Binghamton officials are continuing to consider acquiring a church-owned recreation center that could be used for city-operated programs.

St. Mary's Recreation Center on Hawley Street is viewed as a viable site for programs that would serve downtown residents.

The church recently rejected an offer to buy the property. Reverend Jon Werner, the church pastor, has said the center is off the market.

The basketball court at St. Mary's Recreation Center in downtown Binghamton. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
The basketball court at St. Mary's Recreation Center in downtown Binghamton. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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City councilman Joe Burns says he supports efforts to develop a youth center at the site.

Speaking on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program, Burns said he believes the property has been appraised at $325,000. He noted the church recently had spent about $175,000 for renovations in the building's gym.

In a message in the church bulletin, Werner indicated he had received about 50 responses to his request for comments on the future of the recreation center. He wrote: "The majority discouraged the sale at this time, especially at the appraised price."

The St. Mary's Recreation Center kitchen on May 24, 2022. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
The St. Mary's Recreation Center kitchen on May 24, 2022. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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Werner noted the potential use and possible sale of the property has been discussed for several years.

Werner wrote that pandemic restrictions had "shut things down and ended some of the hopes for the future." He said "the decision not to sell has in many ways put us back to square one."

A classroom at St. Mary's Recreation Center. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
A classroom at St. Mary's Recreation Center. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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Mayor Jared Kraham still believes the property would be appropriate for a city-operated recreation program.

The city previously had planned to develop a youth and community center at the nearby Columbus Park. That plan was put on hold because of escalating cost estimates.

The cornerstone of St. Mary's Recreation Center in downtown Binghamton. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
The cornerstone of St. Mary's Recreation Center in downtown Binghamton. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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