Mars hears pitch on selling portion of church property

Business owner shows interest

October 8, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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MARS — Mars Borough could be one step closer to its dream home — or rather, dream church.

Council set Oct. 24 as a tentative closing date for the purchase of the five-parcel Dutilh church property at Monday night's meeting.

Council took a second step forward Monday night in the form of a potential business associate.

Brenda Henwood, a local business owner, attended the meeting to say she looked into buying the church property before the borough. She was not interested in buying all of the parcels, and was told at the time church representatives didn't want to split them up.

She asked council if it would consider letting her purchase some of the property.

“(Is) there any possibility of parsing it out?” Henwood asked.

“Anything's possible,” said Michael Fleming, council president.

Henwood said she is only interested in buying part of the property, not leasing it. Although she did not wish to reveal the circumstances of her business, Henwood said she's interested in working out of some of the church. She would also need a few parking spots.

Fleming told Henwood the borough has received interest from other business owners and organizations looking to lease property.

“We've had a couple (of) inquires along this 11-month process,” Fleming said.

Negotiating a sale of parts of the property would be challenging, according to Councilman Brad Price. Still, council indicated it's open to several possibilities.

“There is some value to the church and its location,” Fleming said.

Mayor Gregg Hartung said he has talked to Woodland Valley Church Senior Pastor Norb Levesque about developing the Mars Discovery Center. Hartung said the borough will also be working with different organizations when it comes to the $1 million Redevelopment Assistant Capital Program grant, awarded this summer for work on the center.

Hartung is interested in filing 501(c)3 statuses for the discovery center and the Mars New Year celebration. Past New Year celebrations have been planned in accordance with other organizations' nonprofit status. Hartung said the celebration is now big enough to file for its own status.

“Now that we've gone from an infant to a teenager,” Hartung said.

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