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Chamber hopes to begin move to new home in September

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MASSENA - It’s almost time to start packing up and move for the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce.

They plan to begin the process of relocating from 50 Main St. to 16 Church St., the former Adath Israel synagogue, a week after they stage their Sept. 8 Harvest Festival in downtown Massena.

“We’re working on a lot of things at the building. Our goal is to get moved the weekend after the Harvest Festival,” chamber board member Mark D. Bogdan told fellow board members Thursday.

Chamber officials signed the paperwork in July that transferred ownership of the former synagogue to them for $1. They had been actively seeking another location for nearly three years. St. Lawrence County foreclosed on the building currently housing their office last year, and asbestos abatement and roof issues plague the structure.

The synagogue, located at the corner of West Orvis and Church streets, dates back to 1844, when it was built as the Emmanuel Congregational Church of Christ. The synagogue took over the space after the Emmanuel congregation moved into a new church on West Orvis Street in the 1920s.

Members of the Emmanuel Congregational Church of Christ moved back into the synagogue on a temporary basis after fire ripped through their church in 2007. The synagogue has sat vacant since 2009 when the Emmanuel congregation moved back into their renovated facility.

“We have some small issues to deal with,” such as getting bids on the furnace, Mr. Bogdan said.

Chamber representatives planned to do some cleaning on Friday, and they’re also considering painting the front entrance way to their new home.

Mr. Bogdan said, although they haven’t finalized floor plans, Associate Director Penny Pullmain and Event Coordinator Nancy Bassney may be located in the church area so they can greet visitors. Executive Director Michael J. Gleason may have his own office on the kitchen side of the building, he said.

“It might mean moving a couple of pews,” Mr. Bogdan said.

The long-range plan for renovating the facility is still “up in the air,” he said.

“We don’t know if we need to get an engineer in there,” Mr. Bogdan said.

Prior to their move, the chamber will be staging their annual Harvest Festival on Sept. 8. Main Street between Andrews and Orvis streets will be closed at 10 a.m., and the event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mr. Gleason said they currently have 25 to 27 vendors signed up for the event. Fifty-five vendors lined Main Street last year.

Among the activities on tap are Mark Bogdan’s life-size Candy Land board game on the street, scarecrow making, a free bounce house for the kids and pumpkin painting for children under 12 years old. They typically have about 200 pumpkins available for painting.

The chamber will also have a food booth, one of their fall fundraisers, and they’re looking for entertainment.

“We’re talking about having some entertainment, a band for a couple of hours,” Mr. Gleason said. “That’ll be our last event at our 50 Main Street location, so let’s make it a good one.”

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