CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham Council revealed to the public at its regular meeting on Monday night that it is considering accepting the donation of Stanley Congregational Church, which will be closing after holding its final service on Jan. 12, 2020.
Stanley Church, located at 94 Fairmount Ave., between Oliver Street and Orchard Road, is a historic stone building that was erected in 1903. The congregation is asking that the building keep the Stanley name in honor of the church founder, George Shepard Page.
In addition to the church and land, Stanley would also donate $350,000 to the borough to put toward the upkeep or possible renovation of the church.
Vicki Fife introduces the discussion about the possible donation of Stanley Church to the Borough of Chatham
Fife talks about how the borough council has been considering the move since April 2019 in the video below.
Chatham Borough Council member Carolyn Dempsey talks about the possible community uses for the Stanley Church in the video below. One idea is an after-school "Teen Center."
Chatham residents who live in the vicinity of Stanley Church came to the meeting to express their concerns about what the church hall and sanctuary would be used for, noting the lack of parking. Chatham Borough's tentative plan would be to build a 14-space parking lot where the old nursery school used to stand.
Oliver Street resident John Kaiser urged the council to seek "strong representation" from nearby neighborhood residents before any community use is decided upon.
In 2015, Stanley Church sold two-thirds of its land, including the portion that housed its nursery school, to developers. The parking lot of the church was removed for two houses built on the land next to the church. The move to sell the land was prompted by the dwindling church membership, which had dropped to 70.
The next step is for the borough council to pass a resolution that sets forth the details of the donation from Stanley Church to the Borough of Chatham. That could come as early as the special meeting set for Dec. 19.