Hadley CPA Committee to recommend $125K for exterior repairs to historic former church

  • The former St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Hadley may get $125,400 in Community Preservation Act money from the town to make exterior renovations to the building. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 27, 2023

HADLEY — A 121-year-old former church in Hadley center could be in line to get $125,400 in Community Preservation Act funding at fall Town Meeting, money that would maintain the exterior appearance of the building and place a preservation restriction on the 146 Russell St. property.

The CPA Committee voted unanimously last week to support the request from Paul Kozub, owner of V-One Vodka, to provide $120,400 toward window frames, tower restoration, the roof and gutters at the building he has used as the company’s world headquarters for almost a decade, since acquiring the former St. John’s Church from the Springfield Catholic Diocese for $75,000.

Another $5,000 would be added to pay for the paperwork and process of putting a preservation restriction on the site.

“I’d like to see St. John’s still on Route 9 every time I pass,” said Rise Smythe-Freed in her support for the project, noting that the former church adds to the feel of Hadley. “I think it’s a big benefit to the community.”

“I think that the outside is something that is part of the fabric of the town, and has been, and is important for several reasons,” Committee Chairwoman Mary Thayer said.

Those reasons include the importance to Hadley’s history, and for families who attended the church before it merged into Most Holy Redeemer Church.

The recommendation next goes to the Select Board and Finance Committee so that it can be on the warrant for a Special Town Meeting set for Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at Hopkins Academy.

Kozub initially requested $262,850 that would have also paid for interior work at the building. But Kozub said this is a fair arrangement to only be able use money for the outside of the building. He said he intends to continue doing upkeep inside and anticipates the same use for the building for the next decade.

“I look it as (I’m) the caretaker of the building,” Kozub said.

He has already invested $100,000 into it. That work has included fixing the steeple, the front part of which had serious water damage.

The CPA Committee acted after received positive advice from the town’s Historical Commission and the state’s CPA Coalition.

The town’s CPA account, as of Sept. 13, stands at $3.33 million, with $1.23 million set aside for projects.

Morris-Friedman said Kozub’s next actions should be promoting the spending to the Select Board and Finance Committee, and then to Town Meeting.

“From here on out, it’s all politics,” Morris-Friedman said.