WINDER - Winder city officials are considering swapping the spray field on Gainesville Highway for the 100-year-old former First Baptist Church property.
If the deal goes through, the church might house Lanier Technical College.
"We have a spray field [an irrigated pasture] we are doing away with and Michael Carter wants to buy the old church and swap it for 100 acres of this spray field," said Winder Mayor Buddy Ouzts.
In tonight's city council meeting, members will hear a presentation from Lisa Maloof, Lanier Tech's executive director, as well as Phillip Adair and Edgar Fussell who renovated the Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit church at 71 W. Candler St. The college currently uses the old Duckhead plant but has outgrown the facility.
Maloof and Carter were unavailable for comment. City attorney John Stell did not return calls for information.
In 2004, the First Baptist Church congregation moved into their new $8.2 million, 61,000-square-foot facility on 70 acres on Jefferson Highway. Church members paid Ouzts $910,000 for the 70 acres.
The congregation left their then-97-year-old home because of structural problems, said Bill Bramlett, architect and church trustee.
"Back in the 1960s or 1970s, a renovation took down the old tin ceilings and replaced them with plaster that weighed 15 to 20 times more than the tin," Bramlett said. "The additional weight sagged the wooden roof trusses where damaged areas were evident in the primary trusses."
A structural engineer in 2000 estimated the cost of roof repairs at $100 per square foot, Bramlett said.
A demolition request for the building came before the Historical Preservation Committee in June 2005.
"I would love to see it renovated," Bramlett said.
Adair and Fussell believe the church can be renovated at a lower cost.
"I've been up in that attic twice and the rafters are as hard as rock," Fussell said. "The (Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit) was in worse shape than the Baptist church. It'll take a little money and a lot of time. Take the plaster down and secure the trusses, maybe put back a tin ceiling. The trusses can be fixed and secured."
The doors and floors need refinishing as well as other cosmetic repairs, Fussell added.
The church property is priced at $2.2 million and Carter will pay an additional $300,000 for renovations, according to Ouzts.
"We are waiting for appraisals on the spray field," Ouzts said.
City Council members have the option of voting or tabling the matter.