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Cobleskill Beseeched For Church Project Approval

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/23/24 | 2/23/24

By Joshua Walther

COBLESKILL - As the monumental deal for the Zion Lutheran Church continues apace, the residents of Cobleskill have flocked to the latest Village Board meeting to throw their support behind the project.

In September of last year, a Cobleskill resident named RJ Freitag approached the badly damaged church with a proposal to build a new business within the sanctuary. He stated that the endeavor would be a joint performance center, bar, and restaurant with the capacity to host venues.

Mr. Freitag believes in the importance of his work, stating that the business would not only revitalize the old historic building but bring in more cash flow to the town as a whole.

Certain residents seem to believe in that idea as well, as they stood last Tuesday to address the Mayor and her Village Board on the matter.

Ruth Van Deusen, a distinguished retiree from CRCS and a longtime citizen of Cobleskill, bolstered Mr. Freitag’s previous points and went on to say that it would be great for tourism, as the venues would be phenomenal for drawing people in to the area.

When she was asked about the community impact, Mrs. Van Deusen said that she’s practically a neighbor to the church herself and she has no complaints, nor do the other tenants of the nearby student housing for the college.

The Board also heard remarks from John Jarvis, who took a more grounded approach. He said that while he had absolute faith in all of Mrs. Van Deusen’s points, the damage that the church suffered from the historic fire is extensive.

“It’s going to be expensive,” he said with no reservations. “I don’t know where the money is coming from to rehab that building.”

The Village Board themselves seemed to have a rather neutral opinion, with both members Howard Burt and Lance Rotolo saying that they needed more time to form a better perspective. 

Luckily, it isn’t the Village Board’s concern at the moment. The next meeting to take place for the project’s progression is the Zoning Board of Appeals, taking place on February 29th.

Mayor Rebecca Stanton-Terk said that she does not envy the members of that committee, as there’s “much more to this project” than even she was aware of, including the opinions of the community.

Though the ZBA does not have to rule that night, they have a short window of time thereafter to make the decision to allow Mr. Freitag’s business or block it altogether.

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