CENTREVILLE — The future of historic Christ Church in downtown Stevensville remains undetermined as county commissioners announced, during their Tuesday, June 25 meeting, a four- to six-week period to review the proposed bids for the property.
Five proposals were received by the due date of 2 p.m. on Friday, May 31.
County Commissioner Jim Moran proposed a subcommittee, which was approved in a unanimous vote, to hold interviews with respondents to gather more information on proposed uses and additional financial information. County Commissioners Steve Wilson and Chris Corchiarino will act as the liaisons, and representatives from the Department of Public Works will also serve on the subcommittee.
Currently under review is a proposal by Diana Kuhn of Third Wave Tea & Coffee Bar. Kuhn offered $25,000 in monetary consideration is $25,000 and proposed turning the rectory into a bed and breakfast and coffee bar. Under this proposal, Shine Like Stars Daycare would stay for the immediate future.
According to the proposal, the church would be available for weddings and other events serving the community with advanced reservations.
“I think it’s advantageous to have an experienced business owner at that location. I’ve had three start-up businesses and I think a coffee house would draw people in to downtown Stevensville. I see that we change the dynamic of the area to get foot traffic and preserve the history with tours,” said Kuhn.
Nicholas and Nichole Neboshynsky entered a proposal whereby they highlighted their “great experience in rehabbing and maintaining old historic buildings.” Mr. and Mrs. Neboshynsky would keep Shine Like Stars Daycare.
Among the prospective uses they proposed are a special events venue, an ice cream parlor, a community activity center, start-up office space, and the site for a local farmers market.
The third proposal came from Friends of Historic Christ Church, which noted the organization would use the property for historic preservation. Nancy Cook, who chairs the organization, has always contended the location is ideal for public and cultural events. Friends of Historic Christ Church have also wanted the use the church as the anchor for a the historic arts and entertainment district.
According to the proposal, “the historic church will be available for weddings and the parish hall will be available for weddings and other receptions. Caterers will have to be hired for those occasions, and the caterer will be responsible for obtaining a liquor license if serving liquor is desired.”
The parish hall will be made available for concerts, art and flower shows, meetings and other community activities deemed necessary and appropriate.
Estimated usage charges range from $35 for public rehearsal and meeting space, to $50 for exercise session use such as yoga classes, to $200 and up for special events, such as formal meeting and weddings.
“Since 2003, we’ve been providing tours of the church and had people visiting our community, and therefore making money for the county,” said Cook. “The Friends of Historic Christ Church have continued to show good stewardship of the property. We know we have very much work to do. We hope to continue perpetuating the history and heritage of Kent Island.”
Jeanne Noble also submitted a proposal with a monetary consideration of $30,000. Among the uses proposed by Noble were space for public events such as family movie nights in the sanctuary, as well as a music venue in the same space.
The hall would be used for offices and additional room for events. Finally the rectory would be used as guest housing or artist in residence space.
“Our objective is to use this fine and beautiful, old church for multiple and varied businesses,” said Noble. “It’s for the community center and we would would be caretakers of the church and the social hall and rectory. We would keep it up and repaired for events for children. The sanctuary would also be protected as the very beautiful area it already is.”
The fifth and final proposal came from Meredith Braden of the Children’s Center for Learning Arts and Diane Ryan of Shine Like Stars Daycare. Their proposal outlined limited use to only daycare but did not state a monetary consideration in the official memorandum from the Department of Public Works.
Under the proposed uses, the school will “attempt to develop a relationship with the Kent Island Federation of Art and Queen Anne’s County Arts Council to display artwork in the sanctuary on a rotating basis.”
The school would also develop a relationship with the Queen Anne’s County Historical Society to include the sanctuary as parts of its tours and reference it in the Society’s informational materials.
The existing lease with Shine Like Stars Daycare ended June 30, 2019.
“We’ve been in the building for eight years, and we have a very successful preschool,” said Ryan, the school’s director. “That is what the community needs and wants. We want to continue to preserve the sanctuary for community events and we have guaranteed revenue. We’re not a new business starting up. We’ve already started to speak with contractors about improvements.”
Besides making the sanctuary available for weddings, that same space would also be used for community events such as children’s concerts and seasonal events.
For preserving the church, the proposal states the school and non-profit organization would “reach out to Friends of Christ Church to solicit ideas and ‘hands on’ involvement in the preservation and recognition of the facility.”
The proposal also estimates the cost of much-needed improvements total $100,000 to be covered by grant funding efforts.
The subcommittee will conduct interviews with each respondent and report back to the full board of commissioners.