaned and edged the city’s sidewalks, removed debris around town and tended to other beautification and cleanup needs.
Commissioners also voted to spend $5,000 out of the street maintenance budget to hire a crew to trim low hanging tree branches on 2nd Street and clear ditches with a bush hog. The crew will perform work that Wagram’s regular maintenance crew is not equipped to do.
In other business, the board voted to spend $450 to replace the electric meter on the old town hall to accommodate Patricia Monely who plans to move her florist shop there from its current location on Main Street. The meter was removed because the building stood vacant for a time.
The board decided to hold a regular budget and planning session at the town hall on Apr. 11 at 3 p.m.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169