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March 25, 2012

Roof work in progress for Baptist Tabernacle

Building has been without a roof since 2008, exposed to elements

NEW ALBANY — Strides have been made over the last 10 days in replacing the roof of the Baptist Tabernacle building, which was ripped away when hurricane-force winds struck New Albany in September of 2008.

West Construction was hired by the building’s owner, Keystone Restoration, to replace the roof, New Albany Building Commissioner David Brewer said Friday.

Trusses were set last week, and Brewer said the complete roof should be secured in about 14 days.

“The nice thing here is you can see something good happen to a structure that’s in need of repair,” he said.

The fate of the Baptist Tabernacle — which is located at 318 E. Fourth St. — has been in limbo since the city purchased the building during a 2008 sheriff’s auction for $98,000.

Later that year, the roof and other features of the building were damaged by strong winds. The city was reimbursed $201,398 by its insurance provider for the damage, and the process began to find a new owner for the structure so that it could be refurbished.

In 2010, New Albany-based Keystone Restorations agreed to purchase the Baptist Tabernacle from the city for $1 in exchange for footing repair costs, which were estimated to be as much as $175,000.

A condition of the agreement was that substantial improvements including the installation of a new roof be quickly made to the building, though there was some delay in the process due to details over ownership.

Brewer said his office notified Keystone Restoration about six months ago the building was out of compliance because of the lack of a roof. The company was quick to respond with a plan and the city doesn’t intend to pursue any further action against Keystone as long as progress continues, Brewer continued.

“We work with anybody and everybody who’s willing to work with us and show good faith and progress,” he said.

Brewer actually volunteered to help with some of the roof work last weekend.

“It’s not always necessarily about us going out and writing people up,” he said. “We’re willing to help when needed.”

There’s currently not a specific plan for a reuse of the building, Brewer said. He said the primary goal is to fortify the structure and then Keystone Restoration will move forward once the building again meets city code.

“It’s a very positive step in the right direction,” he said.

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The Rev. Eric Johnson, New Albany, is accompanied by Shea, right, and Sammy Taylor, both of Memphis, during the cross procession at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church's Good Friday service in New Albany on Friday afternoon.

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