OSWEGO, NY – A long road to finding expanded space for the Oswego Salvation Army was completed recently with the ArmyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s purchase of the former New York State Labor Department building (previously home to the Super Duper grocery store) on West Second Street.
The move will allow the organization to better serve growing community needs and leaves their soon-to-be former home at 85 W. Third St. open to new possibilities.
Oswego Salvation Army board member and local real estate investor Ned Waterbury sees great potential in the long-time Army home.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe building is a very sound structure, has been well-maintained and is a good address for many businesses.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Waterbury said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt has a spacious, open floor plan including a large kitchen. ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a real time and money saver for development of the property, making possible a quick renovation for a variety of uses such as a small church, day care center, physicianÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s office, real estate business, dance studio.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
A major asset is the look and feel of a quiet residential area while offering the convenience of being located just off Bridge Street.
With two adjacent vacant parcels, such properties are uncommon in Oswego.
The local Salvation Army has been in search of a new home for many years as the need for services in the community has eclipsed the space available to provide those services.
Over the past seven years, the need for services has increased expedientially according to Oswego Salvation Army Captain Kenneth Hayes.
When he took over in 2000, the Army in Oswego served anywhere between 700 – 1,200 meals a month.
Today, they serve about 2,100 meals a month.
Captain Hayes also states that the number of families served by the ArmyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s food pantry has doubled in that time to about 120.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe have been in need of additional space for quite some time,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe number of people we serve has been on a steady increase since my arrival. We are now serving seven days a week.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
With the purchase of the new building, the first steps are being taken to allow the local Salvation Army to better meet the communityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s needs after a long road of planning and searching.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œSince 1999 we have looked at several plans to expand our existing facility that never really suited our needs or potential,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Captain Hayes. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThis new building is a much better fit for the Army. It accommodates what we do now and what we want to do in the future. This move also makes our former space available to the community for other uses.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
With the support of the local board president Barbara Bateman and the work of board members including Waterbury, Bernie Henderson and others with real estate experience, Captain Hayes proposed the purchase of the new building to the Oswego area Salvation Army headquarters in Syracuse and they agreed that the purchase was a step in the right direction.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOur old facility, while in good condition, is woefully inadequate to respond to the current demand,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Henderson said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOur new, significantly larger, building will not only provide the space to respond to the growing need for food services, but will afford us the ability to expand services. It will allow our former space to be utilized to its full potential by a future owner.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Although renovation planning is under way for the new building, the Army has already begun to utilize portions of the new space.
Captain Hayes noted. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe have set up game tables; created space for the womenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s sewing club and other activities in the new facility. We are trying to take some of the things that we have had to set up and tear down with every use in our old building and set them up in the new site where we can leave them up permanently. This not only saves time, but allows sections to be utilized throughout the day instead of being restricted to certain times.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Other outside groups that have traditionally utilized the Salvation Army such as Narcotics Anonymous, an Al-Anon group, the AARP 55 Alive Safe Driving group and others have already been meeting at the new building.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s been a big help to be able to use the building,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Captain Hayes. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHowever, the bulk of what we can do here wonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be fully realized until we can renovate the space and build a new kitchen.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
According to Captain Hayes, renovation is scheduled to begin early in 2008.
Captain Hayes said many other new features will be possible in the renovated center as well, including: Additional educational program offerings; expanded food storage, preparation and eating areas; a renovated fellowship hall and worship area; wheelchair accessibility; a private interviewing area, classrooms, conference rooms and staff offices.
Captain Hayes and Mercedes Niess, board member and capital campaign chair, attribute much of the work to acquire the building and behind-the-scenes work required to complete the transaction to Bateman.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe number of people utilizing Salvation Army services in our community has risen astronomically,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Bateman said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThere are programs and resources like computers that we could be utilizing but we canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t because we simply do not have the space. These issues brought our board together to make this transaction possible. Board members like Ned Waterbury have had experience with property purchases and were there to ask the right questions as we moved forward.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Waterbury said he accepted an invitation to join the board two years ago unaware that his real estate experience might suit the needs of the organization.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI knew the mission of the organization when I started as a board member but I did not have a complete knowledge of where they were headed,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Waterbury said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI hope my business experience has been helpful in these recent activities.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The Oswego Salvation Army is part of the international Salvation Army organization which is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.
The local citadel provides food, education, services and spiritual support to the local community.
For more information about the Oswego Salvation Army and progress updates on the new facility, visit http://oswegosa.com or call 343-6491.