For­mer school be­com­ing Kemp­ton New Church Home

Not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­vides smaller, eco­nom­i­cal in­de­pen­dent liv­ing for se­nior mem­bers of Kemp­ton New Church

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Tom Kerr Pres­i­dent, Kemp­ton New Church Home Inc.

The for­mer Al­bany Town­ship El­e­men­tary School in Kemp­ton faced an un­cer­tain fu­ture when it was sold at pub­lic auc­tion in 2015, but an ex­cit­ing new life for the prop­erty is on the hori­zon.

The orig­i­nal school build­ing was con­structed in 1958, and stu­dents and teach­ers from lo­cal one-room school houses were moved to the new school. The build­ing was sub­stan­tially modified in the late 1980s and again in 2000, then moth­balled by the Kutz­town Area School District in 2013 due to chang­ing stu­dent de­mo­graph­ics. In July of 2015, just prior to the build­ing’s sale at auc­tion, the Al­bany Town­ship His­tor­i­cal

So­ci­ety gath­ered the com­mu­nity to­gether to re­mem­ber and honor their beloved school, its teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors, and the im­por­tant uses th­ese peo­ple and the build­ing per­formed in this close-knit, ru­ral com­mu­nity.

In March of this year, a not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion called Kemp­ton New Church Home, which is closely associated with the Kemp­ton New Church on Hawk Moun­tain Road in Al­bany Town­ship, pur­chased the 6.7-acre prop­erty. The or­ga­ni­za­tion had been seek­ing prop­erty in the area to pro­vide smaller, eco­nom­i­cal, in­de­pen­dent-liv­ing res­i­dences for se­nior mem­bers of the Kemp­ton New Church. As in many parts of the coun­try, and par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral ar­eas like Al­bany Town­ship, find­ing a place to which to down­size is of­ten dif­fi­cult. In an­tic­i­pa­tion of some of its older mem­bers per­haps be­ing forced to move away to find suit­able hous­ing, the group de­cided to start ad­dress­ing the prob­lem now – a prob­lem that can af­fect the fab­ric of, not only a church com­mu­nity, but the broader com­mu­nity, as well.

The pur­chase of the for­mer school prop­erty made good sense for the Kemp­ton New Church Home’s project for sev­eral rea­sons. It is in the town­ship’s “vil­lage cen­ter” zon­ing district, which per­mits the use be­ing en­vi­sioned and would cre­ate no dis­rup­tion to the town­ship’s plan for the de­vel­op­ment of the neigh­bor­hood. Its lo­ca­tion within the vil­lage of

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of some of its older mem­bers per­haps be­ing forced to move away to find suit­able hous­ing, the group de­cided to start ad­dress­ing the prob­lem now. Re­pur­pos­ing an ex­ist­ing build­ing in the town­ship, rather than build­ing anew, made the prop­erty par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive to the or­ga­ni­za­tion, the town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tion, and to the com­mu­nity in gen­eral.

Kemp­ton, rather than some­where at a greater re­move from neigh­bors and com­mu­nity life, in­clud­ing the Kemp­ton Com­mu­nity Cen­ter and the post of­fice, was at­trac­tive. Con­sid­ered to be ben­e­fi­cial were the near­ness of friends and neigh­bors who might want to get in­volved in some of the ac­tiv­i­ties at the fa­cil­ity, the close­ness to the beau­ti­ful Maiden Creek, and a great view of the Pin­na­cle and the Al­bany Town­ship coun­try­side. As a bonus, the idea of re­pur­pos­ing an ex­ist­ing build­ing in the town­ship, rather than build­ing anew, made the prop­erty par­tic­u­larly at­trac­tive to the or­ga­ni­za­tion, the town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tion, and to the com­mu­nity in gen­eral.

Af­ter re­ar­rang­ing some in­te­rior walls and mak­ing other mod­i­fi­ca­tions, the new fa­cil­ity, ap­pro­pri­ately named The Old School­house, will in­clude 11 one­and two-bed­room apart­ments rang­ing from 572 to 1,219 square feet. The school’s orig­i­nal gym­na­sium, kitchen, and me­dia cen­ter/li­brary will re­main as ar­eas for com­mon us­age by the res­i­dents. The plan is to com­plete and oc­cupy the apart­ments, and then if there is de­mand, to even­tu­ally clus­ter sev­eral small cot­tages be­hind the build­ing. Path­ways, gar­dens, porches, and other ameni­ties will be added. The hope is to have a few of the apart­ments avail­able for oc­cu­pancy by the sum­mer of 2018.

Many of the fit­tings still in the build­ing will not be needed for the apart­ments, so af­ter the Kemp­ton New Church, the Kemp­ton New Church School, and the Kemp­ton Com­mu­nity Cen­ter have de­ter­mined what cab­i­netry, white­boards, and school fur­ni­ture they can use, the re­main­der will be avail­able for sale to the pub­lic.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

For­mer Al­bany El­e­men­tary serves as in­de­pen­dent-liv­ing res­i­dences for se­nior mem­bers of Kemp­ton New Church.

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